The mother of a black Florida teen who was gunned down by a neighborhood watch vigilante in February blames the incident on racial profiling.
Sabrina Fulton told NBC’s Matt Lauer on Monday that her son, Trayvon Martin, was only shot and killed by neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman because he was an African American.
“He was reacting to the color of his skin,” Fulton explained. “[Martin] committed no crime. My son wasn’t doing anything but walking on the sidewalk. And I just don’t understand why this situation got out of control.”
As head of neighborhood watch for The Retreat at Twin Lakes, Zimmerman had called police to report Martin as a suspicious person, but by the time the police arrived the young man was already dead.
According to reports, police said Martin had been returning from a local store with Skittles and an iced tea.
Zimmerman claimed he had been forced to use his 9mm handgun shoot Martin in self-defense.
Tapes from 911 dispatchers later revealed that Zimmerman had been told not to pursue Martin. While the teen did not have a criminal record, Zimmerman had been charged in 2005 with “resisting arrest with violence and battery on an officer.” Those charges were later reduced to simple battery, and a plea deal allowed him to carry a concealed weapon.
A profile by The Miami Herald described Zimmerman as someone who was “fixated on crime and focused on young, black males.” He had called police at least 46 times since January 1, 2011.
Attorney Ben Crump told Lauer that although Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law” makes it legal to use deadly force without first retreating, “Zimmerman has no legal recourse” in this case.
“He was not at his home, he was on a sidewalk — a common area,” Crump explained. “Trayvon Martin was 70 feet from the back door. He was almost home. Zimmer got out of his car, did not listen to the police and chased this kid. You can’t chase somebody and then claim self defense. Trayvon Martin had a bag of Skittles, Matt. [Zimmerman] had a 9mm gun. He was almost 80 pounds more weight than Trayvon Martin.”
“Everybody in America is asking, ‘When are they going to arrest Zimmerman for killing this kid in cold blood?’” he added.
Watch this video from NBC’s Today Show, broadcast March 19, 2012.