On Tuesday, Feb. 5, “Trayvon Martin” was trending on Twitter. The tweets that follow are highly representative:
“Trayvon Martin would be 24 years old today, but he was murdered in 2012 by a violent racist.”
“Trayvon Martin should be celebrating his 24th birthday today … He will never be forgotten and the fight for justice is far from over.”
“This child lost his life while he was trying to walk home 7 years ago. Today he would have been 24 years old if George Zimmerman wouldn’t have pulled the trigger and fired that fatal shot from his gun. Happy 24th birthday in heaven, Trayvon Martin.”
For a moment, let us imagine that George Zimmerman had not managed to pull the trigger and fire that fatal shot. Here is what would likely have happened as a result.
At 7:17 on the night of Feb. 26, 2012, Martin hears the brief wail of a police siren, sees a flashlight pointing in his direction, jumps up off the now defenseless Zimmerman, and vanishes into the dark corridor between the townhouses at the Retreat at Twin Lakes.
Sanford, Florida, Police Officer Timothy Smith turns the corner and finds a man lying unconscious on the back patio of a townhouse and immediately tends to him.
On seeing the officer, neighbor Johnathon Good steps out and tells Smith that he saw “a black man in a black hoodie on top of either a white guy … or an Hispanic guy in a red sweater on the ground yelling out help,” and that black man on top was “throwing down blows on the guy MMA [mixed martial arts] style.” Adds Good, “I told them to stop and I was calling 9-1-1.”
Officer Smith identifies the unconscious Zimmerman as the neighborhood watch captain who called the dispatcher for help eight minutes before he arrived.
Although Smith has lost all sight of the assailant, the man in the hoodie left his cellphone in the grass when he fled the scene.
Examining the phone back at the police station, Investigator Chris Serino has no trouble identifying the perp as 17-year-old Trayvon Martin of Miami, Florida. He puts out an APB for Martin.
In short order, Serino learns that Martin was in Sanford serving out his third suspension that school year from Michael Krop High. The previous suspension came after Martin was apprehended at school in possession of stolen jewelry and a burglary tool.
Officers find a “slim jim” at the scene of the crime. This find puts some perspective in Zimmerman’s statement to the dispatcher, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around looking about.”
Serino learns that Zimmerman volunteered to be neighborhood watch captain after a young mother a few doors down endured a home invasion. The Retreat, he knew, suffered any number of burglaries in recent months. Pit bulls ran wild. Many of the units had gone Section 8. Order had all but broken down.
In combing through Martin’s texts, Serino learns that the young man was into drugs, fighting, sex, guns and playing “gangsta.” Exchanges like the following will not bode well for him in court:
FRIEND: Bae y you always fightinqq man, you got suspended?
TRAYVON: Naw we thumped afta skool in a duckd off spot. …
FRIEND: Nooo … Stop, yuu waint gonn bee satisified till yuh suspended again, huh?
TRAYVON: Naw but he aint breed nuff 4 me, only his nose
Well, thinks Serino, Zimmerman certainly bled enough through his badly broken nose. Let us hope the attack is not fatal.
A few days after the attack, Tracy Martin turns his crying son Trayvon into authorities. “He’s a good kid,” says Tracy.
“If you insist,” says Serino.
“It’s my fault,” Tracy tells Serino. “I broke up my first marriage to his mother when Trayvon was 3, and two years ago I broke up with his stepmom, Alicia. She was his rock. Once he left Alicia’s house, his life just fell apart.”
Serino thanks Tracy for doing the right by turning Trayvon in and also for manning up and accepting responsibility. Still, he cautions Tracy, Trayvon is going to jail. The case against him is rock solid.
“Trayvon says the man called him the n-word,” pleads Tracy.
“Not likely,” says Serino. “He is an Hispanic civil rights activist and Obama supporter. He mentors black teens, and just a year ago he led a crusade to get justice for a black homeless man who had been beaten by a cop’s son.”
“Did not know that,” says Tracy.
“In court,” says Serino, “these facts will not play well for your son. He’s going to prison.”
“For how long?” asks the anxious dad.
“It all depends,” says Serino.
“On what?” asks Tracy.
“On whether George Zimmerman lives.”