It's important to consider all the facts, all the witness, regardless of whether the new facts might be at odds with what we think happened. This is something we routinely beat up the GOP for, ignoring facts that disagree with their preferred narrative. We should always be vigilant about not doing the same, no matter how disturbing the crime.
One detail at the center of the event is who called for help during the physical skirmish between the two men. Zimmerman claims it was him, while others have suggested it was Martin. The Sentinel explains:One point: I'm not sure I understand how this new account is "entirely at odds" with what Trayvon Martin's girlfriend has alleged. Trayvon's girlfriend says she was talking to him on the phone before the altercation, then she heard a verbal back and forth between Travyon and Zimmerman, then heard someone (or both) hit the ground (it's not clear how Trayvon's girlfriend "heard Martin pushed to the ground" - how would that sound differently than Martin pushing Zimmerman to the ground?) The two stories seem to be somewhat consistent, to a point - a verbal back and forth, and then a physical fight. What's in conflict is who confronted whom, who threw the first punch, and what happened next.
Several witnesses heard those cries, and there's been a dispute about from whom they came: Zimmerman or Trayvon. Lawyers for Trayvon's family say it was Trayvon, but police say their evidence indicates it was Zimmerman.You can read the full Sentinel story here.
One witnesses, who has since talked to local television news reporters, told police he saw Zimmerman on the ground with Trayvon on top, pounding him and was unequivocal that it was Zimmerman who was crying for help.
Meanwhile, Slate's Emily Bazelon offers her take on the new info and what it means here.
[It is] very hard to know what to make of this new information. It’s entirely at odds with the account of Martin’s girlfriend, who says Martin was talking to her on his cell phone just before his death. The girlfriend says she heard Martin ask a man, “What are you following me for,” and that the man answered, “What are you doing here?” Then she heard Martin pushed to the ground. To point out the obvious, the police in Sanford, Fla., where the shooting took place, are the definition of embattled. Their chief resigned last week and the decision not to arrest Zimmerman—based on the belief that he reasonably feared bodily harm or for his life when he shot Martin—is a flashpoint for national outcry. No wonder someone in the department got fed up and leaked facts that support the cops’ decision-making.
For all we know, this new account may be true. We also know Zimmerman had a bloody nose, a swollen lip, and cuts to the back of his head, though he didn’t go to the hospital. But there’s no way to know what to make of his story yet. That’s why we have judges and juries—to sort out disputed facts. And it’s why “Stand Your Ground” laws like Florida’s, which the police have read as discouraging them from bringing charges when there’s a claim of self-defense, are such a terrible idea.
As Emily Bazelon at Slate says, that's up to a jury. And sadly, the local police weren't honest enough to admit that there are some disputed facts in this case that need to be cleared up before anyone can be exonerated.