Florida police downgraded proposed chargesÂ against George Zimmerman from second-degree murder to manslaughter on the dayÂ they turned over the case to prosecutors, newly released documentsÂ show.
The downgrade was one of at least fourÂ changes that the Sanford Police Department made over the course of five hours onÂ March 13 to the final report on the shooting death of 17-year-old TrayvonÂ Martin.
In the first version, investigatorsÂ recommended that Zimmerman be charged with second-degree murder. But about fourÂ hours later, they changed that to manslaughter, a lesser charge, according toÂ paperwork made public Tuesday by defense attorney Mark O’Mara.
The OrlandoÂ Sentinel first reported theÂ changes.
The shooting took place on the night ofÂ February 26. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, claims that MartinÂ attacked him so he shot him once in the chest. Moments before the shooting,Â Zimmerman had called the Sanford Police Department to report that he had spottedÂ a young man in his neighborhood and thought his behavior seemedÂ suspicious.
Police took Zimmerman in for questioning onÂ the night he shot Martin and later released him with no charges.
But as news of the shooting spread nationallyÂ over the next couple weeks, calls for Zimmerman to be arrested and charged grew.
Then on March 13, just before the case wasÂ handed over the prosecutors, police made several changes to their final reportÂ on the shooting.
Around 9:40 a.m., their 10-page case summaryÂ recommended a second-degree murder charge and four hours later, they downgradedÂ that charge to manslaughter. They also added criticism of Zimmerman for assumingÂ Martin wasÂ preparing to commit a crime.
‘The encounter between George Zimmerman andÂ Trayvon Martin was ultimately avoidable by Zimmerman if Zimmerman had remainedÂ in his vehicle and awaited the arrival of law enforcement or conversely if heÂ had identified himself to Martin as a concerned citizen and initiated dialogueÂ in an effort to dispel each party’s concern,’ the report said. ‘There is noÂ indication that Trayvon Martin was involved in any criminal activity at the timeÂ of the encounter.’
Around 2:30, another paragraph was added toÂ the report that said a doctor’s office had diagnosed Zimmerman with a fracturedÂ nose and scalp wound the day after the shooting.
In the last version, issued around 2:23 p.m.,Â police added a final addition to the now-13-page case summary that notedÂ Zimmerman had called Sanford police four other time since August to complainÂ about suspicious young black men in his neighborhood.