Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sanford city manager says they were barred from arresting Trayvon Martin’s killer

The city of Sanford, Florida has claimed that it did not arrest George Zimmerman despite his confession that he fatally shot Trayvon Martin because it was legally barred from doing so.

"Zimmerman provided a statement claiming he acted in self defense, which at the time was supported by physical evidence and testimony," Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr. wrote in a letter released publicly Wednesday evening. "By Florida Statute, law enforcement was PROHIBITED from making an arrest based on the facts and circumstances they had at the time."

The Sanford Police Department has received widespread criticism for its handling of the investigation. Among other issues, it didn't conduct a drug or alcohol test on Zimmerman, although that's standard practice in homicide probes, and a witness has said a police officer "corrected" her claim that she heard Martin yelling for help.

The letter goes on to address several other issues related to the case. Bonaparte Jr. writes that Zimmerman's failure to obey a 911 dispatcher's request that he not follow Martin can be taken into account in the ongoing investigation, but adds that the request "is not a lawful order that Mr. Zimmerman would be required to follow."

Bonaparte Jr. appears to be saying that disobeying the order wasn't in itself a violation of law.

Bonaparte Jr. also addresses a claim made by Martin's father, Tracey Martin: that a law enforcement official told Tracey Martin that Zimmerman wasn't initially arrested because he had a squeaky clean image (in fact, Zimmerman had been charged in connection with assaulting a cop, though the charge was dropped).

Bonaparte Jr. writes that the official was merely telling Martin Sr. how Zimmerman had portrayed himself. "We believe Mr. Martin may have misconstrued this information," he adds.More...

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