As more information comes out about the Trayvon Martin case, it just gets more depressing.
(Police Chief Bill Lee Jr.), Investigator Chris Serino — the case’s lead detective — and other department managers sat down for an exclusive interview with the Orlando Sentinel today.
Lee said he is frustrated that Trayvon’s family, its lawyers and others have ripped his department for its handling of the case. He is not a racist, he said, and his officers conducted a thorough and fair investigation and did nothing underhanded or untruthful.
“The hysteria, the media circus, it’s just crazy,” Lee said. “It’s the craziest damn thing I’ve ever seen, and it’s sad. It’s sad for the city of Sanford, the police department, because I know in my heart we did a good job.”
It is unfortunate that Martin’s family can’t see past their own shock and pain over his sudden death to consider the impact on the city of Sanford and the police department.
Lee does not seem capable of expressing an iota of sympathy for Martin’s family. This is very different from the reaction from authorities in the Sean Bell incident in New York. Yes, the officers responsible were ultimately acquitted but they were put on administrative leave and the police conceded that the turn of events was regrettable.
Lee is having none of that. He’s too busy being annoyed at having his actions questioned.
The best account of what happened came from Zimmerman, Serino said. Other witnesses who saw or heard parts of what happened corroborate his version of events, the investigator said.
Zimmerman told police he got out of his SUV to follow Trayvon on foot, and the 17-year-old came toward him.
The two got into a fight, and Zimmerman wound up on the ground, he told police. Trayvon hit him in the face, and Zimmerman yelled for help.
Yes, the guy who killed a 17-year-old unarmed kid is usually capable of providing the best account of the events because he’s, you know, still alive.
Some obvious questions remain unanswered:
Zimmerman admits that he was following Martin. Isn’t it possible that Martin approached him out of concern for his own safety?
If the two got into a fight, what provoked it? Did Serino — as lead detective — speak to the victim’s family? Did he determine that Martin had a history of violence? Did he learn that Martin was easily provoked? If his family insists otherwise, doesn’t that raise questions regarding Zimmerman’s story? What did Zimmerman say to Martin? Did Martin have reason to believe Zimmerman was threatening him?
The police believing this story on its face implies to me that they believe that 17-year-old Trayvon Martin — a kid who went to the store for Skittles — was capable of such violence that shooting him was the only way for Zimmerman to save his life.
I should also repeat that Zimmerman is not a police officer. Police officers have a duty to initiate contact with potential offenders. If there was a fight, it would not have occurred if Zimmerman had not followed Martin, who all evidence indicates was not engaged in any illegal activity.
Lee said he is dumbstruck by critics who demand that police simply arrest Zimmerman then let a judge and jury decide whether he acted in self-defense.
“You’re violating their civil rights if you do that,” he said.
And Zimmerman, despite all the criticism he’s faced, does have civil rights, police said.
What about the civil rights of anyone else in the community Zimmerman might later find “suspicious”? Zimmerman also has a history of stalking suspects and of police envy.
Zimmerman contacted the Sanford Police Department 46 times in the past 15 months, the agency reported today. The most frequent reason for his call – eight times – was to report a suspicious person, the agency said.
“I hold law enforcement officers in the highest regard and I hope to one day become one,” Zimmerman wrote in an application to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office citizen’s law enforcement academy. That’s a class in which citizens learn about policing and how the sheriff’s office works.
He went through that program in 2009.
… In 2003 he saw a 24-year-old Lake Mary man shoplift a 24-inch TV from an Albertson’s Supermarket, called the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office and followed the suspect’s car for several blocks, allowing a deputy to make an arrest.
The next year, he followed a man in his vehicle for several blocks after accusing him of spitting at him, according to an incident report. The other driver accused Zimmerman of tailgating him, and was not arrested.
Yes, the good people of Sanford should rest easy with Zimmerman roaming the streets. I presume the police took his gun for testing, but what’s to stop him from buying another?