[Updated] How The Trayvon Martin Case Unfolded
On March 19, the state attorney general told media that a federal grand jury will convene on April 10.
How The Story Unfolded In The Media (Mainstream and Non-Traditional)
- Monday, February 27: First news report
- Tuesday, February 29: Additional details
- Friday, March 2: Miami gets details wrong
- Wednesday, March 7: First wire story (Reuters)
- Thursday, March 8: First AP story
- Friday, March 9: Family hires attorney, is filing lawsuit for release of 9-1-1 tapes
- Saturday, March 10: AP story on family filing lawsuit
- Monday, March 12: Police chief says insufficient evidence for arrest
- Thursday, March 15: Profile of Stand Your Ground laws and NRA
- Friday, March 16: Family allowed to hear 9-1-1 tapes
- Saturday, March 17: NY Times story
- Sunday, March 18: ABC expert thinks Zimmerman was slurring his words; family asks DOJ to get involved
- Monday, March 19: Grand jury announced; Martin’s girlfriend talks to ABC
- Wednesday, March 21: Zimmerman had domestic violence charge in 2005
- Thursday, March 22: Protest in NYC; Police Chief Lee steps down
- Friday, March 23: Students at Florida schools walk out in protest
- Saturday, March 24: Protests across the nation; a friendn claims the “howls” on 9-1-1- tape are Zimmerman’s
Monday, February 27
MyFox Orlando reports:
Investigators with the Sanford Police Department are still trying to figure out exactly what happened during an altercation which resulted in a fatal shooting in the Twin Lakes area. The shooting happened just after 7 p.m. Sunday evening on Twin Trees Lane.
Wednesday, February 29
Trayvon Martin turned 17 just three weeks before he was killed at the Retreat at Twin Lakes Townhomes on Sunday night.
Residents heard loud yelling and called 911 for the Sanford police. Moments later, more 911 calls were made about a gunshot being fired.
Friday, March 2
The Miami Herald reports (emphasis added to highlight just how wrong the story is):
Trayvon Martin, 17, was visiting family members in Sanford when he was shot to death by a man at a convenience store on Monday night.
Wednesday, March 7
The family of a 17-year-old African-American boy shot to death last month in his gated Florida community by a white Neighborhood Watch captain wants to see the captain arrested, the family’s lawyer said on Wednesday.
Trayvon, who lived in Miami with his mother, had been visiting his father and stepmother in a gated townhome community called The Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, 20 miles north of Orlando.
Thursday, March 8
The family of a Florida teen who was fatally shot after an encounter with a neighborhood watch leader on Thursday asked the police department investigating the death to release 911 tapes that may help explain how the young man died.
The man hasn’t been charged. His name was redacted along with Martin’s name in an initial police report but he was identified as 28-year-old George Zimmerman in a police report released Thursday.
The report said Zimmerman initially called police to report a suspicious person in the neighborhood and minutes later 911 dispatchers received several calls of shots being fired in the neighborhood. Zimmerman told police officers that he had shot Martin and officers found a semiautomatic handgun on him. The report said that Zimmerman’s back was wet and he was covered in grass as if he had been on the ground. He was bleeding from his nose and the back of the head, the report said.
After getting few answers from police, Martin’s grieving family has hired an attorney and is publicizing his death on CNN, Good Morning America and other national media outlets.
Said Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee Jr. in an interview with the Huffington Post, “For some reason he (Zimmerman) felt that Trayvon, the way that he was walking or appeared seemed suspicious to him.”
ABC News cites the Southern Poverty Law Center:
The number of hate groups in the U.S. has grown each year for the past 11 years, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center. In 2000 the center reported that there were 602 hate groups; in 2011 that number had climbed to 1,018.
Potok expects the rage to grow and the number of hate groups to continue to rise if President Obama is re-elected.
“I think it has the potential to get worse before it gets better,” [Mark] Potok said. “As it becomes more likely that Obama will ultimately win, these groups are getting angrier and angrier. They’re looking at four years under a black guy who they hate.”
Friday, March 9
The family of a teenage who was shot and killed last month is filing a lawsuit against the Sanford Police Department for the release of the 911 tapes.
Saturday, March 10
From AP via CBS Miami:
After getting few answers from police, Trayvon Martin’s grieving family has hired an attorney and is publicizing his death on national media outlets.
Monday, March 12
From Orlando Sentinel:
On Monday, while an angry crowd of critics stood by, Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee admitted that his detectives do not have enough evidence to arrest him.
Zimmerman was taken into custody but was released. His nose was bloody, and officers spotted blood on the back of his head as well as grass on the back of his shirt, according to the incident report.
The Martin family’s lawyers, Benjamin Crump and Natalie Jackson, have filed suit in Sanford, asking a judge to order the police department to release its 911 recordings.
From The Miami Herald:
The police chief in Sanford turned over the investigation into the killing of Miami teen Trayvon Martin to the Seminole-Brevard State Attorney’s Office for review Monday, as outraged members of the community demanded justice.
Wednesday, March 14
From the Orlando Sentinel:
In almost any community, the shooting death of a black teen by a white crime-watch volunteer would raise accusations of racism. But this one occurred in Sanford, a city that has struggled with racial tensions for a century.
Many in Sanford say the seemingly slow pace by police to investigate last month’s shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is again raising suspicions that if shooter George Zimmerman were not white and the teen were not black, things would be different.
“I can tell you that if it was the other way around, someone would be in jail by now,” Ulysees Cunningham said Wednesday. At 80 years old, the retired contractor, who is black, has lived in Sanford for most of his life, long enough to have seen its racist side, he said.
Thursday, March 15
According to the National Rifle Association – which has lobbied for and in some cases assisted in writing laws expanding self-defense statutes – since 2006, at least 29 states have passed amended self-defense laws that the gun rights advocacy group supports, including four last year. Although each state’s statute is slightly different, generally, this new crop of laws allows citizens to use deadly force on someone they reasonably believe is a threat to their life. Instead of having a so-called “duty to retreat” from perceived danger, a citizen can “stand their ground” and meet force with force. Some laws also create immunity from civil lawsuits for those found to have reasonably used deadly force.
Friday, March 16
The family was allowed to hear the 9-1-1 tapes, which were to then be released.
The Seminole County State Attorney’s Office was so bombarded by emails demanding that it prosecute Zimmerman that its website had to be taken down for 45 minutes, according to a spokeswoman for the office.
From NY Times (op-ed):
Trayvon was buried on March 3. Zimmerman is still free and has not been arrested or charged with a crime.
As the father of two black teenage boys, this case hits close to home. This is the fear that seizes me whenever my boys are out in the world: that a man with a gun and an itchy finger will find them “suspicious.” That passions may run hot and blood run cold. That it might all end with a hole in their chest and hole in my heart. That the law might prove insufficient to salve my loss.
One of the witnesses was a 13-year-old black boy who recorded a video for The Orlando Sentinel recounting what he saw. The boy is wearing a striped polo shirt, holding a microphone, speaking low and deliberately and has the heavy look of worry and sadness in his eyes. He describes hearing screaming, seeing someone on the ground and hearing gunshots. The video ends with the boy saying, “I just think that sometimes people get stereotyped, and I fit into the stereotype as the person who got shot.”
Saturday, March 17
From the NY Times (emphasis added):
Nearly three weeks after an unarmed teenager was killed in a small city north of Orlando, stirring an outcry, a few indisputable facts remain: the teenager, who was black, was carrying nothing but a bag of Skittles, some money and a can of iced tea when he was shot. The neighborhood crime watch volunteer who got out of his car and shot him is white and Hispanic. He has not been arrested and is claiming self-defense.
Late Friday night, after weeks of pressure, the police played the 911 calls in the case for the family and gave copies to the news media. On the recordings, one shot, an apparent warning or miss, is heard, followed by a voice begging or pleading, and a cry. A second shot is then heard, and the pleading stops.
Sunday, March 18
The family of Trayvon Martin is asking the FBI to get involved in the investigation of the killing of the unarmed 17-year-old Florida high school student, who was shot last month by a self-appointed neighborhood watchman outside his stepmother’s home.
Zimmerman, 28, who is white, claimed self defense. He was never arrested and has been charged with no crime, sparking national outrage.
ABC News has learned police seemed to accept Zimmerman’s account at face value that night and that he was not tested for drugs or alcohol on the night of the shooting, even though it is standard procedure in most homicide investigations.
An FBI spokesman told ABC News: “We are aware of the incident, we have been in contact with local authorities and are monitoring the matter.”
But law enforcement expert Rod Wheeler who listened to the tapes tells ABC News that Zimmerman, not Martin, sounded intoxicated in the police recordings of the 911 calls.
“When I listened to the 911 tape the first thing that came to my mind is this guy sounds intoxicated. Notice how he’s slurring his words. We as trained law enforcement officers, we know how to listen for that right away and I think that’s going to be an important element of this entire investigation,” Wheeler said.
From The Washington Post (op-ed/blog):
By all accounts, Trayvon was a good kid. He helped his father coach Little League. He had dreams of becoming a pilot. He was good at math.
(AP) The Orlando Sentinel said that Trayvon’s English teacher described him “as an A and B student who majored in cheerfulness.” And now he’s gone because, as Charles Blow wrote on Saturday, “a man with a gun and an itchy finger” found Trayvon “suspicious.”
In the early 1990s, I saw a T-shirt for sale on Canal Street in New York that neatly and bluntly summed up my frustration with this situation: “No white lady I don’t want your purse.”
… along [comes] a Trayvon Martin to remind us that the burden of suspicion is still ours to bear. And the cost for taking our lives might be none.
Monday, March 19
From WKMG Orlando:
State Attorney Norm Wolfinger announced Tuesday that the Seminole County grand jury will convene April 10 regarding the federal investigation into the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
From MSNBC (Maddow Blog):
Melissa Harris-Perry did a segment over the weekend about the death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, a few weeks ago, and it’s well worth watching, especially if you want to get up to speed on this story.
From The Atlantic (James Fallows):
Here’s why I think it is worth making an exception and talking about something outside “my” realm. The Trayvon Martin case involves the shooting of a young black man by a young white man, and the failure of the white-run Southern police department to take any action against the killer. The more evidence comes out, the less defensible and more bigoted the police department’s attitude seems. Ta-Nehisi Coates has done a very effective job of following this case — but since he is the only black “Voice” on the Atlantic’s site, and since many (though not all) of the leading writers about the case elsewhere also have been black, leaving it to him could give the impression that we think of this as a “black” story. My feeling is the same as when I wrote about the Troy Davis execution last fall: this case is obviously about race, and is important on those grounds. Race relations are after all the original and ongoing tension in U.S. history. But it is also about self-government, rule of law, equality before the law, accountability of power, and every other value that we contend is integral to the American ideal — and also to “the America idea,” exploration of which was the founding idea of the Atlantic Monthly back in 1857.
Wednesday, March 21
Thursday, March 22
Friday, March 23
- Students walk out in protest
- About 250 to 300 Congressional staffers rallied in support of Hoodies on the Hill.
- LA Times: Trayvon Martin case: George Zimmerman, mystery gunman
Saturday, March 24
- Chicago Tribune: “For a second straight day, hundreds of people gathered in the Loop this afternoon to show their support for the family of Trayvon Martin and to demand that the man who shot and killed the teen in Florida last month be prosecuted
- Gawker: How to Get Away With Murder and Other Things the Killing of Unarmed Black Teen Trayvon Martin Teaches Us
- US News: “Thousands of people in cities across the country planned to march this weekend to call for justice in memory of Trayvon Martin, the black teenager shot to death last month by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida.”
“Rallies were planned Saturday in Washington, Chicago, Dallas and Tampa, Fla. Seattle, Baltimore and Atlanta were among other cities hosting weekend events. Protesters were encouraged to wear hoodies – the type of garment Martin had on when he was killed.”
- Demonstrators In Washington, DC
- Demonstrators in Chicago
- A friend of George Zimmerman told ABC News that the voice heard howling on the tape of a 911 call was Zimmerman’s, not the teen’s.
- Christian Science Monitor: Who is George Zimmerman, and why did he shoot Trayvon Martin?