When he was shot, Trayvon Martin was not the baby-faced boy in the photo that has been on front pages across the country. And George Zimmerman wasn’t the beefy-looking figure in the widely published mugshot.
Both photos are a few years old and no longer entirely accurate. Yet they may have helped shape initial public perceptions of the deadly shooting.
“When you have such a lopsided visual comparison, it just stands to reason that people would rush to judgment,” said Kenny Irby, who teaches visual journalism at the Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The most widely seen picture of Martin, released by his family, was evidently taken a few years ago and shows a smiling, round-cheeked youngster in a red T-shirt. But at his death, Martin was 17 years old, around 6 feet tall and, according to his family’s attorney, about 140 pounds.
Zimmerman, 28, is best known from a 7-year-old booking photo of an apparently heavyset figure with an imposing stare, pierced ear and facial hair, the orange collar of his jail uniform visible. The picture, released by police following the deadly shooting, was taken after Zimmerman’s 2005 arrest on an assault-on-an-officer charge that was eventually dropped.
In a police video made public this week of Zimmerman being brought in for questioning a half-hour after the shooting, the 5-foot-9 man appears much slimmer…