Self Defense in the 21st Century

Booker T. Evans

Booker T. Evans

An adult male stalks a teenager; initiates a confrontation which escalates into a physical fight because he chooses not to withdraw and wait for the oncoming police; then when he finds he is getting his a** kicked, he pulls a gun and kills the teenager. Take race out of it. There is no penalty for his actions. If Martin had somehow wrestled the gun away from Zimmerman and killed him, do you honestly believe that in “Lower Alabama” (or if you prefer, North Central Florida) Martin would not be starting a life sentence today? It is, in fact, an easy call. Start a fight and if you are losing, get your gun out and kill the other person. The real lesson here is that a Black Male’s life in the United States is worth less than any other group no matter how you characterize it.

I moved into an 18 home gated community in 2002. My wife, my youngest daughter and I were the first non-whites to move there. On our second day there, I took a short walk (during the day) around the neighborhood to get my bearings. I was cut off by a couple driving to their house and they wanted to know what I was looking for in their community. Of course, the manner in which they approached me irritated me and I explained to them in rather colorful language, that it was none of their ****** business. This small man started to exit his car to walk toward me as I had turned to walk back to my house. A neighbor sensing a problem stepped out of his yard to explain to this man that I had just purchased the home down the street. In addition he told him I was a well-known attorney (although apparently not known to my pursuer) and should be welcomed to the neighborhood.

I share this because if this man had continued to pursue me, there would likely have been a physical confrontation which would ultimately have involved the police and other neighbors. The irony is that I could have afforded his house and mine but in later and calmer conversations, he admitted that it was my “blackness” that caused him to question why I was there to begin with. This is a part of life that white males like you do not have to deal with. You are never questioned about whether you belong and neither is Zimmerman or olive skinned Spaniards or Italians. In this Country only those with dark skin are subject to these kinds of questions.

When this is paired down to its bare bones, Zimmerman knew nothing about Martin but, operating on the assumption that he was up to no good, decided to follow and ultimately confront him even though the police operator told him not to. This ultimately cost Martin his life despite the fact that he was in a place he was authorized to be and he was doing nothing that should have brought attention to him. While I disagree with the verdict and I am supremely confident that in my days as a Prosecutor that I would have charged and convicted Zimmerman of the Voluntary Manslaughter crime I have always believed he should have been charged with, I am offended by articles like yours* tending to portray Martin as a “bad guy”. The case and the aftermath should focus on the fact that Martin did nothing to create the circumstances that took his life. The combination of a civilian criminally profiling a young man in a hooded sweatshirt as a criminal and attempting to assert authority that he did not possess, is the ultimate cause of this tragedy. Your reference to outspoken Blacks as race-baiters is a convenient fallback when everything about the case tells you that Martin’s black skin is what ultimately caused this confrontation. You don’t have to “hate” Black people for the color of their skin to impact your perception of what they are doing and why they are in your arena. Finally, ask yourself…, how comfortable are you if you are walking and someone starts to follow you in a car ultimately exiting that car to confront you? My guess is, not very comfortable. You are left with two choices: run or prepare to defend yourself.

 Posted by Booker T. Evans

Booker Evans is a co-founder of the Las Vegas Chapter of the National Bar Association and a shareholder at Gallagher & Kennedy, P.A., in Phoenix, Arizona. Mr. Evans focuses his practice on white collar criminal defense and general commercial litigation. His experience includes criminal and civil RICO cases, fraud, insurance matters and healthcare. Mr. Evans has a Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating and was listed in “The Best Lawyers in America,” Criminal Defense: White Collar, 2010-2013 and “Southwest Super Lawyers,” 2013. Mr. Booker is a member of the Las Vegas Chapter of the National Bar Association and the National Bar Association. Read Mr. Evan’s attorney profile here.


*Sherman Frederick is a columnist for the Las Vegas Review Journal. I know him and serve on a board with him at NAU. He wrote a column on July 15, 2013, that I disagree with so I sent him my opinion via his newspaper email.  If you want to read his article, go to: The post above is my response.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • email
  • Delicious
  • Google Reader
  • LinkedIn