By Andrew Branca
June 18, 2013
One of the enduring myths of the falsified public narrative promulgated by the State prosecutors and other anti-Zimmerman zealots has been that George Zimmerman “chased down” a frightened Trayvon Martin who was simply attempting to secure the safety of his destination (his father’s girlfriend’s home in at the Retreat at Twin Lakes neighborhood.
Is that what really happened? Or is George Zimmerman’s recounting more credible and consistent with the facts in evidence?
Let’s take a look at what the facts in evidence, the timeline, and the terrain tell us.
Below is a Google Earth image of the relevant community. I’ve marked the front and rear entrance to the complex (mentioned in Zimmerman’s non-emergency call to police), the location of Zimmerman’s car, as well as where the attack took place. All of these locations are marked as consistent with the facts in evidence.
I have also marked the location of Martin’s presumed destination, the home of his father’s girlfriend. This location is not available in the Court’s discovery file (it has been redacted for obvious) reasons, Instead I have marked it’s location based on reporting from the New York Times (“The Events Leading to the Shooting of Trayvon Martin,” June 21, 2012.)
Although I do not know the provenance of the NYT’s information for this location, I believe it is safe to say thath NYT is unlikely to deliberately promulgate false information favorable to Zimmerman, and would certainly have been informed of an error of this nature in an article first published almost exactly a full year ago. (Of course, if anybody has more correct information, feel free to forward to my attention.)
We know based upon the recording of Zimmerman’s non-emergency calling to police when Martin started running, and fled between the buildings (the space in which his body was recovered).
So, if that was the point at which Martin started running, how much distance might he have covered in the time before he was shot?
Naturally, the distance covered depends on both his speed and the time in which he had to run. We know for certain that he had at least two full minutes to run, because that’s how long the non-emergency call lasts from Zimmerman stating “He’s running.” to the end of the call. Obviously, the attack and shooting took place sometime after that hang-up.
We don’t, of course, know how fast Martin was running. We know he was of athletic build and on his high school’s football team, so we can safely presume that he can run a good deal faster than, say, a 48-year-old MA lawyer who likes to eat and can’t remember the last time he exercised. Even so, for the purposes of this analysis I will assume that I am as fleet of foot as was the 17-year-old high school athlete.
The final variable is what distance Martin needed to cover in order to secure safety from Zimmerman. Fortunately, Google Earth has a handy “ruler” function so it is easy to determine that the distance from where the sidewalks in this image “T” (actually a few yards before the site of the fight) to the NYT’s-identified location of the home of the father’s girlfriend is 400 feet.
So, given that Martin had 2 full minutes to cover 400 feet to safety, how close to safety might he have gotten? It all depends on his speed. Using myself as a stand-in I dug my sneakers out of the back of the closet, knocked the spiders out of it, and laced up. The goal was to see how much distance I could cover in 2 minutes–certainly Martin would not have been limited to less than that in retreating in fear from a frightening pursuer
Test 1: “Old-man jog”: I set my iPhone for two minutes, and set off down my street (nice and straight for these purposes). After 2 minutes I had covered: 1,260 feet.
Well, wait a minute. Surely if I could cover a full quarter-mile in 2 minutes Martin must have been able to cover 400 feet.
Perhaps Martin was not running the whole time, perhaps after a quick dash around the corner he proceeded at a swift walk.
Test 2: “Swift walk: I reset my iPhone and set off briskly. When the timer went off after 2 minutes I had covered: 750 feet.
Wow, still almost twice as much ground as Martin needed to gain safety from the pursuing Zimmerman. But maybe Martin wasn’t walking swiftly. Maybe the fear instilled by Zimmerman’s pursuit was only sufficient incentive to motivate him to move at the speed of, say, a 48-year-old pushing a 2-year-old in a stroller.
Test 3: “Stroller walk”: I buckled my two-year-old into her cheap umbrella stroller (not jogging stroller), reset my iPhone to 2 minutes, and set off. When the phone alarmed I had covered: 575 feet.
Five-hundred and seventy-five feet pushing a 2-year-old-laden stroller. Yet somehow Martin was not able to cover 400 feet to safety before Zimmerman fell upon him.
Another thought–even if Martin had for whatever reason not managed to make it all the way to his refuge, surely he would have been many yard down that path. Instead, we know he was barely around the corner in the direction of his destination.
This suggests not someone fleeing danger.
Rather, it is consistent with someone who obtained a position of concealment, waited for his unsuspecting victim to approach, then sprung from hiding to launch his attack. And unlike the myth that Zimmerman pursued a fleeing Martin, this scenario is actually supported by the facts in evidence.
Incidentally, this also generally destroys the myth of Zimmerman following Martin in any way that could have caused Martin to be in fear. Zimmerman did not exit his car until Martin had turned the corner. Were Martin fleeing, or even walking, away he would have been at least 150 feet past the corner, the same distance that Zimmerman had to cover from his parked to reach the corner. We now know, of course, that Martin went nowhere much after turning the corner.
In the meantime, after Zimmerman lost sight of Martin at the point he tells the dispatcher “He’s running,” he doesn’t see Martin again until Martin emerges from the bushes. Can you be “following” someone you don’t even see?
Food for thought. And looks to me like this myth is . . . BUSTED!
Andrew F. Branca is a Massachusetts lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog (autographed copies available) and Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle), the NRA Store, Gun Digest, and many other re-sellers.
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