On Sun., Feb. 26, 17-year-old Trayvon “Trey” Martin was visiting his father at his home in The Retreat at Twin Lakes, a gated community in Sanford, 20 miles north of Orlando, Florida. During a break from watching the NBA All-Star game, he walked to a nearby convenience store for snacks, which included Skittles for his 13-year-old brother Chad. While on his way back to his father’s home, he encountered George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old college student and self-appointed captain of The Retreat at Twin Lakes neighborhood watch.
According to reports, Zimmerman followed Martin in his car and called 911 reporting “a suspicious person in the area”. Shortly after, an altercation between the two occurred, and by the time police officers had arrived Trayvon Martin was dead.
Zimmerman, licensed to carry the 9mm used to shoot Martin, alleges he did so in self-defense. The family’s attorney, Ben Crump, questions why a neighborhood watchman would carry a loaded weapon. Even more troubling is the fact that Zimmerman remains free.
The Sanford Police have yet to arrest Zimmerman and say the investigation regarding Trayvon’s death is still pending. His family is rightfully demanding answers and held a press conference with Crump on Thursday demanding the State Attorney’s Office charge Zimmerman with murder and the police department release the 911 tape “so we all will know what transpired on that 911 call“. Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s dad said, “My son left Sanford, Florida, in a body bag. George Zimmerman went home to sleep in his own bed. It’s senseless, and the police in Sanford, Florida isn’t giving any answers”:
Right now we’re all on pins and needles. When I asked the police why there’s been no arrest, they told me they respected [Zimmerman's] background, that he studied criminal justice for four years and that he was squeaky clean. My question to them was, did they run my child’s background check? They said yes. I asked them what they came up with, and they said nothing. So I asked if Zimmerman having a clean record, did that give him the right to shoot and kill an unarmed kid?
On Thursday evening, Chief Bill Lee of the Sanford Police Department acknowledged the account of what transpired on the night of February 26. He added that Zimmerman was advised not to follow Martin: “For some reason he felt that Trayvon, the way that he was walking or appeared seemed suspicious to him. He called this in and at one part of this initial call [the dispatcher] recommends him not to follow Trayvon. A police officer is on the way at that point. I believe that Mr. Zimmerman was trying to, by his account, find an address to give the officers and also trying to keep Trayvon in eyesight.”
According to Zimmerman, Lee says Martin noticed he was being followed and asked, “what’s your problem?” The altercation then ensued, and “he felt the need to defend himself. I don’t think it was his intent to go and shoot somebody”. Lee added that their investigation should be complete this week, and all evidence will be delivered to the Seminole County State Attorney’s Office: “We’re going to present all the information, and if they feel that based on all of the evidence that we’re able to produce that Mr. Zimmerman has satisfied the requirement that he shot in self defense, they may, but if not, he would be charged with some type of homicide or manslaughter. It is certainly and absolutely a tragedy, especially for the Martin Family. No one expects their teenage son to go the store and never come back,” Lee said.
An online petition was created to help the Martin Family obtain answers regarding the death of Trayvon, urging Florida’s 18th District State Attorney Norman Wolfinger and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to prosecute George Zimmerman. Click here to sign the petition.