Updated Saturday, March 17, at 2:25 p.m. ET: Among the newly released tapes of 911 calls made before and after the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, one stands out: a recording of the call made by the man who reportedly said that he shot the teen. The 28-year-old white Hispanic neighborhood-watch captain of a Sanford, Fla., gated community can be heard voicing his suspicions about the 17-year-old black teen.
In one call, placed by the shooter George Zimmerman, he actively pursues the teen before the deadly shooting.
"Are you following him," an emergency dispatcher asks after Zimmerman describes Trayvon as a black male who was acting suspiciously.
Zimmerman responds: "Yeah."
"OK, you don't need to do that," the dispatcher says.
Source: Orlando Sentinel.
Tapes of that call, and several made by frantic neighbors who heard shots fired, were released by WESH in Orlando. Later, WFTV, also in Orlando, released a more complete set of recordings, including one in which someone can be heard crying for help before falling silent after shots rang out (at the 1:55 mark in the second link below). They are heartbreaking to listen to, but hopefully exposure can help the wheels of justice to start moving in this case.
Martin, who had no criminal record, was reportedly coming from a convenience store carrying nothing but a bag of Skittles, money and a can of iced tea. However, Zimmerman can be heard on the tape released by WESH speculating that "he's on drugs or something" and was acting in a threatening manner. Zimmerman is heard complaining to the dispatcher, "These a—holes always get away."
Zimmerman has not been arrested or charged in connection with the shooting, which he maintains was in self-defense. Martin's family is understandably outraged and has called on the FBI to take over the investigation, the Washington Post reports.
Even if you believe Zimmerman's account that he acted in self-defense against a youth armed with deadly Skittles, you only need to recall what the dispatcher said upon learning that Zimmerman was following the teen — "OK, you don't need to do that" — to know that this was 100 percent avoidable. Justice must be pursued in this case, wherever it takes things.
Sheryl Huggins Salomon is senior editor-at-large of The Root and a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based editorial consultant. Follow her on Twitter.