As thousands converged on the Florida town of Sanford last night to rally for justice for Trayvon Martin one month after he was gunned down by a neighbourhood watch volunteer on the street, new details emerged about a school suspension for the victim for suspected marijuana possession.
A family spokesman confirmed reports that Martin, who was 17, had been in the area visiting his father's fiancée after being suspended from his high school in Miami when police found a sachet in his book bag that showed residue of marijuana. The spokesman said it should have no bearing on the investigation into his death.
The rally in Sanford was only the latest show of public frustration with the case which has so far seen no charges filed against the shooter, George Zimmerman, even though tapes revealed that when he phoned a 911 emergency line to report the boy's movements through a gated community he was told to leave him alone. The case has become a racial flashpoint in the US amidst allegations that the victim died because of racial profiling.
The teenager's mother, Sybrina Fulton, said last night that the police had leaked the information about the school suspension in attempt to demonise him. "The only comment that I have right now is that they killed my son and now they're trying to kill his reputation," she told reporters.
The family faced a second possible setback after details of the police statement made by Mr Zimmerman on the night of the shooting were obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.
He told police that he was punched in the face by the teenager who then climbed on top of him and slammed his head against the pavement. He also claims that he then thought he saw him reach for a gun.
Mr Zimmerman, who is a white Hispanic, said he acted in self-defence.Reuse content