Much has been made of Sanford Police’s handling of the Trayvon Martin shooting and one point that remains glaring is the fact that the shooter, George Zimmerman, was released after a few hours of questioning and not arrested – which has many believing that his father pulled strings to free him.
George Zimmerman’s father, Robert, wrote a letter to the Orlando Sentinel a few weeks back in defense of his son, and rightly so, saying his son did not instigate the conflict that left 17-year-old Trayvon Martin dead.
But the truth is, Robert Zimmerman had nothing to do with his son being released after killing Trayvon. That was the work done by the Sanford Police department.
It is true that the elder Zimmerman is a retired US Magistrate judge and his mother was a court clerk, but when George was released after he killed Trayvon Martin that was all the Sanford Police’s doing.
After Zimmerman’s release, rumors began to swirl that he wasn’t arrested because he had a relative on the Sanford police force.
The fact is, Sanford Police have no one named Zimmerman on the payroll nor anyone related to him. According to Bill Lee, the current but temporarily on leave Chief, that rumor may have started when an Orlando television station misidentified Sanford police spokesman Sgt. David Morgenstern as David Zimmerman, George Zimmerman’s brother.
The fact is, Zimmerman was not arrested because he told police he acted in self-defense, and then-Chief Lee said police did not have probable cause.
The Florida Statute 776.032 expressly prohibits police from arresting someone who had a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm.
Police may investigate, the statute says, “but the agency may not arrest the person” without probable cause and that is the reason why George Zimmerman is free – though in hiding.
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