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Aren’t There Photos of George Zimmerman’s Supposed Injuries?

March 29th, 2012 · 31 Comments

The latest development in the Trayvon Martin case is the leak of police surveillance footage showing a not-conspicuously-injured George Zimmerman being ushered into the Sanford police station on the night of the shooting, calling into question the account that puts Zimmerman on the receiving end of a brutal pummeling that made him fear for his life. Now we’ve got people squabbling over fuzzy tape trying to determine whether some blob on the back of his head is a wound or a shadow, how much he might have been cleaned up by medics at the scene, and on, and on…

This all seems unnecessary. When I was jumped about a year ago, the police who came to the scene took close-up photos of every visible injury—all, mercifully, quite minor—presumably so they could prove battery if they ended up catching the kids. This seems to be pretty standard procedure, and it’s unfathomable that they wouldn’t do the same in a case where those injuries are the main physical evidence backing a claim of self defense in the shooting of an unarmed teenager. I am not intimately familiar with Florida’s records laws, but it would also be pretty standard to have privacy exemptions barring the release of potentially sensitive photographs, such as those showing bodily injuries of identifiable crime victims. But in this case it would seem to be in Zimmerman’s interest to waive that protection if the photographs actually show serious injury.

At the very least, it seems as though someone should ask the obvious question: Did police take close-up photos of whatever injuries Zimmerman sustained on the night of the shooting? If they did not, it would be incredibly suspicious. Assuming there are photos, even if they can’t be released to the public, has a state medical examiner or forensic scientist at least independently reviewed them to see whether they suggest a beating of such severity that a reasonable person would think lethal force was a necessary response? If not, that sounds like an obvious first step that might go a ways toward clarifying what really happened.

Tags: Journalism & the Media


       

 

31 responses so far ↓

  • 1 modfludermaus // Mar 29, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    I am starting to see a pattern here… cops and prosecutors are letting Z walk on his word even if they didn’t really believe him. Other cases in Florida that don’t even seem like borderline self-defense are being thrown out by judges or given low priority by prosecutors.

    Cops and prosecutors opposed the “Stand your Ground” law, I have the feeling that they are now sabotaging the law just to show legislators what happens when the pass stupid laws without their consent.

  • 2 Anonymous At Work // Mar 29, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    No photos leaked yet probably means no photos. The police have been leaking everything imaginable to make the shooting look like self-defense. My guess is that a dead black male with a hoodie shot by someone claiming self-defense under Florida’s law didn’t strike the police as a good use of their time.

  • 3 Chuck Rudd // Mar 29, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    No photos leaked yet doesn’t mean no photos. Lots of pieces of evidence haven’t come out yet. Strikes me more as a lack of particular reporters trying to get at certain pieces of information.

    This is a small town Florida police department. I don’t even know if they’d know how to properly leak information “institutionally”. I’d guess that this is more a case of individuals leaking certain pieces of information or maybe any piece of information they can get their hands on.

    What I’d like to figure out is what is contained on Martin’s cell phone. Martin family attorney Ben Crump has stated that he has a recording of the phone call between Martin and his girlfriend. ABC News reporter Matt Gutman tweeted *to me* that he (Gutman) is the only person with the recording. Something isn’t clear. What is on that recording? Who has it? Why hasn’t it been released? The information on that recording would answer a lot of questions.

  • 4 Julian Sanchez // Mar 29, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    What? Why would there even BE a recording of that call?

  • 5 Chuck Rudd // Mar 29, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Julian,

    Same question I had. I won’t be that guy and link to the post I wrote on this, but it’s top of the page at the link under my handle.

    I have a screen cap and link to the twitter exchange I had with the reporter. Either I’m misreading his statements or something else is going on. But Crump has said that there exists a recording of a call. I’m also not aware of any phone apps that allow calls to be recorded or why the girlfriend would be recording the call. Also, I’m not aware if phone companies are able to retrieve cell phone calls like that.

  • 6 jimfocus // Mar 29, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Without the photos, we have strong evidence that Zimm was not seriously hurt: the chief homicide det. did not buy Zimm’s version of events, and he refused to let Zimm go to the ER during questioning at the station house.

  • 7 K. Chen // Mar 29, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Is this a recording of the phone call, or a recording of his interview about the phone call? I can’t think of any reasons to have that recorded that aren’t indicative of something really upsetting going on.

  • 8 Chuck Rudd // Mar 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    K.Chen,

    My feeling now is that Gutman has a recording of the call he made to the girlfriend and is kind of letting everyone believe that he has possession of a recording or has at least heard the recording. Just really dishonest reporting. The things is, this is the same reporter who is responsible for a lot of the narrative we’re all chomping on now. He seems to be the first source for the myth about Sanford’s “silencing” of witnesses. Also, Martin family attorney Ben Crump’s first tweet about a national media source’s coverage of the case was in reference to an ABC News report – the outlet which Gutman works for.

    I don’t know what to make of it all. Zimmerman was a buffoon for doing anything at all about that kid, but the altercation is very nuanced from there. Perhaps Sanford PD is playing a spin game, but in my opinion Crump is too.

  • 9 Mike // Mar 29, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Can’t we just all calm the heck down until all of the evidence comes out before the grand jury? Raising a lynch mob based on incomplete evidence and conjecture is just sloppy work.

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  • 11 repsac3 // Mar 29, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    What struck me as far more questionable than the lack of obvious injury was the lack of obvious blood on his clothing (his own or Trayvon’s, who was reportedly shot while above Zimmerman) and the lack of protective gloves on the officers handling his clothing, which are standard in a situation where there’s any possibility of exposure to blood-borne disease (not to mention evidence contamination).

    I don’t doubt that there was a physical altercation between them, but this video does make me question the extent of it. (No matter how slight the scuffle though, I’m really surprised that the officer doing the search of his clothing before bringing him inside wasn’t wearing gloves. While I’m sure it’s not the way they portray it on the TV dramas, I’d think it difficult to contain all those blood drops and body bits during a close quarter shooting like this.)

  • 12 Jess // Mar 29, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    @modfludermaus: theoretically it isn’t really the place of police to “sabotage” laws they don’t like, especially if that entails not investigating homicides. Realistically, however, it isn’t even possible that they would be fired for doing so (unlike all of us employed in private industry), so I’m certain they do it at every opportunity. I say this as someone who is undecided about SYG, although I’m leaning toward “really bad idea”. I suppose one could make an argument that any law that won’t be evenly enforced is a bad law, but then again there are a multitude of laws that physically cannot be evenly enforced. If there is a “cop veto”, we can’t really wonder who’s the boss in this relationship.

  • 13 Jess // Mar 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    If we stipulate that Zimmerman has been horribly treated by the media, the race industry, and all of us horrible private citizens, are we then allowed to ask why the shooting wasn’t investigated for a month, and would never have been investigated without all of this horrible attention? Better that an innocent man have to unplug his phone and move to a motel for a month, and that slimy reporters stretch the truth, and that slimy lawyers poison potential jurors for their slimy civil suit, and that Al Sharpton move his circus into town, and that the formerly-not-terrible reputation of a police department be dragged through the mud, etc.: better all of that than a murderer go free.

  • 14 Chuck Rudd // Mar 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Mike:

    “Can’t we just all calm the heck down until all of the evidence comes out before the grand jury? Raising a lynch mob based on incomplete evidence and conjecture is just sloppy work.”

    And who is the lynch mob going to hurt? If you’re worried about lynch mobs at this point you’ll have to urge slow-going for those who want to punish Zimmerman and those who want to re-tweet addresses of innocent people.

    But this is what the internet is for. To talk, speculate, investigate.

  • 15 SteveB // Mar 29, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    I would like to believe there were several photographs taken at the scene. Many of the victim and Zimmerman.

    I would like to know where all these “leaked” information is coming from? You would think in a case like this (or any case under investigation) there would be a lock on releasing information that could potentially damage the findings.

    No doubt this has become a HUGE event since the last couple of weeks but since the incident first occurred there was no leaks. Until it went global and became a media money maker. I would hate to think the media is sensationalizing the issue for profit but it seems very plausible.

    The amount of traffic a high profile case brings to the various news sites leads to more $$$ in advertising. Granted that may be a part of why they are doing this but getting back to the main subject. I strongly feel Zimmerman needs to come out of hiding and turn himself over to police protection. It may not be the same as custody but it could show the public that he is willing to come forward and assist the investigation.

    I will say this. The mob mentality that is being expressed over this is acting very negatively towards social change in breaking down such stereotypes and racial profiling. It is giving power to those who are demanding justice but if the justice served is not to their approval then we could be repeating what happened 20 years ago in LA.

    We all know that what spike Lee did wrong. He didnt “do the right thing” by putting innocent people in harms way. I dont care if he was caught up in the moment he had no right to do such a thing. If we are trying to rise above the social stigma that has been in place for decades…this isnt helping things.

  • 16 Chuck Rudd // Mar 29, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Jess,

    I agree that everything should be done to make sure that a murderer doesn’t go free. I just think that it’s clear from eyewitness reports and the physical evidence that Zimmerman wasn’t an out-and-out murderer.

    We’ve been operating on the premise that Sanford PD *must have had* some sort of bias which caused them to not conduct a proper investigation. They had the 911 calls and had the physical evidence and the witnesses, and they determined what many here have determined too: that Zimmerman ultimately acted in self-defense. If the grand jury or a regular jury determines the same thing that the police department already did, will we say that this entire circus was pointless?

    We could take any homicide and delve into it and find pieces that might deserve further investigation or we might find pieces of evidence that were overlooked, and we might read some sort of bias or underhandedness into it. But maybe this is kind of how police cases go. I don’t see much to suggest that the police did anything wrong per se. I see that the outcome wasn’t what Martin’s family wanted and that the facts of the case make it seem like there might be more “there” than there actually is.

    One of the case’s investigators suggested a manslaughter charge. That might have worked. The case can be made for that, but the next question is, would it stick?

    Regardless, the pushback from Zimmerman’s advocates is a response to the one-sided narrative being pushed forward by Martin’s family attorney and the media. If you remember, the general feel was that Zimmerman was a racist (a white one, at that) who hunted Martin down in cold blood. So I’m in favor of a completely open exchange of evidence – on both sides. If Zimmerman is vetted then Martin should have been vetted too. Look at the timeline, look at both parties’ histories, look at the available evidence, and proceed from there.

  • 17 K. Chen // Mar 29, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    I’m not sure there is any use in vetting Martin. He is, after all, dead, and thereby unable to represent himself and character evidence is of questionable use. There is a reason that most rules of evidence in this country restrict it greatly. I could be convinced otherwise.

    As far as vetting Zimmerman, it is only useful in so far as it is relevant to whether or not he got himself into a self-defense situation by by his fault, and he is still alive to rebut it. Even then, I’m not so sure.

  • 18 SteveB // Mar 29, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    From reading these various blogs as well as all sorts of other media outlets I still can find no conclusive judgement in this situation.

    Plus, it isnt my position to pass judgement in the first place. That is for the law to do. I can have an opinion but as opinions go they are like a**holes. Everyone has one.

    Repeat an idea in your head enough times you begin to believe it. The people proclaiming him as a racist murderer are obviously fixated on that instead of a rational thought that both were causes and effects. Martin perceives zimmerman as a threat and vice versa.

    The subject of character is often used when there is no conclusive evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Lets look at the OJ trial. Plenty of evidence to prove guilt but the emphasis on the character of the investigators involved created a doubt that people could not let go of and focus on the actual case itself.

    If we can remove the thought of zimmerman doing what he did out of pure racial distaste, and look at it from the perspective of a guy who is tired of the break-ins of the neighbors homes, who sees who he believes to be a suspicious person “casing” the establishments. Then this case loses allot of steam and emotion that is driving it.

    It becomes like any other homicide. there are lots of what-if’s but there are only a few solid facts that we know of. Seems people are making things up as they go along to satisfy their own curiosity. Trying to complete a puzzle that is missing many important pieces.

  • 19 jimfocus // Mar 29, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    heh, I’m a former LEO, investigator, those gloves are not really much protection, they.re worn to protect from contaminating or compromising evidence. As far as protecting yourself. soap and hot water.

  • 20 jimfocus // Mar 29, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    He was racial profiling and initiated a completely unnecessary confontation that resulted in the murder of an innocent black kid, yeah if you ignore all of that evidence, you lose dteam–and justice.

  • 21 SteveB // Mar 29, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    @jimfocus

    To really beileve it was racial profiling then there would be more evidence to prove that statement. From the long list of 911 calls he made it was more about calling on all kinds of suspicious people/acts than races. He called on people of various colors.

    He was very overprotective of his territory like a guard dog would be. If the dog doesnt know you then he will bite if you come in his area. Zimmerman is no dog but the comparison isnt that far off base. He was a self proclaimed guard dog of not only himself but the well being of those in his neighborhood.

    If you want to use the term profiling then its best said like this. Anyone/anything out of the ordinary or suspicious that he feels the needs to report. No racial phrasing needed.

    Here is a thought. I read an article describing the town of sanford. Many people have said they had run-ins with the police for no reason. What-if (yeah I know…) he too was tired of the misrepresentation on the part of the police and was doing what he thought was in his neighbors best interests?

    That would put him on the very side of the people that are complaining of the problems with the way the police deal with things. Who happen to be those calling for his head now. I feel there is a grave injustice here on the part of the police and while tragic this event was. Zimmerman was like any other guy looking out for his fellow man when it came to those looking to cause trouble.

    It was a case of mistaken identity (if you will). What he thought he saw didnt turn out to be what it was and now both are having to pay the price. Martin with his life and Zimmerman for the rest of his.

    No matter the outcome, his life is over. If convicted he will go to jail and suffer but it wont be anything like having to suffer the guilt of taking a boys life who he mistook for a bad person.

  • 22 Chuck Rudd // Mar 29, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    K. Chen:

    “I’m not sure there is any use in vetting Martin. He is, after all, dead, and thereby unable to represent himself and character evidence is of questionable use. There is a reason that most rules of evidence in this country restrict it greatly. I could be convinced otherwise.”

    This case compels me to qualify: Martin didn’t deserve to die, and I wish there was some sort of more narrow legal statute to punish Zimmerman’s idiocy.

    That being said, we should scrutinize Martin. The reason that Zimmerman supposedly shot is because Martin attacked him. So if the shot didn’t occur, by Zimmerman’s account he would actually have been the victim. The events have to be broken down into their various segments.

    We’re proceeding from the premise that Martin was the aggressor and that Zimmerman was justified in shooting him. A deeper look at Zimmerman (warranted) should be met with a deeper look at Martin.

    I don’t mean to be flippant about Martin’s death or anything, but it has nothing to do with whether or not Martin committed a crime.

  • 23 Arthur // Mar 30, 2012 at 3:53 am

    I am not very familiar with US law enforcement procedures, but I don’t understand why people are criticizing the police so much.

    All we know is that they didn’t arrest the guy on the spot. In most countries this can only be done in some specific circumstances (very clear guilt, fleeing intentions, etc.), otherwise evidence is collected and the investigation goes on while the suspect is still free. If he is eventually found guilty, he will be ordered to report to jail.

    From what has been reported, the situation is not clear at all: the shooting may very well have happened in self-defense. Zimmermann also doesn’t seem to present a significant risk to others or have the intention to escape prosecution. I really don’t see why the police should have acted differently, unless I am missing some major element of how the law works in the US.

  • 24 Tara // Mar 30, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Even the person that flour bombed Kim K. went to jail. So man kills a minor and is not arrested. There are witnesses and recordings etc and this merits ..a one night investigation? wow. Its even shady to Matt Drudge who has since removed any posting of Treyvon or this whole incident…like “take the hint guys we keep digging going to find out more than we want to know..pick another battle guys..” That is saying alot…

  • 25 Tara // Mar 30, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Arthur, Zimmermann was accused of domestic violence and assault of a police officer see reuters article as of print today:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/29/tagblogsfindlawcom2012-blotter-idUS283684187120120329

    Also, we are now reading that his father is a well known and respected judge in those parts.

  • 26 SteveB // Mar 30, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Tara…

    Regardless of the reputation of his father, I highly doubt he would risk breaking the very laws he was sworn to uphold as a judge. As a father myself I believe strongly in fighting your own battles.

    If my son were on trial for a crime I would want ALL information before making a decision of believing him or not. Yeah that wont win me father of the year but it teaches my son principles and values of being a man.

    My wife sees it differently but then again she is the mother. Mothers are more protective of their young than fathers. Go figure it is just how it is. In any case, the domestic dispute went both ways. She filed on him and he filed right back so it does not admit guilt or innocence on either behalf. Think…canceling each other out.

    This guy had a run in with the cops and guess what…many people in that town did for much less reasons. Do you think that gave him confidence in the law enforcement??? Why else would he become the self appointed guard dog of the streets?

    I’ve said it before and I will say it again. This was a tragic accident where the parties involved mistook each other for something they werent.

    Martin (more than likely) perceived zimmerman as a threat because he was following him (think kidnapper or whatever).

    Zimmerman perceived martin as the possible suspect in a string of burglaries in the area.

    Did either of them present themselves in a manner as to identify who they were? It doesnt seem like it according to reports.

    Did either of them present themselves in a suspicious manner? Both did. Martin with the way he was walking (in zimmerman’s POV). Zimmerman for following Martin while he was talking to his girlfriend.

    Did either of them take action to see what the other was doing? Both of them. Martin confronting zimmerman as to why he was being followed. Zimmerman confronting martin as to why he was there thus resulting in the tragic death of martin.

    Could this have been avoided? Of course. Many possible ways to have avoided this but we cant speculate on the “what-if”. We have to look at the story as a whole. People have come to conclusions based on bits and pieces. I for one am more about seeing the entire picture because any little thing could change the view one way or another. It all depends on how it is presented.

    Both parties involved are as guilty as the next in what happened. Thing is…would Martin’s family really accept that their son had a hand in his own death? Right now they are so wrapped up in vengence and mob mentality to see there could possibly be a way this was a tragic accident.

    Both thought the other was going to cause harm and in that frame of mind decisions made are generally not clearly thought out. This is not an open and shut case of one person walking in to a convenience store, pulling a gun and shooting the clerk.

  • 27 Chuck Rudd // Mar 30, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Tara:

    “Even the person that flour bombed Kim K. went to jail. So man kills a minor and is not arrested. There are witnesses and recordings etc and this merits ..a one night investigation? wow.”

    I have to say, you are extremely misinformed. The investigation had never closed before Martin’s family obtained legal counsel. The Sanford PD had interviewed the 13 y.o. witness to the incident 8 days after it happened. Sanford PD made phone calls from Trayvon’s phone in order to test it several days after the incident. The investigation was on-going, but it apparently wasn’t going fast enough for some. I’m glad they had a fire lit under their ass (if they needed one; it’s completely unclear if Chief Bill Lee was botching the case or if he was conducting a thorough investigation into what is very clearly a complicated incident).

    Your Kim K. reference is pretty silly. That was a one-sided incident in which Kim K. did not instigate contact. And you’re conflating the various types of punishments which are typically meted out by an initial arrest. I was arrested once for failure to pay a traffic ticket. I was booked right ahead of a guy who was being brought in for attempted murder.

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  • 29 N B // Mar 30, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    Steve B, I agree with MOST of what you are saying except the fact that you call Martin suspicious because of the way he was walking. Im not aware that we have to walk a certain way in order to not be considered suspicious. Further more, he must have felt comfortable in this neighborhood to walk to the store and back without fearing he would be stopped and questioned. The way a person walks should not make them a target for speculation. After all Zimmerman didnt have any real reason to speculate about Martin.. I mean saying hes walking about, with a hoodie, well, so what? Was he looking in peoples houses, was he peeping in people’s cars? Was he doing anything aside from walking that really made him guilty of anything? According to Zimmermans own words.. no.. So one would have to really ask, exactly why DID Zimmerman think anything of him? Nothing he said on the phone raised any alarm.. Its certainly a free country and one that should allow people to walk to their father’s home without getting killed!

  • 30 TBP // Apr 1, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I’ve been wondering this myself. Surely it is standard procedure to document any injuries suffered by everyone connected with a homicide. And wouldn’t it be especially important when the admitted shooter of an unarmed teenager is claiming self defense? I’m not talking futuristic SCI nonsense here, I mean just taking pictures with a camera. Aside from the fact that there should have been someone there whose job it was to take pictures, I’ll bet every cop, every paramedic, every tech on the scene had a cell phone capable of taking pictures. But not only have no such photos been released, as far as I can tell no one has even mentioned that they exist. This leads to me believe, or at least suspect, that they don’t. If Zimmerman has photos that back his story, I can’t imagine why he, his lawyer and/or the police haven’t said so, even if there’s a good reason for not making them public yet.

    Likewise, shouldn’t be there x-rays, brain scans or some other kind of proof that Zimmerman suffered a broken nose and had his head repeatedly slammed against the sidewalk? If he had told the paramedics that, shouldn’t they have immobilized him on a spinal board and taken him to a hospital, stat? Ramming your head into concrete is a great way to sustain crippling, even lethal, injuries (besides common sense, I know this from sad family history). I don’t suppose they could actually have forced him to go if he didn’t want to, but they should have tried really, really, really hard to convince him, and if he still refused, gotten him to sign a release that he was refusing treatment against medical advice. The latest I’ve seen is that his injuries were described by the paramedics as “superficial” and that his nose was bleeding, but they didn’t say it was broken.

    The now famous police station video might not disprove Zimmerman’s account, but it gives absolutely no support to it, either.

    The apparent lack of any photos of his alleged injuries, or even any mention that they might exist, is one of the strangest things about this very strange (and tragic) event.

  • 31 TBP // Apr 1, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Oops, that’s CSI, not SCI.

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