Florida police called on man who shot black teen
LAKE MARY, Florida (AP) — The estranged wife of a former neighborhood watchman acquitted in the shooting death of a black teenager called police officers Monday, saying her husband threatened her and her father with a gun.
Shellie Zimmerman called police shortly after 2 p.m. Monday, said Police Chief Steve Bracknell. In the call, she said George Zimmerman punched her father in the nose, grabbed an iPad out of her hand and smashed it and threatened them both with a gun.
Shellie Zimmerman, who has filed for divorce, initially told an emergency dispatcher that her husband had his hand on his gun as he sat in his car outside the home. She said she was scared because she wasn’t sure what Zimmerman was capable of doing. But hours later she changed her story and said she never saw a firearm, said Bracknell.
For the time being, “domestic violence can’t be invoked because she has changed her story and says she didn’t see a firearm,” Bracknell said.
“We didn’t find a gun,” Lake Mary police spokesman Zach Hudson said late Monday night. “We didn’t find anything that indicated he had a gun on his person.”
Hudson said Zimmerman was released from investigative detention at around 6:30 p.m. and “he just walked back into the house.”
George Zimmerman was not arrested, Bracknell said. He said the estranged husband and wife blamed each other for starting the fight but that Shellie Zimmerman would not press charges. Her father also declined to press charges, the police chief said.
Shellie Zimmerman left the house, which is owned by her parents, after being questioned by police. George Zimmerman remained there into early evening and his attorney denied any wrongdoing by his client. Both had been staying in the home until she moved out.
Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, said his client never threatened his estranged wife and her father with a gun and never punched his father-in-law. Shellie Zimmerman had collected most of her belongings Saturday from the house. But she had returned unexpectedly Monday to gather the remaining items. Emotions got out of control, but neither side is filing charges against the other, O’Mara said.
Shellie Zimmerman said in a divorce petition filed last week that she and her husband separated a month after Zimmerman was acquitted of any crime for fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last July in Sanford, just a few miles away from Lake Mary. Zimmerman’s acquittal led to protests nationwide.
Last month, Shellie Zimmerman, 26, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor perjury charge for lying about the couple’s finances during a bail hearing following her husband’s arrest after Martin’s shooting. She was sentenced to a year’s probation and 100 hours of community service. Her husband did not attend the sentencing hearing in the Sanford courtroom.
George Zimmerman, 29, said he acted in self-defense when he killed Martin and the polarizing case opened up national discussions on self-defense laws and race. Martin was black. Zimmerman has a white father and Hispanic mother.
Zimmerman has been involved with a domestic case at least once before. In 2005, Zimmerman’s former fiancee filed for a restraining order against Zimmerman, alleging domestic violence. Zimmerman responded by requesting a restraining order against his then-fiancee.
Since his acquittal, Zimmerman has gotten a speeding ticket in Florida and was pulled over on suspicion of speeding on a highway near Dallas but not ticketed.
Schneider reported from Orlando.