ABC News offers a Zimmerman video scoop


ABC News is touting a police surveillance video from the night of the Trayvon Martin shooting, which “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.”

ABC explains the importance of their big scoop:

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.

[…] 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.

How many people who have followed mainstream media reporting on this story were under the impression that Zimmerman was sent on his merry way with minimal hassle, rather than being handcuffed, frisked, and taken off to the local police station?

At any rate, drawing conclusions about the accuracy of the police report from this video, as ABC News very clearly wants you to do, is absurd.  The report also stated that the Sanford Fire Department attended to Zimmerman’s injuries at the scene.  Here are two relevant quotes from the initial incident report:

While I was in such close contact with Zimmerman, I could observe that his back appeared to be wet and was covered in grass, as if he had been laying on his back on the ground.  Zimmerman was also bleeding from the nose and back of his head.

That’s the part ABC News wants you to believe is discredited by their video scoop.  But the responding police officer also noted:

Zimmerman was placed in the rear of my police vehicle and was given first aid by the SFD.  While the SFD was attending to Zimmerman, I over heard him state “I was yelling for someone to help me, but no one would help me.”  At no point did I question Zimmerman about the incident that had taken place.  Once Zimmerman was cleared by the SFD, he was transported to the Sanford Police Department.

ABC decided to put a big graphical box in the bottom of the screen, rather conveniently blocking your view of the back of Zimmerman’s head when the police look him over.  This obscures your view of a “vertical laceration or scar several inches long” on the back of his head, as the Daily Caller describes it.

Maybe it’s a scar, maybe not.  Maybe it’s an old scar.  But representing this video as case-closed smoking-gun evidence is pure media malpractice.

For the record, “the lead homicide investigator in the shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin recommended that neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter the night of the shooting,” according to an ABC News report, but the state attorney’s office “determined there wasn’t enough evidence to lead to a conviction.”  The homicide investigator said in an affidavit that “he was unconvinced by Zimmerman’s version of events.”

ABC also decided to help the leisurely pace of the Martin story along by publishing the name of a key witness to the altercation between Martin and Zimmerman.  This witness, who said “he saw a man fitting Zimmerman’s description lying on the grass moaning and crying for help just seconds before he heard the gunshot that killed Martin,” just happens to be thirteen years old. 

That ought to send a fine message to any other witnesses who might be thinking about stepping forward to testify on Zimmerman’s behalf.  Or their parents.