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George Zimmerman charged with stalking man who contacted him about Trayvon Martin documentary

File photo. George Zimmerman, the acquitted shooter in the death of Trayvon Martin, appears in court after being arrested in response to a domestic disturbance call involving his girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, in Sanford, Fla., Nov. 19, 2013. Zimmerman was charged with aggravated assault, domestic battery and criminal mischief in relation to the incident and was released on bond. (Joe Burbank/Pool via The New York Times)

George Zimmerman has been charged with stalking and harassing a private investigator who contacted him about a documentary series on Trayvon Martin, the black teenager whom Zimmerman shot and killed in Sanford, Florida, in February 2012.

The charges, which were delivered to Zimmerman through a summons on Thursday, May 3, allege he "willfully, maliciously and repeatedly" cyberstalked and harassed the private investigator, who had contacted Zimmerman in September on behalf of Michael Gasparro, who produced the film series alongside the rapper Jay Z, according to court documents.

The private investigator told Seminole County Sheriff's Office deputies that he sent Zimmerman a text message and left him a voicemail last September, in which he explained the film series and asked Zimmerman if he wanted to be involved. The private investigator also gave Zimmerman Gasparro's number, and Zimmerman called Gasparro shortly after. They chatted about the documentary, according to court documents, which will be about Martin's life and death, for which Zimmerman was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. On July 13, 2013, Zimmerman was acquitted by a Florida jury.

Outside of the initial text and voicemail, the private investigator made no further attempts to speak or meet with Zimmerman, deputies wrote in a warrant request.

Then, on Dec. 13, the private investigator heard back from Zimmerman. Gasparro called the private investigator to tell him Zimmerman was "extremely agitated," and sending Gasparro threatening messages, according to the warrant request.

"[The private investigator] is a [expletive] WHO BOTHERED MY UNCLE IN HIS HOME. Local OR former law officer He's well on his way to the inside of a gator as well. 10-4?" Zimmerman wrote to Gasparro, according to the warrant request.

A few days later, Zimmerman began contacting the private investigator directly. About 21 phone calls, 38 text messages and 7 voicemails were sent to him in just over a 2 1/2-hour window. Threats included expletives and statements such as, "I'll see you before you realize it," according to the warrant request. The private investigator, concerned about his safety and that of his family, contacted the sheriff's office.

A deputy wrote in the warrant request that he advised the private investigator to send Zimmerman a single text message, asking him to stop contacting him - and that if he didn't, the private investigator would involve law enforcement officials.

The private investigator sent the message, to which Zimmerman responded "No!" and "Pursue charges," according to the warrant request. "Text me again, I'll show up at your home you [expletive]!!!"

The private investigator also told deputies that Zimmerman sent him a link to a news article on in which he was quoted as saying, "I know how to handle people who [expletive] with me, I have since February of 2012." The comment was a reference to Martin's killing.

The article also quotes Zimmerman as saying "Anyone who [expletive] with my parents will be fed to an alligator." It wasn't Zimmerman's first alligator-related threat toward someone involved with the documentary: He made a similar threat to Jay Z himself.

"What I said is I would beat him as if I was Solange, and he would find himself coming out of the south side of a gator if he comes to Florida and bothers my family," Zimmerman told the Orlando Sentinel in December. He was referencing how Solange, the sister of Beyonce - who is married to Jay Z - was captured in an elevator surveillance video hitting Jay Z after the 2014 Met Gala.

Between Dec. 16, 2017, and Christmas Day, the private investigator received 55 phone calls, 67 text messages, 36 voicemails and 27 emails from Zimmerman, according to the warrant request. This led Sheriff's Sgt. Shannon Seiple - who had met Zimmerman before - to give him a call on Jan. 3, to confirm the calls and messages were in fact coming from Zimmerman himself.

Zimmerman answered, asking "Who is this?" according to the warrant request. Seiple identified herself, to which Zimmerman responded, "You [expletive], what do you want!" and "What are you calling me for you [expletive]!" according to the warrant request. Seiple explained she was calling in reference to Zimmerman's calls to the private investigator. Zimmerman "Continued to scream profanity," according to the warrant request.

"You are the [expletive] blonde [expletive] who arrested me on Samantha!" Zimmerman allegedly told Seiple. "You have been involved with me since that Martin kid!"

The sheriff's deputies confirmed it was Zimmerman who was on the phone and requested he be charged, according to court documents.

Since his acquittal, Zimmerman has been embroiled in public controversies. A blatant example came in October 2015, when he retweeted a photograph of Trayvon Martin's slain body. The original tweet read "Z-man is a one-man army." Following media outrage, Zimmerman claimed he wasn't aware the tweet included a photograph, according to The Washington Post's Travis M. Andrews.


Story by Marwa Eltagouri. Eltagouri is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post. She previously worked as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, where she covered crime, immigration and neighborhood change.