Police in Sanford, Florida, initially recommended second-degree murder charges against George Zimmerman before downgrading to manslaughter.
Former Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee Jr., left, and lead investigator Chris Serino. (Photo: Orlando Sentinel/MCT /Landov)
Chris Serino, the detective who oversaw the initial investigation into the death of Trayvon Martin, apparently revised his report on the case on four occasions, the most notable change being recommending downgrading the charges against George Zimmerman to manslaughter.
The revisions to the report, which was first reported by the Orlando Sentinel, paint a picture of a police department struggling with how to deal with the death of the 17-year-old unarmed Black teenager in Sanford, Florida, in February.
“I think it’s clear to anyone who is part of law enforcement or in the legal system that there was overwhelming evidence to arrest George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin,” said Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the parents of the teenager, in an interview with BET.com. “There was ample probable cause to make that arrest.”
The detective in the case initially wrote that he had probable cause to recommend a second-degree murder charge against Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who shot the unarmed young man in the Orlando suburb. However, over the course of an hour, he changed the report on two occasions stating in the final version that the evidence supported the lesser charge.
The changes in the report were noted by Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda.
Zimmerman, who has insisted that he shot Martin in self-defense, was ultimately charged with second-degree murder and is now free on $1 million bail as he awaits trial.
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