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)

Here are some other contradictions across Zimmerman’s various statements and how they conflict with other testimony and evidence:

* Zimmerman said in his first statement to police, about 90 minutes after the shooting, that he’d exited his truck to check the street name and give the dispatcher an accurate location for police. But in an interview three days later, as lead police investigator Chris Serino pressed Zimmerman about whether he’d pursued Trayvon, Zimmerman said, “I wasn’t following. I was just going in the same direction.” Serino replied, “That’s following, man.”

* Witnesses testified to having heard a longer, louder exchange than what Zimmerman described. In his statements, Zimmerman has changed the alleged words Trayvon used.

* Zimmerman claims that he screamed repeatedly for help but also that Trayvon used a hand to cover his mouth and nose, cutting off his air supply. Serino played one of the 911 calls for Zimmerman and asked if the screams heard in the background were his. “No, sir,” Zimmerman said. Serino also said, “That’s you. Are you hearing yourself?” Zimmerman said, “Um, it doesn’t sound like me.” In the same interview, Officer Singleton said that if Zimmerman’s mouth was covered, the screaming would have stopped.

* Zimmerman said that Trayvon landed up to 30 punches, a claim Serino said in testimony that he didn’t believe because his injuries were “minor.” He also testified that he doubted Trayvon knocked Zimmerman to the ground with one punch, in part because Zimmerman outweighed the teen by roughly 50 pounds.

* Zimmerman has said he “felt” Trayvon’s hand “go down my side” toward his 9 mm handgun tucked in his waistband, leading him to pull the gun himself and fire it. He has also said that Trayvon saw the gun and reached for it and that he grabbed Trayvon’s hand. Zimmerman then used his other hand to pull his gun and fire, he said.

* Zimmerman said that after shooting Trayvon, he spread his arms and pinned them to the ground. But the first neighbor and first officer to arrive both testified that Trayvon’s hands were underneath his body, which was lying facedown.

* During the video re-enactment at the scene on the following day, Zimmerman told investigators about his injuries. A pair of bandages covered two lacerations on the back of his head allegedly caused by the fight. Zimmerman said, “I could use stitches, but she’d rather not put them in. As long as I didn’t mess with my head … she said she didn’t have to put stitches in right away.” He was referring to physician’s assistant Lindzee Folgate, who treated him after the shooting. Folgate testified that she didn’t stitch the cuts, neither of which was longer than 2 centimeters, because they weren’t large or deep enough to require them.

And for someone who claims to have nearly died from a vicious beating — during which, he says, he yelled, “Help, help me. He’s killing me” — Zimmerman appeared unusually poised and calm in the recordings. Even in his first statement to police recorded just 90 or so minutes after the shooting, his demeanor didn’t at all suggest that he’d suffered such a trauma. That may be the biggest contradiction of them all.

Corey Dade, an award-winning journalist based in Washington, D.C., is a former national correspondent at NPR and political reporter at the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe and other news organizations. Follow him on Twitter.