Trayvon Martin Case Update: Zimmerman’s Interactions with Sanford Police, Officials; Witnesses Change StoriesPosted: May 23, 2012
More information continues to trickle out in the The Trayvon Martin Case. Today The Miami Herald revealed that George Zimmerman may have had relationships with members of the Sanford Police Department and other Sanford officials.
In January, 2011, Zimmerman spoke at a community meeting called by newly elected Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett. He strongly criticized the local police department and said he knew all about it because he had been on a ride-along with Sanford police officers.
“And what I saw was disgusting,” Zimmerman said, according to a recording of the January 2011 meeting obtained by The Miami Herald. “The officer showed me his favorite hiding spots for taking naps, explained to me that he doesn’t carry a long gun in his vehicle because, in his words, ‘anything that requires a long gun requires a lot of paperwork, and you’re going to find me as far away from it.’
“He took two lunch breaks and attended a going-away party for one of his fellow officers.”
According to the article, Chief Bill Lee had e-mail interactions with Zimmerman, even though during the controversy over Zimmmerman not be charged in the shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, Lee claimed that Zimmerman
had no relationship with the police department. City records show Lee exchanged emails with Zimmerman last year, when the neighborhood watch volunteer wrote to the chief to praise the department’s volunteer program coordinator.
A video released last week by the State Attorney prosecuting the case shows Zimmerman freely walked about the police station the night of the shooting unescorted.
Sanford police say they have don’t know which officer or officers Zimmerman rode with. How ironic that Zimmerman criticized the police department that was so lenient with him after he killed a young boy for no discernible reason. In a further irony, Zimmerman argued that the previous chief who had failed to arrest the son of one of his officers in the beating of a homeless man should not receive a pension, because:
“I would like to state that the law is written in black and white and it should not and cannot be enforced in the gray for those who are in the thin blue line.”
In other news about the case, last night The Orlando Sentinel reported that four witnesses to portions of the fight between Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin changed their stories after having more time to reflect on their memories of events. Here’s a brief summary of the changes from the New York Daily News.
Witness 12: A neighbor in the complex first told an agent March 20 that she saw two people on the ground, but wasn’t sure who was on top. Six days later, after seeing news reports, she said she believed Zimmerman was on top of Martin.
Witness 6: He first told an investigator that he saw a black man (presumably Martin) “throwing down blows” on a lighter-skinned man (presumably Zimmerman). He also believed the one being hit was calling out for help. But three weeks later, while he still claimed “the black guy was on top,” he wasn’t sure who was actually calling for help and wouldn’t assume Martin was the one hitting Zimmerman.
Witness 13: This witness interacted with Zimmerman before police arrived, according to the evidence, and noted the blood on the back of his head.
In two interviews a month later, he detailed how Zimmerman that night acted casually like “nothing” had happened, as opposed to “‘I can’t believe I just shot someone!’” according to the evidence.
Witness 2: She initially told police that she saw two people running, although she couldn’t say who was chasing whom. On March 20, she told a Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent that she remembers seeing only one person running and heard them as well, but still couldn’t say who that was.
Good Evening! The big news today is that Minkoff Minx is back home and resting after her surgery. She even managed to send off an e-mail to the rest of the administrators, so she might even be reading this–if so, hi there, Minx!
I have several updates on the Trayvon Martin case. The city of Sanford is preparing for the aftermath of the special prosecutor Angela Corey’s decision on whether or not she will order the arrest of George Zimmerman.
Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett said on Thursday that the city’s emergency management team has met regularly with the U.S Department of Justice to construct a plan. Officials said extra police officers and fire department officials are on standby. Neighboring agencies have also been asked to assist, if needed.
“You always prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Triplett said. “We’re planning for the ‘what-if’ case scenario, and that would be to make sure that all of our citizens get the protection they pay their taxes for.”
The grand jury ordered by Governor Rick Scott is scheduled for next Tuesday, April 10, so Corey is expected to decide soon.
If she finds probable cause, Corey could direct-file the charges anytime or present evidence to a Seminole County grand jury, which was tentatively scheduled to meet on Tuesday. The grand jury could indict, ask to hear more evidence, or decline to indict.
Since the Stand Your Ground Law has been invoked by Zimmerman, even if charges are filed, a judge could review the case and grant immunity, thus dismissing the charges.
Corey previously stated that she may not need the grand jury. I’ll be honest: I just have a gut feeling that she will decline to charge Zimmerman. I hope I’m wrong, but Corey is known for charging juvenile offenders very harshly and trying them as adults. Last year, she charged a 12-year-old boy with first degree murder and ordered him tried as an adult in the death of his two-year-old brother. HuffPo reports that Corey
is known for her tough tactics aimed at locking up criminals for long sentences and making it difficult to negotiate light plea bargains.
Furthermore, 57-year-old Angela Corey has handled hundreds of homicide cases involving the justifiable use of deadly force – experience that could prove invaluable.
On the other hand, they also report that Corey is exceedingly close to the Sheriff’s office and police. One colleague told HuffPo that she is “too close” to them.
George Zimmerman has a new attorney who is a former police officer, now a criminal defense attorney, who has experience with the media. But that experience did not serve him well today when he suggested in a TV interview that Zimmerman may have suffered from “shaken baby syndrome” after Trayvon Martin supposedly bashed his head on the sidewalk. Except that the new attorney is now claiming his client’s head was bashed into the “ground.” (Just a side note: neither of Zimmerman’s attorneys has actually met him in person yet. They’ve only talked with him on the phone.)
Hal Uhrig, a lawyer and former Gainesville, Florida, police officer who recently joined Zimmerman’s defense team, cited in a TV interview the brain damage that can seriously injure or kill an infant.
His point, which has been made before, was that Zimmerman contends he shot Martin in self defense and feared for his life after the 17-year-old attacked him and began pounding his head into the concrete pavement of a gated community on a rainy evening in Sanford on February 26.
But Uhrig’s choice of words, and use of a recognized sign of child abuse to defend a 28-year-old man who killed a kid, seemed likely to raise more than just a few eyebrows.
“We’re familiar with the Shaken Baby Syndrome,” said Uhrig on the CBS This Morning program. “You shake a baby, the brain shakes around inside the skull. You can die when someone’s pounding your head into the ground.”
Shaken baby syndrome can occur in very young infants because their skulls are still soft, they aren’t yet in control of their neck and limbs, and their heads are very large in proportion to their bodies. Adults can obviously suffer serious head trauma leading to internal bleeding and death, but if EMT’s believed that had happened to Zimmerman they would have insisted he be transported to a hospital.
One of Uhrig’s first actions after taking the job was to get rid of Zimmerman’s “friend” Joe Oliver (now being called a “media adviser”), who made innumerable embarrassing media appearances in which presented a number of inconsistent explanations of what supposedly happened the night of the shooting.
A group of about 40 Florida college students have organized a 3-day march from Daytona Beach to Sanford (41 miles), Florida to demand racial equality in honor of Trayvon Martin. The march is “modeled after the historic 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala.”
They call themselves the Dream Defenders. The march began earlier today.
The campaign began at Daisy Stocking Park and will conclude on April 9 at Sanford City Hall. During the march, students will be stopping every two hours and receiving training. They will also work on developing a strategy to launch a larger youth movement to address racial inequalities. Their first stop is the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center for a prayer vigil and speakout. You can track the group as they march on their website.
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office and police officers in Daytona Beach, DeLand and Orange City are coordinating and will be helping with traffic control to make sure the students are safe while crossing busy highways.
Vanessa Baden, a 2007 alumna of Florida State, flew in from Los Angeles to attend the march on behalf of Dream Defenders. She said the purpose of the march is to call for the arrest of George Zimmerman and the investigation of the process of law enforcement following the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
“What we’re not trying to do is try Zimmerman in the court of public opinion. We get that there’s a process in this,” Baden said. “We’ll be patient with the process if they allow the process to begin.”
The group expects other college students to join the march along the way. Good for them. I know darn well if Martin Luther King were still alive, he would be there too.
Unfortunately, a group of “armed neo-Nazis” is already in Sanford, supposedly to help in riot control after Angela Corey makes her decision.
Neo-Nazis are currently conducting heavily armed patrols in and around Sanford, Florida and are “prepared” for violence in the case of a race riot. The patrols are to protect “white citizens in the area who are concerned for their safety” in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting last month, says Commander Jeff Schoep of the National Socialist Movement. “We are not advocating any type of violence or attacks on anybody, but we are prepared for it,” he says. “We are not the type of white people who are going to be walked all over.”
Because nothing diffuses racial tension like gun-toting racial separatists patrolling an already on-edge community.
Lots of audio “experts” are still analyzing Zimmerman’s initial 911 tape to see if he used word “coons” in a whispered utterance. CNN’s expert claims Zimmerman said “fucking cold.” Another expert says it was “fucking punks.”
In addition, I found this slowed down tape of the 911 call by a witness. It was posted by a self-described “audio person.” You can hear screams for help in the background, then a gunshot, and another sound after the shot. It sounded like a scream after the gunshot to me.
NBC has fired a producer who edited the Zimmerman 911 tape and played the edited version on the Today Show as if it were the original.
The person was fired on Thursday, according to two people with direct knowledge of the disciplinary action who declined to be identified discussing internal company matters. They also declined to name the fired producer. A spokeswoman for NBC News declined to comment.
The action came in the wake of an internal investigation by NBC News into the production of the segment, which strung together audio clips in such a way that made George Zimmerman’s shooting of Mr. Martin sound racially motivated. Ever since the Feb. 26 shooting, there has been a continuing debate about whether race was a factor in the incident.
The segment in question was shown on the “Today” show on March 27. It included audio of Mr. Zimmerman saying, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”
But Mr. Zimmerman’s comments had been taken grossly out of context by NBC. On the phone with a 911 dispatcher, he actually said of Mr. Martin, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.” Then the dispatcher asked, “O.K., and this guy — is he white, black or Hispanic?” Only then did Mr. Zimmerman say, “He looks black.”
Obviously, the editing was misleading, but I actually think the real 911 tape sounds worse and more racially biased. JMNSHO.
Family and friends of George Zimmerman are starting a website to raise funds for his defense and his living expenses. The reporter, Frances Robles says that Zimmerman has suffered “weeks of withering media coverage lambasting him and his supporters…” I’d say the lambasting of Trayvon Martin has been even more “withering,” but of course he no longer has “living expenses,” because George Zimmerman shot and killed him. But what do I know? Poor George….
Robles also notes that Zimmerman has attract some troubling supporters
such as white supremacists and the Rev. Terry Jones, the Gainesville pastor who announced last year plans to burn the Quran and now plans to hold a rally for Zimmerman. Gun ownership advocacy groups have also announced intentions to contribute $10,000 towards Zimmerman’s defense.
But one of Martin’s attorneys points out that
“It’s a PR strategy, a propaganda campaign,” said Natalie Jackson, an attorney for Trayvon’s parents. “His friends and family are doing him a big disservice by race-baiting. They are trying to divide a jury. Frank Taaffe, Joe Oliver, everybody gets up there and says, ‘George Zimmerman is not a racist.’ That’s not what we’re talking about.
“We’re talking about whether he was justified in taking Trayvon Martin’s life.”
I agree with Jackson that the racism issue is a red herring. It’s up to the FBI to decide whether this was a hate crime or not. But Zimmerman needs to be arrested and charged. Then he can plead his case for self-defense to a judge and jury instead of the media.
Feel free to discuss any topic on this thread. I decided to focus on the Martin case because there was so much news coming out today on it, and it has otherwise been a pretty slow news day because of the upcoming christian holiday.