The neighborhood watch volunteer who shot a Miami teenager to death in February, triggering national protests, says he has no regrets over his actions, and believes that the entire “tragic situation” as he called it, was part of “God’s plan.”
George Zimmerman made the statements in his first media interview, which he and his attorney, Mark O’Mara, granted exclusively to Fox News host Sean Hannity.
Hannity spoke to Zimmerman by telephone in April without the knowledge of Zimmerman’s then lawyers. He used Wednesday’s interview to confirm that he did not offer to pay any of the legal expenses for the 28-year-old’s second degree murder case. Fox News had previously denied allegations that Zimmerman told a relative during a jailhouse call that “SH” had offered to cover his legal bills.
The Fox News host opened the interview by asking why Zimmerman became a neighborhood watch volunteer. According to Zimmerman, his participation was sparked by a 2011 home invasion inside the Retreat at Twin Lakes townhome gated community, during which the suspects ran through the Zimmermans’ back yard while his wife Shellie was home alone and he promised to “do what [he] could to keep her safe.”
Zimmerman claimed that he had never heard of the Stand Your Ground law that has become a lighting rod in the case. He said he always carried his gun unless he was going to work, and that on the night of February 26th, he was going to Target to shop for groceries, when he spotted the teen, who he said “looked suspicious.”
“I felt he was suspicious because it was raining,” Zimmerman said. “He was in-between houses, cutting in-between houses, and he was walking very leisurely for the weather. … It didn’t look like he was a resident that went to check their mail and got caught in the rain and was hurrying back home. He didn’t look like a fitness fanatic that would train in the rain.”
Hannity did much of the talking during the interview, with Zimmerman often saying little more than “yes sir.” He led Zimmerman through a recitation of statements he has previously given police, stating that Zimmerman has said Martin was “checking him out” as he sat in his car watching the teen. However, when asked whether he felt threatened by the teen during the time he called the police non-emergency line and told dispatchers that, Zimmerman responded, “no, not particularly.”
Zimmerman said that as the teen watched him seated in his car, talking on the phone with police dispatchers, Martin’s “body language was confrontational,” and that he could see the teen “reach into his waistband” as if trying to intimidate him, by indicating he may have had a “weapon.”
Much of what Zimmerman told Hannity has been heard before, as part of the evidence released by prosecutors to the defense and the media in the case. But some details diverged from the previous narrative, or from the known facts in the case — a potential challenge for O’Mara once the case goes to trial.
Next: Zimmerman says Martin wasn’t running