Zimmerman, of white and Peruvian descent, shot and killed the 17-year-old African American on Feb. 26 while he was walking to his father's house in Sanford, Fla., after going to a nearby store to buy candy. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, has not been charged with any crime. He claims that he shot the unarmed Martin, with a Kel-Tec 9mm handgun, in self-defense.
The Sanford Police Department has been criticized for its handling of the killing. Police did not conduct an alcohol or drug test on Zimmerman, and Zimmerman was allowed to keep his registered handgun even after the killing. Also, a witness said one of the officers corrected her when she said she heard Martin screaming for help, reported Yahoo! News.
But the tide may be turning as more details emerge about the case from Zimmerman's side of the fence (or at least from those who do not want to jump to any conclusions).
Most recently, a police report from the Trayvon Martin case was leaked to the Orlando Sentinel, detailing George Zimmerman's account of the confrontation. With a single punch, the Orlando Sentinel reported Monday, citing police sources. Trayvon Martin decked the Neighborhood Watch volunteer ... climbed on top of [him] and slammed his head into the sidewalk several times, leaving him bloody and battered.
Ever since the case erupted into a national story, George Zimmerman has been fingered as a villain and a cold-blooded killer. According to a CNN poll released on Monday, 73 percent of Americans think police should arrest him.
Three School Suspensions
New details have emerged about Trayvon Martin's record. The 17-year-old had been suspended three times from Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School in North Miami-Dade.
His first suspension was a result of tardiness and truancy, his family admitted, according to the Miami Herald.
Trayvon Martin's second suspension occurred on Oct. 21. Initially, it was reported that this suspension came after Martin and his friends spray-painted WTF on a locker at school. However, the Miami Herald reports that the real reason Martin was suspended in October was that he was caught with a burglary tool -- a flathead screwdriver -- and 12 pieces of jewelry, reported the Miami Herald. Martin insisted that the jewelry belonged to a friend.
Trayvon was not disciplined because of the discovery, but was instead suspended for graffiti, according to the report. School police impounded the jewelry and sent photos of the items to detectives at Miami-Dade police for further investigation, reported the Miami Herald.
Finally, Trayvon Martin was suspended on Feb. 26 for 10 days. On Feb. 21, Martin's cousin tweeted to him about an incident with a bus driver: Yu ain't tell me you swung on a bus driver. However, his father denied this purported incident had anything to do with Martin's February suspension. He was not suspended for something dealing with violence or anything like that, his father said. It wasn't a crime he committed, but he was in an unauthorized area [on school property], declining to offer more details.
A family spokesman told the Associated Press on Monday that Martin was suspended because marijuana residue was found in his book bag.
Ben Crump, a lawyer for Trayvon's parents, said, We think everybody is trying to demonize him.
A Pushback Against the Media's Portrayal of Slain Teen
Photos of Trayvon Martin were culled from his Facebook account along with messages from his Twitter feed. Dan Linehan of Wagist.com compiled photos from Martin's social networking pages and raised the question of whether or not the teen's image has been distorted in the media.
Even though Trayvon was only 17, he already was sporting gold teeth, and several large tattoos. This one was on his wrist, apparently of his girlfriend's mother's name, wrote Linehan. Linehan showed images that Trayvon Martin posted to his Twitter account, with the handle @NO_LIMIT_N----, depicting his multiple tattoos.
Almost all of this is in stark contrast to the media's central narrative that Trayvon was a normal, happy, well-adjusted teenager. Instead of that, we are seeing long suspensions from school, tattoos, racially charged epitaphs [sic] and violence, wrote Linehan.
Michael Brendan Dougherty of BusinessInsider.com compared the Trayvon Martin case to the Duke lacrosse rape accusations of 2006. They [skeptics of the media's portrayal] remember the outrage about the Duke Lacrosse rape story, in which white students were accused of raping a black woman, turned into a feeding frenzy, and indicted in the public mind of heinous racism and abuse when they weren't guilty of much other than being pigs, wrote Dougherty. They are suspicious of any story that attracts the moralizing of Al Sharpton, owing to his association with things like the Tawana Brawley case, in which a New York girl claimed to have been sexually assaulted and abused and then was later found to have been lying.
But let's get real. No one knows what really happened, he wrote. The Trayvon Martin story is just a distressing collection of disconnected facts. The media and social justice activists have told one story with them: of a murder motivated by racism that was covered up by the cops. Now people are pushing back on it. But we don't have definitive answers to all the questions.
Others have taken offense at the immediate public indictment of George Zimmerman when many facts of the case are still unknown.
Oh how little we have learned, David Shane wrote on PolicyMic.com. The media has rushed to judgment yet again. Now, it's quite possible that Zimmerman is guilty of everything his worst foes accuse him of. There is plenty about this case that troubles me. But that's exactly the point: I don't know. Neither does anyone else, and both the scope and tone of the media coverage ought to reflect that fact.