Myths, misstatements surround Trayvon Martin's death

Falsehoods, both trivial and important, spread in media

SANFORD, Fla. - For days last summer, various news outlets analyzed the voice of George Zimmerman during hisĀ Feb. 26, 2012 call to Sanford police, and reached a conclusion that was inflammatory, shocking and false.

Asked by HLN anchor Nancy Grace what he heard on the tape, one of the lawyers representing the family of Trayvon Martin said without equivocation: "He said coon."

No, in fact, both sides of the divisive case now agree: He said, "punks."

Local 6 tracked the earliest mention of the epitaph to an amateur blogger who, like many, was outraged that Zimmerman had not been charged in connection with his shooting of the unarmed 17-year-old.

A local TV station in Orlando aired a report that parroted the blog entry and, from there, the misinformation was off and running to national cable networks.

It was one of many pieces of misinformation that have filtered into the public consciousness since Zimmerman shot Martin and claimed he acted in self defense.

As 500 potential jurors prepare to begin showing up here next week, Local 6 reviewed a few other myths or misstatements:

Trayvon Martin was not a heavily tattooed, bearded man, contrary to a well-traveled email claiming the media was hiding that image of Martin. The man pictured in the email is a 33-year-old rapper known as Game.

Nor was Martin a 6-foot-2-inches, 175-pound bundle of muscled mass, as the email claimed. He was 5-foot 11-inches, 158 pounds, according to his autopsy. (Zimmerman was listed at 5-foot-7, 204 pounds in a medical record created the day after the shooting; a jail record states he was down to 185 pounds when he was finally arrested in April 2012.)

Another falsehood wasn't promulgated by anonymous e-mailers or reckless bloggers, rather, it was broadcast in open court last week by Zimmerman's defense attorney, Mark O'Mara.

O'Mara stated he had recovered video from Martin's cell phone showing Martin taped two of his "buddies" beating up a homeless man. In fact, it was video of two homeless man fighting over a bicycle, O'Mara acknowledged days later. He apologized for the misstatement.

Finally, the most trivial of the myths, but one so prevalent it should be corrected: There was no iced tea.

The Skittles and iced tea narrative, along with the hoodie Martin was wearing, has become iconic in the aftermath of the shooting.

But evidence photos released last week show it was actually an Arizona brand fruit drink Martin carried with him when he died.

Again, a trivial matter, but, for those truly interested in facts, one that needs to be corrected.

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