By Rene Stutzman, Orlando Sentinel
6:30 PM CDT, March 23, 2012
There is a great deal of misinformation surrounding the Trayvon Martin shooting. Here are some of the most prominent misunderstandings:
Cops returned the gun to shooter George Zimmerman.
Untrue, according to police. Sanford Officer Tim Smith handcuffed Zimmerman, and then pulled from a holster in Zimmerman's waistband the black Kel Tec 9 mm PF9, a semiautomatic. The gun is now in the possession of authorities, officially part of the evidence in the case.
Zimmerman, though, still has a valid concealed-weapons permit.
Cops believed Zimmerman had a "squeaky clean" criminal record.
Untrue, according to Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr. During an early meeting with Trayvon's father, a Sanford police investigator told him Zimmerman described himself as being "squeaky clean." Trayvon's father "may have misconstrued" that the investigator was merely relaying Zimmerman's claim, Bonaparte Jr. wrote in a public statement.
In reality, Zimmerman had been arrested in 2005 at a UCF-area bar and charged with resisting arrest without violence. He completed a pretrial-diversion program, meaning the case was officially dropped, and he wound up with no conviction on his record. It's not clear when, but police did check Zimmerman's criminal record and know about that arrest.
The cops tested Trayvon for drugs but not Zimmerman.
True, according to authorities. Trayvon underwent an autopsy, the same as in every other suspicious death in Florida, and as part of that, was tested for drugs. Zimmerman was not tested because he was not arrested.
Sanford cops usually call a prosecutor to the scene of a homicide but did not that night.
True, according to police and the State Attorney's Office in Seminole-Brevard. Police talked to a prosecutor by phone that night, but she did not go to the scene. Based on the evidence they gathered that night, police believed they did not have enough evidence to arrest Zimmerman on a manslaughter charge because of his account of what happened and claim of self-defense.
Zimmerman fired twice, a warning shot and a kill shot.
Untrue, according to several witnesses and law enforcement. Two loud bangs can be heard on one 911 call, and family attorneys said last week that that was evidence of two shots, but several witnesses who've spoken publicly about what they heard all describe a single shot. And a source close to the investigation told the Orlando Sentinel just one shot was fired from Zimmerman's gun.
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