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Black teenager killed by Neighborhood Watch captain after buying candy

Published time: March 09, 2012 22:19
Edited time: March 10, 2012 02:19
Photo from defendernetwork.com

Photo from defendernetwork.com

The family of a slain 17-year-old is looking for answers after a Miami boy was gunned down by a member of the local Neighborhood Watch group outside of his father’s home in a gated community.

Neighborhood Watch captain George Zimmerman, 26, admits to police that he fired the shot that killed high school junior Trayvon Martin outside of Orlando, Florida last month, but law enforcement has yet to press any charges on the murderer. Police that responded to 911 calls found Martin bleeding, face down, with a hole in chest and Zimmerman on the scene, but despite openly admitting his involvement, he has not been charged with the murder of the boy.

Zimmerman says he fired the fatal shot in self-defense. Martin’s family, on the other hand, wants to know what kind of threat the 17-year-old posed for the armed Neighborhood Watch member. Unlike Zimmerman, Martin was weaponless and on foot when he was killed. His assailant was in a car, nearly a decade his elder and was equipped with a 9mm handgun.

Martin didn’t normally walk around the area, as he lived elsewhere in the state with his mother and had only left his father’s house momentarily to pick up candy mid-way through a televised basketball game. If Zimmerman did kill Martin in self defense, the cops are doing little to answer questions for the deceased boy’s family. Though they have a recorded telephone call in their possession that Zimmerman made to the cops before the kill, authorities are not making them available and have done nothing to explain what happened between Martin’s candy store purchase and his last breath.

“He had a gun, and Trayvon had Skittles," Benjamin Crump, the family’s attorney, tells the Miami Herald. “We want justice.”

According to what little information the police have released, Zimmerman dialed 911 to report a suspicious person. From there he followed Martin in his car and an altercation erupted a few yards from the home the boy was staying at. The cops refused to comment to the Herald over how the altercation began or who confronted whom first. “We need to get all the facts and circumstances straight so that we can determine what truly happened,” Sanford, Florida Police Chief Blil Lee explains to the Herald.

Crump adds that he has asked for the tapes of the 911 recordings but authorities will not release them as they investigate the case. Both the attorney and family are interested in the conversation Zimmerman had with cops before he killed the teenager, but for now the family will have to wait.

For now, it seems like all anyone in law enforcement is willing to discuss is that, yes, Zimmerman admitted to firing the shot, albeit in self defense. That’s not enough for many, though.

“We need answers,” the family’s attorney adds. “The neighborhood watch was supposed to protect him, not kill him.”

“Why isn’t this guy in jail?” asks the boy’s mother, Tracy Martin. “He said my son was a threat. How was he a threat? I don’t know what he could’ve done to generate that reaction; a 140-pound kid.”

"When I asked the police why there’s been no arrest, they told me they respected the guy’s background, that he had a four-year degree; that he was clean," Tracy Martin adds. “But did they check my unarmed son’s record? No.”

Crump is one who feels like racial bias could be at play, whether from Zimmerman, the police department or both. The assailant is white; Martin is black.

“He was stereotyped for some reason,” Crump tells the Associated Press. “Why was Trayvon suspicious? There are hundreds of children in that community.”

“I think a stereotype must have been placed on the kid,” Crump adds, equating race as “the 600lb elephant in the room” in terms of the investigation.