Controversy has followed Zimmerman ever since, often because he stoked its flames.
Most recently, Zimmerman called the police on Sunday and reported that he had been punched in the face at Gators Riverside restaurant in Sanford, Fla., the same city in which he killed Martin.
“This man just punched me in the face,” he said on a seven-minute call to the 911 dispatcher, the audio recording of which was obtained by WFTV on Thursday. “He said he’s gonna kill me. You need to send like three or four cops, I don’t know.”
On the call, he refused to give his name, stating, “I’d rather give it to the officers when they get here.”
He claimed he was punched in the face by a white man in an orange shirt, who was drunk and who then hopped on a motorcycle. With the alleged attacker were four other men, according to Zimmerman, who threatened him.
When asked what started the argument, Zimmerman responded, “He recognized me. He told me he was going to kill me. He told me he’d … shoot me and he punched me in the face.”
But witnesses told police that the fight began because Zimmerman was bragging about killing Martin, WFTV reported.
According to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, Zimmerman said he was walking by a table where several people were sitting. Images of Confederate flags were etched into the skin of Joseph Whitmer, one of the diners. Zimmerman, apparently a fan of the symbol, stopped to compliment him, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
According to WFTV, Zimmerman allegedly said, “I love your tattoos. My name is George Zimmerman, you know, that guy who killed Trayvon Martin?” (Whitmer’s wife told police that Zimmerman said, “Hey, I like your racist tattoos.”)
Another man, identified only as Eddie, walked up and said, “You’re bragging about that?”
After Zimmerman denied the charge, the man told him he’d better get “… out of here.”
Instead, Zimmerman returned to his table. Eddie allegedly walked up to him and said, “Didn’t I tell you to get the f— out of here” and punched him in the face, breaking his glasses, the Sentinel reported.
That’s when Zimmerman placed the 911 call.
In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Zimmerman maintained his story and added that he believes the man mistook him for Matthew Apperson, a man who was accused of shooting at Zimmerman in May 2015.
Finally, Ed Winters, the owner of Gators Riverside, said the whole thing was “blown out of proportion.” He claimed the men shoved each other after Zimmerman said he didn’t like one of the man’s tattoos, and that was it.
“Everywhere this guy goes he causes controversy,” Winters told the Orlando Sentinel. “You’d think he’d keep a low profile.”
He’s not wrong. Just last month, Zimmerman attempted to auction off the gun he used to kill Martin not once but twice. Those auctions were met with a sea of outrage, while fake bidders flooded the auction sites to place absurdly large bids (one was $65 million).
That’s just one of the many controversies in which he’s found himself since Martin’s death. Most of them are of his own doing.
Here is a full rundown.
One thing is certain: Winters was right when he said, “Everywhere this guy goes, he causes controversy.”
The man Zimmerman accused of assaulting him has not yet been located by police.