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Video: George Zimmerman describes Trayvon Martin encounter

June 21, 2012|By Laura J. Nelson

In a video released Wednesday, former neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman walks the scene where he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, describing for police what he said happened that night.

Zimmerman said to police in the video that he fired a single shot after Martin wrestled him to the grass and began banging his head repeatedly into concrete.

“It felt like my head was going to explode,” Zimmerman said, “and I thought I was going to lose  consciousness.”

The video was filmed the day after Zimmerman shot Martin. The footage shows two butterfly bandages on the back of Zimmerman's head and apparent bruises on his face.

In the video, released by defense attorney Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman walked through two rows of beige homes in the gated community of Sanford, Fla. He told police he had seen Trayvon walking the same path but lost sight of him. Then, Zimmerman said, Trayvon reappeared behind him and to his left.

“He yelled ... ‘Yo, you got a problem?’” Zimmerman said. “I said, ‘No, I don’t have a problem, man.’ … I looked down at my pants pocket, and he said, ‘You’ve got a problem now.’”

“And then he was here,” Zimmerman said, gesturing beside him, “and he punched me in the face.”

As the two wrestled on the grass, Martin sat on top of Zimmerman and began banging his head into concrete, Zimmerman said. Zimmerman said he began yelling for help. Someone opened their door and said they would call 911.

Then, Zimmerman said his jacket slid up, revealing the gun holstered on his right side.

“[Martin] said, ‘You’re going to die tonight ...,’” Zimmerman said. “He reached for it. I felt his arm going down by my side … I just grabbed my firearm and I shot him. One time.”

“… I didn’t think I hit him, because he sat up,” Zimmerman said. “He said, ‘You got me,’ ‘You got it,’ something like that. I thought he was saying, ‘I know you have a gun now, I heard it, I’m giving up.’”

Zimmerman said he pushed Martin down, sat on top of him and moved his arms apart. Then, someone arrived with a flashlight, he said. Police arrived shortly thereafter and put Zimmerman in handcuffs.

Although he was handcuffed that night, Zimmerman was not charged. The Sanford Police Department came under fire for how the investigation was handled, leading to Police Chief Bill Lee’s firing Tuesday night.

At the end of the video, Zimmerman falls silent.

“Any questions?” the officer in the frame asks.

“I don’t have any,” the voice behind the camera responded.

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Follow Laura on Twitter. Email: laura.nelson@latimes.com

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