[Updated April 12] Police and other officials in Sanford, Florida, have released a number of documents relating to the investigation of the February 26 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin and the arrest of George Zimmerman on a charge of second-degree murder. In this post, we‚Äôve collected some of the documents that show what police initially found at the scene, what authorities have told the public about the case, and other official documents.
Martin, a black 17-year-old, was unarmed when he was shot to death by Zimmerman, a Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer, as Martin was walking back to the house of his father's fiancee in Sanford.
Zimmerman had called police to report a suspicious person and said he was following Martin, despite being told by a dispatcher he didn't need to do so. He says he killed Martin in self-defense after the teen attacked him in the gated community. Zimmerman was¬†questioned but not charged, police said, because they lacked evidence to contradict his account.
The case has sparked a national debate about, among other things, race and self-defense laws. Between Zimmerman‚Äôs account to police, tapes of 911 calls and accounts from witnesses and others, much is in dispute. (See CNN‚Äôs breakdown of what witnesses say happened.)
The initial police reports
Sanford police have released initial reports from the officers who first responded to the shooting scene on February 26. The reports detail what the officers saw when they arrived, officers‚Äô attempts to resuscitate Martin, and a very brief account from Zimmerman. They do not include statements from other witnesses or any investigative information beyond the officers‚Äô initial observations.
The initial police reports describe the case as "homicide/negligent" and "manslaughter/unnecessary killing to prevent unlawful act." City officials have said that all reports need descriptions to help track types of incidents.
‚ÄúThis code does not indicate a formal charge that will be lodged against an alleged offender,‚ÄĚ the city said in a news release on Tuesday. ‚ÄúIt is used for internal processing and to type cases.‚ÄĚ
Citing multiple sources, ABC News reported Wednesday that the lead investigator in the case recommended that Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter after the shooting, but the state attorney's office determined that there was not enough evidence to lead to a conviction.
February 27 letter to neighborhood
In this letter to residents of the neighborhood where Martin was shot, the Sanford Police Department informs the residents of the fatal shooting and gives a brief description of the incident. The letter is dated February 27, the day after the shooting.
It also tells residents that an investigation was being conducted and that the department would hold a community meeting.
Answers from police chief
On March 21, with national public interest in the case rising, the Sanford city manager released a letter in which the city police chief answered what he said were frequently asked questions about the shooting.
The letter addresses issues such as why Zimmerman was not arrested and why he was armed. It also answers why the city Police Department hasn't released 911 tapes, though readers should be aware the Seminole County Sheriff‚Äôs Office had done so.
Those tapes now can be heard on the city‚Äôs website.
City: Newspaper's report on Zimmerman‚Äôs account consistent with inquiry
More than a month after the shooting, the Orlando Sentinel, citing ‚Äúauthorities‚ÄĚ as its source of information, reported that Zimmerman told police that he had lost sight of Martin after trying to follow him and that he was returning to his vehicle when Martin confronted him.
The Sentinel also reported that Zimmerman claimed to police that Martin attacked him before he shot Martin.
On Monday, the city of Sanford released a statement in which it condemned what it called "unauthorized leaks," but confirmed that the newspaper account "is consistent with the information provided to the State Attorney's office by the Police Department."
Affidavit: Zimmerman 'profiled' Martin
In an affidavit of probable cause, a Florida investigator says that the neighborhood watch volunteer "profiled" the victim, Martin, and disregarded a police dispatcher's request that he await the arrival of police.
Zimmermann arrested and booked
On April 11, Zimmerman turned himself in to authorities in Florida. He was was transported that evening to the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center, charged with second-degree murder and booked into county jail. On April 12, 47 days after Martin was shot and killed, Zimmerman made his first court appearance. His arraignment was set for May 29.
In the meantime, Zimmerman will stay in jail, segregated from the other inmates. He has access to the commissary, where he purchased $79.84 worth of items.