George Zimmerman, the 30-year-old Floridian acquitted last year of murdering black teenager Trayvon Martin, says he’s homeless, jobless and struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Zimmerman made these comments in an interview with Spanish-language television network Univision that’s scheduled to air at 7 pm Sunday, a week and a half before the second anniversary of the shooting. An English-language translation of the interview was released Saturday.
Zimmerman was the neighbourhood watch volunteer who encountered the unarmed 17-year-old at a gated community in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman said he suspected that Martin might have been the burglar responsible for a string of break-ins. Amid a confrontation, Zimmerman shot the teenager, later saying he did so in self-defence.
“In my mind and between God and me, I know that if I didn’t act, act the way I did, I wouldn’t be here,” he says in the Univision interview.
“I mean, he wasn’t playing around,” Zimmerman says at another point.
Other notable moments in Zimmerman’s interview, seven months after the trial:
—He says he never realised that Martin was unarmed, but that Martin was clearly trying to grab the gun from him.
—He initially thought that his bullet had missed Martin and potentially struck a neighbour’s house.
—He expresses no regrets about the shooting.
—He has a debt of US$2.5 million (NZ$2.9m) owed to his lawyers, Mark O’Mara and Don West. He has raised more than US$300,000 (NZ$350,000) from online donors and said he hopes to collect additional funds through a lawsuit he’s filed against NBC News over an edited 911 call, which he alleges made him look racist because a question and answer were mixed.
—He says he hasn’t collected welfare and will work as a cook if he has to. He’s living off his family for now.
—He blames sensationalised media coverage for making him notorious, saying people recognise him everywhere because “of what the press did with the incident in 2012, in February.”
—He wears a bulletproof vest all the time.
—He has to watch where he goes, including the doctor’s office, because any business or person he associates with starts getting death threats.
—He says he wants to resume studying to become a lawyer, so that no one else has to suffer an injustice comparable to his.
Zimmerman ends by saying he expects the case to chase him forever.
He describes himself as “a good brother, a good son, a good grandson, a good friend” trying to live a positive life and said that he would like everyone to give “the benefit of the doubt like I do, and want to forgive, want to go on with their own lives.”
“I’m prepared for the worst, and the worst part is that this could go on for my whole life. But I’m hopeful that it will start to decrease,” he says.
Zimmerman declines to answer some questions, citing a federal investigation into whether he violated Martin’s civil rights. He says he chose to do the interview with Univision because the network has treated his family with “integrity” and “respect.”