It’s impossible to know whether it was Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman who threw the first punch in the confrontation that ended Martin’s life. The jury apparently relied on that ambiguity to acquit Zimmerman of murdering Martin, because he said he killed the 17-year-old in self defense. But despite the confusion, there are plenty of facts that both sides can agree on. While Zimmerman may have been found not guilty, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t responsible. Trayvon Martin would be alive today, but for at least six decisions made or not made by Zimmerman and the state of Florida.

1. Zimmerman could have decided not to follow Martin.
For starters, George Zimmerman is not a law enforcement official trained in spotting suspicious or criminal behavior. Zimmerman told a 911 operator that Martin seemed suspicious and appeared to be “on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.” It was not 3 a.m. when Zimmerman spotted Martin. Rather, it was early evening, a time when people typically “walk around, looking about.” Had Zimmerman simply gone about his business, we never would have heard about either of them.

2. Zimmerman could have listened to the 911 operator and not followed Martin.
Talking to an operator, Zimmerman complained, “These assholes, they always get away.” He later narrated, “Shit, he’s running.”

“Are you following him?” the operator asked.

Zimmerman confirmed he was. “Ok, we don’t need you to do that,” the operator told him. If Zimmerman had simply let Martin run away, he’d be alive today. Martin, it later emerged, found Zimmerman as deeply suspicious as Zimmerman found him. Only one of those judgments turned out to be correct.

3. If Zimmerman had not been secretly armed, he probably wouldn’t have followed Martin.
Zimmerman knew that he had an advantage in any possible confrontation with a neighbor: He was concealing a weapon. If a fight started, and Zimmerman began losing, he could pull out the gun and shoot his opponent. The state of Florida allows Zimmerman to patrol his neighborhood armed, which emboldened him. Continue to HuffPost…

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