USA TODAY, March 29, 2012
By Yamiche Alcindor
WASHINGTON – The family of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin said Wednesday that a police video showing the shooter, George Zimmerman, arriving at the station for questioning discredits claims he acted in self-defense.
“It just shows that everything that Zimmerman has been saying, that the police have been reporting, is false,” the teen’s father, Tracy Martin, told USA TODAY as he watched the video on television in a Washington hotel Wednesday night.
ABC News said it obtained the police surveillance video, and it was replayed on other networks. Sanford police Sgt. David Morgenstern told the Associated Press that the video is of Zimmerman.
“From what I saw, Zimmerman had no blood on his face, had no grass on the back of his clothes, no cuts on the back of his head,” Martin said.
Zimmerman’s lawyer said Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show that the 90-second video is too grainy to be revealing.
Attorney Craig Sonner described the video as “very grainy.” He said he did not know if the clothes Zimmerman was wearing in the video were the same clothes he had on when he shot Trayvon.
Sonner also pointed out that Zimmerman had been “cleaned-up” and received first aid in the four hours between the incident and Zimmerman’s videotaped arrival at the police station.
Family attorney Benjamin Crump said the video and lack of evidence of a struggle knocks down Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense and shows officials botched their investigation.
“You’re witnessing a conspiracy in the first degree,” Crump said. “If they don’t arrest this guy — there’s a conspiracy at this point.”
The police surveillance video taken the night that Trayvon was shot dead, shows Zimmerman, 28, arriving at the Sanford, Fla., police station in a police car, exiting with his hands cuffed behind his back and being led to questioning.
The 17-year-old’s death has sparked a national conversation about racial profiling. Trayvon was fatally shot Feb. 26 after Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, followed him because he said the teen looked suspicious.
Trayvon, who is black and wore a hooded sweatshirt, was unarmed; Zimmerman is described by police as white; his family says he is Hispanic.
No charges have been filed against Zimmerman. He had told police that Trayvon jumped him and smashed his head into the pavement. According to an initial police report, an officer noticed Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose and back of his head and showed signs of having been in a struggle.
David Notowitz, a forensic video expert, said the video of Zimmerman entering the police station appeared to one of high quality and resolution and could be analyzed to determine if Zimmerman’s nose is broken or there were wounds on his back.
Notowitz, founder of the National Center for Audio and Video Forensics, said the video supplies shots of Zimmerman at various angles which could be enhanced, studied and compared.
A video expert could use the footage to zoom in on Zimmerman’s head, neck, nose and jacket, he said. Experts, such as doctors, could then analyze the pictures.
“Right now, people are jumping to frantic conclusions,” Notowitz said. “Mr. Zimmerman may be totally innocent. He may have reason for doing what he did. He also might be guilty. But the evidence is not there yet.”
Crump said the national outpouring of outrage in the case won’t stop until Zimmerman is arrested.
“I think the people aren’t going anywhere,” he said referring to the growing online petitions, gatherings and social media campaigns.
Among the displays of support Wednesday was that from Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., who was escorted off the U.S. House floor for wearing a hoodie as he protested the shooting. The lawmaker called for a full investigation into Trayvon’s death.
“Racial profiling has to stop,” Rush said on the House floor. “Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum.”
The congressman, wearing the hoodie again, said later in a CNN interview that “life is much more than a piece of clothing.”
The House has strict rules about what lawmakers can wear on the floor. Rep. Greg Harper, R-Miss., who was presiding over the chamber when Rush was speaking, banged the gavel repeatedly and reminded him of rules that prohibit the wearing of hats in the chamber while the House is in session.
Harper said wearing a hoodie was “not consistent with this rule.” Rush was escorted out.
The hoodie has become a symbol of support for Trayvon. Miami Heat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and their teammates wore hooded sweatshirts in pictures as part of the “We Are Trayvon” campaign.
Tens of thousands of people have posted pictures of themselves wearing hoodies on Twitter, Facebook and other social media.
Zimmerman’s lawyer and friends have spoken in defense of the neighborhood watch volunteer, saying he is not a racist. He has dropped from sight since the killing and has not made any public remarks.
Despite the police decision not to charge Zimmerman at the time, several other probes are ongoing. The U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation, and a Seminole County, Fla., grand jury is considering possible charges. The grand jury is likely to convene April 10.
More than 30,000 people signed an NAACP petition to Florida prosecutors in just a 24-hour period.
Contributing: Donna Leinwand Leger in Washington, D.C.; The Associated Press