Police Chief Agrees In Email Exchange Zimmerman Is Another ‘Sandy Hook’ Waiting To Happen
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LAKE MARY, Fla. (CBS Tampa/AP) — Lake Mary Police Chief Steve Bracknell agreed in an email exchange that George Zimmerman is a “ticking time bomb.”
Bracknell exchanged emails with Santiago Rodriguez, who reached out to the police chief through an online form following the latest incident involving Zimmerman and his estranged wife Shellie Zimmerman. In the emails obtained by ThinkProgress, and confirmed by Bracknell to the website, the police chief agreed with Santiago’s assessment that Zimmerman is a “Sandy Hook, Aurora waiting to happen.”
“Your reference to Sandy Hook…………………. I agree,” Bracknell said in the email.
Bracknell also said in the email exchange there was “no cover up” in the investigation and that that the last thing he wants is “ANY relationship with the Zimmermans.”
When reached by ThinkProgress to elaborate on the emails, Bracknell said he was “referring to the fact that [Zimmerman] seems to be involved in incidents” with firearms, and not about the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting that left 26 people dead and the Aurora movie theater shooting that killed 13.
The iPad Shellie Zimmerman says her husband smashed is in bad shape, making it difficult for law enforcement analysts to obtain video that may have captured a domestic dispute between the former couple at their home.
As a result, Lake Mary police say their investigation of the Monday altercation between George and Shellie Zimmerman is on hold because there is no clear evidence to charge anyone and neither side wants to press the case.
“We have concluded the investigation with what we have to work with right now,” Lake Mary police spokesman Zach Hudson said.
Hudson said the investigation could be revived if new evidence surfaces or techniques are able to extract video that may have captured the dispute from the smashed iPad.
The dispute took place Monday, just days after Shellie Zimmerman filed divorce papers. In the papers, Zimmerman, 26, said she had separated from her husband a month after he was acquitted in the 2012 fatal shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager.
A police report on the Zimmermans’ dispute released Wednesday shed some light on how it started.
Shellie Zimmerman, accompanied by her father and a friend, was removing some belongings from the couple’s house when George Zimmerman, who still lives there, arrived and began taking photos of her, the report said. The house is owned by Shellie Zimmerman’s parents.
George Zimmerman recorded the items she removed from the house and also the belongings she had placed in her father’s truck, the report said.
Zimmerman said his wife was “taking property that was not agreed upon and he began taking pictures and recording the items,” the report said.
Shellie Zimmerman then took her iPad and started recording her husband taking photos of her, authorities said. George Zimmerman went in the house and locked the front door.
What happened next is in dispute.
Shellie Zimmerman told investigators she heard her father screaming from the garage. Her father, David Dean, told her Zimmerman had hit him in the face, the report said. She said her husband then smashed her iPad.
During a 911 call, she also told police George Zimmerman was threatening her and her father with a gun. Later, however, she said she had not seen a gun. Police said they found no gun, but that Shellie Zimmerman’sfather “did have a swollen red mark on the bridge of his nose.”
At a news conference late Wednesday, Shellie Zimmerman was with her attorney, Kelly Sims, but did not answer any questions about what happened. Sims cited the ongoing divorce proceedings and Shellie Zimmerman’s probation as the reasons. Sims defended his client’s initial assertions that her husband was armed.
Sims said Shellie Zimmerman found packaging for a new holster in the trash that day and has always known him to carry a gun.
“Bottom line, Shellie had every reason to believe there was a gun,” Sims said.
Sims said his client is hoping to move on as soon as possible.
“The only thing Shellie wants out of the end of this relationship is for it to end with a whimper and not a bang,” Sims said.
According to the police report, George Zimmerman told investigators his wife had told him she was done picking up her belongings. He said he locked the front door and went to the garage to close it when Shellie Zimmerman’s father confronted him, according to the report.
Shellie Zimmerman’s father threw down his glasses and charged his son-in-law, according to George Zimmerman’s account. Shellie Zimmerman at some point hit her husband with her iPad, George Zimmerman told investigators.
Police officers asked George Zimmerman to remove his shirt so they could see if there were marks on his back. “There were no signs of trauma, redness or marks of any kind in the area where he said he was struck,” the report said.
As many as seven people were at the house — friends of the Zimmermans — and they all have been questioned by investigators, Hudson said. The friends said they didn’t see what happened, Hudson said, and footage from the house’s surveillance cameras was inconclusive.
Both sides are refusing to press charges, but Florida law allows police officers to arrest someone for domestic violence without the consent of the victim.
Lake Mary police investigators are hoping video from the iPad will allow them to determine if charges should be filed.
Hudson said Wednesday that because investigators don’t currently have the necessary tools to extract the video, it could be several weeks or months before the video can be analyzed — and even then they aren’t making any promises. The iPad’s chip also suffered some damage, Hudson said.
Without an examination of the video, he said he doesn’t expect there to be imminent charges against either person.
Lake Mary is about seven miles southwest of Sanford, where George Zimmerman, 29, fatally shot Martin during a fight in a gated community in February 2012. Zimmerman, who identifies himself as Hispanic, was acquitted in July of all charges in the shooting.
Zimmerman said he acted in self-defense when he shot the 17-year-old Martin. He wasn’t charged until 44 days after the shooting, leading to protests nationwide from people who believed he should have been immediately arrested.
The case sparked accusations that Zimmerman had racially profiled Martin and demonstrations broke out again after his acquittal. Federal authorities are now reviewing the case the see if Martin’s civil rights were violated.
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