George Zimmerman had a broken nose, a bruised head and passed two voice-stress lie-detector tests in the wake of his deadly fight with Miami Gardens high school junior Trayvon Martin.
But police records released Tuesday show in greater detail how the Sanford detective investigating the case was unconvinced that Zimmerman was legally justified when he shot Trayvon. Det. Chris Serino believed Zimmerman jumped to a “faulty conclusion” about Trayvon, an unarmed teen who he said never used deadly force when he battered Zimmerman and caused him to frantically scream for help 14 times.
Days after several recorded interviews between Serino and Zimmerman were made public, the detective got a new job: On July 7, he starts in his new assignment as a uniformed patrolman on the graveyard shift, at the same pay.
“It’s not a demotion,” Sanford Police spokesman Sgt. David Morgenstern said of Serino, 45, who has been with the department for 15 years. “There isn’t any more prestige in being a detective. We have officers who love uniform patrol. This was of his own free will.”
The new assignment was announced less than a week after the former Sanford Police chief, Bill Lee, was fired over the public outcry that resulted from the department’s handling of the case. And it was revealed hours after State Attorney Angela Corey released another batch of evidence in Zimmerman’s second-degree murder trial, raising speculation that Serino’s move to patrol was directly related to the controversial case.
Serino “got demoted because he told the truth,” said Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Trayvon’s family.
On Tuesday, prosecutors released several videos and audio tapes, most of which had already been made public last week by Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara. One video released Tuesday shows several minutes of previously unseen footage of Zimmerman discussing with police his doctor’s diagnosis of his injuries.
“I have a broken nose. She says I could use stitches, but she’d rather not put them in — as long as I didn’t mess with my head. My skin is already healing nicely,” Zimmerman said at the end of a video where he walked through the scene with investigators the day after the shooting. “She says I didn’t need to put stitches in right away.”
As to the absence of wounds on other parts of his body, Zimmerman said: Trayvon “was just focused on my head.”
Zimmerman said that his doctor also advised that he needed to let the swelling in his nose go down before it could be treated. Sanford Det. Doris Singleton noticed that the inflammation on the side of Zimmerman’s bruised head had gone down.
“My wife is an RN student, so she went to work,” Zimmerman said. “Good to keep her busy, I guess.”
An unedited version of Serino’s sworn statement shows he believed the injuries were “marginally consistent with a life-threatening violent episode described by him, during which neither a deadly weapon nor deadly force was deployed by Trayvon Martin.”
Serino recommended a manslaughter charge, and explained in his report that Zimmerman was initially released because his account “appeared generally consistent with the facts and circumstances known at the time.”