- Politics and Social Issues
My Connection to Trayvon Martin
What Could I Have In Common With Trayvon Martin?
July 25, 2004, at about 2:15 a.m., I was awakened by my now ex-wife, telling me that she had just heard our neighbor tell his wife that he had just killed our cat, because of his belief that we had called the police to have a loud party shut down.
The cat in question would have been my son's cat, Cody. I say "would have been" because as it turns out, our cat was fine. Problem was, as I got out of bed to go investigate, I did not know that, and yet I had to go investigate, because my son was in the hospital at that moment, and if his cat was dead, I needed to find out for sure, so we could break the sad news to him gently.
So I went outside with a flashlight. Our houses were back to back, and I went out into the middle of the street, shining my flashlight around to see if I could find Cody, or what was left of him. While I was doing so, our neighbor's girlfriend, who would become his wife, came over to talk to me. She asked me what I was doing outside at 2:15 in the morning with a flashlight. I explained I was looking for Cody, and she said she had seen him up a tree earlier in the night.
All of a sudden, the scene took a dramatic turn. Our neighbor, who shall remain nameless, because of a legal agreement we later reached, bolted out of the house, waving his arms wildly. Now, I knew this man. I had been inside his home, because my son and his son had been friends. He had invited me to his son's birthday party. I would not have called him a friend, but he was more than an acquaintance, and I did not expect the confrontation to become violent.
Initially it did not. However, I noted that he was still heavily intoxicated. He expressed his anger at his belief that we had broken up his party. I explained I had nothing to do with that, because I had been asleep. He then told me I needed to control my wife better, to which I responded that was not my job, because I do not hold the view that women should be viewed as secondary to men. That was not the answer he wanted.
When I realized there was no talking sense to him in his drunken state, I decided it was time to leave. I told him that I was going to go home and go to sleep, and I suggested that he do the same. As I took a step to leave, he hit me on the left temple, a blow that should have rendered me unconscious. Instead, I fell to the ground and attempted to protect myself, unsuccessfully. The rage of this man was unhuman. He continually kicked me and beat me until everything went black. I thought I was going to die, and probably would have if his future wife had not screamed that he was going to kill me. Only then did his rampage end.
My wife had been watching the attack from a window, and she had already called 911 by the time I stumbled into the living room. The police came, but he had left in his truck, and it took until the following day at noon time for them to arrest him. Based upon the severity of my injuries, he was charged with aggravated assault, a felony that could have carried a 10 year prison sentence.
Two years later, the man had never stood trial when I received a phone call from the district attorney's office. The Assistant District Attorney assigned to my case explained they were going to drop the charges against him. Why? He claimed that I was on his property, and he was merely defending his property. He claimed that I threw the first punch and he was simply defending himself. In Maine, the Legislature has never passed a Stand Your Ground statute, and no governor has ever signed it into law. There was a case, however, a few years prior to this vicious attack in which a man killed some young people who were actually running away at the time he shot them, but because he felt threatened on his property, a judge had thrown out the murder charges against him, because he had a right to defend his property.
George Zimmerman claims to have been threatened. He claims to have acted in self-defense. He is hanging his hat on a law passed by the Florida legislature, and because of that ill-advised decision, he may very well have his get out of jail free card, just like the man who changed my life forever.
Rest in peace Trayvon.