George Zimmerman has been taken into custody and now faces charges ofsecond-degree murder for the shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin. Criminal charges were announced on Wednesday, April 11. Zimmerman is now being represented by Mark O'Mara, an Orlando criminal defense attorney, after the resignation of his two former Orlando lawyers the previous day. Zimmerman claims he was acting in self defense when he shot the unarmed teenager, citing the Stand your Ground law that asserts one may act in self defense when in adequate danger. Our own Zahra Umansky has been speaking about the event on many different news stations.
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Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain of Sanford, was leaving his gated community when he saw Martin, who he maintains was acting suspiciously. He called the local police to report the teenager, whom he suspected could be on drugs, and continued to follow Martin even after the dispatcher advised him, "We don't need you to do that."
After leaving his car carrying a 9-millimeter weapon, Zimmerman claims he shot Martin after the adolescent hit him in the face, pushed him down and proceeded to smack his head on the ground. However, many believe that Zimmerman was the attacker.
The call to the dispatcher and a 911 call made by a neighbor shortly before the shooting have now been made public. In the latter call, a voice can be heard shouting for help. It is still unclear who the voice belongs to, with claims that it is Zimmerman and Martin from their respective attorneys.
Citizens across the nation have been inspired to speak out their opinions of the phone calls, new evidence and potential evidence. The case is widely considered to be an example of racial injustice. This has resulted in a wealth of social media attention, including an online petition calling for Zimmerman to be prosecuted. With 2.2 million signatures, this is the largest reaction ever seen of its kind.
In a news conference on Wednesday, State Attorney Angela B. Corey announced that the decision was not affected by this media attention. "I can tell you we did not come to this decision lightly. We do not prosecute by public pressure."