“No, I don’t, because I’m hiding upstairs. There was a gunshot right outside our house.”
6. George Zimmerman Claimed Self Defense
The first Sanford police officer to arrive in the community that night was Timothy Smith. In a report he wrote hours later, he said he came across Martin, who was lying face down in the grass, and Zimmerman, who quickly admitted he pulled the trigger and was still armed.
The officer said Zimmerman was cooperative as he put him in handcuffs and took his 9mm handgun. He also said Zimmerman appeared to be injured.
“While I was in such close contact with Zimmerman, I could observe that his back appeared to be wet and was covered in grass, as if he had been laying on his back on the ground,” the officer wrote. “Zimmerman was also bleeding from the nose and the back of his head.”
Another officer and a sergeant arrived began trying to resuscitate Martin but could not get a pulse. Meanwhile, Zimmerman was treated by emergency workers. “I overheard him state ‘I was yelling for someone to help me, but no one would help me.’” Smith wrote in the report.
Zimmerman was taken to the police department and questioned about the shooting. According to the Orlando Sentinel, which quoted anonymous “law enforcement authorities,” Zimmerman told investigators he was walking back to his SUV when he was approached from behind by Martin. He said the two of them got into an argument and then Martin punched him in the nose and knocked him to the ground. Zimmerman said the teen then began beating him and slamming his head into the ground. He said he shot Martin in self defense.
7. Only One Witness To The Altercation Has Gone On The Record
There are several people the media has identified as witnesses to the shooting, but none actually saw the gunshot and only one person has gone on the record to say he saw some sort of altercation before the gun went off. That witness is a 13-year-old boy named Austin McLendon.
McLendon told the Orlando Sentinel he was walking his dog in the rain when he heard someone screaming for help. When he went to get a closer look, McLendon saw someone lying on the ground. The person was wearing a red shirt, he said. According to the newspaper, he did not mention seeing another person.
Before McLendon could get closer, he said, his dog escaped. He turned to catch it, but a few seconds later, he heard a gunshot. McLendon ran back to his home, where he and his sister called 911.
In its story, the Orlando Sentinel said McLendon’s story backed up Zimmerman’s because the gunman was wearing a red jacket when police arrived. In other words, it was Zimmerman that McLendon saw on the ground. But a few days later, the boy and his mother told the Huffington Post that his comments were twisted. He believed Martin was the one who was in trouble, not Zimmerman. McLendon’s mother also told HuffPo she believed the police investigator who talked to her son tried to lead him to provide information he really didn’t have.
There is also a second person who said he witnessed the altercation before the shooting, but so far he has refused to go on camera or give anyone his name. Identified only as “John” by a WOFL, the Fox affiliate in Orlando, the man spoke to the television station last month through the door of his home.
The man said he saw two people in an altercation. “The guy on the bottom, who had a red sweater on, was yelling to me, ‘Help! Help!’ and I told him to stop, and I was calling 911,” he said, according to the TV station. He went inside to call 911 but then heard a gunshot. He said when he looked down at the scene, the person who had been on top and who was “beating up the other guy” was now lying dead on the grass.
A third person has also claimed to have seen the altercation. That person spoke to CNN’s Anderson Cooper but refused to even reveal his or her gender, much less provide a name or other identifying characteristics on air.
The person said it was dark and hard to see what happened, but he or she claimed to have heard multiple gunshots. “It was very dark, but I felt like they were scuffling,” the person said. “And then I heard the gunshots, which, to me, were more like pops than they were like a bang.”
It’s unclear whether CNN tried to verify the person’s claims.
8. The Remainders
Here are a few more revelations that are notable, but still leave key questions unanswered:
• An autopsy was performed on Martin’s body by the Volusia County Medical Examiner’s office, but the results will likely not be made public for weeks or months more. [Los Angeles Times]
Nick Martin is an associate editor at TPM in New York City. He came to the site in 2011 as a reporter for TPMMuckraker. Previously, he worked in Arizona, first as a staff reporter for a local newspaper and later as a freelance journalist. He also ran the news blog Heat City. Contact him: nick [at] talkingpointsmemo.com