ONTD Political

ABC News Uncovers Questionable Police Conduct in Trayvon Martin's Case

12:05 am - 03/14/2012
By MATT GUTMAN (@mattgutmanABC) and SENI TIENABESO
ORLANDO, Fla., March 13, 2012

ABC News has uncovered questionable police conduct in the investigation of the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white neighborhood watch captain in Florida, including the alleged "correction" of at least one eyewitness' account.

Sanford Police Chief Billy Lee said there is no evidence to dispute self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman's assertion that he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin out of self-defense.

"Until we can establish probable cause to dispute that, we don't have the grounds to arrest him," Lee said.
Martin had been staying at his father's girlfriend's house during the night of the NBA All-Star game Feb. 26.
The teenager went out to get some Skittles and a can of ice tea. On his way back into the gated suburban Orlando community, Martin, wearing a hood, was spotted by Zimmerman, 28.

According to law enforcement sources who heard Zimmerman's call to a non-emergency police number, he told a dispatcher "these a..holes always get away."

Zimmerman described Martin as suspicious because he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and walking slowly in the rain, police later told residents at a town hall.
A dispatcher told him to wait for a police cruiser, and not leave his vehicle.
But about a minute later, Zimmerman left his car wearing a red sweatshirt and pursued Martin on foot between two rows of townhouses, about 70 yards from where the teen was going.

Lee said Zimmerman's pursuit of Martin did not of itself constitute a crime.
Witnesses told ABC News a fist fight broke out and at one point Zimmerman, who outweighed Martin by more than 100 pounds, was on the ground and that Martin was on top.
Austin Brown, 13, was walking his dog during the time of the altercation and saw both men on the ground but separated.

Brown along with several other residents heard someone cry for help, just before hearing a gunshot. Police arrived 60 seconds later and the teen was quickly pronounced dead.
According to the police report, Zimmerman, who was armed with a handgun, was found bleeding from the nose and the back of the head, standing over Martin, who was unresponsive after being shot.
An officer at the scene overheard Zimmerman saying, "I was yelling for someone to help me but no one would help me," the report said.

Witnesses told ABC News they heard Zimmerman pronounce aloud to the breathless residents watching the violence unfold "it was self-defense," and place the gun on the ground.

But after the shooting, a source inside the police department told ABC News that a narcotics detective and not a homicide detective first approached Zimmerman. The detective pepppered Zimmerman with questions, the source said, rather than allow Zimmerman to tell his story. Questions can lead a witness, the source said.

Another officer corrected a witness after she told him that she heard the teen cry for help.
The officer told the witness, a long-time teacher, it was Zimmerman who cried for help, said the witness. ABC News has spoken to the teacher and she confirmed that the officer corrected her when she said she heard the teenager shout for help.

The Sanford Police Department refused to release 911 calls by witnesses and neighbors.

Several of the calls, ABC News has learned, contain the sound of the single gunshot.

Lee publically admitted that officers accepted Zimmerman's word at the scene that he had no police record.

Two days later during a meeting with Trayvon's father Tracy Martin, an officer told the father that Zimmerman's record was "squeaky clean."

Yet public records showed that Zimmerman was charged with battery against on officer and resisting arrest in 2005, a charge which was later expunged.

Zimmerman has not responded to requests for a comment.

"I asked [the police] well did you check out my son's record?" Tracy Martin told ABC News in an interview Sunday. "What about his?...Trayvon was innocent."

Trayvon Martin had no arrest record or disciplinary action for violence as a student in North Miami's Krop High School.

On Monday Lee, seeking to head off racial unrest, tried to reassure the public that his department was doing all it could to reach a fair conclusion, as some in the crowd heckled him saying "a little black boy is dead."
Lee's department said it plans on passing its investigation over to the state's attorney office to determine whether or not to press charges against Zimmerman.

Trayvon Martin's parents described him as the kind of son who even at 17, allowed his parents to kiss him publicly.

"That was my baby, my youngest son," mother Sybrina Fulton told ABC News in an interview in Miami. "He meant a lot to me, I don't think the police department really understands that…I need justice for my family, I just want justice for my son."

Fulton is incensed that Zimmerman left his car despite being urged against it by dispatchers to stay put.

"My son didn't do anything he was walking home from the store. Why would the neighborhood watch guy would have a weapon?...It's just crazy.You are supposed to watch the neighborhood, not take the law into your own hands."




This is actually my first post here, but since I live in South Florida and it's all over the news here, and everyone is absolutely incensed by this and the complete lack of action on the part of the Sanford police.This story needs more national attention. It's the only way that some form of justice can be had Trayvon's family and to show just how sketchy Sanford's police department really is. 

Source
mollywobbles867 14th-Mar-2012 04:24 am (UTC)
Every time I hear something new about this case, I feel like lasers are going to shoot out of my eyes.

Edited at 2012-03-14 04:24 am (UTC)
iamglory 14th-Mar-2012 04:16 pm (UTC)
YESS
mirhanda 14th-Mar-2012 08:05 pm (UTC)
THIS
celtic_thistle 14th-Mar-2012 08:35 pm (UTC)
Perfect first comment.
iheartomntd 14th-Mar-2012 04:35 am (UTC)
in South Florida, but the news stations have been covering it here, since Trayvon was from Miami.
tigerdreams 14th-Mar-2012 07:43 am (UTC)
I read the article you linked, and it was good... and then I made the mistake of poking around the website out of curiosity. I've never seen Men's Rights Activists in their natural habitat. It was terrifying. Not all of the writers there are like that, but... *shudder*
tigerdreams 14th-Mar-2012 03:45 pm (UTC)
Not all of them, certainly, but I saw a couple who identified as such, if I recall properly. And the comments... o_0
kyakki 14th-Mar-2012 04:30 am (UTC)
What.

Surely the police are confused. Self defense is what would have happened if Zimmerman was the one who died. A man with gun leaving his car to pursue an unarmed child who is walking home, and during his assault on said child shoots him dead? Not.

What happened here was flat out murder.
iheartomntd 14th-Mar-2012 04:39 am (UTC)
exactly, but Sanford police is apparently pretty well know for being racist as hell and treating minorities like second class citizens. You can tell by their whole treatment of Trayvon's parents and the police chief continually refer to this as an "event" rather than a senseless tragedy.
4eyedblonde 14th-Mar-2012 05:24 am (UTC)
This. How the FUCK did this turn into a self-defense case.
maladaptive 14th-Mar-2012 01:42 pm (UTC)
I think they're claiming self-defense because even if Zimmerman started it, he felt unsafe because the kid actually hit him back, so he was defending himself.

Basically twisting themselves into knots to cover for this white murderer. Seriously, protecting someone with a record of assault on an officer? Doesn't that get you snubbed by cops forever?
doverz 14th-Mar-2012 02:33 pm (UTC)
SMH if that's the logic from them. If Zimmerman died because of Trayvon, that would be self-defense.
vivianstcloud 14th-Mar-2012 02:50 pm (UTC)
Usually in self-defense, you can only return force with like force. If someone hits you, you can hit them back. But if someone hits you, you CANNOT shoot them. It's so ridiculous for the police to even claim some kind of self-defense. Ugh.
mirhanda 14th-Mar-2012 08:11 pm (UTC)
I don't think it was self defense, I think it was flat-out murder.

But, I think you're wrong about self-defense. If someone is trying to rape me, I don't have to rape him back, I can shoot him.
tigerdreams 14th-Mar-2012 04:40 am (UTC)
Seriously. Not to be insensitive, but I would've thought the dead kid was Exhibit A, the gun was Exhibit B, and the guy claiming to have committed "self defense" against an unarmed minor was Exhibit C.
iheartomntd 14th-Mar-2012 04:43 am (UTC)
we can thank Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law for this shit.
tigerdreams 14th-Mar-2012 04:51 am (UTC)
I'm not familiar with this. Do I want to know?
iheartomntd 14th-Mar-2012 04:54 am (UTC)
in a nutshell, you have the right to use deadly force if you feel threatened and you own a permit. The law is sketchy at best and allows a lot of a-holes like Zimmerman to walk away practically scotch free.
porcelain72 14th-Mar-2012 04:38 am (UTC)
Well, I for one am shocked, SHOCKED I TELL YOU, that there's something fishy about this story.
tigerdreams 14th-Mar-2012 04:38 am (UTC)
The detective pepppered Zimmerman with questions, the source said, rather than allow Zimmerman to tell his story. Questions can lead a witness, the source said.

He's not a witness, he's a suspect.

Witnesses told ABC News they heard Zimmerman pronounce aloud to the breathless residents watching the violence unfold "it was self-defense," and place the gun on the ground.

You accosted an unarmed minor without provocation, explicitly against the orders of a 911 dispatcher. You had nothing to "defend yourself" against.

At 17, Trayvon was legally still a child. You don't fucking let someone shoot and kill a child without even making them take a ride down to the station for questioning, guys. Is there a point at which racism spills over into gross incompetence?
iheartomntd 14th-Mar-2012 04:42 am (UTC)
and they corrected a witness statements. Seriously who does that?
tigerdreams 14th-Mar-2012 04:50 am (UTC)
Part of me knows the answer is "racist douchebags," but another part of me can't help but think that it's also "enormous fucking idiots who should never have been allowed to be cops in the first place because they lack the most basic level of competence to do the job." o_0
iheartomntd 14th-Mar-2012 04:58 am (UTC)
it's a bit of both. They had a huge thing about early last year, where a LT's son was captured on video sucking punching a black homeless man, and they didn't arrest him, and used the pretense that "they couldn't find him" when people started asking questions. It basically took local pressure for the son to turn himself in. And he walked away with a slap on the wrist.

There's more about police officers taking bribes and so forth. This PD is so freaking corrupted it's not even funny anymore. I hope this case gets more national attention and the DOJ starts a serious investigation.
girly123 14th-Mar-2012 05:03 am (UTC)
Sometimes cops do shit like this to prevent a case from ever going to trial. It's really fucked up.
tabaqui 14th-Mar-2012 04:47 am (UTC)
Oh, GOD.
I swear, my rage level is *so fucking high* right now.

This jackass needs to be in prison *yesterday*. Christ. Just...WTFWTFWTF!
sesmo 14th-Mar-2012 04:55 am (UTC)
The police appear to have misunderstood the law.

Self-defense is an affirmative defense to a charge of murder. Self-defense does not magically make a charge of manslaughter or murder go away. It is something a defendant can assert once it's been proven that the defendant did harm someone. It comes into play in COURT, not by police refusing to do their jobs.
iheartomntd 14th-Mar-2012 05:00 am (UTC)
thank you!
tigerdreams 14th-Mar-2012 05:12 am (UTC)
Good point. Zimmerman claiming "self-defense" at the scene was pretty much a confession, in that case. Another reason he should be behind bars.
mirhanda 14th-Mar-2012 08:11 pm (UTC)
THIS!!
liret 14th-Mar-2012 04:59 am (UTC)
They're saying they need proof that the guy who killed an unarmed kid didn't do it in 'self defense' before they can charge him? Does this mean I can shoot whoever I want, say I was defending myself, and even if that explanation doesn't make sense the police will go "Oh, we won't arrest you, no one's proved it didn't happen exactly like you said it did?" Because I don't think that's how the law usually works.
hammersxstrings 14th-Mar-2012 05:59 am (UTC)
well, it depends. are you black or are you white? is the person you shot black? or white?
crysania4 29th-Mar-2012 10:03 am (UTC)
Sadly, this is spot on.
schmanda 14th-Mar-2012 05:24 am (UTC)
The Sanford Police Department refused to release 911 calls by witnesses and neighbors.

They can do that? What of Florida's Sunshine Laws?
pandaseal 14th-Mar-2012 05:55 am (UTC)
MTE.
keeni84 14th-Mar-2012 12:23 pm (UTC)
THANK YOU.
mhael THIS.19th-Mar-2012 11:31 pm (UTC)
It's the first thing I thought when I found out what happened. "My God, that poor boy was MURDERED and the guy who MURDERED him is going to walk away without so much as a slap on the wrist."

Reverse the colors in this incident and you've got a black man doing life in prison, if not murdered by the State.

Seriously, fuck everything right now.
hammersxstrings 14th-Mar-2012 05:57 am (UTC)
that poor family :(

i'm happy people are pissed off. hopefully someone will be held accountable, eventually. especially among the police. I'm sick of cops getting a free pass to be assholes cause they're cops.
deathchibi 14th-Mar-2012 07:07 am (UTC)
Level of Surprise: 0.

This just - the poor family. A kid died senselessly to a wannabe vigilante with an agenda. :/ And the police are doing jack and shit.
fragbert 14th-Mar-2012 10:40 am (UTC)
I used to work in Sanford, in the late '80s. Nothing about this story surprises me. I've always been under the impression that the first line of the Sanford P.D. Uniform Manual is "First, remove your Klan outfit."

I still live in the same general broadcasting area as Sanford -- this is turning into another Casey Anthony Media CircusTM. Hopefully this time it will be a force for good.
aviv_b 14th-Mar-2012 03:02 pm (UTC)
Good. Sometimes you need a media circus to get the local clowns to do their job.
doverz 14th-Mar-2012 01:08 pm (UTC)
Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm, I thought it was the court's responsibility to prove whether or not the shooting was self-defense. It is the job of the police to arrest the suspect (obvious murderer), and then it's up to the court for someone to prosecute and defend him.

Hope the fucking POS who shot Trayvon gets arrested and goes to jail and the police department gets in trouble for not arresting someone who confessed to committing murder even if it was in "self-defense."
yeats COME ON NOW.14th-Mar-2012 01:25 pm (UTC)
bullshit to everyone who thinks "self-defense" is enough to keep a crime from being investigated. that's up to the state's attorneys when deciding to prosecute. everyone knows this...it's in the television constitution!

In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: The police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.
azur_blue 14th-Mar-2012 02:39 pm (UTC)
Ugh, this poor family.

I am beyond disgusted with this whole case. "Self-defense" my ass, you murdered a child!
angelus7988 14th-Mar-2012 07:47 pm (UTC)
ABC News Uncovers Questionable Police Conduct in Trayvon Martin's Case

...you mean aside from them not arresting the overzealous fucker? Sigh, you never get vigilantes when when they might do something useful...
mirhanda 14th-Mar-2012 08:02 pm (UTC)
Sanford Police Chief Billy Lee said there is no evidence to dispute self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman's assertion that he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin out of self-defense.

"Until we can establish probable cause to dispute that, we don't have the grounds to arrest him," Lee said.


This is bullhooey unless he is willing to say that if you kill someone in Florida and there are no witnesses, all you have to do is say "it was self defense" and no charges can be filed. Is he willing to say that? I didn't think so.
celtic_thistle 14th-Mar-2012 08:38 pm (UTC)
Ugh @ the mental and legal gymnastics the cops are doing to justify this MURDER. Fucking...ugh, I can't even.
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