Sanford: The man who shot and killed an unarmed Florida teenager in a case that has sparked widespread public outrage told police the victim had punched him, knocked him down and slammed his head into the pavement repeatedly before he fired the fatal gunshot.
The account of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, was published for the first time on Monday in the online edition of the Orlando Sentinel.
Police in Sanford, Florida, the Orlando suburb where 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot dead on February 26, confirmed that the newspaper report appeared to be based on leaked information from someone inside the police department.
"The information in the article is consistent with the information provided to the State Attorney's office by the police department," the police said in a statement.
Zimmerman, a 28-year-old white Hispanic, has been widely criticized for following Martin, who was African American, and ignoring a police request that he stop doing so after calling the 911 emergency number to report that the young man in a "hoodie" hooded sweatshirt looked to be "up to no good."
But in own his version of events, as outlined in the Sentinel report, Zimmerman had given up the chase and was walking back to his sport utility vehicle when Martin approached him from behind.
The two exchanged words before Martin punched the burly Zimmerman in the nose, sending him reeling to the ground. The teenager then began pummeling him and slammed his head into the sidewalk several times, the newspaper said.
At least one witness told police he saw Martin on top of Zimmerman who was calling for help, the newspaper said. It noted, however, that other witnesses had disputed from whom the cries were coming.
ABC News quoted a police source as saying that Zimmerman, in a written statement, claimed that Martin also tried to take his gun before the shot was fired.
Zimmerman's attorney has said his client acted in self-defense. He has not been arrested and Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which broadened the legal definition of self-defense when it was passed in 2005, provides people with immunity from detention or arrest if they use deadly force in their own defense without clear evidence of malice.
First Published: Tuesday, March 27, 2012, 21:58