It all comes down to whose voice it is on the audio calling for help. Residents at the Twin lakes Retreat in Florida had become used to stolen bikes and grills. 28 year-old George Zimmerman offered to start a neighborhood watch. Now George Zimmerman is accused of shooting an unarmed Miami Gardens teenager. This has triggered racial tensions as Trayvon Martin, the teenager is African American.
Zimmerman took the neighborhood watch very seriously. He had a license to carry a weapon and regularly patrolled the area with his dog. Zimmerman was also studying criminal justice. Zimmerman was even credited with solving a few neighborhood crimes. But now 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is dead. Did Zimmerman have a false sense of authority that cost Martin his life? Trayvon’s family’s attorneys claim racial profiling in this gated community led up to the murder of Trayvon Martin.
Yet Zimmerman did not work alone. He called police 46 times since Jan. 1, 2011 to report disturbances, break-ins, windows left open and other incidents. Nine of those times, he saw someone suspicious. On the night in question, Zimmerman called police dispatch and stated, “Hey, we’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there’s a real suspicious guy at Retreat View Circle. This guy looks like he’s up to no good.” Zimmerman apparently reported that the black male was walking slowly, looked drugged and appeared to be looking at people’s houses.
Calls to 911 reported a scuffle and someone crying for help. A shot is heard. Subsequently, Trayvon is found face down on the ground near a pathway. Zimmerman told police that he was the one crying for help. He claims the unarmed Trayvon Martin started the fight and that he shot him in self-defense. Zimmerman has yet to be charged; however, the matter remains under investigation. In the mean time, racial tensions have skyrocketed. On at least two previous occasions, Sanford Police have been accused of giving favorable treatment to relatives of officers involved in violent encounters with blacks. Whether Zimmerman will be charged remains unknown. However, no matter what the result of the investigation, it is certain that someone will be upset with the outcome. Trayvon-Martin-
Update 3-20-12: Still no charges filed against Zimmerman; however, a 13 year old witness has surfaced. Austin McLendon was apparently standing less than 20 yards away from Martin when he was shot. He said he heard screams for help and than heard a gun shot. In another account, it is said that Austin saw a someone laying on the ground screaming for help. Police interviewed Austin early in the investigation so whatever he originally told authorities is likely to be most accurate.
Update 3-21-12: Trayvon apparently was talking to his girlfriend seconds before he was shot according to Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Martin's family. The phone call between Martin and his girlfriend allegedly describe the last moments of Martin's life. The statement of Crump has resulted in the involvement of the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the FBI. Outrage. Florida State Attorney Norm Wolfinger has also stated that he had ordered an "expeditious review" of the investigation "utilizing the investigative resources of the Seminole County Grand Jury, which will be called to session." You can bet it will center around the audio tape for the 911 call. 911 Video
It will also center on the 16 year old girlfriend's recollection of the phone conversation: "He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man," Martin's friend said. "I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run, but he said he was not going to run... Trayvon said, 'What are you following me for,' and the man said, 'What are you doing here.' Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again, and he didn't answer the phone." (ABC News.)
Emergency and nonemergency calls concerning the attack describe the following:
"These a**holes always get away," Zimmerman said.
Dispatcher: "Are you following him?"
Zimmerman: "Yeah."Dispatcher: "We don't need you to do that."
An altercation seems to be heard.... A few moments later several 911 calls flooded in and Martin is killed by a single bullet. Now the national protests calling for justice grow louder. Can a Grand Jury do its job based only on the evidence?
Update 3-24-12: President Obama has called for a full investigation of the matter. Mean while, does one witness support Zimmerman's self defense claim?
Update 3-28-12: Geraldo Rivera has publicly apologized for saying that Martin was partially responsible for his own death because he was wearing a hoodie. "I'll bet you money, if he didn't have that hoodie on, that nutty neighborhood watch guy wouldn't have responded in that violent and aggressive way," Rivera said. Monday Rivera apologized to those who were offended by his remarks. "I apologize to anyone offended by what one prominent black conservative called my ‘very practical and potentially life-saving' campaign urging black and Hispanic parents not to let their children go around wearing hoodies."
Update 3-29-12: Spike Lee issues an apology to the McClain family as he erroneously retweeted their address as being Zimmerman's to 2500 followers. Is it ever right to harass friends and families of suspects or defendants?
Update 4-8-12: The special prosecutor investigating the killing of Trayvon Martin has decided not to convene a grand jury. The decision whether to file charges against George Zimmerman will be made by State Attorney Angela B. Corey. The former state prosecutor, Norman Wolfinger, recused himself from the case, saying that he was stepping away "in the interest of the public safety of the citizens of Seminole County and to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest." Gov. Rick Scott appointed Corey to replace Wolfinger. In the mean time, the investigation continues.
Update 4-20-12: A photograph released by ABC News shows blood on the back of George Zimmerman head from two minor cuts. The photo was taken three minutes after Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, If valid, it may support the contention of a violent confrontation prior to the shot. Zimmerman allegedly told police that Martin punched him in the face, climbed on top of him and slammed his head into the sidewalk. When the local police arrived at the scene, they found Zimmerman with a bloody nose, swollen lip and lacerations in the back of his head. Although paramedics gave him first aid, he did not need to go to the hospital. A judge set Zimmerman's bond at $150,000.
Update 5-16-12: Early media reports stirred up a lot of racial tension. Was the purpose of such half truths to create a media frenzy to increase ratings? Myth 1: This was a white on black crime. Truth 1: George Zimmerman is a Hispanic mix. His skin color is not all that much lighter than Trayvon Martin's. Friends of Zimmerman claim he has friends of all races and is not a bigot as suggested by the media. Myth 2: The police never arrested Zimmerman or took him into custody. Truth 2: A few weeks after the incident Zimmerman is seen on video in the police station in handcuffs. It is only after the states attorney said there was not enough evidence at that time to pursue prosecution that Zimmerman was released. Myth 3: The police video showed no injuries to Zimmerman. Truth 3: Enhanced video documented two cuts to the back of Zimmerman's head. Myth 4: Zimnmerman sought no medical treatment. Truth 4: Zimmerman was treated at the scene for cuts and an injury to the nose by emergency personnel. The next day he saw his family physician. He had a broken nose, black eyes, cuts on the back of his head and a minor back injury according to medical records compiled by his doctor, ABC News reports Myth 5: Travon had no injuries to his hands so therefore no struggle occurred. Truth 5: Recently released autopsy reports document broken skin on Trayvons hands consistent with punching someone.
Neither Trayvon nor anyone else deserved to die that day and this tragedy certainly could have been avoided. But people need to stick to the facts and quit sensationalizing these unfortunate incidents in order to stir up a media frenzy. The original prosecutor did not feel there was enough evidence to pursue charges. Yet under public pressure, a new special prosecutor known for liberally charging defendants was appointed to the case. Keep in mind that our system of justice demands that every person is presumed innocent unless proved otherwise after a fair trial by a jury of his peers.