Zimmerman Tapes: Facts Don’t Add Up

The defendant's version of the events reveals contradictions and implausible scenarios.

Projected photo of George Zimmerman entered as evidence during his murder trial (Pool/Getty Images)
Projected photo of George Zimmerman entered as evidence during his murder trial (Pool/Getty Images)

(The Root) — For the first time in the second-degree-murder trial of George Zimmerman, jurors Monday heard a gripping narrative in the defendant’s own words about his fatal shooting of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin.

But much of what was presented in audio and video recordings of his statements to police investigators didn’t quite add up. A close listen to Zimmerman’s version of the events reveals contradictions and seemingly implausible facts.

The tapes start with Zimmerman acknowledging that he followed the 17-year-old as he tried to give the boy’s location to a police dispatcher on the phone. He said the altercation began when Trayvon “jumped out of the bushes” and said, “What the [expletive] is your problem, homey?” before saying, “You got a problem now” and punching him in the nose.

The prosecution played the four statements, including Zimmerman’s video re-enactment on the day after the shooting, in its effort to highlight inconsistencies in his account that he shot Trayvon in self-defense. Jurors also were presented with the written statement Zimmerman provided to police in which he repeatedly refers to Trayvon as a “suspect.”

In all the interviews, Zimmerman said he was driving when he saw Trayvon looking “suspicious” while walking through his subdivision on the night of Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman said he was concerned in part because Trayvon was outside a home that had been burglarized weeks earlier. Zimmerman added that he’d called police before about someone loitering outside the house.

He called police and reported Trayvon but lost sight of the teen as he darted between homes, Zimmerman said. Then Trayvon doubled back toward Zimmerman’s truck and circled it, he told police. Zimmerman again lost sight of Trayvon and exited his truck and followed him on foot, he said. Seeing no sign of Trayvon, Zimmerman said he began to walk back to his truck when Trayvon appeared and confronted him.

As they exchanged words, Zimmerman said that he reached in his pants pocket for his cellphone to dial 911. That’s when Trayvon punched him, Zimmerman claims. Zimmerman fell on his back, and Trayvon straddled him and began punching him and slamming his head against the sidewalk, Zimmerman told police.

“I could see people looking,” Zimmerman told Sanford, Fla., police Officer Doris Singleton in his first statement just after the shooting. “Somebody yells out, ‘I’m calling 911.’ I said, ‘Help me, help me. He’s killing me.’ He puts his hand on my nose and on my mouth, and he says, ‘You’re gonna die tonight’ … I still couldn’t breathe, and he still kept trying to hit my head against the pavement …

“When he said, ‘You’re gonna die tonight,’ I felt his hand go down on my side. I thought he was going for my firearm. So I grabbed it immediately, and as he banged my head again, I just pulled out my firearm and shot him.”

Zimmerman said he then got on top of Trayvon and spread the teen’s arms, pinning him to the ground. He said he told Trayvon, “Stay down, don’t move.”