Mark Dayton says George Zimmerman "went way beyond what was necessary"

Zimmerman might be innocent in a court of law, but he's guilty in the court of common sense, Dayton suggested.
Zimmerman might be innocent in a court of law, but he's guilty in the court of common sense, Dayton suggested.

Yesterday, in his first public comments on the George Zimmerman case, Gov. Mark Dayton offered up a qualified argument for why he thinks Zimmerman probably should've been convicted of some sort of crime for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

SEE ALSO: Rep. Tony Cornish blames "liberal media" for hyping unrest following Trayvon Martin verdict

While acknowledging he doesn't have all the information the jury did, Dayton said his "personal opinion" is that "Mr. Zimmerman went way beyond what was necessary in the situation."

Dayton also connected the Trayvon Martin tragedy with his own 2012 decision to veto an expansion of Minnesota's so-called "Stand Your Ground" law. That bill, authored by Tony Cornish and passed by the then-MNGOP controlled Legislature, would've broadened the circumstances under which gun owners could lawfully use deadly force without first being obligated to try to retreat.

In a Minnesota with more robust Stand Your Ground protections, Dayton said, there could be "more severe penalties in Minnesota for shooting somebody else's dog in your backyard than there would be... for shooting a human being."

However, Andrew Branca, a Massachusetts lawyer and the author of The Law of Self-Defense, told Policy Mic that Stand Your Ground laws had no bearing on the Trayvon Martin case.

"At the moment George Zimmerman used deadly force in self-defense his attacker was pinning him to the ground and reaching for his gun," Branca said, citing his interpretation of testimony during Zimmerman's trail. "Under such circumstances no reasonable avenue of self-defense exists, so there is no duty to retreat even absent 'stand your ground.'"

But Dayton suggested that legalities aside, the issues involved in cases like Zimmerman's should also be analyzed through the lens of common sense.

"We have to use common sense here," Dayton said, according to a Star Tribune report. "People have a right to protect themselves. On the other hand, we have a sanctity of life that I think we all believe in."

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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