SANFORD, Fla. — The parents of a Black teenager fatally shot by a White neighborhood watch volunteer called on the FBI Friday to take over the investigation, saying they no longer trusted the local police department.
Meanwhile, the shooter’s father is defending his son, saying he is not a racist and did not provoke the altercation that led to the shooting.
The parents of Trayvon Martin told an Orlando press conference they no longer trust the Sanford Police Department. Their 17-year-old son was fatally shot last month as he returned to a Sanford home during a visit from Miami.
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton accused Sanford police of botching the investigation and criticized them for not arresting 28-year-old George Zimmerman, who says he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense. Martin was not armed. They say the police department hasn’t arrested Zimmerman because he is White and their son was Black.
“Do we really believe that if Trayvon Martin would have pulled the trigger, he would not be arrested?” said Benjamin Crump, their attorney. “This is obviously a cover-up, and we need a sweeping overhaul of the Sanford Police Department.”
Sanford police Sgt. David Morgenstern said the department stands by its investigation but welcomes help from any outside agency. FBI agent David Couvertier said the agency has been in contact with Sanford police and is monitoring the case.
Meanwhile, Zimmerman’s father delivered a letter to the Orlando Sentinel on Thursday saying the way his son is being depicted in the media is cruel and misleading. He also says his son has received death threats and moved out of his home. George Zimmerman is Hispanic and grew up in a multiracial family, the statement says.
“He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever …,” the letter says. “The media portrayal of George as a racist could not be further from the truth.”
No one disputes that Zimmerman shot Martin on the night of Feb. 26. Martin, who was visiting from Miami, was walking back to the home of his father’s fiancée after going to the store to buy candy for his little brother and an iced tea for himself. It was raining, and Martin was walking with the hood of his jacket pulled over his head.
Zimmerman called 911 from his sports utility vehilcle, saying he had spotted a suspicious person walking in the multi-racial neighborhood. The 911 tape has not been released, but officials say the dispatcher told him to stay in his SUV and an officer would be there momentarily. But Zimmerman for unknown reasons got out. He and Martin fought, according to witnesses. At some point Zimmerman pulled a gun and shot Martin, who died at the scene. Zimmerman told Sanford police he acted in self-defense. He has not been arrested or charged.
Sanford investigators say they have turned over their evidence to prosecutors for them to decide whether Zimmerman should be charged.
The letter Zimmerman’s father gave the Sentinel says George Zimmerman didn’t get out of the SUV to confront Martin.
“At no time did George follow or confront Mr. Martin. When the true details of the event became public, and I hope that will be soon, everyone should be outraged by the treatment of George Zimmerman in the media,” the letter said.
— Associated Press