SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman re-enacted the fight he had with Trayvon Martin in police video released Thursday, giving his most detailed account yet of what led him to fatally shoot the unarmed black teenager. Zimmerman claims in the video that Martin said "you're going to die" and reached for Zimmerman's gun just before the shooting.
The police recording was taken a day after the Feb. 26 shooting. The video, along with audio recordings of police interviews, was released by Zimmerman's attorney about 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.
At least two lawyers who reviewed the video said Zimmerman appeared believable, but he also statements that were inconsistent or questionable.
- DOCUMENT: Written Statement to the Sanford PD on Feb. 26
- READ: Notice Of Reciprocal Discovery
- SECTION: Trayvon Martin
In the video, Zimmerman said he grabbed his gun from a holster on his waist before Martin could get it, and shot the 17-year-old Martin once in the chest as they fought on the ground outside townhomes in a gated community.
"And like I said I was already passed that so I didn’t see exactly where he came from, but he was about where you were and I said 'I don’t have a problem,' and I went to go grab my cell phone but my, I left it in a different pocket, and I looked down in my pants pocket and he said 'You got a problem now.' And then he was here and he punched me in the face," said Zimmerman in the video.
After firing, Zimmerman said 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.
In one of the audio recordings, a detective tells Zimmerman three days after the shooting, that Martin was a "good kid, mild-mannered kid" and asks Zimmerman to explain some inconsistencies, such as 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," detective Chris Sereno tells him.
Zimmerman claims he shot the teen 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 the black teenager and started following him. They claim their son was racially profiled.
Zimmerman's father is white and his mother Hispanic.
Sereno asked Zimmerman about profiling during one of the interviews.
"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," Zimmerman said.
The parents' attorney Ben Crump couldn't immediately be reached for comment. Crump said on his Twitter feed, "Everyone should review Zimmerman's objectively written statement in comparison to the 911 tapes which were previously released."
WFTV was at a news conference in New Orleans when Martin's parents talked to reporters.
His parents talked about their son's character, saying he wouldn't attack unless he was provoked or feared for his safety.
"He was a happy child, did not cause problems. [He] kissed me everyday, at 17 years old he would still kiss me," said Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton.
"You have to look at all of the evidence and the best evidence we believe begins with the 911 tapes because it clearly says what it says, it's recorded, not someone's version of it and speaks for itself," said another Martin family attorney, Darryl Parks.
Crump did not elaborate on his post.
Orlando-area defense attorney David Hill, who has no connection to the case, said Zimmerman came across as "a reasonable guy."
"He came across as being straight-forward," Hill said after reviewing the video. "It doesn't hurt him."
Hill said the video didn't show him to be the zealous "cop-wannabe" that Martin's parents have portrayed him.
Zimmerman called police after spotting Martin walking around the neighborhood and the dispatcher told him not to follow the teen. For reasons that still aren't clear, Zimmerman kept up his pursuit, even getting out of his truck to look for him. He lost sight of Martin and was walking back to his truck when Martin confronted him, Zimmerman said.
"Do you have a problem?" Zimmerman said, quoting Martin.
If Zimmerman's account his accurate, he has a viable "Stand Your Ground" defense, said Blaine McChesney, an Orlando defense attorney who is also not involved in the case.
Zimmerman's attorney has the option of asking for a "Stand Your Ground" hearing in which he will present Zimmerman's account to a judge and ask that the charge be dismissed without going to trial.
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 him. Zimmerman also said he got on top of Martin and restrained him after the shooting.
"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."
WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said he expects prosecutors to try to argue Zimmerman's inconsistencies are lies, and he expects them to focus on Zimmerman's story about reaching for his phone as the fight started.
"The state may assert that Trayvon Martin thought that Zimmerman was reaching for a weapon and that Trayvon Martin then acted in self-defense," Sheaffer said.
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.
During the hearing, Shellie Zimmerman testified that they had limited funds since she was a fulltime student and Zimmerman wasn't working. Prosecutors say they had raised about $135,000 from a website set up for his legal defense at the time of the April hearing. Shellie Zimmerman was charged last week with making a false statement.
Meanwhile, a city manager fired the Sanford police chief, who was criticized for his agency's initial investigation of Trayvon Martin's shooting death.
Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte said in a Wednesday statement that he relieved Chief Bill Lee of duty because he "determined the Police Chief needs to have the trust and respect of the elected officials and the confidence of the entire community."