By now, it should be apparent what I believe about the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. One of the strongest reasons for my decision is the written statement Zimmerman gave to police that night, and the walk through of events he gave the following day. Below is what Zimmerman wrote the night following the shooting (pdf here):
In August of 2011 my neighbors house was broken into while she was home with her infant son. The intruders attempted to attack her and her child; however, SPD reported to the scene of the crime and the robbers fled. My wife saw the intruders running from the home and became scared of the rising crime within our neighborhood. I, an my neighbor formed a “Neighborhood Watch Program”. We were instructed by SPD to call the non-emergency line if we saw anything suspicious & 911 if we saw a crime in progress. Tonight, I was on my way to the grocery store when I saw a male approximately 5’11” to 6’2” casually walking in the rain looking into homes. I pulled my vehicle over and called SPD non-emergency phone number. I told the dispatcher what I had witnessed, the dispatcher took note of my location and the suspect fled to a darkened area of the sidewalk, as the dispatcher was asking me for an exact location the suspect emerged from the darkness and circled my vehicle. I could not hear if he said anything. The suspect once again disappeared between the break of some houses. The dispatcher once again asked me for my exact location. I could not remember the name of the street so I got out of my car to look for a street sign. The dispatcher asked me for a description and the direction the suspect went. I told the dispatcher I did not know but I was out of my vehicle looking for a street sign and the direction the suspect was. The dispatcher told me not to follow the suspect and that an officer was in route. As I headed back to my vehicle the suspect emerged from the darkness and said, “You got a problem”. I said “No”. The suspect said “you do now” As I looked and tried to find my phone to dial 911, the suspect punched me in the face. I fell backward onto my back. The suspect got on top of me. I yelled “Help” several times. The suspect told me “Shut the fuck up” as I tried to sit up right. The suspect grabbed my head and slammed it into the concrete sidewalk several times. I continued to yell “Help”, each time I attempted to situp, the suspect slammed my head into the sidewalk. My head felt like it was going to explode. I tried to slide out from under the suspect and continued to yell “Help”. As I slid, the suspect covered my mouth and nose and stopped my breathing. At this point, I felt the suspect reach for my now exposed firearm and say “Your gonna die tonight Mother Fucker”. I unholstered my firearm in fear for my life as he had assured me he was going to kill me and fired one shot into his torso. The suspect sat back allowing me to sit up and said “You got me”. At this point, I slid out from underneath him and got on top of the suspect holding his hands away from his body. An on-looker appeared and asked me if I was ok. I said “no” he said “I am calling 911. I said I don’t need you to call 911 I already called them, I need you to help restrain this guy.” At this point a SPD officer arrived and asked “who shot him” I said “I did” and I placed my hands on top of my head and told the officer where on my persons my firearm was holstered. The officer handcuffed me and disarmed me. The officer then placed me in the back of his vehicle.
My initial impression of the statement is that Zimmerman is setting up a classic self-defense case basically making three arguments that he was in fear for his life: 1.) head being slammed several times onto the concrete; 2.) being smothered to the point of being unable to breath; and 3.) noticing Martin reach for his holstered gun. Zimmerman also refers to Martin as the "suspect" which is odd in of itself but he may have got that from the police. At the same time, Zimmerman at this point is the "suspect". Zimmerman's use of the word seems too much like he a police officer explaining why he had to use deadly force. This goes into the "wanna-be-cop" theory.
As for the statement itself, it is light on facts, which is okay, it is an initial statement - but is inconsistent with evidence later presented and what is on the 911 call. Here are the problems with this statement for Zimmerman:
- Zimmerman says that Martin had fled into the darkened area and while he was trying to give the dispatcher the exact location, Martin emerged from the darkness, circled the car and went back into the darkness. There is nothing in the 911 call to suggest or even to hint that Martin went into the darkness, came back, and fled back in.
- The dispatcher was not asking Zimmerman his exact location at the point he claims.
- Zimmerman's explanation for getting out of the vehicle is ridiculous. There are three streets in the neighborhood and he is the leader of the neighborhood watch who has called to police numerous times. He should know the name of the street he is on. In this statement, Zimmerman claims he is looking for a street sign. Why then would you go to another street (whose name you later claim you know)? Zimmerman never tells the dispatcher an address on the street he knows, tells them to go to his truck. Zimmerman cannot give an exact address because he's not near his vehicle but does give an idea where his truck is parked. Zimmerman then agrees to meet by the mailboxes, where his truck is closely parked, but then tells the dispatcher to call him when they arrive. Zimmerman is too busy chasing Martin to know what unit he is parked in front of.
- According to Zimmerman, Martin confronts him while he is walking back to the truck, approaches him, punches him, which knocks him down and that is where the fight took place before the shot. So, how do the two end up a good 30 feet away?
- While the cries for help are picked up by the 911 call and has been testified to, no one heard the alleged remarks that Martin said about shutting up or you're going to die.
- Zimmerman claims his head was slammed repeatedly onto the sidewalk, but his injuries are not consistent with that. You would show signs of a concussion, especially with the force of having your head slammed as you are trying to sit up. The slamming would not create a couple of small cuts or that pattern on his temple. Those seem consistent with rolling around and getting either grass or concrete burn (for the marks on the temple) or having your head roll while on top of a pebble.
- Zimmerman claims that Martin had his hands over his mouth and nose and was suffocating him. The cries for help are continuous on that tape. A person who is being suffocated cannot scream. So, if Zimmerman is being honest that he was being suffocated then he was not screaming. If Zimmerman is the one screaming, then he was not being suffocated.
- If Martin is on top of him, in the straddling position, how is he going to see the gun on Zimmerman's hip? More on this during the walk through interview.
- Zimmerman claims he got on the suspect and slid his hands away from his body. Martin was found by John Manalo, who took the picture of Martin before the police arrived, with his hands under his chest.
- Zimmerman's claim that he told the on-looker (Manalo) to help him restrain Martin is inconsistent with Manalo's testimony. Manalo never testified that he saw Zimmerman on Martin or that Zimmerman asked for his help in restraining Martin. The part about not needing to call 911 is consistent with what Manalo testified.
All of this just from his first statement. The beauty of this is that Zimmerman has now trapped himself into a basic story. Some could say that he got things wrong because of the initial excitement of the event - but look at Zimmerman he is calm and cool as he enters the police station. The statement was taken 4-5 hours after the event and he never has shown any sort of emotion about what he did. Next up, his re-enactment. . .