SANFORD (CBSMiami/AP) – Hundreds marched in front of a Sanford church as NAACP called for the firing of Sanford’s police chief.
“We will ensure that there is a new chief in Sanford,” said NAACP President Ben Jealous. “Any chief who has so mishandled a situation like this has to go.”
The investigation into the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin continued to take unexpected turns Tuesday as a grand jury and Department of Justice investigation were announced and a lawyer for the Martin family revealed the teen was on the phone in the moments leading up to his death.
Ben Crump, the attorney for the family of Trayvon Martin, 17, revealed Tuesday that Martin was on the phone with his 16-year-old girlfriend in the moments leading up to his death at the hands of Sanford, Florida neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman.
“He saw who the last person was that Trayvon Martin talked to while he was alive. He called me late Sunday night and told me he had called the young lady and he told me, and I was just utterly shocked, when he told me the time that they talked,” said Crump.
Crump said the phone call proved that Zimmerman was lying when he said that Martin was up to no good. He played a recorded phone conversation with Trayvon’s girlfriend during a Tuesday morning press conference.
“Trayvon was going to run for it, and then he said he lost the man,” the girl was heard saying on the tape. “The man was just following him close; walking close to him like fast. And the man said, ‘What are you doing around here? I know someone pushed Trayvon because I heard the handset fell.”
Crump also said in his press conference that if Trayvon Martin had been the one who did the shoooting, the teen would be in jail already.
Crump’s statements came the same day it was announced that a central Florida grand jury is set to convene April 10th to investigate the shooting death of Miami Gardens teen Trayvon Martin at the hands of Sanford neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman.
In a Tuesday statement, Seminole County State Attorney Norm Wolfinger urged the public to be patient as the grand jury investigation begins.
Crump said that his hope is that the state attorney doesn’t rely on the Samford Police Department for investigative help.
If the state attorney does rely on the Samford Police Crump said, “He’s (Zimmerman) going to get away scott-free with killing this kid. Because as we stand here today, I attest to you, that they never intended to arrest George Zimmerman…It would have been another black child killed and no one would have said a word.”
Late Monday afternoon, state Senator Oscar Branyon requested that Senate President Mike Haridopolos take a closer look at the so-called “stand your ground” law that the shooter of Martin is claiming as his defense.
The “stand your ground” law was passed in 2005 and since then, justifiable homicide has jumped 283 percent. Before the law was passed, there were on average 12 justifiable deaths per year. Since the law was passed the average has jumped to 35.
The grand jury announcement from the state attorney’s office came just hours after the U.S. Justice Department announced it was opening an investigation into the death of Martin.
“The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, and the FBI opened an investigation into the facts and circumstances of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The department will conduct a thorough and independent review of all of the evidence and take appropriate action at the conclusion of the investigation.”
Martin was shot and killed while walking from a store where he had just purchased a bag of Skittles and an iced tea for his younger brother. According to Sanford police, 28-year old George Zimmerman called 911 to report a suspicious person after he saw Martin walking back from the store.
Despite the emergency operator telling him not to confront Martin, Zimmerman allegedly approached the teenager. Witnesses said they two struggled and at one point Zimmerman pulled out a gun and shot Martin in the chest.
No charges were filed against Zimmerman who admitted to shooting the teen, but said he fired in self-defense.
A new 911 call made available Tuesday showed Zimmerman had a past calling 911. In a previous call, Zimmerman was heard using a racial slur against African-Americans under his breath.
Martin’s father is not accepting anything but justice.
“He destroyed a piece of my family and it is sad. As a father, I want justice for my son,” said Tracey Martin.
Sanford Police released eight 911 calls made during and after the shooting. On the first call Zimmerman told police he was following Martin and the teen was running. A dispatcher told Zimmerman not to follow Martin.
“This guy looks like he is up to no good. He is on drugs or something,” Zimmerman told the dispatcher. “These *expletives.* They always get away.”
Just after Zimmerman’s first call, 911 dispatchers were inundated with calls about a scuffle between two men, some screaming and then a gunshot.
“I just heard a shot right behind my house,” a male caller said. “They’re wrestling right behind my porch. The guy is yelling, “Help!” I’m not going outside.”
“He was yelling for help, and no one could help him. He saw his life being taken away from him,” said Tracey Martin.
Several rallies are planned for this week to demand justice for Martin’s family.
Wednesday, a peace march will be held in Liberty City starting at 5 p.m. The group will meet at Sherdavia Jenkins Peace Park to start the march. The family of Martin will be in attendance at the march.
On Thursday there will be two rallies. The New Black Panther Party plans to hold a rally in front of the Sanford Police Department at 1 p.m. The Rev. Al Sharpton will lead another rally at the First Shiloh Baptist Church in Sanford at 7 p.m. Sharpton is expected to join Sanford city leaders in a Tuesday evening town hall meeting to discuss with residents how the investigation is being handled.
A University of Miami student is organizing a bus trip to Sanford to take part in a rally on Monday, March 26th. The bus holds 55 passengers. Seats are $25 each. Deposits can be made via Pay Pal, no later than March 23rd. The bus will depart on Monday, March 26th at 8AM. For more info contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Trayvon’s parents said he was a good teenager and was working toward a career in aviation mechanics. They said he had never even been in a fight at school. In contrast, Zimmerman’s arrest record shows he’s been in trouble with the law before.
Prosecutors may have a hard time making a case if there is no one else around to contradict a person who claims self-defense, said David Hill, a criminal defense attorney in Orlando. So far, Sanford police have said there is no evidence to contradict Zimmerman’s claims.
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