Although the Trayvon Martin killing has sparked some partisan reactions, the killing of a 17 year African-American old teenage boy armed with an iced tea and some Skittles is becoming an issue that transcends party lines or ideology. The latest development: Florida’s Governor has appointed a new prosecutor in the case — suggesting that no matter what the final outcome in a court of law, the case will go beyond where it has been so far. It will no longer be bottled up in the Sanford Police Department but will be examined by several sets of new eyes:
Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi said Thursday that they had appointed a new prosecutor to investigate the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and would appoint a committee on citizen safety that would examine the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, was killed by a self-described neighborhood watch guard in February.
In a statement, Scott called for the task force “to investigate how to make sure a tragedy such as this does not occur in the future, while at the same time, protecting the fundamental rights of all our citizens – especially the right to feel protected and safe in our state.” He said the task force would look at Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows someone who is being threatened to use deadly force.
Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll will lead the task force, Scott said. The Rev. R.B. Holmes Jr., the pastor of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee, will be its vice chair.
Additionally, Scott and Bondi appointed Angela B. Corey, a state attorney from another part of Florida, to oversee the investigation. Norman Wolfinger, the state attorney who covers Sanford, where the shooting took place, asked to step down from the investigation.
Trayvon Martin was carrying a pack of Skittles and a can of iced tea when George Zimmerman, 28, spotted Martin, a black teen who was walking home from a convenience store at night in a gated community. Zimmerman told police he shot Martin in self-defense after a confrontation.
One FACT: there is nothing at all in Martin’s background or history that suggests he was someone who would spark a confrontation.
The Martin case — which exploded on the national and Florida scene weeks after the event due to the release of 911 audio tapes that seemed at varience with Zimmerman’s and the Police Department’s version of events — has now led to some other major political developments.
As reported earlier, the city’s Police Chief has “temporarily” stepped down. Many news articles do put quotes around temporarily since the way events are breaking it is likely that a final determination of what occured and how it handled may not be entirely pleasing to the Police Department. Or to the City Manager, who can fire the Police Chief.
Two Sanford city commissioners who, amidst widespread outrage at the police investigation of Trayvon Martin’s death, sided with police chief Bill Lee at a meeting last night, will soon face a recall, ThinkProgress has learned exclusively.
In an interview at the Goldsboro History Museum, which has become a hub for local grassroots activists, community leader Frances Oliver revealed the plans for the recall. Oliver said that Patty Mahany and Randy Jones, who voted in support of police chief Bill Lee Wednesday night, would be targeted for recall by a number of local community groups, including the NAACP.
Oliver also alleged that, while Mahany and Jones had met with Zimmerman’s family and neighborhood watch group, they had not called Martin’s family to express their condolences. She also accused them of “badmouthing” Trayvon Martin in the Sanford community.
UPDATE: Yet another indication of how the fate of Martin and increasing questions about his death and how police handled it is raising eyebrows and ire: Rep. Allen West (R-FL), a high-profile conservative and one of two African-American Republicans currently in Congress, has posted a blistering statement on Facebook. Via Talking Points Memo:
I have sat back and allowed myself time to assess the current episode revealing itself in Sanford, Florida involving the shooting of 17-year-old Treyvon Martin. First of all, if all that has been reported is accurate, the Sanford Police Chief should be relieved of his duties due to what appears to be a mishandling of this shooting in its early stages. The US Navy SEALS identified Osama Bin Laden within hours, while this young man laid on a morgue slab for three days. The shooter, Mr Zimmerman, should have been held in custody and certainly should not be walking free, still having a concealed weapons carry permit. From my reading, it seems this young man was pursued and there was no probable cause to engage him, certainly not pursue and shoot him….against the direction of the 911 responder. Let’s all be appalled at this instance not because of race, but because a young American man has lost his life, seemingly, for no reason. I have signed a letter supporting a DOJ investigation. I am not heading to Sanford to shout and scream, because we need the responsible entities and agencies to handle this situation from this point without media bias or undue political influences. This is an outrage.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.