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Zimmerman charged in Florida dispute

by ALAN BLINDER New York Times News Service on November 19, 2013 10:20 AM

ATLANTA — Barely four months after he was acquitted in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager that spurred demonstrations across the country, George Zimmerman was arrested Monday in Florida following a dispute with his girlfriend, authorities said.

Zimmerman, 30, was charged with domestic aggravated assault, domestic battery and criminal mischief after he and his girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, had an argument at their home in Apopka, northwest of Orlando, said Chief Deputy Sheriff Dennis Lemma of Seminole County.

Scheibe told investigators that she had asked Zimmerman to leave the residence, and that he had begun packing his belongings, including two firearms, before growing agitated and turning violent.

Lemma said that Zimmerman had “broken a table and, at one point, pointed a long-barreled shotgun” at Scheibe, who said he aimed at her for about a minute.

Later in the altercation, the authorities said, Zimmerman forced Scheibe, who was uninjured, out of the home before obstructing a doorway with furniture.

“He just pushed me out of my house and locked me out,” Scheibe told a 911 dispatcher.

Law enforcement officials arrived soon after.

“The deputies were able to open the door and push away the furniture that was blocking the door, and confronted George Zimmerman as he sat there,” Lemma said during a news conference in Sanford, Fla. “At that time, he was unarmed.”

Zimmerman was being held without bail ahead of a court appearance today, which officials said was typical in a domestic violence case.

In his own 911 call before the deputies entered the home, Zimmerman said that Scheibe was pregnant with his child and that he wanted “everyone to know the truth” about Monday’s episode.

“I never pulled a firearm. I never displayed it,” he said. “When I was packing it, I’m sure she saw it. I mean, we keep it next to the bed.”

He also said Scheibe was responsible for the broken table when she started “smashing stuff, taking stuff that belonged to me, throwing it outside, throwing it out of her room, throwing it all over the house.”

Lemma said that Zimmerman was the subject of “administrative confinement,” a designation for prominent inmates who are housed alone and checked on hourly.

Zimmerman became a national figure after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin, 17, while working as a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford in February 2012. Martin’s death — and the initial absence of charges against Zimmerman — prompted outcry nationwide, and Zimmerman was ultimately charged with second-degree murder after Gov. Rick Scott asked a Jacksonville prosecutor to review the case.

During Zimmerman’s trial, the authorities contended that he was a “wannabe cop” who had defied the instructions of an emergency dispatcher on the night of the shooting while he “profiled” Martin.

After his acquittal, Zimmerman remained in the news, public fodder for his troubled personal life and his repeated encounters with law enforcement officials in Florida and elsewhere.

In September, the police in Lake Mary, Fla., investigated a dispute between Zimmerman and his estranged wife, Shellie Zimmerman, although he was not charged. Shortly before that episode, Shellie Zimmerman filed for divorce.

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