At an Orlando press conference, the parents of Trayvon Martin said they no longer trust the Sanford Police Department to conduct an investigation into the death of their 17-year-old son who was returning to a Sanford home during a visit from Miami when he was fatally shot. Martin’s family are pointing to 911 calls released by police that they say depict a terrified teenager who was being chased by Zimmerman. Martin was found face down, unarmed, with a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. Dr. L. Ronald Durham, pastor at Greater Friendship Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, is organizing the rally. Durham told news media that Sharpton was asked to come by Martin’s family and attorneys.
The rally is set to be held at the First Shiloh Baptist Church at 7 p.m. CBS’ “This Morning” reported Martin’s parents said recently released 911 calls prove Zimmerman was not acting in self-defense when he shot Martin, as he has claimed. Zimmerman, 28, remains free at press time. His father is defending him, saying he is not a racist and did not provoke an altercation that allegedly led to the shooting. According to the 911 tapes, Zimmerman called authorities to report Martin as a suspicious person. The operator told him police were on their way and Zimmerman did not need to follow Martin.
“It can’t be self-defense,” says Tracy Martin, father of Trayvon Martin.
“What was he gonna do, attack him with a bag of Skittles?”
“(Zimmerman) was reacting to the color of his skin,’’ Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, told Matt Lauer on Monday (March 19). “He committed no crime. My son wasn’t doing anything but walking on the sidewalk, and I just don’t understand why this situation got out of control.’’
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton accused Sanford police of botching the investigation and criticized them for not arresting Zimmerman. Martin was unarmed. They say the police department still hasn’t arrested Zimmerman because he is white and their son was Black. According to Zimmerman’s father, Zimmerman is Hispanic. “Do we really believe that if Trayvon Martin would have pulled the trigger, he would not be arrested?” said Benjamin Crump, their attorney. “This is obviously a cover-up, and we need a sweeping overhaul of the Sanford Police Department.” Sanford police Sgt. David Morgenstern said the department stands by its investigation but welcomes help from any outside agency. FBI agent David Couvertier said the agency has been in contact with Sanford police and is monitoring the case. U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla. and Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett said Friday they supported federal involvement.
“We want the oversight,” Triplett said. “We want the review of it.”
Florida law has a “stand your ground law,” which allows wide latitude in using deadly force if someone feels reasonably threatened.
Zimmerman has not spoken to the media. State prosecutors will now decide whether he met the legal standard for the state’s self- defense law, or whether he should be arrested. The problem, explains CBS News legal analyst Jack Ford, is that only two people are known to have witnessed the incident – Zimmerman, who insists he was attacked and was only defending himself, and Martin, who was killed.
Thus, the most important thing for lawyers on both sides will be to try and find someone else who can provide some account of the altercation which ended in the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager.