Police have released accounts of the confrontation between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman on the night the unarmed 17-year-old was shot to death. The details differ profoundly from those put forth by his family’s attorney and place Martin as the aggressor rather than Zimmerman, who has claimed self-defense.
The Orlando Sentinel reported Monday that the story given by Zimmerman to Sanford, Fla., police was that Martin struck him, knocking him to the ground, then slammed his head into the sidewalk repeatedly. Police also say witness accounts back up what Zimmerman told them, which contradict earlier stories of Martin being stalked, then killed by the 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer.
According to Zimmerman, he was on his way to the grocery store when he saw Martin walking through the gated community, The Retreat at Twin Lakes. He called police and reported that he saw a suspicious person, a black male, who was acting strangely and thought he might be on drugs. Recordings of the conversation between Zimmerman and the dispatcher verify this, although it had not been initially released.
Zimmerman got out of his vehicle to follow Martin on foot, though a dispatcher told him that was not necessary. After that, police say it is unclear what exactly happened, but Zimmerman said he no longer saw Martin and was returning back to the vehicle when the teen approached him and they exchanged words. Martin, he said, then struck him, knocked him down and began banging his head on the ground.
At some point, Zimmerman shot Martin in the chest at close range.
Zimmerman’s attorney, Craig Sooner, told ABC News that Zimmerman had a broken nose and an injury to the back of his head. Witnesses, according to the Sentinel, say they saw Martin on top of Zimmerman, punching him and heard him crying for help. Others, who live near where the shooting took place and placed 911 calls, have said it was Martin who cried for help, and say Zimmerman was straddling him, hands pressed against his back.
Phone records obtained by Martin’s family lawyer Benjamin Crump suggest the teen was on his cell phone with his girlfriend when he told her he was being followed by Zimmerman. He told her he would walk faster, but not run. Then the phone went dead, according to Crump.
Police say when they arrived, they found Zimmerman with the injuries. He refused medical treatment, but sought it the next day.
The case continues to bring a nationwide outcry, with many demanding that Zimmerman be arrested and insisting that Sanford police were negligent in their duties. Chief Bill Lee, who has temporarily stepped down from his position, has said his department did not have evidence that the shooting was not in self defense.
Special Prosecutor Angela Corey is determining whether to arrest Zimmerman, drop the case or send it to a grand jury which is set to convene on April 10.