Prosecutors are releasing more documents in the case of a man charged with fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
The documents being released Thursday include reports from the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The FBI is conducting a probe into whether there were civil rights violations in the handling of Martin's death investigation, and the FDLE assisted the criminal investigation.
DUMP: The new file is 284 pages. At a glance, I would say the Federal hate crimes investigation is stalling out - all sorts of people, including the ex-fiancee, say George Zimmerman never seemed to have a problem with race. Against that, there is Zimmerman's MySpace page from 2005 where he complains about Mexican thugs (p.224).
We learn a bit about the Gangs of Sanford (p. 116). Three gangs call themselves some variant of "Goons"; they are all black except for one token whte. A fourth gang is Hispanic. And believe it or not, in colder weather these gangstas favor hoodies.
A HEADSCRATCHER FOR THE DEFENSE: The FBI interviewed lead investigator Chris Serino of the Sanford PD. However, their conclusion is overlaid by the timestamp at the bottom of the document, so we end with this (p. 123):
Serino believed that Zimmerman's story...
What?!? Was a crock? Was convincing? Showed no evidence of racial animus? More discovery soonest! [I think we know! Serino believed Zimmerman's story was "scripted", a word two news outlets use in quotes; see below].
THE ORLANDO SENTINEL: The OS reporting is picked up by the Chicago Tribune:
FBI interviews: No evidence Zimmerman a racist
Federal civil-rights investigators interviewed dozens of George Zimmerman's friends, neighbors and co-workers, and no one said he was a racist, records released Thursday show.
FBI agents spread out across the state, talking to three dozen people, including gun-shop employees, Zimmerman's ex-fiancée and the Sanford police detective who led the investigation into the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old.
None said he or she had ever known him to show racial bias. A co-worker who saw him the day after the shooting said Zimmerman was "beat up physically and emotionally."
Chris Serino, the police detective who interviewed Zimmerman the night of the shooting, told agents he thought Zimmerman had pursued Trayvon "based on his attire" and not "skin color." Zimmerman, he said, has a "little hero complex" but is not a racist.
Zimmerman's account sounded "scripted" to him, Serino said. Even so, he did not have enough evidence to justify an arrest, he told an FBI agent, even though he was getting pressure from a small number of officers within the department to file charges.
That 'not racist' exemplifies the national reporting. For examples:
The Miami Herald (picked up by the Boston Herald):
FBI records: Agents found no evidence that Zimmerman was racist
Witnesses tell FBI that George Zimmerman is no racist
Trayvon Martin case: George Zimmerman not racist, FBI was told
The AP (from the San Fran Chronicle):
FBI doubts Trayvon Martin killing racist
The NY Times:
More Records Released in Trayvon Martin Case
Well, they need to bring their readers along slowly. Here we go from the lead by Lizette Alvarez:
MIAMI — A wide-ranging investigation of George Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin, found a man not prone to violence or prejudice and who moved easily between racial and ethnic groups — a “decent guy,” “a good human being.” The assessments, made public on Thursday, came from interviews with friends, co-workers and neighbors who were interviewed by the F.B.I. and state and local law-enforcement authorities. They are part of a pretrial cache of documents in the case that have been released periodically by Angela B. Corey, the special prosecutor. The F.B.I. was brought in to conduct a federal civil rights investigation, which is focused on whether there was racial bias involved in the shooting and in the handling of the case.
SCRIPTED: Both the OS and the Times include the word "scripted" in quotes in describing Serino's reaction to Zimmerman's story. That phrase would fit beautifully in the last visible sentence on the .pdf document (p. 123) and does not appear (to these tired eyes) elsewhere in the FBI account of their Serino interview.