SANFORD, Fla. - Judging by evidence photos released Thursday in the Trayvon Martin case, it appears Martin got the best of Zimmerman during an altercation between the two prior to Martin’s killing. But Martin’s family's attorney insists Martin was fighting for his life.
WFTV learned Martin was just a feet from the steps of the home where he was staying in Sanford and was on the phone with his girlfriend when he encountered Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman.
Newly obtained video recorded before Martin's death shows the teenager encouraging others to fight. However, Martin's brother said Trayvon is not in the video.
And the Martin family lawyer said the video is just another attack on Martin’s character.
Nearly 200 pages of evidence and audio records revealed only one man actually witnessed the fight between Martin and Zimmerman.
“The one guy on top with the black hoodie was pretty much throwing down blows on the guy, kind of (mixed martial arts) style,” the witness said.
Police reports reveal no one saw what started the fight, but evidence photos show Zimmerman suffered cuts to his head and face.
Investigators believe the confrontation could've been avoided if Zimmerman had waited for police or identified himself as a neighborhood watch captain. And the police representative who helped set up the neighborhood watch said the rules are clear.
“You don't approach them. You don't make contact, no confrontations,” the volunteer coordinator said.
Opposite of what the neighborhood watch volunteers were told, one witness told police Zimmerman was the confrontational type.
“I know George, and I know that he does not like black people,” one witness told police. “He would start something, He's a very confrontational person.”
One of Zimmerman's former co-workers called him a bully, so much that the co-worker said employees threw a party when Zimmerman was fired for bogging down the human resources hotline with too many complaints about other employees and management.
The evidence released so far is also raising the question of whether Zimmerman can claim self-defense, even if he started the confrontation.
The stand your ground law has changed self-defense in Florida to the point that WFTV’s legal analyst said even if George Zimmerman was the initial, physical aggressor, he could make the argument that he became the victim.
If the evidence shows that Zimmerman physically assaulted 17-year-old Trayvon Martin first, legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said there are two scenarios that could help him argue that at some point the unarmed teenager became the aggressor.
The first involves what Sheaffer calls a “reset” of sorts.
Zimmerman told police that at some point he stopped following Martin and started walking back to his car. But even if that's not what happened, even if Zimmerman started a fight with Martin and it continued, Sheaffer said, Zimmerman could still argue under the stand your ground law that he eventually became the victim and was justified in using deadly force to defend himself.
“The defense will argue that those injuries (to Zimmerman), at some point, turned George Zimmerman from the aggressor to the victim in this case,” said Sheaffer.
Sheaffer said the big reason the stand your ground law is so controversial is that people can start fights, get in over their heads, use deadly force and then try to use the law to justify it.
And Sheaffer said the controversial law gives the one who started the fight two chances to walk: One to ask a judge to throw out the case and if that doesn’t work, the person can ask a jury to let them go free.