Seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin simply wanted to get Skittles for his younger brother, Chad. He never expected that the trip would end up costing him his life. Now his family is calling for justice, and police are finally offering an explanation of what led to Trayvon's death.
The facts of the case are a bit hazy, but the Sanford Police Department is attempting to clarify exactly how a 17-year-old, unarmed boy could have been shot and killed by a member of his Neighborhood Watch group. Chief Bill Lee confirmed to the Huffington Post that Trayvon was, in fact, unarmed when approached by 28-year-old George Zimmerman, captain of the area's Neighborhood Watch.
"For some reason, he felt that Trayvon, the way that he was walking or appeared, seemed suspicious to him," Lee said. "He called this in [to 911] and at one part of this initial call, the dispatcher recommends he not follow Trayvon. A police officer is on the way at that point," Lee explained.
"I believe that Mr. Zimmerman was trying to, by his account, find an address to give the officers and also trying to keep Trayvon in eyesight," said Lee. Yet at some point there was a confrontation between the two and Zimmerman pulled out his 9 mm handgun and shot Trayvon.
"He felt the need to defend himself. I don't think it was his intent to go and shoot somebody," Lee concluded. Trayvon's family feels that there is more to the story and the fact that Trayvon was African-American and Zimmerman Caucasian could have led to profiling.
"He was a good kid," said family lawyer Ben Crump. "On his way home, a Neighborhood Watch loose cannon shot and killed him. What do police find in his pocket? Skittles. A can of Arizona ice tea in his jacket pocket and Skittles in his front pocket for his brother Chad."
In speaking with reporters, Crump argued that Zimmerman "didn't have to get out of his car. If he never gets out of his car, there is no reason for self-defense. Tryavon only has Skittles. He has the gun. Why is this kid suspicious in the first place? I think a stereotype must have been placed on the kid."
Whatever the reason behind the shooting, one thing is clear: Trayvon's family is suffering immensely. "I'm looking for justice for my family," Tracy Martin, Trayvon's father, told the Huffington Post. "I want answers, but I don't have any to give-not for his mother, his brothers or sisters. We don't have nothing (sic) but we want answers."
"When I asked the police why there's been no arrest, they told me that they respected Zimmerman's background, that he studied criminal justice for four years and that he was squeaky clean. My question to them was, did they run my child's background check? They said yes. I asked them what they came up with, and they said nothing," Martin continued.
"I asked if Zimmerman's having a clean record gave him the right to shoot and kill an unarmed kid," he has said. There have been no charges filed against Zimmerman, but local police as well as state investigators are conducting an investigation.
"We're going to present all the information, and if they feel that based on all of the evidence that we're able to produce that Mr. Zimmerman has satisfied the requirement that she shot in self-defense, they may [file charges]. But if not, he would not be charged with some type of homicide or manslaughter," explained Lee.