On February 26, 2012, the Sanford Police Department received a telephone call from neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, a 28-year old self-appointed captain to the unregistered neighborhood watch group in the gated Sanford community.
Zimmerman tells the 911 operator that there is a “suspicious male” walking around and he thinks he is “on something” because he is looking around at all the different houses. Zimmerman tells the operator that the male is black and wearing a dark colored hoodie and sweatpants or jeans.
During the 911 call, Zimmerman tells the operator that the male is coming toward him, then he says the male is running away. Neighbors all around the area called in to 911 to report a male on the ground screaming. Several neighbors report that someone was screaming “help!” while another person was on top of them fighting. One caller stated a person wearing a white t-shirt was on top of another person on the ground. Through all the screams for help, a single gunshot is heard- and then the screaming stops.
When the police arrive, George Zimmerman tells the police that the male was chasing after him, attacked him from behind, and he shot him out of self-defense. The police pursued an investigation. Zimmerman was not held for murder, nor charged with any other crime.
The neighborhood was outraged, crying for justice for 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was in town visiting his family. He walked to the 7/11 down the street from the home, and purchased a pack of skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea. When his body was found, he had both items purchased and a small amount of cash on him, but no weapons.
The Sanford Police Department investigated the case, and rule the killing as “self defense,” but the family of Trayvon and residents in the community do not agree. The parents of Trayvon started a petition to encourage law enforcement to investigate the case, which has already had over 475,000 people sign it. His parents also pleaded for the FBI to investigate the crime.
Although the Sanford Police Chief, Bill Lee, stated that the department has already conducted a complete and fair investigation, the United States Department of Justice and the FBI will conduct a thorough investigation regarding this matter.
“The department will conduct a thorough and independent review of all of the evidence and take appropriate action at the conclusion of the investigation,” the Justice Department said in a statement. “The department also is providing assistance to and cooperating with the state officials in their investigation into the incident. With all federal civil rights crimes, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person acted intentionally and with the specific intent to do something which the law forbids — the highest level of intent in criminal law.”