My nose, Mr. Zimmerman’s, and Witness 6
I experienced an odd shop accident yesterday, in which an object got caught in the teeth of a spinning table saw and propelled at a high speed into my face. I got quite lucky in that it didn’t put my eye out (though I’m now having some vision anomalies and will probably have to go see the Doctor about that…). The thing hit me first and hardest on the bridge of my nose about an inch below my eyeline, and made a narrow cut about 1/2″ long. The cut bled pretty well, but the blow was high enough up the bridge that I didn’t suffer any injury inside the old schnozola, so no bleeding from the nose.
Anyway, it hurt like hell, but it also started me thinking about blows on the nose, and my own personal history with same — in relation to George Zimmerman’s account of receiving a blow in the nose from Trayvon Martin that knocked him to the ground. Because, reeling from this sharp and painful blow, I realized that I had not gone down, not been close to going down… did not get knocked off balance at all. And I thought back to my youth when I took a shot in the shnoz that did break my nose (inadvertent head-butt taking a charge in a pick-up b-ball game). Not only did that one hurt a lot more, my nose bled like a stuck pig. A real gusher. But I didn’t go down then either. I staggered back a couple steps, grabbed my wounded honker and yelped in pain, but again, all under balance and control. This is anecdotal evidence of the purest kind, but the thing is, dear readers, I am not at all a tough guy. I am much closer to the ‘wimp’ end of the spectrum. If even I can take a hard shot in the nose without getting knocked off my feet then I’m thinking so must it be for most folks.
I have no personal experience in pugilism. (I took a beating from a bully in junior high and was too awkward to land even one punch in return, so I’m not going to count that.) I’m not a fight fan, though I watched some of the classic Ali Frazier era fights in my youth, and I’ve watched boxing coverage in the Olympics. (And, of course, I’ve watched the infamous Anthony vs. Curtis bout witnessed by Taryvon Martin…). But thinking back on the boxing I’ve seen, I can’t say I recall anyone being knocked off their feet by getting tagged in the nose. A shot to the jaw will rattle the recipient’s cage, as will a clean blow to the cheekbone or temple, and down the contender will go. But the nose is relatively soft tissue, absorbs to much of the force to force one to lose their balance.
Not that a blow to the nose is nothing. In both my accident today, and that hard-court accident 40 years ago, I was bent over and vulnerable and had some aggressor been there waiting to hit me again, they certainly would have been able to floor me with a second blow (all my vulnerable spots being exposed and undefended).
But George Zimmerman has claimed that one punch to the nose from Trayvon Martin knocked him off his feet. And if I had questions about that before today, as of this afternoon I’m just simply not buying that at all. Especially since the blow he took was not powerful enough to cause profuse bleeding from the interior of the nose or significant wounds on its exterior. Especially because on Feb 26th he was a well-built 28 year old, and today I’m an atrophied 59 year old. Especially since Trayvon Martin had only one small wound on his hands.
So, of the different versions GZ has given of his physical altercation, the one that makes the most sense to me from a physiological perspective is the account from his re-anactment video: where he alleges Martin confronted him on the East-West sidewalk, hit him in the nose, causing Zimmerman to stagger back to the South where he somehow went to the ground on the North-South sidewlak two doors down as Martin continued to come after him.
Except there’s the not-so-small matter that Zimmerman says Martin approached him from the SouthEast. So unless the two men were circling each other before blows were leveled, a punch by Martin would have pushed Zimmerman back toward the NorthWest, exactly the opposite direction he claims to have travelled.
So, my best guess is still that this fight started the way I imagined a couple months ago in my speculative animated timeline: one man turned to confront the other, harsh words were exchanged, one of them felt the other had ‘gotten into his face,’ and shoved the perceived aggressor away. This essentially defensive response was taken as aggression, and the shove-ee grabbed the shove-er. Both men had a hold of one another, struggling for control or escape in an unstable (non)-equilibrium that caused them both to fall to the ground. There were, in fact, ‘wrestling’ as W6 described it in his 911 call. Any blows that were landed on Zimmerman occurred after both men had gone to the ground.
GZ had only the one minor documented wound to the front of his head, and his face looks pretty good the next day in the re-enactment video. (Per the post below, I would guess a higher res picture here would show more remaining presence of the nose wound documented by the photos from the evening before…)
So I’m guessing the blow to his nose is the only significant strike GZ took to his face. Supporting this hypothesis: 1) investigators did not find any sign of defensive wounds on GZ’s hands or arms — as he would have received had been fending off blows from Martin, 2) Zimmerman claims his arms were pinned under Martin’s legs, 3) his written statement only mentions the single initial blow to the front of the face, followed only by alleged head bashing.
So now we have Team Zimmerman’s favorite witness, W6, a.k.a. ‘John.’ In his written statement given to Ofc. Ricardo Ayala on the evening of the shooting, John uses the words “hit” or “hitting” six times. In his recorded statement, given to investigator Chris Serino later that evening, that Martin was “Throwing down blows… MMA style,” and Zimmerman was “getting beat up.” But by March 20th, John is telling quite different story to Investigator Batchelor of the SAO. He has completely backed-off from assertions that he saw anyone “throwing down blows MMA style,” or that anyone was “getting beat up.” He says, “I don’t know if there are punches being thrown, or he’s just trying to hold him down.” He repeats this formula several times, telling the investigator it was too dark to tell the difference. Finally he adds, trying to explain his earlier MMA remark: “It looked like he had been hitting him from on top, but, you know, I can’t truly see how close they were to each other, if he was hitting him, or if he was trying to hold him down in that position unti the cops got there.” On March 26th FSA de la Rionda re-interviews John to ask him what he heard, and John is emphatic in stating that he did NOT hear anything thoat sounded like fist blows against a head, “No, did not hear a punch sound.”
John’s statements in late March return to the language of his 911 call, where he described what he had seen as “They’re wrestling right in the back of my porch.” With Batchelor and de la Rionda, he uses the word “wrestling” so often to describe the conflict it sticks out as point of emphasis. De la Rionda frames the distinction as “the man on the top either hitting or struggling with the man on the bottom” and when he asks John to expnad on the ‘no punch’ comment, John says that he heard no sound of ANY kind of blow, “just a struggle sound.” (Specifically dlR had also asked about a head-against-conrete sound…)
My speculative analysis of John’s changing account: On the evening of Feb 26th, before he made any statement, someone, somehow told him ‘what had happened’ in a way that favored Zimmerman’s account. John absorbed the details he was told, and embellished his statements to fit more closely with what, at that point, he believed must have happened. As the days passed, more information about the case was revealed, everything became called into question, and John realized that he was in the middle of ‘the shit’ as the key witness used to justify Zimmerman’s release. He realized also that his willingness to say what he thought the cops wanted to hear back on Feb 26th had the potential to put him into deep doodoo in terms of possible charges of obstrcution, giving false statements and what not. So now he’s gone all ‘well I didn’t really see anything, and I didn’t hear any fight sounds, and I don’t know who was screaming’ to cover his own butt. Is he telling the truth now? Beats me.