A legal advisor for George Zimmerman, the man who told police he shot and killed Trayvon Martin, says the Florida shooting had nothing to do with race.
Though he acknowledged he hadn’t spoken to Zimmerman about what happened the night the unarmed African American teenager was slain, Craig Sonner, an Orlando, Fla., criminal defense lawyer, told CNN that Zimmerman is not a racist.
“I asked him if he uses racial slurs and he has denied that,” Sonner said about allegations that Zimmerman had uttered a racial slur while on the phone with 911 dispatchers.
Sanford, Fla., police released the 911 recordings last week in which Zimmerman told the operator that he saw a suspicious teenager.
“Something’s wrong with him. Yep. He’s coming to check me out,” Zimmerman told the dispatcher. “He’s got something in his hands. I don’t know what his deal is. Send officers over here.”
Zimmerman reported the teen had started to run and said he was following. The dispatcher told him, “We don’t need you to do that.”
Neighbors soon began calling 911 to report a fight, then a gunshot. By the time police arrived, Martin was dead.
A 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer, Zimmerman has not been arrested because police said there was no evidence to contradict his claim that he fired in self-defense.
Zimmerman has been advised to stay out of the public eye, the Orlando Sentinel reported Sonner as saying. Sonner said he didn’t know, nor did he need to know, where Zimmerman has been hiding after the shooting.
Sonner said Zimmerman is “under a lot of stress and being concerned about the grave situation he is in.”
Sonner did not return phone calls Saturday.
Threats to Zimmerman and the police staff involved in the investigation have been mounting since the news about the lack of an arrest broke and those close to Zimmerman say information being circulated about him is incorrect.
“The portrayal of George Zimmerman in the media, as well as the series of events that led to the tragic shooting, are false and extremely misleading,” wrote his father, Robert, a retired magistrate judge, in a letter published in the Orlando Sentinel. “Unfortunately, some individuals and organizations have used this tragedy to further their own causes and agendas.”
Zimmerman and his wife were involved in a mentorship program with two African American teens, taking them to the mall and a science center, Sonner said, adding, “I do not believe that’s the indication of a person who’s a racist.”