The man accused of shooting at George Zimmerman on Monday may use Florida’s infamous ‘stand your ground defense’, after claiming he feared for his life.
In what would represent a staggeringly ironic turnaround for Zimmerman, Matthew Apperson will say that Zimmerman pulled a gun first during the incident which unfolded in Lake Mary.
Apperson’s bullet missed Zimmerman, who was acquitted in 2013 of murdering Trayvon Martin, but his windshield was shattered and he suffered cuts to the face, his attorney said.
Zimmerman was treated for minor injuries in hospital and the violent run-in comes eight months after Apperson told police that Zimmerman had threatened him with a gun during a road rage incident.
He had claimed he was verbally attacked by two men in a truck at a stop light in Lake Mary. The men thought he was shaking a finger at them, but he claimed he had just been listening to music.
Apperson told cops that he recognized Zimmerman as the driver and that he was carrying a gun. He claimed Zimmerman yelled at him, ‘Do you know who I am?’ before saying, ‘I’ll f***ing kill you.’
Apperson pulled into a nearby gas station and claims Zimmerman followed him and threatened to kill him, he said.
But Zimmerman left once Apperson headed inside to call 911 about the alleged threats.
Two days later, Apperson called police again when he saw Zimmerman’s truck outside his work place at Waymont Plaza – the same area where Monday’s incident unfolded.
Authorities contacted Zimmerman but he claimed he had just been visiting his doctor at the plaza. Apperson decided not to pursue charges, and police were unable to move forward without a car tag identified or witnesses.
Lake Mary Police Officer Bianca Gillett says investigators have not determined how or why the latest altercation began.
‘Currently the investigation is in its preliminary stages,’ said Gillett.
‘We cannot determine whether or not charges will be filed for either party.’
In an interview with CNN, Don West, Zimmerman’s lawyer, said; ‘The man pulled up next to George yelling obscenities at him.’
Prior to this he said the man had been flashing his lights and honking at his client.
He then said that Zimmerman recognized the man from months before and began to roll up his window.
That is when the man fired at him, Zimmerman told West.
A bullet hole could be seen in the passenger window of Zimmerman’s Honda Ridgeline SUV as it was towed away.
Kenneth Cornell, who works nearby on Waymont Court, told WESH that the alleged shooter approached him and said: ‘I shot George Zimmerman.’
Cornell called 911 and Apperson spoke to the dispatcher to explain what had happened.
Apperson claimed he only took out his gun and fired after Zimmerman pulled out his own weapon and waved it around, said Cornell.
If this is the case, Apperson could potentially argue he was standing his ground at the time of the shooting as Zimmerman waving his gun constituted a ‘reasonable perceived threat.’
‘George absolutely denies pointing a gun, displaying a gun – no aggressive movement toward him at all,’ said West.
At the same time 911 received a call, Zimmerman flagged down a passing police car and told officers that he had been involved in a shooting.
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