George Zimmerman has been charged with stalking and harassing a private investigator who contacted him about a documentary series on Trayvon Martin, the black teenager whom Zimmerman shot and killed in Sanford, Fla., in February 2012.
The charges, which were delivered to Zimmerman through a summons Thursday, allege that he “willfully, maliciously and repeatedly” cyberstalked and harassed the private investigator, who had contacted Zimmerman in September on behalf of Michael Gasparro, who produced the film series alongside the rapper Jay-Z, according to court documents.
The private investigator told Seminole County Sheriff’s Office deputies that he sent Zimmerman a text message and left him a voice mail last September, explaining the film series and asking Zimmerman if he wanted to be involved. The private investigator also gave Zimmerman Gasparro’s number, and Zimmerman called Gasparro shortly after. According to court documents, they chatted about the documentary, which will be about Martin’s life and death, for which Zimmerman was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. On July 13, 2013, Zimmerman was acquitted by a Florida jury.
Outside of the initial text and voice mail, the private investigator made no further attempts to speak or meet with Zimmerman, deputies wrote in a warrant request.
Then, on Dec. 13, the private investigator heard from Zimmerman. Gasparro called the private investigator to tell him that Zimmerman was “extremely agitated” and sending Gasparro threatening messages, according to the warrant request.
The private investigator “is a [expletive] WHO BOTHERED MY UNCLE IN HIS HOME. Local OR former law officer He’s well on his way to the inside of a gator as well. 10-4?” Zimmerman wrote to Gasparro, according to the warrant request.
A few days later, Zimmerman began contacting the private investigator directly. About 21 phone calls, 38 text messages and seven voice mails were sent to him in just over a 2 1/2-hour period. Threats included expletives and statements such as, “I’ll see you before you realize it,” according to the warrant request. The private investigator, concerned about his safety and that of his family, contacted the sheriff’s office.
A deputy wrote in the warrant request that he advised the private investigator to send Zimmerman a single text message, asking him to stop contacting him — and that if he didn’t, the private investigator would involve law enforcement officials.
The private investigator sent the message, to which Zimmerman responded “No!” and “Pursue charges,” according to the warrant request. “Text me again, I’ll show up at your home you [expletive]!!!”
The private investigator also told deputies that Zimmerman sent him a link to a news article on TheBlast.com in which he was quoted as saying, “I know how to handle people who f— with me, I have since February of 2012.” The comment was a reference to Martin’s killing.
The article also quotes Zimmerman as saying “Anyone who f***s with my parents will be fed to an alligator.” It wasn’t Zimmerman’s first alligator-related threat toward someone involved with the documentary: He made a similar threat to Jay-Z himself.
“What I said is I would beat him as if I was Solange, and he would find himself coming out of the south side of a gator if he comes to Florida and bothers my family,” Zimmerman told the Orlando Sentinel in December. He was referencing how Solange Knowles, the sister of Beyoncé — who is married to Jay-Z — was captured in an elevator surveillance video hitting Jay-Z after the 2014 Met Gala.
Between Dec. 16, 2017, and Christmas Day, the private investigator received 55 phone calls, 67 text messages, 36 voice mails and 27 emails from Zimmerman, according to the warrant request. This led sheriff’s Sgt. Shannon Seiple — who had met Zimmerman before — to give him a call on Jan. 3, to confirm that the calls and messages were coming from him.
Zimmerman answered, asking “Who is this?” according to the warrant request. Seiple identified herself, to which Zimmerman responded, “You [expletive], what do you want!” and “What are you calling me for you [expletive]!” according to the warrant request. Seiple explained that she was calling in reference to Zimmerman’s calls to the private investigator. Zimmerman “continued to scream profanity,” according to the warrant request.
“You are the [expletive] blond [expletive] who arrested me on Samantha!” Zimmerman allegedly told Seiple. “You have been involved with me since that Martin kid!”
The sheriff’s deputies confirmed that it was Zimmerman who was on the phone and requested that he be charged, according to court documents.
Since his 2013 acquittal, Zimmerman has been embroiled in public controversies. One example came in October 2015, when he retweeted a photograph of Trayvon Martin’s slain body. The original tweet read “Z-man is a one-man army.” Following media outrage, Zimmerman claimed that he wasn’t aware the tweet included a photograph, according to The Washington Post’s Travis M. Andrews.