• Witness: Sanford police "Blew us off" in teen slaying


    SANFORD, Fla. - WFTV reporter Daralene Jones spoke with a woman who heard a Sanford vigilante shoot a 17-year-old boy as he was walking home from a convenience store with a bag of candy.

    The shooter, George Zimmerman, claimed self-defense in the killing, Sanford police said.  

    They said there was not enough evidence to arrest Zimmerman, fueling outrage around Central Florida and the nation.

    However, witness Mary Cutcher said she knew the truth. Cutcher said police only took a two or three sentence statement from her, but it took about 30 minutes to tell WFTV the story.

    "The cries stopped as soon as the gun went off, so I know it was the little boy," Cutcher said.

    Cutcher said a cry for help got her attention on the day Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in her backyard by Zimmerman, who was a neighborhood vigilante.

    Cutcher said that until now, she ignored repeated attempts by national and local media to share what she saw, partially out of fear.

    "We said, 'Is everything OK? And he just looked at us. Selma [another witness] asked him again, 'What's up, what's going on, everything OK? And he just said, 'Call the police,' kind of nonchalantly, kind of like, 'Leave me alone,' '' Cutcher said.

    According to a partial police report, Cutcher is one of six witnesses that Sanford police took a statement from.

    Cutcher said it was short, and police never questioned her in detail until after she repeatedly reached out to them.

    "Blew us off, and I called him back again and I said, "I know this was not self-defense. There was no punching, no hitting going on at the time, no wrestling,'" Cutcher said.

    Cutcher said she believes whatever confrontation there was, it ended before they got to her backyard.

    She also said she believes Zimmerman continued to chase Martin as he tried to get home.

    Police said Zimmerman had a "bloody nose and blood on the back of his head," and he told police, "He was yelling for someone to help, but no one would."

    Cutcher said even if Martin got the best of Zimmerman, it's no excuse to kill an unarmed teenager who is half his size.

    "I assumed he's going to be arrested. Common sense will tell you, and he wasn't," Cutcher said.

    Sanford police pointed to a state statute for not making an immediate arrest, and they sent WFTV a copy of the law titled, "Justifiable Use of Force."

    However, WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer reviewed the statute and said that if Zimmerman was told by 911 to not confront Martin and did anyway, the statute is not on his side.

    "The use of deadly force in this case was unlawful and a valid arrest could have been made," Sheaffer said.

    Sheaffer also said that ultimately an arrest could be, and likely should be made, and then the state would decide if the charges stick.

    "Under the facts, it is above the discretion for Sanford not to affect on arrest and then send it to the State Attorney's Office," said Sheaffer.

    Sanford police have said there was no probable cause for an arrest of Zimmerman. The case is now in the hands of the State Attorney's Office.

    Neighbor Frank Taaffe worries it went too far, but believes Zimmerman had good intentions.

    "I can't speak for him, I just know he's a good person and really cares for the neighborhood," said Taaffe.

    WFTV also learned that Zimmerman has been the victim of violence at least twice in the past.

    He was working security for a party at an Altamonte Springs home in 2005 and residents said someone broke his jaw when he tried to break up a fight.

    That same year, he was robbed at gunpoint at a 7-Eleven after eating dinner at a nearby Chili's restaurant.

    WFTV attempted several times to call Zimmerman and his family, however, when WFTV received a response of "the number you called is no longer in service.

    Neighbors told WFTV Zimmerman hasn't been home since the shooting last month.

    A spokesperson for Sanford police said the department did talk to her, but couldn't say how many days passed.            

    He said an internal review after the case is closed will examine why there was a time lapse, if any.

    Meanwhile, hundreds of people rallied at a Sanford church on Wednesday, calling for Zimmerman's arrest.

    Close to 400 people showed up alongside pastors from around the country.

    They want the 911 audio release, or Zimmerman's arrest, within the next two weeks.

    If not, the group said they will move forward with plans for a march and rally at the next city commission meeting.

    "Once we get to the city council meeting, we are going to stay there every day until something happens," said the Rev. Jamal Bryant.

    A city commissioner also wants the police chief to step aside, WFTV learned.

    WFTV also found out that the New Black Militia and New Black Panther groups are planning to protest at the Sanford Police Department next week.

    Stay with WFTV for updates on this developing story.

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