Fact Check

Trayvon Martin Photos

Photographs purportedly showing shooting victim Trayvon Martin are actually pictures of other people.

Published Mar 29, 2012


Claim:   Photographs document 17-year-old shooting victim Trayvon Martin was a muscular, 6'2" man.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, March 2012]

Is this in fact a picture of the 17-year-old student who was shot last month?


Origins:   In March 2012 the web site Twitchy.com attempted to counter what they claimed was evidence of bias by the mainstream media in their reporting of the shooting incident involving Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, claiming that news stories
typically used a photograph of a glowering George Zimmerman which looked like a mug shot while consistently running a 5-year-old image of Trayvon Martin that pictured him as an innocent-looking 12-year-old child rather than the 17-year-old near adult he was at the time of the shooting. In response, Twitchy published an image juxtaposing a photograph of a smiling George Zimmerman posing in shirt and tie with one purportedly showing an older, shirtless Trayvon Martin flipping off the camera, with an accompanying caption reading: "Because nothing says fair like putting a mugshot looking photo in "county orange" next to a 5-year-old picture of the victim as a child. But hey, two can play that game":

The site's commentary on this image stated:

Recognize these two people? If you don't, we'll help you out. The man on the left is George Zimmerman, the man accused of murdering the boy on the right, Trayvon Martin. The mainstream media won't show you these two photos because they convey a message that no one else wants to take into consideration.

However, Twitchy's "correction" was a spectacular fail. The photograph of a shirtless Trayvon Martin that Twitchy published as a supposedly more recent and accurate depiction of the victim was one they
from the Facebook page of a completely different Florida resident who just happened to share a name with the deceased:

The kicker? The photo on the right was of a different Trayvon Martin. One that was still alive and in no way related to the deceased. [T]he photo in question came from a Facebook profile belonging to a living breathing, middle-finger-flipping Trayvon Martin who lists his school as Myers Middle School, not Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School. Additionally, all of his relatives are listed as living in Savannah, Georgia. The late [Trayvon] Martin grew up in Miami Gardens.

Twitchy.com subsequently posted a correction, stating:

We made a mistake. The photo on the right is not of the Trayvon Martin who was shot by Zimmerman. We apologize to our readers and to the Martin family.

The photograph of Trayvon Martin in the red Hollister t-shirt that Twitchy referred to as "a 5-year-old picture of the victim as a child" is undated, and therefore exactly when it was taken is uncertain. According to Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump it dates from August 2011, just seven months before Martin's death, when Trayvon was 16. By way of comparison, Trayvon's 11th grade ID photo, which presumably would have been taken a few months later, is displayed on the right below:

Another purported photograph of Trayvon Martin was circulated in beginning May 2012, supposedly documenting the claim that "little" Trayvon Martin was not as slight of build as suggested in older pictures but rather stood a full 6'2" and weighed 175 lbs at the time of the shooting:

One of my favorite rants...the liberal controlled media... television news... newspapers... magazines... radio... all continue to show 12 year old Trayvon... NOT 17 year old Trayvon... they continue to show the 5 year old picture BECAUSE it helps to cement in your mind the little, cute, Hoodie wearing youngster who was stalked by this monster.

In reality.."little Trayvon"...at the time of his death...stood almost 6'2" tall...weighed 175 muscular pounds.


That image was also not a photograph of Trayvon Martin at all, but rather a picture of rapper Jayceon Terrell Taylor, better known by his stage name Game. The confusion apparently came about because the latter's photo was used to accompany articles in which he commented on the Trayvon Martin shooting, and someone later erroneously conflated his image with Trayvon Martin's name.

The medical examiner's report on the death of Trayvon Martin indicated that the deceased was actually 5'11" and weighed 158 lbs., and he had two tattoos, none of which was on his face, neck, or the back of his hands (one was on his right arm and the other on his left wrist).

As far as we know the following is the last pre-mortem photograph of Trayvon Martin (shown standing on the far right), a picture taken as he posed with family members gathered for his mother's birthday nine days before he was shot and killed:

Last updated:   5 February 2016

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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