Did the Sanford Police Bungle the Trayvon Martin Investigation?

With Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, Jr., temporarily suspending himself after a no-confidence vote by city officials, the Miami Herald found the cops made some curious calls in their “investigation.”

As evidence that the incident was not a case of racial profiling, Lee told The Miami Herald that when the police dispatch operator asked Zimmerman the race of the suspicious person he saw, the Hispanic neighborhood watch captain did not know. Yet when the recording of that conversation was made public, Zimmerman clearly says, “he looks black.”

Initial police reports never mentioned that Zimmerman had a bloody nose or a wet shirt that showed evidence of a struggle. Attorneys for the dead teen’s family believe the information was added in a second report to justify the lack of an arrest.

• Police said witness statements supported Zimmerman’s account. But several of the witnesses expressed surprise, telling The Herald that they reported hearing someone crying for help just before a shot ended the cries. The 911 tapes of witness calls bolstered their claims.

• One of the witnesses who heard the crying said she called a detective repeatedly, but said he was not interested because her account differed from Zimmerman’s.

• For nearly a month, police never noticed a profanity Zimmerman mumbled under his breath when he called police, which some people believe was accompanied by a muffled racial slur.

• Even though investigators have the dead boy’s cell phone, it was Trayvon’s father who combed through the phone records to discover that his son was talking to a girlfriend in the moments that led up to his death. Police never contacted the girl, who told lawyers that Trayvon was alarmed because he was being followed.

“I have never seen such an incompetent investigation,
” said Walt Zalisko, a former Jersey City police commander who now owns a police management consulting company in Central Florida. “There are so many problems with this case. The problem up here is that officers receive very little training, and there is very little understanding of diversity issues.

The good ol’ boy network is so prevalent here.”

There is an assumption that we’ve left the days of Bull Connor and the paunchy redneck cops of In the Heat of the Night long behind us. Now everyone is so much more enlightened and bias-free as crimes are doggedly investigated with CSI-style technology and justice will be pursued no matter where it leads or whom it discomforts.

This is a Black man wearing a hoodie. He must be a threat.

It’s a damn lie.

Progress has been made, but not nearly enough as some would like to believe. The color of the skin of the victim and the suspect still matters. Trayvon Martin was Black and George Zimmerman appeared to be White though he self-identifies as Hispanic. It was his version of events that swiftly became the Official Story

At best the Sanford P.D. were lazy in their “investigation.” At worse, they dragged their feet, attempted to “correct” witnesses and behaved more like Inspector Clouseau than Joe Friday.

Cops deserve the support of the public when they do their jobs right. When they do their jobs wrong, the guilty go free and unpunished while the victims are buried and mourned. That’s when they deserve to be scrutinized critically and when necessary, called to account as they have in this case.

Even now, The thin blue line too often only sees tragedies such as the killing of Trayvon Martin in stark terms of black and white.

The deeper we go down the memory hole the more likely the possibility becomes the Sanford police department does not serve and protect their African-American citizens.

Any White kid in this country can go to the store and buy a can of iced tea and a bag of candy and not die for it. Can the parents of any Black kid say the same? Not in Sanford, Florida they can’t.

Color me so surprised.