Trayvon Martin's parents appeared before a task force in Florida on Tuesday to denounce the way the state's controversial "stand your ground" law can be used to protect aggressors.
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton believe that's what happened in the case of their son, who was unarmed when he was shot and killed in February by a neighborhood watch volunteer.
"They need to amend these laws," Fulton said, according to the Orlando Sentinel, which was covering the task force hearing. "I don't have anything against the 'stand your ground' law; it's the way that it's applied."
Trayvon Martin, 17, was returning from a convenience store Feb. 26 when he caught the eye of neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, who was driving to the supermarket. Zimmerman called police to report a suspicious-looking individual; police told him they'd handle the situation. Within minutes, Martin, who was unarmed, was dead of a gunshot wound.
Zimmerman did not immediately face charges. He told police he'd acted in self-defense, seemingly under the umbrella of the state's "stand your ground" law, which is intended to give citizens the ability to protect themselves in the face of danger.
But public outrage ensued, and Zimmerman was eventually arrested and charged with second-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty.
Critics, including Martin's parents, saw racism behind the initial decision not to file charges in the death of a black teenager. And they want to prevent anyone from invoking "stand your ground" under similar circumstances.
Tracy Martin said the protection should not apply to someone who initiates the confrontation.
"Had George Zimmerman never gotten out of his vehicle, had he stayed in his vehicle" and not pursued Trayvon, "he wouldn't have no reason to stand his ground," the Sentinel quoted him as saying.
Martin's parents brought along 375,000 signatures to a petition calling for the law to be repealed or reformed.
The task force was created by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to review the law. The task force will make recommendations to Scott and the Florida Legislature.