Zimmerman probe on hold until evidence surfaces
Published: September 12, 2013 07:47AM
Updated: September 11, 2013 06:03PM
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George Zimmerman, right, is escorted to a home by a Lake Mary police officer, Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, in Lake Mary, Fla., after a domestic incident in the neighborhood where Zimmerman and his wife Shellie had lived during his murder trial. Zimmerman's wife says on a 911 call that her estranged husband punched her father in the nose, grabbed an iPad out of her hand and smashed it and threatened them both with a gun. Zimmerman was recently found not guilty for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Lake Mary, Fla. • The investigation of a domestic dispute between George Zimmerman and his estranged wife is on hold because there is no clear evidence to charge anyone and neither side wants to press the case, a police spokesman said Wednesday.

That could change if new evidence surfaces or technicians are able to extract video that recorded the dispute from Shellie Zimmerman’s smashed iPad, said Officer Zach Hudson. Law enforcement analysts are having difficulty obtaining the video because the iPad is in bad shape, he said.

“We have concluded the investigation with what we have to work with right now,” Hudson said.

The dispute took place Monday, just days after Shellie Zimmerman filed divorce papers. In the papers, Zimmerman, 26, said she had separated from her husband a month after he was acquitted in the 2012 fatal shooting death of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin.

A police report on the dispute released Wednesday shed some light on how it started.

Shellie Zimmerman, accompanied by her father and a friend, was removing some belongings from the couple’s house when George Zimmerman, who still lives there, arrived and began taking photos of her, the report said. The house is owned by Shellie Zimmerman’s parents.

George Zimmerman recorded the items she removed from the house and also the belongings she had placed in her father’s truck, the report said.

Zimmerman said his wife was “taking property that was not agreed upon and he began taking pictures and recording the items,” the report said.

Shellie Zimmerman then took her iPad and started recording her husband taking photos of her, authorities said. George Zimmerman went in the house and locked the front door.

What happened next is in dispute.

Shellie Zimmerman told investigators she heard her father screaming from the garage. Her father, David Dean, told her that Zimmerman had hit him in the face, the report said. She said her husband then smashed her iPad.

During a 911 call, she also told police that George Zimmerman was threatening her and her father with a gun. Later, however, she said she had not seen a gun. Police said they found no gun, but that Shellie Zimmerman’s father “did have a swollen red mark on the bridge of his nose.”

At a news conference late Wednesday, Shellie Zimmerman was with her attorney, Kelly Sims, but didn’t answer any questions about what happened. Sims cited the on-going divorce proceedings and probation as the reason. Sims defended his client’s initial assertions that her husband was armed.

Sims said Shellie Zimmerman found packaging for a new holster in the trash that day and has always known him to carry a gun.

“Bottom line, Shellie had every reason to believe there was a gun,” Sims said.

Sims said his client is hoping to move on as soon as possible.

“The only thing Shellie wants out of the end of this relationship is for it to end with a whimper and not a bang,” Sims said.

In the report George Zimmerman told investigators that his wife had told him she was done picking up her belongings. He said he locked the front door and went to the garage to close it when Shellie Zimmerman’s father confronted him, according to the report.

Shellie Zimmerman’s father threw down his glasses and charged his son-in-law, according to George Zimmerman’s account. Shellie Zimmerman at some point hit her husband with her iPad, George Zimmerman told investigators.

Police officers asked George Zimmerman to remove his shirt so they could see if there were marks on his back. “There were no signs of trauma, redness or marks of any kind in the area where he said he was struck,” the report said.

As many as seven people were at the house — friends of the Zimmermans — and they all have been questioned by investigators, Hudson said. The friends said they didn’t see what happened and footage from the house’s surveillance cameras was inconclusive, Hudson added.

Both sides are refusing to press charges, but Florida law allows police officers to arrest someone for domestic violence without the consent of the victim.

Investigators are hoping video from the iPad will allow them to determine if charges should be filed.

Hudson told a news conference Wednesday that law enforcement analysts are having difficulty extracting the video because the iPad is in bad shape.

He said because investigators don’t currently have the necessary tools to extract the video, it could be several weeks or months before the video can be analyzed — and even then they aren’t making any promises. The iPad’s chip also suffered some damage, Hudson said.

Without an examination of the video, he said he doesn’t expect there to be imminent charges against either person.

Lake Mary is about seven miles southwest of Sanford, where George Zimmerman, 29, fatally shot Martin during a fight in a gated community in February 2012. Zimmerman, who identifies himself as Hispanic, was acquitted in July of all charges in the shooting.

Zimmerman said he acted in self-defense when he shot the 17-year-old Martin. He wasn’t charged until 44 days after the shooting, leading to protests nationwide from people who believed he should have been immediately arrested.

The case sparked accusations that Zimmerman had racially profiled Martin and demonstrations broke out again after his acquittal. Federal authorities are now reviewing the case the see if Martin’s civil rights were violated.

On Tuesday, police released a dash cam video showing George Zimmerman being handcuffed after the domestic dispute with his wife. In the video, officers ordered Zimmerman to put his hands up and drop to his knees. One officer approaches with his gun drawn while another handcuffs Zimmerman.

Mark O’Mara, who represented George Zimmerman in his murder trial, said on Monday that his client did nothing wrong and the dispute was typical for a couple going through a divorce. On Tuesday, O’Mara said he was not going to represent George Zimmerman in this matter.

“I’ve come to know them as a family, and it’s not a good idea to get in between them,” O’Mara said.

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Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter: http://twitter.com/mikeschneiderap.

Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter: http://twitter.com/khightower.