George Zimmerman’s Police Report

A version of the 911 tape that we all heard over and over again of George Zimmerman calling the cops to report suspicious behavior by 17-year-old Trayvon Martin just before fatally shooting the boy was like something out of the Nixon White House — edited. Sure, we all heard it with our own ears, but it is what we didn’t hear that’s key to understanding the confrontation between the neighborhood watchman and the Skittles-toting youngster.

Back on March 27, a full month after the shooting, NBC’s Today Show aired Zimmerman’s call to the police, featuring these words: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good … he looks black.” The recording then went viral as did the presumption of racism in Zimmerman’s overreaction. The juxtaposition of Martin looking suspicious and looking black was enough to accelerate a firestorm of anger and protest.
Apparently, hearing is not exactly believing, or rather shouldn’t be. The folks at the the Today Show had shortened the Zimmerman tape for broadcast (as if the show didn’t have lots of time to devote to the story).

On March 17 NBC anchor Ron Allen ran a segment on the Today show that included an edited version of Zimmerman’s conversation just prior to the shooting of Martin:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good.… He looks black.

Dispatcher: Did you see what he was wearing?

Zimmerman: Yeah, a dark hoodie.

On Thursday Sean Hannity interviewed Brent Bozell from the Media Research Center on his Fox News Media Mash and played the edited and the original unedited versions of the conversation. Here is the unedited version:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

And so, Zimmerman’s description of Martin as looking black came only in response to a specific question about race/ethnicity.

When he was shot, Trayvon Martin was not the baby-faced boy in the photo that has been on front pages across the country. And George Zimmerman wasn’t the beefy-looking figure in the widely published mugshot.  The photo of Martin was taken when he was perhaps 13 or 14 years old but Martin was 17 when he was shot. And Zimmerman’s mug shot, taken six years ago following a charge of assault which was later thrown out, doesn’t reflect the man who, at age 28, is at least 3 and as much as 6 inches shorter than Martin. Both photos are a few years old and [are] no longer entirely accurate. Yet they may have helped shape initial public perception of the deadly shooting.

NBC revealed its blunder. “During our investigation it became evident that there was an error made in the production process that we deeply regret,” said the network said in a prepared statement. “We will be taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future and apologize to our viewers.” It surely helps that NBC has apologized for altering the tape. This should alter how we all view the incident and perhaps we should collectively apologize for prejudging, if not misjudging, the circumstances surrounding divisive episode.

The video, which shows George Zimmerman being led out of a police car shortly after the shooting in Sanford, Florida, was broadcast by ABC News last week. The clip was then cleared up significantly for the network by Forensic Protection, Inc, and shown on Good Morning America today. The enhancements show what appear to be marks or welts on the back of Zimmerman’s head. The video reignited an already intense demand for Zimmerman’s arrest because it didn’t appear to show any of the injuries Zimmerman’s lawyer said his client suffered in a scuffle with Trayvon.

Zimmerman’s lawyer Craig Sonner, has said that his client had been knocked down by Trayvon and suffered a broken nose as the 17-year-old struck him and slammed his head on the pavement. Zimmerman said Martin punched him in the nose and slammed his head against the ground.
Zimmerman’s father Robert Zimmerman echoed those remarks on Wednesday night, telling WOFL-TV his son was being beaten by Trayvon, and the teen threatened him during the scuffle.
He told the network: ‘Trayvon Martin said something to the effect of “you’re going to die now or you’re going to die tonight,” something to that effect’.

He added: ‘[Martin] continued to beat George and at some point, George pulled his pistol and did what he did’. Zimmerman told cops he acted in self-defence, and that he had yelled for help before firing the gun. Zimmerman then shot the teen ‘in self defence’.

Police said Zimmerman was bleeding from his nose and the back of his head. At the scene of the incident, according to a three-page preliminary police report, Zimmerman was given “first aid” by Sanford Fire Department paramedics. It is unclear what that treatment consisted of, and how much time elapsed between the paramedics’ intervention and Zimmerman’s arrival at the Sanford Police Department.

Police Incident Report:

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