There have been more significant developments in the Trayvon Martin case in the past 24 hours, following yesterday’s revelations that Sanford police had wanted to arrest George Zimmerman but were over-ruled.
ABC has obtained surveillance footage (watch below) in which there’s nothing that visibly indicates Zimmerman’s head was bashed or his nose broken — no apparent swelling or blood on his face or clothing.
This appears to contradict Zimmerman’s story of being violently beaten by Martin as well as the initial police report which noted that Zimmerman was bleeding from the back of the head and nose and his lawyer’s story.
The surveillance video shows Zimmerman arriving in a police cruiser. As he exits the car, his hands are cuffed behind his back. Zimmerman is frisked and then led down a series of hallways, still cuffed.
Richard Kurtz of Roy Mizell and Kurtz Funeral Home in Fort Lauderdale who received Martin’s body has said that he did not see any evidence that Martin had been fighting anyone.
He told HLN’s Nancy Grace there appeared to be a gunshot wound in Martin’s upper chest area, but he received the body after the autopsy was completed so it was difficult to tell whether he had other injuries. He also could not determine the bullet’s entry or exit point (Martin was found lying on his front, according to police reports).
“As for his hands and knuckles, I didn’t see any evidence he had been fighting anybody,” Kurtz said.
Kurtz noted that he was not a forensics expert but said that he has handled the bodies of many homicide victims in his career.
He told MSNBC:
“I could not see evidence like he had been punching somebody as the news media say he was punching … It just did not add up to me.”
George Zimmerman’s father, Robert, has given an interview to a Florida Fox affiliate, and speaking about the President’s widely praised comments said he “never foresaw so much hate coming from the President.”
He said that Trayvon Martin threatened to kill his son so he had no choice but to kill Trayvon or risk being beaten to death.
Trayvon Martin’s phone records corroborate his girlfriend’s account that he was on the phone with her just moments before the shooting, yet Robert Zimmerman told the interviewer that she’s lying about talking to him.
Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s mother, has told the Washington Post what a Sanford detective told her happened February 26.
According to this detective, Trayvon walked up to Zimmerman’s vehicle and asked why he was following him. Zimmerman denied following the youth and rolled up the car window.
Minutes after Trayvon walked away, Zimmerman got out of his vehicle. Then came the second encounter, according to Tracy Martin’s recollection of the detective’s account. Trayvon Martin appeared from behind a building in Zimmerman’s gated community, approached him and demanded, “What’s your problem, homie?”
When Zimmerman replied that he didn’t have a problem, Martin said, “You do now.” The unarmed teenager hit Zimmerman, knocked him to the ground, pinned him down and told him to “shut the [expletive] up.”
During the beating, Zimmerman pulled his gun and fired one shot at close range into Martin’s chest. “You got me,” the teenager said, falling backward.
The supposed use of the line “What’s your problem, homie?” has been much mocked.
Despite the new evidence, those with law enforcement expertise have cautioned that it remains difficult to predict if Zimmerman could be successfully prosecuted — or prosecuted at all.
Ta-Nehisi Coates spoke with a former homicide prosecutor who told him:
The “self-defense” defense is one of the most difficult defenses for prosecutors to overcome, and the Florida statutes actually give immunity to individuals who believe that the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent what they believed was imminent death or great bodily harm. I know you’ve seen the actual statute (Fla. Stat. 776.013) but here is the relevant section
(3): A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. (emphasis mine).
Note, whether the use of force is reasonable rests in the mind of the accused, and the accused need not fear that death is imminent, only great bodily harm. This is a critical detail that almost all of MSNBC is overlooking.
What Zimmerman did was bullshit, and he should be held accountable. But under the events he allegedly described to the police, the prosecution is going to need some strong evidence that Zimmerman is lying, not about small details but about the essence of the fatal encounter, if they wish to charge him. That could come from forensic evidence or the 911 calls, but short of that, Zimmerman will be presumed innocent.
The New York Times has investigated the impact of the case on Skittles, which Martin was carrying and sales of which have skyrocketed. This has led to requests that the makers, Wrigley, give some of those profits to charity.
As divisions are so sharp in the case, the company has had to perform a high wire act. They released this statement:
“We are deeply saddened by the news of Trayvon Martin’s death and express our sincere condolences to his family and friends. We also respect their privacy and feel it inappropriate to get involved or comment further as we would never wish for our actions to be perceived as an attempt of commercial gain following this tragedy.”
Unsurprisingly, that settled little. Things have continued to keep getting worse and worse for both Wrigley and Iced Tea maker Arizona.
Apart from the threats from the New Black Panther Party — condemned by all including actual Black Panthers — Spike Lee has been in hot water for sending out a tweet supposedly pointing to the address of George Zimmerman. It was actually the address of a older couple. He’s now apologised.
“I Deeply Apologize To The McClain Family For Retweeting Their Address.It Was A Mistake.Please Leave The McClain’s In Peace.Justice In Court,” Lee tweeted.
And in a really disturbing development, Rasmussen has done a poll on whether Zimmerman is guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin.