New details darken outlook for Zimmerman’s claims of self-defense

Vince Coglianese Editorial Director
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Several new interviews with individuals close to the Feb. 26 Trayvon Martin shooting case offer fresh details about the possibility that George Zimmerman was the aggressor in the much-debated tragedy.

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain who called 911 to report that the 17-year-old Martin seemed out of place in his Sanford, Fla. neighborhood, later shot the unarmed teen after what his lawyer has claimed was a physical struggle that Martin initiated by punching him in the nose and slamming his head on the pavement. Supporters of Martin claim Zimmerman was the aggressor and killed him without justification.

Richard Kurtz, the funeral director who prepared Martin’s body for burial, revealed to CBS News that he saw no bodily injuries on the youth that would indicate a physical struggle with Zimmerman.

“We could see no physical signs like there had been a scuffle [or] there had been a fight,” said Kurtz. “The hands — I didn’t see any knuckles, bruises or what have you. And that is something we would have covered up if it would have been there.”

The claim follows police surveillance footage obtained by ABC News showing Zimmerman virtually unscathed as he enters the Sanford Police Department for questioning. However, a Daily Caller analysis of the video, coupled with the on-camera concern a police officer showed when inspecting Zimmerman from behind, does indicate some indeterminable mark on the back of the man’s head.

Additionally, an unnamed witness of the incident spoke Thursday night on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” saying that the duration of the early-evening skirmish took place not on the sidewalk, but on the grass. Also, Zimmerman “didn’t appear hurt” or show any signs of bleeding from the witness’ vantage point.

Those individuals who have claimed either friendships with Zimmerman or a close proximity to him in the past have offered mostly positive assessments of the man’s character. But the interviews also paint the picture of an individual who seemed to have an overzealous desire to act as a police officer, even without actually being one.

In a new interview with the New York Daily News, an unnamed former co-worker alleged that Zimmerman had a tendency to fly off the handle. The two reportedly worked together as security guards at private house parties between 2001 and 2005.

“Usually he was just a cool guy. He liked to drink and hang with the women like the rest of us,” said the co-worker. “But it was like Jekyll and Hyde. When the dude snapped, he snapped.”

The source alleged that Zimmerman was let go after becoming a “liability.”

“One time this woman was acting a little out of control. She was drunk. George lost his cool and totally overreacted,” he said. “It was weird, because he was such a cool guy, but he got all nuts. He picked her up and threw her. It was pure rage. She twisted her ankle. Everyone was flipping out.”

Regardless, the source claimed, he never imagined Zimmerman would shoot someone.

George Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr. defended his kin’s version of the story to CNN’s Piers Morgan Thursday night, saying that “the medical records are going to explain all of George’s medical history.”

“His nose looks swollen in that [police surveillance] video. I’m his brother,” Zimmerman Jr. said.

In what appears to be a brand new claim, Zimmerman Jr. says that Martin was reaching for his brother’s holstered gun during the fight.

“There would have been George dead if he had not acted decisively and instantaneously in that moment when he was being disarmed,” Zimmerman Jr. said.

Both Martin and Zimmerman have faced a thorough character-vetting process as prominent activists and politicians ensure a continued national focus on the tragedy. Both men share rocky backgrounds, with Martin having been suspended from school on multiple occasions for various reasons and Zimmerman having previous run-ins with the law.

Martin’s disciplinary history showed no sign of physical aggression, though; a fact that offers Zimmerman’s claims of self-defense little support in the court of public opinion.

What little support Zimmerman has found publicly comes from a handful of close friends and family. Of those who aren’t strictly calling for his arrest and prosecution, many are urging a thorough investigation to assess whether Zimmerman rightly defended himself using Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law — or moved to shoot and kill Martin without a justifiable fear that his own life was in danger.

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