Seminole County in Florida is in the national spotlight as news came from the Grand Jury, announcing it will investigate the death of an unarmed black teen that has caught the attention of justice groups nationwide.
Trayvon Martin, 17, who was fatally shot on February 26 by George Zimmerman, 28, a neighborhood watch volunteer is now under investigation by the Justice Department according to an article in the New York Times.
Allegedly Martin was walking in the rain with his hood up and on his way to his father’s girlfriend’s house when Zimmerman spotted him. Zimmerman mentioned a rash of recent burglaries in the neighborhood in his police report and thought it was odd to see the young man walking alone at night. Martin was returning from the story where he bought skittles and a tea.
Zimmerman followed, and later gave chase on foot after being told by a 911 dispatcher, to back off and wait for the police. Soon after a shot was fired from the 9 mm that Zimmerman was legally carrying according the The Times. The dispatcher was still on the line when the shot was heard in the distance. Soon after the shot was fired the 911 dispatch office received a series of calls from neighbors. Following an outcry to hear the multiple 911 calls from Zimmerman and neighbors, the police department released the tapes.
Zimmerman claimed it was in self-defense and has not been charged raising concerns with one of Florida’s laws.
In 2005 Florida passed the “stand your ground” law that allows people to use deadly force away from their homes if they have reasonable fear that an assailant could seriously harm them or another according to an article at CNN. The law has been an issue since, and is again in question within this latest shooting, as the CNN article states Florida had become a “shoot first” state.
This morning ABC News released an exclusive story with Martin’s girlfriend who was allegedly on the phone with him, via Bluetooth headset, up to the moment he was shot.
She recalled Martin saying he was being followed, before thinking he lost Zimmerman. She allegedly heard a short altercation before the line went dead and there was no answer when she tried to call back.
“We’re going to turn this over to the Justice Department because the family does not trust the Sanford Police Department to have anything to do with the investigation,” said Martin’s family Attorney Benjamin Crump to ABC News.
An online petition at change.org, helped push for the federal investigation in the case – the petition currently has 598,641 signatures.
The Times also reported that Zimmerman is studying criminal justice.
ABC News stated that Zimmerman was not part of any of the 22,000 registered watch groups nationwide and that he violated major parts of the Neighborhood Watch Manuel, “It should be emphasized to members that they do not possess police powers. And they shall not carry weapons or pursue vehicles.”