Florida police downgraded proposed charges  against George Zimmerman from second-degree murder to manslaughter on the day  they turned over the case to prosecutors, newly released documents  show.

The downgrade was one of at least four  changes that the Sanford Police Department made over the course of five hours on  March 13 to the final report on the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon  Martin.

In the first version, investigators  recommended that Zimmerman be charged with second-degree murder. But about four  hours later, they changed that to manslaughter, a lesser charge, according to  paperwork made public Tuesday by defense attorney Mark O’Mara.

The Orlando  Sentinel first reported the  changes.

The shooting took place on the night of  February 26. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, claims that Martin  attacked him so he shot him once in the chest. Moments before the shooting,  Zimmerman had called the Sanford Police Department to report that he had spotted  a young man in his neighborhood and thought his behavior seemed  suspicious.

Police took Zimmerman in for questioning on  the night he shot Martin and later released him with no charges.

But as news of the shooting spread nationally  over the next couple weeks, calls for Zimmerman to be arrested and charged grew.

Then on March 13, just before the case was  handed over the prosecutors, police made several changes to their final report  on the shooting.

Around 9:40 a.m., their 10-page case summary  recommended a second-degree murder charge and four hours later, they downgraded  that charge to manslaughter. They also added criticism of Zimmerman for assuming  Martin was  preparing to commit a crime.

‘The encounter between George Zimmerman and  Trayvon Martin was ultimately avoidable by Zimmerman if Zimmerman had remained  in his vehicle and awaited the arrival of law enforcement or conversely if he  had identified himself to Martin as a concerned citizen and initiated dialogue  in an effort to dispel each party’s concern,’ the report said. ‘There is no  indication that Trayvon Martin was involved in any criminal activity at the time  of the encounter.’

Around 2:30, another paragraph was added to  the report that said a doctor’s office had diagnosed Zimmerman with a fractured  nose and scalp wound the day after the shooting.

In the last version, issued around 2:23 p.m.,  police added a final addition to the now-13-page case summary that noted  Zimmerman had called Sanford police four other time since August to complain  about suspicious young black men in his neighborhood.


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