Consider this exchange from George Zimmerman’s “challenge” interview with Chris Serino and Doris Singleton, as the investigators go over GZ’s NEN call with him:
(plays tape 0:39 to 0:48)
DS: Can you just pause that for a minute? OK, when you explained it to me, you said you had pulled over initially at the clubhouse, correct?
GZ: Yes, ma’am.
DS: OK, but it seems so fast, and then I thought you told me, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, I thought you said they asked you, can you still see him, and you said, you told them you couldn’t, and you asked, and they said, well get to where you can see where he’s at. And you told me it was at that point you moved.
GZ: Yes, ma’am.
DS: Now you’re saying he’s coming up to your car. Does that mean you’ve already, at this point in the tape, you’re already on Twin Tree, the street you didn’t know the name of at the time?
GZ: Um, no, I was on, I called when I was at the clubhouse.
DS: OK, but he’s walking up to your car now, right?
GZ: Yes, ma’am.
DS: On the tape. Cause you’re saying he’s walking up.
GZ: Yes, ma’am.
DS: You’re talking about when you’ve already left the clubhouse and now you’re on the corner.
GZ: No, ma’am. I’m at the clubhouse.
DS: You’re still at the clubhouse
GZ: Yes, ma’am.
DS: when he does this?
GZ: Mm hmm.
DS: OK. (plays tape 0:49 to 1:03)
DS: OK, pause it right there. OK, where’s he, where, where are you at now? Are you still at the clubhouse?
GZ: I think I’m still at the clubhouse, yes.
DS: OK. (plays tape 1:03 to 1:16)
DS: Have you moved yet?
GZ: I don’t think so.
DS: You’re still in front of the clubhouse?
GZ: I think so.
DS: On Retreat View Circle.
GZ: Yes, ma’am. I don’t remember even saying he had a button on his shirt.
DS: OK. (plays tape 1:16 to 1:18)
CS: So something’s wrong with him. (plays tape 1:18 to 1:20?)
CS: What’s that statement supposed to mean?
GZ: I don’t know.
CS: OK. (plays tape 1:20 to 1:28)
DS: OK, where are you at now? Are you still in front of the clubhouse?
GZ: I don’t remember.
CS: OK. (plays tape 1:28 to 1:34)
CS: That statement. These assholes…what’s behind that?
GZ: People that victimize the neighborhood.
DS: Didn’t you just tell us in there that a week earlier they made an arrest?
GZ: Yes, ma’am.
DS: So they don’t always get away.
CS: Good point. (plays tape 1:34 to 1:50)
CS: What’s happening now? Are you guys walking now, is he walking?
GZ: No, that’s, I was parked where I could see him now.
CS: So you’re…
DS: OK, so you’re definitely not in front of the clubhouse any more, at this point?
CS: So you’re ahead of him?
GZ: No, I was behind him.
CS: OK, so you walked to your car, then walked along this path and you were you were behind him?
GZ: Yes, sir.
GZ: When I was at the clubhouse he walked…
CS: Are you driving slowly or something?
GZ: No, I pulled over and stopped before I called.
I cannot see how Serino and Singleton could pursue this line of questioning — asking GZ where he was at what time in the NEN call — without being aware of the physical impossibilities in his account.
If GZ is parked at the clubhouse while he describes Martin approaching his truck, then “he’s got something in his hands, I don’t know what his deal is” which GZ finished speaking at 7:11:00, places both GZ and TM in front of the clubhouse at that time. GZ begins describing the location his truck on TTL at 7:11:20. In the “re-enactment” video, it takes Randy Smith 43 seconds to pull out from the clubhouse and drive to GZ’s parking spot on TTL. Perhaps Mario Andretti could have covered that distance in 20 seconds, but not George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman notices Trayvon running down the dogwalk at 7:11:40. Could Trayvon have covered more distance is less time on foot (walking leisurely, remember) than Smith did by car? It’s approximately 170 yards from the front of the clubhouse to the T. Normal walking speed is 1.5 yds/sec. Thus, at a normal walking pace, it would have taken Trayvon about 113 seconds to cover that distance. He would have to have been running at an average pace to get there in 40 seconds.
But, of course, according to Zimmerman, Trayvon did not just travel from the clubhouse to the cut-through sidewalk and break into a run near the T. Zimmerman says TM walked down the dog-walk behind the houses, then re-emerged after a moment, walked back to the truck, circled it, and then walked back to the T and disappeared behind the houses a second time. This adds approximately 130 to the path. Meaning Trayvon would had to have covered 400 yards in 40 seconds. That’s approximately the pace Michael Johnson ran in setting the world record for 400 meters, and even Johnson at his best couldn’t run that fast wearing flats and khakis over grass and asphalt. And, of course, GZ says TM was walking the whole time.
Now, I can’t imagine Serino and Singleton would have pursued the line of questions above unless they were aware of the time discrepancies between the NEN call and GZ’s statements. And even if they hadn’t been aware of them before the “challenge” interview, I can’t imagine that Zimmerman’s responses didn’t make the problem plainly apparent. I certainly can’t imagine any competent prosecutor reviewing the transcript or tape of this interview, utterly failing to put two and two together, querying Serino and Singleton further on the subject, and confirming the discrepancy with their own measurements of distance and time.
Thus, Serino’s testimony during the trial would seem to have offered the perfect opportunity for the Prosecution to present the stopwatch-and-map evidence in combination with the NEN to establish some major falsehoods in GZ’s account of the events of 2/26/2012. And, frankly, I can see no excuse for their failing to do so. Granted, they were going easy on all the police witnesses to avoid any hint of cover-up and corruption within the SPD. But querying Serino on this subject would not have exposed him in any way. The predicate is right in the interview transcript. Zimmerman’s account was fishy from a timeline standpoint, Serino and Singleton knew it (or at least suspected), and they got answers from Zimmerman that prove his story was bogus. All they needed to do was use the occasion of Serino’s testimony to point that out: replay that part of the NEN call, replay the part of the interview quoted above, get out a map with distances marked, connect the dots.
So it seems to me that what we have here is either incompetence that stretches credulity, or a conscious decision to exclude incriminating evidence, which is even more troubling.
Continuing with the watch-map-NEN call theme, Serino and Singleton ALSO nail GZ on the discrepancy at the OTHER end of the timeline — the “walking back to his car.”
(plays tape 2:47 to 3:06)
CS: What are you doing right now?
GZ: Walking back to my car.
CS: OK. (plays tape 2:17 to 2:41)
CS: OK, if I time this portion, this is important, OK? I almost gotta reconstruct this. (plays tape 2:16 to 2:41)
CS: When do you start walking back to your car? Time here. You’re going towards Retreat View, right?
CS: OK. (plays tape 2:28 to 2:41)
CS: OK, where you at now?
GZ: I think on Retreat View Circle.
CS: OK. Is that 2:41? OK. (plays tape 2:41 to 2:47)
CS: OK, you’re walking back to your car?
GZ: Yes, sir, (plays tape 2:48 to 4:03 )
GZ: I’m thumping the damn flashlight as I was walking through. (call ends)
DS: How long is that?
CS: It’s 84 seconds. From the point where you were walking back to your car from Retreat View to Twin Tree basically.
DS: It’s what, about 30 feet.
CS: That’s a minute and…20 seconds. Did you stop at the “T”?
GZ: No, I walked through. I stopped on Retreat View Circle.
CS: That’s where you were standing?
GZ: Yes, sir.
CS: OK. But you didn’t get back into your car?
GZ: No, sir.
CS: Why not?
GZ: I was…
CS: You’re in the rain, you’re getting wet, you’re on the phone.
GZ: Because I was waiting, I, the, I had light there…
GZ: Where I was at and I was trying to hit my flashlight. I didn’t want to walk back through without light.
CS: OK, a minute and 20 seconds.
GZ: Yes, sir.
CS: OK, you’re in the rain, getting wet. You’ve wrote this guy off basically, you’re gonna meet the police. OK, you see where the obstacle is here?
GZ: Yes, sir.
CS: OK, I want you to think about that. I am speaking for you, for everybody. I’m trying to, trying to do the best I can here.
GZ: Yes, sir.
CS: It’s a minute and 20 seconds. It doesn’t sound like you were saying, well it doesn’t sound like you quite recall exactly what happened at that point, OK? (unintelligible) something else. This is not right? OK.
So confronted with the time discrepancy, GZ CHANGES HIS STORY from ‘I was still on the phone with NEN as I began walking to back to my car,” which he had also asserted in the walk-through, to ‘I stood there on RVC banging on my flashlight for 1:20.” Instead of trying to get an acceptable explanation for this “obstacle”, Serino just avers “well it doesn’t sound like you quite recall exactly,” and then Singleton changes the subject back to GZ’s “Oh shit, he’s running” remark. So we’re supposed to believe that after walking all that way to “get an address,” GZ DOESN’T get an address, but just stands at the end of the sidewalk whacking his phallashlight for a minute and a half? That makes no sense, and not just because he would have been standing in the rain. GZ’s claim that Noffke was arranging a meeting with the arriving officer at his truck is his excuse for not following through to actually get an address. If GZ was banging on his torch, he didn’t need to be standing in place while he did so. He could have walked another 20 feet or so and actually found an address. And he claims, “I didn’t want to walk back through without light,” when we all know he had another flashlight that was found ON near the T. Even without that second flashlight, he would have had no trouble finding his way back to his truck, as the path would have been outlined by the ambient light coming over from TTL.
Finally, confronted with the fact that he canceled the arranged meeting at the mailboxes with the arriving officer, “Actually could you have them call me and I’ll tell them where I’m at?” GZ comes up with this gem.
DS: Why did you tell them, never mind just have them call me when they get here and I’ll tell them where I’m at?
GZ: I was frustrated that I couldn’t think of the street name where I was…
DS: But you were gonna be back in your car from that distance in less than 15 or 20 seconds. So why would they need to call you?
GZ: I felt like I didn’t give them an adequate description of where I was from the clubhouse.
DS: OK, cause you know what the impression would be, is that you’re gonna continue to look and when they get here you’d just tell ‘em where you’re at, at that point. You see what I’m saying? Well…no, never mind
CS: Just keep the (unintelligible)
DS: just tell ‘em to call me when they get here, and I’ll tell ‘em where I’m at. Meaning I might not be at my car. Where I just told ‘em I would be.
CS: I mean, you know, we’re here working for you here, OK?
GZ: Yes, sir.
GZ: I know…
OK, let’s just ignore the “no, never mind” and “we’re working for you here” remarks that let GZ off without actually addressing the question any further, and note that he said, “I felt like I didn’t give them an adequate description of where I was from the clubhouse.” Uhh, only 3 SECONDS had passed from the moment he agreed to meet the officer AT THE MAILBOXES, so how could he possibly be concerned about his description of his position in relation to the clubhouse?
So, all in all, Zimmerman seriously stuck his foot in his mouth 3 times during the “challenge” interview.
Did you get that impression during the trial?
Well, neither did anybody else, because the Prosecution simply avoided their ample opportunity to call these things to the jury’s attention. And, again, they could even have done so without putting Serino or Singleton in any kind of bind. The State’s strategy, if you can call it that, seems to have been to introduce most of the key pieces of evidence, explaining or emphasizing almost NOTHING, then expect the jury to take all the myriad documents and recordings back to the deliberation room, parse the meaningful parts away from the noise, and put the pieces of the puzzle together by themselves. Really? What can I say except, “That’s real retarded, sir!”
George Zimmerman has been acquitted in Florida. The deck was overwhelmingly stacked in his favor.
1. Florida’s NRA-backed self-defense statutes required the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Zimmerman was not in fear for his life when he shot Trayvon Martin. This is a ludicrous burden when the only witness who could challenge Zimmerman’s account is the victim.
2. The prosecution put up a half-assed case by any estimation, failing to introduce or explain key pieces of evidence, and failing to challenge the credibility of the corrupt Sanford Police Department.
3. Judge Nelson allowed a pro-Zimmerman jury with no black members to be seated by rejecting the State’s peremptory challenges of two jurors, on the basis of a Defense objection that the prosecution had challenged too many white women, despite the fact that Nelson herself noted that white women made up a hugely disproportionate percentage of the jury pool.
4. The jury instructions Nelson employed overwhelmingly favored the Defense.
5. Judge Nelson allowed the jurors unsupervised time with family and friends, leading to the possibility that outside information was brought into their deliberation. WFTV news story. Commentary from addictinginfo.org.
The criminal trial may be over, but the Martin family may bring a wrongful death suit against Zimmerman, and there is a possibility (however small) the Federal Department of Justice may bring Civil Rights charges against Zimmerman, or investigate the goings on inside the SPD. More importantly, jury verdicts do not decide how major political trials will be judged by history, nor how they will ultimately influence our society and culture.
And so our discussion, and our work, continues…
(in progress, incomplete for now, check back for updates)
By establishing just how thorough George Zimmerman’s falsehoods and inconsistencies have been, we can establish just how thorough the failure of our social institutions were in this case. This page is meant to be a one stop resource for all the revelations about GZ’s credibility that are currently scattered in various spots over the web, to be used as a tool by researchers in academia, the media, and the general public.
I have made a page for text files of Zimmerman’s statements.
By my count, there are no less than 9 versions of Zimmerman’s story:
A. NEN call
B. Written statement
C. Initial interview with Singleton
D. Initial interview with Serino
E. Walk-through “re-enactment”
F. CVSA recording
G. ‘Challenge’ interview with Serino and Singleton
H. Hannity interview
I. As told to Mark Osterman
I think it makes sense to divide this into two sections: the first for the falsehoods and gross improbabilities GZ has presented again and again across his statements, and the second for falsehoods and inconsistencies that pop up in the different accounts.
The lower case letters below are temporary placeholders for reference as we go. When the document is ‘complete’ I will replace them with numbers sequenced from top to bottom, not restarting in each category. Thus each falsehood/inconsistency/etc. will have it’s own unique number, and the page will mark the total number of credibility problems that GZ has offered from his own mouth.
PART 1: THE FALSEHOODS AND IMPROBABILITIES REPEATED AD NAUSEUM
FALSE: GZ says he saw a real suspicious guy walking around looking at the houses.
TRUE: The security videos, Rachel’s statement, and the phone records establish that TM was already stationary under the mailbox awning before GZ spotted him.
NOTE: GZ was lying about this even in the NEN call.
FALSE: GZ says he passed TM on RVC, then drove to the clubhouse and parked, and it was there that he called NEN.
TRUE: The clubhouse videos prove GZ never parked in front of the clubhouse, and that GZ’s truck was on TTL when he dialed NEN, after having cruised past the mailbox awning where TM was taking shelter.
OMISSION: GZ never mentions that he parked near the first curve of TTL, facing the mailboxes, and it was from there that he described TM approaching and passing his truck in the NEN call.
TRUE: The clubhouse videos clearly show GZ parked on the first curve facing the mailboxes. He also initially marked this spot on the map he drew for Singleton before crossing it out. It is only from this position that his description of TM’s actions in the NEN call can be reconciled in time and space.
OMISSION: GZ does not mention that TM ran away from him, (apparently unwilling to admit the possibility he scared TM).
TRUE: Both the NEN call and Rachel Jenatel’s statements indicate that TM broke inot a run at some point after he passed Zimmerman’s truck.
FALSE: GZ claims TM, still walking, disappeared behind the row of townhomes on TTL (containing the Lauer/Weinberg unit on the North end), then re-appeared, still walking, came back, circled the truck, then headed back toward the dog-walk again.
TRUE: GZ’s own words on the NEN call establish that TM approached the truck from the direction of the clubhouse.
TRUE: It would have been physically impossible for TM to cover anywhere near that distance within the time parameters established by the NEN call.
FALSE: GZ claims Sean Noffke asked him to identify his location by address before he left his truck.
TRUE: The NEN recording establishes that Noffke did no such thing. Rather, GZ was in the process of giving directions to his location when he interrupts himself by observing that TM has started to run: “you turnandmakealeft… Shit! He’s running!”
FALSE: GZ claims he left he left his truck to walk over to RVC to get an identifying address to give to Noffke.
TRUE: It is apparent from the NEN call that TM’s running was the motive for GZ to exit his truck. He could not only have readily seen the address on Lauer’s townhome, but also those of several even closer homes on the South side of TTL. Though he’s supposedly going for address, he repeatedly describes looking for Martin: “didn’t see him…at all” banging on his flashlight as he reached the T, “I told non-emergency…’You know what? He’s gone’.” “He’s not even here…” and so on. Furthermore, the whole premise is nonsensical, as an address on RVC would hardly help officers find the location of the truck on TTL.
FALSE: GZ says the phrase he uttered under his breath on the NEN call was “Fucking Punks!”
TRUTH: A phonetic breakdown of the section of the NEN call in question demonstrates that GZ clearly said “Fucking Coons!”
FALSE: GZ claims he walked from TTL over to RVC, specifically denying the suggestion that he was running at any time.
TRUE: Labored breathing and mic-handling noise on the NEN, which begin and end together, suggest GZ was running for about 20 seconds. (While the background sound does resemble ‘wind noise’, for it to have actually been caused by wind, one would need to posit that a gust came up exactly at the moment after left his truck, and not before, that it blew steadily for the next 20 seconds or so, then stopped exactly at the point GZ stopped to tell Noffke he had lost sight of TM, and remained dead calm for the duration of his NEN call.)
OMISSION: Until confronted with the recording of his NEN call, GZ never acknowledges that he told Noffke NOT to have the arriving officer meet him by his truck.
TRUE: “Actually could you have them call me and I’ll tell them where I’m at?”
FALSE: GZ claims he began walking back to his truck while still on the phone with NEN, after Noffke arranged a meeting point with the arriving officer, and TM confronted him as he was on his way back to the truck.
TRUE: The “re-enactment” establishes that the walk from RVC back to the point where GZ says he was confronted takes about 20 seconds. The confrontation began no sooner than 2 minutes after GZ hung up with NEN.
FALSE: GZ claims he was walking back down the cut-through sidewalk to meet the arriving officer at his truck.
TRUE: GZ initially agreed to Noffke’s suggestion to meet the officer at THE MAILBOXES. He then changed his mind and asked Noffke, “Actually could you have them call me and I’ll tell them where I’m at?” To which Noffke agreed.
HIGHLY IMPROBABLE: GZ claims that as he squirmed/shimmied away from the sidewalk, contact with the ground pulled his jacket up, revealing his gun to TM, who then told him, “You’re going to die tonight, motherfucker!” and reached for the gun.
TRUE: The Kel-Tec PF-9 is a very small gun. In the “challenge” interview, GZ told Serino, “I walk around WalMart all the time and no one has ever seen it.” Tucked into GZ’s waistband, in the darkness, had TM noticed the bulge in GZ’s pants he would almost certainly not have known what it was. Furthermore, GZ indicates in the “re-enactment” that the gun holster was attached to his rear, under the right rear pocket of his jeans. It would have been physically impossible for TM to see it there if the two were facing each other, or even if GZ had been turned 45° to his right.
HIGHLY IMPROBABLE: GZ claims that after he shot TM, Martin sat up and said, “You got me!”
TRUE: GZ’s bullet pierced TM’s right lung, causing the lung to collapse immediately. Regardless of what Dr. Bao or Dr. DiMaio said about how long someone might remain alive after being shot through the heart, it is virtually impossible to speak with a collapsed lung.
CONTRADICTION: GZ claims that after he shot Martin, he got on top of Martin’s back and spread the youth’s arms apart. He also claims he believed that Martin was still alive and cursing st him as he did this.
PROBLEM: GZ is unclear as to where his gun was at this point. In more than one of his accounts, he says he had not yet returned it to its holster. Thus, in order to spread both of Martin’s arms, which would have required the use of both of his hands, GZ would have had to either set the gun down momentarily, or spread Martin’s right arm with his gun still in his right hand. Either case would have allowed a still-alive Martina ready opportunity to grab the gun, something GZ would seem to have been careful to avoid if Martin had indeed reached for the gun only moments previously. And, of course, Martin’s hands were under his body when the first witnesses arrived on the scene.
PART TWO: SPECIFIC CREDIBILITY ISSUES FROM STATEMENT TO STATEMENT
B. Written Statement
FALSE: “I told the dispatcher I did not know but I was out of my vehicle looking for a street sign and the direction the suspect went.”
TRUE: GZ never told NEN operator Noffke that he was out of the vehicle, or that he was looking for a street sign.
C. Singleton Interview
FALSE: When GZ was asked why he found TM suspicious, he replied, “I’d never seen him in the neighborhood. I know all the residents… I know all the kids in my neighborhood, all the adults in my neighborhood.”
TRUE: Not only did GZ not know the Green family, but several of the witnesses at his trial mentioned that they had never met him.
CONTRADICTION: “So, I was walking back through to where my car was and he jumped out from the bushes and he said, What the fuck’s your problem, homie? And I got my cell phone out to call 911 this time.”
PROBLEMS: There are no bushes capable of concealing a person anywhere near the T. Nor did GZ mean “out from the bushes” as a figure of speech, as Singleton later asked him where the bushes were, and he noted the hedges lining the North walls of the buildings along the North end of the dogwalk. These hedges are right up against the buildings, with no room for a person to get behind them and are no more than 3 ft. tall. Later in the interview, Singleton queries GZ about what happened to the cell phone when TM (allegedly) hit him, whether he dropped it or not. GZ initially repeats that he had the phone in his hand, then changes his mind and says, “I saw him coming at me and I went to grab my phone…I don’t remember if I had time to pull it out or not.” In the “re-enactment”, GZ says he reached for cell phone, but couldn’t find it, as he had put it in a different pocket.
CONTRADICTION: “And he punched me in the nose. At that point I fell down…” “I fell to the ground when he punched me the first time.” “As soon as he punched me, I fell backwards, um, into the grass.”
PROBLEM: GZ and TM were struggling on the ground about 45 ft. South of where GZ says TM confronted him. In the “re-enactment”, GZ says TM approached him from the South. If TM had hit him coming from that direction, and had Zimmerman fallen backwards, he would have landed on the North side of the cut-through sidewalk. In the “re-enactment”, GZ says that did not fall immediately after being hit, but rather staggered to the South, trying to push Martin away from him, and then, after traveling that distance, “Somehow, he got on top of me.” In other words, in the “re-enactment” GZ claims not to have fallen directly from the punch at all.
CONTRADICTION: “I thought he was going for my firearm. So I grabbed it immediately, and as he banged my head again, I just pulled out my firearm and shot him.”
PROBLEM: In his other accounts, TM does not resume head-banging after he supposedly begins smothering GZ.
CONTRADICTION: “So I remember I, once I shot him, I holstered my firearm and I got on top of him and I held his hands down because he was still talking.”
PROBLEM: In the “re-enactment,” GZ says he was still holding his unholstered firearm away from his body when Jon Manalo arrived on the scene.
CONTRADICTION: GZ told Singleton and Serino that TM continued to speak after GZ got on top of him.
PROBLEM: In the “re-enactment”, the only speech post-gunshot GZ attributes to TM is “You got me.” That is improbable enough, given TM’s collapsed right lung, but the notion that he continued to speak for some time after falling over, and being flipped face down by GZ, is even more of a stretch.
D. Serino Interview
FALSE: GZ told Serino he had an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice.
TRUE: GZ had not completed his course requirements for an AA.
CONTRADICTION: GZ says he first spotted TM by Taaffe’s.
PROBLEM: He had told Singleton he spotted TM further up RVC at the next bend in the road, and had marked that spot on his map.
FALSE: GZ says he passed TM by Taaffe’s, drove to the clubhouse, parked, dialed NEN, and Trayvon walked past his truck as he was doing so.
TRUE: It would have taken TM several more minutes to travel the distance from Taaffe’s to the clubhouse by foot, than for GZ to cover that distance in his truck
FALSE: In the re-enactment video, GZ claims while parked in front of the clubhouse, the NEN operator asked him what direction TM went AFTER TM had made a right onto TTL out of sight. GZ claims to have responded “I don’t know I can’t see him”, and after which the NEN operator asked him “Well, can you get to where you can see him.”
TRUE: The NEN operator never asked GZ to go anywhere.
TRUE: The NEN operator only asked GZ what direction TM went AFTER GZ had reported TM running. The security videos and the NEN audio establish that GZ was parked on TTL at the time.
FALSE: GZ says TM walked around the corner of the clubhouse, and headed East on TTL. He then says he followed in his truck, staying behind TM the whole time, until parking on the wrong side of the road just West of the cut-through sidewalk.
TRUE: This sequence of events is impossible to correlate with the NEN call.
TRUE: The clubhouse videos prove that before GZ parked where he said he did, he had parked near the first turn of TTL, facing West, toward the mailboxes. He initially marked this spot on the map he drew for Singleton, then crossed it out.
FALSE: GZ claims Noffke said “We need an address,” and then told GZ, ““Give us directions to get to you” before he left his truck.
TRUE: Noffke said nothing of the sort, and volunteered the directions to his truck without being asked.
FALSE: “they asked me where he went, what direction he went in, and I said ‘I don’t know.’ And then I thought to get out and look for a street sign.”
TRUE: From the NEN call — SN: He’s running? Which way is he running? / GZ: Down towards the other entrance to the neighborhood. / SN: Which entrance is that that he’s heading towards? / GZ: The back entrance.
FALSE: GZ places the struggle and gunshot as happening directly in back of the Lauer/Weinberg home at 1211 TTL
TRUE: All witnesses place the struggle and shot as occuring some 30 ft. to the South, directly behind the Good residence at 1221 TTL
CONTRADICTION: It takes GZ only 20 seconds to walk from the point where he says the NEN call ended to the point where he says TM accosted him.
PROBLEM: Over two minutes passed between the end of the NEN call and the beginning of the struggle
IMPROBABLE: GZ claims he became aware of John Good exiting his home while Martin was beating him in the face, and began crying “Help me!” to Good before Good spoke to say he was calling 911.
PROBLEM: If GZ was getting his pummeled as bad as he claims, with his head feeling like it was about to explode, how would be able to become aware of a man opening a door (not a particularly loud noise, nor a distinct change in his visual field, assuming he could see anything at all while being beaten in the face)? It’s also questionable that someone receiving a severe beating in the face would be able to yell for help coherently. On the other hand, if GZ was NOT being hit at the time, he would have been much more able to notice Good, and to speak to him. This is also consistent with Good’s statement that while he saw arms flailing about he heard no sounds of impacts.
CONTRADICTION: GZ says, “After I shot him, he like sat up… I shot him and I didn’t think I hit him because he sat up and said, ‘okay, you got me. You got it, you got it’…something like that.”
PROBLEM: Why would GZ say “I shot him,” twice, language that clearly indicates the bullet was on target, if he didn’t think he had hit him, as opposed to saying something like “I fired”, or “I shot AT him” that would properly indicate he did not know at the time where the bullet had gone?
FALSE: GZ claims he was still sitting on top of TM when Jonathan Manalo came onto the scene, and that he only stood up for the furst time when he saw Officer Smith approach.
TRUE: In his 911 call, John Good reported two men walking around in his backyard well before Smith arrived. Jayne Surdyka and Selma Mora saw GZ get up and walk around before Manalo arrived. The testimony of Mora, Surdyka and Manalo all indicate that GZ met Manalo near the T. Before Smith arrived, Manalo and GZ had enough time to discuss what type of ammunition GZ used, walk back to the body, where Manalo took a photo with a cell phone, and walk back toward the T, where GZ surrendered to Smith. GZ himself told Singleton, “And then when the police got there…I was already standing up.”
FALSE: GZ claims Manalo said “I’m calling the police” and he replied “Don’t call the police, help me restrain this guy!” and “I already called, and they’re on their way. They’re coming. I need your help!”
TRUE: Manalo testified that he asked GZ, “Should I call 911?” and GZ, already up and walking around with his phone to his ear replied “I already called them.” Manalo said nothing about GZ asking for help in restraining Martin, who was well dead by the time Manalo arrived.
G. “Challenge Interview” with Serino and Singleton
GZ actually says very little in this interview. The police officers do most of the talking, and GZ says “Yes sir” a lot. Serino and Singleton confront him with a variety of problems in his statements and the “re-enactment.” In response, GZ either mumbles unintelligibly, says he doesn’t remember, or repeats parts of his story as he has told it previously, whether they address the questions or not (they usually don’t). So most of what he says falls under the heading of Part 1 above. I noted three interesting new moments, though, where GZ attempts to elaborate on three of his mainstay falsehoods — 1. that he was parked in front of the clubhouse when TM approached his truck, hand in waistband etc.; 2. that he started walking back to his truck after NEN operator Noffke arranged for him to meet the arriving officer there; 3. why he said “Actually could you have them call me and I’ll tell them where I’m at? ” I can only describe each of these elaborations as ludicrous. I have written a post looking at these moments in detail, and pondering the Prosecutions failure to make a point of them during the trial.
H. Hannity Interview
QUESTIONABLE: GZ tells Hannity he had never heard of Stand Your Ground before the shooting.
PROBLEM: SYG had been covered in the coursework GZ took in his community college program, and it’s hard to imagine his friends and family in law enforcement (Osterman, Mesa, et. al.) would never have mentioned it to him. In GZ’s first interview with Chris Serino, after GZ told him he had an Associates degree in Criminal Justice, Serino asked him “Um, the difference between statutes and homicide and justifiable homicide and use of force, they’re, you’re aware of them, you have a degree, you’re familiar with what we’re talking about here, right?” And GZ replied, “Yes, sir.”
CONTRADICTION: GZ said, TM was “cutting in-between houses, and he was walking very leisurely for the weather”
PROBLEM: In his earlier statements, GZ said TM was standing by Taaffe’s house. This is the first time he mentions “cutting in between houses” (plural). Additionally, if TM had been walking “leisurely” this only adds to the impossibility of TM covering the distance between Taaffe’s and the clubhouse by foot in only a few more seconds than GZ covered the same distance by truck.
SLIP?: GZ said of TM, “it didn’t look like he was a resident that went to check their mail and got caught in the rain.”ISSUE: Why would GZ mention the mail? In the ‘re-enactment’, GZ indicates that he was parked in front of the clubhouse when TM rounded the corner onto TTL. He could not have seen the mailbox area from this position. GZ further indicates that TM was already walking down TTL by the time he got his truck around the corner. Thus, his account indicates that TM was never sheltering under the mailbox awning. Rachel Jeantel testified that TM was taking refuge from the rain under the mail awning for some time. In addition, the security videos show Zimmerman’s truck crawling past the mailbox area, then making a u-turn on TTL, and parking facing the mailboxes. GZ initally marked this position on the map he drew for Inspector Singleton, but then crossed it out.
Hannity: You said he came towards you, and he seemed to reach for something in his waistband. Did you think that was a gun?
Zimmerman: I thought he was just trying to intimidate me.
Hannity: To make you think that there is a gun?
Zimmerman: A weapon.
PROBLEM: GZ never mentioned any suspicion that TM might be armed to the NEN operator, nor did he say the TM REACHED into his waistband. He said, “He’s got his hand in his waistband. And he’s a black male. He’s got a button on his shirt, late teens. Somethings wrong with him. Yup, he’s coming to check me out. He’s got something in his hands, I don’t know what his deal is.” Unless he thought the photo button was a weapon…
FALSE: GZ says he uttered the word “punks” under his breath.
Hannity: Punks. It was not a racial epithet of any type?
Zimmerman: No. And I can tell you that when the police played it for me in the station, it was clear as day.
TRUE: A phonetic breakdown of the scetion of the NEN call in question demonstrates that GZ clearly said “Fucking Coons!”
Hannity: Why do you think that he was running then?
Zimmerman: Maybe I said running, but he was more —
Hannity: You said he’s running.
Zimmerman: Yes. He was like skipping, going away quickly. But he wasn’t running out of fear.
Hannity: You could tell the difference?
Zimmerman: He wasn’t running.
PROBLEM: GZ’s exclamation, “Shit! He’s running!” on the NEN call would seem to be unequivoval. Rachel Jeantel stated that TM ran hard enough to become short of breath. Yet, as we’ve already noted, GZ had avoided any mention of TM running in his earlier statements, and here, when pressed by Hannity, he comes up with a rather ridiculous equivocation.
Hannity: The dispatcher asked you, “are you following him?” And you said yes. Explain that.
Zimmerman: I meant that I was going in the same direction as him, to keep an eye on him so that I could tell the police where he was going. I didn’t mean that I was actually pursuing him.
PROBLEM: Again, GZ’s response on the NEN call would seem to have been unequivocal. And of course, in previous statements GZ claimed he only left his truck to look for an address.
Hannity: So this moment where someone suggested you were out of breath on that tape, you yourself were not running?
Zimmerman: No, sir.
Hannity: And you I think made a statement to the police that it was the wind as you were getting out of the car and moving, and that was the sound we hear, not you out of breath?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
TRUE: Regardless of what causes the background noise, GZ’s breath is clearly labored as he pursues TM. The utter improbably of the background noise being caused by wind has already been discussed above.
Hannity: When the dispatch said “we don’t need you to follow him?” What did you do next?
Zimmerman: I walked across the sidewalk on to my street, Retreat View Circle, where I thought I would meet a police officer that I had called.
TRUE: GZ never mentioned Retreat View Circle to NEN operator Noffke, but instead had given Noffke directions to the location of the truck on TTL (though, of course he had not mentioned that street by name…)
Zimmerman: I was walking through to my street, Retreat View Circle, and I was going to give them the actual street number and name.
Hannity: How long was it, George, after that, that you saw Trayvon again? Because you said you stopped, that you did not continue pursuing him. When did you next see Trayvon Martin?
Zimmerman: Less than 30 seconds.
TRUE: GZ’s NEN call ended at 7:13:38. His verbal confrontation with TM began at approximately 7:15:45.
(I will keep adding to this document over time until I have a reasonably thorough compilation. Please chip in with anything I’ve missed or haven’t gotten to yet.)
Maybe a new thread will fix the problem of posts not appearing. Or not.
Even though it seems nobody other than me thinks the Wagner photo is really a big deal, since I still do, I shall plunge ahead with the third in my series of posts about it.
Again, my belief that this photo has been edited is based most strongly, and I would think persuasively, upon the anatomical anomalies I perceive when comparing it to other verified photos of Zimmerman taken later the same evening. That’s all presented in the part 1 post.
CAVEAT: This post will be longer, much geekier, and less conclusive. Unless you have some interest in the workings of new media technology you may well find it unilluminating.
As I’ve already noted: though I’m a fairly experienced Photoshop user, I have no expertise in the specific skills of photo-retouching, nor in specific methods used to ferret out retouching by a close examination of the pixel patterns in the image raster. The anatomical issues to the side, if I magnify the area in the Wagner photo that I think has been diddled, I don’t see any obvious signs of manipulation.
But as someone on FLLB observed the other day (FL himself IIRC), “absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence.” I know enough about Photoshop to know that most people who use it only ever master a fraction of it’s abilities, and I believe that given enough time, a truly gifted and expert photo editor equipped with the right software can accomplish just about anything. So I’m not going to make an argument that any of the detail seen above should or should not be taken as authentic on technical grounds. That kind of thing is over my head.
Instead, I want to address three technical characteristics that have, or at lest appear to have, been changed in the released version of the Wagner photo from the original that would have been recorded by Wagner’s iPhone 4s. That is, SOMBODY, did SOME THINGS to this picture. While I can’t directly connect those things to altering the shape of Zimmerman’s nose, I will offer hypotheses on how they may suggest a photo editor was at work.
The three issues are: 1. Resolution, 2. Aspect Ratio, and 3. Color Saturation.
A digital photograph is made up of a grid of dots, called a ‘raster.’ Each dot (called ‘pixels’), each square in the grid has a color value defined by three variables: brightness, hue (position on the color spectrum) and saturation (richness or intensity of the hue element in comparison to neutral). The more boxes in the grid recording any given image, the more detailed the photo will be. The dimensions of the raster are referred to as the photos ‘resolution.’ All other things being equal (which they aren’t but that’s another story…) the bigger the better. A photo editing program like Photoshop can resize a digital photo, including blowing it up to create a higher resolution, but it can’t create detail that wasn’t there to begin with in the process. On the other hand, when you use Photoshop to make a photo smaller, decreasing the resolution, you inevitably lose detail tat can’t be recovered by resizing the reduction back up again. The original detail level exists only in the original digital file.
Wagner took his photo with an iPhone 4s. Now, unlike many digital cameras, which can be set to take photos in different resolutions, the iPhone 4s only takes photos in one resolution: 1936 x 2592 pixels. That ‘5 Megapixels” in digital camera advertising jargon, pretty good resolution for a cellphone camera. However, the Wagner photo as released is only 650 x 870 pixels. In other words, it has been reduced to about 1/9th of it’s original area.
That reduction, in and of itself, is hardly nefarious. Digital photos are typically reduced down around that size for posting on the Web. The lower resolution makes for a much smaller file, taking up less bandwidth, loading faster and so on. But it would also be much easier to hide traces of manipulation in a low resolution, coarse detail image than a high resolution, fine detail image. And we don’t know who/when/how of the Wagner photo being reduced.
To give you an idea of the difference in resolution, here is the Wagner photo as released on the web, and an unreduced photo of a theatrical mock-up created to resemble the Wagner pic, photographed with an iPhone 4s (just like the one Wagner used). Each photo should expand to full size when you double-click on it.
Note how much more detail exists in an original iPhone image as compared to the Wagner image.
Now, if Wagner sent a full resolution 1936 x 2592 image file to the investigators, and some FDLE media tech just reduced it to put it on the Web, then the odds of manipulation would go down. It would still be possible, but it would be extremely difficult and time consuming to fake a nose structure that would pass muster at 5 Megapixel level detail, especially given that this is original resolution.
This is because the act of reducing isn’t just a matter of losing detail, it also involves changing the way detail is represented by the pixel pattern in the raster. Let’s say you started with a 650 x 870 image and reduced it to 600 x 803. The software has to figure out what values to assign each pixel in the new raster, Since the dimensions don’t divide into each other evenly, the program reads the values of all the pixels in the old raster that touch the area of the photo where the new pixel will be, and blends the values in a complicated formula that accounts for the relative distance and alignment of the old pixels with the new. But blend it does. How this blending occurs can be adjusted via several variables inside the software, and slightly different results can be obtained by doing the reduction in a series of stages as opposed to all-at-once.
In short, not only would it be easier to fake something on a low rez version than on a high rez version of a given photo, but manipulations made at a higher resolution can be effectively made less apparent by the act of reduction itself. Both of these techniques could be combined as well: editing at high rez, blending by reduction, followed by pixel editing at low rez to remove any telltale artifacts.
Again, I’m not a skilled photo retoucher. There are definitely people who can do this kind of thing way better than I can. But look what even I was able to do in about half-an-hour: I moved mock-Zim’s right eye (screen left) about 3/8″ closer to his nose using the original iPhone file. I did some blending with the brush-eraser set at medium opacity, and some removal of redundant lines with the rubber-stamp clone tool, also at medium opacity. Then I reduced it a couple steps, added a couple small tweaks with the clone and smudge tools, and reduced it a few more steps until reaching 650 x 870, same as the Wagner photo.
The editing is rather obvious if you look at the whole picture since the face is now way out of symmetry. I can tell where the traces of my editing are because I know what I did, but can you? Ignoring the anatomical anomaly, could you swear this was faked on the basis of raster realism alone? If you are that clever, remember a newb did this in 30 minutes. Imagine what a pro could achieve with almost three weeks to work on it.
2. Aspect Ratio
The aspect ratio of a digital image is the fraction formed by dividing the length of it’s long side by the width of it’s short side. So an 870 x 650 photo has an aspect ratio of 1.34. This also happens to be the aspect ratio of 1936 x 2592. Normal reduction or enlargement of an image doesn’t change the aspect ratio. You can change the aspect ratio of image by cropping just one side, or cropping different sides disproportionally. But you can also change the aspect ratio WITHOUT cropping, by scaling the image disproportionally along the horizontal and vertical axes. In other words, digital photos can be squeezed or stretched. Here is the Wagner photo squeezed sideways 10% without altering the height.
Such an image is referred to as ‘anamorphic,’ which is just tech talk for ‘the proportions are not what they were in the original.’ If an image is just a little bit anamorphic, it can be hard to tell at first glance. You might not see anything wrong with the 10% side-shrink version of the Wagner pic above if you didn’t have something to compare it to. The only reliable way to tell if an image has been made anamorphic is to compare the shape and proportions of something in the image to it’s known real-world shape and proportions.The usual go-to test in checking for proper aspect-ratio is to look for something in the image you know to be perfectly round — a side view of a wheel for example — and check to see if it’s actually evenly round, or has been elongated into an oval along either the horizontal or vertical axes.
Those of you with sharp eyes who have compared the released version of the Wagner photo with GZ’s SPD photos may have already observed that GZ’s head appears somewhat skinnier in the former than it does in the latter. Some of this may be the high camera angle accompanied by the close perspective coming from the wide-angle lens incorporated into the iPhone. But I think the Wagner photo as released IS slightly anamorphic, squeezed sideways or pulled out vertically by about 3%.
I can’t be definitive about this the image doesn’t contain a good enough known shape for comparison. Because of the different camera angles, we can’t compare GZ’s head in this picture to his head in the SPD pictures. The closest things in the Wagner photo that should conform to a known shape are the irises of his eyes, which should, of course, be perfectly round. In the image below I have placed a round black circle over a blow-up of GZ’s left eye from the Wagner photo. Unfortunately, since the iris is partially covered by the eyelid, I can’t say that I’ve gotten the circle centered exactly. But I’ve done the best I can, and if you look closely, you’ll see there’s more of the iris showing below the circle than on the sides. That is, the iris is slightly oval, slightly taller than it is wide.
Here is a side by side comparison of the Wagner photo as distributed on the left, and the same image but with the horizontal axis expanded by 3% on the right. To my eye, the image on the right looks more natural, and the one on the left appears slightly squeezed. (as always, double click to enlarge…)
Ok, so I could be wrong about the Wagner pic being a little anamorphic, but you may be asking, well, what difference does it make if I’m right anyway? The answer is that if indeed the image proportions have been altered that is a sign of intentional manipulation. The alteration could not have happened by accident. Here’s the thing… It would be fairly odd for a computer klutz resizing the photo to mess up the aspect ratio of the smaller file, making it anamorphic, but it’s not inconceivable. But then the aspect ratio would be different from the original. And the aspect ratio of the Wagner photo is exactly the same as the larger iPhone original. So the only way for the image to be anamorphic AND in the same aspect ratio as the original would be for it to have been both cropped AND squeezed-or-stretched, and done so with precision so the math would work out.
Which brings us to the next obvious question: why would anyone go to the trouble of performing this particular manipulation? Since the change is small, any benefits are also small. But the change-proportions-and-crop (or vice versa) routine is easily done and would only take about a minute, so any gain, however small would be worth the time. I can think of two reasons to perform this alteration. First, making George’s head skinnier makes him seem weaker and more vulnerable. Second, stretching or shrinking one dimension of the photo would be another operation — like the resizing discussed above — that causes Photoshop to rewrite all the pixels in the raster, again with the potential to hide any artifacts from editing/compositing work, especially if performed multiple times.
This one is pretty simple. The color in the Wagner photo is awful. GZ’s skin has a yellow cast, his gray shirt appears light blue, and all the colors are pumped up well beyong their natural intensity. Some of this is just part and parcel of the iPhone camera, which has pretty lousy color rendition (when compared to a ‘real’ digital camera anyway). Not only are the hues typically less than accurate, but both the brightness contrast and the color contrast are poor. Still, while the iPhone camera may be bad, it’s not THAT bad. The mock-Zim photo was taken with the same kind of equipment and under the same conditions as the Wagner photo: iPhone 4s / flash / subject seated in open car door with interior light on / some ambient street light… But the color in the mock-Zim photo looks a lot more natural than the Wagner pic. Here’s a split screen:
Again, tweaking up the colors in Photoshop takes only a few seconds, and is relatively easy to do. The increased saturation makes the photo seem more dramatic, with the blood coming from the nose becoming especially vivid. (Mock-Zim’s ‘blood’ was drawn on with a red Sharpie, and doesn’t quite match the tone of real blood… the model was not up for actually bleeding for this little experiment.)
Adding it up
Unless an M.D. with expertise in facial injuries weighs in supporting my take on the anatomical anomalies posed by comparing the Wagner and SPD photos, I can’t say I’ve established beyond reasonable doubt — even for myself — that the Wagner image has been ‘Photoshopped.’ But I think the evidence is far beyond trivial. Except for the apparent massive deviation of cheek and nose bones, you could fairly say that everything little thing I’ve noted about the Wagner photo is just that — a little thing. But these little things are all going the same direction, and they combine with a story of the photo’s history from Michael Wagner that I find just too convenient. He takes the only photo of the injuries of a man who has just shot an unarmed teenager to death, takes it home, makes the effort to upload it to his computer, and then forgets he has it? Really? And why does he erase the original of a key piece of evidence in what is obviously a major case from his phone. The shooting draws immediate attention from Florida media, and soon the attention of the national media, and yet it’s three weeks before he remembers he took the only photo of Zimmerman’s bloody nose? … I suppose it’s possible, but if this doesn’t arouse your skepticism I’ve got a friend in Nigeria who could use your help with a little matter of some frozen funds…
The Bigger Picture
This goes beyond the question of George Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence. It goes beyond the question of whether law enforcement officers conspired — perhaps with the assent or even at the direction of their superiors — to protect a ‘friend of the force’ who was facing serious criminal charges. It goes beyond the question of whether State prosecutors allowed tainted evidence to be entered at trial without challenge in order to avoid implicating a police department in a scandal.
It goes to the larger issue of how digital media are used to establish ‘fact’ within the legal system, and anywhere else in our society where the stakes are high. The progress of the Wagner photo into court-accepted evidence is simply unacceptable. It doesn’t matter whether it was actually manipulated. It could have been, and that is enough for deep concern, if not outright outrage. No forms of digital media should be granted evidenciary status unless they are presented in the original format in which they were recorded, and with a clear ‘chain of custody’, all properly documented. This scrutiny should not be left to adversaries on one side or the other to invoke by challenge. It should be demanded as a prerequisite by law.
And this is not just a matter of vigilance toward possibilities of intentional manipulation. All audio/visual technologies distort reality to some degree — hiding things that are actually ‘there,’ and adding things that actually aren’t. Much of the time these distortions turn out to be trivial in terms of the practical purpose for which the media are intended. But when the stakes are high, little distortions can mean a lot. Media technologies of all sorts have proliferated wildly. Vast numbers of folks walk around carrying devices that can record sound, capture still images, and even capture moving images. Security cameras seem to be everywhere as well. The digital a/v documents in the Martin/Zimmerman case are absolutely typical of the contemporary technological presence in everyday life: cellphone audio compressed into .mp3s; cellphone camera images reduced into low rez .jpegs; lo-fi surveillance video rephotographed off a computer screen. If all technologies carry possibilities of distortion, these sub-optimal technologies (to put it nicely) are a veritable minefield of potentially misleading perception. We all must become better informed about what the output of these devices CAN tell us, and what it CAN’T, and why. But such knowledge and discretion is crucial for decision makers in policy, law enforcement, and mass communication. And sadly, this wisdom seems almost wholly lacking in those domains.
Hey gang, let’s make a list of all the evidence and/or argument that we know is available to the State in the Zimmerman case, or that we can reasonably conclude they should have been able to dig up, but that they have not presented in the trial. I’d like this to be fairly specific as to purpose. So rather than just saying “security videos”, an entry would say, “Use security videos to establish that GZ never parked in front of the clubhouse,” and a separate entry would say “Use security videos synced to police calls to establish that GZ was past the mailboxes on TTL when he called NEN.” And so on. I’ll start with few more entries off the top of my head:
• The State has not introduced the voice exemplars of GZ yelling Help Me, Help Me, nor TM’s voice samples from his cell phone.
• The State has not made anything of the direction of the blood trails on the back of GZ’s head.
• The redirect of Dr. Rao was incredibly weak. After West got her to admit that the “punctate abrasions” on various areas of GZ’s head COULD be the result of a series of “impacts” on concrete, the State elicited no counter-possibilities. Could the abrasion have been made by dirt/gravel/grass nubs on the ground rather than concrete? Could they have been made by GZ’s head rolling over the surface from side to side rather than by a series of stacatto impacts? Given the presence of these punctate abrasions as the only wounds other than the two small lacerations on the back of the scalp, what kind of force would have been necessary to create them. Would a minimal amount of protective covering of the head have prevented these punctate wounds and scalp lacerations? Say, if someone had suffered the exact same experiences with/to their head, but been wearing a hoodie with the hood up at the time, would that have prevented those “inconsequential” injuries entirely? In short could Trayvon also have had his head bumped around to the same degree as the two men were “wrestling”, but shown no effects because his head was covered at the time?
OK, there’s just a few starters. Have at it. I hope we can wind up with a comprehensive list all in one place.