Complete Transcript, Serino Interview, 2/29/2012, Tape 1

This is the first of three transcripts for the 2/29 interview of George Zimmerman conducted by Investigator Serino and Investigator Singleton.

Update: Here’s the audio: audio_interview_0229_1

Serino: This is Investigator Serino with the Sanford Police Department. Today’s date is Wednesday, February the 29th, 2012. We’re located at the Sanford Police Department at 815 South, ah excuse me, 815 West 13th Street, City of Sanford, Seminole County, Florida. The time is now 17:19 hours, that’s 5:19 pm. Here to discuss case number 201250001136, the shooting death of a Trayvon Benjamin Martin which occurred on February 26, it was a Sunday, at approximately 7:30 pm.
(lots of noise, sounds of a door opening and closing)
Serino: Thank you for coming. How you been? How you feeling, all right? How’s your head?
Zimmerman: Better.
Serino: OK. I’ve got notebooks and pens and papers and things to show you. Are you a man of faith? I mean, have you been, are you, have you had any counseling, have you talked to a priest, or a pastor or anybody like that?
Zimmerman: Ah, no, I haven’t been to a (unintelligible)
Serino: My question is how’s your head? I mean…
Zimmerman: My doctor says that I have PTSD.
Serino: Ah, PSSD, uh. That’s what he said?
Zimmerman: She said.
Serino: She said? Did she order you any counseling or anything or?
Zimmerman: She’s…
Serino: Or prescribed you any kind, give you a script?
Zimmerman: She’s (unintelligible)
Serino: OK. But are you going to see a psychiatrist or anything like that or
Zimmerman: She’s a (unintelligible)
Serino: OK, she is. OK.
Zimmerman: Yes.
Serino: OK, do you have any other kind of mental illness, depression…?
Zimmerman: No sir.
Serino: Bi-polar disorder, none of that stuff?
Zimmerman: No, sir.
Serino: Today’s the 23rd…yeah.
Serino: OK, religious faith, what are you?
Zimmerman: Catholic.
Serino: Roman Catholic?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: Baptized?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: Communion?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: OK. Reason I ask that is because…I gotta know how you’re doing up here. OK. Usually taking a life bears a lot of stuff with it. OK. And I’ve been around other people that’ve been through it, and, you know, that’s first and foremost, OK? The responsibility behind all this is probably more than you’d ever imagine. OK. You’re thinking you’re out there doing Neighborhood Watch thing, a good thing, um, everything’s sort of, ah the stars are aligned correctly, you guys been victimized from burglaries, and I’ve seen you guys Space page about, uh, Facebook page about kudos for the arrest and whatever kind of stuff. You guys doing a good thing out there stopping the bad guys who’re breaking in stealing people’s stuff, right? Um, what happened this evening is that you essentially saw somebody who you in good faith thought was doing something wrong.
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: And…you ever hear of Murphy’s Law?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: OK, that’s what happened. This person was not doing anything bad. Um, you know the name of the person that night?
Zimmerman: Tayvon?
Serino: Trayvon.
Zimmerman: Trayvon? Martin?
Serino: Trayvon Benjamin Martin. He was born in 1995, February the 5th. He was 17 years old. An athlete, um, probably somewhere, somebody who was gonna be in avionautics, um, a kid with a future. A kid with folks that care. In his possession we found a, uh, can of, uh, iced tea and a bag of Skittles. And about $40 in cash. Not a goon. Um, you have any prior training in law enforcement, at all? I mean, any kind of…
Zimmerman: Just the law books I…(unintelligible)
Serino: Constitutional law
Zimmerman: ..aa…(unintelligible)
Serino: OK, so you went through the…OK. But as far as identifying people and stuff like that as far as what to look for, what to make them really suspicious?
Zimmerman: Um, just when we organized an annual, ah, Neighborhood Watch event. They told us…like a, I think, a PowerPoint presentation.
Serino: OK, I wasn’t privy to that, but if you guys continue Neighborhood Watch, um, typically speaking at nighttime, um, the garb is black on black on black, with a black hoodie. Now this guy had a dark grey hoodie. It was dark, but his pants were beige. Not quite your, you know, your prime suspect type. But, um, I listened to the phone call that you made to the non-emergency line. OK. You sound…well tell me what was going through your head at the time.
Zimmerman: Well, um, 2 or 3 weeks prior to that I’d seen somebody looking in the window of the house that he was in front of.
Serino: Was he white or black?
Zimmerman: Black.
Serino: OK.
Zimmerman: And the guy that lives there I know, he’s active in the neighborhood watch and he’s Caucasian.
Serino: OK.
Zimmerman: The guy, ah, the suspicious looking guy, went up to the house, I was walking my dog around the neighborhood, and he walked up to the house, and he was smoking. No, I’m sorry, he wasn’t smoking at that time. He turned around and he saw me walking my dog, so he lit a cigarette and leaned up against the wall, pretending like he lived there.
Serino: Mm hmm.
Zimmerman: And, ah, so I walked past him and I called non-emergency, and, ah, I got under a streetlight, and they asked me if I could see where he went, where he went inside the house and I said, no. And they said,  can you get to where you can see and I said, I really don’t want to move closer. Um, oh, and they needed the address. And I don’t know why, adrenalin was rushing, a thousand things went through my mind. I gave them what I thought was my address
Serino: Um hm.
Zimmerman: further down, the 1900 building instead of the 1400. And, ah, when I walked to see the address, I saw the end of the house, and he was at the side of the house looking in the window. He either threw or spit his, he looked at me and threw or spit his cigarette out and then ran around the back. So I told non-emergency, I think it was still non-emergency at that time, that, you know I don’t know where you guys are coming from
Serino: Um hum.
Zimmerman: but he’s around back. And, ah, I don’t know where he went. And, um, I stayed in front of the house where the street light was. And I waited and I waited and I waited and then it hit me, the police came and drove past me. And then is when it hit me that I gave them what I thought was my address instead of that address. So I called back and I said, you know, um, the correct address. The police officer came back. I didn’t even see, cause the house was completely dark
Serino: Um hum.
Zimmerman: the window was open. So, and the front door was un, the police later told me that the front door was unlocked. All the windows were open in the house. And, ah, the front door was unlocked, the garage was open. Um, so they went in, they cleared the house. Oh, they asked me for the owner’s name and phone number. And then they asked me for permission to go inside the house, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Then the next week, not at that building but at the next building, on the end unit, the s, the guy I saw, broke in, apparently stole a laptop from what I understand. Ran off, but one of the maintenance guys saw him and was able to give the police a direction of where he was going…
Serino: Um hum.
Zimmerman: And he was actually arrested. Um, so when I saw him in the same area, in front of the guy’s house, that I know’s, that they keep it unsecured, and he was looking into the house. I just thought something doesn’t fit right here.
Serino: And this is, but this, but this is the one prior to this one, right?
Zimmerman: No, no, this is, I’m sorry, that’s why I felt he
Serino: OK
Zimmerman:  was suspicious.
Serino: OK. OK. What did you see Trayvon doing that caught you as being suspicious?
Zimmerman: He was looking at the house intently and then…
Serino: What, the same house?
Zimmerman: The same house that, yeah, that I had called about before.
Serino: Did he stop, did he…?
Zimmerman: He stopped.
Serino: In front of the house?
Zimmerman: He stopped in front of the house and then I drove, there was a car like backing up, so I, I slowed down, and then I drove around him. And he kept looking at me, and then when I passed, oh, it was raining, and I said, you know what, he’s not walking briskly to get out of the rain. He wasn’t, um, he didn’t look like a marathon runner that’s active and like, you know, that trains in the rain. He was just walking slowly in the grass and on the sidewalk. I just said, something’s off. So, that’s why I called non-emergency.
Serino: OK. You know, you’re gonna come under a lot of scrutiny over this, correct? OK. The profiling aspect of the whole thing. Had this person been white, would you have felt the same way?
Zimmerman: Yes.
Serino: OK. Gotta ask that. Um, like I said, this child has no criminal record whatsoever, ah, good kid. A mild-mannered kid. Part of what I’ve been doing the last couple days is trying to get into his head, a psychological profile, and find out what his likes are, dislikes are, his hobbies, all the rest of that stuff. And one of his hobbies happens to be the videotaping of everything he does. OK. He has, has a library, very impressive, going through his phone, we got a little bit, but the battery died. We’re still working on that. There’s a possibility that whatever happened between you and him is caught on videotape. And this is going to be our final interview. I’m not gonna talk to you any more after this. We’re good, you know what I’m saying? That right there, that’s his cell phone.
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: OK. That’s a camera. Um, there’s a very strong possibility that what’s on there is either gonna help you or, you know, not help you. And that’s why I gotta clarify a few things about what happened out there. Um, how tall are you, how much do you weigh?
Zimmerman: Ah, 5-8, ah, 194.
Serino: OK. Trayvon’s about 6 foot, about 150 pounds. (Gets out a photograph)That’s him, that’s the gunshot you put in him, it went right through his heart. OK, um, a skinny kid. Obviously, like I said, a lot of questions are being brought up, um, he was unarmed. Ah, he… But like I said, because of, I mean, obviously you passed a lie detector test and you’ve done all that, but, like I said, if there’s anything that you haven’t said, that might be in that phone…
Zimmerman: I prayed to God that someone videotaped it
Serino: Would be videotaping this.
Zimmerman: Or the neighborhood had put up a video camera that I didn’t know about or something.
Serino: Listen, it’s not a guarantee, but like I said a strong possibility, I’m hoping myself. OK. Another thing too as far as 25 and 30 punches, I’ve consulted with a lot of people, not quite consistent with your injuries. You do have injuries, however. Um, how did he manage to bang your head, and, OK, correct me if I misunderstood what you said here as far as slamming the head into the concrete. Into the cement thing. How’d he do that?
Zimmerman: I was on my back.
Serino: OK.
Zimmerman: when he first punched me. I don’t know if I immediately fell down, he threw me down. I was stumbling, I ended up on my back.
Serino: Um hum.
Zimmerman: And he was on top of me, mounted.
Serino: OK.
Zimmerman: And he kept punching me, and then, when I started yelling for help, that’s when he grabbed my head and started to slam it.
Serino: Grabbed your head by your ears, by…hard to say?
Zimmerman: I don’t remember.
Serino: OK.
Zimmerman: Every time he punched my nose, it just…
Serino: How many times, OK, how many times you get punched in the nose? A couple, few?
Zimmerman: I don’t know, I don’t remember.
Serino: OK, you never got a chance to hit him, you have no defense wounds here, um, any bruising on your body at all?
Zimmerman: Ah, no.
Serino: No broken ribs, no fractured ribs, none of that?
Zimmerman: No.
Serino: Pain? No?
Zimmerman: My doctor said I sprained my SI. Feels like a big bruise, like a deep bruise.
Serino: OK. Is that what he looked like the night this happened?
Zimmerman: Pardon?
Serino: Did you see his face like this the night it happened?
Zimmerman: No sir.
Serino: OK, he’s young. Young, tall and skinny. 17. That’s him again. I’m showing you this cause you’re gonna have to some day, um, meet his family, that’s just how these things work eventually. And they have a lot of questions, obviously. And, um, I wanna prepare you for that. Cause like I said, I’m basically out of it after this. This is, you know….You’re glad it’s on video, that’s a good thing. And like I said, I don’t mean to torture you with this but you gotta see this before it sees anywhere else. OK?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: (rustling of papers) Court of public opinion is going to beat up on you a lot, OK?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: I mean, a lot of people don’t think that your injuries are consistent with getting in a life-threatening type thing, it’s a matter of perception, I understand that. If there’s anything that you might’ve forgotten…here’s him again, and now here’s another thing too I gotta show you also. That right there, is the only injury to his hands that we could document. OK? Now I heard you say you’re yelling for help, it’s a matter of perception, I guess that there’s no doubt in my mind that you were in fear, OK? Where the question comes into play is that what enraged him so badly? Besides the fact that maybe he felt he was being profiled, he’s from a bigger city, I don’t know, he can’t talk. I wish he woulda ran away. Um, I got an anomynous, anonymous phone call today from somebody who gave a different version of events, you know, and that person is, uh, holding their statement. But, and they said something a little bit different. More along the lines you tried to detain him, more along the lines that, yeah, OK, there was arguing before the incident happened, there was yelling back and forth, um, these things happen. You know, for a lot of different reasons. And that’s probably why they kept their anon, anony. anonymity to themselves. I’m hoping that whatever they tell me doesn’t come out on here and then all of a sudden you’re looking at something that you never dreamed you’d be looking at. OK?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: That’s why we’re here today. Once again, these can be interpreted as capillary-type cuts or whatever, lacerations, uh, not really, um, coinciding with being slammed hard into the ground. OK? That’s skull fractures is you happen with that. I’ve seen ‘em all, you know. Me, I reserve judgment because everybody’s built differently, your tolerance for pain might be different from mine, and anybody else’s and it wouldn’t be fair for me to go, I wasn’t there. I actively remain neutral here, OK? It’s kind of a good shoot, bad shoot type thing.
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: And the only thing that you don’t have is the authority to go ahead and do the stop legally. You follow, I mean…
Zimmerman: Sure
Serino: You’re working under the color of an absolutely private citizen.
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: And, but then again, we can make citizens’ arrests all day long. I mean, for felonies. Problem was that this child wasn’t committing a felony at the time. He was just walking.
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: But once again, you know, it could also be explained away if, because of the very reason I arrest that stuff too. I mean, uh, I’ve seen security guys with some really weird stuff, I see Neighborhood Watch guys with some really weird stuff. It ain’t my first time in here, you know, and it’s always imperative that I get absolute truth. Which you apparently been giving to me. In case, I guess I, if not, and I find it somewhere else, it’s not going to work to your advantage, OK? Once again, these are your defensive wounds, which are essentially non-existent, I’m looking for bruising and scrapings and I don’t see, I mean, you fared pretty well. Probably cause you had long sleeves on. I mean, that’s what I’m thinking. I can write that up pretty easy. OK, once again (unintelligible)… Who’s this female right here?
Zimmerman: That’s my ex-girlfriend.
Serino: OK, what’s she got against you?
Zimmerman: Ah, nothing.
Serino: Nothing? You have an injunction on her, or she had an injunction on you?
Zimmerman: …a long time ago.
Serino: OK. Is there any reason why anybody would say things about you that…You’re Hispanic, right?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: You’re Peruvian…
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: And…white.
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: OK. I’m Puerto Rican and white, I guess. Italian. You got any problems with black people?
Zimmerman: No, sir.
Serino: OK, I had to ask. You have any problems with anybody? A problem with criminals, I’m sure. I mean, ah, I’ve also done your background and I’ve seen things that you’ve done. Um, you tend to involve yourself… in a good way, you know. Um, what were your aspirations when you, OK, you’ve been arrested, OK. Battery LEO, what’s that about?
Zimmerman: Pardon?
Serino: For battery of a LEO. What was that about?
Zimmerman: There was a, um, we were at a bar, 5 guys and 6,7 girls. And, ah…I went to, my buddy was underage and he was drinking apparently and I went, I was at the bathroom. He has a problem dancing with other guys’ girlfriends. And he, when I came out of the bathroom, one of the girls we were with said, hey, your buddy just got drug out of here by the neck like some big dude. And so I just thought he caused a fight and, or he was gonna be hit, his butt kicked. So…I headed out, and 2 friends that I was with headed out at the same time. And, but I got out there first. When I got out there, this guy, a big guy, had him by the neck, up against the wall. And, ah, I said, hey, what are you doing? And he goes, something like, get the fuck out of here (unintelligible)… something like that. And I said, what are you talking about man, what’s your problem? And I walked up to him and he grabbed me by the shirt and pushed me, and kinda hit me in the chin. So I grabbed him back. And as soon as I grabbed him, turned out he was, ah, DEA or, um, not DTA, ATF.
Serino: OK.
Zimmerman: And, ah, they were, um…
Serino: Checking for underage drinking?
Zimmerman: Pardon?
Serino: Checking for underage drinking
Zimmerman: Yes
Serino: at the club?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir. And, ah, but he was undercover.
Serino: Mm hmm.
Zimmerman: And, um, they sent me down, questioned me, um, the Captain, I guess, said, uh, they asked him for transport, um, and he said, they arrested the 6 other bartenders, and he said we’re taking 6 of ‘em. And, um, the cop that I, when I grabbed him, I pushed him into a wall. There was like a column and I pushed him into a wall. And I guess he got hurt. And when he overheard that, the Captain said, you know, we’re transporting 6 of ‘em. He flipped out. And he said, you know, F that Cap you gotta go too blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And the [laughs] Captain was letting me go.
Serino: So you didn’t know he was law enforcement?
Zimmerman: No.
Serino: OK.
Zimmerman: No, he didn’t have his badge on at all.
Serino: That’s kinda the same lines as that, I mean, I don’t know how this is gonna help at this point but, had told this child that you were Neighborhood Watch and you were just wondering what the hell he was doing when he came up to your car? You probably wouldn’t be here right now. Did that, has that ever registered to you at all? I mean, I gotta try to get into your head somehow, and, and I guess that I answer to his family right now.
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: Um, why didn’t it occur to you to go ahead and tell ‘em…I mean, a lot of what we do out here in law enforcement is basically a lot of talking, a lot of casual encounters, consensual encounters, we call ‘em. Um, you know, we might be trying to detect something wrong, but it’s just to get a feel for the person. Did it ever occur to you to go ahead and actually ask this person what he was doing out there?
Zimmerman: No, sir.
Serino: Was it fear, precaution, safety, all of the above, or…Tell me
Zimmerman: I didn’t want
Serino: what was going through your head.
Zimmerman: I didn’t want to confront him, and it wasn’t my job.
Serino: OK, so by not, were you, your job’s not to really to do anything at all when it comes to that kind of, it wasn’t your job
Zimmerman: (unintelligible)
Serino: … to monitor him either, but for future reference, I mean you can usually dismiss a lot of this kind of insanity… I mean, had that been done, and that’s, you know, and from our vantage point, you’ve had 2 opportunities to identify yourself as somebody who was actually not meaning to do him harm. Problem being, is that we’re visiting in his mind’s eye, which I can’t get into because he’s passed, that he perceives you as a threat. OK, he perceives you as a threat, he has every right to go and defend himself, especially when you reach into your pocket to grab a cell phone. OK, where I’m gravitating to here is to say that I guess that, this, could that have been a possibility for him getting so enraged at you? What do you think his mindset was? I’m telling you right now, the kid has no violent background, no violent tendencies that we can find, um, what made him snap? He’s not on drugs, um, can you fill in that blank?
Zimmerman: Ah, the other thing was, when he walked up to my car, he reached in his waistband. And held his hand there.
Serino: He was probably holding his iced tea.
Zimmerman: I don’t…
Serino: That’s fine but did he say anything?
Zimmerman: I, I , I, it was raining, so I had my windows up, and I was on the phone, I didn’t…
Serino: How close to your car did he get?
Zimmerman: (sighs) Maybe a car length.
Serino: What do you think set him off?
Zimmerman: I don’t know.
Serino: Had he been a goon, a bad kid, 2 thumbs up, you know. No, he don’t make, he don’t, he does not fit the profile of what occurred. Which is another, um, unfortunate thing that we got going on here.
Singleton: Um, I still, I still don’t understand, when he walked up to your car, why didn’t you say anything to him?
Zimmerman: I guess fear. I didn’t want to confront him. He seemed…
Singleton: You were afraid of him?
Zimmerman: Yes, ma’am.
Singleton: Then does, do you say he ran?
Zimmerman: Yes.
Singleton: Then you get out of your car and run after him.
Zimmerman: I didn’t run after him, no. I walked to find the street name, or a street sign. And he had already run, cut out between the houses. So I knew that, if I walked straight through that little sidewalk, I knew that that was my street that I lived on.
Singleton: Retreat View.
Zimmerman: Retreat View Circle. But he, um, when I was walking around, my truck lights stay on, and he was, he wasn’t there.
Singleton: So, was that portion of that “T” that you could see straight through lit up by your truck lights?
Zimmerman: It was lit up, partially. Because it only stays on for a few…I don’t know how long, but it stays on for a while.
Singleton: When you got out, you shut the car off and took your keys with you?
Zimmerman: Yes, ma’am.
Serino: And you didn’t, OK, at that point, you didn’t see him. OK, you did say on the phone call, he’s running. And you get out of your car, dispatch tells you stay in your car. And, but yet you decide to go ahead to, where do you take yourself…How many streets are in that subdivision?
Zimmerman: Ah, I think 3.
Serino: OK. And you’re part of the Homeowners Association. Are you head of the Neighborhood Watch?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: OK. Once again. Something else I gotta try to explain away. How do you not know the 3 streets in your neighborhood, you been living for 3 years?
Zimmerman: I don’t know.
Serino: I don’t know how to answer that. And I have to speak for you. I’m trying to say to everybody, he’s a good guy. You know, how do I answer that? How do I answer those kinda gaps? How come I, I mean, yes, I, you know, gotta talk to people and gotta, you know, give people a reason why you’re not sitting in jail right now, because there’s a shooting and a blah, blah, yeah…you have really no idea. How do I explain that one away that you’re saying you didn’t know what street is the one of the 3 streets that live in the community, that you’re the head of the Homeowners, head of the whatever. You know what I’m saying? How, how do I do that? I mean…
Zimmerman: To be honest with you, I have a bad memory anyway. That’s why I gave…
Serino: Is that documented anywhere, as far as you having a bad memory? I mean, or you just…
Zimmerman: I’m ADD.
Serino: Oh are you ADHD?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: OK, cause I asked you that in the beginning as far as emotional, but I guess I didn’t say that one, ADHD.
Zimmerman: Oh, yes, sir.
Serino: I asked you if you were bi-polar or schizo or anything like that.
Zimmerman: Oh, no, no, no.
Serino: But ADHD you do have?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: OK.
Zimmerman: (unintelligible)
Serino: That’s OK, I mean, yeah
Zimmerman: (unintelligible)
Serino: That’s all, that’s all on the, yeah, OK. But so you’re ADHD.
Zimmerman: Yes, sir…ADD.
Serino: OK, when were you diagnosed with that? ADD?
Zimmerman: Childhood.
Serino: Childhood? OK. Are you on medication for it?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: Adderall?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: OK. How often?
Zimmerman: Ah, twice a day.
Serino: Twice a day. 20 mg?
Zimmerman: 20 each.
Serino: OK. So that might explain why you didn’t know the street that you were at.
Zimmerman: I just…have a terrible memory. I gave, when they asked me the address, I don’t know why I always think my address is 1960. And it’s 1950. I don’t know why.
Serino: Those numbers are confusing in the whole place. I had a hard time orientating myself also. I mean, you know, I gotta…OK, but…
Zimmerman: The one thing I can tell you is that the streets, those middle streets, I don’t, I can’t even remember the names now, but I know that they change names.
Serino: Um hum.
Zimmerman: Once it branches left it’s a different one, once it branches right it’s a different name, so…
Serino: OK, but I guess that that’s going to be, uh, uh, one of the issues that I have to clarify and that’s why we’re here today.
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: Um…your holster. What kind of holster do you have?
Zimmerman: Um, it’s just one I bought at a gun show, like a nylon in a waistband…
Serino: Like an Uncle Mikes? With a…
Zimmerman: Kind of, yes, sir.
Serino: With a, with a nylon retainer.
Zimmerman: It did not have a retainer.
Serino: So it’s an, an unsecure holster basically?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: OK. No locking mechanism, no safety feature, nothing?
Zimmerman: No, sir.
Serino: It was inside your pants?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: OK. 9mm inside your pants? He was mounted on you, you were able, he was mounted on your upper chest? Or, I mean, at what point were you able to free your waist side to go ahead and pull out your weapon?
Zimmerman: When he…he was mounted on me but he had pressure on my nose and my mouth, suffocating me. And when he let go of my mouth and started reaching down my side, he said, “You’re gonna die tonight.” I didn’t need my hand any more cause he let go of my mouth. I don’t remember if I was still screaming or not. That’s when I grabbed his hand and I grabbed my, my firearm and fired. So it was one side, he let go, that I realized I didn’t need my hand and he was gonna kill me.
Serino: How long did he suffocate you for?
Zimmerman: (sigh) Felt like…
Serino: Seemed like forever, I’m sure.
Zimmerman: Felt like hours, but I don’t…
Serino: Don’t recall. OK. Is it a full-sized 9 or a small 9?
Zimmerman: Compact.
Serino: Compact? And you were able to overpower him as far as holding his wrist, you gained wrist…we call it wrist control…you gained wrist control on him basically, and you were able to basically liberate both hands…
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: OK. You raised it up. Do you remember hitting him with the pistol?
Zimmerman: No, sir.
Serino: Distance wise…
Zimmerman: I just remember not wanting to hit my own hand, I was holding his, it went past my hand, my body… (sigh)
Serino: You OK? You need some water or anything?
Zimmerman: No.
Serino: Something cold?
Zimmerman: (unintelligible)
Serino: OK, alright.
Zimmerman: I did…you said that the, um, operator told me to stay in my car. They didn’t tell me to stay in my car. They said, “Are you following him?” And I was…I was walking where he had walked. And I said, yes. And they said, “We don’t need you to do that.” And I said, OK.
Serino: OK. Yeah. Maybe you’d already gotten out of your car. I didn’t hear any bells in the, like, when you open the door it goes “bing, bing, bing” or something like that…I didn’t hear any of that either. So, yeah, so…
Zimmerman: It does do that.
Serino: It does? OK, I didn’t catch the sound of it. Did you catch it on the recording? The doors opening?
Singleton: I thought I could hear the door close.
Serino: Huh?
Singleton: I thought I could hear the door close.
Serino: OK. Yeah. Cause I was kinda unclear on that. OK. I wasn’t trying to trip you up but you had gotten out of your car. But once again which also brings up the question on…once in fear for not lowering your window cause he’s right in front of you, to outside exposing yourself to the possibility of being attacked by the person.
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: Um, that, coupled with, like I said, the parent, background, disposition of the child, not more a child but a juvenile…What set him off. And there will be a question forever in everybody’s mind. The like person, he targets you. And, you know, and I’ve tried to explain that to everybody, and, uh, uh, they’re saying like on TV and I can’t jump up and down and be that anh, anh, it’s not…it’s fictitious.
Singleton: When he, when he comes up to your car you’re telling them, right? That he’s…
Zimmerman: Yes
Singleton: He’s reaching in his waistband?
Zimmerman: Yes, ma’am.
Singleton: So what do you think there’s a possibility that he has?
Zimmerman: Well, the guy 3 weeks, 2 weeks prior, did the same thing when he saw me, like put his hand in his jacket and watched me walk by and then he lit a cigarette. So I thought that he was just trying to, um, look tough or intimidate….
Singleton:  So, you didn’t think he had a weapon?
Zimmerman: No, no. I didn’t….
Singleton: You thought he was just trying to bluff you.
Zimmerman: Yes, ma’am.
Serino: Hey, did that scare you? The bluff?
Zimmerman: No.
Serino: They’re gonna ask like why you didn’t like haul ass. You understand that, right? I mean, how could you leave if you were scared. Like I said, and, and I wouldn’t wanna be in your shoes. I wouldn’t want you to be in my shoes either. But, um, here we are. Um, you’re the good guy here. And part of what we do is that good, bad or indifferent, we have to give absolute certainty, we do… (unintelligible). OK. Good shoots, bad shoots. I’m concerned because, like I say, it hasn’t come to light yet but things always do come out in the wash. That between your ADD or…your ADH, your ADD…or whatever you got going on, and maybe something discovered in here, and maybe something witness that come forward, all of a sudden something pertinent is left out. You ever work security before?
Zimmerman: No, sir.
Serino: You worked at a party one time security, right?
Zimmerman: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.
Serino: OK. Was that paid for or just…
Zimmerman: It wasn’t paid (unintelligible)
Serino: OK, OK. There’s a thing called challenging somebody. Now you haven’t challenged this person while he was out next to your car so you’re not into challenging people apparently.
Zimmerman: No.
Serino: Um, you sound kinda frustrated on the phone conversation. Cause everybody’s gonna hear these things, you know? And I’m just trying the best I can to shield you from it all basically. To be able to… But my job is to make absolute sense of it all, you know. And the court of public opinion is going to be, uh, hard on you. OK. If you tried to challenge this person, thinking that you have the authority to, thinking that you’re working in the capacity, under the color of the HOA, because you’re head of the Neighborhood Watch, and that’s really…could explain a lot. You know what I’m saying? Maybe he doesn’t like authority, that his father doesn’t know about. Maybe perhaps he tried, I mean, like I said, speculating here, but, you know, based on the bits and pieces I got from this other, this other unidentified witness, there’s a lot of things going standing here. Before it went to the ground. Prior to the punch. Um, and that can be…you tell me. I mean, what could possibly happen if somebody thinks you were trying to detain this person… Will it change the outcome? No. The fact is that you were on the ground getting beat up by somebody and you were in fear for your life, and you pull the trigger, and, you know, that’s, that’s excusable, that’s a justifiable homicide. Not excusable, uh, but, it’s, ah, it’s justifiable. You know, that’s a felony against your person, the felony being the aggravated battery, and you fear for your life, he went for your gun. It won’t change the circumstances at the ending. But it would explain what led up to the ending. And that’s where we’re, well, we’re having to re-interview again and just for verifications and make sure I didn’t miss anything. Cause every single question I’m asking I’ve thought about, and, um, that’s why it’s good, you know, I wanted to come talk to you cause I didn’t talk to you before. Is there anything along the lines that what I just said that could have possibly been interpreted to this person?
Zimmerman: No, sir.
Serino: Nothing at all. OK. You went out there just like you said, and…dialed up 911 and right after that you turned around and there he was.
Zimmerman: No, sir.
Serino: OK.
Zimmerman: I walked past where he went through…
Serino: Uh huh.
Zimmerman: To go to Retreat View Circle.
Serino: Which would’ve been he was heading back to his house, where he was staying.
Zimmerman: I had no idea.
Serino: That’s where he was going. I’m just letting you know that.
Zimmerman: OK. But when I walked past…when I walked and I saw he wasn’t there any more, they asked me for my address and I gave them my address. And I said, you know, I don’t really like giving out my address cause then he’ll know where I go, where I live. He was…I…
Serino: So he would’ve been in earshot of you, you thought? But you couldn’t see him?
Zimmerman: I could not see him at all.
Serino: But you’re, how close could… OK.
Zimmerman: I didn’t like anyone (unintelligible)
Serino: That’s fine…that’s, uh huh.
Zimmerman: And they said, around that time is when they said we don’t need you to follow him, so I continued walking straight to my street. When I came back, I was coming back, and I passed the sidewalk that he went to…
Serino: Um hum.
Zimmerman: I didn’t see where he came from. But he was not there. And I told the non-emergency, he’s not here. And they said you still want us to send a car, and I said yes.
Serino: Is that what’s there? Was that there?
Singleton: Yeah.
Serino: Yeah that’s what he said, right, yeah.
Singleton: Yeah, they were talking, they just had a discussion about meeting at the mailboxes. And you said, never mind, just have them call my phone and I’ll tell them where I’m at.
Zimmerman: Oh, I thought I told them to, because I first pulled up at the clubhouse…
Singleton: Um hum.
Zimmerman: And I gave them that address. And I told them (unintelligible) straight through, take a left (unintelligible). And I think I gave them a description of my truck, gave them the color, the make and model. And they said where do you want them to meet you. And I said just have them meet me back at my truck. And that’s when I went towards my truck.
Singleton:  Um hum.
Serino: OK, so when he approached you this boy said “What the fuck’s your problem?” Correct?
Zimmerman: Something to that effect, but…
Serino: Did he use the word “homey”?
Zimmerman: I don’t remember.
Serino: OK.
Singleton: Did you at that time, ever say to him, I’m Neighborhood Watch?
Zimmerman: No.
Singleton: Did it not occur to you?
Zimmerman: I was, no, I was, said I don’t have a problem. And I started backing away from him.
Singleton: But you kinda did have a problem. That’s why you were following him, right? You had a concern with him.
Zimmerman: I was scared.
Serino: But did you, did you…
Singleton:  You were scared to tell him you had a concern? That you were Neighborhood Watch? You were afraid to tell him that?
Zimmerman: Ah, yes, ma’am.
Singleton:  I’m not trying to put on the spot but these are the questions people are going to ask us, so we’re gonna have to give them an answer.
Zimmerman: No, I understand. I…was scared…
Singleton:  It seemed like the perfect opportunity to say, look I’m Neighborhood Watch. I don’t recognize you, are you staying here?
Zimmerman: Because he came, came up out of nowhere. I didn’t see him. I was walking back to my car thinking that I was going to meet a police officer there. So when he popped up he just caught me off guard. I didn’t think, I, tell him who I was…
Singleton:  But can you see how that would maybe frighten him? You’ve been following him now for the whole time.
Zimmerman: What do you mean on foot, or…
Singleton: Yeah, you’re watching him.
Zimmerman: I didn’t…
Singleton:  And he makes it clear to you he sees you. He walks up to your car, correct?
Zimmerman: Yes, ma’am.
Singleton:  So he was making it clear to you I recognize you’re following me.
Zimmerman: I didn’t know if he was doing that or he was doubling back or what he was doing.
Serino: No, but the reason why he’d say “Do you have a problem?” was because, for no other reason, because he realized you were following him. In other words, you weren’t just walking around and like he didn’t walk up to you and say, “You got a fucking problem?” He didn’t try to rob you, he didn’t try to, you know. He’s asking what the fuck’s your problem. Now, could it be possible that you said, “I don’t have a fucking problem”?
Zimmerman: No.
Serino: No? OK.
Zimmerman: No.
Serino: That would’ve been my response but, you know, OK…I just…I…like I said, the, the child has no record at all, no violent tendencies, none of this, that I can, that I know of. That anybody else knows of. His folks would’ve told me. Out of his nature to do this kind of reaction. I don’t know if he thought that you were trying to punk him, or, you know, be a, some sort of weirdo or something. Out of his nature. And that’s why I pose the question again what might’ve set him off that you might’ve, I mean, it’s a traumatic episode and we can gap out and forget and maybe if you remember some other time, you can always call me with it, and it’ll always be part of me, this’ll probably live on in, in my case load for a very, very long time. You know, as far as what I do, what I don’t do, I’m gonna get, I can’t win here at all. All I can do is sit in here and make it so you don’t go down worse than anybody else either criminally or civilly. You understand the responsibility behind this?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: OK. You should, I mean, if you got the degree in that you should know where it comes, this kind of stuff, you know. Um, and that’s why I’m saying if there’s any doubt about your truthfulness it’s gonna thwart everything. I mean, they might, they might be saying that you’re out there and you could’ve played John Wayne and all of a sudden you’re trying to take down this kid who’s lighter than you but taller than you but younger than you, and you’re a grown-ass man and he’s a child, that’s always gonna…It doesn’t matter, he’s still a child. You understand?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: And that’s why I was hoping that maybe you’d remember something along the lines of, maybe I did this wrong, at least you understand what led to this. Or, in your moment of solace when you’re by yourself you can think to myself, well, shit, you know, maybe if, you know. Not that you don’t feel bad already, but, ah, I guess that, I mean, some folks feel a lot worse than you do I can guarantee it. Yeah, I’ve had to sit with these folks and it’s, it’s bad. Um, this child had a future. Like I say, if he was a, a 20-time convicted, you know, burglar one thing, but no. Not this one. You know, and if you, if you go about your life, you know, I can respect the protecting of your property and the helping of your neighbors and that kind of stuff, that’s in you, I’ve seen the reports of your chasing down retail theft people. Yeah, you like to get involved. I mean, yeah.
Zimmerman: (unintelligible)
Serino: Yeah, the TVs or whatever from the
Zimmerman: Oh.
Serino: Yeah. Oh, yeah, we need to know everything, you know? I’m not gonna come in here and not know who you are, you know. You wanna get filed charges for people spitting into your car or whatever the hell that was all about, you know. Yeah, I’m, uh, yeah. Um, well were your aspirations to go in law enforcement cause you got a degree in criminal justice?
Zimmerman: No, I wanted to before though.
Serino: Why’d you get, I mean, well did you have the aspiration of doing that?
Zimmerman: Being a police officer?
Serino: Yeah.
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: OK, what happened with that?
Zimmerman: Uhhh…(sigh)
Serino: Long story?
Zimmerman: Not really. I have a cousin, uh, that’s in prison, and, um, he wrote me (unintelligible) he’d gotten off so many times as a juvenile, as a (unintelligible) that he wished that, you know, and he said, you know, I, granted I’ve earned what I’ve gotten, but, you know, I wish that there would’ve been someone to talk with along then. And I mentor, uh, these 2 kids and I’ve helped them, and I realized that, no offense…
Serino: Oh, no, go ahead.
Zimmerman: Against you guys, cause I, I loved being, the thought of being a police officer. But I realized that a lot of kids grow up in hard circumstances and by the time they’re adolescents in that neighborhood, they hate cops.
Serino: Um hum.
Zimmerman: And from my cousin and what I learned, what I’m still learning mentoring the kids is, I think the biggest difference, cause I wanted to make a difference. Uh, and the biggest difference you can make, I thought you could make, is showing kids accountability. I thought I could make more of an impact on their lives as a judge than as a police officer.
Serino: So you’re going for a law degree?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: OK. Yeah, cause you get desensitized to a process that slaps you on the hand that hey, yeah. That makes sense, so those are your aspirations? Law?
Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
Serino: OK. So you’d understand where this is going from because this, right here, this 17-year-old boy would be one of those kids who would have been a success story. Um, and I wanna know, like I said, everybody wants to know, you know, what set him off. He’s not on PCP, he’s not on anything. He’s on Skittles. Um…and…like I said, you know, I mean, the whole thing that we do is, especially at this level, this is a death investigation, I’m a real homicide investigator. We deal with these kind of cases and, you know, it’s tragic. And, like I said, the answers are either have been told already, which is the truth, or lying here, or lying the other witnesses, the other witness. And with comes one comes others, OK? And that’s why I want to make absolutely sure before you leave here you realize that, you know. Um, at this point, yeah, I’m done, you know. Um, but probably not done for you at other levels. So, you know, and that can really get in the way of your future real quick. I’m gonna grab me a bottle of water, you want something?
Serino: I walked in unprepared. Are you OK, do you need anything, use the bathroom or anything? Want a fresh bottle of water, I’ll bet it’s warm…
Zimmerman: No.
Serino: OK. I’ll be right back.
(leaves – door opens and closes)
Serino: I’m gonna pull a fresh tape, it’s now 6:05.

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