Date: Tuesday, March 13, 2012
By: Glenn Minnis, BlackAmericaWeb.com
The grief-stricken family of a 17-year-old unarmed Florida teen shot to death near his gated community home by a self-appointed, pistol packing neighborhood watch captain is loudly questioning why the gunmen remains free to roam the streets nearly a month after his unprovoked attack.
Trayvon Martin died just steps away from his father's home after walking to a nearby convenience store to buy candy and juice for his younger brother. Confessed gunmen George Zimmerman, 28, called police moments before the deadly encounter to report citing a "suspicious person" near the Twin Lakes Townhouses and was immediately instructed by authorities to stop following the youth, an order he blatantly chose to ignore.
"For some reason, he felt that Trayvon, the way that he was walking or appeared, seemed suspicious to him," said Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee. "He called this in and was told a police officer was on the way. At some point, Trayvon noticed that he was being followed and asked, 'What's your problem?'"
"The bottom line is he had a gun, and Trayvon had a bag of Skittles," said lead family attorney Benjamin Crump, adding that the family has reached out to the Rev. Al Sharpton in hopes he will somehow aid them in their desperate quest for answers. "The family simply wants justice,” he said.
Armed with a 9mm handgun, Zimmerman tailed Martin by car for several blocks before jumping out of his vehicle on the evening of Sunday, Feb. 26, and confronting the high school junior face to face. Within moments, Martin, whose father has long lived in the area, lay bleeding to death from a gunshot blast to the chest. When police finally arrived, they found Zimmerman still standing over the youth's lifeless body, a gun visibly tucked in his waistband.
"What happened between him being confronted, up to the point where he got shot, nobody knows but him and that guy," Tracy Martin, the boy's father, told local reporters. "I want answers, but I don't have any to give — not for his mother, his brothers or sisters. We don't have nothing, but we want answers."
"As a mother, my heart is broken. My heart hurts ... I don’t understand," said a teary-eyed Sabrina Martin, Trayvon's mother. "He was just a baby."
According to Crump, Zimmerman, who has been described as a "loose cannon," initially claimed he shot the teen in self-defense, even though the encounter clearly ensued only after he approached Martin. Crump added that he has demanded Sanford police turn over recordings of the 911 call made by Zimmerman, as well as several others placed by witnesses, in hopes at least one of them will shed more light on what actually transpired. In one call, the deadly gunshots reportedly can be clearly heard.
"They say they are still investigating," said Crump. "I'm not sure what there is to investigate. What's suspicious about this kid? That's what the family is crying out, that our kid is like any other kid. The neighborhood watch was supposed to protect him, not kill him. He was a victim of racial profiling."
Meanwhile, reports have surfaced that Zimmerman has a history of being charged with violence, including a 2005 arrest in Orange County, where he was charged with resisting arrest with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer.
"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," said Tracy Martin. "My question to them was, did they run my child's background check? I asked them what they came up with, and they said nothing. If the shoes were on the other foot, and my son had done the shooting, he would be locked up right now."
Since the shooting, a former community resident has stepped forward to describe Zimmerman and other neighborhood watch members as "drunks, trouble-makers and lunatics."
Given all that ammunition, Crump's resolve to get to the bottom of what really happened grows each day.
"They just lied to the family," he said of police. "They just couldn't see why Zimmerman would do anything wrong or be violent. But not only do you know the guy killed this kid, because he admitted to it; you knew that he has a propensity for violence because of his past record. Why would any neighborhood watchmen be carrying a loaded gun, especially one with a history of violence? They are just trying to sweep this under a rug."
A spokeswoman for the Seminole County State Attorney's Office said the office has not received the case from police, and until an arrest is made it, would not be involved in filing charges against Zimmerman, whose whereabouts are now said to be unknown.
"We have not received a case from the Sanford PD yet," said Lynn Bumpus-Hooper. "But we will give it our full consideration when we do," adding that it is not rare for several weeks to pass before the State Attorney's Office receives a homicide or murder case from the police.
Funeral services for Martin were held on March 3 in Miami and were attended by more than 1,000 people, including many of his high school classmates.