The family of a Florida teen fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer last month is speaking out, saying that the shooting was unprovoked —and racially motivated.
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Trayvon Martin, 17, was killed by George Zimmerman in a Sanford, Fla., gated community on the evening of Feb. 26 as he returned from a trip to a local 7-Eleven. Martin and his father were visiting family friends there. Zimmerman claimed he shot Martin in self defense, and has not been charged with a crime.Video: Mom: Teen targeted due to of ‘color of his skin’ (on this page)
But Martin's family is pointing to 911 calls released by police on Friday 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.
“(Zimmerman) was reacting to the color of his skin,’’ Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, told Matt Lauer on Monday. “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.’’Video: 911 calls eyed in killing of Florida teen (on this page)
“Trayvon had a bag of Skittles,’’ Fulton’s attorney, Ben Crump, told Lauer. “(Zimmerman) had a nine millimeter gun. He was almost 80 pounds more weight than Trayvon Martin. This is a situation where when you…listen to those 911 tapes and the three witnesses, everyone in America is asking, when are they going to arrest Zimmerman for killing this kid in cold blood?’’
Fulton believes her son did nothing to engage Zimmerman before the deadly encounter. The family is pushing for an investigation, and Zimmerman’s arrest. The case is now in the hands of the State Attorney’s Office, which has the power to file charges or present evidence to a grand jury.
“I just can say I’m pretty sure my son tried to get away,’’ Fulton said. “He didn’t know who this guy was. He saw him as a stranger, so he was trying to just get away from the situation. He had never had a run-in with the law. He was mild-mannered. He was a nice kid.’’Video: Family seeks justice for slain teen
In one call, the 911 dispatcher can be heard instructing Zimmerman not to pursue Martin.
“This guy looks like he’s up to no good or on drugs or something,’’ Zimmerman tells the dispatcher. “He’s a black male. Something’s wrong with him. He’s coming to check me out.”
“Are you following him?’’ the dispatcher replies. “OK, we don’t need you to do that.’’
Several neighbors also made frantic calls, describing the struggle. “They’re wrestling right in the back of my porch,’’ one neighbor said. “The guy’s yelling “Help” and I’m not going outside.’’
“There’s someone screaming!’’ another neighbor said. “I just heard gunshots!”
A voice can be heard screaming in the background of one of the calls. Zimmerman has said the voice is his, but Martin’s family believes it is the cries of their terrified son.
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“There’s a black guy down,’’ a neighbor said in one chilling call. “It looks like he’s been shot and he’s dead.’’
“That was my baby, and he was pleading for his life,’’ Fulton told Amy Robach tearfully on TODAY Saturday. “I just don’t understand how that’s self defense. You can clearly him yelling for help.’’
Florida has a “stand your ground’’ law that makes a self-defense claim easier than it is in some other states, but Martin's family’s attorney doesn’t believe it applies in this instance.
“I think Zimmerman has no legal recourse,’’ Crump said. “He was not at his home. He was on the sidewalk, a common area. Trayvon Martin was 70 feet away from the back door — he was almost home. Zimmerman got out of his car, did not listen to the police, and chased this kid. You can’t chase somebody and then claim self defense.’’
Zimmerman’s father has said that his son, who is Hispanic, has never discriminated against anyone. He wrote in a letter to the Orlando Sentinel that his son has been unfairly depicted as a racist by the media.
“I just don’t think his dad knows all the facts in the situation that happened,’’ Fulton said. “If something happened to his son, he would want to know more information and not just jump to conclusions.’’
More than anything, Fulton wishes for a different outcome.
“I would just want to ask him, was there a different way he could’ve handled the situation?’’ she said.
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