Saturday, December 16, 2017

911 calls before teen slain are released

SANFORD — Calls made to police show that a black teenager was terrified as he tried to get away from the white neighborhood watch volunteer who shot him, and that the volunteer was not defending himself as he has claimed, the teen's family told the Associated Press on Saturday.

Sanford police released eight 911 calls late Friday. The neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, tells a dispatcher in the first call that he is following 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. He says Martin is running, but the dispatcher tells him not to follow the teen.

"How can you claim self-defense and you are the aggressor?" Tracy Martin, Trayvon Martin's father, said Saturday.

Zimmerman had called police to report a suspicious person walking through the gated community. He has said he shot the teen in self-defense. Zimmerman's father said in a letter to the Orlando Sentinel that his son, who is Hispanic, has been cruelly and unfairly portrayed in the media as a racist.

The teen had gone to a convenience store to buy candy and was walking back to his family's home in the neighborhood.

"This guy looks like he is up to no good. He is on drugs or something," Zimmerman told the dispatcher from his sport utility vehicle. He added that the black teen had his hand in his waistband and was walking around looking at homes.

"These a-------. They always get away," Zimmerman said on a 911 call.

He has said he acted in self-defense, but Martin's family said they are now more convinced than ever that Zimmerman should be charged in the shooting. Several of the 911 calls made by neighbors describe some sort of scuffle or fight outside, someone yelling for help and a gunshot.

"(Zimmerman) was chasing him, he was following him, and my son was afraid," said Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's mother. "He didn't know who this stranger was."

Tracy Martin said the calls paint a stark picture of what were his son's final moments.

"He was yelling for help, and no one could help him. He saw his life being taken away from him," Tracy Martin said.

The case has been turned over to the State Attorney's Office, which can decide whether to file charges or present evidence to a grand jury.

Trayvon Martin's family said they will continue pushing for charges to be filed against Zimmerman.

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