The video showing George Zimmerman reenacting to officers his version of what led to the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin has been released by his defense lawyers. Questions are being raised about his reconstruction of events that led to the killing.
According to The Huffington Post, the video and audio tapes released by Zimmerman's attorney provide the most detailed account so far of the events that led to the February 26 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The releases come a week before Zimmerman's second bond hearing and soon after news of telephone conversations between Zimmerman and his wife in which both talked in code about thousands of dollars collected for his defense to prevent authorities from becoming aware that he had so much money at his disposal.
According to The Huffington Post, a police detective who interrogated Zimmerman in one the audio recordings a few days after the shooting, pointed out what appear to be inconsistencies in his story. Detective Chris Sereno questioned Zimmerman's claim that Martin confronted him, punched him and slammed his head on the ground against the background of the fact that the teenager had no prior history of violence.
Sereno asked Zimmerman whether he was profiling Martin because he was black. Sereno said: "You know you are going to come under a lot of scrutiny for this. Had this person been white, would you have felt the same way?"
Zimmerman answered promptly, "Yes."
Boston Herald reports that the issue of profiling arises in the case because the encounter happened at a time of rising concern and frustration about crime in the area where Zimmerman was Neighborhood Watch captain.
Zimmerman said he was driving to buy groceries when he spotted the unarmed teenager walking near a house and called police to report a suspicious person. He said: "I just felt like something was off about him... and there's been a history of break-ins... so I said you know just better to call. I kept driving and I passed him, and he kept staring at me and staring around."
In the video, Zimmerman explains why he found Trayvon suspicious. According to Zimmerman, Trayvon was in the yard of someone Zimmerman knew and whose home had only recently been burgled. Trayvon, according to Zimmerman, was on the grass and not on the sidewalk. Zimmerman said: "He was just leisurely looking at the house. That’s what threw me off. It’s raining. I didn’t understand why somebody would be just stopping in the rain."
Zimmerman said when Trayvon walked past his truck, he looked at him and then moved on and disappeared. Then he called the dispatcher who asked him to re-establish "eye contact" with Trayvon. Boston Herald reports, however, that a review of the call shows that he was not telling the truth, the dispatcher had not asked him to establish "eye contact" with Martin.
Zimmerman also claimed he followed Trayvon after he called the dispatcher because he wanted to know where he was so that when police officers arrive at the scene he would be able to show them where he was.
Zimmerman drove on and saw Trayvon again. But when he got out of his truck to follow him, he disappeared suddenly and he could not locate him. He said he then turned back and walked to his truck. Zimmerman said: "I was walking back. I didn't see anything again, came back to my truck and when I got to right about here, he yelled from behind to me. He said, 'Yo, you got a problem?' and I turned around and said no I don't have a problem."
Zimmerman has consistently claimed that he shot Martin in self-defense but Martin's parents say that Zimmerman followed Martin, confronted him and shot him.
In an audio recording of an interview with Sereno, three days after the shooting, Sereno said that Martin was a "good kid, mild-mannered." He told Zimmerman that Martin as an athlete who was interested in aeronautics. He said Martin was "a kid with a future, a kid with folks that care." Sereno also pointed out that Martin had only a bag of Skittles and an iced tea on him when he died.
Sereno challenged Zimmerman, saying that his injuries were not consistent with the severity of onslaught he claimed Martin launched on him
In the video (see above), Zimmerman claims that he took his gun from a holster strapped to his waist before Martin could reach it and shot him once in the chest as they fought on the ground. Zimmerman said that he thought he missed the shot: "I shot him, and I didn't think I hit him because he sat up and said, 'Oh you got me. You got me, you got it.'"
According to First Coast News, Zimmerman told police on the day after the shooting that Martin took his head and slammed it against the concrete several times. He said he felt like "my head was going to explode." He told police: "I started screaming for help," but Martin pressed his hands over his mouth and nose and told him to "shut the f**k up." Zimmerman said he was suffocating. "I didn't want him to keep slamming my head on the concrete so I kind of shifted. But when I shifted my jacket came up...and it exposed my firearm. That's when he said you are going to die tonight. He took one hand off my mouth, and slid it down my chest. I took my gun aimed it at him and fired."
AP reports that criminal defense experts who reviewed the video said there were contradictions in Zimmerman's story. According to attorney David Hill: "He came across as being straight-forward. I didn't see him being too slick on the details."
Zimmerman said Martin confronted him after he gave up searching for him and was walking back to his truck. The main contradiction the experts point out is that there does not appear to be any obvious possible hiding place in the vicinity where Zimmerman claimed Martin suddenly confronted him.
According to AP, attorney Blaine McChesney said that parts of Zimmerman's re-enact were difficult to picture. He referred to the part in the account in which he described how he reached for his gun while Martin was on top of him.
McChesney said: "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. 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."