Investigator: Zimmerman Missed Opportunities To Defuse Situation
(CNN) — George Zimmerman failed to identify himself twice during a confrontation with Trayvon Martin and missed opportunities to defuse the situation that led to the death of the teen, a detective says in a newly released report.
Zimmerman, who served as a neighborhood watch volunteer, is charged with second-degree murder in the February 26 shooting death of Martin, 17, in Sanford, Florida.
The revelation is part of information Florida prosecutors released Tuesday. It includes a previously undisclosed portion of a video of Zimmerman showing injuries he said he suffered in the altercation with Martin.
Zimmerman, 28, told police he shot the teenager in February in self-defense and has pleaded not guilty. But Martin’s family and civil rights activists said Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, racially profiled Martin and ignored a 911 dispatcher’s advice not to follow him.
Among the documents released was a report from an officer who conducted computerized voice stress analysis tests on Zimmerman.
“Mr. Zimmerman was subjected to two exams, and was found to be classified as No Deception Indicated,” the report said.
Also released Tuesday was an unredacted capias request, a request that someone be taken into custody, prepared by the lead police investigator in the case, Christopher Serino.
“Investigative findings show that (Zimmerman) had at least two opportunities to speak with (Martin) in order to defuse the circumstances surrounding their encounter,” Serino wrote in the report. “On at least two occasions (Zimmerman) failed to identify himself as a concerned resident or a neighborhood watch volunteer.”
The detective also said Zimmerman’s actions “are inconsistent with those of a person who has stated he was in fear of another subject.”
In the same report, Serino wrote that Zimmerman’s injuries were “marginally consistent with a life-threatening violent episode as described by him.”
Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s defense attorney, said it will be up to a judge and jury to interpret what Serino’s report means to the case.
“I don’t want to get into a battle with investigator Serino’s report considering what he believed after it seems he made the decision that charges should be filed,” O’Mara said Tuesday.
“His suggestion that it’s marginally consistent, again, is up for review. Those people will have to look at it, whether it’d be Judge (Kenneth) Lester in a motion hearing where the jury will also make that determination, whether or not those injuries give rise to a reasonable belief in George’s mind that he was a victim of great bodily injury or potential death.”
Martin’s family attorney, Benjamin Crump, said he agrees with the detective’s assertion.
“The lead detective made the determination at least on two different occasions Zimmerman had opportunity to defuse the situation. When he got out the car, he could have at least said, ‘I’m a neighborhood watch volunteer’ to defuse the situation and it’s likely Trayvon Martin would be living today,” Crump said.
Also released Tuesday was a previously undisclosed portion of a video re-enactment of the incident that police taped a day after the shooting.
In the video, Zimmerman, bandages on his head, talks about how his wife is treating his injuries.
“I have a broken nose. She says I could use stitches, but she’d rather not put them in — as long as I didn’t mess with my head. My skin is already healing nicely,” Zimmerman said.
Also Tuesday, the Sanford Police Department announced that Serino had “voluntarily” asked to be moved from a detective to a patrol officer.
Sanford Sgt. David Morgenstern said the change is not a demotion and he said he did not know why Serino requested the move.
Crump said the move was clearly a demotion.
“The lead detective today got demoted and that’s one of those things we have to question. He told what he thought was the truth,” Crump said.
Zimmerman had been released on bond after his arrest. But he was ordered back to jail this month after a Florida judge revoked his bail, citing about $150,000 in donations in an account controlled by Zimmerman that he had not disclosed at the April 20 bond hearing.
O’Mara is asking Lester, a Seminole County Circuit Court judge, to set a bond similar to the $150,000 bond initially granted Zimmerman, arguing that he poses no danger to the community, is not a flight risk, and “cooperated fully” with police before his arrest.
A bond hearing is set for Friday.
CNN’s Vivian Kuo contributed to this report.
By Lateef Mungin
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