Trayvon Martin 911 tapes: Who screamed for help before shot rang out?
Police and the parents of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager shot by a neighborhood watch captain, differ in their interpretation of 911 tapes, specifically about who was yelling for help.
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At the time of the shooting, Trayvon was staying in the Retreat at Twin Lakes with his father and his father's fiancée to wait out a 10-day suspension from school. His family declined to say why the boy had been suspended, but said it wasn't for anything violent or criminal.Skip to next paragraph
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Trayvon had left his father's house, where he was watching a college basketball tournament, to go to a local convenience store, where he bought an iced tea and a bag of Skittles. He was on his way back to the house when Zimmerman spotted him.
To the family and their lawyers, the tapes and eyewitness account support their theory that Zimmerman had full control of the situation from the start.
“Racism doesn’t make you go get a gun and shoot someone,” Ms. Jackson, the family's lawyer, told the media. “Racism makes you profile them. What made him shoot was that he was one of them; he felt he was a cop.”
According to police, instead of heeding the dispatcher's warning, Zimmerman said he got out of his SUV to follow Trayvon. At that point, Trayvon came toward him and the two began to fight. Zimmerman said he ended up on the ground, where Trayvon punched him in the face. After yelling for help, Zimmerman said, he pulled his 9 mm gun from his waistband and fired.
While one eyewitness has said there was no scuffle, another has said he saw Zimmerman on his back on the ground. According to the police incident report, Zimmerman's nose was bloody and his shirt was grass stained.
Police also said that Trayvon's father, Tracy Martin, told them the voice pleading for help was not Trayvon. The family claims the police are lying, and pointed out that once the audio quality was cleaned up the father said that the voice did indeed belong to his son.
A family's grief, murky details, inconclusive audio, and a state law that makes it difficult for prosecutors to investigate subtleties of self-defense claims has made the situation difficult for police.
“The attitude is that we should just make an arrest and let a jury decide,” Chief Lee told the Miami Herald. “But to make an arrest, we would have to sign a sworn affidavit that we believe the case to be true. That would be irresponsible. We just do not have the evidence to disprove what Mr. Zimmerman says.”
Rep. Corinne Brown (D) of Jacksonville urged US Attorney General Eric Holder in a letter to investigate the shooting, referencing a history of racial tension in Sanford that goes back to when the city annexed the historically black town of Goldsboro in 1911 and changed street names that referenced the area's black pioneers.
“Given the history of racial tension in the Sanford community, I believe it would be wise for the Department of Justice to become involved and I request an emergency meeting with you or a senior DOJ official on Tuesday, March 20,” wrote Ms. Brown.
Even as the 911 tapes fail to provide hard proof of what happened in the moments before the shooting, one central question fuels the discontent: Had the roles been reversed, would Trayvon be walking free?