Editorial Note: I’ve continued to update this page as I’ve encountered new information. Major modifications are noted. Minor modifications are not.
GZ = George Zimmerman TM = Trayvon Martin
Did GZ ignore the dispatcher’s instructions? Some claim the 911 dispatcher ordered GZ not to follow TM. But that’s not true. During GZ’s 911 call, the dispatcher asked him if he was following TM. When GZ said he was the dispatcher replied, “We don’t need you to do that.” According to Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, “The call taker’s suggestion is not a lawful order that Mr. Zimmerman would be required to follow.” Regardless, the evidence suggests GZ took the dispatcher’s suggestion. See my post, “What if Zimmerman didn’t ignore 911?“
How did their exchange begin? Some claim GZ is wrong because he approached TM. But there is no evidence GZ approached TM or behaved inappropriately. A lawyer for Martin’s family, Attorney Benjamin Crump, told ABC News that TM’s girlfriend overheard the start of their exchange. According to Crump, the girlfriend heard TM ask, “What are you following me for?” To which GZ responds, “What are you doing around here?” But that’s all she claims to have heard of the exchange.
Who was screaming? Some claim that TM was screaming. But according to the Orlando Sentinel, TM’s own father said it wasn’t his son’s voice. He later claimed it was after talking to his lawyers. But the initial report by the officer at the scene quotes GZ as saying, “I was yelling for someone to help me but no one would help me.” Joe Oliver, a friend of GZ’s, told ABCNews in an interview that the voice “sounded like George.” Edited 3/27/2012.
Who does GZ say was attacked and screaming? Edited 3/27/2012.
According to the Orlando Sentinel:
Zimmerman told [police] he lost sight of Trayvon and was walking back to his SUV when Trayvon approached him from the left rear, and they exchanged words.
Trayvon asked Zimmerman if he had a problem. Zimmerman said no and reached for his cell phone, he told police. Trayvon then said, “Well, you do now” or something similar and punched Zimmerman in the nose, according to the account he gave police.
Zimmerman fell to the ground and Trayvon got on top of him and began slamming his head into the sidewalk, he told police.
Zimmerman began yelling for help.
Who do witnesses say was attacked and screaming?
“The guy on the bottom, who had a red sweater on, was yelling to me, ‘Help! Help!’ and I told him to stop, and I was calling 911,” said the witness, who asked to be identified only by his first name, John.
John said he locked his patio door, ran upstairs and heard at least one gun shot.
“And then, when I got upstairs and looked down, the guy who was on the top beating up the other guy, was the one laying in the grass, and I believe he was dead at that point.”
Are all the witnesses in agreement? One of the witnesses has given an interview claiming there was no struggle and it wasn’t self defense. But during the 911 call she said, “The guy on top has a white T-shirt.” Since GZ was wearing a red sweater this suggests she knows full well there was a struggle and that TM was on top of GZ. According to an interview Sanford Police Sgt. David Morgenstern gave to Fox35 News,”There were some inconsistencies with her statement and what was aired on the news. The information or sworn statements she provided regarding the actions of Zimmerman were consistent with the information Zimmerman provided to us.”
Do injuries support an attack on GZ? The attorney for GZ, Craig Sonners, says “George Zimmerman suffered a broken nose, and had an injury to the back of his head (…).” According to the Washington Post, Sonner’s account of Zimmerman’s injuries is consistent with the Sanford Police Department report, written by the officer at the crime scene who handcuffed Zimmerman. “I could observe his back appeared to be wet and was covered in grass, as if he had been laying on his back on the ground,” the officer wrote. “Zimmerman was also bleeding from the nose and back of his head.”
How many shots were fired? Some claim there were two shots fired. But only one shot is heard on the 911 tapes. And callers on the 911 tapes said they only heard one shot. The Boston Herald reported, “Police found a single shell casing at the scene, and when they seized George Zimmerman’s handgun, a Kel Tec 9 mm, its magazine was full, according to a source close to the investigation. The only bullet missing was the one in the chamber, the source said.”
Are the police hiding something? Some claim the Sanford police are engaged in a cover-up. But according to the Orlando Sentinel , “Sanford police Chief Bill Lee Jr. (…) invited the U.S. Department of Justice and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to review the investigation.” “It’s an open book,” Lee said. “If they want to look at what we did and how we did it and what information we have, they’re welcome to it.”
Why was no one arrested? According to Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, GZ was not arrested because his claims of self defense were “supported by physical evidence and testimony.” If the officers had arrested him without probable cause “both the officer and the City may be held liable.” Regardless, it was the decision of the state’s attorney and not the Sanford police department. Added 3/27/2012.
According to ABC News:
The lead homicide investigator in the shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin recommended that neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter the night of the shooting, multiple sources told ABC News.
But Sanford, Fla., Investigator Chris Serino was instructed to not press charges against Zimmerman because the state attorney’s office headed by Norman Wolfinger determined there wasn’t enough evidence to lead to a conviction, the sources told ABC News.
What does Florida law say about self-defense? Other state laws might require GZ to prove he acted in self-defense. But according to an article in Mother Jones, Florida courts say the law “does not require defendant to prove self-defense (…). The defendant’s only burden is to offer facts from which his resort to force could have been reasonable.”
Are there political considerations? The negative publicity from this case could hurt their chances for re-election. So elected officials are eager to pass the buck to someone else. Some politicians are calling for multiple investigations. But this smacks of political CYA. Circuit court judges are elected so it will probably go to trial. But jurors aren’t elected so when they’re presented with the evidence GZ will probably be acquitted.
Are the activists being objective? Some of the prejudicial and emotionally charged language being used by radicals are that GZ was a “vigilante” and a “child murderer”. But the law defines a “child” as someone 14 years or younger. And GZ has yet to be convicted of any crime, let alone murder. GZ will probably sue for slander and defamation after he’s cleared.
Do events support a claim of self defense? The essential elements of self defense are as follows. TM was an athletic football player who posed a credible threat. GZ’s injuries support his claim that TM attacked him from behind. Witnesses saw TM on top of GZ beating him while he screamed for help. And GZ shot TM once in the chest.
How much did TM and GZ weigh? Some claim TM weighed 140 pounds compared to GZ’s 240 or even 250 pounds. But the police report lists TM at 6’0 & 160 lbs. The same report lists GZ at 5’9 but doesn’t include his weight. It’s doubtful GZ weighs 240 pounds. Added 3/23/2012.
TM’s family has reported his height at 6’2″. And a close friend of GZ, Joe Oliver, says Zimmerman is 5’8″ and currently only weighs 170 pounds. Added 3/30/2012.
How old are the photos of TM? There is a strong suspicion old photos of TM are being distributed to portray him as younger than he was. As you can see, this is the comparison that is usually made here. And MSM cable shows like Cooper360 and Nancy Grace have been using pictures like these here, here and here. But some of TM’s pictures look several years older than those being broadcast by the MSM. Click here and here to compare more recent photos. Added 3/24/2012.
- Listen to ‘George Zimmerman call to police’ on Audioboo
- Listen to ‘911 call: “The guy’s dead out here. Holy shit…Oh my God.”’ on Audioboo
- listen to ‘911 call: Screaming and gunshots audible.’ on Audioboo
- listen to ‘911 call: “There was screaming. I just heard a gunshot!”’ on Audioboo
- listen to ‘911 call: “Why would this man just shoot him?”’ on Audioboo