Thursday, April 24, 2014
The Associated Press
LAKE MARY, Fla. — Police investigating a domestic dispute between George Zimmerman and his estranged wife said Tuesday they were confident they would be able to get video from her broken iPad, and the evidence will help them determine if charges should be filed.
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)
Police believe the mobile device captured video of Monday's dispute at the Lake Mary house where the Zimmermans had been living. Shellie Zimmerman told authorities he smashed it to pieces, but the former neighborhood watch volunteer said she hit him with hit. Police said it was examined at a crime lab, and the chances of them being able to watch the video were "outstanding," but it wasn't clear when that might happen.
"As of right now, we're waiting on the iPad as the last piece of the puzzle," Lake Mary police spokesman Zach Hudson said.
Without the video or some other piece of independent evidence, legal experts said it will be hard to build a case because Shellie Zimmerman changed her story about her husband threatening her with a gun and decided not to press charges.
"I think it's severely limited if they can't get anything from an eyewitness or video," said Randy McCLean, a former prosecutor who now practices criminal defense and family law in central Florida.
Shellie Zimmerman, 26, had moved out of the house last month but stopped by with her father Monday to gather some remaining items. Shellie Zimmerman's father owns the house with his wife.
A short time later, Zimmerman arrived with his friends, Hudson said.
"That's when they started taking video of one party taking this item and another party taking that item and that's how this developed," Hudson said.
Hudson didn't know exactly what items started the fight.
Shellie Zimmerman called 911, saying her estranged husband was in his truck and threatening her and her father with a gun. She also said her husband punched her father in the nose. Hours later, she told police she hadn't seen a gun.
Police said no gun was ever found and the former couple blamed each other for being the aggressor.
Hudson said as many as seven people were at the house — friends of the Zimmermans — and they all have been questioned by investigators. Hudson said they didn't see what happened and footage from the house's surveillance cameras was inconclusive.
Shellie Zimmerman's father and Zimmerman "put hands on each other" but there were no injuries and the father doesn't want to press charges either, Hudson said.
Florida law allows police officers to arrest someone for domestic violence without the consent of the victim.
When asked if George or Shellie Zimmerman could be charged, Hudson said: "As of right now, it could be either one or it could be no one."
Also Tuesday, police released a dash cam video showing George Zimmerman being handcuffed after the dispute. 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.
His attorney, Mark O'Mara, said on Monday 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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