Family of Trayvon Martin wants FBI investigation

17-year-old shot dead by neighborhood watchman in Sanford

Published On: Mar 15 2012 06:03:41 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 16 2012 07:06:48 PM EDT
SANFORD, Fla. -

The father of Trayvon Martin, the teen shot and killed by a self-appointed neighborhood watch leader in Sanford, said on Friday that he feels "betrayed" by police, and the family wants the FBI to take over the investigation.

Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, the parents of Trayvon Martin, spoke to the media at attorney Natalie Jackson's office on East Washington Street in Orlando.  They were joined by Mary Cutcher, and her roommate, who are witnesses in the shooting.

"I'd like to thank these women for coming forward and trying to get justice for our son, Trayvon," Tracy Martin said.  "We're not getting any closure, any answers, and it's very disturbing.  As a father, I'm hurt.  I feel betrayed by the Sanford Police Department."

Sanford police Sgt. David Morgenstern said the department stands behind its investigation but welcomes another agency "to scrutinize and review" the case.

The family has told Local 6 they are going to Sanford Police Department to listen to the calls on Friday night. Police said they plan to release the controversial calls after the family listens to them, but it's not clear exactly when.

Also on Friday, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown called for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the case.

Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot and killed last month by neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman, 28, while Martin was visiting family in Central Florida.

Sanford police said on Feb. 26 just after 7 p.m., Zimmerman was on neighborhood watch and reported seeing a suspicious man walking down the street. Martin, who was unarmed, was on his way home after buying a bag of Skittles and a drink at a nearby convenience store.  Police said the two got into a scuffle and Zimmerman shot Martin in the chest. 

Zimmerman was questioned by Sanford police but has not been arrested.  Police said Zimmerman told them he acted in self-defense.  Police said they had no probable cause to arrest him, and the case has been sent to the state attorney's office.

"I don't understand why this man has not been arrested," Sybrina Fulton said.

Mary Cutcher said she heard the shooting, went outside and saw Zimmerman with his hands on Trayvon Martin, who was lying face down.

"We know it was not self-defense," said Cutcher, who added that she repeatedly tried to get in touch with a police detective, who later failed to show up for a meeting and interviewed her over the phone.

Cutcher said she started calling police after she learned that Zimmerman had not been arrested.

Cutcher spoke to an Orlando TV station earlier in the week, and Sanford police issued a statement saying that her account differed from what she told officers.

"I'm not looking for any kind of recognition," she said.  "I did the interview because I was not getting a response from police."

Jackson says Cutcher was criticized by the Sanford Police Department for contradicting the department's version of the events of Martin's death.

According to Jackson, witnesses said they heard Trayvon Martin pleading for his life, but Zimmerman still shot him.

"We have a murderer on the streets, walking around," Jackson said.

Jackson said race played a role when Zimmerman profiled Trayvon Martin, but the shooting occurred because he acted as if he had authority.

Jackson also claimed that the Sanford Police Department is protecting Zimmerman, saying he's "one of their own."

Local 6 legal expert Mark O'Mara said the shooting could be legally justified because of the "Stand Your Ground Law," which was approved in 2005 in response to hurricane looters. The controversial law allows citizens to act in self-defense if they feel someone is about to greatly injure them.

"People call it the license-to-murder statute because it doesn't require actions to avoid the confrontation," said O'Mara.

O'Mara said that when there are no witnesses, it's basically Zimmerman's word without any contradiction.

"If you can present evidence or at least your own testimony that (you) felt in fear that he was going to commit great bodily injury or death, that is what kicks in the statutory protection that you're allowed to respond with deadly force," O'Mara said.

Zimmerman's father, Robert Zimmerman, delivered a letter to the Orlando Sentinel on Thursday, saying the way his son is being depicted in the media is cruel and misleading. He also says his son has received death threats and moved out of his home.

Robert Zimmerman says his son didn't instigate the encounter and is not racist.

The letter says George Zimmerman is Hispanic and grew up in a multiracial family, so "he would be the last to discriminate."

Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.