20 Things You Need to Know About the Tragic Killing of Trayvon Martin
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On February 26, 2012, a 17-year-old African-American named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida. The shooter was George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old man. Zimmerman admits killing Martin, but claims he was acting in self-defense. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, passed in 2005, allows people to use deadly force if they believe they’re in imminent danger. Three weeks after Martin’s death, no arrests have been made and Zimmerman remains free.
FBI tells ABC Newsthey are monitoring the Trayvon Martin investigation and have been in touch with local authorities. Late Monday, March 20, after a letter from the NAACP, the United States Department of Justice, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney announced they were launching “a thorough and independent review” of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The Florida state attorney has sent the Trayvon Martin case to a grand jury. The Seminole County grand jury will be called to session on Tuesday, April 10.
Here’s everything you need to know about the case:
1. Zimmerman called the police to report Martin’s “suspicious” behavior, which he described as “just walking around looking about.” Zimmerman was in his car when he saw Martin walking on the street. He called the police and said: “There’s a real suspicious guy. This guy looks like he’s up to no good, on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around looking about… These a**holes always get away” [Orlando Sentinel]
2. Zimmerman pursued Martin against the explicit instructions of the police dispatcher:
Dispatcher: “Are you following him?”
Dispatcher: “OK, we don’t need you to do that.”
3. Prior to the release of the 911 tapes, Zimmerman’s father released a statement claiming “[a]t no time did George follow or confront Mr. Martin.” [Sun Sentinel]
4. Zimmerman was carrying a a Kel Tel 9 millimeter handgun. Martin was carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. [ABC News]
6. Martin’s English teacher described him as “as an A and B student who majored in cheerfulness.” [Orlando Sentinel]
7. Martin had no criminal record. [New York Times]
8. Zimmerman “was charged in July 2005 with resisting arrest with violence and battery on an officer. The charges appear to have been dropped.” [Huffington Post]
9. Zimmerman called the police 46 times since Jan. 1, 2011. [Miami Herald]
10. According to neighbors, Zimmerman was “fixated on crime and focused on young, black males.” [Miami Herald]
11. Zimmerman “had been the subject of complaints by neighbors in his gated community for aggressive tactics” [Huffington Post]
12. A police officer “corrected” a key witness. “The officer told the witness, a long-time teacher, it was Zimmerman who cried for help, said the witness. ABC News has spoken to the teacher and she confirmed that the officer corrected her when she said she heard the teenager shout for help.” [ABC News]
13. Three witnesses say they heard a boy cry for help before a shot was fired. “Three witnesses contacted by The Miami Herald say they saw or heard the moments before and after the Miami Gardens teenager’s killing. All three said they heard the last howl for help from a despondent boy.” [Miami Herald]
14. The officer in charge of the crime scene also received criticism in 2010 when he initially failed to arrest a lieutenant’s son who was videotaped attacking a homeless black man. [New York Times]