Greenville Neighborhood Watch Member: FL Teen Killed In "Self Defense" Could Have Been Prevented

It's a case that's captured national attention. A neighborhood watch captain who recently shot and killed an unarmed teen in Florida is claiming he did it out of self-defense, but many feel he went too far. We were curious what the law would be in our state if a similar situation happened.

Our self-defense laws are more limited than Florida's, according to Pitt County District Attorney Clark Everett. Even if the laws were the same, locals involved in community watch groups say the whole situation could have possibly been prevented.

Henry Cayton lives in Greenville and is involved in community watch. He explains what he'd do if he saw someone suspicious in his neighborhood:

"I'd call 9-1-1." said Cayton.

That's what Pitt County Sheriff's Lieutenant Kip Gaskins says he teaches the groups to do.

"We don't tell anybody to try to be law enforcement. They're the eyes and ears. They can ride around their neighborhoods and look for suspicious activity, but we do not recommend that they confront anyone." said Gaskins.

28-year-old neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman did go after someone as he called 911about a suspicious person in his gated Florida apartment community last month, and is now coming under fire.

"Are you following him?" asked the 911 dispatcher when Zimmerman called.
"Yeah'" said Zimmerman.
"Okay. We don't need you to do that," said the dispatcher.

After a confrontation, Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was returning home after buying candy. Zimmerman claims he shot Martin in self defense after martin attacked him and has yet to be arrested, thanks in part to a 2005 Florida law that says a person can use deadly force no matter where they are, if they have reasonable fear that their attacker could seriously harm them or someone else.

In North Carolina, we have what's called the "Castle Doctrine", where a person can use deadly force against an attacker in just three places: their home, car, or workplace.

"You don't have to worry about what's in that person's mind. You can presume that they're there to use deadly force against you and if you defend yourself and use deadly force, you can't be charged or prosecuted for that deadly force." said Pitt County District Attorney Clark Everett.

Everett says if the same situation in Florida happened here, the case would likely end up in court where a jury would decide if Zimmerman acted out of self-defense, and if he used excessive force to do so.

Civil rights leaders continue to pressure authorities to make an arrest in this case.

Police said Zimmerman is white, while his family says he's hispanic.

Florida state attorney Norm Wolfinger announced that the case will go before a grand jury.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Smh on Mar 23, 2012 at 05:34 AM
    I cant believe half of the comments im reading.. Just bc this young guy had on a hoodie,his a thug.. I wear a hoodie,when im running/exercising.. And so do alot of ppl,especially ECU kids.. Are they thugs 2?? I wonder if this kid was "white" with a hoodie on,walking down the street with just "skittles & a tea" in his hand,in a "black neighborhood" what would yall "white racist folks" say then.. Im so sick of WITN & this comment site.. What really happen to "monitoring the comments" thus young man had a family,we might have "freedom of speech" but at least some can have respect!!!
  • by assimillation on Mar 23, 2012 at 03:22 AM
    its a shame, see, horrors like this shows how divided the so called United states is! no wonder other countries get our jobs and money! we fight ourselves, over dress code and color of skin, we make ourselves look stupid by racism, other countries look at us and laugh, they say come work for us! we will pay more, and you dont have to worry about Racism!!!dont believe me!!!! google it!!we as a nation, need to stomp out racism, if we dont, then we will never be THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!!!point blank.
    • reply
      by nightrain on Mar 23, 2012 at 12:37 PM in reply to assimillation
      I actually agree with you on this one. We can start by refering to all Americans as Americans. Not African-American, Asian-American, etc. We will know race does not matter when the census, colleges, doctors, etc. stop asking you to identify yourself as belonging to a certain group.
  • by SMDH Location: GREENVILLE on Mar 22, 2012 at 08:06 PM
    Has anyone heard the 911 call a neighbor made that sounded like a child calling for help....??
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 23, 2012 at 05:32 AM in reply to SMDH
      At 17, men have an adult voice. On the contrary, most Hispanic people I know, have a higher pitch to their voice than other races.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Mar 23, 2012 at 01:53 PM in reply to
        If you listen to the 911 call you can hear what Zimmerman's voice sounds like. The voice that was screaming sounded nothing like Zimmerman. This is just my opinion, but it seems fairly obvious that it was Trayvon screaming.
  • by Duke again on Mar 22, 2012 at 06:11 PM
    I hope everyone remembers the Duke lacrosse thing... This appears very similar and, just like the Duke students, the media convicted them before all the facts were known...
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 22, 2012 at 08:05 PM in reply to Duke again
      The difference is...well you know, the lacrosse players weren't murdered so they could actually give testimony.
      • reply
        by Duke again on Mar 23, 2012 at 05:31 AM in reply to
        The media is doing the exact same thing of convicting before the facts are made available. Your use, and most people of this message board and other media sources, of the word "murder" is already pushing for this.
    • reply
      by Mike on Mar 23, 2012 at 07:07 AM in reply to Duke again
      How stupid to you sound? This does not appear similar in any way shape form or fashion. This is cold blooded murder!
      • reply
        by To Mike on Mar 23, 2012 at 09:32 AM in reply to Mike
        Like the Duke Lacrosse situation where the media painted a picture of "poor working single mom" and "rich white thugs", the media is painting a picture of "an innocent child with candy" and a "racist, trigger happy, murderer". The facts in the Duke case proved otherwise and the facts in this case will do the same. You might claim I sound stupid, but I am intelligent enough to realize that I need to think for myself versus believing everything the media tells me.
  • by killer on Mar 22, 2012 at 05:12 PM
    Remember, innocent untill proven guilty, A lot of hearsay going on! You can march and riot all you want,This case belongs to the Justice System!What happened in LA was wrong all the way around. To me riots and burning your own neighbor hood is no more than treason and those that riot to get a verdict a certain way is no more than a act of terrorism!!!
  • by Really? Location: Greenville on Mar 22, 2012 at 05:06 PM
    This is not an issue of race people, this CHILD was shot for absolutely no reason at all and who cares what race Mr. Zimmerman is, he killed an innocent child. And so what he had on a hoodie. Everybody wheres hoodies nowadays. Hell Aeropostle makes hoodies, big deal. So if he wears a hoodie, that makes him a thug? What has this world come to? That you can kill an unarmed individual and then go solely on the fact that he told you it was self defense, without so much as taking him downtown. My son leaves to go to work at 3am in the morning and lots of times it would be cold out, so yeah he wore a hoodie. If he was seen walking in our apartment complex at that time of the morning going to his car and someone thought he looked suspicious and shot him, I would be absolutey outraged. Further investigation has turned up prior arrests on this man for domestic violence and assault on a law enforcement officer. He may have even shot him accidentally then got scared and said self-defense. In any case, he should have done what 9-1-1 told him to do and quit following him and let REAL law enforcement handle it. My heart goes out to his family.
  • by Father of a Black teen Location: Kinston on Mar 22, 2012 at 04:31 PM
    First of all my children do get money and privileges. FROM me and their mother. Because WE work and THEY are A students excelling in everything they do. My oldest is a Senior in HS in the Free Press weekly for her academic accomplishments. So before you imply all blacks receive a welfare check do your research. There are more people on it numbers wise that look just like you. Had Zimmerman killed a *suspisious white teen he would under the jail. Like I said before if that was my child he would already be serve the same fate as the child.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 22, 2012 at 05:49 PM in reply to Father of a Black teen
      If Zimmerman was hispanic or black and killed a white kid, this would not even be in the news...
      • reply
        by Mike on Mar 23, 2012 at 07:10 AM in reply to
        If he was not arrested then YES IT WOULD! There is no way that white people would let a black man kill a white boy and get away with it. Especailly if they had the same evidence and information that they have against Zimmerman.!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 23, 2012 at 08:46 AM in reply to Father of a Black teen
      Gotta put race in it don't you. Get over yourselves.
  • by nunya business Location: greenville on Mar 22, 2012 at 04:08 PM
    To all of the people up here bashing this kid with racial anamosity.....you should all be ashamed. Like with every story there is two sides. We are all entitled to our opinions, but we do not have the right to disrespect someone so young who has lost their live due to someone overtly protectiveness. If this child had been breaking into someone car or house then maybe i cound understand. But if you are following me and all I'm doing is walking home then yeah i will confront you. But Zimmerman was a punk not a protector because he pulled a gun out on someone who had nothing but skittles and a soda. Where is the justice-if it had been the other way around Trayvon would be arrested.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 23, 2012 at 12:23 PM in reply to nunya business
      But Trayvon Martin DIDN'T live that community.
  • by Teacher on Mar 22, 2012 at 04:00 PM
    Everyone should check this out. http://www.collegenews.com/article/trayvon_martin_911_call_made_by_alledged_murderer_george_zimmerman
  • by K on Mar 22, 2012 at 03:34 PM
    I will play devil's advocate here from my over 25 yrs dealing with thugs of all races. That kid could have had a 9 mm in the pocket of his hoodie; Zimmerman didn't know if he did or didn't. However, it is my professional opinion that Zimmerman was a wannabe police but maybe couldn't pass the exam. I think he was a loose cannon. As far as race goes or age, I've been shot through the gut by a 13-yo half-hispanic half-black child and I am white. We should all be blind to color because we all have to live in this world together. I think Zimmerman needs a thorough psych eval. I really hope that he does not try to get off by saying it was self-defense. He really needs to rethink that. And I certainly hope he has more morality than to plead temporary insanity. It's a horrible shame any way you look at it. A kid is dead and nothing is going to bring him back.
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