Who the aggressor was that fateful night is the central — and most unanswerable — question of the case. Those who fault Zimmerman have latched on to this back-and-forth with Sean Noffke, the operator, as proof that Zimmerman defied a direct police order.
Not so. Noffke testified on the first day of the jury trial that it is dispatchers’ policy not to give orders to callers. “We’re directly liable if we give a direct order,” he explained. “We always try to give general basic . . . not commands, just suggestions.” So, “We don’t need you to do that” is different than a more direct “Don’t do that.”
Under cross-examination, Noffke added more context to his “suggestion” when asked whether his requests for updates on what Martin was doing encouraged Zimmerman to follow the unarmed 17-year-old. “It’s best to avoid any kind of confrontation, to just get away from the situation,” Noffke said.
2. Martin broke Zimmerman’s nose.
Zimmerman says Martin came up behind him and cold-cocked him square in the nose, knocking him to the ground. In his numerous television interviews, Zimmerman’s brother Robert has said unequivocally that George’s nose was broken. But that was never definitively diagnosed by a doctor.
According to the report by Sanford police officer Michael Wagner on the night of the shooting, “Zimmerman’s face was bloodied and it appeared to me that his nose was broken.” Officer Jonathan Mead made a similar observation. But, according to police reports, “Zimmerman declined” an opportunity “to be transported to the hospital in order to be examined by a doctor for his injuries.”
To return to work the next day, Zimmerman needed medical clearance. The report from Altamonte Family Practice completed the day after the shooting notes that Zimmerman told the attending assistant physician that emergency medical personnel on the scene the night before told him he had a broken nose. But the Altamonte report states: “We discussed that it is likely broken, but does not appear to have septal deviation. The swelling and black eyes are typical of this injury.” Zimmerman was advised to be evaluated by an ear, nose and throat specialist, “but he refused.”
3. A widely circulated photograph of Martin wearing a Hollister T-shirt shows him much younger than he was the night he died.
Those who fervently believe that Martin was a thug or a thug-in-training are especially incensed by the photo of him smiling in a red Hollister T-shirt. Not only do they claim that the photo makes Martin look more innocent and sympathetic, they also charge that it depicts him at a much younger age than he was when he was killed. Their assumption is that Martin is between 11 and 14 years old in the photo. For more than a year, some have been sharing what one reader told me was “an up-to-date photo” of Martin. The person in the photo is the rapper Game, who was about 30 years old when the snapshot was taken for XXL magazine in 2010.