Photo by Gary Green/The Orlando Sentinel-Pool/Getty Images.
The Miami Herald has the latest brush stroke in the increasingly complicated picture of George Zimmerman:
A year before the neighborhood watch volunteer shot and killed Trayvon Martin in what he says was self-defense, Zimmerman stood before a Sanford city forum and accused the local police force of covering up the beating of a black homeless man by the son of a white officer.
Zimmerman also told the forum of his experience on a ride-along with a local officer, who he said was more concerned with finding a good place for some shuteye than he was with doing his job. "What I saw was disgusting," Zimmerman explained. "The officer showed me his favorite hiding spots for taking naps."
Those details were first reported Wednesday evening by the Herald, which obtained a recording of Zimmerman's appearance at the 2011 city forum. The Orlando Sentinel and the Associated Press have similar accounts of what happened at the public event based on transcripts from the forum.
Zimmerman offered his public criticism of the Sanford police on Jan. 8, 2011, days after a video of a homeless man's beating went viral and then police chief Brian Tooley was forced to retire. His successor, Bill Lee, temporarily resigned earlier this year after his department faced criticism for its decision not to arrest Zimmerman after Martin's death.
Zimmerman told the 2011 forum that "the law is written in black and white," and that "it should not and cannot be enforced in the gray for those who are in the thin blue line." He demanded the repeal of Tooley's pension and alleged that Tooley allowed the police force to attempt to cover up the beating.
According to the Herald, the public forum recording is a something of a mixed bag for Zimmerman's defense. On the one hand, it backs up his claim that he spoke out against a case of corruption within the Sanford police. On the other hand, it calls into doubt the Sanford Police Department's claim that no one in their department knew Zimmerman before Martin's death. Martin's family's law team have previously characterized Zimmerman as a "wannabe cop."
The latest revelation comes one week after the prosecution made public a mountain of court documents that show that a handful of key witnesses changed their story as to what they saw and heard the night Zimmerman shot and killed Martin.