Courtesy of Infoplease.com
Name at birth: Trayvon Benjamin Martin
Born: 5 February 1995
Died: 26 February 2012 (shot to death)
Also known as: Slimm
Florida teen Trayvon Martin was killed 26 February 2012 by George Zimmerman, a 28 year-old volunteer for the area’s neighborhood watch, and the incident touched off a new round of debate on police conduct, gun laws and racial profiling. Martin was a 17 year-old African American from the Miami area, visiting his father’s fianceé at her home in Retreat at Twin Lakes, a gated community in Sanford, Florida, a suburb of Orlando. On a Sunday evening around 7 p.m., George Zimmerman called the non-emergency police number to report Martin as someone who “looks like he’s up to no good.” Martin, it was later established, was walking home unarmed from a convenience store, having purchased candy (Skittles) and beverage (Arizona brand iced tea). Zimmerman, who was armed with a 9mm pistol, followed Martin briefly, and at some point an altercation ensued. By 7:30, Martin was dead, and police on the scene detained Zimmerman, but released him without arrest after he claimed self-defense. Two weeks later, the Sanford Police Department turned the case over to the State’s Attorney, who initiated an independent investigation. A recording of the call Zimmerman made to police on the night of the shooting was made public on 16 March, and raised new questions. Conflicting witness reports in the press and the official clampdown on information fueled a media frenzy; in the absence of information, speculation ran rampant. Some accused Zimmerman of assuming Martin was a criminal simply because he was a young black man in a hooded sweatshirt. Others deemed Zimmerman justified in his actions. Rallies were held around the country for the slain teenager, and “hoodies” were worn in a show of solidarity. Zimmerman ducked publicity while the investigation continued. The United States Justice Department and the FBI also began investigations, based on the possibility that Trayvon Martin’s civil rights had been violated. Florida prosecutors arrested George Zimmerman, and in late April of 2012 he was charged with second-degree murder.