After much anticipation, the 911 police recordings from the night of the death of Trayvon Martin were released over the weekend. And the continuing influx of details surrounding the shooting death of the 17-year-old, unarmed African-American high school junior have only caused the controversy over his death to reach an even higher level of national outrage.
Martin was shot while walking in his gated community in Sanford, Florida, a suburb of Orlando on the evening of Feb. 26.
One recording makes clear that George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain who followed and shot Martin, was told by a police officer not to trail young Martin. Despite those instructions, Zimmerman confronted Martin and an altercation apparently occurred that ended with the young man being shot.
In the tape where Zimmerman called police, he said, “This guy looks suspicious, like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something, walking around looking about. He’s just staring at all the houses.”
The police responded, at one point saying to Zimmerman, “Are you following him? We don’t need you to do that, okay?”
Another 911 call was from a woman in the complex who was listening to a young man crying and calling for help. The cries were followed by a gunshot that could be heard on the recording.
Ryan Julison, a spokesman for the family, said that the recording made clear several facts. “They reveal that George Zimmerman stalked Trayvon Martin, chased him down, engaged him in an altercation and shoots him in cold blood with Trayvon screaming for his life.”
Zimmerman has not denied being the shooter, but said that he shot the young man who was carrying a bag of Skittles candy in self-defense.
“The 911 calls make it blatantly obvious that this guy went looking for Trayvon. It’s incredulous that anyone in this position [could] manage a self-defense argument.”
After days of no official action, amid waves of calls for an arrest to be made, law enforcement officials in the small suburb of Sanford turned the case over to the Florida State Attorney’s office.
So far, Zimmerman has not been arrested, a fact that had caused a national spotlight on Florida’s so called “Stand Your Ground” law. It is legislation that enables people who perceive they are being threatened to use deadly force without first seeking to back away from the potential altercation.
Since the legislation became law in Florida in 2005, 16 other states have adopted similar laws.
The Trayvon Martin case has received national attention and the NAACP and the National Action Network have become heavily involved in protesting the shooting as well as calling for an arrest to be made. NAN's leader, the Rev. Al Sharpton, will lead a ralley in Orlando on Thursday regarding the case.
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