ORLANDO, Fla. — Police officers who responded minutes after the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin could not agree on whether George Zimmerman had a broken nose, but they all said the ex-neighborhood watch volunteer had cuts on his head, according to documents released Thursday.
The severity of Zimmerman's injuries could be important in his claim of self-defense. Zimmerman, 28, is charged with second-degree murder in the February shooting.
Zimmerman was arrested 44 days after the shooting. The delay triggered protests nationwide and the departure of Sanford's police chief.
Martin was black and his parents contend Zimmerman racially profiled him. Zimmerman's family has denied that he is racist. Zimmerman's father is white and his mother is Peruvian.
The documents released offer a description by police officers right after the fatal shooting in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., a suburb of Orlando. One of the first police officers at the scene used a plastic bag to try to stop the flow of blood from Martin's chest wound.
Another officer described Zimmerman as grunting from pain when he was taken into an interview room at police headquarters.
A neighbor who heard shouts outside her townhome told an investigator that "the bigger" of the two men got up after she heard moans for help and then a gunshot. She told the investigator that the lead detective for Sanford police investigating the case had told her, in an attempt to comfort her during an interview, that the person who had been moaning for help was alive and that he was "really beaten up and scratched."
Who cried for help is a point of contention. Martin's family claim it is their son in background of 911 calls neighbors made, but Zimmerman's father has said the shouts for help were his son.
Martin's cousin, in an interview with the investigator, said "without a doubt 'on a stack of Bibles'" that the cries were those of Martin.
Some of the officers who responded to the scene recognized Zimmerman from previous calls he had made to police about break-ins and the thefts in the gated community.
In a call just weeks before his confrontation with Martin, Zimmerman described a man going through trash cans in the neighborhood. When asked by a dispatcher, Zimmerman says he is black.
"He keeps going to this guy's house. I know him. I know the resident. He's Caucasian," Zimmerman said. "He is going up to the house and then going along the side of it and then coming straight and then going back to it. I don't know what he's doing. I don't want to approach him, personally."