Something else that’s been eating at me about the Martin-Zimmerman case — this is from a March 13 ABC News report —
Witnesses told ABC News they heard Zimmerman pronounce aloud to the breathless residents watching the violence unfold “it was self-defense,” and place the gun on the ground.
But after the shooting, a source inside the police department told ABC News that a narcotics detective and not a homicide detective first approached Zimmerman. The detective peppered Zimmerman with questions, the source said, rather than allow Zimmerman to tell his story. Questions can lead a witness, the source said.
Another officer corrected a witness after she told him that she heard the teen cry for help.
The officer told the witness, a long-time teacher, it was Zimmerman who cried for help, said the witness. ABC News has spoken to the teacher and she confirmed that the officer corrected her when she said she heard the teenager shout for help.
In other words, the police were helpfully telling people what their testimony was supposed to be. And then a few days ago we heard this —
A 13-year-old who is one of two key witnesses in the Trayvon Martin shooting felt â€œpressuredâ€ by cops to tailor what he saw, his mom told the Daily News Thursday.
The revelation comes as shooter George Zimmermanâ€™s father went public with new claims, including that Trayvon told his son â€œyouâ€™re going to die tonight.â€
Police in Sanford, Fla., have said that Austin Brown, who went out to walk his dog on Feb. 26 near where Trayvon was shot, saw Zimmerman lying in the grass crying for help just before the slaying.
But Austinâ€™s mom, Cheryl Brown, told the News that when cops interviewed her son eight days after Trayvonâ€™s death, he told them he saw only one person lying in the grass and he couldnâ€™t tell who it was.
â€œHe kept telling them he couldn’t see anything because it was too dark,â€ she said. â€œHe said he couldn’t see the race or anything. He never saw a second person. â€
â€œThen they asked him if he saw what the man was wearing. They gave him a multiple choice question and gave him three colors. He said, â€˜I think it was red.â€™â€
Zimmerman, 28, was wearing a red and black jacket. Trayvon, 17, was wearing a grey hoodie.
â€œKnowing my son, I believe he felt pressured to give the color,â€ Brown said.
â€œHe really couldn’t see anything,â€ she said. â€œI think when interviewing a 13 year old you don’t give them three options.â€
You can find all kinds of research papers declaring that eyewitness testimony of crimes is enormously unreliable. Add police coaching the witnesses what they were supposed to say, and it adds up to testimony that has to be taken with a big grain of salt.
Booman presents an argument that one of the policemen at the scene, Timothy Smith, deliberately filed a false report to cover for Zimmerman. In particular, Booman thinks it was Smith who fabricated the story about Zimmerman’s nosebleed and soiled jacket. I don’t know that’s what happened, but it makes as much sense as anything else I’ve heard.