Case of Florida Teenager Killed by Neighborhood Watch Captain Intensifies

Trayvon Martin's family says the killing was racially motivated and police withheld significant information about the shooter.

Posted: 03/12/2012 11:12 AM EDT
police misconduct, racial profiling, National News, Trayvon Martin

The case of Trayvon Martin, the Orlando, FL, teenager shot to death by a neighborhood watch captain a month ago, is gaining an intensifying national media spotlight.

Over the weekend, Martin’s family said they believe the youth’s death was racially motivated and that police had withheld information pointing to the fact that the shooter had a violent history.

Martin, a high school junior, was shot and killed Feb. 26 after an altercation with the head of a neighborhood watch group in a suburb of Sanford, FL. Before the incident, Martin had been visiting his father’s fiancée and his stepbrother in a gated community.

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain, saw Martin and called police to report a “suspicious person in the area.” Zimmerman, who is white, followed Martin in his vehicle. A police dispatcher told Zimmerman to stand down and let police take over. Zimmerman, however, apparently got into an altercation with the Black teenager. By the time police arrived, Martin had been fatally shot in the chest.

Over the weekend, Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, said the family thinks her son was killed because he was Black.

“I’m a normal mother. I just want justice for my son,” Fulton said. “My heart is broken. I keep thinking he is going to walk in through the door and the nightmare is going to end.”

The police said 28-year-old Zimmerman said the shooting was in self-defense. The family’s lawyer said public records indicate that Zimmerman had been arrested in 2005 in Orange County on charges of resisting arrest with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer.

“They just lied to the family,” said Benjamin L. Crump, the Martin family lawyer. “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.”

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