On February 26, 17 year old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in Sanford Florida while returning from a trip to a local 7-11. The Martin family was visiting friends in the gated community on the evening that the boy was killed. He went to the store to pick up candy and was spotted by Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer. While Zimmerman claims he shot Trayvon in self defense, the Martin family believes the shooting was racially motivated. They point to the 911 calls from Trayvon which they believe depict their son as terrified and being chased by Zimmerman. His mother told Matt Lauer that “He committed no crime. My son wasn’t doing anything but walking on the sidewalk, and I don’t understand why this situation got out of control.”
The controversy in this case stems from the fact that Zimmerman has not been arrested. Ben Crump, the attorney for the Martin family has spoken out questioning the legal system and when Zimmerman is going to be brought to justice. He emphasized to Matt Lauer that the boy had a bag of skittles and the shooter had a nine millimeter gun. The boy was also 80 pounds lighter than Zimmerman.
The case is now in the hands of the State Attorney’s office, who has the power to file charges or present evidence to a grand jury.
Trayvon’s family describes him as a nice, mild-mannered kid who never had a run-in with the law. They believe he was trying to get away from Zimmerman, and Zimmerman continued to pursue him.
In the 911 phone calls, police dispatchers instructed Zimmerman not to pursue Martin, to which he responded, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good or on drugs or something. He’s a black male. Something’s wrong with him. He’s coming to check me out.”
Neighbors called 911 shortly after the struggle to report that the two were wrestling right on the back of a porch. They could hear someone yelling “Help” and then gunshots erupted shortly after.
The reason why Zimmerman’s self defense claim has stood this long so far is probably because of Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which makes a claim of self defense much easier than in some states. However, Crump does not believe that Zimmerman has a legal recourse because he was not at his home . He was on the sidewalk in a common area. He says Zimmerman got out of his car to chase the boy.