After weeks of protests across the United States, a special prosecutor has decided to bring second-degree murder charges against neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Prosecutor Angela Corey announced the charges Wednesday at a news conference.
The decision to charge and arrest Zimmerman, who is now in custody, was long overdue.
Corey was right to charge Zimmerman for the shooting death of the unarmed African-American teenager Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla., near Orlando.
Zimmerman, 28, whose father is white and whose mother is Hispanic, said the teenager attacked him and that he shot Martin as an act of self-defense.
But there is evidence that Zimmerman was the aggressor and that much of his and his supporters’ version of what happened on the night of the shooting is not credible.
Martin was returning to the home of his father’s fiancée from a convenience store when Zimmerman ignored specific direction from a 911 dispatcher and started following him. Zimmerman told police dispatchers that Martin looked suspicious. At some point the two got into a confrontation, and Zimmerman used his gun and shot Martin to death.
Zimmerman told detectives that Martin knocked him to the ground and began slamming his head on the sidewalk. Zimmerman’s father said that his son suffered a broken nose.
However a video taken about 40 minutes after the shooting showed Zimmerman arriving at the Sanford police station walking, assisted without difficulty, with no visible bandages or blood on his clothing.
The shooting sparked resentment toward the police department because no charges had been filed against Zimmerman and the police appeared to have been less than thorough in their investigation of the case.
Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee temporarily stepped down, and the local prosecutor disqualified himself from the case as Gov. Rick Scott appointed Corey, the prosecutor for Jacksonville, to take over.
An arrest had been delayed because of Florida’s dangerous “stand your ground” law, which give people wide leeway to use deadly force without having to retreat first in the face of danger.
Police cited the law as the reason for not charging Zimmerman. However even legislators and others who support the law said Zimmerman could not use it as a defense since he was the one who pursued an unarmed man.
The search for justice in the killing of Trayvon Martin has now begun.