Trayvon Martin: The More We Learn, the More Complicated It Becomes
Then there is this from the Orlando Sentinel:
With a single punch, Trayvon Martin decked the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who eventually shot and killed the unarmed 17-year-old, then Trayvon climbed on top of George Zimmerman and slammed his head into the sidewalk, leaving him bloody and battered, law-enforcement authorities told the Orlando Sentinel.If Zimmerman is telling the truth, it is indeed self-defense.
That is the account Zimmerman gave police, and much of it has been corroborated by witnesses, authorities say. There have been no reports that a witness saw the initial punch Zimmerman told police about.
Zimmerman has not spoken publicly about what happened Feb. 26. But that night, and in later meetings, he described and re-enacted for police what he says took place.
In his version of events, Zimmerman had turned around and was walking back to his SUV when Trayvon approached him from behind, the two exchanged words and then Trayvon punched him in the nose, sending him to the ground, and began beating him.
Zimmerman told police he shot the teenager in self-defense.
This is what the Sentinel has learned about Zimmerman’s account to investigators:
He said he was on his way to the grocery store when he spotted Trayvon walking through his gated community.
Trayvon was visiting his father’s fiancée, who lived there. He had been suspended from school in Miami after being found with an empty marijuana baggie. Miami schools have a zero-tolerance policy for drug possession.
Police have been reluctant to provide details about their evidence.
But after the Sentinel story appeared online Monday morning, City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr. issued a news release, saying there would be an internal-affairs investigation into the source of the leak and, if identified, the person or people involved would be disciplined.
He did not challenge the accuracy of the information.
Zimmerman got out of his SUV to follow Trayvon on foot. When a dispatch employee asked Zimmerman if he was following the 17-year-old, Zimmerman said yes. The dispatcher told Zimmerman he did not need to do that.
Zimmerman told them he lost sight of Trayvon and was walking back to his SUV when Trayvon approached him from the left rear, and they exchanged words.
Trayvon asked Zimmerman if he had a problem. Zimmerman said no and reached for his cell phone, he told police. Trayvon then said, “Well, you do now” or something similar and punched Zimmerman in the nose, according to the account he gave police.
Zimmerman fell to the ground and Trayvon got on top of him and began slamming his head into the sidewalk, he told police.
Zimmerman began yelling for help.
Several witnesses heard those cries, and there has been a dispute about whether they came from Zimmerman or Trayvon.
Lawyers for Trayvon’s family say it was Trayvon, but police say their evidence indicates it was Zimmerman.
One witness, who has since talked to local television news reporters, told police he saw Zimmerman on the ground with Trayvon on top, pounding him — and was unequivocal that it was Zimmerman who was crying for help.
Zimmerman then shot Trayvon once in the chest at very close range, according to authorities.
When police arrived less than two minutes later, Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose, had a swollen lip and had bloody lacerations to the back of his head.
Paramedics gave him first aid but he said he did not need to go to the hospital. He got medical care the next day.
There is solid evidence that Martin had Zimmerman on the ground, and was pummeling him. But did it start with Zimmerman retreating toward his SUV, or was Zimmerman belligerently demanding that Martin explain what he was doing there?
The story is obviously more complicated than the simple narrative of racial murder that the media was first pushing. We doubt that Zimmerman can be convicted of anything by a fair-minded jury, and this is not because he did nothing wrong, but because any prosecution would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was not defending himself.
Our best guess as to what happened: an aggressive Zimmerman provoked a violent response from Martin which then caused Zimmerman to use deadly force.