George Zimmerman’s Brother Speaks Out on Trayvon Martin Shooting
In an interview Thursday night on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight,” George Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., addressed the accusations against his brother of racial bias and unwarranted violence in the killing of Trayvon Martin, 17, last month, calling his brother “the neighbor that everybody would want to have.”
The interview, excerpts of which were posted online by CNN, came as officials released expanded surveillance video Thursday from the night of the shooting, offering a different angle on Mr. George Zimmerman’s exit from a police car and the moments that followed, as well as additional shots of Mr. George Zimmerman being led through the police station in Sanford, Fla.
Mr. George Zimmerman has said that he shot Trayvon in self-defense following an altercation on Feb. 26, after sustaining injuries that included a broken nose, according to his lawyer. While opponents have insisted that the video revealed no sign of injury to Mr. George Zimmerman, Robert Zimmerman said Thursday that his brother’s nose “looks swollen” in the clips he has seen.
“I’m not a physician, you’re not a physician,” he told Mr. Morgan in the interview. “A lot of these injuries take time — 24 hours, 36 hours — to show the bruising.”
His brother’s nose was still broken, Robert Zimmerman added, and he had since been given a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder.
Mr. Morgan asked how Mr. George Zimmerman — a man whom his brother described as a model neighbor, eager to help with a tire change or a heavy bag of groceries — could have become engaged in an altercation with a teenager.
“When you say, ‘chasing after and getting into an altercation,’ there’s a lot of ways that people get into altercations,” Robert Zimmerman said.
I believe that if you wanted to reach over this table and assault me badly enough, you could be armed with ChapStick and a toothpick and still put me in fear of my — reasonable fear of my life. He didn’t get into an altercation. People don’t just get into altercations. There are aggressors.
The Feb. 26 shooting in Sanford, Fla., has brought national attention because Trayvon’s family claims George Zimmerman killed the unarmed youth after racially stereotyping him. Trayvon was black. Police say George Zimmerman is white; his family says he is Hispanic.
George Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., told CNN Thursday that reports his brother was chasing the teen are “absolutely false” and that he “was not patrolling the neighborhood. He was going to a store, Target.”
Robert Zimmerman said the voice heard screaming on 911 tapes is that of his brother, who acted to save his own life. He said George Zimmerman “was very disappointed that none of the neighbors had come out” to help him. He said his brother would have been dead “if he had not acted decisively and instantaneously.”
The police security camera video shows George Zimmerman exiting a patrol car and entering the Sanford Police Department about 35 minutes after the shooting. Images of George Zimmerman’s head and face reveal no obvious cuts or gashes, but at one point, a police officer inspects the back of his head. George Zimmerman’s lawyer, Craig Sonner, told NBC’s Today the video supports his client’s story because the officer may have been looking at an injury.
The public weighed in on social media sites. Many expressed disbelief at George Zimmerman’s claim that he fired in self-defense, and pointed to the grainy video as proof.
Trayvon’s family and supporters say George Zimmerman’s lack of apparent injury in the video shows he lied about the teen attacking him.
After Mr. George Zimmerman and Trayvon first exchanged words, Robert Zimmerman said, his brother “drew back” to retrieve his phone and call 911 again, to report that “this person who I lost sight of and was not pursuing has now confronted me.”
Robert Zimmerman said, “He never got to make that call because he was attacked by Mr. Martin.”
Robert Zimmerman said his brother has been particularly disappointed that no neighbors had come outside to investigate the tussle before he shot Trayvon. “The whole situation, potentially, could have been avoided by just someone coming out and saying, ‘Hey, what’s going on out there?’” Robert Zimmerman said.
Instead, Mr. George Zimmerman “prevented his firearm from being taken from him and used against him,” his brother said.
“That’s called saving your life,” he continued, explaining:
Nobody just stood there with a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. You return force with force when somebody assaults you. George was out of breath. He was barely conscious. His last thing he remembers doing was moving his head from the concrete to the grass so that if he was banged one more time, he wouldn’t be, you know, wearing diapers for the rest of his life and being spoon-fed by his brother. And there would have been George dead had he not acted decisively and instantaneously in that moment when he was being disarmed.
Robert Zimmerman’s account was based on communications with his brother “within 24 hours” of the shooting, he said.
Responding to a question about whose voice was heard, apparently shouting for help, on a recording from the altercation, Robert Zimmerman said he recognized the screams as his brother’s. But the topic was “very sensitive” to discuss, he said.
“I don’t blame them for being as equally adamant,” he said of members of the Martin family. “I would expect nothing less, actually.”
At the interview’s end, Mr. Morgan asked Robert Zimmerman if he had a message for Trayvon’s mother. The episode was “a tragedy,” he said, but he hoped the coda to Trayvon’s life would not be “how we degraded our system and turned into mob rule and went into a hate speech carnival of hatred and ‘let’s go get ‘em’ and tweeting addresses.”
This was an apparent reference to a controversy surrounding the director Spike Lee, who posted the address of a couple in Sanford on Twitter, apparently believing that it belonged to members of Mr. George Zimmerman’s family. (The couple has a son named William George Zimmerman, The Los Angeles Times reported.)
It was announced Thursday that Mr. Lee had reached a settlement with the family, which was forced to flee its home.
In his final words Thursday night, Robert Zimmerman lauded Trayvon’s mother for seeing “humanity” in Mr. George Zimmerman and said he understood that “this is a story about human beings.”
“Ultimately,” he said, “we all wish that this was a different situation.”
The former co-worker, who is no longer in touch with George Zimmerman, said he was shocked to hear what happened Feb. 26 in a gated community in Sanford, Fla.
“He definitely loved being in charge. He loved the power. Still, I could never see him killing someone. Never,” he said.
George Zimmerman, who was working as an insurance agent and liked to patrol his neighborhood, killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin after calling 911 to report a suspicious person. The teenager, who was staying with his father, went out to buy a bag of Skittles and an iced tea.
George Zimmerman claimed self-defense and was not arrested. He has gone into hiding.
George Zimmerman’s father, a former magistrate judge, came forward Wednesday night to defend his son, alleging that Trayvon said “you’re going to die now” before decking George Zimmerman and battering his head into the sidewalk.
He discounted newly revealed video shot in the police station that night showing his son free of bruises, blood or bandages.
“I know his nose was broken and his scalp was cut in two different places. They may have cleaned him up, I don’t know,” Robert Zimmerman told the Fox affiliate in Orlando.
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