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Ok, folks this is about to get screwier . . .
Police department leaks to the media, vigilante gunmen ignoring 911 operators, tape recordings of unintelligable noise being enhanced and interpreted according to whomever is listening, irrelevant school discipline information (which is supposed to be confidential) drifting around, conflicting evidence from eye witnesses, attorneys posturing, various groups "demanding" their version of "justice", grieving victim's mother copyrighting her son's name, vigilante groups getting totally out of hand, full-blown media circus, and a police department that can't seem to do anything right.
Somebody needs to get a handle on this case/investigation/media and interest group pigfest - this is the biggest cluster-f*ck I've ever seen, including the O.J. Simpson trial!
By NBC News, msnbc.com staff and news services
Updated at 3:40 p.m. ET: The man who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, setting off a nationwide outpouring of anger, told police that Martin knocked him down with a single punch and slammed his head into the sidewalk several times — an account that police said witnesses have corroborated, according to The Orlando Sentinel.
George Zimmerman, 28, has gone into hiding from the public, and his account of what happened one month ago hadn't previously emerged as demands for his arrest grew louder.
The Orlando Sentinel reported Monday that police said Zimmerman has described and re-enacted the events this way:
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, was walking back to his SUV when Martin approached him from behind. The two exchanged words, and Martin decked him with a punch to the nose and began beating him. Zimmerman told police he shot Martin in self-defense.
Witnesses said they heard someone cry out in distress, some of them telling NBC News and other news organizations that it was Martin. But police told the Sentinel their evidence indicated it was Zimmerman.
One witness told police he saw Martin pounding Zimmerman on the ground. This witness was certain it was Zimmerman who was crying for help, the Sentinel reported.
When police arrived less than two minutes later, Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose, and he had a swollen lip and bloody lacerations to the back of his head, the newspaper reported. Police said Zimmerman wasn't badly injured and didn’t seek treatment until the next day.
In a statement, the Sanford Police Department said the Sentinel's report was "consistent with the information provided to the State Attorney's office by the police department." It said it hadn't authorized the disclosure.
Citing a police source, ABC News reported separately Monday that a 13-year-old witness told police he saw a man fitting Zimmerman's description lying on the grass moaning and crying for help seconds before he heard the gunshot.
Jackie Barnard, a spokeswoman for the 4th Circuit state's attorney's office, told NBC News that investigators and prosecutors returned to Sanford to continue their casework Monday and will soon meet with federal officials.
Barnard said she hadn't seen the Sentinel story but would share it with Corey and that she might have a comment later in the day.
Toxicology tests on Martin's body were still pending, but a spokesman for his family confirmed to NBC News that Martin was suspended for 10 days from Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School in Miami for possession of an empty marijuana baggie.
Ben Crump, an attorney for Martin's family, said at a news conference that Sanford police were "attempting to demonize and blame the victim by releasing bits and pieces of an ongoing investigation to build Zimmerman's claim up."
"Very clearly, whatever Trayvon Martin was suspended for had absolutely no bearing on what happened on the night of February 26," he said, adding that Martin "wasn't suspended for anything violent or criminal."
"If he and his friends experimented with marijuana, it's still completely irrelevant," Crump said.
Zimmerman's attorney, Craig Sonner, has suggested that he will invoke Florida's "stand-your-ground" law, which provides significant leeway for people to use deadly force if they feel their lives are in danger. Angela Corey, the special prosecutor reviewing the case, said that would make getting a conviction "more difficult than a normal criminal case."
"The stand-your-ground law is one portion of justifiable use of deadly force," prosecutor Angela Corey told ABC News. "And what that means is that the state must go forward and be able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. ... So it makes the case in general more difficult than a normal criminal case."
Corey added that it's also not clear whether prosecuting the death as a hate crime would lead to a conviction. Martin was black; Zimmerman's father is white and his mother is Hispanic.
"It would depend on which charge, if any, we're able to file," said Corey, whom Gov. Rick Scott appointed to review the case. "Before we would be able to determine, one, if this is a hate crime, and two, whether or not that would enhance the crime."
Sonner, Zimmerman's attorney, said Monday on NBC's TODAY show that "George Zimmerman is absolutely not a racist." Joe Oliver, a friend of Zimmerman's, described him on the show as being "dedicated," not obsessed, with his duties as neighborhood watch captain.
"I'm a black male, and all that I know is that George has never given me any reason whatsoever to believe he has anything against people of color," Oliver said Sunday.
Sonner and Oliver said they had decided to talk to the news media because of what they believe is a one-sided portrayal of what happened.
Also Sunday, "Dateline NBC" aired an interview with a woman who said she and her roommate heard and saw the last moments of Martin's life.
Mary Cutcher said they heard the voice of what sounded like a young person in distress just before hearing a gunshot.
"It sounded young," she said. "It didn't sound like a grown man is my point."
She added that as they looked out from their apartment they saw Zimmerman "straddling the body, basically, a foot on both sides of Trayvon’s body and his hands pressed on his back."
Zimmerman then told them to call the police, Cutcher said. "Zimmerman never turned him over or tried to help him or CPR or anything."
Meanwhile, the Smoking Gun, a website that tracks criminal cases and document filings, reported Monday afternoon that Martin's mother, Sabrina Fulton, filed two applications last week for trademarks on her late son's name.
Fulton is seeking marks for the phrases "I Am Trayvon" and "Justice for Trayvon," according to filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In both instances, Fulton is seeking the trademarks for use on "Digital materials, namely, CDs and DVDs featuring Trayvon Martin," and other products.
Following is the full text of the statement Monday confirming The Orlando Sentinel's report by the Sanford, Fla., Police Department:
In response to the recent article in the Orlando Sentinel, the information was not provided to the media through an authorized source at the Sanford Police Department, but possibly by a leak from within the department. The information in the article is consistent with the information provided to the State Attorney's office by the police department.
"We do not condone these unauthorized leaks of information," said City Manager, Norton Bonaparte, Jr. "Acting Chief Scott will be doing an internal investigation within the Sanford Police Department as this type of action compromises the integrity of the law enforcement agency which has pledged to uphold the law".
Mr. Bonaparte stated that disciplinary action including possible termination will be taken against anyone found to have leaked the information.
seems to me that things only get this complicated when so-called important people have something major to hide.
The investigation has been poorly handled up to this point, which has aggravated individuals and groups jumping to conclusions, assuming or playing loose with the facts, and/or using a tragic event for their own agenda.
Crudely put, it's time to cut the bullsh*t.
Regardless of who (if anybody) is hiding what (if anything) this investigation needs to be handled firmly, properly, and in the interest of justice starting immediately until the issues are resolved in a court of law - not the court of public opinion.
Anybody impeding the investigation needs to be charged with obstruction of justice.
The question is, who is competent, principled, and determined enough to get the job done?
see, as the interrogators and investigators often say: SJDLR.
AS I said before "I didn't think was a race issue".
There is and still is a reason the shooter hasn't been arrested.
But we may never know even with the local Forida Police.
This has nothing to do with this case, but look how a different poilce department in Orlando, Florida botched the Casey Anthony case.
Something Just Dosen't Look Right.
Let's be real
If Trayvo Martin had a cell phone why was he talking to his girlfriend?
Why didn't Trayvon Martin call 911 himself?
Oh Trayvon Martin could never do anything like attack somebody...that wasn't his nature........people say the same thing when a neighbor kills his family
I'm watching Al Sharpton Politics Nation right now to see his take & just how he reports it. I mean I'll soak it all in tonight. 5:00 PM DST
I am a paralegal by training and as such, I refuse to jump to conclusions. The public is not privy to all the evidence. It may turn out that what we don't know is far more material than what we think we do know.
I once made a judgment call about a crime that was in the news for years and I eventually had to admit that I was dead wrong in my self-righteous condemnation of someone who was probably innocent. I felt so ashamed of myself that I made a vow to never do it again.
It could very well be a simple case of raging incompetence and CYOB.
On Politics Nation it was a 25 minute segment on Trayvon Matrin.
I'll give Al Sharpton a "B" on his coverage.
I also sent him an e-mail asking him to come to Gary, Indiana and report on the murders that happen every week. (I was polite in my request.)
Jesse Jackson came on & said:
if it's a black on black thing it's one thing.
If it's a white on black thing It's a hate crime.
"C-" Mr. Jackson
We have Stand Your Ground in Indiana.
Hey I've always been a peace, love, dove person.
Here's a breif example of what happened to me in Ft. Lauderdale in 2008.
Landed in Miami rented a Mustang covertible & drove to Ft. Lauderdale. Stopped into a convience store when I came out 2 cubans & 2 putero ricians were hasstling my girlfriend.I asked what's going on.
Their reply "waht you gonna do about it *********
I said "Do I look like a ***** to you"
Then two black dudes showed up and said we's ******** and told us to give them all our money. I opened the trunk took out a tire iron and wacked a couple of the in the head, they kinda freaked.
I hurried up got into the car and drove away.
They chased me on foot so I ran over 2 of them then they scattered. Yeah I was trembling & almost dropped a load in my pants. I called 911. When the police got there I couldn't give a complete description of what they were wearing how old they were or what they were driving.
I did not know if Stand your ground applied to tourists or not, I stood my ground and thought no punks are getting my money.
The police let me go, and said they would contact me on my cell.
I said I'll be in Key West for a week.
Never heard from then again.
what is cyob?
Mr. Zimmerman might want to see if attorney Billy Flynn is available and learn the words to, "He Went for the Gun".
Dale, You are a crazy hero!
CYOB = cover your own butt.
no I'm not a hero, I just was protecting my self & girlfriend. As you said CYOB.
Even so, Dale, it takes guts to stand up to bullies, especially when you are outnumbered. I admire you for it.
The truth of the matter is this: We weren't there. Only two people know exactly what happened. And one of them is dead. We will never know if it was "racism 101", or, a very sad ending to a one-sided fight, where a kid brought a bag of skittles to a gunfight. This in no way exonerates Zimmerman, who as far as I know must be wrong in carrying a gun on a neighborhood watch. I walked one in west Long Beach, CA in the '90's. The policeman who "trained" us told us NEVER interfere or follow, and the biggie, NEVER ARM YOURSELF!! Nothing good comes of it! Had I done what Zimmerman did back then, I'd be typing this from San Quentin!
I admit it. I'm part of a vast left-wing conspiracy with a burning agenda to persecute George Zimmerman and accuse him wrongfully of a hate crime against Trayvon Martin. Fueled by our semi-sinister ties with the New Black Panther Party, if there's a racial conclusion to jump to, we'll be sure to jump to it. No assumption about Zimmerman's guilt is too great or too unreasonable for us to make. We play so fast and so loose with the facts, we recently qualified for our own Olympic team! NOT. Heh. Actually, I think many of us who've been highly suspicious of Zimmerman, black or white, have simply had honest ongoing reactions to news as it's been reported. Period. I for one am not out to get this guy, anyway. But it's been said over and over that young Martin was followed by Z., and we've heard the actual 911 tape where Z. clearly admits he's following M., and is told he shouldn't continue. We know M. ended up shot to death, claimed by Z. to be self-defense. All this does look bad for Z. on the face of it. Suddenly now we're being told that Z. gave up the chase, was returning to his car, and M. came up from behind and assaulted him. Why is this version just now coming out? What was so top-secret about it before? What a tangle. Curiouser and curiouser, indeed!
Hi Laurie. The bottom line is that another young black male is dead. Guns, questionable circumstances, questionable responses by police and powers that be. It is all so tragic and unnecessary. The Black community is tired of it. And so are those of us who have empathy for their sorrows. Will it ever end? Not in my lifetime, sadly.
Would not the death of a young man of any race amidst suspicious circumstances be just as tragic? There is no way we are going to end racial discrimination as long as we continue to assume race is the motive for crimes or other actions.
Crime is crime and there are laws to punish those who commit them. Let's quit wasting time trying to assume motive, creating a greater social issue, and trying suspects in the court of public opinion. Investigate, arrest, try, and punish the criminal, the way our legal system is supposed to work.
Unfortunately, many think exactly like Jesse Jackson - who ought to know better - assuming any crime committed by anybody other than a black person victimizing a black person is a hate crime. Apparently, faulty logic using little or no evidence is the order of the day.
Right now, we don't know what the h*ll happened. As screwed-up as this investigation is - and as crazy as the circus-like atmosphere surrounding this crime is - we may never know.
One final note - isn't persuing a "suspicious" person, when emrgency personnel tells you not to, a crime?
By the way, any person who commits any hate crime is despicable in my book and, if there is proof warranting conviction of hate crimes, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
I was referring specificially to the sad statistics of violent death among young black males in the United States.
I agree with you on all points. I think it is fatuous to assume that a crime involving members of different racial or cultural groups is racist or bigoted.
The way I see it, a jerk or a crook or an incompetent is simply that... regardless of the color of his/her skin.
BTW -- I am a passionate advocate for the rights of white males to be treated with the same respect that minorities and women want for themselves. I have an ex-husband and 2 sons who don't deserve to be painted with a black brush and I assume that the majority of white males are equally innocent of the monstrous crimes and behaviors attributed to this much-maligned segment of our population.
I would agree with everything you said except,
I don't think persuing a person is a crime.
You have to rely on your judgment.
Your suspicion of a threat could be confirmed with one incident.
It could take a series of incidents. In the long run, it comes down to:
I still say there's a difference between "assuming" and having a strong suspicion based on news reports as a working theory until hearing otherwise. While we're not assuming things, let's not assume that all black folks, or even all black folks at Trayvon rallies, or all any folks at them, have a one-dimensional blaming view of Zimmerman. I've heard no few interviewed who *are* making assumptions about guilt, but also some who actually aren't, and attend a rally "in case", because it's an interesting event, because there are issues being discussed that they care about, etc. I believe in due process of law (except when the mood is on me to overthrow governments worldwide and declare myself Supreme Queen of Stuff, that is); however, I'm not at all comfortable coming down too hard on people whose view of this case is heavily colored by appearances *because of long and painful experience that IS based on race*. Let them talk out their feelings and frustrations in public, say I. They're entitled to free speech, and it hasn't really been all that many years since many of them wouldn't have been entitled to it in many states, for shame. Let them go through what they're going through. If they're wrong and have to change their views, let them go through that too. It ain't gonna kill us. But the New Black Panther Party calling for reverse vigilante action, with a Wanted poster on Zimmerman and reward out, *is* dangerous in this instance, I think. I heard a scary interview on CNN with a member or associate last eve who was not only assuming Zimmerman's guilt, but was woefully ignorant of several key points of law. This was a potential "citizen's arrest" I for one don't like to have to contemplate. Finally, I heard an interview today with Joe Oliver, former CNN correspondant, black man, and apparently a friend of George Zimmerman, that does give me very serious pause. He says he doesn't know Z.'s whereabouts, but has spoken with him, and Z. is very remorseful, cried for days after the shooting, and is being treated for PTSD. I don't know what to think now, and I'm not assuming anything.
Ordinarily I would agree, but I know of incidents of individuals not following the directions of emergency personnel - including 911 operators - who were charged and convicted of crimes ranging from interfering emergency response to interfering with a peace officer, to obstruction of justice.
However, these were California cases and I'm no lawyer. I have no ideas what Florida law is.
Hey Laurie, I agree with you that people should be free to express their thoughts and feelings. I just hope that the voices of reason prevail in the end over the voices of emotion.
Laurie we're talking semantics here. There are a lot of people - not all - making a lot of statements making a lot of assumptions about this case. It may be out of frustration or suspicion, and it may be from experiences or a history of discrimination, but assumptions are being made.
Jesse Jackson - "If it's black on black, that's one thing. If it's white on black, it's a hate crime."
Al Shapton -"Arrest Zimmerman now!"
Tracy Martin - "The temporary step down of Bill Lee is nothing. We want an arrest. We want a conviction, and we want him charged for the murder of our son."
The New Black Panthers announcing a bounty on Zimmerman.
All show assumptions about evidence and guilt.
Having said that, the investigation has shown no signs of doing anything right, causing people to become frustrated with thejustice system.
Chances are some people are too angry and frustrated to let it happen, but we need to let the justice system do its job. Perhaps more importantly, those investigating the killing need to get off their collective @rses and DO their jobs.
I've never disagreed that there are people making assumptions about Zimmerman, dear Don! I've repeatedly acknowledged that they exist. You yourself have made at least one about him by referring to him in a recent post as a "clown". Maybe he's not one, and maybe he was really defending himself, just as maybe he's not a racist. I'm just defending those of us who might seem to be making assumptions who actually aren't, and some who are because I feel for why they might be. I'm pursuing some finer points to be thought-provoking. Considering nuances and complexities and the very real and pertinent realities they represent isn't merely hashing out semantics. There's more than one way to look at and feel about some of these points of discussion, that's all.