Current TV’s Young Turks interview of NCAVF audio and video forensics expert regarding the George Zimmerman / Trayvon Martin shooting

NCAVF was contacted by Current TV to consult on their online program as a forensic video and audio expert. They asked us to analyze recorded video footage for the Zimmerman/Martin case on the television program, Young Turks. In the process, NCAVF lead expert David Notowitz uncovered high-quality video footage uploaded to YouTube by the city of Sanborn, which only had 135 views at the time of discovery. Soon after NCAVF downloaded that video clip, the city removed the footage. But the experts at NCAVF had already captured it to secure computer systems and completed the appropriate forensic video enhancements.

Below is a transcription of the television appearance:

Young Turks: You know, I’m joined now by two gentlemen who are going to help us take this apart. We have Tom Mesereau. Tom is a criminal defense attorney – well known for having defended Robert Blake and Michael Jackson in 2005 – and David Notowitz. David is a video forensics expert. Tom, I’m going to start with you. When you see this kind of a video, as sombody who, you know, has defended major criminals and probably some minor ones…

Tom Mesereau: Alleged criminals.

Young Turks: Alleged criminals. That’s right, yes, yes, that’s a good point. I’m clearly not a lawyer. What do you glean from his demeanor, when you see Zimmerman getting out of the car?

Tom Mesereau: Well, when you first look at the tape, without any enhancement or any slow motion, or any magnification, you don’t see much evidence of injury at all. You don’t see anything on his head or face, you don’t see any blood on his shirt. You don’t see blood on any police officer’s shirt. And, at first blush this tape does not seem to help the defense of Mr. Zimmerman at all.

Young Turks: That’s interesting because you do see a cut, but you say it doesn’t help his defense because…

Tom Mesereau: Well, I mean, you see…

Young Turks: You see what could be a cut.

Tom Mesereau: You see what could be a cut. You don’t see a cut that you would automatically assume reflects enough violence to justify deadly force – to take a gun and shoot a young person dead. You don’t see that at all.

Young Turks: David Notowitz you’ve brought to us a new tape and I want you to tell us about what this tape is and what it shows. We are going to look at it right now on the screen.

David Notowitz: This is footage I just saw off YouTube literally 15 minutes ago – and it was immediately uploaded by the city – and it shows in much greater detail the entrance, as he’s being escorted, Mr. Zimmerman into the police station. Often what happens in these cases is people jump to conclusions way before we can actually analyze all the evidence. So what we are seeing is – the first stuff that was uploaded was low resolution – you know, if you study it, you can’t tell the details necessarily…

Young Turks: Now this is the first video that we already saw that Sanford released yesterday.

David Notowitz: Correct. And it looks to me like it was shot with another camera off the computer screen. It wasn’t the original footage. So now I’ve found this other footage that was just uploaded literally a few minutes ago, and it shows in much greater detail –

Young Turks: What is it showing us in greater detail? What are we learning?

David Notowitz: Well we are hoping to see, as any forensic expert would do, they would analyze very carefully frame by frame, for example, the back of his head to see if he is telling the truth, or to see if we can see any scars. And this is the footage now here – you see it on the back of his head – maybe he has an injury that we didn’t notice before.

Young Turks: Okay so Tom, you’ve spent a tremendous amount of time in courtrooms and looked at a lot of video. Does the demeanor of the police officer looking at the back of the head, does that give you pause and make you say, “He’s looking at the back of Zimmerman’s head because there is something off with it – he wouldn’t be looking if there weren’t.”

Tom Mesereau: Well the police officers are used to so many arrests, so many violent situations, so many bloody situations, I don’t look for the demeanor of the police officer to tell me very much in a situation of an arrest, or detaining someone. What I think is important here is, who was the aggressor? You hear the 911 operator telling Zimmerman “back off”, apparently he didn’t back off, and if he didn’t back off, and approached this you boy, with a gun, maybe the young boy was trying to defend his life against Zimmerman. The problem here is the disproportionate use of force, because the most disproportionate use of force, in a situation like this, is deadly force. I see nothing on Zimmerman that explains why he had to take a gun and shoot a young man to death.

Young Turks: And that’s the takeaway from looking at these videos. You’ve heard what Zimmerman and Zimmerman’s supporters have been saying now for a few weeks, at least. And this does not refute any of that. I mean, this refutes all of that, it doesn’t support any of that. David, quickly, before we let you guys go, when you look at video are you looking at it generally to see how the people around him react or what he is being like – when you see Zimmerman there, aside for the injuries, aside from enhancing the video, do you look at the person – how they are behaving?

David Notowitz: It depends on the case and what people have asked me to do. But in this case when we are seeing him get out of the police car and walking to be escorted the police officers do not look scared of him, in any way, in fact their back are turned for a long time – that’s something that I noticed – they aren’t worried about him doing anything to them. And they are worried about the back of is head. I saw them brush the back of his coat, and it ends up being wet, and the police office rubs his pants showing that he was obviously in some kind of situation on the ground, laying on the ground.

Young Turks: You know that’s interesting because people said that and just looking at it, it doesn’t look wet, but that’s the kind of thing – I’m not a video forensics expert. That’s why you come into the courtroom.

David Notowitz: You look at it over and over again, sometimes for weeks at a time, to discover these itty-bitty details that might support, or not support, different people’s takes on the case.

Young Turks: So Tom is he hired? (Referencing Notowitz.)

Tom Mesereau: Yes.

Young Turks: Okay good.

Tom Mesereau: We’ll consider him for sure.

Young Turks: He’s a keeper. Tom Mesearu, David Notowitz, thanks so much for being with us.