Police accused over Trayvon 'leaks'
The parents of a shot Florida teenager have accused police of leaking information about their son being suspended for marijuana and details about the fight in which he died that portrayed him as the aggressor.
Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, and family lawyers said yesterday that it was part of an effort to demonise her 17-year-old son, who was shot and killed last month by neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. "They killed my son and now they're trying to kill his reputation," Ms Fulton said.
Trayvon was suspended by Miami-Dade County schools because traces of marijuana were found in a plastic bag in his book bag. He was serving the suspension when he was shot on February 26.
Sanford police department insisted there was no authorised release of the new information but acknowledged there might have been a leak.
Martin family lawyer Benjamin Crump said the link between the youth and marijuana should have no bearing on the investigation into his shooting death. State and federal agencies are investigating, with a grand jury set to convene on April 10.
Florida's department of juvenile justice confirmed yesterday that Trayvon does not have a juvenile offender record.
Zimmerman said he shot Trayvon in self-defence and has not been arrested. Because Trayvon was black and Zimmerman has a white father and Hispanic mother, the case has become a racial flashpoint that has seen civil rights leaders organising protests around the US.
The Orlando Sentinel newspaper reported that Zimmerman told police Trayvon punched him on the nose, jumped on top of him and began banging his head on a pavement.
Despite the news of Trayvon's possible actions on the night of the shooting, rallies demanding the arrest of 28-year-old Zimmerman have spread from Florida to Indiana.
Thousands rallied on the steps of the Georgia state capitol. The crowd chanted "I am Trayvon!" and "Arrest Zimmerman now!", and the protest ended with the crowd linking hands and singing We Shall Overcome.