How Sanford Police's Conduct Aided George Zimmerman's Eventual "Acquittal"
Zimmerman:Columnist says he was beneficiary of pre-trial questionable policing
[Speaking Truth To Power]
Part Two of a Series Revisiting Trayvon Martin's Killing and George Zimmerman's Trial
At the end of the first part of this series we said we would focus on the appointment of Special Prosecutor Angela Corey and the eventual arrest of George Zimmerman.
However, we’ve decided that would be premature given the myriad problems we’ve discovered with the investigation—if, you can call it that—by Sanford Police. Therefore, this week we will explore some aspects of the “investigation” of the Sanford Police.
Our main question here is: was the Sanford Police investigation just inept, or, even worse was it botched by bias too?
Last week, we talked about some inconsistencies in George Zimmerman’s story regarding the events of the night of February 26, 2012, in Sanford Florida, when he killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
For example, Mr. Zimmerman, at one point told investigators he didn’t follow Trayvon and that the screaming voice on the 911 tape “doesn't even sound like me.” On both of these important points he changed his story. We will now look at other oddities as they relate to the “investigation” done by Sanford Police.
As we all know, on the night George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, he wasn’t arrested. The stated reason was there wasn’t enough evidence to refute Zimmerman’s self-defense claims.
Some have correctly stated the Stand Your Ground law wasn’t invoked by George Zimmerman. However, the Stand Your Ground law—via the statute number—was referenced by Sanford Police officials as to why they didn’t arrest Mr. Zimmerman.
Moreover, any self-defense claim in Florida in such a case is inextricably linked to Stand Your Ground. As for the assertion by Sanford Police and State Attorney Norm Wolfinger that there wasn’t evidence to rebut Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense, we intend to challenge that finding.
In analyzing the “investigation” of Sanford Police we find troubling things that point to ineptitude and worse. We maintain the Sanford Police’s failure to do basic things in the investigation of Trayvon Martin’s killing jeopardized this case from the very beginning. Incompetence may be the main culprit here—but bias seems to have played a part as well.
Sanford Police would have us believe they did a thorough investigation.
First of all, regardless of self-defense claims, how could they release Zimmerman who just killed a person before they inspected his rap sheet, which includes a domestic violence restraining order against him by his former fiancé and his assault against a law enforcement officer?
And why didn’t they test him for drugs, especially, since we know he uses prescription drugs—and has issues with alcohol, which was a factor in his arrest for assaulting a law enforcement officer? But how could they know of his violent penchant and alcohol issue when they released him before bothering to even study his rap sheet?
We think Mr. Zimmerman used police psychology on Sanford Police to obtain their trust. As a criminal justice major—one that took and got an A in a Stand Your Ground college course—Zimmerman surely understands the thinking of those in a fraternity he intended to join. In his written statement, taken by Officer Doris Singleton, Zimmerman repeatedly characterized Trayvon as the “suspect.”
Wasn’t this a tactic to create bias in the minds of law enforcement?
Then there are questions regarding the police canvass. In testimony, lead Investigator Chris Serino insinuated the canvassing to get information from residents of the development was extensive. However, we conclude this canvass was poor at best. Ponder this question: if Sanford Police did a proper canvass why didn’t they happen to knock on the door where Trayvon’s father lived?
One witness—who made the infamous tear-jerking 911 call that night—said "The lead investigator said to me kindly, 'Well, if it makes you feel any better, the person that was yelling for help is alive."
If investigators are making up their mind that Zimmerman was the one screaming, then should we trust that they really analyzed the tape? As we continue in our series, we will further explore the curious contradictions of Inspector Serino and Officer Singleton.
We know on the night of the killing Sanford Police were unable, or unwilling, to identify Trayvon. In fact, they only connected the dots to his identity after Trayvon’s father, Tracy Martin, filed a missing person’s report the next day on February 27, 2012. Trayvon was not identified as the victim of this killing until some 13 hours after his death.
Reportedly, the Retreat at Twin Lakes has 260 units. Did Sanford Police think this was too many doors to knock on? If Sanford Police had taken the proper time to knock on all those doors they would’ve eventually reached Trayvon’s father—and another crucial obstacle could’ve been addressed earlier: getting access to Trayvon’s cellphone.
Another failed aspect of the Sanford Police’s handling of this case was examining Trayvon’s cellphone to retrace his communications during the final moments of his life. We know police were unable to unlock Trayvon’s phone, especially, since they hadn’t identified him. It took the police several days to access the phone—and we’re extremely skeptical of how extensively they studied the phone.
For example, it has been established Trayvon was talking to his friend Rachel Janteel pretty much right up until the deadly altercation commenced. Did police examine the timeline between the 911 call Zimmerman made and Trayvon’s call?
Did police inspect Trayvon’s phone communications to seek if he was talking to Ms. Janteel in those moments after Zimmerman ended the call with the emergency dispatcher—especially, when he claimed Trayvon was running away?
Then there’s the issue of Mr. Zimmerman’s truck, which is where he called 911 from—and which is where he claimed he was returning to when the altercation erupted. But police failed to secure the truck as part of the crime scene. Reportedly, Mr. Zimmerman’s wife (who has recently filed for a divorce) moved the truck from where it was parked. How could police miss the importance of the truck?
Securing a crime scene is essential in maintaining and preserving the evidence in any crime. Unfortunately, besides failing to secure Zimmerman’s truck we believe police also did a poor job of securing the entire crime scene. From what we can tell, there seems to have been little done to cover, or, protect areas where important blood and footprint evidence may have been, from rain and the elements.
Throughout the case, Mr. Zimmerman says he was attacked and punched repeatedly. The evidence doesn’t bear that primary accusation out. Trayvon’s autopsy, done by Dr. Shiping Bao, found that beside the fatal gunshot wound there were only two small abrasions “on his left hand” on his entire body. The autopsy found no swelling, bruises—or blood—on Trayvon’s hands as should be expected if Trayvon punched Zimmerman repeatedly.
How does one explain the absence of bruises and blood on Trayvon’s hand if he punched Zimmerman repeatedly? Did Trayvon punch Zimmerman with his left hand only—with only two small abrasions to show for it? Did Trayvon clean his hands at some point during, or, after the attack?
Isn’t Zimmerman obviously lying about this important point? The fact is most of the witnesses maintain the struggle was more of a wrestling, or, “tussling” altercation.
On one of his police interviews, Mr. Zimmerman claimed Trayvon was “circling my car” during the time he was talking with the 911 dispatcher. This is clearly another lie. It’s true that at one point he says Trayvon is coming to “check me out,” but, on the tape it's clear Trayvon never got that close. For, at no time did he tell the dispatcher that Trayvon was “circling my car.”
But we found no instance where police questioned him about this major inconsistency.
Much has been made about who was on top of whom during this deadly struggle. In a fight, it’s surely not unusual that both parties may have been on top of the other at different times. But another crucial detail that hasn’t been explored is Zimmerman’s statement to police that after he shot Trayvon he “grabbed his hand when I was on top of him and spread his hands away from his body…and I was on top of him.”
Why would Zimmerman do this?
Did this action also hasten Trayvon's death, especially, since we know he bled to death? And what position was Trayvon in when Zimmerman was on top of him? Was Trayvon on his back, or, on his stomach? But investigators, for whatever the reason, never bothered to grill Zimmerman on this curious action.
Sanford Police tell us they had little evidence to contradict Mr. Zimmerman’s account. We have to wonder how hard they tried.
Investigators said they only found “minor differences” in Mr. Zimmerman’s story. But we find many things that tell us something different.
The inconsistencies and peculiarities in Mr. Zimmerman’s tall tales—along with his violent rap sheet—should’ve been enough to arrest him on the night he killed Trayvon.
Instead by failing to arrest him Sanford Police initiated the perception of Zimmerman's non-guilt in the court of public opinion.
Next time we’ll examine other inconsistencies and look at the decision to appoint Special Prosecutor Angela Corey.
Editor's Note: Shortly after posting of this column today Police in Florida announced that Zimmerman had been arrested for allegedly threatening his wife and father in law with a gun.
Sponsorship Request For In-depth Coverage Of The George Zimmerman Case And Other Stories:
In response, to request from readers like you, The Black Star News decided to do this series by probing the case of the killing of Trayvon Martin and the prosecution of George Zimmerman. We believe doing so is a vital service to the community—something we’re uniquely qualified to do. We can’t expect the corporate media to tell our stories properly.
Currently, American Journalism is in a serious state of crisis. Major media are continually being monopolized by the big business mergers of corporate American elites. This situation doesn’t bode well for advancing the information interests of the common people. As the saying goes “information is power.” At Black Star News, our primary concern is to “empower” our people with the relevant information and stories that so-called mainstream will never tell.
To continue in this endeavor, we ask you to continue supporting us with advertisement or sponsorship so we can do more to inform you. We would like to send a reporting team to Sanford, Florida thoroughly revisit this story of the killing of Martin by Zimmerman trial.
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