A Florida prosecutor announced on Friday he will not pursue an aggravated assault charge against former neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman stemming from a domestic incident earlier this month after the alleged victim recanted.
Zimmerman, who was acquitted in 2013 in a fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, has had several brushes with the law since his trial.
His latest arrest on Jan. 9 in central Florida was in connection with a domestic disturbance involving his then-girlfriend who had accused him of throwing a wine bottle at her and smashing her cell phone during an argument.
Zimmerman claimed he acted in self-defense when he shot and killed Trayvon Martin, 17, in February 2012, when he was patrolling as a neighborhood watch volunteer. His acquittal prompted civil rights rallies and drew international attention to Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law.
Friday’s announcement marks the third time that Zimmerman, 31, has been accused of but not prosecuted for a domestic incident since the Martin slaying.
Zimmerman’s lawyer, Don West, told Reuters he was pleased that the charge will be dropped but disappointed the arrest was ever made.
“His arrest was publicized around the world and once again he became the feature of a news story in a case that was not worthy of prosecution,” West said.
West said Zimmerman remains unemployed despite being acquitted in July 2013 of murder in Martin’s shooting death.
In the latest incident, Lake Mary police arrested Zimmerman after stopping a vehicle driven by Brittany Brunelle because she was driving with her headlights off from a house where an officer on routine patrol had heard glass breaking.
Brunelle told the officer she did not want to press charges against Zimmerman but police later arrested him for fear of further violence ensuing without intervention, according to the arrest report, which noted that Zimmerman denied breaking the bottle or phone.
State Attorney Phil Archer said in a statement that Brunelle and her attorney submitted unspecified documents which precluded prosecution.
In November 2013, police arrested Zimmerman after a different girlfriend accused him of pointing a gun at her during an argument. She later withdrew her complaint.
Two months earlier, Zimmerman’s then-estranged wife declined to press charges after telling police he had threatened her and her father and destroyed the iPad she said she using to record his behavior.
He was also stopped for speeding in Texas and Florida shortly after his acquittal.
(Reporting by Barbara Liston; Editing by David Adams, Jonathan Kaminsky and Sandra Maler)