Video After The Jump
Trayvon Martin’s parents lashed out at reports that he had been suspended from school because of drugs, graffiti and suspected burglary, accusing cops of smearing their slain son to boost his killer, George Zimmerman.
“They’ve killed my son, and now they’re trying to kill his reputation,” his mom, Sybrina Fulton, said Monday.
Police leaked Zimmerman’s version of the Feb. 26 shooting in Sanford, Fla., saying Zimmerman fired only after the 17-year-old decked him with a single punch, repeatedly smashed his head on the ground and tried to grab his gun.
Officials told ABC News that Trayvon, who had no criminal record, received a 10-day suspension from Krop High School in Miami for having an empty marijuana baggie. Authorities also told the Miami Herald that he was suspended in October, when he wrote “WTF” on a locker, and his knapsack was found to contain items of women’s jewelry and a screwdriver deemed a possible “burglary tool.”
The grieving parents said any high-school scrapes had no bearing on Trayvon being shot to death while carrying only a bag of Skittles and an iced tea.
“We take pride in our kids and it tears me apart to sit here and listen to the slander they are giving my son,” Martin said. "Even in death, they are still disrespecting my son.”
Before an evening rally of 10,000 people, the parents, along with civil rights leaders and elected officials, presented a packed meeting of the Sanford City Commission with 2 million signatures on a petition demanding Zimmerman’s arrest.
The city, which appointed a new black police chief on Monday, has insisted that Zimmerman could not be arrested because he claimed self-defense.
“You have voted no confidence in the police chief, how can you have confidence, then, on the lack of police action?” the Rev. Al Sharpton asked the commissioners.
“America is on trial today,” said the Rev. Jesse Jackson. “The whole world is watching Sanford today.”
A month after the shooting, police leaked a new version of events. Zimmerman, a self-styled neighborhood watchman, spotted Trayvon leaving his father’s fiancée’s house in an Orlando-area gated community around 7 p.m. on Feb 26 and said he decided to follow because he thought the boy looked suspicious.
The 17-year-old was wearing a hoodie in the drizzle and talking to his 16-year-old girlfriend on the phone.
She has said Trayvon told her he was being stalked, and she heard him ask Zimmerman, “Why are you following me?” Then she heard the sounds of a scuffle and the line went dead.
Phone records corroborate that she was talking to Trayvon just before he died.
Zimmerman’s version, according to the Orlando Sentinel and ABC News, is that he lost sight of Trayvon and was walking back to his car when Trayvon approached him from the left rear.
Zimmerman told police Trayvon asked him if he had a problem, and when Zimmerman said no, Trayvon said something like, “Well, you do now,” and punched him in the nose.
Zimmerman says he fell to the ground and Trayvon jumped on top of him and began slamming his head into the ground. Zimmerman then shot Trayvon once in the chest from very close range, according to authorities.
Police arrived two minutes later.
According to the police report, Trayvon was facedown in the grass with his hands beneath his body.
Zimmerman’s back was wet and covered with grass “as if he had been laying on his back on the ground,” Officer Timothy Smith wrote in the police report.
Smith said Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose and the back of his head.
“I was yelling for someone to help me, but no one would help me,” Zimmerman told the paramedics who gave him first aid, Smith said.
Zimmerman was taken to the police station and interviewed, then let go.
At least one witness corroborated his story, telling cops he saw Trayvon on top of Zimmerman, punching him. Other witnesses have said they saw Zimmerman standing over Trayvon.
Cries for help were captured on several 911 tapes and were heard by a number of witnesses. Exactly who was calling out is in dispute — some say it was Zimmerman, others Trayvon.
The police report lists Trayvon as 6 feet tall and weighing 160 pounds. Zimmerman was listed as 5-feet-9. His weight was not recorded but pictures show he clearly outweighs Trayvon.
Martin family attorney Ben Crump said police were trying to “blame the victim by releasing bits and pieces of an ongoing investigation to build Zimmerman’s claim up.”
The Sanford police said it was investigating who leaked the information.
As the case became a national referendum on race and gun rights, some conservative websites began publishing unflattering photos of Trayvon and disseminating what were purported to be his gangsta-style tweets.
Zimmerman, an insurance analyst, has been in hiding since a fringe group put a $10,000 bounty on his head.
A CNN poll found 67% of Americans are following the case. A huge majority — 73% — say they believe, based on what they’ve heard, that Zimmerman should have been arrested.
Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg took a shot at Florida’s lax gun laws.
“This guy Zimmerman, how could he have had a permit to carry a concealed weapon — a loaded gun — in the first place? Because long before he shot Trayvon Martin, he was arrested for attacking a police officer and was the subject of a court order to prevent domestic violence,” Bloomberg said.
Zimmerman was charged with resisting arrest without violence in 2005 when he argued with a cop busting his friend for underage drinking. He completed a pretrial-diversion program, meaning his record was cleared.
Also in 2005, Zimmerman’s ex-fiancée accused him of shoving her during an argument at her Orlando home. He responded with similar accusations against her and they both obtained protective orders.
Source: NY Daily News