Local police chief has 'concerns' about Zimmerman
The police chief in the Florida city where George Zimmerman lives expressed concerns Thursday that Zimmerman remains able to carry a gun, even after repeated run-ins with police following his acquittal this summer in the Trayvon Martin killing.
"I'm a small-town police chief. If I had the authority to revoke his firearm license, I would certainly sit down and consider that," Steve Bracknell, the chief of police in Lake Mary, said during a telephone interview with NBC News.
"Does anyone else except me see a pattern?" Bracknell continued. "The word firearm keeps popping up."
Bracknell's officers responded Monday to a domestic dispute between Zimmerman and his estranged wife, Shellie Zimmerman, who told a 911 dispatcher that Zimmerman had threatened her with a gun and punched her father in the nose.
Police reports released Wednesday — with the Zimmermans' names redacted — provided conflicting accounts of the argument. Police said no gun was found on George Zimmerman -- and his wife and other witnesses later said they had not actually seen a firearm. No charges have been filed.
But in an email exchange reported Thursday by the website Think Progress, Bracknell told a concerned citizen that Zimmerman had a gun in his car.
"We did not have the authority to search his truck. He DID have a firearm in the truck. Having a firearm is not a violation of Florida law," Bracknell wrote.
The chief also wrote in response to the citizen's suggestion that police in Florida were covering for Zimmerman, "REST ASSURED, the last thing on planet earth I want is ANY relationship with the Zimmermans. PERIOD."
Reached Thursday evening by telephone, Bracknell authenticated the email exchange to NBC News, confirming he authored the responses. The chief downplayed the significance of the exchange, saying he was simply making an effort to respond to a concerned citizen.
But Bracknell told NBC News he has "concerns" about Zimmerman. "I think a lot of people do," Bracknell said.
In July, a Florida jury found Zimmerman not guilty of second degree murder and manslaughter in the shooting death last year of Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old.
Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, said he acted in self-defense and that Martin attacked him.
When Zimmerman was acquitted, he retained his state-issued concealed-carry gun permit.
Since the trial, Zimmerman has also been pulled over twice for speeding. On the first occasion, in Forney, Texas, Zimmerman told police he had a gun in his glove compartment, according to police dash-cam video.
Reached by telephone Friday, a spokesman for defense attorney Mark O'Mara said he would not comment on Bracknell's email exchange, or on Bracknell's remarks to NBC News.
"We're not representing George on that matter," said spokesman Shawn Vincent, referring to the investigation by police of the alleged battery incident in Lake Mary this week.