The most relevant new pieces of information in the trial of George Zimmerman from the the Florida special prosecutor’s new 183-page report.
By Madison Gray
The trove of evidence released by Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey seems to shed more light on the case of the death of Trayvon Martin, but makes it more complicated as well.
The document released Wednesday by Corey’s office stretches 183 pages in length and contains several police reports, handwritten witness statements, descriptions of the crime scene, records of evidence taken and even a community newsletter from the Retreat at Twin Lakes, the Sanford, Fla., gated community where the fatal shooting took place.
(MORE: Evidence Released in State v. Zimmerman – Download the PDF)
A close read through the records reveal a few new pieces of the puzzle. Here’s what stands out:
• New Video of Trayvon Martin before the incident doesn’t show any aggressive behavior.
A security video (above) taken by cameras at a 7-11 near the gated community where Martin’s father lived shows him shopping for items, making a purchase, then leaving the store. The video doesn’t give any indication of aggressive behavior on Martin’s part or any preparation for a fight, which could play against the defense’s claims that the teen purposefully, angrily went after Zimmerman. He is seen wearing the dark gray hooded sweatshirt that has become synonymous with the incident. He was found by police with the bag of Skittles and the can of Arizona Iced Tea he bought.
• George Zimmerman’s injuries appear consistent with his claims to police.
Photos were released as part of the evidence that show injuries like a closed fracture (one that does not break the skin) on his nose, cuts and abrasions on the back of his scalp, and abrasions on his forehead — consistent with Zimmerman’s statement that Martin had attacked him, striking him in his nose, pummeling him and bashing his head into the pavement. While talking to police he complained that his head hurt and that he felt “light-headed.” An officer offered to take him to the hospital, but he declined once at the scene and again at the Sanford Police Department. Zimmerman’s hands were not cut, scarred or marked, possibly indicating that he did not land any punches on Martin.
• Martin was shot at close range.
Trayvon Martin’s autopsy report shows a single gunshot would in his left chest, and no exit wound — consistent with a close physical confrontation and supporting what Zimmerman told police of a confrontation between the two men. The bullet punctured Martin’s lung and settled in his heart. It’s not clear, however, if Trayvon Martin grabbed at Zimmerman’s gun, as he had told police. Medical examiners found a scar on one of Martin’s fingers and a small abrasion on another, but the report doesn’t indicate any finding of gunshot residue on his hands — which would likely have been present if Zimmerman fired while Martin was trying to wrestle the gun from him.
(MORE: New Evidence: Trayvon Martin Had Drugs in His System)
• There are so far no witnesses to the beginning of the confrontation.
Police canvassed the neighborhood to find people who could tell them what they saw, and every eyewitness told police they saw Martin and Zimmerman fighting but that they didn’t know how it started. It was unclear to many exactly what was happening because it was dark and raining. All of them heard a “pop,” indicating a gunshot. All of them heard cries for help, but few agree on whether they were from Martin or Zimmerman. An investigator stated that he determined it was Zimmerman’s voice.
• One witness said the fight had ended by the time the shot rang out.
A woman that police interviewed said she could not distinguish who was on top of whom, but after the gunshot one person was holding the other on the ground by pressing on his back. But her friend, who assisted in translating for the eyewitness, was “adamant” that there was no physical fighting taking place when the shot rang out. Both were taken to the police department for more questioning.
(MORE: Traces of Marijuana Found in Trayvon Martin’s Body: Does It Matter?)
• George Zimmerman may have been profiling black males.
In the months before the Feb. 26 shooting, George Zimmerman called the police several times to report suspicious persons. In all of these calls, he identified the subject as a black male. The calls were made on August 3, 4, and 6, 2011; October 6, 2011; and Feb 12, 2012.
• George Zimmerman was accused of having racist views.
On Feb. 28, two days after the shooting, a woman who refused to identify herself called Sanford Police and told them Zimmerman had racist ideologies and was “fully capable of instigating a confrontation that could have escalated to the point of Zimmerman having to use deadly force,” as the evidence report put it. Investigator Bill Perkins recorded a portion of the conversation and it was placed on a compact disc and submitted as evidence. However, the information she gave has not been corroborated and police have not located anyone who will. They also still have not identified the woman.
• Trayvon Martin had traces of THC in his blood.
Toxicology tests reveal that the drug THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, was in Martin’s system, although it does not mean he had used it on the night of the shooting. Marijuana can stay in the user’s system for 30 days or more depending on the potency of the plant, the user’s metabolism and other factors. Only a trace amount was found in his blood. If he had used it just prior to the shooting, much more would have shown up in tests.
• Trayvon Martin may have been running from Zimmerman at first.
The Seminole County Sheriff’s Department’s Computer Aided Dispatch shows that Zimmerman called police to report a suspicious person, then told them the subject was running from him. The exchange between the dispatcher and Zimmerman shows that he was advised not to continue to follow Martin. One witness interviewed said she saw one of the subjects chasing the other, but could not see who was who. A recording of a female identified as Martin’s longtime friend who was on the phone with him just before the shooting said he began to run when he realized Zimmerman was following him.
(MORE: Report Details Zimmerman’s Injuries on Night of Trayvon Martin Shooting)
• The lead investigator felt that there was enough evidence, based on what he saw, to charge Zimmerman.
Although much of his statement is redacted, Sanford PD investigator Chris Serino questioned witnesses over the course of weeks, listened to audio of 911 calls and analyzed information from the general practitioner Zimmerman went to the day after the shooting. He felt that based on his investigation, whose details he forwarded to Brevard/Seminole Country State Attorney Norm Wolfinger, there was enough to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter. According to the police capias request, or request for charges to be filed, another official felt that Zimmerman could have avoided any trouble if he had either stayed in his vehicle or at least identified himself to Martin.
“The encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin was ultimately avoidable by Zimmerman, if Zimmerman had remained in his vehicle and awaited the arrival of law enforcement or conversely if he had identified himself to Martin as a concerned citizen and initiated dialogue to dispel each party’s concern,” the report said. “There is no indication that Trayvon Martin was involved in any criminal activity at the time of the encounter.”
Categories: Discrimination, Police Brutality, Racism, Racist Oppression, Statements, U.S. News
Tell us Your Thoughts