One year ago, African-American Florida teen Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot and killed at his father's gated community by George Zimmerman, a white Hispanic resident of the community. The killing outraged thousands of Americans and launched a renewed dialogue about racial profiling, "Stand your ground" laws and gun control.
About 7 p.m. Zimmerman, a 28-year-old unofficial neighborhood-watch man, called 911 to report a "suspicious person," later reported to be Trayvon, in a gated community, Retreat at Twin Lakes, in Sanford, Fla. Despite instructions from the dispatcher, Zimmerman pursued him. Zimmerman alleges that after an exchange of words, Trayvon punched him in the nose, pinned him to the ground and began slamming his head into the sidewalk. About 7:25 p.m. Trayvon was shot once in the chest and killed. At the time of his death, the unarmed teen, who was on his way back to his dad's home after a trip to a convenience store, was carrying a small amount of cash, a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. He was wearing a hoodie.
Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the Martin family, along with Trayvon's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, held a news conference in Orlando, Fla. The family expressed concern that police would decide to consider the shooting as self-defense and that police had ignored their request for a recording of the original 911 call.
In response to growing complaints, Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee said Zimmerman had not been charged because there was no reason to believe that the shooting was not self-defense under Florida's "Stand your ground" laws, according to Orlando's WFTV. Lee later admitted that investigators took Zimmerman's word that he had a clean record and didn't find out about Zimmerman's previous arrest until days after the shooting.
Responding to civil rights complaints, the federal government announced plans to investigate the shooting. The decision to open an investigation into the slaying spurred an internal debate at the DOJ over whether the federal government could bring criminal charges in the case. Civil rights law protects against "hate crimes" or actions by police officers, but Trayvon's shooting may not have either of those elements, officials told the Washington Post.
Hundreds gathered in New York City's Union Square to show solidarity with Trayvon Martin and his family and to protest racial profiling. Trayvon's parents thanked the demonstrators, who chanted, "We want arrests" as they marched in the teen's memory.
Speaking publicly on the subject for the first time, the president said that if he had a son, "he would look like Trayvon," and that he wanted to get to the bottom of the incident.
With President Obama adding his two cents and the entire Miami Heat basketball team posing for a picture for which they all wore hoodies, the Trayvon Martin case became even more widely known than it already was.
In leaked surveillance video footage of Zimmerman being led from a police car shortly after he fatally shot Trayvon, he does not appear to have any obvious signs of injuries or bloodstains, but his attorney said the video was too grainy to be revealing.
Proving the divisiveness of the case, a USA Today/Gallup poll found that 73 percent of blacks believed Zimmerman would already have been arrested had Trayvon Martin been a white teen. Only 33 percent of whites said the same.
George Zimmerman was taken into custody and charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. "We did not come to this decision lightly," Angela Corey, the special prosecutor appointed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to re-examine the case, said at a news conference in Jacksonville, Fla.
Zimmerman returned to jail because his $150,000 bond was revoked after prosecutors claimed that he and his wife, Shellie, had deceived the court during an April bond hearing. At the hearing, Shellie testified that the couple had limited funds for bail because she was a full-time student and her husband wasn't working. Prosecutors said George actually had raised $135,000 in donations from a website he created. His wife was charged with perjury.
Lawyer Crump said that Trayvon's family was satisfied with the firing of police Chief Bill Lee. The family learned of the termination while attending the 37th annual National Association of Black Journalists convention in New Orleans.
A judge ruled that attorneys for the neighborhood-watch volunteer could inspect the school records and social media postings of Trayvon to "see if they give any evidence that he had violent tendencies," the Associated Press reported.
Although a grainy version of the picture had been floating around for months, the color photo shows Zimmerman's nose bloody and swollen on the night of the killing.
The actor joined Trayvon's parents in Miami for a Day of Remembrance Peace Walk in honor of the teen. "The thing is, with press, and you know how press goes, it will be a hot story at one point. It will be the thing to go to, and all of a sudden, they try to forget about it," Foxx said. "And I said I don't want anybody to forget about this, because they can't forget about the fact that they lost their son."
Incoming Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith is scheduled to take his new post on April 1, just days before George Zimmerman's scheduled "Stand your ground" hearing. "We have to let it go through the court system," he told press. "The court has to make the decision whether Mr. Zimmerman is guilty or not guilty, but my goal in the police department is to make sure nothing like this happens again."