Feedback
News

Shellie Zimmerman lawyer: 'She believed George was armed'

1:32

Two days after police were called to a dispute between George Zimmerman and his wife, her lawyer said she did nothing wrong and is anxious to finalize her divorce without any more drama.

"Shellie Zimmerman wants this relationship to end with a whimper and not a bang,” divorce attorney Kelly Sims said at a Wednesday evening press conference, with his client standing silently by his side.

Shellie Zimmerman, shown here leaving the Seminole County Courthouse in Sanford, Fla. on Aug. 28, 2013. Gary W. Green / Pool via AP

The onetime nursing student filed for divorce earlier this month, just weeks after her husband was acquitted in second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin in a case that stirred national debate about race, guns and self-defense.

On Monday afternoon, the estranged spouses ended up together at the house they once rented from Shellie Zimmerman’s father – and what happened next is the subject of dispute and a police investigation.

By the wife’s account, she and her husband had agreed by text message that she could pick up some belongings from the home and that he would stay away until she was done.

Instead, Sims said, George Zimmerman showed up with a “400-pound bodyguard” and a “blonde friend” and began recording his client’s movements. She then began using an iPad to tape him, he said.

Police reports released earlier Wednesday — with the Zimmermans’ names redacted — provided conflicting accounts of the argument that unfolded, leading to Shellie Zimmerman calling 911 to report George was threatening her with a gun: 

  • Shellie Zimmerman’s father, David Dean, told police that his son-in-law hit him in the face.
  • George Zimmerman told police that he was locking the garage door when his father-in-law “charged him” and knocked him to the ground. When he got back up, he said, the father-in-law “became aggressive and was trying to attack him,” the report said.
  • Shellie Zimmerman said that her husband smashed the iPad on his leg and used a pocketknife to cut it into pieces, while her husband said he took the iPad after she used it to hit him several times on the back. Security video showed him apparently dismantling the tablet.
  • Shellie Zimmerman said that during the argument, George “reached his hand into his shirt to what she assumed was a gun.” She said he told her father, “Step closer,” and he responded, “What are you going to do, shoot me?”
  • A witness, identified in the report as Eugene Johnson, told police he saw George Zimmerman “very aggressively” reach for what he thought was a gun and tell his father-in-law, “Come towards me, you are threatening me.” However, he did not actually see a gun.

Police said no gun was found on George Zimmerman and his wife and other witnesses later said they had not actually seen a firearm.

2:32

The woman who was with George Zimmerman told police there were licensed guns in the car — but police have said they had no probable cause to search the vehicle.

At the press conference, Sims said Shellie Zimmerman had seen an empty package for a cross-body holster inside the house and assumed her husband was carrying a concealed weapon and was gesturing toward it as he made threatening comments.

"Shellie had a valid reason why she believed George was armed," said Sims.

"She did nothing wrong," he later added.

George Zimmerman’s defense lawyer during the Martin trial, Mark O’Mara, said Monday that he had committed no crime and that the incident was the result of emotions running high.

5:39

"Divorce work is worse than criminal work," said O'Mara, who will not be representing Zimmerman in this incident. "Everything is hyper-emotionalized."

None of the parties filed a complaint, and the Lake Mary, Fla., Police Department said no one will be charged before they can examine video from the busted iPad. An initial attempt to recover the footage failed.

Sims said he bore some of the blame for the dustup because he told Shellie Zimmerman she didn’t need to ask police to accompany her to the house. “It’s my fault,” he said.

Although he repeatedly questioned George Zimmerman’s motivation for showing up at the house Monday and breaking the iPad, Sims said Shellie Zimmerman is not interested in pursuing a criminal case.

Her primary concern, he said, is a quick divorce.

“Shellie has been on a strange ride the last couple of years,” he said, noting that his client stood by her husband through his acquittal only to have him leave her for all but three or four days in the weeks since.

“It’s like she’s been on the Tower of Terror and she’s freefalling,” he said.

“These folks need to be on opposite sides of the country, the world, if possible,” he said.

Editor's note: George Zimmerman has sued NBC Universal for defamation. The company strongly denies the allegation.

George Zimmerman, right, is escorted to a home by a Lake Mary police officer, Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, in Lake Mary, Fla., after a domestic incident in the neighborhood where Zimmerman and his wife Shellie had lived during his trial. John Raoux / AP