This post has been updated
Federal investigators are trying to piece together what happened in Sanford, Fla. on Feb. 26, when George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager. The evidence is emerging slowly — and some of the accounts are in apparent conflict.
Zimmerman has maintained that he shot Martin in self-defense; Martin’s family says they believe the shooting was racially motivated.
The Orlando Sentinel reports today that Zimmerman told police Martin attacked him. According to Zimmerman’s version of events, he was walking back to his car when he and Martin exchanged words, after which Martin climbed on top of him and slammed his head into the sidewalk.
A friend of Zimmerman’s supports this account, but a witness to the incident says she saw otherwise.
Joe Oliver told CBS This Morning that the shooting “was not racially motivated” and that Zimmerman did not mutter a racial epithet. Oliver was not present when the incident took place.
“I spoke with my teenage daughter yesterday and the word in question, it's the difference between a C and a G, from what I understand. And 'goon' is apparently a term of endearment in the high schools these days,” Oliver, a friend of Zimmerman’s, told Good Morning America. “I don't know of anyone younger than 40 who uses 'coon' as a racial epithet.”
Zimmerman could not stop crying after the incident but is now doing “better,” according to Oliver.
Mary Cutcher, a witness, gave MSNBC a very different account of what happened Feb. 26. Cutcher says that after she heard shots fired on her street, she walked outside and saw Zimmerman “straddling the body, basically a foot on both sides of Trayvon's body, and his hands pressed on his back.”
While Zimmerman’s lawyer maintains that his client tried to help Martin after the shooting, Cutcher says: “Zimmerman never turned him over or tried to help him or CPR or anything.”
After the shooting, Zimmerman walked around with his hands on his head, as if in shock, according to Cutcher. She says she also heard crying, but is unsure whose it was, because it “sounded young.”
“It didn’t sound like a grown man is my point. It sounded to me like someone was in distress, and it wasn’t like a crying, sobbing boo-hoo, it was a definite whine,” she said. The Orlando Sentinel reports that it may have been Zimmerman crying for help.
As the conflicting reports came out Monday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said that while his “heart goes out” to the family of Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman deserves a “true due process.”
Update, Tuesday 11:15 a.m.:
The Sanford Police has decried what it calls “unauthorized leaks” published in the Sentinel story, according to CNN. But police also confirmed that the report was an accurate reflection of what Zimmerman had told them.