Suspended THREE times for drugs, truancy and graffiti and ‘caught carrying a burglary tool’: New picture emerges of Trayvon Martin (and did he attack a bus driver too?)
The teen was suspended from school three times
He was on suspension when he was shot in February, after officials caught him with a ‘marijuana pipe’ and a baggie with drug residue
Trayvon was kicked out of school in October for graffiti after he was allegedly caught with a ‘burglary tool’ and a bag full of women’s jewelry
Officials also suspended him once for skipping school and tardiness
Tearful parents say their son is now the victim of a smear campaign
New poll shows 73 percent of Americans think Zimmerman should be arrested
Trayvon Martin was suspended from school three times in the months before he was shot dead by a neighborhood watchman, it emerged today.
The new claims, revealed in a leaked report, paint a different picture of a teenager who frequently found himself in trouble with authorities.
It was also revealed that he might have attacked a bus driver, according to a Twitter account that it is claimed belonged to the teen.
The Miami Herald claims that in October, he was caught with a ‘burglary tool’ – a flathead screwdriver – and 12 pieces of women’s jewellery. Martin insisted that they did not belong to him.
Earlier, he had been suspended for skipping school and showing up late to class. And most recently, in February, he was suspended again when officials found a ‘marijuana pipe’ and an empty baggie with traces of the drug.
The fresh claims are likely to be seized upon by supporters of George Zimmerman who say the teenager launched an unprovoked attack on the neighbourhood watch volunteer moments before Trayvon was shot dead.
The revelation about the suspension in October, in a school report obtained by the Herald, was condemned today by Trayvon’s family as part of a campaign to smear their dead son.
The boy’s mother said: ‘They killed my son and now they’re trying to kill his reputation.’
The conservative news site the Daily Caller and the blog the Wagist claim they have unearthed a Twitter account, which has since been taken down, that belonged to the teen.
Among many Tweets, the Wagist claims, is a message from his cousin implying that Trayvon attacked a bus driver.
‘Yu ain’t tell me yu swung on a bus driver,’ a user Tweeted to Travyon’s alleged account five days before he was killed.
The Daily Caller, says it has published 152 pages of tweets downloaded from Trayvon’s account. The site says Trayvon went by the Twitter handle NO_LIMIT_N***A.
A few of the messages make reference to using drugs including one that says: ‘Finna (I’m fixing to) smoke 1 wit my dawg wayne.’
But most are simply a take on daily life — the same as most social media accounts.
‘PLZZ EXERCISE YO RIGHT 2 REMAIN SILENT.. DAM,’ he says.
Another says: ‘2 glock 40’s… b**** you got 80 problems.’
Meanwhile, Joe Oliver, Zimmerman’s longtime friend, told Good Morning America Monday that no matter how the case comes out — even if the shooting is ruled justified — ‘George has virtually lost his life, too.’
Mr Oliver said Zimmerman has gone into hiding and is in fear of his life over the public outcry for his arrest. A fringe group, the New Black Panther Party, has offered a $10,000 reward for his ‘capture.’
The boy’s parents say that they have never heard the claim about the screw driver and jewellery.
The October suspension was officially for graffiti, after he and some friends wrote ‘W.T.F.’ on a school locker.
According to an October report of the incident by the Miami Dade Schools Police, obtained by the Miami Herald, Trayvon never received any punishment for the jewellery because he said it was not his and it belonged to a friend.
In total, he had 12 pieces of mostly women’s rings and earrings in his bag.
Instead, he was suspended on October 21for the graffiti charge.
Ben Crump, a lawyer for Trayvon’s parents, said that they ‘never heard anything like this about a bag of jewellery….And anyway, it’s completely irrelevant to what happened February 26.
‘They never heard this, and don’t believe it’s true. If it were true, why wouldn’t they call the parents? Why wasn’t he arrested?
‘We think everybody is trying to demonize him.’
The Martin family has admitted that the October suspension was his second, and that he had previously been suspended for tardiness and truancy.
The third, and arguably most serious suspension, came in February in the days leading up to his death.
According to the Miami Herald, Miami-Dade Schools Police reported finding a bag with marijuana residue and a ‘marijuana pipe’ in the 17-year-old’s possession.
The boy was never criminally charged, but the Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drug related incidents so he was suspended for an undisclosed amount of time.
Mr Crump said: ‘If he and his friends experimented with marijuana, that is completely irrelevant. What does it have to do with killing their son?’
After rallies and meetings all day Monday in Sanford, Florida, where the shooting occurred, Trayvon’s parents are expected to appear on Capitol Hill Tuesday as the US Congress takes up the issue of racial profiling.
The hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee comes as nearly three quarters of Americans believe Zimmerman should be arrested, according to a CNN/ORC International poll.
Only 11 percent of the people surveyed believe Zimmerman should not be arrested. The rest are unsure.
The unanimity against Zimmerman’s shooting even crosses racial and lines. About 67 percent of whites support his arrest and 86 percent of non-whites. Majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents are all on the same page.
At a Sanford City Council meeting Monday, which turned into a public forum on the Trayvon shooting, Rev Al Sharpton gave city leaders a petition with 2 million signatures of people calling for Zimmerman to be locked up.
The new details about Trayvon’s past come the same day as thousands marched through the streets of Sanford, where the shooting happened, to demand justice.
The boy’s mother and father joined the rally, where they called for justice.
His mother said: ‘I know I cannot bring my baby back. But I’m sure going to make changes so that does not happen to another family.’
While his father Tracy said Zimmmerman ‘needs to be arrested’. ‘He needs to be put on trial.
The national attention from perennial leaders of the black community, Sharpton and Rev Jesse Jackson is not welcome, according to C.L. Bryant, the former head of the NAACP in Garland, Texas.
‘His family should be outraged at the fact that they’re using this child as the bait to inflame racial passions,’ the conservative pastor told the Daily Caller.
He said they were ‘acting as though they are buzzards circling the carcass of this young boy.’
Trayvon’s parents and civil rights leaders spoke after a dramatic police account of the fatal shooting claimed the black teen launched an unprovoked attack on the neighborhood watch volunteer in which he punched him in the face, knocked him to the ground and then bashed his head into the sidewalk several times before trying to grab his gun.
The report, leaked to the Orlando Sentinel and ABC News and based on anonymous sources, supports accounts from George Zimmerman’s allies that he acted in self-defense when he shot dead the 17-year-old one month ago in Sanford Florida.
The embattled Sanford Police Department, while condemning the leak, confirmed that the story was consistent with information private to the State Attorney’s office, which is currently considering whether to file charges against Zimmerman.
The police account is also based mostly on Zimmerman’s own words to officers after they arrived at the gated community February 26, but it is the most complete picture of his side of the shooting that has been released publicly.
As the Orland Sentinel reports, Zimmerman got out of his car and followed Trayvon as he walked back to the home of his father’s girlfriend after picking up snacks at a local convenience store.
Zimmerman called 911 to report a suspicious black teenager who looked like he might be on drugs.
As he walked after the teen, the police dispatcher told Zimmerman he didn’t need to keep following.
A minute passes and police don’t know what happens.
Then, according to Zimmerman, Trayvon approached him from behind and they ‘exchanged words.’
Trayvon asked Zimmerman if he had a problem. Zimmerman said, ‘no.’
Then, according to Zimmerman, Trayvon said, ‘Well now you do,’ and unexpectedly punched Zimmerman in the face, knocking him to the ground.
Trayvon, 6-foot-3 and 140 pounds, then reportedly climbed on top of the 250-pound Zimmerman and bashed his head into the sidewalk several times.
One unidentified witness, who did not see the shooting, said he saw a younger man on top of an older man and the older man was screaming for help.
Police say the cries that witnesses reported, which Trayvon’s family say were coming from the teen, are actually likely from Zimmerman.
Zimmerman, who had a permit to carry a handgun, shot Trayvon once in the chest at very close range, killing him.
According to police reports and accounts given by Zimmerman’s lawyer, Craig Sooner, the 28-year-old’s nose was bloody or broken, his lip was bleeding and he had a bloody gash on the back of his head.
As the national outcry over the shooting continued to gather momentum, Zimmerman’s allies say he was in a ‘fight for his life.’
‘It’s not a racial issue. George Zimmerman is absolutely not a racist,’ Zimmerman’s lawyer told the Today Show Monday. Zimmerman is half white and half Hispanic.
His friend Joe Oliver joined his lawyer for several TV interviews Sunday and Monday to publicly defend Zimmerman.
‘The bottom line is there was a life and death struggle in that instance and someone was going to die,’ Mr Oliver told the Today Show.
‘Because he was there and he knows what happened…he’s been very confident — naively — that this would all blow over,’ Mr Oliver said in an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America Sunday. He added that Zimmerman cried for days after the incident.
Police did not arrest Zimmerman after the February 26 because he cited Florida’s so-called ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, which does not require residents to retreat and allows them to defend themselves when they have reasonable belief that they will be killed or severely injured.
That law could also make it difficult to win a conviction if they file charges against Zimmerman, a top prosecutor told Good Morning America Monday.
‘The Stand Your Ground law is one portion of justifiable use of deadly force,’ veteran State Attorney Angela Corey said.
‘And what that means is that the state must go forward and be able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt… So it makes the case in general more difficult than a normal criminal case.’
Despite being legally justified, according to friends, Zimmerman is remorseful about killing Trayvon.
Mr Oliver said Zimmerman wishes he could tell the boy’s parents he is ‘very, very sorry.’
Furthermore, Mr Oliver says, Zimmerman, who is currently in hiding, didn’t stop crying for days after the killing.
The interviews comes the same day as a new report says that Justice Department investigators may try to charge him with a hate crime, and they are thought to be using the alleged murmuring on the 911 call to argue he said a racial slur before fatally shooting the teen.
‘If that was a racial epithet that preceded the attack on Trayvon Martin, we definitely have a hate crime,’ said Drexel University law professor Donald Tibbs.
‘It sounds pretty obvious to me.’
Even if Zimmerman is not charged, the entire Sanford police department may be investigated regardless to see if they destroyed or hid any evidence during their initial investigation.
Mr Oliver also identified the voice screaming in the now-infamous 911 tapes as the Neighbourhood Watch captain, not of Martin as the teen’s parents claim.
‘From the clips that I’ve heard online, I heard George. That sounded like someone who was in dire need of help. It sounded like George.’
‘At that point, either George or Trayvon was going to die.’
Despite the defense from Zimmerman’s allies, a new witness has stepped forward and said she and her roommate heard Trayvon screaming before hearing a shot being fired.
In an interview which aired on Dateline NBC Sunday night, Mary Cutcher said that she and her roommate ran out after hearing the shot.
‘We both saw him straddling the body, basically, a foot on both sides of Trayvon’s body and his hands pressed on his back,’ Ms Cutcher said of she and her roommate.
‘It sounded young. It didn’t sound like a grown man is my point. It sounded to me like someone was in distress and it wasn’t like a crying, sobbing boo-hoo, it was a definite whine.
‘He started walking back and forth like three times with his hand on the head and kind of, he was walking like kind of confused.
‘He was in shock.’
This version of events plays into the beliefs of millions of protestors who have called for Zimmerman to be charged with murder for shooting the teen and believe the killing was racially motivated.
Ms Fulton, Trayvon’s mother, filed applications with the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office to seek ownership of the phrases ‘I Am Trayvon’ and ‘Justice for Trayvon’ which supporters have adopted as rallying cries.
Ms Fulton’s lawyer, Ms Major Morris, told the Associated Press that the money that will be gathered from the trademark will go to ‘projects that will assist other families who experience similar tragedies’.
She denied that Ms Fulton had any intention of profiting from the move.
The case has become a national issue, and the slain teen’s parents have both quit their jobs to help see that the fight for justice continues. In that effort, they have allowed their lawyers to set up a donation fund for the legal costs, but now they fear that other fake sites have sprung up, hoping to profit from the national outrage.