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The Facts and Zimmerman’s Story April 14, 2012

Posted by Mary W. Matthews in Politics, Random Observations.

Like many people — I hope most of us — I have been shocked and horrified, both by the shooting of Trayvon Martin and by the hyper­politi­cized reaction to it. Conservatives have been dredging up all sorts of facts about Trayvon, such as his school record, which would be relevant only in a case of premeditated first-degree murder. I have read on both Twitter and Facebook that on Fox News and similar hate media, Trayvon is consistently portrayed as the criminal and George Zimmerman as Trayvon’s innocent victim.

I have been wishing and wishing that someone more expert than I am would make an animated video showing George Zimmerman’s version of events — how a 17-year-old boy jumped the 28-year-old Zimmerman, who outweighed the boy by a minimum of 30 pounds; how Trayvon beat Zimmerman up next to Zimmerman’s truck while Trayvon was talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone; how Trayvon then picked 190-pound Zimmerman up and carried him 400 feet to where he could pound Zimmerman’s head on the sidewalk; how, after pounding George Zimmerman’s head on the sidewalk, Trayvon picked him up a second time and carried Zimmerman another hundred feet toward Trayvon’s home; how, since Trayvon’s corpse bore no marks except the gunshot wound, Zimmerman must have done nothing to defend himself; and how somehow the two changed places approximately 500 feet from where the alleged beating of the much larger man allegedly began and the unarmed, 30-pounds-lighter aggressor was shot dead. According to phone company records, Trayvon was talking to his girlfriend from 7:12 until his phone went dead at 7:16, meaning that Trayvon beat up and terrorized George Zimmerman while simultaneously telling his girlfriend he was being frightened by a “strange dude.”

(Police say that Trayvon was 17 years old and 6′0″ tall, and weighed 160 pounds, while Zimmerman was 28 years old and 5′9″ tall, and weighed 190 pounds. Trayvon was a high school student, and Zimmerman a high school graduate. I have been informed by a reader that the New York Times specified Trayvon’s weight as 170 pounds. This would mean that Zimmerman outweighed Trayvon by “only” 12 percent, rather than the 19 percent of the larger weight range. I’ll be interested in what the autopsy will provide as the final word.)

Well, alas, no one has made an animation of Zimmerman’s story (that I know about), so I’m stuck. Here, for the purposes of someone who has more video skills than I do, is a detailed timeline, with both facts where they are known and Zimmerman’s story interspersed. I obtained the timeline from USA Today News and from a transcript of Zimmerman’s 911 call. I obtained the maps from both Google Maps and from a WordPress blogger, BCC:List.com.

Before I begin, let me stress that according to a Sanford TV station, neighborhood watch volunteers are supposed to work in pairs. They are forbidden to carry firearms while they are “watching,” and if they discover “suspicious activity,” they are forbidden to leave the vehicle in which the two neighborhood watchers are sitting. I have been informed that Zimmerman was not on duty as a neighborhood watch volunteer that night. I imagine, however, that his ostensibly being “off duty” did not impair Zimmerman’s memory.

2005 According to the Orlando Sentinel, at age 21, Zimmerman was twice accused of violent behavior. First Zimmerman “pushed” a police officer (see below at 7:15:50!), was arrested, and completed a program for violent first offenders in exchange for not being charged. A month later, a former girlfriend took out a restraining order against him, alleging domestic violence.
2007 Zimmerman, age 23, defaulted on a loan from Capital One. He agreed to pay $2,135.82, to cover his debts, interest on his debts, and attorney and court costs. After Capital One showed early in 2008 that Zimmerman was failing to pay this debt, Zimmerman’s then-employer, CarMax, agreed to garnish his wages. After CarMax fired Zimmerman a few months later, there is no record (that I can discover) of Zimmerman’s having repaid his debt.

According to the Wikipedia article, George Zimmerman originated his 911 call “at approximately 7:09.” Earlier today, I found a source that said the call began at 7:09:34. If I can verify this time, I’ll update the times you’ll see below.

6:40 Trayvon leaves the home of his father’s girlfriend (“H,” far right) and walks to a 7-Eleven (“7.” far left) approximately three-fourths of a mile to the west (a 10-minute walk at 4.5 miles per hour), where he buys Skittles and iced tea. It is a cold and rainy February night, so Trayvon wears his hoodie. (My hoodie is pink, Geraldo.)
7:09 George Zimmerman calls 911 for the 46th time. He describes the 17-year-old Trayvon as “suspicious.” At 7:09:25, Zimmerman says the boy “looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something.” In the image below, the blue rectangle shows where George Zimmerman told the police his truck was parked, close to the north entrance of the Retreat at Twin Lakes. The black arrows show Trayvon’s presumed route home. The yellow arrows show Zimmerman’s presumed route in reality (rather than in Zimmerman’s story). The red X shows where Trayvon’s dead body was found, approximately a tenth of a mile from where Zimmerman alleges their confrontation began. The white box at the lower right of the image shows Trayvon’s destination, near the back (east) entrance of the development.

As mentioned earlier, the above map comes from the excellent BCC:List.com. This blogger’s opinion is that the only way Zimmerman’s story could cohere with the known facts is if Zimmerman came close to running Trayvon down with his truck. (Which might affect Zimmerman’s “Stand Your Ground” defense!)

The thoughtful and courteous Bob Owen, in his comment on this post (see below), provides addresses for three alternative versions of where George Zimmerman left his truck. But assuming that Zimmerman misled the police on the subject, no alternative version explains how Trayvon could jump and beat up Zimmerman next to Zimmerman’s truck, and a split-second later die approximately 100 to 300 feet from that location. At least, not without Zimmerman pursuing Trayvon, which to me does not argue well for the “Stand Your Ground” defense.

7:09:42 Zimmerman describes Trayvon as wearing a “dark hoodie.” In answer to a multiple-choice question from the dispatcher, Zimmerman says, “He looks black.”
7:09:48 Zimmerman tells the 911 dispatcher, “Now he’s staring at me.”
7:10:03 Zimmerman volunteers to the 911 dispatcher, not in answer to any question, “He’s a black male.”
7:10:39 Zimmerman remarks, “These f—king assholes. They always get away.” (Not always. [heavy sigh])
7:11:08 Zimmerman tells the police dispatcher, “He’s running.” The dispatcher asks where Trayvon is running, and Zimmerman indicates he is running toward where we now know he was staying.
7:11:15 The door of Zimmerman’s truck can be heard to slam shut on the 911 recording. Zimmerman’s breath quickens, as if he is in motion, and the sounds of wind resistance begin. It seems reasonable to infer that in the real world, Zimmerman has left his truck and pursuing Trayvon on foot.
7:12 Trayvon’s girlfriend in Miami calls him on his cell phone. Trayvon tells her that “some strange dude” is “watching him,” so he puts up his hood. (Meanwhile, Zimmerman is discussing his personal information with the 911 dispatcher.) According to phone company records, Trayvon’s conversation with his girlfriend lasted until the phone went dead at 7:16.
7:12:22 Zimmerman mutters something under his breath that is probably “F—king punks,” although early listeners believed it was a racial slur. At 7:12:23, the dispatcher asks Zimmerman whether he is following Trayvon; at 7:12:24, Zimmerman replies “Yeah.” At 7:12:26, the dispatcher says, “Okay, we don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman replies “Okay,” indicating that he understood the dispatcher’s instruction not to follow Trayvon. The two discuss where police should come, and Zimmerman provides an address.
7:12:34 The dispatcher asks Zimmerman for his name and cell phone number and assures Zimmerman that the police are en route. Although the 911 dispatcher does not say so, the neighborhood watch rules require Zimmerman to return to his vehicle, I believe whether or not he was “on duty” as a volunteer at the time.
7:12:49 Before Zimmerman hangs up, he says “I don’t know where this kid is. Could you have [the police] call me, and I’ll tell them where I’m at.” The dispatcher confirms Zimmerman’s phone number and says police will call him when they arrive.
7:13:07 George Zimmerman’s 911 call ends.
7:13:08 George Zimmerman says that after hanging up with the police, he returned to his truck, parked near the north entrance of the development. (See the blue rectangles in the three final maps.) According to Zimmerman, Trayvon approached Zimmerman “from behind” (i.e., from the south, 180 degrees away from Trayvon’s destination) and they had words.
7:13-15 According to George Zimmerman, having had words with Trayvon, Zimmerman turned his back on the teenager that he thought was a “f—king punk” (or “coon”). Trayvon punched Zimmerman hard enough to knock the older and considerably heavier man to the ground. Then Trayvon began slamming Zimmerman’s head into the “sidewalk.” It is likely that when this alleged punching and slamming began, Zimmerman and Trayvon were not near Zimmerman’s truck, but rather 500 feet from where Zimmerman said he left his truck, and 70 yards from Trayvon’s destination. Also, be reminded that while Trayvon was punching and slamming Zimmerman, he was simultaneously telling his girlfriend that he was being frightened by Zimmerman.
7:14-15 Look at the two images below. The blue rectangles show approximately where George Zimmerman told police he had left his truck. The second, more detailed Google Maps image shows that the sidewalk begins approximately 400 feet from where Zimmerman’s truck was said to have been parked.

7:13 The first call to 911 is made by a neighbor who heard cries for help. Trayvon’s mother has identified the voice crying for help as her son’s. Zimmerman and his family and friends say the voice was George’s. Two forensic audio experts have said that whoever was calling for help, it was not George Zimmerman. Between 7:13 and 7:30, at least seven neighbors called 911 to report an altercation approximately 500 feet from where Zimmerman said he left his truck, followed by a gunshot. Most say it was too dark to see more; one caller reports “wrestling.”
7:16 According to George Zimmerman’s account, after surprising Zimmerman at approximately 7:13:10, breaking Zimmerman’s nose, knocking him to the ground, and savagely pounding Zimmerman’s head into the (nonexistent) sidewalk until the resistless Zimmerman feared for his life, while talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone the entire time, Trayvon leaped up and sprinted for home, racing approximately 500 feet in a few seconds. Stunned by his savage beating and in fear of his life, Zimmerman magically found himself 500 feet from his truck. In the location where one witness alleges he saw “wrestling,” Zimmerman, fearing for his life at Trayvon’s unarmed, unmarked hands, shot Trayvon point-blank in the chest at close range. Until shortly before the shooting, Trayvon was beating up the larger Zimmerman while continuing to talk with his girlfriend and telling his girlfriend he was afraid of the “strange dude” he was beating up.
7:15:50 A few seconds before 7:16, Trayvon’s girlfriend hears Trayvon say “What are you following me for?” She hears a man’s voice say to Trayvon, “What are you doing here?” She hears the sound of “pushing.” (See 2005.) Then Trayvon’s headset suddenly went silent, leading her to believe that he had been pushed. She tries to call him back immediately, but cannot reach him.
7:17 The first police officers arrive at the site of the shooting, 500 feet from where Zimmerman says the confrontation began and approximately 200 feet from where Trayvon was staying. (See the red X in the second map.) They discover Zimmerman standing over Trayvon’s dead body. Zimmerman confesses to having shot Trayvon. Officers take Zimmerman’s 9mm automatic and place him in handcuffs.
minutes later Paramedics do CPR on Trayvon’s corpse. (He is pronounced dead at 7:30.) Paramedics then “work on” Zimmerman. In the initial police report, Zimmerman is alleged to have been bleeding from the back of his head and from his nose. In a police station video, there is no evidence of any damage to Zimmerman that *I* can perceive, not even a swelling of his allegedly broken nose.
3/29 Trayvon’s autopsy is still “under seal.” The funeral director who prepared Trayvon’s body for burial told at least one news anchor that the only mark on Trayvon’s body was his gunshot wound; there were no marks on Trayvon’s hands, arms, or clothing to indicate that he had jumped Zimmerman, broken Zimmerman’s nose with his bare fist (leaving no marks on the fist!), knocked Zimmerman to the ground, straddled him, and began beating Zimmerman’s head against the “sidewalk.” No evidence of Zimmerman’s blood was found on Trayvon’s body or clothing.
ca. 3/2 Approximately a week after Trayvon’s shooting, the mother of a 13-year-old witness told the media that police questioners had “pressured” her son to identify the body on the ground immediately before the shooting as Zimmerman. However, she also stated that the police told her they did not believe the shooting was self-defense.

These are the facts, as closely as I can replicate them. Now, please, will some expert provide an animation that illustrates:

  • Trayvon jumping Zimmerman at approximately 7:13:10;
  • Trayvon beating Zimmerman up without marking his own hands, receiving defensive wounds, or being spattered with Zimmerman’s blood, but nevertheless leaving Zimmerman in fear of his life;
  • Trayvon beating Zimmerman up while talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone;
  • Trayvon and Zimmerman magically being transported approximately 500 feet in a flash from where Zimmerman said they were to where witnesses saw and heard them;
  • How Zimmerman and Trayvon changed places, with Zimmerman found standing over Trayvon’s dead body at 7:17.

It will be important to time this video so that it contains all the incidents between 7:13:07, the earliest moment when Zimmerman could have completed his 911 call*, and 7:16, the approximate time Zimmerman shot his gun. In my opinion, the animation will move at blinding speed — about the second “fast forward” click on a DVR.

*(According to Phathead, a blogger at freerepublic.com, the 911 began at 7:09:34, meaning it ended at 7:13:41, leaving Trayvon roughly two minutes to beat Zimmerman up. Commenter Bob Owens believes that two minutes is more than enough time. I believe that if Trayvon were beating Zimmerman as savagely as Zimmerman and his supporters claim, DeeDee would have at least noticed a change in Trayvon’s breathing patterns, if not the sounds of the actual beating.)

On the April 13 edition of “Hardball,” a conservative pundit told Chris Matthews that the case against George Zimmerman was so “flimsy” that it will soon be summarily dismissed. If you believe that an unarmed, 160-pound boy could beat up and terrorize a 190-pound man in less than three minutes, with ZERO sound effects audible to Trayvon’s girlfriend, all while telling his girlfriend that he, Trayvon, was being terrorized by George Zimmerman, I’m sure you will agree.

(updated, April 15)