SANFORD — “Wannabe cop” George Zimmerman wrongly profiled Trayvon Martin as a criminal, followed him with a gun and provoked him into a fight that resulted in the shooting death of the unarmed black teenager, a prosecutor said yesterday.
“A teenager is dead,” Florida state prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda told the jury in closing arguments of Zimmerman’s second-degree murder trial. “He is dead through no fault of his own. He is dead because another man made assumptions. Because his assumptions were wrong, Trayvon Benjamin Martin will no longer walk on this Earth.”
Sounding indignant, de la Rionda portrayed Zimmerman as a predator, not the good citizen who, as portrayed by the defence, was attacked by a 17-year-old whose actions led to his own death.
Defence lawyers were due to present their closing arguments today, followed by a final prosecution rebuttal, after which the jury would begin deliberating a case that inspired renewed national debate on race, profiling, gun rights and self-defence.
Time and again, de la Rionda accused Zimmerman of lying about what happened on the rainy night of February 26, 2012, when he spotted Martin inside a gated community in the central Florida town of Sanford.
Zimmerman called police, saying he believed Martin was suspicious and noted that there had been break-ins in the neighbourhood.
But Martin was a guest in the home of his father’s fianc√e, who lived inside the gated community, and was returning from a nearby convenience store with a snack in preparation for watching the NBA All-Star game.
De la Rionda tried to undermine Zimmerman’s assertion that he was not following Martin but looking for a street address to relay to police. The prosecutor sought to reveal inconsistencies in Zimmerman’s statements and repeatedly quoted him speaking in police jargon.
The prosecutor asked rhetorically why Zimmerman left his car and followed Martin.
“Because he’s got a gun,” de la Rionda said. “He’s got the equaliser. He’s a wannabe cop. My God, it’s his community and he’s gonna take care of it.” (Reuters)