Prosecutors say George Zimmerman “profiled” and then “confronted” Trayvon Martin before fatally shooting him on Feb. 26, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by NPR.
Special prosecutor Angela Corey filed the affidavit Wednesday in Seminole County, Fla.’s circuit in support of her decision to charge Zimmerman with second-degree murder. The document explains the findings of investigators, including an interview with Martin’s friend who was talking with him by phone just before the shooting.
The affidavit contradicts accusations that Zimmerman used a racial epithet in describing Martin, who was African-American, to the 911 dispatcher.
The affidavit also says that Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, has listened to a recording of a 911 call and identified a voice heard screaming in the background as her son’s. Whether it was Martin or Zimmerman who hollered for help has been source of dispute.
The affidavit reiterates much of what already has been reported about the shooting, but it also reveals how Corey arrived at her decision to charge Zimmerman. In addition, the filing shows which pieces of information, taken from evidence and witnesses, Corey will use to build her case.
Investigators allege that Martin was “profiled by George Zimmerman” as he walked through the gated community where Zimmerman was acting as a neighborhood watch volunteer. (Martin’s parents and attorneys believe Zimmerman racially profiled their son. Zimmerman’s former attorneys, family members and friends deny the claim.)
Zimmerman called 911 and told the dispatcher that Martin appeared “suspicious.” As the call continued, Zimmerman lamented about criminals who “always get away.” This portion of the call is hotly contested because the attorneys for Martin’s parents and their supporters believe Zimmerman also described Martin using a racial epithet. Their claim has fueled speculation that the Justice Department’s separate probe of the shooting includes determining if Zimmerman committed a hate crime.
But Corey’s investigators apparently disagree. Here’s what they wrote in the affidavit:
“Later while talking about Martin, Zimmerman stated ‘these [expletive], they always get away’ and also said ‘these f—- punks’.”
Investigators say they interviewed a person who was on the phone with Martin just before the shooting. The person previously has been identified as Martin’s girlfriend. The affidavit says:
“Martin was on the phone with a friend and described to her what was happening. The witness advised that Martin was scared because he was being followed through the complex by an unknown male and didn’t know why.
“Martin attempted to run home but was followed by Zimmerman who didn’t want the person he falsely assumed was going to commit a crime to get away before the police arrived. Zimmerman got out of his car and followed Martin.”
The affidavit says “Zimmerman confronted Martin and a struggle ensued.” Zimmerman has told police he didn’t confront Martin. He claims he was returning to his vehicle when Martin attacked him, began beating him severely until he shot Martin in self-defense.
In a CNN interview Thursday, Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, declined to comment on the affidavit, saying he hadn’t reviewed it.