In May 2015, Zimmerman says he was driving in Florida when a car began tailgating him. The driver, later identified as Matthew Apperson, allegedly began honking his horn and flashing his lights at Zimmerman’s vehicle.
On Tuesday afternoon, Zimmerman testified that Apperson shot one round into his vehicle, shattering a window. “I heard a loud bang” Zimmerman testified. “My ears started ringing.”
The bullet lodged in the frame of the vehicle. Zimmerman sustained some minor cuts from the shattering glass. “I thought I was going to get shot in the face, that’s why I slammed on my brakes,” Zimmerman testified. “I could see a droplet of blood dangling from my eyelash, and I looked down and saw a spot of blood on my shorts. I thought I was going to bleed out.”
Apperson’s attorney, Michael LaFay, told jurors that his client had felt threatened by Zimmerman and shot him in self-defense.
“[Apperson has] been threatened before by Mr. Zimmerman,” Lafay said in his opening statement. “He believes that Mr. Zimmerman is a menace. He believes that Mr. Zimmerman is capable of shooting him – or anyone else who gets in his way.”
A History of Tension
Apperson and Zimmerman aren’t strangers. They have a history of skirmishes.
In September 2014, they met while driving on a Florida road. The men rolled down their windows and argued about the Trayvon Martin shooting.
Zimmerman recounted the altercation on Tuesday. “‘You were wrong to kill that little boy,'” Zimmerman said that Apperson told him.
Zimmerman says he responded, “‘You have no clue what you’re talking about and what I’ve done for the African American community.'”
At the time, Apperson alleged Zimmerman followed him and threatened to kill him. He called 911, but did not press charges.
Because they live close to each other, Zimmerman and Apperson have allegedly run into each other around town. Their interactions were always negative.
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Prosecutor Stewart Stone told the jury that Apperson was to blame for the shooting. “You’ll see that it was Mr. Apperson who had it out for George Zimmerman,” Stone said in opening statements. “He had an intense dislike for Mr. Zimmerman, but in this case, he took it one step further, and he acted out on that dislike and hostility.”
Since his acquittal in Martin’s death, Zimmerman has had more than his share of controversy. Last month, he was punched in the face for allegedly bragging about shooting Martin. Last year, he courted outrage when he retweeted a picture of Trayvon’s dead body.
In January 2015, he was arrested for alleged aggravated assault. (The charges were later dropped.)
Apperson has been charged with attempted second-degree murder with a firearm, aggravated assault with a firearm, and shooting into an occupied vehicle. He has pleaded not guilty.
A second-degree attempted murder charge is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
The trial is expected to continue for the rest of the week.