Media outlets have been reporting on a “missing minute” in the Trayvon Martin case, between when George Zimmerman’s original phone call to police ends and when 911 calls from Zimmerman and Martin fighting start coming in.
There’s actually considerably more than a minute missing during that time.
This is due to widespread confusion about when Zimmerman placed his original call to police. Many write-ups claim his call began at 7:11, which is incorrect.
At 7:11 p.m., Zimmerman, who was in his truck, spotted Trayvon. There had been a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood attributed to young black men, and Zimmerman was wary of someone he did not recognize walking along the path that goes through the back of the townhouses, his father later told a local TV station.
7:11:12 is the time that the ticket notes were first saved at the dispatching center, but Zimmerman’s call connected at 7:09:34, two minutes earlier.
Here’s the connection time:
With a review of notes saved further down, we can confirm a 7:09 contact time for Zimmerman’s call to police.
At 7:11:59, the dispatcher writes an update that the subject is running away. This event wasn’t reported by Zimmerman until more than two minutes into his call. The dispatcher could not have saved that update after only forty-seven seconds.
Using the proper connection time for Zimmerman’s call, we see that note being saved two and a half minutes in, exactly when we would expect it to be there.
Timeline of events
Here’s Zimmerman’s call to police with proper timing synced.
And a map of the Retreat at Twin Lakes complex.
As I’ve written about previously, Trayvon Martin had plenty of time to make it back to his temporary residence, Brandy Green’s townhouse, if he had wanted to.
Position [F], where Martin’s shooting occurred, is only 35 yards from where Zimmerman’s truck was parked [C], and only 70 yards from Brandy Green’s townhouse [D]. It would only take Trayvon around 30 seconds to jog that distance, less if he actually ran.
Until now, it has been somewhat of a mystery why Martin never made it back to Brandy Green’s townhouse when he was so close, and how he and Zimmerman ended up at position [F], so close to Zimmerman’s truck.
Had Martin jogged straight to Brandy Green’s when George Zimmerman first reported him running at 7:11:42, he would have been there by 7:12:12. Considerably before Zimmerman could even finish giving police directions to the complex.
This has baffled the police investigating the case as well. They couldn’t figure out why Trayvon didn’t simply go to Brandy Green’s if he felt threatened, especially when he was so close. All reports had indicated he was heading that direction.
At a safe distance from Zimmerman, near the rear entrance of the complex, Trayvon receives a call from his girlfriend DeeDee.
Most cellular providers round down the seconds at the start of a call. We see a phone call from DeeDee that began at 7:12pm, but it could have began anytime between 7:12:00 – 7:12:59.
Rather than simply going inside Brandy Green’s townhouse, talking to DeeDee seems to have given Trayvon some motivation to double back and confront George Zimmerman.
We’ve seen several pictures now of Trayvon on social media that would lead us to believe he wanted to look tough. It may not be much of a stretch to think he wanted to look tough for his girlfriend as well.
Zimmerman is wrapping up his suspicious person call and walking back towards his truck from position [E].
Trayvon is heading toward Zimmerman’s truck as well, from somewhere around position [D]. He’s still talking to DeeDee on the phone, walking quickly.
Zimmerman hangs up his call to police.
This marks the beginning of the “missing” two minutes and thirty seconds between the end of Zimmerman’s call to police, and the first 911 call at 7:16:11.
While we don’t know all the details of what happened during this time, we do have some information that we can reconstruct the major events with.
The first bit that helps us is from a Reuters article published yesterday.
Sanford police have stopped talking to reporters about the case, and Serino has never spoken publicly about his role in it, but here is how Martin recalls what Serino said: “He told me Zimmerman’s story was that Zimmerman was of course following him and that Trayvon approached his vehicle, walked up to the car and asked Zimmerman, ‘Why are your following me?’ Zimmerman then rolls his car windows down, tells Trayvon ‘I’m not following you.’ He rolls his car windows up.
At first take, this sounds like Martin and Zimmerman had a prior confrontation before Zimmerman’s call to police, while Zimmerman was still in his truck. But it’s pretty clear by listening to that call, Zimmerman had not yet spoken to Trayvon.
That implies Zimmerman and Martin didn’t just have one confrontation over the upcoming minutes, they had two. The first one occurring at Zimmerman’s truck at position [C]. The second one at position [F].
Zimmerman gets back to his SUV and is waiting for the police to arrive. Suddenly, there’s a knock at the window, it’s Trayvon.
“Why are you following me?”
Trayvon starts to walk away, then runs, between buildings. He heads towards position [F], in the backyards between the complexes, cutting south of Townhouse G to get there.
Zimmerman decides he wants to keep Martin in sight. He had already lost visual on him once. He leaves his vehicle once more and also heads towards [F], most likely via the sidewalk above [G].
Both Zimmerman’s and DeeDee’s statements seem to agree on that.
“Trayvon got nervous and he said he gonna run around from the back, so he ran from the back and said he had lost him,” said Dee Dee, but Martin said that, just a few seconds later, Zimmerman was behind him again.
“Trayvon walks off. Zimmerman said he started running between the buildings. Zimmerman gets out of his car. He comes around the building.
Zimmerman and Martin run into each other at position [F].
From Zimmerman’s perspective, Trayvon is waiting for him. From Trayvon’s perspective, Zimmerman had just told Trayvon that he wasn’t following him and now here he is, doing it a second time. Trayvon is likely getting fed up with it.
“When he saw the man behind him again he said this man is going to do something to him. And then he said this man is still behind him and I said run.”
Trayvon is hiding behind the building, waiting on him. Trayvon approaches him and says, ‘What’s your problem, homes?’ Zimmerman says ‘I don’t have a problem.’
Within ten seconds the fight has begun. DeeDee gets hung up on.
“Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again, and he didn’t answer the phone.”
Zimmerman starts to reach into his pocket to get his cellphone, and at that point Trayvon attacked him. He says Trayvon hits him. He falls on the ground. Trayvon jumps on top of him, takes his left hand and covers Zimmerman’s mouth and tells him to “Shut the fuck up,” and continues to pound on him.
The first 911 call comes in. There’s loud screaming in the background.
One shot is fired, after approximately a minute and fifteen seconds of fighting and screaming.
Six additional neighbors call 911.
The possibility that there was not just one, but two confrontations does help explain several things.
For one, why DeeDee’s testimony has seemed so confusing at times — she’s not relaying just one interaction Martin had with Zimmerman like most of us assumed, she’s bringing up two separate encounters she listened to, spaced only around a minute apart.
This description of events seems to be exactly what Zimmerman has been telling police since the beginning, since it’s essentially how the police described the incident to Tracy Martin the next day.
Trayvon still seems to have doubled back towards Zimmerman after he first started running at 7:11, but he went on to initially confront Zimmerman at his truck, rather than point [F].
None of this can tell us for sure how the fight began or who initiated physical contact.
Since it seems like Zimmerman’s main goal was to stay in touch the with police throughout the evening, it still seems unlikely that he would intentionally start any physical altercation knowing that they were on their way.
That being said, Zimmerman definitely missed an opportunity to identify himself at his truck, which potentially could have helped to de-escalate the situation.