In this image taken from dashcam video provided by the City of Forney Police Department, a police officer speaks with George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer acquitted by a Florida jury of charges in the fatal shooting of a Black teenager, after he was pulled over for speeding along U.S. 80, about 20 miles east of Dallas on Sunday, July 28, 2013. Zimmerman was released with a warning. (AP Photo/City of Forney Police Department)
FORNEY, Texas (AP) — George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who was cleared of all charges in the Florida shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, was stopped for speeding on a highway near Dallas, officials said Wednesday.
Forney police stopped Zimmerman on Sunday as he drove west on U.S. 80, about 20 miles east of Dallas. A police dashcam video released Wednesday shows an officer interacting with Zimmerman and letting him go with a warning.
The officer, who was not identified, asks Zimmerman, “Where you headed this weekend?”
After an unintelligible response, the officer asks, “Nowhere in particular? Why you say that?”
“You didn’t see my name?” Zimmerman replies.
“Nuh-uh,” the officer says.
“What a coincidence!” the officer adds. “Are you clear of warrants and stuff?”
“Absolutely sir,” Zimmerman says.
Zimmerman then says something else unintelligible and the officer responds, “Calm down man, you’re good.”
The officer then tells him, “I’m going to go back (to check his license), and why don’t you slow down a little bit for me. We’ll let you off with a warning.”
After an unintelligible response from Zimmerman, the officer says, “Just take it easy. Go ahead and shut your glove compartment. Don’t play with your firearm.”
Although the officer’s comments indicated Zimmerman had a gun, a weapon can’t be seen and it’s not clear that he had one. However, Zimmerman had a concealed weapons permit in Florida that would be also recognized under Texas law. The gun used in Martin’s shooting remains in the custody of the federal government, which is looking into a possible civil rights case.
After returning Zimmerman’s driver’s license, the officer says, “All right, sir. Slow down.” He wishes Zimmerman a safe trip.
The traffic stop was first reported by TMZ.
The speed limit on that stretch of road is 60 mph, but police records do not show how fast Zimmerman was driving, City Manager Brian Brooks said. Police handled Zimmerman as they would have any other motorist in a comparable situation and gave him no special treatment, Brooks said.
The city manager repeatedly declined to identify the officer involved in the traffic stop.
“He obviously didn’t expect to pull over George Zimmerman. I don’t think he wants the notoriety,” Brooks said.
Shawn Vincent, a spokesman for Zimmerman’s legal team, said the attorneys had not been able to confirm the account of Zimmerman’s road stop independently, but he said he had no reason not to believe the report.
“Anytime his life intersects with anyone now, somehow that’s news,” Vincent said. “How many people, when they get a warning, become a national headline?”
Vincent would not discuss what Zimmerman was doing in Texas or say anything about Zimmerman’s current location, citing safety concerns.
Zimmerman’s acquittal on July 13 prompted rallies nationwide calling for a civil rights probe and federal charges against him.
Last year’s shooting of Martin, an unarmed black teen, initiated a national dialogue about equal justice, racial profiling, gun control and self-defense laws.
Protesters nationwide lashed out against police in Sanford, Fla., as it took 44 days for Zimmerman to be arrested. Many, including Martin’s parents, said Zimmerman had racially profiled the 17-year-old. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.
The only other time Zimmerman has been seen in public since his acquittal was when he helped rescue four people from an overturned vehicle following a roadway accident in suburban Orlando.
Associated Press writer Michael Schneider contributed to this report from Orlando, Fla.