On first pass, these new photos of an injured Zimmerman — taken immediately after shooting Trayvon Martin — seem like a bombshell. From a perceptual standpoint, they can’t help but increase support for “the bloodied” Zimmerman, certainly for anyone already predisposed that way. Because there is so little clear-cut evidence in this case however, these pictures — appearing now, as “the latest word” in a timeline of all the preceding images that have led to alternating impressions of these figures in the public mind — seem to guarantee that the Martin case will now end in a lot more polarization than understanding.
Emotions and biases aside, however, it’s important to appreciate that these new pictures only heighten the confusion surrounding the case. Examining these photos, the key question is (and remains): how much do they justify self-defense (or “stand your ground”) versus how much do they illustrate Zimmerman provoking Martin into such an intense confrontation that it led to his murder?
…Finally, taking your eyes off Zimmerman’s face or head for a second, I don’t think I have to emphasize the irony of the “free country” branding.
(photo: State Attorney’s Office/AP caption: This combo made from Feb. 27, 2012 photos released by the State Attorney’s Office shows George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Trayvon Martin. The photo and reports were among evidence released by prosecutors that also includes calls to police, video and numerous other documents. The package was received by defense lawyers earlier this week and released to the media on Thursday, May 17, 2012.)