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George Zimmerman says in a newly released video that a person in his circumstances can’t feel guilty over surviving a confrontation like the one he had with Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old he shot and killed three years ago in Florida. He also criticizes President Obama’s reaction to the case.
In the video released Monday by his attorney, Zimmerman said he would feel guilty only if he thought he could have done something differently that would have saved both their lives.
“Only in a true life-and-death scenario can you have mental clearness to know that you cannot feel guilty for surviving,” Zimmerman said in the video.
He blamed the president, whom he referred to as Barack Hussein Obama, for stirring up racial divisiveness over Martin’s death.
When asked by his attorney who brought “the highest level of unfairness” to his case, Zimmerman named the president. After Martin’s death gained international attention, Obama said if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman said those comments were racially charged.
“To me that was clearly a dereliction of duty, pitting Americans against each other solely based on race,” Zimmerman said, adding that Obama should have said, “Let’s not rush to judgment.”
When asked by his off-camera attorney, Howard Iken, if he thinks he did anything wrong, Zimmerman said, “No.” When asked if he had a clean conscience, he replied, “Yes sir.”
Zimmerman said in the video that he was speaking publicly, now that a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the case is over. Last month, the Justice Department decided not to prosecute Zimmerman for a hate crime.
Zimmerman has maintained that he acted in self-defense when he shot the teenager during a confrontation inside a gated community in Sanford, Fla., just outside Orlando, where Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch volunteer. Martin was black, while Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic. Martin’s family and prosecutors said Zimmerman was profiling their son.
The case spurred national discussions about race and self-defense laws.
Zimmerman was acquitted of criminal charges during his 2013 trial.