Statement Analysis®

George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin case


A video released Wednesday, June 20, 2012 by the defense, shows George Zimmerman and the police at the crime scene where Zimmerman described what happened that night. Here is a transcript of an excerpt from the video.

Zimmerman: I was walking back to my truck and then when I got to right about here he yelled from behind me to the side of me he said, "Yo, you got a problem?" And I turned around and I said, "No, I don't have a problem man."

The word then can mean "immediately" but it can also mean "soon thereafter." If it is used as the latter, it means the person has skipped over something in his story.

Detective: Where was he at?

Zimmerman: He was about there but he was walking towards me.

Detective: So he is coming this direction here?

Zimmerman: Yes sir. I believe like I said I was already passed that so I didn't see exactly where he came from but he was about where you are. And I said, "No, I don't have a problem." And I went to go grab my cell phone but my, I had left it in a different pocket. I looked down at my pant's pocket and he said, "You got a problem now." And then he was here and he punched me in the face.

The word believe means he is uncertain of his exact location.

When the unique word phone appears in a statement it often ties the person to the incident which is obvious in this case.

When the word left is used as a verb it is an indication the information is sensitive.

Detective: Right here?

Zimmerman: Right up around here. To be honest, I don't remember exactly. I think I stumbled and I fell down and he pushed me down and somehow he got on top of me.

Phrases such as "To be honest," "To tell the truth" and "Honest to God" are an indication of deception. I would estimate that 50% of the time a person may have a habit using one of these phrases. The other half of the time the person is being deceptive by trying to convince you he is telling the truth.

Like the word believe, the word think means he is uncertain.

Detective: On the grass or on the cement?

Zimmerman: It was over more over towards here. I think I was trying to push him away from me and then he got on top of me somewhere around here. And ah that's when I started screaming for help. I started screaming "Help, help" as loud as I could. And um, then's when he grabbed me, oh I tried to sit up and that's when he grabbed me by the head and tried to slam my head down.

The word tried means Martin was not able to slam Zimmerman's head down at this point in the story.

Detective: Where you on the cement or on the?

Zimmerman: No, my body was on the grass. My head was on the cement.

Detective: Ok so you were basically facing this way?

Zimmerman: Yes sir. Um, that's the best I could feel through my jacket was I felt like my body was on the grass and my head was on the cement and he just kept slamming and slamming. And ah, I kept yelling, "Help, help, help" as loud as I could. He put his hand on his nose, no on my nose and his other hand on my mouth he said, "Shut the fuck up." And ah, then I tried to squirm again because all I could think about was when he was hitting my head against it, it felt like my head was going to explode and I thought I was going to lose consciousness. So, I tried to squirm so I could get because he only had a small portion of my head on the concrete. So, I tried to squirm off the concrete. And when I did that, somebody here opened the door and I said, "Help me, help me" and they said, "I'll call 911." I said, "No, help me. I need help." And I don't know what they did but ah, that's when my jacket moved up and I had my on my right side hip. My jacket moved up and he saw it, I feel like he saw it. He looked at it and he said, "You're going to die tonight mother fucker." And he reached for it but he reached like I felt his arm going down by my side and I grabbed it and I just grabbed my and I shot him one time.

Zimmerman states the reason he knew part of his body was on the grass and part of his body was on the sidewalk is because he could feel through his jacket the difference. Most deceptive people are not going to be smart enough to think of something like that. They would simply state that half of their body was on the grass and half on the sidewalk.

Zimmerman states that Martin "kept slamming and slamming." Slamming what? We believe what people tell us. In this sentence, he has not told us that Martin slammed his head into the concrete. "He just kept slamming and slamming my head into the concrete" would be a much better statement.

"He put his hand on his nose, no on my nose." This is a slight indication his story may not be coming form memory. Everyone makes mistakes so I do not have a big problem with him correcting himself.

As with his written statement Zimmerman uses harsh words which usually do not appear in a deceptive statement.

Zimmerman finally states that Martin "was hitting my head against it." It would have been better if he defined what it was; "He was hitting my head against the sidewalk." However, he does say that his head was being hit against something.

He goes on to say that he felt like his head was going to explode. Deceptive statements often contain no emotions because there were no emotions. Stating that his head hurt or felt like it was going to explode is a sign of a truthful statement.

Zimmerman states that Martin saw his firearm but then he qualifies his statement by saying, "I feel like he saw it." This of course means that there is chance Martin did not see or know that Zimmerman had a firearm. Zimmerman also used present tense language with the word feel. Since he is talking about what happened, he should have used the past tense verb felt.

The word just is used to minimize things. It is usually acceptable to use this word to minimize time; "He just left the building." When a person uses this word to minimize his actions it is an indication he may have done more things. Remember the shortest sentence is the best sentence; "I grabbed my firearm and I shot him one time."

Zimmerman consistently refers to the weapon he was carrying as a "firearm."

Conclusion

Many people want to point out there are discrepancies between Zimmerman's call to the police, his written statement and his reenactment video. Nobody is going to state what happened exactly same way every time they give a statement. As time goes by people may remember more about the incident. What we are looking for is if he tells the same story. Some have mentioned that in his written statement, Zimmerman states that Martin "circled my vehicle." In his call to the police he does not use the word circled. However, in his call he does state that Martin was staring at him, that Martin came towards him and was checking him out. That may be when Martin was circling him.

Others have said that in the reenactment video Zimmerman said, "I didn't think I hit him because he sat up and said, 'You got me.'" Yet, in his written statement he does not mention that his shot may have missed Martin. In his written statement, he said, "I fired one shot into his torso. The suspect sat back allowing me to sit up and said, 'You got me.'" Although Zimmerman provides additional information in his reenactment I don't see a discrepancy between the two statements.

Based on Zimmerman's language in his call to the police, in his written statement and in his reenactment video, he shows signs that he did not immediately stop pursuing Martin when the dispatcher told him to stop. Zimmerman does appear to be truthful when he talks about the confrontation he had with Martin. I believe Martin did punch Zimmerman and knocked him to the ground. I believe Martin did get on top of Zimmerman and slammed his head against the sidewalk. Maybe not as many times as Zimmerman wants us to believe but his language indicates it did happened. It is questionable whether Martin saw Zimmerman's firearm. Even though Zimmerman should not have pursued Martin and he probably should not have been carrying a firearm, his statement indicates he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense.


An analysis of George Zimmerman's written statement



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