The Killing of Trayvon Martin: 911 Tapes Released

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Via Trymaine Lee, disturbing, disturbing stuff:


...for the first time, we hear the voice of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain who admitted to police that he shot Martin, who was walking home from a convenience store to his father's home in the gated community. Zimmerman has not been arrested or charged in the shooting. 

"This guy looks like he's up to no good, or he's on drugs or something," Zimmerman tells the 911 operator. "He's just staring, looking at all the houses. Now he's coming toward me. He's got his hand in his waistband. Something's wrong with him." 

Zimmerman described Martin as wearing a hoodie and sweatpants or jeans. He continues: "He's coming to check me out. He's got something in his hands. I don't know what his deal is. Can we get an officer over here?" 

 "These assholes always get away," he says to the operator. Zimmerman is then heard giving directions to the dispatcher. 

"Shit, he's running," Zimmerman says. 

"Are you following him?" the dispatchers asked. "Yes," Zimmerman responds. 

 "We don't need you to do that," the dispatcher says.

Dude, we really, really don't. There are reports of screaming for help on the tape. It's not clear to me who's actually doing the screaming.

With the drumbeat of attention coming forward, I would be shocked if Zimmerman wasn't arrested and charged. His decision to pursue Martin for, at the worst, walking toward his car, putting his hand in waist-band, and then running away was tragically reckless. And perhaps worse. We just don't know yet.

MORE: It should be added that George Zimmerman's Dad released a letter to the media earlier today decrying his son's depiction as a "racist" and claiming that Zimmerman hadn't followed or confronted Martin:

"At no time did George follow or confront Mr. Martin. When the true details of the event become public, and I hope that will be soon, everyone should be outraged by the treatment of George Zimmerman in the media," the letter said.
I don't want to speak for anyone else, but the contents of George Zimmerman's heart aren't really uppermost in my mind. I'm much more interested in what his son actually did that night and the fact that his father's denials are directly at odds with what Zimmerman reported to the dispatchers.

MORE: From The Times description of the tapes:

On the recordings, one shot, an apparent warning or miss, is heard, followed by a voice begging or pleading, and a cry. A second shot is then heard, and the pleading stops.
This really escalates things in my mind. I am slow learner. I try to give as much benefit of the doubt as possible, mostly because I've seen people (myself included) get carried away with these sorts of cases, only to find out things are more complicated than they appear. That may still be true.

But my feeling, at this moment, is that the decision to not arrest Zimmerman, along with ugly history of Sanford's police, really point to a department incapable of handling this case. Oversight should not be out of the question.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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