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uring a midday press conference in south Florida, the attorney for slain teen Trayvon Martin’s family announced that the murder will go before a grand jury in April. At the same time, the attorney demanded an immediate arrest of the teen’s confessed killer George Zimmerman. “We want an arrest,” harangued, Benjamin Crump, explaining his fear that the more time elapses without an arrest, the less likely an arrest becomes.
The attorney said no one knows where Zimmerman is and insinuated that he might be a flight risk. “Where else in the world do you kill someone and the cops come and don’t even take your background check?” Crump asked.
Crump’s speech occurred about a month after Trayvon’s February 26 murder, and provided many new clues about what happened between Zimmerman and Martin that evening. Over the weekend, Trayvon’s father Tracey Martin, spoke with his son’s girlfriend, a 16-year-old whose identity Crump is withholding at the request of her parents. During the conversation, Tracey Martin learned, as ABC News reported early this morning, that his son’s girlfriend was the last person to speak with Trayvon and that she was on the phone with him when Zimmerman began following him. Trayvon’s phone records, which were passed out to reporters at the press conference, confirm this, Crump said. As further proof, during the press conference, Crump played an audio recording of Trayvon’s girlfriend’s account of the moments before the killing. Crump also paraphrased her account, giving new details that ABC News did not.
According to Trayvon’s girlfriend, during his return from the 7-Eleven where he had just bought Skittles, a downpour began. Trayvon ran to a nearby building in the complex to seek cover, then resumed his walk. Around that time, he told her that someone was following him. She told him to run and for a while he did, until he decided to stop. That’s when Zimmerman approached.
Trayvon asked Zimmerman, “Why are you following me?”
“What are you doing around here?” Zimmerman replied.
Trayvon repeated his question. “Why are following me?”
Trayvon’s girlfriend heard someone being pushed and deduced that it was Trayvon because his voice sounded as if he had been struck and the headset fell off his ears.
The call between Trayvon and his girlfriend began at 7:12 pm and ended at 7:16 pm, Crump says the call records indicate. Within one minute Trayvon was dead and police were there. “There wasn’t much time in this altercation!” Crump underscored.
Crump’s press conference came on the heels of the U.S. Justice Department’s announcement that it would be launching its own investigation into the case and on the heels of public and press demands for answers and action. Crump highlighted several inconsistencies with the Sanford police department’s account of its investigation that had never been raised in the media. For instance, he said:
- Why were the revelations that Zimmerman had blood on him and wet clothes not in the Sanford Police Department’s preliminary incident report? Why did it only appear in their report after the press and public began asking questions?
- Whose blood was on Zimmerman — Zimmerman’s or Trayvon’s?
- Why were the police stingy with information they released to the parents, who had to threaten to sue for what they’ve received?
- Why did the police do a background check on Trayvon, but no check on Zimmerman? Instead they lied and said Zimmerman had a “squeaky clean” record, when in fact, he’d been arrested in the past. “I beg you to listen to Zimmeran, listen to how his words slur,” Crump said. “Why didn’t the police department do a drug and alchohol analysis on Zimmerman?”
Crump says he is turning over the recording of his interview with Trayvon’s girlfriend to the Justice Department, because they family does’t trust Sanford police.
Meanwhile, Crump said, Florida State Representative Perry Thurston — who ironically, represents a district called Plantation — is now drafting legislation to restrict the application of Florida’s Shoot First Laws. The new law would prevent aggressors from claiming self-defense. “Self defense is not an argument you make on the side of the road with the police. You make it in court,” Crump said. But as a reporter pointed out during the press conference, the troublesome law explicitly gives law enforcement agencies the option of declining to make an arrest.
In the coming weeks, several protests and rallies are planned on Trayvon’s behalf. New Yorkers are holding a Million Hoodies March tomorrow. It starts at 6 pm in Union Square and goes to the UN. On March 26, thousands plan to descend on Sanford, Florida for a hearing the city commission is holding to talk with Trayvon’s parents. Radio commentators, ministers, and NFL players are scheduled to be there.
Crump said Tracey Martin is trying to work, while he grieves and that Trayvon’s mother Sybrina Fulton is emotionally exhausted. “She needs rest and prayers.”