Trayvon Martin update: News of Trayvon's suspension illicitly leaked, police say
Sanford police have confirmed that news of Trayvon Martin’s suspension for a high school drug infraction was illicitly leaked to the media. Revelations that the teen had been punished for a drug-related offense by school authorities was first reported on by the Orlando Sentinel.
The family of Trayvon Martin confirmed today that Trayvon had been suspended for ten days from high school for being found in possession of an empty marijuana baggie. At a press conference, Martin’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, tearfully admitted that this infraction did occur, but emphasized that these findings have no bearing on Trayvon’s culpability in the confrontation that ended his life on February 26.
It has subsequently been revealed that the facts related to Trayvon’s suspension probably originated from within the Sanford police department.
WATCH MSNBC COVERAGE OF THE TRAYVON MARTIN CASE DEVELOPMENTS:
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In a statement released to the press, the police department admitted to being the likely source of this breach while criticizing its occurrence. “In response to the recent article in the Orlando Sentinel, the information was not provided to the media through an authorized source at the Sanford Police Department, but possibly by a leak from within the department,” the statement read.
Yet, Sanford police confirm that, “The information in the article is consistent with the information provided to the State Attorney’s office by the police department.”
Adding yet another layer of inquiry into possible wrongdoings by Sanford police, City Manager Norton Bonaparte, Jr. has announced that an investigation will be launched into the leak’s source.
“We do not condone these unauthorized leaks of information,” Bonaparte said in a statement. “Acting Chief Scott will be doing an internal investigation within the Sanford Police Department, as this type of action compromises the integrity of the law enforcement agency, which has pledged to uphold the law.”Bonaparte has pledged that “disciplinary action, including possible termination” will be meted out against any parties found to have participated in this wrongful dissemination.
Miami-Dade Public Schools Spokesman John Schuster told local news station WTVJ that, “The school district has not released any student records in accordance to federal law.” The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prohibits the sharing of information related to the suspension of students. Trayvon was suspended from the Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School in north Miami-Dade.
A spokesperson for the 4th Circuit State Attorney, Jackie Barnard, stated that State Attorney Angela Corey will be alerted to this development. Corey will respond with a statement if it is deemed necessary.
Corey and her team are currently in Sanford, continuing their investigation of the Trayvon Martin killing. This afternoon, they met with federal officials to examine additional facts, but there have been no advances in the case.
Trayvon Martin,17, was killed on February 26 by George Zimmerman, 28, when Zimmerman followed the teen as he was walking back to the home where he was visiting his father’s fiancee. Zimmerman claims that Martin attacked him and that he shot the youth in self-defense.
The failure of the Sanford police department to arrest Zimmerman, or follow routine protocols following Martin’s death, has unleashed nation-wide ire over what many perceive as the mishandling of this case. Some see both acts as motivated by racial bias.
The releasing of Martin’s record of high school infractions is seen by his family and supporters as an attempt to smear the reputation of the slain teenager.
“The only comment that I have right now is that they’ve killed my son, now they are trying to kill his reputation,” Sybrina Fulton said in a press conference regarding this leaked information.
Roxanne Garcia-Bell contributed to this report.
Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb