crimesider

Lawyer: Fla. man shot at George Zimmerman in self-defense

LAKE MARY, Fla. -- A lawyer for a man involved in a shooting with George Zimmerman in Florida says his client acted in self-defense.

Attorney Mark NeJame says his client, Matthew Apperson, didn't break any laws because he was acting in self-defense during his encounter Monday with the former neighborhood watch leader acquitted two years ago in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.

Monday's shooting took place around 12:45 p.m. on Lake Mary Boulevard near Rinehart Road in Lake Mary, north of Orlando. Witnesses told CBS affiliate WKMG the driver of an Infiniti opened fire on Zimmerman, who turned into a retail center on Waymont Court to get help.

Lake Mary Police said Monday Zimmerman was not the shooter in the incident. No one has been charged, a spokeswoman said.

A lawyer for Zimmerman, Don West, told CBS News Radio that Zimmerman was shot at while driving and was injured, but not by a bullet.

West told WKMG a bullet missed Zimmerman's head, but his client was sprayed with glass from his vehicle's windshield and other debris. He told the station Zimmerman was not seriously injured and was treated and released from a hospital.

A Lake Mary Police Department spokeswoman says Zimmerman and Apperson were involved in a road rage incident last September in the Orlando suburb.

Last September, Apperson said Zimmerman threatened to kill him, asking "Do you know who I am?," during a confrontation in their vehicles. Apperson decided not to pursue charges, and police officers were unable to move forward without a car tag identified or witnesses.

Apperson said that the threat was verbalized and no gun was ever displayed in the September incident, reports WKMG.

A witness who encountered Apperson directly after his latest encounter with Zimmerman told 48 Hours' Crimesider Monday that Apperson said he opened fire on Zimmerman after he saw a gun. During a press conference Monday, police wouldn't comment on what weapons were involved in the incident.

Ken Cornell, an MRI tech who works at nearby Cyrus Diagnostic Imaging, told Crimesider that he was returning to work from lunch when he saw Apperson get out of a gray Infiniti. He said Apperson asked him, "Please call 911, I just shot George Zimmerman."

Cornell said he didn't see the incident or Zimmerman.

Cornell said he dialed 911 and put Apperson on the phone with dispatchers, and that Apperson told police it was his third dispute with Zimmerman.

"He said the cops know who I am, this is an ongoing dispute," Cornell said. NeJame also says he knew of no ongoing feud between Zimmerman and Apperson. He told WKMG he has a concealed weapons permit and was legally justified to shoot.

"I know the truth will prevail, that's all," Lisa Apperson, Apperson's wife, told the station.

Zimmerman was acquitted in 2013 in the shooting death of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin in nearby Sanford, in a case that sparked protests and national debate about race relations.

The Justice Department later announced it was not bringing a civil rights case against Zimmerman.

Since then, Zimmerman has had several brushes with the law, including:

- He was charged with aggravated assault after being accused of throwing a wine bottle at an ex-girlfriend, Brittany Brunelle. The case was dropped in January after she recanted her story and refused to cooperate.

- Following another domestic confrontation, 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 filed because of a lack of evidence. The dispute occurred days after Shellie Zimmerman filed divorce papers.