I would like to state that the law is written in black and white, and it should not and cannot be enforced in the gray for those who are in the thin blue line, Zimmerman said. I would like to know what actions the commission is taking to repeal Mr. Tooleys pension. I am not asking you to repeal his pension. I believe he has already forfeited his pension by his illegal cover-up, corruption and what happened in his department.
Since the claims about Zimmermans involvement in the Ware case first surfaced last month, Jackson denied that Zimmerman was among those who participated in community activism on Wares behalf. She said she found Zimmermans emphatic statements against the police chief in 2011 curious, because even Wares family and attorney had no beef with the former top cop. If anything, she said, they believed Tooley and another official were scape-goated for leaking information when none of the officers or supervisors responsible for dragging their feet on Collisons case were disciplined.
Jackson said all of Sanford not just the black community was in an uproar over the case, because of the perception that Collisons wealthy, influential family had intervened.
People wanted Justin so bad, Jackson said. They wanted to use Sherman to get Justin. Nobody really cared about Sherman. They cared about a little rich boy getting everything he wants.
Last month, someone identifying himself as a member of Zimmermans family forwarded The Herald a copy of the flier Zimmerman supposedly posted at black churches, urging everyone to attend the community forum. The same person also sent a letter to the area NAACP and to Wares sister, Tonnetta Foster, making the same claims and complaining that the black community had rushed to judgment of Zimmerman and conveniently forgotten his role in the Ware case.
I have never seen that guy in my life, Foster told The Miami Herald, speaking about Zimmerman. I feel like he is using that case to make it look like he was a good guy, when I feel he is a liar and a murderer.
Earlier this month The Herald visited five of the six churches where Zimmermans relative claimed he had left the fliers. None recalled such an announcement.
If there had been a flier, it would have been on my car. They always put it on the pastors car, said Rev. Michael Griffin, pastor at Zion Hope Missionary Baptist Church, where Foster worships. Nobody got fliers here.
First Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church Rev. H.D. Rucker was more direct: Tell them Pastor Rucker said hes telling a lie. Lying on the black church like hes doing, Im beginning to think he is a racist.
Zimmermans lawyer said his client was not so much interested in the chiefs pension as he was concerned about fairness.
I think he was upset with the cops, because they treated the homeless guy poorly and treated Collison very well, defense attorney Mark OMara said. At the [community] meeting, he was like, Hey, what are you doing?
OMara said Zimmerman went on several ride-alongs with police, including one with the Seminole County Sheriffs Office. After the 2011 community meeting, Sanford Police offered to take him on another one but he declined because he was so bothered by the Collison case, OMara said.
The defense attorney said Zimmerman told him his fliers were mentioned at the community forum. But contrary to what Zimmermans mother testified at his bond hearing, OMara said, he did not receive any special commendation from the mayor at the forum.
Sanford Police Capt. Robert OConnor said Wednesday the department does not know when Zimmerman went on the ride-along, with who, or if in fact he ever did ride with SPD.
City records show Zimmermans March 2010 application to ride along with the police was approved by the top brass of the department, even though a background check revealed Zimmerman had a criminal history, though no convictions. On his application, Zimmerman said he wanted to go on the ride-along to solidify my interest in a career in law enforcement.
Interim Police Chief Richard Myers said in a statement Wednesday it would be inappropriate to speculate or come to conclusions about Zimmermans comments at the community forum.
Neither the city manager nor the interim police chief were with the City of Sanford at the time the recording was made, and neither were here during the tenure of the former chief, Myers said. As a police chief I embrace the notion that transparency helps build public trust, but in this case, the need to preserve the sanctity of a criminal prosecution, for both the prosecutor and the defense, requires us to eschew making any comments that could taint the process.