As outrage builds over last month's fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, a Florida self-identified neighborhood watchman, police are coming under fire for missing a possible clue in the investigation: a racist remark that shooter George Zimmerman may have muttered under his breath just moments before he shot and killed Trayvon Martin.
According to ABC News, George Zimmerman may have muttered f***ing coons as he pursued Martin while he was on the phone with 911. Sirius XM radio talk host Joe Madison claims to have enhanced the publicly available 911 recording and posted it on his website, which indeed does sound very similar to the alleged racial slur.
The Sanford Police Department admitted to ABC that its investigators had indeed missed the remark, only a day after the federal Department of Justice announced that it had begun a possible hate crime investigation.
The killing had already taken on a racial dimension days before the racial remark was identified on the recording. Our investigation is color blind and based on the facts and circumstances, not color, Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee told the South Florida Sentinel on Thursday. I know I can say that until I am blue in the face, but as a white man in a uniform, I know it doesn't mean anything to anybody.
The remark captured on the 911 call is not the only time accusations of racism have been made in the media against George Zimmerman. The Miami Herald wrote that neighbors interviewed said that Zimmerman went door-to-door asking residents to be on the lookout, specifically referring to young black men who appeared to be outsiders, and warned that some were caught lurking.
George Zimmerman's father, Robert Zimmerman, denied the accusations of racism leveled against his son. George is a Spanish speaking minority with many black family members and friends, he wrote in a public statement. He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever.
The full text of the statement is as follows:
The tragic events of February 26 are very sad for all concerned. The Martin family, our family, and the entire community have been forever changed.
The portrayal of George Zimmerman in the media, as well as the series of events that led to the tragic shooting are false and extremely misleading. Unfortunately, some individuals and organizations have used this tragedy to further their own causes and agendas.
George is a Spanish speaking minority with many black family members and friends. He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever. One black neighbor recently interviewed said she knew everything in the media was untrue and that she would trust George with her life. Another black neighbor said that George was the only one, black or white, who came and welcomed her to the community, offering any assistance he could provide. Recently, I met two black children George invited to a social event. I asked where they met George. They responded that he was their mentor. They said George visited them routinely, took them places, helped them, and taught them things and that they really loved George. The media portrayal of George as a racist could not be further from the truth.
The events of February 26 reported in the media are also totally inaccurate. Out of respect for the on-going investigation, I will not discuss specifics. However, the media reports of the events are imaginary at best. At no time did George follow or confront Mr. Martin. When the true details of the event become public, and I hope that will be soon, everyone should be outraged by the treatment of George Zimmerman in the media.
Our entire family is deeply sorry for the loss of Trayvon. We pray for the Martin family daily. We also pray that the community will grieve together and not be divided by more unwarranted hate.
The Zimmerman family will have no further contact with the media prior to the resolution of the investigation. It would be greatly appreciated if the media would respect our privacy.