Zimmerman fate following acquittal uncertain

Will defendant face civil rights charges?
Associated Press
Jul 14, 2013

Following his acquittal on all charges in the fatal shooting death of Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman will spend no time behind bars.

But that's about the only certainty in the former neighborhood watch volunteer's immediate future.

The Department of Justice has announced it will look into the case, which could lead to criminal civil rights charges, and Zimmerman may also face civil lawsuits from Martin's family.

He could also potentially make a lot of money by writing a book or from a lawsuit he filed last year against a major television network for allegedly editing his 911 call to police to make it sound like he was racist.

For the moment, however, veteran publicists say Zimmerman's options are limited.

The case and his trial have become — for some — a symbol of everything that's wrong with the country's justice system, and with race relations in America today.

The six-member jury's not-guilty verdict late Saturday prompted a wave of anger among civil rights leaders and others, and protests have erupted across the country. Image handlers say Zimmerman needs to take that anger, and potential death threats, seriously.

"I have one short piece of advice for him," said Jonathan Bernstein, president of the Southern California-based Bernstein Crisis Management Inc.

"Hide."

Hiding is not an unfamiliar feeling for Zimmerman, whose last known appearance in public was on Feb. 26, 2012, the night of the shooting: He was headed to Target to do his weekly grocery shopping before he encountered Martin.

Zimmerman has been living a hermit's life since then and during the months leading up to his highly publicized trial. And now, despite the acquittal, it is unlikely that he will ever be able to do something as mundane as grocery shopping — at least not unaccompanied — for a very long time.

Security experts and crisis management pros say the former neighborhood watch volunteer must immediately get a security plan in place. This could involve hiring an expensive team of bodyguards or consultants who will assess whether the threats against him are credible.

Richard Davis, the operations director for The Bodyguard Group of Beverly Hills, said that if Zimmerman were to hire his firm, he would have a stable of former Navy SEALS and Special Forces guards looking out for his safety around the clock. They would relocate him to a safe home (probably in a large city where he can blend into a busy community), quietly file court paperwork to change his name and create a "protective bubble."

"No one enters the bubble," said Davis, whose company has provided security for A-list celebrities and politicians. "It moves with you."

Davis described what he thinks is the optimal security plan for someone in Zimmerman's situation: a big team of guards for the initial few weeks following the verdict, a cross-country move, and an armored car. Restaurants would have to be pre-screened, exercise would have to be done in a home gym and a trip to the movies would be out of the question.

"You can't go in that store alone, you can't go to the movies ever, unless you rent out the whole theater for yourself," he said. "A movie theater is a death trap."

All of this isn't cheap. Davis estimates that it would cost $3,000 a day initially to pay for such security. But if it keeps Zimmerman alive, he said, it's a small price to pay.

To be sure, there are less expensive security and bodyguard options. But all will cost money — and Zimmerman, who worked as a mortgage underwriter prior to the shooting, isn't independently wealthy.

At one point following the shooting, Zimmerman had his own website and raised $200,000 for his legal defense. His family and attorneys also have set up separate fundraising websites, but it's unclear how much they have raised.

Zimmerman's attorneys say that their client hasn't worked since the shooting. Of course, people in high-profile cases sometimes win lucrative deals to write books or sell their life stories so they can be made into a movie or television program.

Bernstein said if Zimmerman was his client, he would advise against this right now.

"If he's doing a book deal, he should keep it quiet, and don't come out with a book in a hurry," said Bernstein, adding that he would advise Zimmerman not to speak to the news media in either paid or unpaid appearances.

"The more you talk, the more you are a target," he said. "The court has spoken for him. The best thing he could possibly do is go below the radar."

There's also the possibility of further legal action against Zimmerman — some of which could impact any money that he makes.

Martin's family could sue Zimmerman in civil court, much like Ronald Goldman's family did with OJ Simpson. Any proceeds Zimmerman makes from a book or movie deal could be turned over to the Martins, if a civil jury were to find him guilty.

And then there is the possibility that the Department of Justice could bring a federal hate-crime charge against Zimmerman. While legal experts say this is unlikely, Zimmerman could be forced into paying for more lawyers if it does happen.

Veteran publicist Glen Selig said in the coming weeks and months, Zimmerman should let others speak for him and avoid most, if not all, publicity. By speaking to the news media about the case, Zimmerman risks making the story about him — and not about the larger, more complicated issues of race and justice.

"I would clearly advise him not to become the lightning rod for this issue," Selig said.

Emotions over the case are running high, especially among those who think Zimmerman should have been found guilty, said Scott Sundby, a law professor at the University of Miami.

"The hard thing about the law sometimes is that we can have intuitive responses that an outcome is not fair but that doesn't necessarily mean that the law was not followed," Sundby said.

"The criminal justice system is often an imperfect system of handling wrongs that occurred. Many acts we feel were unjust will go unpunished by the law because of larger issues as to why the system is set up that way."

 

 

Comments

deertracker

Would him being a 100 pound weakling be better for you? Sounds like the normal size for a kid his age!

Contango

"The 13 Most Powerful Photos From Trayvon Martin Protests Around The Country"

http://www.businessinsider.com/p...

The bigots and haters need to keep lying to themselves:

Naa, it's NOT about race.

Centauri

George Zimmerman is 5'- 7" and 185 pounds and 28 years of age.

Trayvon Martin 5'- 11" and 158 pounds and 17 years of age.

Who would be in better physical condition?

deertracker

The guy with the gun!

whazup

Then don't take on the guy with the gun.

The Big Dog's back

zim was 204 pounds. Are you saying zim was a wuss?

BULLISDEEP's picture
BULLISDEEP

Why not you did

The Big Dog's back
Mon, 07/15/2013 - 4:08pm

Yes zim was a wuss. Letting a 17 year old take him down. Sissy.

BULLISDEEP's picture
BULLISDEEP
grumpy

If someone tries to sell that, the King family will be all over that like stink on big dog. They don't allow anything to be sold without them getting paid. Many lawsuits have been brought and they shut down many shirts and posters. The family has the exclusive rights to any image or writings from MLK, and they don't allow it to be used for free. Even the NAACP pays when they use something MLK. Much like Disney, the Muppets, or any NFL, MLB, NBA team in that respect.

The Big Dog's back

So why was zim never given a toxicology test and they never ran a background check on him the night of the shooting? They ran both things on Trayvon. They would have found zim had a record of assault on a police officer. Instead, they give him back his gun.

grumpy

Because you weren't there to have them do it. Why weren't you there? It was your duty to be there. It was YOUR fault.

The Big Dog's back

Typical racist answer.

BULLISDEEP's picture
BULLISDEEP

What in his comment is racist ,dog...............
grumpy
Mon, 07/15/2013 - 5:50pm

Because you weren't there to have them do it. Why weren't you there? It was your duty to be there. It was YOUR fault.

grumpy

Holder telling why it probably won't happen.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/15/po...

Holder and Obama will kick the can down the road till they are no longer in office. Then it will be someone else's problem and they will just run out of time. It is something this administration has experience doing. Kicking the can down the road. The theme song of the Obama administration. Gitmo, taxes, cutting costs, obamacare, Social security, medicare, are just some that have been and continue to be kicked down the road.

Contango

Re: "This is why the DOJ may have to step in."

Previously asked: Wassamatter, don't you want the DOJ to press charges against Zimmerman DERPY?

Thanks for answering the question Chuckles.

The Big Dog's back

I see why the right wingers weren't saying anything about the violence today. Because it was WHITE people causing the problems and getting arrested. Probably WHITE supremacists. My My.

whazup

So

Contango

Re: "I see why (snip)"

See above illiterate DERPY. Posted at 4:55:

"The 13 Most Powerful Photos From Trayvon Martin Protests Around The Country"

http://www.businessinsider.com/p...

grumpy

Check the crime stats. Violent crime is lower than it has ever been.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/29/ju...

BULLISDEEP's picture
BULLISDEEP

The Big Dog's back

Mon, 07/15/2013 - 7:37pm

I see why the right wingers weren't saying anything about the violence today. Because it was WHITE people causing the problems and getting arrested. Probably WHITE supremacists
...............Any links to prove it.

Contango

"Oakland rally for Trayvon Martin turns violent":

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story...

Some of the lefty chuckleheads said that there would be no riots or violence.

grumpy

Looks like typical lefty violence that happens when they don't get their way. Break and destroy things that belong to others. Disrupt others from doing and going where they want. It gets them what? Attention to them as being lawbreakers and prepubescent children who throw fits when they don't get their way? Typical liberal progressives, or more accuratlely the wingers from those groups. What an embracement they must be to those poor groups. Imagine having to deal with them.

The Big Dog's back

What thing of others did they break? Another racially motivated post.

grumpy

Store windows and car windows to name two thing. Those happen to belong to others.

BULLISDEEP's picture
BULLISDEEP
whazup

That can't be. Dumb Dog posted yesterday that he debunked all of the Oakland riot rumors. HAHAHAHA

The Big Dog's back

Pooh, do you even watch or read things you post? No arrests, no violence, no damage. ALL ON YOUR VIDEO!

grumpy

Really? No damage?

http://www.mercurynews.com/crime...

Two consecutive nights of protests over George Zimmerman's acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin brought several assaults and many thousands of dollars in damages but only one arrest -- a dissonance some Oakland businesses and leaders find hard to take.
----------------------

I can see why you won't search for it yourself. it is called delusional behavior. If your nose isn't rubbed in it you can say it never happened.

whazup

Dumb Dog misses a lot of things when he reads.

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