Another Leak From The Sanford Police Department, And Yet More Questions

ABC News is out tonight with what they call “Exclusive” video of George Zimmerman arriving at the Sanford, Florida Police Department after the incident that resulted in the death of Trayvon Martin:

A police surveillance video taken the night that Trayvon Martin was shot dead shows no blood or bruises on George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain who says he shot Martin after he was punched in the nose, knocked down and had his head slammed into the ground.

The surveillance video, which was obtained exclusively by ABC News, shows Zimmerman arriving in a police cruiser. As he exits the car, his hands are cuffed behind his back. Zimmerman is frisked and then led down a series of hallways, still cuffed.

Zimmerman, 28, is wearing a red and black fleece and his face and head are cleanly shaven. He appears well built, hardly the portly young man depicted in a 2005 mug shot that until a two days ago was the single image the media had of Zimmerman.

The initial police report noted that Zimmerman was bleeding from the back of the head and nose, and after medical attention it was decided that he was in good enough condition to travel in a police cruiser to the Sanford, Fla., police station for questioning.

His lawyer later insisted that Zimmerman’s nose had been broken in his scuffle with 17-year-old Martin.

In the video an officer is seen pausing to look at the back of Zimmerman’s head, but no abrasions or blood can be seen in the video and he did not check into the emergency room following the police questioning.

Here’s the video:

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You can judge for yourself, but a few thoughts occur to me:

  • Since Zimmerman received medical attention at the scene one can assume that his appearance in the video does not necessarily represent how he looked immediately after the confrontation with Trayvon Martin
  • The camera is too far away to judge whether or not Zimmerman’s nose was or was not broken. That information would presumably be in the files of the EMS personnel who responded to the scence of the incident
  • There is something going on in Sanford, Florida that is causing people to leak information to the press.

Beyond that, it’s all speculation

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, Policing, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Chad S says:

    3 things re: injuries:

    1-I’ve broken my nose a few times, every time it bled enough to stain my shirt.
    2-Zimmerman claimed that Martin was on top of him beating him or that Martin was bashing his head into concrete to the point where he’s bleeding from the back of his head. There’s no way he wouldn’t have at least a bandage on his head in either case.
    3-Zimmerman’s lawyer has been talking about how Zimmerman had a serious cut on his face from the “assault” from Martin. I don’t see any proof of that.

    I guess we know why the lead investigator didn’t believe his story and why Zimmerman was in cuffs.

  2. anjin-san says:

    I remember a fight between two busboys in the parking lot behind the restaurant I worked at many years ago. Both received broken noses. There was enough blood on the pavement that we had to hose it off. No other cuts were involved.

  3. Boyd says:

    I just have to wonder why both cameras in that video bounce around like they’re hand-held.

  4. anjin-san says:

    As noted above, his build looks pretty solid. Still not buying the concept that a grown man this size was so overwhelmed in a scuffle with a kid he had at least 40 pounds on that deadly force was his only option.

  5. Dustin says:


    I would guess that someone shot a video of the screen it was playing on. The video looks like it’s a screen, not straight video.

  6. RonJon says:

    If this is truly a video taken by police station video surveillance cameras, where is the date/time stamp? I install surveillance camera systems and have in jails and police stations. These videos must have a date/time stamp or they are worthless as evidence. Without this on the video, how can we be sure the video was taken on the night of the shooting? It is also such low quality that we can’t be sure it is even Zimmerman.

  7. Boyd says:

    @Dustin: Ah, I see the moire now. I suppose the only way one could get a copy of the video out would be to use a smartphone, for instance, to record the playback from the monitor.

    Still, as RonJon says, this approach is incomplete, and not satisfying of our (well, my) need to see something definitive. I won’t go so far as to call it suspect (or anywhere close to that), but I sure would have preferred to see the metadata that seems to be just off-screen.

  8. HankP says:

    I’ve seen quite a few fights in my life, and that does not look like someone who received a “severe beating”.

  9. DRS says:

    I’m with Chad S.: his shirt and jacket are quite clean – a nose injury can bleed profusely and there would be some sign remaining even the face has been cleaned up. It’s a light coloured shirt, too, so any blood stains would stand out.

    This is only the start of the dueling leaks battle.

  10. Ben Wolf says:

    The police also reported grass-stains on Zimmerman’s shirt, which I don’t see. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything though, with the camera quality and lighting, who knows what’s visible and what isn’t?

  11. Ben Wolf says:

    I haven’t heard any discussion of the claim by ABC News that a policeman coached a witness:

    Did they retract that story?

  12. matt says:

    @RonJon: IT’s clearly second hand recorded off the monitor by a cell phone or small camera. THe grey bars on the side indicate that this is only one of several feeds being displayed on the monitor being recorded. The time and date stamps are probably in the bottom right of the monitor.

  13. Modulo Myself says:

    This is only the start of the dueling leaks battle.

    Based on what’s gone on so far, it will probably be a list of taunts Martin gave while playing Modern Warfare 3. Or a youtube of him rapping along to Young Jeezy.

  14. legion says:

    @Chad S:

    2-Zimmerman claimed that Martin was on top of him beating him or that Martin was bashing his head into concrete to the point where he’s bleeding from the back of his head. There’s no way he wouldn’t have at least a bandage on his head in either case.

    Also: Martin would have had bruised & bandaged knuckles. You don’t beat someone bloody and break their nose without doing easily detectable damage to your own hands.

  15. PJ says:


    I’ve seen quite a few fights in my life, and that does not look like someone who received a “severe beating”.

    The beating was severe as in “Romney was a severe conservative governor”.

  16. Jenos Idanian says:

    @legion: Also: Martin would have had bruised & bandaged knuckles. You don’t beat someone bloody and break their nose without doing easily detectable damage to your own hands.

    You are aware that, by Zimmerman’s current story, he shot Martin while Martin was beating him? Bruising takes a little time to develop, and he was shot dead mid-beating, so there was probably not enough time for the bruising to develop.

    And “bandaged?” Who bandages the injured hands of a corpse?

  17. matt says:

    @Jenos Idanian:Fair enough.. So where’s the blood that should be splattered all over ZImmerman’s front from both his bleeding nose and the splatter from the bullet wound in Martin. Since Martin was on top of Zimmerman when Zimmerman was forced to shoot Martin then there should of been quite a lot of blood landing on Zimmerman…

  18. DRS says:

    And where’s the damage to Zimmerman’s head if Martin was banging it against the concrete? The guy at the beginning of the clip seems quite undamaged – and is allowed quite a bit of walking-around room by the 3 cops with him.

  19. legion says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “Bandaged” was a brain fart – mea cupla. The rest of your post is nonsense. Bruising takes time to develop, but the trauma that causes bruising is readily apparent in a post-mortem examination. The M.E. would have specifically looked for such evidence in any violent death. One thing I have _not_ seen is anything from the PD or ME on how far away the gunshot came from – if Martin was “on top of” Zimmerman when he was shot, there would be powder burns all over. Also – the police reports state Martin’s body was found face down, lying on his arms. If Zimmerman had shot and/or shoved Martin off himself, it’s far more likely he would be found on his back…

  20. Ben says:

    This absolutely does not look like someone who was getting beat up. I don’t see any evidence of a large cut on the back of his head, no facial bruises, no blood on any of his clothes. This makes his story a bit more questionable.

  21. Chad S says:

    Another thing: if Zimmerman shot Martin while being beaten up, presumably it would have been at point blank range. He should be covered in blood from being that close to a chest GSW.

  22. mattatat says:

    I didn’t walk half as well as Zimmerman last time I had my ass kicked..

  23. mattatat says:

    The city of Sanford has released a longer version of the video.!

  24. anjin-san says:

    @ Ben

    According to some of the knuckle heads here, Martin was the #2 contender for the UFC championship and Zimmermann’s head was nearly caved in. You would never know from looking at this video that he was supposedly badly beaten. I see no evidence of any injuries.

  25. James in LA says:

    This video was shot 35 – 40 minutes after the shooting, per time stamps on videos being shown by the MSM. With travel time, how is there any possibility he was injured and “cleaned up?” He has not a scratch on him. I defy anyone over 40 who does not work out to get out of the back of a car while handcuffed without help. This guy is fit and moving easy. The cops are not wearing gloves, so they have no heightened concern.

    Why were the prosecuting attorney and he chief of police on the scene, and why did the attorney see fit to drive 50 miles to be there in the middle of the night? Who, exactly, “treated him at the scene”?

    This tape decimates any clam of self defense. One predicts we’ll find Zimmerman’s pop, who is a retired magistrate, and is now blaming Obama, the NAACP, et al for “hating,” caused the principles to make horrible decisions. All are going to need to lawyer-up.

    I knew a kid like this… his dad was a well-respected parole officer, and it was absolute teflon proof against any sort of parking ticket. But it would not have protected him from a DUI, and certainly not premeditated murder.

  26. An Interested Party says:

    The leaking of this video as well as the way this story has become so widely known both seem to be arguments in favor of social media as well as the 24-hour news cycle…without these things, very few people would have ever known what happened to Trayvon Martin and, in a certain sense, this case really would have been like the case of Emmett Till…

  27. Jenos Idanian says:

    What an astonishing display of journalistic incompetence. For nearly the entire time we might get a good look at Zimmerman’s head, ABC puts their big old “EXCLUSIVE!!!!!” chiron over the part of the screen where his head is located. Someone must be terribly embarrassed at ABC.

    However, if you look very carefully at 1:04-1:09, you see what appears to be a line on the top of his head, consistent with a cut that was treated shortly earlier. And at 0:49 on the video, the crewcut-headed cop looks at something on the back of Zimmerman’s head. Something drew that cop’s attention.

  28. Jenos Idanian says:

    @legion: I’m about as much of a medical expert as you are, but I doubt that there would have been many indicators of injury to Martin’s hands if he was killed within seconds of his punching Zimmerman. And Zimmerman’s story is that Martin punched him once, knocking him down, then started pounding his head into the pavement when he pulled his gun and shot. I doubt the whole incident took 30 seconds — and probably less.

    And if that shot killed Martin instantly (say, a through-the-heart shot that stopped the heart and blood flow immediately), then any indications of bruising to the hands would be incredibly minimal and hard to detect. Only if Martin had hit hard enough to injure the bones of his hand would there be obvious signs.

  29. ac010505 says:

    I don’t think that it really matters as far as Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense is concerned as to whether Trayvon physically “attacked” him first when he approached Trayvon. When he became aware that someone was following him continuously, Trayvon became fearful for his life. When Zimmerman approached him, Trayvon was already under attack by this “suspicious looking” man following him (he began walking fast, then running with Zimmerman in close pursuit)

    Take note that Zimmerman has never stated that he identified himself to Trayvon or had on any clothing identifying him as being Neighborhood Watch.

    I believe that Zimmerman approached Trayvon flashing his gun—he made sure that Trayvon was well-aware that he had a gun, and if there was any “attack,” it occurred at that point with Trayvon’s attempt to save his life.

  30. DRS says:

    Okay, Jenos: so did they stop at a laundromat on the way to the police station to wash his clothes? Because nose injuries bleed and that t-shirt looks clean.

  31. Jenos Idanian says:

    @DRS: Low-quality video. Look how well ABC… overlooked the indicators of a head injury with their… awkward placement of their chyron.

    Besides, we’re already seeing pretty good signs that Zimmerman was actually injured. Doesn’t that show the “Zimmerman was unhurt” argument is pretty thoroughly challenged? Hell, the initial spin was that he was released at the scene, and now we have video proof that the cops did cuff him and take him to the station for questioning. No one has to prove that Zimmerman’s story is 100% accurate to show that the “hang Zimmerman” narrative has some serious holes. For example, the four-year-old photo of Martin used to show how “innocent” he looked, the labeling of Zimmerman as some obvious white racist redneck, that Zimmerman showed no signs of injuries, that the cops let him go at the scene…

    What everyone needs to calm the F down and let things play out — while watching, but not trying to steer events towards their politically-desired outcome. That means NOT charging Zimmerman just to give “the community” its “sense of closure” — that’s NOT what our justice system is for. We don’t sacrifice the rights of an individual to placate the mobs.

  32. matt says:

    @Jenos Idanian: I see you keep ignoring the pretty high quality longer version of the tape that was recently released by the city of Sanford. This longer cut and higher quality video allows a very good look at Zimmerman and his movement.

    Since your wingnut beliefs are completely countered by the official video I eagerly await your next set of talking points

  33. An Interested Party says:

    What everyone needs to calm the F down and let things play out — while watching, but not trying to steer events towards their politically-desired outcome.

    Oh yes indeed…like not linking to websites that try to spread lies about the victim in this case…

  34. ac010505 says:

    Forget the media spin. Look at the time-line. Look at the consistency of statements. Zimmerman appointed himself to be the captain of the Neighborhood Watch. As the captain he should be very knowledgeable of the rules/guidelines of the NW–basically, to work with the police by being their eyes and ears. Zimmerman chose to carry a gun, he had a permit, but it should not have been in his possession while working in that position. He contacted the police, he stated that he was following Trayvon and was instructed not to, but he chose to ignore instructions and continued following; he was now in pursuit–after clearly stating his frustrations, “they… always get away…” That allows for motive and intent–and shows that he did not feel that Trayvon was of any threat , and Trayvon was marked for death. Zimmerman did not have on any clothing/jacket identifying himself as NW, and he has never stated that he identified himself to Trayvon, although when listening to both sides account, he had ample opportunity to do so. The video: If Zimmerman had bruising that means Trayvon had an opportunity to try to save his life–manslaughter. If Zimmerman didn’t have bruising that means Trayvon didn’t have a chance to stop Zimmerman from carrying out his intent–murder, especially when Trayvon was faced down. This is probably why the Lead Investigator didn’t buy Zimmerman’s story.

  35. WR says:

    @anjin-san: Also Martin turned him into a newt.

    Fortunately, he got better.

  36. DRS says:

    Thanks for addressing my questions, Jenos. I don’t buy the clean t-shirt – it’s light blue, if there had been bloody noses, there would be streaks and stains visible against such a light colour. And there would be bandages if he’d had his head “slammed” (GZ’s word) into the ground, not just a cut on the top of his head. He was supposed to have been beaten up so much that he feared for his life and pulled the trigger. That isn’t showing on the video – and thanks Matt for posting the clearer one.

    Personally I think GZ is more of an idiot than anything else, someone who let his fantasy view of himself take him to a terrible place. And he’s not being well served by his father who’s public comments are not making his son into a sympathetic character.

  37. anjin-san says:

    The new video makes Zimmermann’s story look even thinner. No visible injuries, no visible blood either from a broken nose or gunshot splatter – and he is moving very easily for someone who was supposedly badly beaten in a life and death struggle. He does not look either overweight or out of shape, in fact he looks very solid.

    Not buying the story that much lighter Martin one punched him with a blow to the face that both broke the nose and flattened a 200 pound man. A kid that fought golden gloves might do that, but as far as I know, there is no evidence that Martin had boxing or martial arts skills.

  38. NewzPinion says:

    @anjin-san: @anjin-san: @anjin-san: I made a mistake and hit the “dislike” hands down. OMG!!! And I cant change it!!! OMG!! I totally agree with you.

  39. WilliamD says:

    @James in LA: Well said!

  40. WilliamD says:

    I agree will all that Matt has said….

    Maybe my 28 years of Law Enforcement cause me to contest all of the inconsistencies and lies that a few here refuse to acknowledge…

    His lawyers have indefinitely stopped defending him not only because if they can’t contact him, they simply can’t properly advise correct courses of action for him to take and what to say/not say. They’ve also abandoned him because they’ve all leaked so-called facts that aren’t adding up! George has figured this out, hence his requesting to speak to authorities w/o counsel present…
    #1 = He never should’ve gone against the recommendation of the Dispatcher to continue pursuit. The 911 call proves he’d not yet made contact with Trayvon. He must’ve made contact AFTER he refused to divulge current location and hung-up. With only 3 streets in his very own neighborhood that he was “self-appointed/untrained” Neighborhood Watch Capt, are we to believe he needed to I.D. the street name? Also, the pursuit was in the rear walkway where no street signs exist. Most readers have probably not even looked at the neighborhood map.
    #2 = You cannot provoke the application of Deadly Force. The aggressor here was an armed Cop wanna-be that was far to aggressive for his liking… As a Neighborhood Watch Rep, you’re trained to “WATCH” and report, not PURSUE! Had he been properly “elected” by the Neighborhood Assoc, he would’ve been properly TRAINED as to what CORRECT courses of action were for NW Reps. And the “Stand Your Ground” authors have already stated this case doesn’t fall within the spirit & intent of said law. In addition, being a subject matter expert on the Force Continuum/Use of Force Model, his actions as stated by himself do not justify escalation of Force!
    #3 = There are no signs of Zimmerman having been in a fight of his life where he was one more head-pound from vegetative state. The videos show him 30 mins removed from his so-called “fight for his life” with no signs of injury, no muscular or skeletal fatigue, no blood, smooth motor skills, all faculties present, totally coherent etc… He’ll need testimony from the apprehending officers or from a medical expert to support his “fight of his life” assertion. I think he’s arse out…
    #4 = He stated the altercation occurred as he was returning back to his vehicle, but the map depicting the location of the altercation refutes this inconsistency… His car was parked on the opposite side of the housing complex. No way he travels that far and engages in a “fight for his life” within the amount of time subtracted from his 911 call hang-up and the call from the housing residences. It shows (as does his heavy breathing) that he disregarded the recommendation of the PD (hence the reason the “Stand Your Ground” authors and supporters have him as enemy #1) he was overly aggressive and employed reckless abandon in his goal to be some “hero!” (again, self-appointed). And if Trayvon’s destination was only 50-70 meters away, why would Trayvon REACH his destination only to turn back to confront Zimmerman? I’ll tell you why! Zimmerman approached Trayvon BEFORE Trayvon could get to the safety of his father’s girlfriend’s residence…
    #5 = Listen to the screams on the 911 call by the neighbors, something that Zimmerman could have in no way “assumed’ or calculated in his hero-scheme. Are they of an armed wanna-be Cop begging for his life, or that of a young teenager? Notice the screaming immediately stops after the last shot is heard. A father and mother KNOW the sound of their child begging for his or her life seconds before they’re murdered.
    #6 = Zimmerman’s father, Robert, has gotten him out of trouble in the past. His prior fiance stated he committed criminal domestic violence, which IAW the Lautenburg Act means you can never ever possess a firearm. He also assaulted a Police Office but in both cases, his father got him off. But now, thanks to FORENSICS and phone records, his father cant help him, thus ending his criminal escapades.

  41. Boyd says:

    @WilliamD: There are several problems with your presentation, which appears to be due to your decision that Zimmerman is guilty.

    First, you employ the logical fallacy of argument from authority. It doesn’t matter if you’ve spent 28 years in law enforcement or if you got held back in pre-school for the fourth time last year. Either your arguments are valid, or they aren’t.

    You employ the same tactics that many on both sides of this issue employ: you cherry pick your “facts” that you got from media reports. True, you have woven some allusion to fact in with your media reports, but the bottom line here is that you’re still presenting, as the TV lawyers say, “facts not in evidence.”

    And the final example of why your presentation is not to be relied upon is where you flat-out misrepresent the truth, William. The Lautenburg Act does not, as you claim, bar one from firearm possession because one’s former fiancée claims that one “committed criminal domestic violence.” That’s a determination that must be made by a court, and since, as far as I know, no court has done so, Zimmerman is not guilty of domestic violence and is not what we call a “prohibited person.” Someone who is not familiar with the law could read your false claim above and come away with the conviction that it was illegal for Zimmerman to even be in possession of a firearm, and it’s because you…ahem…misrepresented the truth.

    I also don’t want anyone to get the idea that I’m convinced of Zimmerman’s innocence in this affair. I merely point out that I don’t know, but also point out that, for all of you reading this, you don’t know either, just as Martin’s parents don’t know, and Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson don’t know.