One of the sadder aspects of Trayvon Martin's death is how it's becoming a touchstone for a nebulous and unresolvable "conversation around race" instead of a touchstone for discussing the horrendous job Martin's local police department did in investigating his death.
I almost lost on NPR the other day when a caller complained that we needed to stop protesting and let the police perform a thorough investigation. In point of fact, a thorough investigation is exactly what didn't happen and is precisely what's motivating the protest:Among other things, George Zimmerman, 28, was not subject to a criminal background check until after he was released from custody. A possible racial slur muttered by Zimmerman on a 911 call was overlooked. Nearly a week passed before important witnesses were interviewed by the police. Perhaps most crucially, investigators failed to access Martin's cell phone records for weeks.Those records revealed that just before he was shot, the teen was on the phone with his girlfriend, who said she overheard crucial moments of the encounter between Zimmerman and Martin."Those mistakes should not have been made," said Andrew Scott, former chief of the Boca Raton police department and a national policing consultant. "They were such rudimentary aspects of an investigation."Martin family members and their attorneys relentlessly cited these errors, which echoed through the national media and the blogosphere."It has fueled the fires," Scott said. "The credibility of the agency is now in question..."