LAKE MARY — Lake Mary police Chief Steve Bracknell hinted in a recent email exchange that he thinks George Zimmerman may be a threat to public safety.

That came in an exchange last week with a West Coast man who complained about how Bracknell's department had handled a domestic-violence dispute between Zimmerman and his estranged wife, Shellie, and her father.

Zimmerman was handcuffed Sept. 9 but later unshackled and never arrested after his father-in-law was punched in the nose and Shellie complained that her estranged husband was reaching inside his shirt for a gun.

Police found no gun, but a female companion in Zimmerman's truck told police there were guns in the vehicle for which they had concealed-weapons permits.


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Zimmerman was known to carry a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol. That's the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, during a fight in Sanford last year. A Seminole County jury acquitted him of second-degree murder in July.

The day after the confrontation, Bracknell traded email with a man, an exchange that was noteworthy for the police chief's remarks about his concerns over Zimmerman.

"REST ASSURED, the last thing on planet earth I want is ANY relationship with the Zimmermans. PERIOD," Bracknell wrote.

The man had complained that Bracknell's department had failed to arrest Zimmerman and had engaged in a cover-up.

His email, which had a number of grammatical errors, read in part: "… You had crimes committed by this man and did nothing ... your job is to protect the communities you serve and you are failing big time."

Neither George Zimmerman nor his attorney, Mark O'Mara, responded to a request for comment on the exchange.

A few minutes later the man wrote another email, saying, "Please for the sake of the community please do not give up on this investigation so quickly because sooner or later another mother and father is going to be on CNN lashing out against the system due to this man snapping."

Bracknell's response: "As for your final thoughts, again, on a personal note … I agree."

Bracknell did not return several phone calls and emails seeking clarification.

It wasn't the first time the police chief has expressed reservations about Zimmerman.

After his officers were called to the Zimmerman house earlier this month, Bracknell told a Los Angeles Times reporter, "Man, it would be fantastic if you would have an apartment out there for George Zimmerman. This guy is killing me."

On Wednesday, Lake Mary police spokesman Zach Hudson said his agency appeared to be on the verge of pushing the domestic-violence investigation forward. It has found "an agency" that will try to salvage video of the dispute recorded by Shellie Zimmerman on an iPad.

He would not name it.

The domestic-violence dispute happened after George Zimmerman showed up and began video-recording Shellie Zimmerman and her father moving out belongings from the home on Sprucewood Road where the couple had lived.

She had moved out and now lives with a relative, according to her attorney, Kelly Sims.

Shellie Zimmerman then began video-recording with her iPad what George Zimmerman was doing.

A camera on the house captured video of George Zimmerman taking the iPad from his estranged wife's hands, banging it against his knee multiple times, prying it open with a knife then tossing the parts into the grass.

A computer specialist at the Seminole County Sheriff's Office wrote that the iPad was so damaged, he could not retrieve any video.

rstutzman@tribune.com or 407-650-6394