FLORIDA, July 1, 2013 — On a cold late February evening in 2012, unarmed seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was fatally shot by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman claims he killed Martin in self-defense.
Since then, Martin’s history of truancy, firearms-related issues, and marijuana use, among other things, has come to light.
After a special prosecutor was commissioned, Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder and is currently standing trial.
Evidence indicates that Zimmerman suffered head injuries the night Martin died, though exactly how and why remains a mystery. What can be certain, however, is that the shooting’s aftermath has been highly polarizing.
It has also drawn considerable attention to the oft-overlooked central Florida port city of Sanford, where the shooting took place.
On Thursday, The Conservative Tree House, a popular right-leaning blog which features very detailed coverage of the Zimmerman trial, released several documents from a Freedom of Information Act request.
These documents indicate that Trayvon Martin engaged in legally punishable activities, but the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department chose to treat this as a matter of school discipline.
It was also found that an official with the Sanford Police Department did not mention Martin’s dubious activity in a victimology report despite having knowledge of this.
“Sunlight is the best disinfectant on any level of corruption; and make no mistake in reviewing this information lightly – this is corruption, under the guise of ideology, of the highest order,” writes Sundance, who has played a foremost role in blogging about the matter at TCTH.
At the time of his death, Martin was enrolled at Miami suburb Ives Estates’s Krop High School, which falls under the jurisdiction of the MDSPD.
In a sworn affidavit, now-reassigned MDSPD Chief Charles Hurley spoke about programs his agency utilized to refrain from ushering black male youth into the criminal justice system.
After Martin was found to be writing graffiti on school property, the situation was handled in a peculiar fashion.
“In this case, T.M., or any other youth in similar cases, and evaluate the totality of circumstance and issue either a warning and give it back to the administration to handle,” Hurley explained.
“We can in fact, of course issue a civil citation which is an arrest diversion program which was actually created by this police department and authored under my time as a sergeant and a commander here at Miami-Dade Schools Police Department. Or we can in fact, make a full blown arrest because technically there was damage and defacing of school property.
“There was probable cause to make this arrest and we know who the person was that committed this damage. In this interest in taking that approach it does nothing to benefit the child and the officer in this case should be commended for exercising discretion and referring it back to the school administration for administrative purposes.”
That is not all, though.
“(S)ometime in February, shortly before the child was killed he had another contact with our police department in which he was found to be in possession or close proximity of an empty marijuana bag or bag with small amount of marijuana residue and possibly some other type of contraband, both a misdemeanor. Just like the criminal mischief case I spoke about, a misdemeanor,” Hurley later mentioned.
“The officer once again exercised tremendous constraint and discretion of which has been my chief concern as the chief of this police department and that is changing the philosophy of this police department as it relates to being heavy handed and arresting juveniles.
“Particularly, children of color, minority children. Particularly, minority boys, such as African-American boys. The child once again was handed back to the school administration and subsequently suspended. It is during that time of suspension where this boy was visiting his father in Sanford where he was killed.”
SPD Sergeant Randy Smith — who was promoted to lieutenant before retiring earlier this year — aided Detective Chris Serino in preparing Trayvon Martin’s victimology report. MDSPD Detective Steven Hadley provided Smith with information about Martin.
“(T)he “9 page” report sent by Hadley to Lieutenant Smith at SPD was the report for “criminal mischief”, i.e., the graffiti….However, subsequent to that report, Hadley discovered the “found property” report of the stolen jewelry,” Sundance writes in an email.
“Now, it gets weird, after Hadley sent the report to Smith, who was compiling the data to assist Detective Serino ― the report mysteriously vanished. Vanished because it was not mentioned in the finished victimology report that Serino completed and attested to.
“However, in May of this year during discovery, the nine-page report showed up in an FDLE document dump to the defense. This was mentioned as just one of the valid reasons for O’Mara and West to file for sanctions against the State for discovery violations.
“Why is this pertinent?
“Because it was only after we published the FOIA outlining Hadley’s sworn affidavit sending it to Smith, and after we posed the question why was it not in the victimology report, that Bernie De La Rionda began mentioning the Conservative Tree House in court proceedings. The first hearing after we published the deception, de la Rionda mentioned our site three times.
“And, it was only after that hearing that de la Rionda inserted the report in a 150-page document release to the defense. But by that time the defense had picked up on our question about the FOIA discovery. Prior to that, the defense never even knew to inquire, because for all intents and purposes it never existed, because Serino never used it.”
Sworn affidavits from Smith and Hadley were released as part of the FOIA request. These provide highly detailed information about the nature and content of the two officers’ communications.
Other affidavits were taken from Sergeant William Tagle and former Commander Deanna Fox Williams, both of the MDSPD. Their statements, along with Haldley’s, bring about a severely troubling revelation.
“Those three frame the cover-up and describe what they found Officer Darryl Dunn was doing at the request of Charles Hurley and Alberto Carvalho,” says Sundance in the same email.
Dunn, who gave a deposition of his own, serves in the MDSPD. Carvalho is the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools. He was once slated to replace incumbent U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, but ultimately refused the appointment.
“Dunn puts the final nail in Hurley’s coffin because he specifically backs up what he told Hadley by telling the Internal Affairs people the reason he hid the jewelry, and later the marijuana, was at the specific instruction of Chief Hurley,” Sundance points out. “Dunn wrote up both of those aspects as generic ‘found items’, removing Trayvon from the inherent attached criminality.”
None of the individuals who gave these depositions have commented about their statements since TCTH’s document release.
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