March 26, 2012

Witness reportedly saw Trayvon Martin beating George Zimmerman before shooting

Guests: Shannon Butler, FOX 35 Orlando & Joe Oliver, friend of shooter

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," March 26, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: New developments in the tragic case of Trayvon Martin, the teenager who was shot and killed in Florida by a neighborhood watch member by the name of George Zimmerman. Now, Zimmerman has not been charged by police and is now in hiding, fearing for his life.

Now, according to the Orlando Sentinel, Zimmerman told police that Trayvon climbed on top of him and slammed his head into the sidewalk several times, leaving him bloodied and battered and with a broken nose, and his lawyer says that only one side of the story is being reported.


CRAIG SOONER, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S ATTORNEY: I think when the evidence comes out, it will show that George Zimmerman was acting in self defense in this case, and when the rest of the evidence comes out, the fact that -- the one fact we do know and that I can disclose at this point is that George Zimmerman suffered a broken nose, injuries to the back of his head and signs of a scuffle, being grass stained on the back of his shirt.


HANNITY: And the man who does not want his identity revealed says that when he came upon the fight, Zimmerman was on the bottom and he was the one yelling for help.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The guy on the bottom who I believe had a red sweater on was yelling to me help, help, and I told him to stop and I was calling 911. I got upstairs and looked down, the person that was on top beating up the other guy was the one laying in the grass, and I believe he was dead at that point.


HANNITY: But other people have said that they thought it was Trayvon yelling for help. In the end, the case may come down to the interpretation of Florida's stand your ground self defense law which many, including the law's authors, have said does not apply because Zimmerman had been following Trayvon prior to the fight and Trayvon had been running away.

Now, listen carefully to part of Zimmerman's call to police as he followed Trayvon in his truck. When Trayvon starts to run away, you can hear Zimmerman get out of the truck to follow him. You can listen for the door opening, the car beeping to indicate the door had opened, and shutting as Zimmerman follows on foot.


OPERATOR: Sanford Police Department.

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, TRAYVON MARTIN'S SHOOTER: Hey, we've had some break-ins in my neighborhood and there's a real suspicious guy. This guy looks like he's up to no good or he's on drug or something. He's got something in his hands. I don't know what his deal is. (EXPLETIVE) He's running.

OPERATOR: He's running. Which way is he running?

ZIMMERMAN: Down towards the other entrance of the neighborhood. (EXPLETIVE)

OPERATOR: Are you following him?


OPERATOR: OK. We don't need you to do that.


OPERATOR: All right. Sir, what is your name?

ZIMMERMAN: George. He ran.


HANNITY: All right. Joining me now with reaction, Joe Oliver who is a friend of George Zimmerman's, and Shannon Butler who has been following the story for our affiliate, Fox 35 in Orlando. Guys, welcome to the program. And thanks for being here.

Shannon, let me start with you. We were originally told that it was originally reported that, in fact, there were no eye witnesses to the case. You have interviewed the one person that we're now told was an eyewitness from the very beginning, is that -- is that true?

SHANNON BUTLER, FOX 35 NEWS REPORTER: Yes. There have been several witnesses who have come out since the initial report. The witness I think you're referring to is John, and John is the one that said that he actually saw the scuffle between the two other people that we interviewed said they heard the screams, they knew there was some kind of confrontation. But this guy told us that he actually saw what he said was Trayvon Martin on top of George Zimmerman beating him, and that's when he called 911. He said, Zimmerman was actually saying to him please help me, please help me. He said then he went upstairs while he was calling 911, by then he was too late, that gunshot had already gone off.

HANNITY: What can you tell us, and he was saying that in fact, it was George Zimmerman on the bottom and Zimmerman was being beaten up, does that not corroborate in spite all of the media coverage and all those that have been speaking out politically about this, does not that contradict the narrative that's been heard in the media up to this point?

BUTLER: Well, we hadn't heard George Zimmerman side really of the story except for a few of those witnesses like John. But today, the Sanford police did make it clear that what George Zimmerman told them was that he was actually getting back into his SUV when he said Trayvon Martin came around the left-hand side of him and he says that Trayvon Martin said, do you have a problem? And he said no, and then Trayvon said something like well, you do now. Then George Zimmerman told the cops that he got punched in the nose. He hit the ground, and that's when Trayvon Martin jumped on top of him and slammed his head into the sidewalk and that's when he began to yell for help. I mean, that's what Sanford police tell us that George Zimmerman told them.

HANNITY: And again, just to be clear about this, because this is a really important point, as far as we know at this point, this would be the only eyewitness that we know in this case?

BUTLER: That we know of that has actually come forward on this case, not the only eyewitness. The only eyewitness that says, he saw Trayvon Martin on top of George Zimmerman.

HANNITY: Right. But the other --

BUTLER: We've interviewed other witnesses who have said that screaming on the tape was not George Zimmerman, it was Trayvon Martin. That's what all the other witnesses have said.

HANNITY: All right. Joe, I know you're a friend and I know you've been on some other TV shows. The implication and the allegation by many that this was a case of racial profiling, that some have suggested this is racially motivated, this is somebody you know, somebody that's your friend. A, have you spoken with him, and what has he told you?

JOE OLIVER, FRIEND OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Yes, I have spoken to him. I spoke with George earlier today, and I actually got the details of what happened after that confrontation that was reported in the paper today. That's what he told me is the reason why he's not in jail right now. I wish I could tell you what he told me and what the investigation has turned up. That's information that's not coming out until the grand jury convenes if there is a grand jury.

The frustration for George and for everyone who's involved with this is that there hasn't been enough information out there to get a clear picture of what happened. And the biggest missing picture is what happened from the time George said, OK after being told that he didn't have to follow Trayvon, to the time that someone saw Trayvon on top of George and heard the gun go off.

HANNITY: Is there an answer to that, Joe? Because the one thing that struck me as I listened to that tape and they said no, no, no, we don't need you to do that. I'm just trying to put myself in that position. Assuming what he's saying, that this area had been hit particularly hard with crime recently. For whatever reason he saw somebody he didn't recognize in the neighborhood, he called 911. They told them to do that. Is there an answer to that question, why he followed when they said don't?

OLIVER: Well, no, there's not an answer to that question because we don't know for sure that he actually did follow him.

HANNITY: Well, you can actually hear on the tape, though.

OLIVER: Hang on. Hang on. I know. Hang on. Hang on. You hear him running, and then you hear the -- the dispatcher telling him after asking if he was following him that he said you don't have to do that. George responded OK.

So, we don't know if George was following Trayvon after that, and the information that has come out since today says he was returning to his vehicle when he was confronted by Trayvon.

HANNITY: Yes. You've heard about the New Black Panther Party, I'm sure you probably know that apparently Spike Lee has sent out the address of your friend. You know other comments that have been made by Reverend Jackson and Reverend Al Sharpton and some others in this case. You've known him for how long a period of time?

OLIVER: About six years now. I've known him ever since he started dating his wife.

HANNITY: We've also gotten reports that not only himself, was he a minority, had minority family members, but that he also tutored and he and his wife would tutor African-American kids, minority kids for free on the weekend. Is that true?

OLIVER: That is true. George would help anybody regardless of race, creed or color.

HANNITY: And what do you make of these allegations that those have said that somehow this is a racial incident?

OLIVER: Because of the history of the Sanford Police Department in particular and the early characterizations that George is white. That's going to inflame anyone as we continue to see those pictures of Trayvon as a young child. And I for one will tell you that if I didn't know George because of the history of the Sanford Police Department that I am familiar with, I would have been screaming for an arrest along with everyone else.


OLIVER: But I do know George Zimmerman and I know he's not a racist, and I know what he's told me, and I know what the evidence is. And until the evidence comes out, we're not going to be able to start turning the corner. But what we're seeing now which I expected to happen because it's taken so long to get information out, is that whatever information is put out there is being discredited because it does not put Trayvon in a good light.

HANNITY: I had said from day one, there's a rush to judgment and I can see it in the media. We'll discuss this in the next segment and I think maybe now that more information has come out, people might be a little more responsible, especially in the media.

Shannon, one last question for you. Did the police, Shannon, know that this eyewitness existed, that someone corroborated the story? And did they -- they knew this from the beginning because that would answer a question maybe why an arrest was not made?

BUTLER: Yes, they did. According to John, John told us they did talk to police because he said that he actually saw a picture that the police showed him of George Zimmerman and said was this the guy. So according to John, yes, he has spoken to the police which would speak to kind of somebody backing up what George Zimmerman had told them originally.

HANNITY: All right, Shannon. Great reporting. Thank you for being with us. And Joe, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.

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