Forensic experts say newly released video by police of the man who shot Trayvon Martin raises more questions than it answers — but that’s not stopping droves of amateur sleuths on TV, Twitter and Facebook from scrutinizing it anyway.
“I think the public should not draw any conclusions from this at all,” said Grant Fredericks, who once headed the forensic video unit for the Vancouver (British Columbia) Police Department.
The video should be just a fraction of the evidence available to police as they investigate George Zimmerman’s claim that he shot and killed Trayvon, 17, after the teenager allegedly punched the neighborhood watch volunteer in the nose and slammed his head against the ground, Fredericks said.
The Feb. 26 shooting in Sanford, Fla., has brought national attention because Trayvon’s family claims Zimmerman killed the unarmed youth after racially stereotyping him. Trayvon was black. Police say Zimmerman is white; his family says he is Hispanic.
Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., told CNN Thursday that reports his brother was chasing the teen are “absolutely false” and that he “was not patrolling the neighborhood. He was going to a store, Target.”
Robert Zimmerman said the voice heard screaming on 911 tapes is that of his brother, who acted to save his own life. He said George Zimmerman “was very disappointed that none of the neighbors had come out” to help him. He said his brother would have been dead “if he had not acted decisively and instantaneously.”
The police security camera video shows Zimmerman exiting a patrol car and entering the Sanford Police Department about 35 minutes after the shooting. Images of Zimmerman’s head and face reveal no obvious cuts or gashes, but at one point, a police officer inspects the back of his head. Zimmerman’s lawyer, Craig Sonner, told NBC’s Today the video supports his client’s story because the officer may have been looking at an injury.
The public weighed in on social media sites. Many expressed disbelief at Zimmerman’s claim that he fired in self-defense, and pointed to the grainy video as proof.
Trayvon’s family and supporters say Zimmerman’s lack of apparent injury in the video shows he lied about the teen attacking him.
Forensic video expert David Notowitz, founder of the National Center for Audio and Video Forensics, says much work remains before investigators can draw evidence from the video. “Right now, people are jumping to frantic conclusions,” he said.