September 10, 2013

Zimmerman's wife won't press charges despite frantic 911 call

She tells a dispatcher that Zimmerman punched her father, smashed an iPad and threatened them with a gun, but she later recants her story.

The Associated Press

LAKE MARY, Fla. — The sobbing wife of George Zimmerman called 911 Monday to report that her estranged husband was threatening her with a gun and had punched her father in the nose, but hours later decided not to press charges against the man acquitted of all charges for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin.

click image to enlarge

George Zimmerman, left, arrives in Seminole circuit court with his wife, Shellie, on June 24, 2013 – the 11th day of his trial – in Sanford, Fla.

AP

Lake Mary police officers were still investigating the encounter as a domestic dispute, but no charges had been filed Monday afternoon. Shellie Zimmerman left the house after being questioned by police. George Zimmerman remained there into early evening and his attorney denied any wrongdoing by his client. He was not arrested.

Shellie Zimmerman, who has filed for divorce, initially told a 911 dispatcher that her husband had his hand on his gun as he sat in his car outside the home she was at with her father. She said she was scared because she wasn't sure what Zimmerman was capable of doing. Hours later she changed her story and said she never saw a firearm, said Lake Mary Police Chief Steve Bracknell.

For the time being, "domestic violence can't be invoked because she has changed her story and says she didn't see a firearm," Bracknell said.

On the 911 call, Shellie Zimmerman is sobbing and repeating "Oh my God" as she talks to a police dispatcher. She yells at her father to get inside the house, saying Zimmerman may start shooting at them.

"He's threatening all of us with a firearm ... He punched my dad in the nose," Shellie Zimmerman said on the call. "I don't know what he's capable of. I'm really scared."

She also said he grabbed an iPad from her hand and smashed it.

Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, said his client never threatened his estranged wife and her father with a gun and never punched his father-in-law. Shellie Zimmerman had collected most of her belongings Saturday from the house, which is owned by her parents, where she and George had both been staying there until she moved out. She had returned unexpectedly Monday to gather the remaining items. Emotions got out of control, but neither side is filing charges against the other, O'Mara said.

"I know the 911 tape suggests that Shellie was saying something but I think that was heightened emotions," O'Mara said. "There may have been some pushing and touching. That happens a lot in divorce situations ... Nobody was injured."

Her father also declined to press charges, the police chief said.

Prosecutors could still build a case based on surveillance video from cameras outside the house and also video from the squad cars of officers who responded. Florida law allows police officers to arrest someone for domestic violence without the consent of the victim.

Police spokesman Zach Hudson said the estranged husband and wife were blaming each other for being the aggressor and that police officers were sorting through their accounts.

Shellie Zimmerman in her divorce filing last week said she and her husband had separated a month after he was acquitted of any crime for fatally shooting the 17-year-old Martin in Sanford, not far from where Monday's investigation happened.

Shellie Zimmerman asked the dispatcher to send an ambulance to check her father out. A fire department ambulance arrived at the house but nobody needed to be transported, Hudson said.

"The call went out as a 911 call that Mr. Zimmerman was threatening them with a firearm," Hudson said. "We're trying to see if that's true or not."

(Continued on page 2)

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