George Zimmerman injured after shooting: The dueling narratives

Updated 1:33 PM EDT, Tue May 12, 2015
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Story highlights

George Zimmerman was injured from broken glass after a bullet flew through his truck

The other man involved said Zimmerman had waved a gun, and he acted in self-defense

CNN —  

There’s no love lost between George Zimmerman and Matthew Apperson – certainly not after a bullet flew through Zimmerman’s truck Monday afternoon and barely missed his head.

Zimmerman and Apperson have had tense encounters before. In September, Apperson accused the former neighborhood watch volunteer of threatening him in what Zimmerman’s lawyer described as a “quasi-road rage incident.”

Two days later, police stopped Zimmerman after Apperson called 911 to say he thought he saw Zimmerman near his office.

No charges were filed in either of those cases. But on Monday, Apperson allegedly fired a shot into Zimmerman’s truck in Lake Mary, Florida. It’s just the latest case involving Zimmerman, the man who fatally shot unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012.

Exactly what happened Monday depends on which side you ask.

Zimmerman’s side: He was the victim of road rage

Zimmerman’s attorney Don West said a man driving behind his client was flashing his lights and honking his horn at him.

“The man pulled up next to George yelling obscenities at him,” West told CNN.

Zimmerman recognized Apperson as someone he had a problem with several months ago, the attorney said.

“He rolled his window up and he decided to get away, not to provoke it whatsoever,” West said. “And the fellow followed him – followed him around the U-turn and then pulled up to him and shot at him.”

The bullet went through Zimmerman’s side window and almost hit him in the head, West said. Zimmerman was hit by glass from the window, but not the bullet. He was taken to a hospital for minor injuries and then released, police said.

An investigation into the incident continued Tuesday afternoon, and no determination had yet been made as to whether anyone will be charged in the case, Lake Mary police said.

West said he’s not sure what led up to the confrontation, but speculated that Trayvon Martin’s death might have something to do with Monday’s shooting and the incident in September.

“I’m wondering if there is some kind of spillover from the Trayvon Martin incident,” he said. “Whether he saw George Zimmerman and decided to be aggressive with him initially back last fall and maybe this is a spillover to this, I don’t know.”

Apperson’s side: Zimmerman waved a gun

Apperson’s lawyer gave a very different version of Monday’s events: that Zimmerman was the instigator.

Attorney Mark NeJame said his client acted in self-defense.

“What happened today, he was legally justified to do,” NeJame said Monday.

An employee at a nearby business, Kenneth Cornell, said he was getting out of his car after lunch when a man drove up and started yelling.

“He was shaken. He seemed panicked,” Cornell told “CNN Tonight.”

The man, who identified himself as Apperson, shouted to Cornell: “I shot George Zimmerman, call 911! I don’t have a phone.”

Apperson said he shot Zimmerman after Zimmerman waved a gun, Cornell said. But Zimmerman’s lawyer has denied that his client waved a gun.

He said the fact that Apperson asked someone to call 911 immediately further indicates his client was not guilty of wrongdoing.

Lake Mary police said the 911 call came at about the same time Zimmerman flagged down an officer.

911 caller: ‘He said he had to’ shoot

Lake Mary police released audio of part of the 911 call on Tuesday.

In the call, a man tells the dispatcher there was a person “outside on the street … just standing out there” who had been involved in a shooting.

“A guy right here just said he had to shoot at someone through his window, so he wants the police to come,” the 911 caller said.

The caller eventually identifies the apparent intended target.

“He said he had to,” the caller says, referring to the shooter. “It was George Zimmerman.”

That’s the last statement made on the portion released by police. Lake Mary police spokeswoman Bianca Gillett said investigators are withholding the second half of the call because it has “some information that’s pertinent to the investigation.”

Investigators recovered two guns from Apperson’s vehicle, including a .357 Magnum revolver with one expended shell casing in the cylinder, Gillett said. She declined to say whether police believe that was the gun that Apperson allegedly fired at Zimmerman.

Police also have recovered a handgun that Zimmerman owns, and they have obtained a search warrant for his vehicle, Gillett said.

Gillett said investigators still hadn’t searched Zimmerman’s vehicle as of noon Tuesday. She said she had no information about what happened to the bullet that allegedly was fired at him.

A history of confrontations

Cornell said Apperson told him that he and Zimmerman have had three disputes.

In September 2014, Apperson called 911 after allegedly being threatened by Zimmerman. Apperson told police that Zimmerman threatened to shoot him dead, though he said he did not see Zimmerman flash a gun.

Two days later, police stopped Zimmerman after Apperson called 911 to say he thought he saw Zimmerman near his office.

The police report says Zimmerman told him he was in the area for an appointment. He also admitted to being involved in a verbal incident earlier in the week but denied threatening anyone.

Apperson did not pursue charges against Zimmerman. NeJame said his attorney just wanted to get the encounter on the record, but did not want all the attention that would follow if he pressed charges.

NeJame said doesn’t think his client and Zimmerman had any “ongoing beef” leading up to Monday.

“There’s been no ongoing relationship between them,” NeJame said.

After the shooting, Apperson ignored reporters’ questions outside his home and blew cigarette smoke at CNN affiliate WESH’s camera.

He spoke only when he thought someone had touched him.

“Hey, you touching me? Stop touching me,” he said. Then he continued smoking.

History of run-ins with the law

Zimmerman has made headlines repeatedly since his 2013 acquittal on a murder charge for the death of Martin, who was killed on February 26, 2012.

On that day, Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Florida, called 911 to report “a suspicious person” in the neighborhood.

The dispatcher asked him whether he was following the person, and Zimmerman replied that he was “trying to find out where he went.”

He ignored the dispatcher’s advice not to follow the person, and according to later accounts by Zimmerman, Martin jumped toward him and a fight ensued.

Moments later, neighbors report hearing gunfire.

A few weeks after the acquittal, in July 2013, Zimmerman was pulled over for speeding in northern Texas.

He apparently had a firearm in the glove compartment of a vehicle, prompting an officer to tell him, “Don’t play with your firearm, OK?”

He was sent on his way with a warning.

Then, in November 2013, police arrested Zimmerman at his then-girlfriend’s home in Apopka, Florida, after an apparent fight.

He was held on suspicion of aggravated assault and misdemeanor counts of domestic violence battery and criminal mischief, but the woman later asked that the charges be dropped and Zimmerman was not prosecuted.

And in January, Zimmerman was arrested on another domestic violence complaint after he allegedly threw a wine bottle at a girlfriend, his lawyer told reporters at the time. She later recanted and charges were never filed, CNN affiliate WESH reported.

Zimmerman’s encounters with the law and public spotlight

CNN’s Greg Botelho, Jason Hanna, John Couwels and Michael Pearson contributed to this report.