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A year before George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martinhe stood before a City Hall community forum and railed against the Sanford Police department.

Zimmerman referred to the law enforcement department as lazy – among other things – stemming from a scandal involving the son of a police lieutenant who was captured on video punching a homeless man.

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The community forum Zimmerman spoke at was called by Sanford’s mayor, Jeff Triplett, who at that time had yet to officially take office. The forum took place in the wake of a scandal involving the son of a police lieutenant, Justin Collison, who was captured on video punching a homeless man named Sherman Ware.

A month went by after the December 2010 attack before any arrests was made and on the same day 21-year-old Collison turned himself in, Police Chief Brian Tooley was forced out.

At the forum, Zimmerman raised concerns about whether Tooley should receive his pension.

Along with airing his grievances, Zimmerman told the forum that he frequently went on ride-alongs with the Sanford Police.

According to the recording from January 2011, Zimmerman said: 

“And what I saw was disgusting…The officer showed me his favorite hiding spots for taking naps, explained to me that he doesn’t carry a long gun in his vehicle because, in his words, ‘anything that requires a long gun requires a lot of paperwork, and you’re going to find me as far away from it.”

Zimmerman continued: 

“He took two lunch breaks and attended a going-away party for one of his fellow officers.” 

According to the Miami Herald, Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee denied at the time knowing Zimmerman, saying he had no relationship with the police department.

Meanwhile, a video released last week by the State Attorney prosecuting the case shows Zimmerman freely walked about the police station the night of the shooting unescorted.

City records show Lee exchanged emails with Zimmerman last year, when the neighborhood watch volunteer wrote to the chief to praise the department’s volunteer program coordinator.

Zimmerman’s interaction with Sanford Police may explain why he was released the night he killed Trayvon Martin; his familiarity with many of the officers may have helped him.

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