Discuss as:

Police say Zimmerman had chances to defuse situation before shooting Martin

Prosecutors released more documents, photos and audiovisual files on Tuesday afternoon from the case of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, accused of murder in the second degree in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26.

Here is a PDF file containing 29 pages of investigative reports.


Follow Open Channel on Twitter and Facebook.


Zimmerman told police that he saw Martin walking, followed him in his vehicle, passed him without identifying himself, called the police non-emergency line, lost sight of Martin as Martin ran toward his father's home, followed Martin on foot, and then was confronted by Martin, who attacked him when Zimmerman reached into his pocket for his cell phone to call 911.

The report shows that Zimmerman passed a "lie detector" test, called a computer voice stress analyzer, showing no deception in his statements. Such tests are popular with police departments but usually cannot be admitted as evidence in court.

After reviewing the evidence and interviewing Zimmerman, the police detective concluded that Zimmerman's actions were "inconsistent" with someone who was afraid of Martin, and that Zimmerman had several chances to end the encounter without violence.

"Investigative findings show that Zimmerman admitted avoiding a confrontation with Martin while Zimmerman was observing Martin from his vehicle, because, as he told investigators, was afraid of Martin," Det. Chris Serino wrote. "Later in the encounter, Zimmerman exited his vehicle, in spite of his earlier admission to investigators that he was afraid of Martin, and followed Martin in an effort to maintain surveillance of him while Zimmerman awaited the arrival of law enforcement officers. His actions are inconsistent with those of a person who has stated he was in fear of another subject.

Sanford Police Department

A photo of the back of George Zimmerman's head, taken during a police interview after the shooting. Zimmerman said Martin attacked him and was astride him, beating him, when Zimmerman fired a single shot into Martin's torso.

"Investigative findings show that George Michael Zimmerman had at least two opportunities to speak with Trayvon Benjamin Martin in order to defuse the circumstances surrounding their encounter. On at least two occasions, George Michael Zimmerman failed to identify himself as a concerned resident or a neighborhood watch member to Trayvon Benjamin Martin. Investigative findings show the physical dimension of Trayvon Benjamin Martin, and that of George Michael Zimmerman, coupled with the absence of any specialized training in hand to hand combat between either combatant, did not place George Michael Zimmerman in an extraordinary or exceptional disadvantage of apparent physical ability or defensive capacity.

"Investigative findings show the physical injuries displayed by George Michael Zimmerman are marginally consistent with a life-threatening violent episode as described by him, during which neither a deadly weapon nor deadly force was deployed by Trayvon Martin."

"The following sequence of events were obtained by admissions made by Zimmerman and cannot be corroborated by independent witnesses, nor can be refuted by independent witnesses:

In a video clip from Feb. 27, 2012, released by his attorney, George Zimmerman takes investigators back to the scene of his shooting of Trayvon Martin. (George Zimmerman featured at 2:15)

"While Zimmerman was returning to his vehicle, he states he was attacked by Martin, but only after Martin inquires to Zimmerman, 'What's your problem?'

"Zimmerman, instead of attempting to inform Martin of the reason he was following him, stated to Martin, 'I don't have a problem.'

"As Zimmerman responds to Martin, by his own admission, Zimmerman reaches into his pocket attempting to locate his cell phone.

"As Zimmerman reaches for his cell phone, he stated Martin replies, 'You have one now,' and Martin punches Zimmerman in the face, knocking him to the ground.

"Zimmerman stated that he was battered by Martin to the point of almost losing consciousness. He stated he ultimately had no choice but to shoot Martin in self-defense."

The report continues:

"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 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. Zimmerman, by his statements made to the call taker and recorded for review, and his statements made to investigators following the shooting death of Martin, made it clear that he had already reached a faulty conclusion as to Martin's purpose for being in the neighborhood."

The investigator concludes with a recommendation that Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter. He was ultimately charged with a more serious charge, homicide in the second degree.

Police also released a copy of Zimmerman's neighborhood watch handbook, including this warning: "Neighborhood Watch is NOT the Vigilante Police. Work with the police. Be our eyes and ears. Report suspicious activity."

Sanford Police Department

A page from George Zimmerman's neighborhood watch training manual.