Austin McLendon hasn’t been the same since the night of Feb. 26, when he was standing approximately 20 feet from the shooting. He says he didn’t see a lot, but his mother says that the young boy can’t get the screams of “help” — or the sound of the gunshot — out of his head.
He also can’t stop from asking himself what he could have done to change the sequence of events. “I picture myself back over where I saw it, and it sticks in the back of my mind,” McLendon said at his family’s home.
According to police, George Zimmerman, the self-appointed caption of the neighborhood watch at the Retreat at Twin Lakes, has admitted to shooting and killing Martin, whom he described as “suspicious” in a 911 call. Zimmerman, who claimed that he was acting in self-defense, was carrying a licensed pistol.
“They still haven’t arrested him yet,” Austin said to HuffPost Black Voices. “That’s pretty much the main thing that’s upsetting me.”
Austin’s mother, Sheryl Brown, said that her son’s trauma from that night also involves media and police versions of Austin’s story. The police claim that Austin told them Zimmerman was the one screaming. Although Austin couldn’t tell exactly who it was, he believes that it was Martin. Brown also told HuffPost that she believes the police investigator who interviewed her son may have been trying to get Austin to provide information that he didn’t have:
“That investigator said flat out that we don’t think it was self-defense,” Brown said, recalling the day the police came to interview Austin. “Several times he said, ‘I have kids, and I’m going to tell you something that I don’t tell many people.’ He looked at me and said, ‘You have to read between the lines. There’s some stereotyping going on.’ “
She continued: “He stood here in my family room telling me that this guy [Zimmerman] is not right and it wasn’t self-defense and that they have to prove that it wasn’t. He was adamant about that. I don’t know if that was to make me less uncomfortable or to make us feel that he was on our side.”
Meanwhile, other witnesses are now saying that the police tried to twist their testimony to support Zimmerman’s claims of self-defense.