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Why police tapes of George Zimmerman may be key to his defense (+video)

The tapes, released Wednesday, recount George Zimmerman's version of events the evening he shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. He said Trayvon initiated a fight – and who starts an attack is key under Florida's Stand Your Ground law.

George Zimmerman tells Sanford, Florida, police detectives what happened the night he shot Trayvon Martin.
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Newly released evidence in the Trayvon Martin murder trial shows the alleged killer, George Zimmerman, telling police that the unarmed teenager followed him, ambushed him, and said, while pummeling Mr. Zimmerman, “You’re going to die tonight.”

Zimmerman faces second-degree murder charges for shooting Trayvon in Sanford, Fla., in late February. Prosecutors say he “profiled” the 17-year-old boy, followed him against the advice of a 911 dispatcher, “confronted” Trayvon, and illegally shot him in an ensuing struggle.

The case set off a febrile national debate about racial profiling and gun laws when authorities initially did not charge Zimmerman, as Trayvon’s parents, civil rights leaders, and activists sought “Justice for Trayvon.”

Also on Wednesday, the Sanford police chief who oversaw the case, Bill Lee, was fired after local officials determined he had lost the trust of the city. Mr. Lee had defended his department’s decision to let Zimmerman go free, citing the state’s Stand Your Ground law and saying police had few reasons to disbelieve his claims of self-defense. 

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) subsequently appointed a special prosecutor to reexamine the case, and 44 days after Trayvon’s death, that prosecutor, Angela Corey, filed a second-degree murder charge against Zimmerman.

The foundation of the prosecution’s case is that Zimmerman willfully broke the law by instigating and prosecuting an action against a minor who was unarmed and doing nothing wrong.

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