Trayvon Martin: Facts and Issues

The Trayvon Martin case is finally underway. According to reports, there are hundreds of prospective jurors who will be questioned to determine if they are fit to serve on the jury. Six jurors and at least two alternates will be chosen.


George Zimmerman, admittedly shot Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012.

Trayvon Martin 17, was a black teenager. Though not a resident of Sanford, Florida he had been staying at the home of his father’s fiancé, who was a resident of Sanford. Her home was in the same gated community where he would be shot and killed. At approximately 7:30 in the evening, wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt (hoodie) he walked to a nearby 7-Eleven, bought Skittles and ice tea, and then began the walk back to his home.

While walking home he talked to his girlfriend on his cell phone. Trayvon then encountered George Zimmerman. What happened next is unclear but there was a confrontation between Trayvon and Zimmerman. Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin in the chest with a black, 9mm handgun.

What We Do Know

George Zimmerman had been following Trayvon and had called 911 to report a “real suspicious guy” who “looks like he’s up to no good, or is on drugs or something.” The dispatcher learned that Zimmerman was following Trayvon and tells him “we don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman didn’t listen to the dispatcher and continued following Trayvon.

There were no eyewitnesses to the shooting. Numerous neighbors heard gunshots and called the police. Trayvon was found dead, lying face down in the grass.

Why was Zimmerman following Trayvon? 

Zimmerman claimed to be a member of the local USAonWatch-Neighborhood Watch Program, however when their parent organization was contacted, the National Sheriffs Association (NSA), it was found that Zimmerman was not a member of any neighborhood watch organization. In a press statement, the NSA Executive Director condemned the actions of Zimmerman: “The alleged action of a ‘self-appointed neighborhood watchman’ last month in Sanford, FL significantly contradicts the principles of the Neighborhood Watch Program.” Zimmerman referred to himself as the “captain” of the neighborhood watch group. It’s unclear if there were other members or if Zimmerman was the lone member or if the organization actually officially existed at all.

In pre-trial hearings, it was revealed that Zimmerman had applied to be a police officer in Virginia but was rejected by the application review board. It’s unclear why his application was rejected.

At the time of the shooting, Zimmerman had almost completed a two-year degree program in criminal justice at Seminole State College. He participated in the Citizens Academy which is a program sponsored by the Seminole County Sheriff’s office. The program was designed for individuals interested in becoming “familiar” with police work but was not designed to qualify them or prepare them for police work.

George Zimmerman has had a long interest in police work, some might even say an obsession. Police records show that Zimmerman called 911, forty-six times between 2004 and the day he shot Trayvon Martin.

How many times have you called 911, since 2004?

Many of those 911 calls are related to what appear to be mundane problems in his neighborhood. For instance, call records show that he called 911 to report: potholes; loitering; a male driving with no headlights, fire alarms going off, someone riding a bike and popping wheelies; an aggressive dog in the neighborhood; a person in a pickup truck cutting people off; loud parties; people leaving their garage doors open; and rowdy kids in the neighborhood.

Zimmerman was particularly interested in suspicious activity. On November 4, 2006, he called to report a “vehicle driving real slow, with a driver who was looking at all of the vehicles in the complex and blasting music from the vehicle.”

He also spent his evenings looking for burglars. He reported people being in the neighborhood who appeared, in the mind of Zimmerman, to be looking to burglarize people’s homes.

Some have noted the inconsistencies between Zimmerman’s statement to the police and his reenactment filmed the day after the shooting. In his written statement, Zimmerman says he reached for a cell phone to dial 911 as Trayvon rushed toward him and punched him in the face. He says he fell backwards and Trayvon got on top of him.

But in the reenactment video, Zimmerman described moving toward Martin after being allegedly punched in the face and not falling backwards.

Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder. Prosecutors and those who support Travyon Martin, allege that Zimmerman is a vigilante with a “false sense of authority” who targeted black men in the neighborhood. Zimmerman’s attorneys say that he was accosted by Trayvon Martin and acted in self-defense against his aggressor.

This case has become a lightning rod for racial and civil rights issues, vigilantism, as well as the “Stand Your Ground” gun law. Some believe this might be the trial of the century. We will soon find out.

19 thoughts on “Trayvon Martin: Facts and Issues

  1. There were numerous reasons the cop wanna-be might be rejected by a police academy.

    He was fired from a security guard job for throwing a woman who was just drunk and acting up and injuring her ankle in the process.

    He had been charged with felonies for an altercation against a police officer which were reduced to lesser charges when he entered into a diversion program.

    An order of protection for domestic violence had been entered against him on allegations of abuse made by a former fiance, whom he later claimed he was defending himself against.

    He openly expressed his superiority to Mexicans on his myspace account saying that since he moved, “I dont miss driving around scared to hit mexicans walkin on the side of the street, soft ass wanna be thugs messin with peoples cars when they aint around (what are you provin, that you can dent a car when no ones watchin) dont make you a man in my book. Workin 96 hours to get a decent pay check, gettin knifes pulled on you by every mexican you run into!”

    And if that wasn’t enough, he blogged about getting the felonies reduced to a misdemeanor, blaming the cop for being wrong but still getting his “hump” and about the girlfriend whom he called “the ex hoe” claiming “the judge saw through it” when the judge granted mutual protective orders (rather than just against him) and something about ATF charges yet to come.

    I can’t imagine why that police academy didn’t rush to sign him up.

  2. Thank you for setting out those facts so clearly and non-judgmentally. It just confirms what I think. Zimmerman is a cop wannabe who couldn’t pass muster when he applied, more than likely the psychological tests all law enforcement candidates must take before they are hired. While never as a commissioned officer, I have worked in law enforcement and am familiar with the training they through. They go through just as much training teaching them how avoid having to shoot someone as they go through firearms training, maybe more. In my opinion, Zimmerman was a loose cannon just waiting to go off. It was going to happen sooner or later and it is really sad that it involved the death of an unarmed,17-year-old boy.

  3. To me a great writer gets you interested in a topic that you weren’t already involved with. I had not followed this case until now that trial has begun. Your post has me hooked immediately though, and I had no knowledge of some key facts that you’ve outlined. Thank you again, you’re the best!

  4. It’s interesting that the Homeowner’s association is claiming no connection with Zimmerman but they quickly settled a lawsuit with the Martin family. A fellow neighborhood watch captain had this to say:

    This is an excellent article explaining what might have been going on in Zimmerman’s head prior to the shooting and why he did what he did:

    This is an incident that happened to me that is similar to GZ’s.
    Several years ago in winter with two feet of snow on the ground, two men knocked on my door after dark. It was only about 6 or 7 PM but very dark out. One of the men had something that looked like a spray can. I opened the wooden front door and one of the men opened the screen door and tried to walk in. I live alone and always answer the door armed. I had a pistol tucked in the back of my jeans. When they opened the door, my dogs ran out. I asked them several times what they wanted and they kept trying to get in. I leaned over to pull one of the dogs in and they saw the gun which I had my hand on. They took off in a car that had the motor running and was at the end of my sidewalk. I ran out to get a license number but couldn’t see.
    If someone had been hiding by the house or one of the men turned around and came back and jumped me, I would have shot if I could have. There is no *Stand Your Ground* law in my state. I was off my property and legally could have been charged with murder if I could not prove that it was self-defense. All I wanted was a license plate number.
    I reported it to police who said that they had several other similar complaints of break-ins and attempts. No one was ever caught and it appeared that I was be the last attempt, at least in this area.
    If a man in a hoodie was lurking in my yard or walking through it, I would be suspicious.

  5. George Zimmerman had called police four times from Oct. through Dec. for suspicious activity involving black males. He was profiling, whether he wants to admit it or not. George was carrying a concealed weapon
    that night to go to the store. Who runs out of the house to go to the store and holsters up their gun? We will never know what really happened that night,probably a very bad combination of a young man in the wrong place at the wrong time and a man with a gun. As a resident of Florida I know the latitude of the Stand Your Ground law gives gun owners a sense of security and power. I believe Zimmerman at the time had this in the back of his mind and didn’t think twice about shooting Trayvon. Zimmerman should have called the police and gone home.

  6. GZ should be found guilty of first degree murder, this kid was coming home from the store minding his own business. I don’t care what kind of past Trevor had, he was doing NOTHING WRONG! I live in Canada where we don’t have guns in our cars, or in our homes. We don’t tolerate Racistism here and can be charged with hate crimes for being racist. It is so sad to read how so many innocent children are killed by guns in the USA. It breaks my heart. I wish the USA would adopt a stricter gun law.

    • I know what happened between GZ and TM was tragic and it wouldn’t have happened if GZ just backed off, but it is not 1st degree murder. It is not even 2nd degree murder. It can barely be manslaughter. Here is the sad truth. GZ accosted TM. He followed him and TM reacted. TM was beating on him. the broken nose and the wound on the back of the head proves that tm hand marks on his hand(knuckles).. He may have deserved it but he was getting pummeled by TM. that transfers self defense back to GZ. Lets take race out of this 1 sec. two men, same race, one is harassing guy # 2 thinking he is committing a crime(no proof). Guy # 2 tells him to back off. Guy 1 doesn’t. Guy 2 then starts whaling on him. Guy 1 is taking a beating then feels guy 2 won’t stop unless he stops moving, pulls his gun and fires. Self defense at worse involuntary manslaughter(cause he accosted him). When you throw race into all of a sudden some how facts get overlooked and everyone say its murder. If you go on fact and not emotion, you would come to the same conclusion.

  7. We will soon find out how the paths of these two individuals intertwined on that fateful night. Zimmerman must take some responsibility for being negligent. Why is he carrying a concealed loaded weapon and why did he not realize the possible consequences of this act ? But that said the event of the actual shooting itself may remain a mystery as there are no witnesses apart from Zimmerman. Who was the aggressor and who instigated the confrontation ? Hopefully we will see justice served in an unbiased manner.

  8. I am neutral in this case because no one knows whose voice is screaming for help and witnesses give conflicting stories. But I am suspicious of Zimmerman’s story. After hearing Zimmerman talking to the police dispatcher, it is obvious that Zimmerman was following Martin and trying to make sure he doesn’t get away before the police get there. So it makes no sense that Zimmerman would be just walking back to his truck after getting an address and Martin would confront him with, “What is your problem?” and Zimmerman respond, “I don’t have a problem” and then Trayvon suck punch him and knock him to the ground and hit him 30 times and smash his head into the pavement, trying to smother him and say “You are going to die tonight” and reach for his gun.

    Meanwhile, according to Zimmerman, he didn’t fight back and just lie on his back and screamed for help. The story sounds made up because if you believe the story Zimmerman was totally innocent and Martin was a tough bad guy. There is no blood on Martin’s hands, under his fingernails or on the sidewalk and only a small injury on his knuckle. If he hit Zimmerman 30 times, there would be blood and scrapes on his knuckles.

    I am interested to hear the testimony of Martin’s female friend who was on the cell phone with him just two minutes before he was killed. She has said that Martin told her a guy was following him and she heard Martin say, “Why are you following me?” and an old guy’s voice ask, “What are you doing here?” then the phone went dead. This makes more sense and leads me to believe that Zimmerman pulled the gun on Martin to try to hold him until the police came. Martin may have feared he was going to be shot and they were wrestling for the gun and that’s how Zimmerman got the bloody nose and cuts on the back of his head.

    What also bothers me is that Zimmerman was completely calm and that it didn’t bother him at all to take the life of a human being. If a normal person shoots someone in self defense he is upset and tries to give CPR or call 911 for help to try to save the person he shot. Even police officers are distraught and upset after killing a criminal who is shooting at them. The law enforcement agency immediately puts them on leave and orders mandatory counseling.

    After he shot Martin, Zimmerman acted like he had just bagged a deer. Zimmerman has shown no remorse and on a TV show said he would not change a thing about that night because it was God’s will and he couldn’t change God’s will. That to me was scary.

    • Wow, you’re so right on all those points! So much of it sounds made up, and he had books on the law of self defense from which to make up each element. Every person who kills claims the other one said “I’m gonna kill you” (Jodi says Travis said she was going to die, bitch) because they know they need to put the words in the mouth of the victim to pretend they had reason to believe they were going to die. Yet I’ve never heard of a case where both people survive confrontations like this and either one said “your going to die.” Its only the dead people apparently who say this right before they’re killed in SELF DEFENSE.

      • You’re right, Maria. Zimmerman was taking law enforcement classes so he would know that he had to make up a story where Martin threatened to kill him just like every other murderer who claims self defense. One of the main reasons both Arias’s and Zimmerman’s stories sound made up is that in both stories they are totally absolved of any responsibility and the “dead guy” is the “bad guy” who is trying to kill them. As a teacher and principal, I always knew who started the fight because that kid would say, “I was doin’ nuttin’ wrong and he just hauled off and hit me for no reason.”

        To believe Zimmerman’s story, you have to believe that a wanna be cop and a neighborhood watch commander who was obsessed with catching the black teenagers who were burglarizing his complex muttering “f–ing punks” and “a$$holes” who “always get away” would just give up and go back to his truck while a teenager who was walking home in the rain from a convenience store with a can of iced tea and a box of skittles and planning on watching a ball game with his younger friend would turn into a deranged would be killer just because an “old white guy” in his perception was following him. If you use common sense, you can see whatever happened Zimmerman wasn’t just an innocent bystander who got the crap beat out of him by a thug.

        I think the gun has everything to do with why they were fighting. It really doesn’t matter who landed on top and who had the scrapes and bloody nose. Martin was only a few feet from his destination. Unless Zimmerman pulled the gun on him, they would have exchanged a few insults and went their separate ways.

        • I think Zimmerman’s story will come apart on the witness stand. Even when Zimmerman reenacted the story with the cop after the killing, he seemed to be making it up as he went along. He said Martin said, “You are going to die tonight” and then his clothes pulled up and Martin saw the gun reached for it. Zimmerman then changed his story and said: “I thought he saw it and was reaching for it so I got the gun and lifted it up and shot.” I heard someone on HLN say Zimmerman told a cop he didn’t know Martin was dead and when he was lying on the ground face down, he moved his arms out so he couldn’t hit him. Yet, the picture shown to the jury shows Martin’s hands under him and on his chest. So his stories are contradictory, which means he is lying. Only a guilty person lies.

      • “You are going to die tonight” seems like a very odd thing for Martin to say. If I’m not mistaken, Zimmerman’s account shows that Martin made this statement after he saw that Zimmerman had a gun. Wouldn’t the person who had the gun be more likely to say something like “you are going to die tonight”? Why would someone risk escalating a situation with someone who has a gun by telling that person “you are going to die tonight”?

        • You’re right. Zimmerman thinks the jury is stupid enough to believe that Martin was going to tell him he was going to kill him and try to kill him by banging his head against the sidewalk and suffocating him. It makes more sense that Martin would bang his head against the sidewalk to try to get him to drop the gun.

  9. You can actually be charged with a hate crime for being a racist in Canada? Racism obviously isn’t tolerated in Canada, is it? We actually have something similar to that here in the US but there seem to be more legal hoops to jump through. I am looking forward to seeing what comes out in the trial because I think Zimmerman has given inconsistent stories about what took place that night. Until then I am going to withhold judgement although I do think that what happened to Trevor (well…actually his name is not Trevor) is an absolute tragedy. It’s a terrible thing for someone so young to have his life taken away under these circumstances. Zimmerman may have jumped to a conclusion about the young man without the facts and because of this, the young man is dead. Jumping to conclusions without the facts can have some ugly consequences.

  10. The witnesses all said they heard two voices arguing, one a deeper dominant voice and another high pitched meek voice. Yet, the only conversation George Zimmerman related to the police was that Trayvon Martin asked, “What is your problem?” and he responded, “I don’t have a problem” before Martin sucker punched him and knocked him to the ground and pounded his head into the sidewalk 30 times, tried to smother him and that he screamed for help and Martin told him, “You are going to die tonight?” Of course, that sounds like a made up story to bolster his self defense theory that Martin was a thug who ambushed him and tried to kill him with his fists and he had to save his life by shooting him to death.

  11. I was impressed with the testimony of Rachel Jeantel, Trayvon Martin’s 19 year old friend. She was very credible and honest to me. She got emotional and said she did not go to the wake because she didn’t want to see her friend’s body. She also admitted she lied about why she didn’t go to the wake because she felt guilty that she was the last person to talk to Trayvon before he died. She is not pretentious in the least and was not intimidated by the defense attorney.

    Jeantel established that Martin told her he was being followed by “a creepy a$$ cracker” and was concerned about it, ran and lost Zimmerman and when he was in back of the area near his “daddy’s fiancée house” saw him again. She said she heard Martin say “Why are you following me for?” She said on the stand she heard a hard breathing man said, “What are you doing around here?”

    She then heard what sounded like Martin’s phone earpiece drop into the grass and she heard him say, “Get off! Get off!” The phone then went dead, she said.

    Under cross exam, Defense Attorney Don West said on a recording to Martin’s parent’s attorney Crump, she had said, Zimmerman said, “I don’t know what you are talking about.” Jeantel said she had rushed the interview with Crump because it meant nothing to her. She would tell the police the truth, she said. I think the defense failed in trying to impeach her because she came across very honest and straight forward and she wasn‘t hostile but she didn’t let him intimidate her.

    Her story makes more sense than Zimmerman’s.

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