ORLANDO, Fla. — Former neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman called police at least six times in the months before he shot Trayvon Martin to death, reporting activity as benign as kids playing in the street to detailing the description of a suspected burglar.
The documents and recordings released Thursday point to Zimmerman’s growing frustration with suspects getting away with petty crimes in his gated community, though they do little to clear up what happened on the night of the shooting.
In August 2011, Zimmerman called Sanford police’s non-emergency line to report a man in the neighborhood who his wife thought was responsible for a previous burglary.
“If you’ll let the officers know they typically run away quickly and I think they head to the next neighborhood over,” Zimmerman said in the call.
When asked by a dispatcher, Zimmerman said the suspect was black. His wife, Shellie, is heard in the background telling Zimmerman not to go outside to follow the suspect.
In a Feb. 2 call, less than a month before the fatal shooting, Zimmerman described a suspicious man at a neighbor’s house. When asked, he said the man was black, wearing a black leather jacket, black hat with ear flaps and black pajama pants.
“He keeps going to this guy’s house. I know him. I know the resident. He’s Caucasian,” Zimmerman said. “He is going up to the house and then going along the side of it and then coming straight and then going back to it. I don’t know what he’s doing. I don’t want to approach him.”
On Feb. 26, Zimmerman’s response was different. He spotted Martin walking through the gated community in Sanford. Martin was walking back to a house he was staying in at the community after a trip to a convenience store. Zimmerman started to follow him. Despite a police dispatcher telling him “you don’t have to do that,” Zimmerman got out of his truck to pursue Martin.
“These (expletive), they always get away,” Zimmerman said on the call. The calls were among close to 50 that Zimmerman made to Sanford police over the past eight years.
Prosecutors and Martin’s family believe the teenager was racially profiled by Zimmerman. Martin was black. Zimmerman’s father is white and his mother is Peruvian.