A witness claims to have seen Trayvon Martin straddling and pummeling George Zimmerman “MMA style” shortly before Zimmerman shot the teen in February, according to police reports obtained by The Smoking Gun. Other accounts claim that Zimmerman was the one straddling Martin.
This conflict is one of several found in the recently-released witness reports.
According to the redacted report obtained by TSG, an officer at the scene interviewed a witness who claims to have seen “a black male, wearing a dark-colored ‘hoodie’ on top of a white or Hispanic male who was yelling for help. He elaborated by stating the black male was mounted on the white or Hispanic male and throwing punches ‘MMA (mixed martial arts) style.’” The reports goes on to say the witness was in his living room about 30 feet away when he first heard the commotion but did not know how the confrontation began.
The witness statement reads:
I heard yelling out back in grass area of home but not sure at first but after second ‘help’ yell I opened blinds, and saw clothing but everything dark outside. I opened door and saw a guy on the ground getting hit by another man on top of him in a strattle [sic] position hitting a guy in a red sweatshirt or on the bottom getting hit was yelling help (guy getting hit on ground was wearing red calling out help). I said I was calling the cops and ran upstairs then heard a gunshot. When I got upstairs I saw the guy on top who was hitting the guy in red laid out on the grass as if he had been shot. I also saw the guy in red standing near end of sidewalk where a guy with flashlight probably neighbor was talking to him asking what happened.
This witness account supports claims by Zimmerman’s attorneys that he had been punched by Martin before the shooting occurred. Zimmerman claims he was walking back to his truck when the teen attacked him. Autopsy results also showed that Martin had injuries to his knuckles at the time of his death.
The account is among a slew of evidence recently released by the Sanford Police Department, which includes statements from over two dozen witnesses including leaders of the homeowners association and other residents at the Retreat at Twin Lakes townhouse development, according to the Miami Herald.
Not all of the statements were favorable of Zimmerman and many are contradictory. While the witness above claims to have seen Martin being the aggressor, other witnesses claim that “the man with the red shirt” was on top during the fight. Martin’s shirt was black. Some witnesses claim to have heard two shots, although the autopsy shows that only one shot was fired. And although police are in agreement with the statement above that it was Zimmerman’s voice crying for help on the 911 tapes, a few witness accounts claim that it was actually Martin’s voice.
One witness said “I feel in my heart … I honestly do believe … that he intended for this kid to die,” the Herald reports.
As it concerns Zimmerman’s character, one of Zimmerman’s coworkers alleges that Zimmerman taunted him at work with racial comments about his Middle Eastern heritage. He also says Zimmerman was fired from the job in 2008 for filing too many complaints. A female coworker called police and said Zimmerman was confrontational and “does not like black people.” Zimmerman’s family has fervently denied that he is racist.
Of all the evidence released, the Herald quotes Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump as saying the most important piece “is the detective saying that if George Zimmerman would have just stayed in his car, none of this would have happened.”
Crump is referring to a statement made March 13 by lead investigator Chris Serino. Serino is reported to have said:
The encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin was ultimately avoidable by Zimmerman, if Zimmerman had remained in his vehicle and awaited the arrival of law enforcement or conversely if he had identified himself to Martin as a concerned citizen and initiated dialog (sic) in an effort to dispel each party’s concern. There is no indication that Trayvon Martin was involved in any criminal activity at the time of the encounter.
Serino concluded that there was probable cause for manslaughter charges.
“If Zimmerman had just stood down, then he wouldn’t have to plead protection under the Stand Your Ground law,” Crump also said.
Neither Zimmerman’s three statements to police nor his reenactment of the events leading to the shooting have been released, as Florida law dictates that confessions are not public record. Cell phone records from Zimmerman, Martin and Martin’s girlfriend, with whom he was chatting before the deadly confrontation, have also been kept from the public.
Other information gleaned from the evidence includes:
- Trayvon, 5-foot-11 and 158 pounds, tested positive for trace levels of marijuana.
- When Trayvon’s father first listened to the 911 police tapes, he told detectives that it wasn’t his son’s voice crying for help. This is a critical aspect of the case, because the state attorney’s investigators cited Trayvon’s mother’s testimony that it was her son’s voice as part of the probable cause affidavit in support of the charge against Zimmerman. Zimmerman’s father said it was his son crying, but an FBI analyst said there was no way to tell for sure.
- The autopsy report showed a shot fired from “intermediate range” pierced Trayvon’s heart. He also had a small cut on one of his fingers.
- Pictures showed Zimmerman’s nose was swollen and bloody and he had two cuts on the back of his head. A paramedic thought he needed stitches, and a doctor who saw him the next day said his nose was fractured. Although he complained of back pain and feeling lightheaded, Zimmerman declined to go to a hospital. Zimmerman, the records show, takes medication for ulcers and anxiety.
Zimmerman has claimed self-defense since the shooting occurred on February 26. He is charged with second-degree murder and is currently free on $150,000 bail and at an undisclosed location.
Video of Martin at a local convenience store shortly before being killed was also among the evidence. It can be viewed below.
More on the Trayvon Martin case and related stories can be read here.