Family demands justice in deadly Sanford shooting of teen



SANFORD, Fla. - Angry residents gathered outside the Sanford Police Department Saturday, hoping to urge investigators to arrest a neighborhood watch leader who recently shot and killed a teenage boy.

About two dozen of protesters showed up for the 9 a.m. rally against George Zimmerman's freedom, but their peaceful rally may have fallen on deaf ears. After about two hours, the gathering ended without any dialogue with police officials.

But protesters' efforts don't appear to be ending any time soon. Some say they've even reached out to the Rev. Al Sharpton to put pressure on Chief Bill Lee to arrest Zimmerman.

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch leader, called police the night of Feb. 26 to report a suspicious black man in the Twin Lakes Townhomes neighborhood, and even though dispatchers told him not to confront the teenager, he did.

They got into a scuffle and investigators said Zimmerman shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in the chest. Zimmerman claimed self-defense and was not arrested.

Martin, who is from Miami, was visiting family in a gated community and walking home after going to a convenience store when he was shot and killed.

Now, the victim's family is struggling to find answers.

"He was just a kid. He was just a baby," his mother Sabrina Martin said.

WFTV found out Zimmerman was arrested in 2005 for battery on a law enforcement officer.

Martin's family only learned about Zimmerman's criminal past when WFTV told them. The news came as quite a shock for Martin's mother.

"As a mother my heart is broken. My heart hurts. I don't understand," Sabrina Martin said.

The family said Sanford police never gave them any indication of this.

The family's attorney believes this is more reason the neighborhood watch leader should have been arrested when he shot and killed the teenager.

Zimmerman was arrested in 2005 on charges of battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence. 

The case was dismissed, but Martin's mother said it should've been considered 11 days ago when Zimmerman shot and killed her son.

"You had a person with a prepotency toward violence, or at least the appearance," family attorney Natalie Jackson said.

Sanford police knew about the arrest, but said again Friday that 28-year-old Zimmerman has been cooperative.

Zimmerman is a student at Seminole State College, where he is scheduled to start a criminal justice class on Monday.

WFTV's Daralene Jones addressed Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee.

"He has been arrested before. That's not something you would consider when determining whether or not to arrest someone for shooting and killing someone?" Jones asked.

"I just answered that question that we take everything into consideration. It's a full and complete investigation that is fair and will be presented to the state attorney's office," Lee said.

The family also filed a public records lawsuit against Sanford Police on Friday because the department won't release the 911 call Zimmerman made before he shot the teen.

Martin's family is also asking the members of their south Florida church for help. They rallied at a Miami church on Sunday where the funeral for their son was held.


Previous stories:

Neighborhood watch leader who fatally shot teen not arrested; family files suit

Police: Man on neighborhood watch shoots, kills teen