Video shows Zimmerman’s account of fatal fight
Thursday, June 21, 2012
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman appears believable when he re-enacts for police what he says led to the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, but some of his statements are questionable, lawyers who reviewed the footage said Thursday.
Even a detective who interrogated the neighborhood watch leader pointed out inconsistencies in his story, particularly Zimmerman’s claim that Martin punched him and slammed his head onto the ground when the teenager had no prior history of violence.
The video and audio tapes released by Zimmerman’s attorney give Zimmerman’s most detailed account yet of what led to the Feb. 26 shooting, but it still leaves unanswered whether the shooting was justified.
The evidence was released almost a week before Zimmerman’s second bond hearing on a second-degree murder charge, and on the heels of unflattering telephone calls capturing Zimmerman and his wife talking in code about using money collected for a defense fund to pay credit cards.
In one of the audio recordings, detective Chris Sereno asked Zimmerman whether he was profiling the black teen, a claim Martin’s parents have made.
“You know you are going to come under a lot of scrutiny for this,” Sereno said. “Had this person been white, would you have felt the same way?”
“Yes,” said Zimmerman, who has a white father and Hispanic mother.
Zimmerman claims he shot the unarmed 17-year-old Martin in self-defense, under Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
Martin’s parents have said Zimmerman was the aggressor. They said Martin was walking back from a convenience store through the gated community in Sanford when Zimmerman spotted Martin and started following him.
In the video, Zimmerman said he grabbed his gun from a holster on his waist before Martin could get it, and shot Martin once in the chest as they fought on the ground outside the townhomes. After firing, Zimmerman said he thought he missed.
“He sat up and said, ‘You got me. You got me, or something like that,”’ Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman said Martin had been on top of him, slamming his head against the ground and smothering his mouth and nose with his hand and arm. The tape shows two butterfly bandages on the back of Zimmerman’s head and another on his nose. There are red marks on the front of his head.
“It felt like my head was going to explode,” he said.
Criminal defense lawyers who reviewed the video for The Associated Press and have no connection to the case said there were some parts that didn’t add up.
Zimmerman claimed Martin confronted him after the neighborhood watch leader had given up searching for him and was walking back to his truck. But there doesn’t appear to be a place to hide in the area where Zimmerman says Martin suddenly appeared, Orlando defense attorney David Hill pointed out.
Zimmerman’s injuries also don’t appear to be consistent with the severity of the attack he described, Hill said.
Attorney Blaine McChesney said he found parts of Zimmerman’s re-enactment difficult to envision, such as his account of how he was able to reach for his gun with Martin on top of him. Zimmerman said he got on top of Martin after the shooting to restrain him.
“I also find it strange that Zimmerman would have attempted to use both his arms to hold Martin facedown, re-holstering his firearm, given those circumstances,” McChesney said. “Once out from under Martin’s alleged attack, it would have been more logical to hold Martin at gunpoint from a few feet away until police arrived.”
Despite the inconsistencies, Zimmerman in the video comes across as “straight-forward,” said Hill, who adds that the watch volunteer doesn’t come across as the zealous “cop-wannabe” Martin’s parents have portrayed.
“I didn’t see him being too slick on the details,” Hill said.
In Sereno’s interview, he told Zimmerman three days after the shooting that Martin was a “good kid, mild-mannered kid.”
Sereno told Zimmerman that Martin, an athlete with an interest in aeronautics, was “a kid with a future, a kid with folks that care.” The detective said Martin only had a bag of Skittles and an iced tea on him when he died.
“Not a goon,” Sereno said.
He asked Zimmerman to explain why he doesn’t have bruises on his body or broken ribs. The two dozen punches Zimmerman claims he took are “not quiet consistent with your injuries,” Sereno said.
The detective also questioned how Zimmerman could claim he was yelling for help when he also said Martin was smothering him. Sereno pointed out that Zimmerman has offered two explanations for getting out of his car: to look at street signs to give the dispatcher directions and to follow Martin.
For reasons that are still unclear, Zimmerman kept up his pursuit even though a dispatcher told him it wasn't needed.
Martin’s parents’ attorney Ben Crump couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. But Crump said on his Twitter feed, “Everyone should review Zimmerman’s objectively written statement in comparison to the 911 tapes which were previously released.”
Crump did not elaborate.
Zimmerman’s second bond hearing will be June 29. His $150,000 bond was revoked earlier this month after prosecutors said Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, misled the court about how much money they had available for bail. Shellie Zimmerman was charged last week with making a false statement.
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