On the night of February 26, 2012 — three years ago today — police responded to several 911 calls from The Retreat at Twin Lakes, a gated community in Sanford, Florida. They arrived on the scene two minutes after George Zimmerman fatally shot teenager Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman told the officers he acted in self-defense, and police later said they had no reason to doubt him. Zimmerman was not arrested.
Under Florida’s broad self-defense statute — commonly known as the “Stand Your Ground law” — the killing was perfectly legal. Zimmerman was eventually arrested and charged with murder, but a jury acquitted him of all charges in July 2013.
The Florida jury received specific instructions from the court that, as long as Zimmerman wasn’t breaking the law prior to his encounter with Martin, he “had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force.” At least one juror said after the verdict was announced that Stand Your Ground was a key factor in the verdict.