Florida authorities say George Zimmerman, whose acquittal of murdering an unarmed black teen sparked a national debate on race and self-defense laws, has been arrested for allegedly throwing a wine bottle at his girlfriend.
The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office says the 31-year-old Zimmerman was arrested for aggravated assault at his home in Lake Mary about 10:00 p.m. Friday.
Zimmerman was released on a $5,000 bond Saturday afternoon. At a court appearance earlier Saturday, he was ordered to avoid contact with the woman, who was not identified.
Judge John Galluzzo gave few details of the incident, but said a wine bottle was involved and that the alleged assault happened at Zimmerman’s home. Prosecutors questioned whether substance abuse treatment was needed, but the judge said that didn’t seem to be a factor.
After the brief hearing, Zimmerman’s attorney, Don West, told the Orlando Sentinel his client was arrested after allegedly throwing a wine bottle ‘in the direction of’ his girlfriend several days ago.
“No injuries, no contact, nothing that I’m aware of that led up to it. It’s just one of those things that somehow brought us here,” West told reporters.
West didn’t know who called police, but said he didn’t think the alleged victim placed the call.
Zimmerman was also told by the judge to stay out of Volusia County, where the woman lives.
The judge ordered Zimmerman to pack up any personal belongings his girlfriend may have left at Zimmerman’s home and give them to his lawyer.
Zimmerman, who wore blue scrubs and handcuffs, appeared calm during the brief hearing. At one point, he laughed and joked with an officer as he signed paperwork.
Although the incident didn’t involve a firearm, the judge ordered Zimmerman to surrender any weapons out of an abundance of caution.
Zimmerman is scheduled to appear back in court on Feb. 17.
No further details about the alleged assault were released. A message left for Seminole County Sheriff officials seeking further information about the incident was not immediately returned Saturday morning.
Zimmerman was acquitted in 2013 of a second-degree murder charge for shooting an unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin.
Since his acquittal, Zimmerman has had several brushes with the law:
– He was arrested on charges of aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief after his then-girlfriend said he pointed a gun at her face during an argument, smashed her coffee table and pushed her out of the house they shared. Samantha Scheibe decided not to cooperate with detectives and prosecutors didn’t pursue the case.
– Zimmerman was accused by his estranged wife of smashing an iPad during an argument at the home they had shared. Shellie Zimmerman initially told a dispatcher her husband had a gun, though she later said he was unarmed. No charges were ever filed because of a lack of evidence. The dispute occurred days after Shellie Zimmerman filed divorce papers.
– Zimmerman has also been pulled over three times for traffic violations since his acquittal.