Calif. House Dems urge probe of Trayvon’s death

Two dozen California House Democrats wrote to express support for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s investigation of whether the Feb. 26 slaying of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by a self-styled neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Fla., “was motivated by racial bias and therefore a hate crime.”

“The family of Trayvon Martin deserves to know the truth and the American people expect justice to be served,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter, which was sent to Holder yesterday.

The letter cites unresolved questions about what led to Martin’s slaying by George Zimmerman, 28, and the Sanford Police Department’s failure to make an arrest.

“It is in the best interest of our constituents and the country that you conduct a thorough investigation that also determines whether this was motivated by racial bias and therefore a hate crime,” the lawmakers wrote. “History has shown that investigating these crimes and enforcing our laws against them bring the issue to light and help our society progress.”

Among those who signed the letter are Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton; George Miller, D-Martinez; Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Mike Thompson, D-Napa; and Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma.

President Barack Obama said Friday it’s “imperative that we investigate every aspect of this,” and noted the case makes him think of his own kids. “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    California’s conscience is nothing but cynical. The death of the Sanford youth is tragic and possibly wholly unnecessary. On the other hand, how would we react to East Coast progs demanding a probe of Oscar Grant’s death? Florida has its faults, but we’re not dealing with a Klan-inspired lynching.

  • John W.

    “Possibly wholly unnecessary…”

    Ya think!

    250 lb cop wannabe in a truck with a Glock vs 140 lb kid with candy. Disregards clear “okay, we don’t need you to do that,” when asked by 911 if he was following the kid.

    “Not dealing with a Klan-inspired lynching.”

    No, but the enhanced 911 tape supposedly has the shooter muttering something about “Effing c**n.” My ears aren’t good enough to hear that through the radio, but that’s what has been reported.

  • RR senile columnist

    So JW thinks the big slob is a murderer. Maybe. But let Florida deal with it .

  • John W.

    “Let Florida deal with it.”

    In normal circumstances, I would concur with that sentiment. Problem is, after nearly a month, Florida wasn’t dealing with it at either the local or state level and probably never would have but for all the national uproar.

    Do I think the big slob is a murderer. I believe in due process. However, since I am not in a prospective jury pool, I would say this. He initiated a confrontation that ignored his Community Watch training and the direction he was given on the 911 call. That confrontation, which should not have occurred, resulted in a death. According to an article in today’s NYT, based on an interview with the police department volunteer coordinator who set up the training that the shooter and other members of that community went through, they were specifically told not to carry a weapon and not to engage with somebody they find suspicious. Is it 1st degree murder or some lesser degree of homicide? Hopefully, a credible investigation will determine that.

  • Rick K.

    “Live Shot” Garamendi will sign anything, do anything to promote himself. He’s like a moth, attracted to the lights of any TV camera. On cue, he knows how to utter just enough to get an accolade or two from his union-boss puppetmasters and the other special interests that he answers to instead of his congressional constituents. When the camera lights are off, you’ll find that Garamendi really doesn’t give a darn and is just an “inch deep” on matters where he professes to be some kind of “expert”. People of Vacaville, Fairfield and points north, dump Garamendi, a narcissistic, self-serving professional politician since 1974, in 2012!

  • Elwood

    @ #2 John W

    According to the cops the decedent was 6’2″ and weighed 175.

    Also, according to the cops and witnesses he jumped the cop wannabe from behind, hit him in the nose, split his lip and was pounding his head on the pavement when the Glock sent him to paradise.

    His Twitter screen name was NO-LIMIT-NIGGA and he was currently on a ten day suspension from school for possession of marijuana.

    Messages on his Twitter account seem to indicate that he was a nickel and dime dope dealer.

    The picture of the innocent child of which the media is so fond was taken when he was 13 or 14.

  • RR senile columnist

    Trayvon is Oscar Grant IV.

  • John W.

    Re: #6

    We’ll see how it plays out. Wherever the facts take us, so be it.

    I’ve read some of this same stuff, but the only news source I consider trustworthy on this is the highly reputable Orlando Sentinel. They’ve reported on the leaked info about witness accounts and being suspended for marijuana (apparently an empty baggie with traces). To my knowledge, the other stuff — being a drug dealer, gang involvement, Twitter etc. has been on various websites of dubious reliability, not in the Sentinel. For example, the website “Twitchy” (operated by Michelle Malkin) posted fake photos of “the decedent.”

  • Elwood

    “With a single punch, Trayvon Martin decked the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who eventually shot and killed the unarmed 17-year-old, then Trayvon climbed on top of George Zimmerman and slammed his head into the sidewalk, leaving him bloody and battered, law-enforcement authorities told the Orlando Sentinel.

    That is the account Zimmerman gave police, and much of it has been corroborated by witnesses, authorities say. There have been no reports that a witness saw the initial punch Zimmerman told police about.”


  • John W.

    This investigation hasn’t exactly been the precision operation we see on the CSI shows. Today’s report from ABC News is that the lead investigator the night of the incident wanted to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter, because he was not convinced by Zimmerman’s version of events. When a cop shoots somebody in the line of duty, even when all indications are that it’s a “good shoot,” they usually put them on desk duty and through the Internal Affairs drill. Seems like Zimmerman’s version of events got a lot less scrutiny than a good cop would have received.

    It’s possible Martin punched Zimmerman in the nose just for the fun of it, after being annoyed about being followed and got shot in response. It’s also possible he saw Zimmerman had a gun, didn’t know who he was or what his intentions were and punched him and took him down in self defense. Perhaps Zimmerman actually pulled the gun on him as one of them approached the other. The bit about beating Zimmerman’s head against the sidewalk might be true as either an act of aggression or defense, but it seems exaggerated. He did not have a concussion and refused treatment. The injury was reported not to be serious.

    Seems like ballistics and an autopsy should be able to determine whether Martin was shot while on top of Zimmerman or while they were separated.

    What about the girl friend’s phone call? Can’t they determine whether there was such a call and whether it was consistent with the girlfriend’s story? If it was, how did this go from Martin chatting on the phone with her, telling her about the guy following him one second and beating the crap out of Zimmerman the next.

    Perhaps all these questions have been addressed by the investigators during the weeks between the incident and recent days. If so, they haven’t rushed to assure the public of that.

    We’ll see.

  • Elwood

    “the only news source I consider trustworthy on this is the highly reputable Orlando Sentinel.”


  • John W.

    Re #11


    URL repeats your post @9. Got it. Doesn’t say anything about how the scuffle started, other than Zimmerman’s version. If you have a fender bender, you maybe take the guy at his word. When somebody gets shot to death, you sweat the shooter in an interrogation room to ferret out inconsistencies and stuff that doesn’t pass the smell test. At least that’s what they do on TV.

  • Elwood

    @#12 John W.

    Last I checked, this was the real world, not TV.

    I thought you might like a link to your trustworthy news source.

  • Elwood

    Trayvon Inc: Fla teen’s case turns into brand

    “MIAMI (AP) – From the T-shirt and hoodie sales to trademarking slogans like “Justice for Trayvon” to the pass-the-hat rallies that bring in thousands, the case of an unarmed black teenager killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer is quickly turning into an Internet-fueled brand.

    Websites are hawking key chains bearing Trayvon Martin’s likeness. His parents have bought two trademarks, saying they hope to raise money to help other families struck by tragedy. Trayvon clothes, bumper stickers, buttons and posters are up for grabs on eBay.

    Vendors selling Martin T-shirts and hoodies have become fixtures at rallies in Sanford, the central Florida town where Martin was shot last month. At one Sanford rally this week, a man had a variety of T-shirts laid out on the ground as marchers went by, yelling out, “I’ve got every size!”


  • John W.

    All irrelevant to the facts of the case itself, whatever they may be.

  • Truthclubber

    @15 —

    Yo, John W. — itz dis way, cee? Sum homie dat looks lyk O’bammie’s kid getz hizz self shot ta deth — dat make Hellwoody one slappy happy honkee, cee? Factz dont matta nun ta dose honkees!

  • Truthclubber

    @6 —

    Q1: What did Hellwoody say when Oscar Grant was killed?
    A1: A good start!

    Q2: What did Hellwoody say when Trayvon Martin was killed?
    Q2: Keep it coming!

  • John W.

    No agenda here. Just want truth. For the record, I think the officer in the Oscar Grant case got railroaded. That was a tragic accident in the line of duty, in my opinion. He was charged with murder due to political pressure and probably would have been acquitted until the judge decided to invite a “compromise” by adding a lesser charge option to the jury instructions.

    In the current case, it’s not just a bunch of us bleeding hearts who have doubts about the shooter’s self defense story. The preliminary police report is now online. Just Google it. Under description of the incident, Officer #1 put “Homicide-Neglig. Mansl – unnecessary killing to prevent an unlawful act.” The state’s attorney apparently saw things differently, but I assume the officer had his reasons.

  • Elwood

    @ # 16 & 17

    You are a loony.

    Stay out of the cooking sherry!

  • Elwood

    “The state’s attorney apparently saw things differently, but I assume the officer had his reasons.”

    That’s why the cop is a cop and the state’s attorney is the state’s attorney.

  • John W.

    “That’s why the cop is a cop and the state’s attorney is the state’s attorney.”

    I understand their respective roles in the system. After all, I watch “Law & Order” reruns on TV! However, that state’s attorney has been replaced. We’ll see what happens.

    CNN online has a video of the handcuffed Zimmerman being brought into the police station that evening. It’s a low resolution b&w security cam, so you can’t get a really good look at the condition of Zimmerman’s face and head. I went to full screen with the video. The cop briefly looks at his face and the back of the head. However, Zimmerman does not appear to be suffering — not the way you would expect for somebody whose head was repeatedly “slammed” on the sidewalk. Neither the back of his head nor the face/nose appear to be in terrible shape. No indication of first aid. That’s consistent with previous reports that Zimmerman needed no medical attention. Let’s put it this way. If it were a black guy claiming police brutality on that video, the right wing echo chamber would be snickering. Take and look and judge for yourself.

  • Rick K.

    @#18 – I agree with John W.’s assessment of the prosecution of the officer who killed Oscar Grant. Then-Alameda County Tom Orloff irresponsibly filed the “murder” charges only because of public demand that he do so. He did it mainly to deflect attention from his office just before his sudden retirement and his seamless “passing of the baton” to his favored successor, Nancy O’Malley. Had Orloff not filed the “murder” charge, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors would have become ensnared in the public controversy surrounding the BART shooting. The BOS would not have been able to so easily give the job to O’Malley — she would have received much greater scrutiny and supervisors like Keith Carson, Nate Miley and Alice Lai-Bitker would have been forced by their constituents to thoroughly question her about how she would have handled the prosecution decision. After Orloff filed the “murder” charge, the pressure was off and O’Malley’s appointment was rubber-stamped by the BOS and by the voters a couple of months later (she was the only candidate for that office).

  • John W.

    The Orlando Sentinel had two forensic experts, with specific expertise in recorded voice recognition, perform two independent analyses of the tapes to see if they could determine whether it was Zimmerman or Martin crying for help. Both, using different methodologies and each conducting analyses independent of the other, concluded the cries did not come from Zimmerman. They could not conclude that the cries came from Martin, because his voice is not available for matching purposes, on account of he’s dead and all. You can get more details, including the experts’ credentials and information about methodology, at the Orlando Sentinel web site.

  • Elwood

    As if things weren’t bad enough, now Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have showed up to make matters worse.