The scene of the shoot­ing, fac­ing north. The photo was taken from roughly the mid­point of the path.

Much has been writ­ten by now about the shoot­ing of Trayvon Mar­tin by George Zim­mer­man in the Twin Lakes dis­trict of San­ford, Florida. But it seems that there has yet to be any­where that some­one has cre­ated a time­line of that evening. Yet, a time­line is cru­cial to under­stand the rela­tion­ship among the known events, where the knowl­edge gaps are, and how the dif­fer­ing accounts fit together — or don’t.

So here I present the most up to date time­line I can piece together, for the night of Feb­ru­ary 26.

Any men­tion I make of entries in the dis­patch record come from the San­ford Police Depart­ment dis­patch record of Zimmerman’s calls to the San­ford Police. Unless oth­er­wise spec­i­fied, any men­tion I make of the words spo­ken by Zim­mer­man come from the audio of his call to the San­ford Police that night. Infor­ma­tion on events that tran­spired after 7:20 PM came from the police reports of Offi­cers Tim­o­thy Smith and Ricardo Ayala. I’ve included images of the scenes, to help you visu­al­ize what hap­pened. All of these images are click­able to zoom in for more detail.

The 7-​​Eleven where Mar­tin bought his Skittles

7:00 PM The NBA All-​​Star Game broad­cast begins from Amway Cen­ter in Orlando, Florida. Twenty miles to the north, Trayvon Mar­tin, wear­ing a gray hoodie, leaves the 7-​​Eleven at 1125 Rine­hart Road (we can deduce this because it’s the clos­est 7-​​Eleven to the neigh­bor­hood), where he had bought a bot­tle of Ari­zona iced tea and a bag of Skit­tles, head­ing to Brandy Green’s town­house in The Retreat at Twin Lakes, a gated com­mu­nity. Brandy Green is his father’s fiancée. (Con­trary to ear­lier reports, Mar­tin didn’t make the jour­ney at the game’s half­time, because the game had just started when the events below occurred.) Since he’s on foot, and the weather is unset­tled, I believe he’s cut­ting cor­ners where he can, likely pass­ing through an empty field near the inter­sec­tion of Rine­hart Road and Ore­gon Avenue.


The open trellis

7:07 PM (or per­haps a few min­utes ear­lier) He cuts through the north­west cor­ner of the com­mu­nity, where there’s an open trel­lis of sorts that is easy to pass through. We can con­clude that he must have gone through there, as I’ll explain shortly. A cloud­burst begins around then, and he takes shel­ter under the eaves of one of the units on the north­west cor­ner of The Retreat, on the north span of Retreat View Circle.

7:09 PM George Zim­mer­man, wear­ing a red cardi­gan sweater over a gray shirt, leaves his town­home in The Retreat to buy gro­ceries, and dri­ves toward the north exit of the neigh­bor­hood. The rain lets up, and Mar­tin leaves his tem­po­rary shel­ter to con­tinue on his way. As Zim­mer­man heads north on Twin Trees Lane toward the inter­sec­tion with the north span of Retreat View, he spots Mar­tin com­ing out from under the eaves, then walk­ing east on Retreat View, head­ing in the direc­tion of the club­house. Given how long will pass before Mar­tin reaches the club­house, and the typ­i­cal pace of five feet per sec­ond for an adult male, Zim­mer­man had to have spot­ted Mar­tin almost imme­di­ately after he came out from the shad­ows at the north­west cor­ner of the neigh­bor­hood. That’s 300 feet from the front of the club­house, and a lit­tle over 500 feet from where Zim­mer­man was at the time.

The image below is an aer­ial shot of the neigh­bor­hood. Martin’s loca­tion is marked in yel­low, and Zimmerman’s in red.

7:09:34 PM Zim­mer­man calls the San­ford Police Department’s non-​​emergency phone num­ber. The record­ing begins. We have the exact time of the call, because the San­ford Police Depart­ment released a log of calls Zim­mer­man made to the police. This par­tic­u­lar call appears on page 46.

Below is a closer shot of the neigh­bor­hood, with both Martin’s and Zimmerman’s posi­tions indi­cated at known points up to the point that Zim­mer­man leaves his vehicle.

7:09:39 PM Zim­mer­man tells Sean (sp?), the dis­patcher, that he sees some­one “walk­ing around, look­ing about” the neigh­bor­hood. Mar­tin couldn’t be head­ing south on Twin Trees from the north gate of The Retreat, because Zim­mer­man wouldn’t have said that Mar­tin was on “Retreat View Cir­cle”, as he did about ten sec­onds into his call. Given that they end up to the east of the inter­sec­tion, and Mar­tin was com­ing orig­i­nally from the west (where the 7-​​Eleven is), he must have entered The Retreat from west of the inter­sec­tion. But the only two entrances are on the north and east. This indi­cates that he had to have entered through a nonentrance. The most direct route from the 7-​​Eleven to the place where he was first seen by Zim­mer­man would be cut­ting through the gap I men­tioned above.

Mar­tin notices Zim­mer­man stopped at the inter­sec­tion, and prob­a­bly real­izes now that Zimmerman’s SUV has been stopped at the inter­sec­tion for some time. He stops in front of the club­house and stares at the vehicle.

7:10:19 PM Zim­mer­man sees Mar­tin stopped and star­ing, and says to Sean, “Now he’s just star­ing at me.” It seems likely here that Sean attempts to com­plete his first entry, but the com­puter indi­cates that there is no “111 Retreat View Cir­cle”. He asks Zim­mer­man for clar­i­fi­ca­tion about the address.

Below is a photo of the scene at this point, as would be seen from some­one at the front gate to the neigh­bor­hood. I’ve indi­cated in the photo where Mar­tin and Zim­mer­man are at points on the timeline.

7:10:32 PM Mar­tin con­tin­ues on his way. Zim­mer­man says, “Now he’s com­ing towards me.” Mar­tin, head­ing toward the 1100 block of Twin Trees, takes the most direct route, which will pass near Zim­mer­man in his SUV.

7:10:53 PM Mar­tin gets close to the SUV: “He’s com­ing to check me out,” Zim­mer­man says. Assum­ing the typ­i­cal adult male pace of five feet per sec­ond, that means the place he had stopped was about 120 feet away. This makes per­fect sense for the sce­nario out­lined here; the mid­dle of the front of the club­house is about 120 feet away from the south­east cor­ner of Twin Trees and Retreat View.

7:11:04 PM Zim­mer­man explic­itly asks for an offi­cer to be sent. Sean acknowl­edges that there is one on the way, though he has yet to com­plete his first entry in the dis­patch sys­tem. Mar­tin con­tin­ues head­ing down Twin Trees, toward the back­yards of the units on the 3000 block of Retreat View.

7:11:12 PM Sean com­pletes the first call log entry.

7:11:17 PM Offi­cer Ricardo Ayala acknowl­edges and takes the dis­patch call.

7:11:19 PM On the call, you can hear Zim­mer­man rustling, sug­gest­ing that per­haps he’s twist­ing his body around to look out the back of the SUV. Given that he later describes the loca­tion of his truck to be past the bend in Twin Trees, he has to have backed up around the cor­ner to see where Mar­tin is going. “These ass­holes, they always get away,” he says. He tries to explain to Sean where the offi­cer needs to go in order to find Martin.

7:11:32 PM Accord­ing to phone records, Martin’s girl­friend calls him at 7:12 PM, and stays on the phone with him for four min­utes. How­ever, her account­ing of the call, which states that he hasn’t yet run, sug­gests that it had started closer to this point. Mar­tin started run­ning a cou­ple of sec­onds before 7:12 PM, by the dis­patch clock. Accord­ing to Martin’s girl­friend, he tells her that he had taken shel­ter from the rain on his way back, that he noticed Zim­mer­man, and thinks he’s act­ing sus­pi­ciously. She said that she told him to run, but that he said he’d just walk fast. Per­haps he did just walk fast, and Zim­mer­man reported it as run­ning. Regard­less, in order for this account to syn­chro­nize with the events in the log and Zimmerman’s call, she would have had to start talk­ing to Mar­tin no later than 7:11:32, by the dis­patch system’s clock. This is assum­ing that the pre-​​run con­ver­sa­tion would have taken no fewer than ten sec­onds. Because the record we have is a billing record, the phone call lasted no less than three min­utes plus one sec­ond, and no more than four min­utes exactly. Mobile phone billing sys­tems treat par­tial min­utes as com­plete min­utes. This means that the phone call must have ended no later than 7:15:32.

7:11:42 PM Mar­tin starts run­ning. Since it’s about 50 sec­onds from “He’s com­ing to check me out,” we can sur­mise that he’s walked about 250 feet in that time. This would place him about halfway along the block of Twin Trees that heads east from the bend. He should have about a 200 foot head start, not count­ing the time it would take for Zim­mer­man to leave the vehi­cle. As we’ll see below, Mar­tin ran toward the paved path between the back­yards of the Twin Trees prop­er­ties on the 1200 block and the back­yards of the Retreat View prop­er­ties at the 2800 block. Zim­mer­man tells Sean that Mar­tin started running.

7:11:46 PM Zim­mer­man opens the door to go after Mar­tin, and we hear the “key in igni­tion” chime as he does. He leaves his keys in the igni­tion. We know this because we can hear the chimes con­tinue, but fade, over the next four sec­onds, fol­lowed by the sound of the door closing.

7:11:50 PM Zim­mer­man tells Sean that Mar­tin is head­ing toward “the back entrance”, refer­ring to the east entrance to The Retreat.

7:11:54 PM We start to hear wind in the cell phone microphone.

7:11:56 PM We hear Zim­mer­man half-​​whisper what sounds like “fuckin’ coons” (some have sug­gested that the sec­ond word might be “goons”; since a hard “g” sound is spo­ken as a voiced ver­sion of the hard “c” sound, a whis­pered “goons” would be indis­tin­guish­able from “coons”).

7:11:59 PM The dis­patcher com­pletes the entry not­ing that Mar­tin is running.

7:12:00 PM Offi­cer Ayala acknowl­edges that he is enroute. Sean tells Zim­mer­man, “… we don’t need you to [fol­low Martin].”

7:12:14 PM The wind noise stops. Was the noise from Zim­mer­man run­ning, or was it windy? It’s hard to tell for sure. So there’s 20 sec­onds of either run­ning or being in the open with wind blow­ing. Accord­ing to Martin’s girlfriend’s state­ment, he tells her that he thinks he lost Zim­mer­man. It’s dark in those back­yards, so Zim­mer­man can’t see where Mar­tin is for the remain­der of his call.

7:12:47 PM Zim­mer­man tries to describe where he will be able to meet the offi­cers. He says that they can go past the club­house, past the mail­boxes, and then around the bend, and that’s where his truck is.

7:13:12 PM Zim­mer­man says he’s OK with meet­ing the offi­cers at the mail­boxes. Sean tells units in route to meet Zim­mer­man at the mailboxes.

7:13:27 PM Offi­cer Smith is closer to the neigh­bor­hood and becomes avail­able; he acknowl­edges and responds to the call.

7:13:39 PM Zim­mer­man hangs up.

7:13:41 PM Sean adds an entry for the offi­cers to call Zim­mer­man when they arrive.

7:13:41–7:15:25 PM For these nearly two crit­i­cal min­utes, there are no eye­wit­nesses. We do have Martin’s girlfriend’s account of what she heard, which she said was Mar­tin telling her that Zim­mer­man was right behind him, then she hears him ask­ing Zim­mer­man why he’s fol­low­ing, and Zim­mer­man respond­ing by ask­ing what Mar­tin was doing around there. And then she heard what sounded like the head­set falling to the ground, where­upon the line went dead. As I said before, the line went dead at 7:15:32 at the lat­est, though it could be as early as 7:14:15. Depend­ing on what hap­pened dur­ing this cru­cial time, Zim­mer­man may have a self-​​defense motive for the shooting.

(Accord­ing to George Zim­mer­man, this is what hap­pens dur­ing this period: Mar­tin approaches him, and asks if he had a prob­lem. When Zim­mer­man says he doesn’t, Mar­tin says some­thing to the effect of “Now you do,” and punches Zim­mer­man in the nose, knock­ing him down.) Then Mar­tin starts beat­ing on Zim­mer­man, slam­ming his head into the side­walk, and Zim­mer­man starts scream­ing for help.)

(Accord­ing to Robert Zim­mer­man, George’s father, this is what hap­pens dur­ing this period: Zim­mer­man walks to the east span of Retreat View to get a house num­ber for the police, so that they’d have a more spe­cific area in which to look. He finds one, turns around, and is head­ing back to his truck when he is approached by Mar­tin, who asks, “Do you have a fuck­ing prob­lem?” Zim­mer­man responds that he doesn’t, and reaches for his cell­phone. Then Mar­tin punches him in the nose, knock­ing him down. Mar­tin pro­ceeds to beat Zim­mer­man for over a minute, and tells him some­thing along the lines of, “You’re going to die tonight.”)

7:15:25 PM (± a few sec­onds) Peo­ple in the area hear some­one scream­ing for help. A 13-​​year-​​old boy who was out walk­ing his dog hears the screams and runs toward the scene. Accord­ing to the police’s account of his state­ment, he sees a man with a red shirt lying on the ground, but doesn’t see any­one else. (His mother later reported that the police report mis­rep­re­sented his state­ment, and that the inves­ti­ga­tor tried to prod him into stat­ing that the per­son in trou­ble was wear­ing a red shirt.) The boy’s dog escapes before he could get a bet­ter look, and he then leaves the scene to chase after the dog. A man (iden­ti­fied only as “John”) (his con­do­minium is indi­cated on the map above) sees the scuf­fle, and later claims to have seen a man with a red sweater on his back on the ground, yelling for help, with some­one on top of him beat­ing him. Another per­son also sees the scuf­fle, but can’t tell who is on top of whom. Dur­ing the scuf­fle, Zim­mer­man receives injuries (reported by Offi­cer Smith as a cut on the back of his head and a bleed­ing nose; later reports leave uncer­tain whether Zimmerman’s nose gets broken)*.

7:15:35 PM 911 Call A begins. In the back­ground, you can hear some­one yelling for help for 45 sec­onds. Two inde­pen­dent foren­sics experts found less than 50% like­li­hood that the screams came from the same per­son who was heard on the Zim­mer­man call; a 90% like­li­hood is typ­i­cal for a match.

7:16:10 PM 911 Call B begins. The caller claims to have seen a white shirt on the man who was on top. Nei­ther man was wear­ing white, accord­ing to offi­cial reports. Zim­mer­man was wear­ing red sweater over a gray shirt, and Mar­tin was wear­ing a gray hoodie.

7:16:20 PM A shot is fired (45 sec­onds into 911 Call A). The screams stop imme­di­ately. The gun is fired at about the ten-​​second mark of 911 Call B, but you can’t hear it because that sec­tion is redacted for con­tain­ing per­sonal information.

7:16:30 PM (± a few sec­onds) 911 Call C and 911 Call D begin. Both report hear­ing a gun­shot moments before they called.

Accord­ing to Offi­cer Smith’s report, the dis­patch­ers inform him as he arrives on scene that shots have been fired behind 1231 Twin Trees (likely the address of one of these above callers).

7:17:11 PM Smith arrives street­side (it’s not clear whether he’s on Twin Trees or Retreat View) We know he arrived street­side approx­i­mately 50 sec­onds after the gun­shot, from the audio of the 911 Call B; at the one minute mark, the caller reports that the offi­cer just arrived, but is on the street side, and the shot came from the back yard.

7:17:30 PM (± a few sec­onds) Smith finds the loca­tion between Twin Trees and Retreat View, and yells out to iden­tify him­self and begin to secure the scene. We know this because the 911 callers tell the dis­patch­ers that they can hear the shout­ing and can see his flash­light scan­ning the scene. Since the calls have another event that we can pin­point (the gun­shot), we can deter­mine when Smith arrives at the scene of the shooting.

7:20 PM (± a minute or so) From this point until 7:37, the infor­ma­tion here comes entirely from the police reports of Offi­cers Smith and Ayala. Ayala arrives on scene. Smith has Zim­mer­man in cus­tody by this time. Ayala sees Mar­tin face down on the ground and tries to get a response to him. Sergeant Rai­mondo arrives at this point, and the two begin CPR.

7:21 (± a minute or so) - 7:30 PM Addi­tional offi­cers arrive on scene, as do para­medics. The para­medics attempt to revive Mar­tin, but are unsuc­cess­ful. They pro­nounce him dead at 7:30.

7:31 — 7:37 PM Para­medics treat Zim­mer­man in the back of a police car for injuries sus­tained in the alter­ca­tion. At this time, Smith over­hears Zim­mer­man state that he kept yelling for help, and nobody would help him. The para­medics fin­ish admin­is­ter­ing first aid, and clear Zim­mer­man for trans­port to the police station.

7:38 PM (approx­i­mately) The police car con­tain­ing Zim­mer­man leaves the scene. This time is estab­lished by esti­mat­ing the time it takes to drive from The Retreat to Sanford’s only police sta­tion.

7:52 PM The police car con­tain­ing Zim­mer­man arrives at the sta­tion. Video taken from this time doesn’t indi­cate any blood or injuries, which may mean noth­ing more than that the para­medics did a good job clean­ing him up. The video does, how­ever, indi­cate that they arrived at 7:52.

I’m not draw­ing any con­clu­sions here as to the verac­ity of people’s state­ments. But I’d imag­ine you can see some incon­sis­ten­cies between state­ments and phys­i­cal evidence.

*Note: an ear­lier ver­sion of the arti­cle stated defin­i­tively that Zimmerman’s head was bleed­ing, and his nose was bro­ken. Those points are in ques­tion, and shouldn’t have been treated as factual.