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Demand justice in Florida teen's slaying

By Roland Martin, CNN Contributor
updated 4:51 PM EDT, Fri June 22, 2012
Family photo of Trayvon Martin and his father
Family photo of Trayvon Martin and his father
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Family, community mourning death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida
  • Roland Martin says the man who shot him should be prosecuted
  • Reports say neighborhood watch captain was told by 9/11 not to get out of his SUV
  • Martin: Sanford police look inept for accepting self-defense claim by shooter

Editor's note: Roland S. Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for the TV One cable network and host/managing editor of its Sunday morning news show, "Washington Watch with Roland Martin."

(CNN) -- Trayvon Martin should be getting ready to plop down in front of the television this weekend with his dad, Tracy, and enjoy tons of basketball games during March Madness.

Instead, Tracy Martin and Trayvon's mom, Sybrina Fulton, are left bewildered, trying to understand how their fun-loving and squeaky-clean 17-year-old son was shot dead last month by a man who was supposed to be protecting their Sanford, Florida, gated community from outsiders.

Incredibly, the man who admitted to killing Trayvon, 28-year-old George Zimmerman, has remained free since the shooting because he told Sanford police that it was in self-defense. After questioning him, police bought his explanation and allowed him to return home. (Police said he has not been charged because there are no grounds to disprove his story of what happened.)

But the details we know thus far make that seem absolutely stunning, and they are making the Sanford police department look inept.

Toobin: Martin shooting 'appalling' case

According to published reports, on February 26, Zimmerman, serving as a neighborhood watch captain, called 911 to report "a suspicious person" in the neighborhood. He was instructed not to get out of his SUV or approach the person. But he ignored that suggestion and followed Trayvon. Moments later, neighbors responded that they heard gunfire.

When police arrived a couple of minutes later, Zimmerman was standing over Martin with a 9mm handgun, telling police that he fired the fatal shots.

Family of slain teen outraged shooter remains free

Now surely common sense would come into play for the police officers on the scene. How in the world can an unarmed kid holding nothing but a bag of Skittles and an iced tea be a danger to the neighborhood, especially one in which his father lived with his fiancée?

Second, had Zimmerman never gotten out of his SUV, an altercation between him and Trayvon would have never taken place.

And why was Zimmerman even carrying a high-powered weapon in the first place? Was he an off-duty peace officer? No.

The Sanford Police department has come under intense pressure from the community, and when the case of Trayvon hit the national radar, that only increased. So far, more than 200,000 people have signed a petition at Change.org demanding that justice be done in the case.

In response to those calls, Sanford police called on the state's attorney to determine whether charges should be filed. That has led critics to say the police department is choosing not to do its job and is passing the buck.

Community activists and pastors from across the country have called for people nationwide to descend on Sanford on March 26 for a march for justice, which will take place at 4 p.m., before the next city council meeting.

The anger in this case is deserved, because Zimmerman shouldn't be walking the streets. Any reasonable person could see that he is an out-of-control zealot who killed an innocent man.

"It upsets us. It makes us feel like we're not getting any justice. We feel like we are the victims. It was our son that was shot; this guy murdered him," Trayvon's mother, Sybrina, told me on my TV One cable network show, "Washington Watch."

"I cry every day because I just don't understand. My son is gone, and this guy has not been arrested."

Every day that Zimmerman remains a free man, the cries for justice will ring louder and louder. And it's clear that Sanford police have given more thought to the rights of this admitted killer than an innocent young man who only went to the store for snacks, never returning home to enjoy a basketball game on TV with his dad.

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The opinions expressed in this case are solely those of Roland S. Martin

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