Wrongful Death?: Shooting of Trayvon Martin by Neighborhood Watch Captain Captures the National Spotlight

Answers are still being sought and an arrest demanded in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin on February 26. The deadly altercation between the black 17-year-old and a white 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in a gated Florida community has people wondering how big of a role racism has played in both the shooting and now the lack of an arrest. It is not known at this time whether Martin’s family intends to file a wrongful death claim.

Martin was unarmed at the time when, when walking from a convenience store to the home of his dad’s fiancé, he was shot by Zimmerman who was patrolling the neighborhood. It was raining and Martin had pulled the hood of his sweatshirt over his head. His girlfriend, who had been talking to him on his cell phone right before the shooting, says that he told her someone was following him.

Zimmerman, who called 911 and reported seeing “a suspicious” person, had been told by the dispatcher to stay in his vehicle. Yet, for whatever reason, he chose to exit his vehicle. According to police, he claims that this is when Martin attacked him, pushing his head into the ground and punching his nose. Zimmerman then pulled his weapon and shot Martin. The neighborhood watch volunteer said he acted in self-defense. He has not been arrested or charged with any crime.

Civil rights leaders and people who use social media have been speculating that Zimmerman would have been arrested by know if he was black and Martin had been white.

In a case such as this, any criminal proceedings are separate from a civil case in the event that Martin’s family member decides to file for wrongful death. Did Zimmerman make an honest mistake, truly acting in self-defense, or act with malice? Was he improperly trained as a neighborhood watch volunteer, thereby increasing the risk that this type of deadly incident might occur? Who is at fault that Zimmerman disregarded commands by the dispatcher to stay put?

In Massachusetts, our Boston injury lawyers represent victims and their families in cases involving excessive use of violence by law enforcement officers, security guards, and others tasked with his role. There may be more than one party that should be held liable.

What is the Role of a Neighborhood Watch Member?, Manassas Patch, March 28, 2012

Trayvon Martin Case: Timeline of Events, ABC News, March 28, 2012

More Blog Posts:
Westport Cop Settles Case Alleging Bristol County, Massachusetts Excessive Use of Force, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, August 9, 2011

Massachusetts Personal Injury: Two Women Sue Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office Over Dog Attack by K-9, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, May 27, 2011
Wrongful Death: Parents of Easton, Massachusetts Man Fatally Shot by NY Police Officer File Lawsuit, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, April 23, 2011
Contact Altman & Altman LLP and ask for your free case evaluation with one of our experienced Boston wrongful death attorneys.

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