The Zimmerman Tapes: 911 Recordings Released From Shooting Of Teen In Florida By “Watchman”

We have been following the investigation into the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. The shooter, George Zimmerman, 28, has not been charged and reported a suspicious character to 911. Martin was returning from a 7-11 after buying Skittles. He was carrying the candy, a small amount of cash, and an iced tea. The family and many others have called for the arrest of Zimmerman, though the accounts of the shooting have been murky. Previously, we discussed the need to hear the 911 tapes, which have now been released and are linked below.


Zimmerman is reportedly a habitual caller into the police and is heard on one of the tapes complaining that ““These a**holes always get away.” Zimmerman states on the call that Martin appeared “up to no good . . . It’s raining. He’s just walking around, looking about . . . He’s just staring looking at all the houses.” Zimmerman says on the call that it is Martin who confronts him: “Something’s wrong with him. He’s coming to check me out.” However, he later admits that he is following Martin, which the police dispatcher discourages.

Police Chief Bill Lee said the 911 calls show that the incident was not a case of racial profiling. He said Zimmerman could not say whether the suspect was black or white. However, on the tape you hear Zimmerman say “He looks black” and then a few moments later, “He’s a black male.” While he is at first equivocal, he does identify his race. That does not mean that this is a case of profiling, of course.

However, family member have been critical of the handling of the case by the police and what they view as the police bending over backward to defend Zimmerman. The family had to file a lawsuit to get these tapes. After a hearing, the police finally relented.

The tapes certainly contradict some statements by the police. However, I am not sure that they substantially alter the status in the case. The evidence still is largely based on Zimmerman’s account, though such contemporary records are generally admissible. The tapes both help and hurt Zimmerman.

The statement by Zimmerman that “these a**holes always get away” certainly shows animus and he clearly follows the youth. However, that does not translate into evidence of intent to kill. I am more interested in the level of force used by Zimmerman and the two gunshots heard on the tape. It is possible that audio creates a misleading impression of two shots but that would seem an important forensic question. It is hard to believe that Martin would allegedly continue any confrontation of Zimmerman after a warning shot unless the shot was fired in the midst of a struggle over the gun. Zimmerman can cite the tape for his statement that he believed that Martin had something in his waistband and appeared on drugs. He can also cite his contemporary description of Martin approaching him.

Putting aside the complaints regarding the handling of the case by the police and the conflicting statements given by officials, there remains the question of whether there is sufficient evidence to base a charge against Zimmerman. I would like to see the coroner’s report on the trajectory and distance of the gunshot wound as well as audio analysis of the gun shot or shots. I would also like to see evidence of the abrasions on both men. Zimmerman was reportedly bleeding from the struggle but we have not heard many details on Martin’s other injuries.

Zimmerman would be wise to secure criminal counsel. There is probably enough here for an indictment. The most salient facts against him are (1) the statement on the 911 tape showing animus, (2) the disregarded instructions not to follow Martin, (3) the advantage in weight and possession of a firearm in the struggle, and (4) the lack of any weapon or proof of criminal conduct by Martin.

What do you think about the state of the evidence?

Here is the Zimmerman tape: 911 Tape (Zimmerman)

Here is a witness tape: 911 Tape (1)

Here is a witness tape: 911 Tape (2)

Source: CNN

821 thoughts on “The Zimmerman Tapes: 911 Recordings Released From Shooting Of Teen In Florida By “Watchman”

  1. While not a cutler, I do know something about swords and steel both in use and evaluation. A good friend’s father-in-law is an antique dealer and one his specialties is anarchic weapons. He taught us both one afternoon how to buy a katana. I’ll confirm what OS says about folding and tempering. There is nothing wrong with any of the techniques mentioned – all produce fine steel. The primary difference is method of manufacture. Tamahagane, or jewel steel, is made by repeatedly folding layers of high carbon steel with low carbon steel to make a strong blade, but the strength comes at the cost of some flexibility. One of the signs of a well made blade is nioi; a wave pattern created along the length of the blade as the edge is formed (an effect of the layering and tempering process causing crystallization in the steel). These blades have a ridiculously sharp edge – the comparison to a giant straight razor is very accurate, but they are fairly brittle in comparison to some European designs. This is why Japanese sword techniques don’t encourage the hard block and encourage the parry: to avoid breaking the blade. Compare this to Damascus steel. They have a beautiful “marbled/flowing water” pattern on them which like tamahagane is created by crystallization and – unlike the Japanese counterpart – nanowires and carbon nanotube structures. They have a reputation for being very strong, but they are very rare. The original manufacturing technique was lost in the late 18th Century and modern swordsmiths have been trying to replicate it ever since. Pattern welding produces a similar pattern on the blades, but I’ve never heard a comparison between the real thing and modern counterparts. And unlike a vintage katana, I’ve never seen one in real life outside a museum. You can also buy a modern katana made with traditional techniques today if you want to pay the price (they are not cheap). Contrast this to Spanish techniques. I’ll stick to Toledo since that’s the Spanish swords I’m most familiar with. They are a more traditional carbon steel that has a good balance between strength and flexibility. Toledo has a very old swordsmithing tradition, but the heyday was from the 15th to 17th Century. A guild system oversaw quality, but the blades were the work of individual craftsman. Contrast this to both the Japanese and Damascene traditions where you get nothing but individual craftsmen and you can fairly say the Toledo production was standardized if not industrialized. They maintained a tradition of fine swordsmithing in to the late 20th Century, but the steel they use looks like any other polished carbon steel alloy, their reputation being from fine craftsmanship as much as good materials but the materials were not unusual in themselves.

  2. What Gene said about katanas being more brittle. They are flexible to a point due to their layering, but if I got a direct 90 degree hit at one with my claidheamh mòr (Claymore), it would whack a katana in two. As one of my aviator friends joked, it looks more like a helicopter blade than a sword. I have more than a foot of reach on a katana in addition to massive blade strength. The thing is eleven inches across the pommel and 58 inches long. It is designed to take a man dressed in full armor off a horse, cutting him in half in the process.

  3. Brain fog tonight due to a senior moment. Meant ‘quillons,’ not ‘pommel.’ That is a different part of a sword.

  4. I wondered how long it would be before our guys got into “The Naming of Parts.” Great Poem! I wish I could remember it. I guess I could look it up on Wikipedia…

    In Rashomon, one thing I find peculiar is that nobody comments on the completely greedy and irresponsible behavior of the husband who leaves his wife unprotected because he wants to follow an obvious criminal con man to a secret stash of valuable swords. You can always con a greedy man, one of the pieces of that film that is clear no matter which “view” of the action is adopted.

    I think the Trayvon Martin case will ALWAYS have some Rashomonic qualities in our culture, no matter what happens from here on out. But in my opinion, Zimmerman getting out of his car to make sure the “asshole [doesn’t] get away” is the crux of the matter. Or maybe the pommel or the strunk, or the groon.

  5. @Everyone – What is your take on “synchronicity” (coined by Carl Jung in 1920’s). I’ve been experiencing it heavily. I tend to watch TV while hanging out here. It happens almost every time I aim my mouse pointer for a particular word or when typing. Then when reading OS and GH’s very cool sword postings, Capitol One commercial comes up with Alec Baldwin holding what looks surprisingly like a claidheamh mòr. But the characters are Vikings so I’m not sure.

    • SoTB,

      I believe in synchronicity. In my 7 decade life I’ve experienced numerous instances of it. Perhaps the weirdest occured on my birthday in 1976. I took the day off from work but had no one to share it with. I was unhappily involved in a relationship with an engaged woman who was leading me o towards misery. My life was spiraling out of control in many areas and a sense of failure rattled through my brain. I lived in a studio apartment, bare except for a mattress and cat. Hoping to find myself I took LSD about 10:00am. I went through the most intense trip of my life, at one point experiencing the youth of my father, who had been dead for 13 years. At another point I was huddled on a huge plain in Israel with my family and all the Jews that ever lived. Jimmy Cliff was on the radio singing “By the River of Babylon” and I wept copiously as I remembered Zion and felt as one with my tribe.

      Around 6:00pm I was coming down from my trip.
      I felt wonderful, repurposed in my life/career and at peace with myself. As I lay on my mattress, smoking a Marlboro I realized that I was starving and horny. At the moment I thought that my doorbell rang, which was odd because I never had visitors and almost noone knew my address. At the door was a pretty woman I knew who was a rival of the woman I was seeing on the sly. There was no way I could figure out how she knew my address. Not only that but she had a huge bacon cheeseburger and french fries for me to eat. I ate,
      we made love and a desolate day had turned perfect in all respects. We never saw eachother again. I stopped seeing the engaged woman. Won a full scholarsip at an Ivy League school and enrolled in the Gestalt Center. Within the next four years I had a career, met the love of my life and began a family.

      That trip had revealed to me that rather than being an “outlaw” living on the “edge”, I was a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn. How that woman arrived at the moment she did bearing food and other favors is to me an example of synchronicity.
      At the time I could find no other explanation for it.
      It has happened to me many other times, but that was the most memorable.

  6. SoTB, I have not seen that commercial, so cannot comment on the sword used. However, don’t look to TV commercials from some of the biggest banksters for historical accuracy. If is it one of the great Highland Claymores, it was probably selected by the prop manager because they are huge and look cool.

  7. @Sonofthunder–

    That synchronicity thing is, to me, almost undeniale. Right now I can’t remember the many overwhelming examples of it but I have the feeling that if I focus, I’ll run into a few very soon. The thing is, I think, that you notice things based on what neurons recently fired (or something) or what paths were recently taken in your brain for impulses or messages to get from one location to another, and that path being run recently increases its likelihood to be run again and then you notice something in your environment. I mean, unless you focus on almost everything all the time (which is, now that I think of it, possible for you because of your training), you might not notice the sword in the ad unless the recent conversation highlighted it for you. Or something.

  8. can anyone answer this question about Junlian Jaynes?

    Is he saying that the only consciousness is self consciousness?

  9. @Mike Spindell – Great story Mike. It is chock full of intriguing sidebar discussion fodder. Tongue-in-cheek (TiC) comment: Good Jewish boy and BACON don’t seem to track… but that’s just me (LOL – remember it was TiC now!!!)

    @Malisha – Wow that was very technical. I like your analysis. Garcia better get paranoid!

    @Otteray Scribe – You could be right as the stone images of the Claymore make it appear to be the quintessential BROAD sword almost the size of the stone image’s human bearer. I think the Vikings had broadswords that were huge but not as sharp as Scottish blades. But Capital One may have a Scottish Property Master too and may have used the premise that his Vikings (or were they Beserkers?) where using captured Claymores? Alec Baldwin wield’s it like a baseball bat. I’m almost certain you will see it in the next 24 hours if you turn your set on now. Or while you are visiting a friend, etc. Capitol One waste’s more money on silly adverts than Gieco does (i.e. all the Nordic Vikings have British accents).

    @Bron88 – Yes Bron I too would like some clarification without having to unload money I don’t have. With all due deference to Larry Sanger*, I wonder what the I-clamor will be about his newer project Citizendium (http://en.citizendium.org/).

    *Larry Sanger is the inventor of Wikipedia.

  10. Bron, people have been studying the nature of consciousness for centuries. Devices such as the PET, SPECT and FMRI scans have turned what was only possible to examine philosophically into true hard science. It is an emerging field and new discoveries about consciousness are emerging constantly. IMHO, conscioiusness does not require complete self awareness as we humans experience it. An ant or earthworm is “conscious” in a way that, say, a plant cannot be, but if the organism only has few dozen brain cells, it is hardly the kind of consciousness that makes self awareness possible.

  11. OK, people, enough talk about swords–let’s take a look at how one works. Each blade has its good and bad qualities, but in, let’s say, a home invasion situation, I have my Great Highland Claymore (claidheamh mòr) if I don’t have time to get my shotgun out of the cabinet.

    This video demonstrates is what a well made Claymore is capable of. The strength of a battle axe and the edge of a Japanese katana. This is a modern reproduction of the seventeenth century claymore.

  12. Bron, I asked that question about Jaynes when I first read the book. But he died and there are no “legislative intent” notes to peruse. I believe he meant “self-consciousness” because having a dialogue with voices in your mind requires langue, so a two-day-old baby, though conscious, does not have the mindfull quality that was the subject of Jaynes’ book.

    Jaynes and Einstein both being at Princeton — imagine. I have actually been on the campus at Princeton when Tonya Pinkins played in RADIO, GOLF there. I had this otherworldly feeling — and some stranger helped us push the car out of the snow! Probably it was Heaven!

  13. I was typing too fast. Meant “requires language.”
    Which, of course, does NOT require “langue” — but requires “thought” and there we are in the circular argument about consciousness.

    WHen I first saw my kid, he was focusing (to the extent possible) and looked as if the thought-like thing was: “Wow. It’s.” A few days later he looked like he was “likethinking” something like: “Wow. It’s here.” Now, 34 years later, he’s very verbal. One of his favorite comments is: “C’est maintenant, nous sommes ici.” [It is now, we are here.] A form of consciousness was there all along.

    Mike S — that story was hilarious as well as fabulous. The only thing that could have made it better would be if you had turned on some music and heard a Fats Waller rendition of “cheeseburger, oh with one cheeseburger you gets bacon, oh with one cheeseburger you gets bacon and fries” and he says, “One NEVER KNOWS do one?” at the end.

    @SotB: Not only is bacon per se non-kosher, but eating milk together with meat is unkosher, so a cheeseburger is — shall we say — supertref (non-non-NON-kosher, if you will). But Torah study and cultural Judaism don’t demand any particular degree of observance of the dietary laws.

    • Malisha,
      I’m glad you enjoyed my story, since I enjoyed living it. Both the women involved in it are now dead so I’ll never understand why someone showed up that day with a bacon cheeseburger. I grew up in a home that kept kosher. My mother died when I was 17. Per tradition I went to Shul every day for 11 months to say the Kaddish prayer. One month after I finished doing Kaddish my father died. That ended my Shul attendence and Jewish observance for many years. I also stopped observing the laws of Kashruth. My father-in-law, of blessed memory, brought me back to the fold. In any event my Deist beliefs allow me to decide the level of practice I adhere to, but I love the rituals of Judaism as practiced in the Conservative tradition.

  14. I hate to return to the swords for a minute, but I think that’s just a standard single handed broadsword with quillons Alec Baldwin is using the commercial. It’s not long enough to be a claymore and the hilt is a single hand grip (it might be a hand and a half, I’ll have to look closer next time I see it).

  15. @ Mike Spindell: I’m sorry for your losses. I’m glad you went through the Gestalt thing. I wish you long life.

    When my kid was little I used to throw “seders” that were like performance art. We’d choose a theme, prepare the sederim, write the haggadoth, assign “parts” and “roles” to our guest, have a bash, keep it going all night, put a cup of wine out for Eliahu, sing sing sing sing. We’d go into real issues, too, predominantly SLAVERY and its many forms, it’s many incarnations and disguises. We never “toned it down” for children becaue there were always good mixes of ages there; we talked and ate and sang and argued, often until dawn, when all the kids were asleep in a heap. To me, being able to throw such a bash is itself freedom.

  16. When this kind of revelation hits me I always think: Hey wait a minute, how come I didn’t think of that earlier?

    When the Sanford Police Department first took George Zimmerman’s statement on 2/26/2012 and in the few days thereafter, they were just into figuring out how to present the “self-defense” story and not at all worried about this turning into a big cause celebre. They would only have to make the “self-defense” story fly with the parents of this throw-away kid, so they weren’t too concerned about it making a whole lot of sense. They figured their own credibility (they WERE the police) and the limited amount of information they were providing would be enough.

    This is a very standard mode of behavior. I had a malpractice case with a big law firm. They hid documents from me (that might prove they were working with my adversary AGAINST my interests) and at the same time relied upon their credibility (they ARE a big law firm) to show that they did no wrong. It’s easy, once you have amassed a certain amount of power and the powerless person you are lying to has little recourse against you.

    So they tell Tracy Martin, basically, “anything.” Remember: at first, when they were telling Martin’s parents what happened, they did not imagine in a million years that they would be required to turn over the tapes of the 911 calls or the initial Zimmerman call to the police that was listed on this blog. They thought they had that stuff and the Fulton-Martins would never get ahold of it. They didn’t have to make THEIR story match anything else.

    So they told the story as if it could have happened that Trayvon Martin profiled, marked, attacked and tried to kill Zimmerman. How? Well they said Martin went up to Zimmerman’s car and challenged him, and then when Zimmerman got out of the car, Martin ambushed and attacked him. If the initial Zimmerman “assholes” tape was not a part of the story (and how was anyone to guess what was said on that tape?), that could have been a credible story. Unlikely, but possibly credible.

    It only becomes INCREDIBLE when you consider the conversation Zimmerman had with the police!

    but that was not released until Martin’s parents brought a lawsuit to force the police to release it, and then it was posted by Professor Turley on this blog and elsewhere featured in the news and then the story being handed out by the police would have to change.

    No longer could the police say there had been two encounters: first, when Martin approached Zimmerman in the car, and later, when Martin attacked Zimmerman in the dark and pounded his head on the sidewalk. Ooops.

    Then the story went from “Martin marked and challenged Zimmerman” to “Martin attacked Zimmerman from out of the dark” and no mention of an approach while Zimmerman was still in the vehicle!

    As soon as the “assholes get away” tape surfaced, the story changed.

    Then the Dee Dee call (again, the parents uncovered that evidence) came into play and the story given out by Zimmerman and the police had to change again.

    And about Zimmerman attacking the SPD because of the Ware case? It is transparently an attempt by Zimmerman to ingratiate himself with the political faction of the police department that was attacking the former Chief, and working hard to consolidate its hold on the department.

    about his relationship with the police:
    http://wavenewspapers.com/news/national_world/article_227eea10-a626-11e1-9ecf-0019bb30f31a.html

    He helped them succeed and backed their efforts to “cleanse” the department of those who were the political enemies of Lee, and then as a result, he WAS a member of the in-crowd, very much intending to become a member of that force as soon as he completed the course he was taking in law enforcement. His January 2011 activities were not pro-poor-black-homeless-guy; they were against-police-personnel-who-are-political-enemies-of-my-faves because his faves, led by Lee, would welcome him on the force.

    One hand washes the other.

    Once George killed Trayvon, the police who were going to bring him on board could not very easily turn on him, could they? He couldn’t become a member of their force if he had a felony on his record, could he? This is much more about what went on within that department all the way back to at least 2008 than it is about what Zimmerman did that night. And anybody who analyzes cover-ups will need a big spreadsheet for this one.

  17. STAND BY FOR THE RELEASE OF MORE EVIDENCE INCLUDING INTERVIEWS OF WITNESSES, APPARENTLY INCLUDING THE EX-GIRLFRIEND WHO ALLEGED GEORGE ZIMMERMAN WAS VIOLENT.

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