The Trayvon Martin case wasn't just a story of racial bias, it was also apparently a story of police incompetence. The Sanford Police Department doesn't even have a homicide department, and usually tackles only three to four murders a year—and it showed. The New York Times talked with witnesses, elected officials, and law enforcement to compile a laundry list of mistakes made the night of Martin's death:
- Police barely canvassed the neighborhood for information. If they had, they might have realized Martin was a guest, not an intruder, and approached the case differently.
- Police took only one photo of Zimmerman's injuries—a straight-ahead shot showing his bloody nose—and that shot was on a cell-phone camera, and not downloaded for a few days.
- No one ever secured Zimmerman's vehicle, a potentially important piece of evidence.
- No effort was made to shield the crime scene from rain, which could have washed away any blood spilled in the confrontation.
- Police never tested Zimmerman for drugs or alcohol.
- The lead investigator quickly jumped to the conclusion that Zimmerman had been the one heard crying for help, rather than Martin.
For more on what went wrong with the investigation, see the source