Update, Mar. 10 @ 10:28 am:
Thanks to the combined efforts of the national media and concerned citizens, police will release the audio tape of a 911 call made by a Neighborhood Watch vigilante who shot and killed an unarmed teenager nearly a month ago.
ABC News reports that the Sanford police department in Orlando, Florida will release the tape to the media next week. The family of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin hopes the 911 tape will shed light on what really happened on Feb. 26, when Trayvon walked from his father’s house to a nearby convenience store to buy candy for his 13-year-old brother.
On his way back from the store, carrying only a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona ice tea, Trayvon was spotted by 26-year-old George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was the self-appointed Neighborhood Watch “captain” of the gated community called The Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, 20 miles north of Orlando.
Trayvon lived with his mother in Miami, but he was visiting his father and stepmother in the mixed race subdivision.
A police report indicates that Zimmerman called 911 to report a “suspicious person” in the area. The police dispatcher reportedly told Zimmerman to “stand down” and wait for backup to arrive shortly.
But Zimmerman, who is white, ignored that order and exited his vehicle to confront Trayvon, who is black.
A fistfight ensued and Trayvon apparently got the best of Zimmerman. Police found him standing over Trayvon, who was dead from a single gunshot wound to the chest. Zimmerman was bleeding from his nose and the back of his head. He was armed with a 9mm handgun which he was licensed to carry, according to the police report.
A police officer at the scene said Zimmerman stated, “I was yelling for someone to help me but no one would help me,” — probably an indication that Zimmerman was not well liked by his neighbors.
Police took Zimmerman in for questioning but, despite confessing to shooting Trayvon, he was released because police said he had a squeaky clean background, which included a college degree in Criminal Justice.
But ABC News did a little digging and learned that Zimmerman has a past history of violence. He was arrested in 2005 for resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.
Trayvon’s father, Tracy Martin, said his son’s background was also clean. According to ABC News, Tracy Martin described his son, who loved sports and dreamed of being an aviation mechanic, as “a real mild-mannered young man,” who “never got in trouble, never had any trouble with the law.”
The family’s lawyer, Ben Crump, says the family is calling for Zimmerman’s arrest so that, in Tracy Martin’s words, “Justice can be served.”
Police had declined to press charges or to investigate the case any further until intense pressure from the media was brought to bear on them. The Sanford police dept. had also refused to release the 911 audio to the family despite repeated requests.
“He was a good kid,” Crump said in an interview with CBS.
“He (Zimmerman) didn’t have to get out of his car,” said Crump, who filed a lawsuit to force police to release the 911 tape. “If he never gets out of his car, there is no reason for self-defense. Trayvon only has skittles. [Zimmerman] has the gun.”