FBI records: agents found no evidence that Zimmerman was racist

Miami HeraldJuly 12, 2012 

After interviewing nearly three dozen people in the George Zimmerman murder case, the FBI found no evidence that racial bias was a motivating factor in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, records released Thursday show.

Even the lead detective in the case, Sanford Det. Chris Serino, told agents that he thought Zimmerman profiled Trayvon because of his attire and the circumstances — but not his race.

Serino saw Zimmerman as “having little hero complex, but not as a racist.”

The Duval County State Attorney released another collection of evidence in the Zimmerman murder case Thursday, including reports from FBI agents who investigated whether any racial bias was involved in Trayvon’s Feb. 26 killing.

The evidence includes bank surveillance videos from the day of the killing, crime scene photos and memos from prosecutors.

Among the documents is a note from the prosecutor who said one of the witnesses said her son, a minor, had felt pressured by investigators to say the injured man he saw was wearing a red top. The boy’s testimony had been considered key, because it backed up Zimmerman’s allegation that he — wearing red — was being pummeled.

Federal agents interviewed Zimmerman’s neighbors and co-workers, but none said Zimmerman had expressed racial animus at any time prior to the Feb. 26 shooting of Martin, a black teen, in a confrontation at a Sanford housing complex. As Sanford police investigated the circumstances of Martin’s death, the FBI opened a parallel probe to determine if Martin’s civil rights had been violated.

Several co-workers said they had never seen Zimmerman display any prejudice or racial bias.

Two co-workers told agents they spoke with Zimmerman the day after the shooting, and both said they noticed injuries to Zimmerman’s nose and the back of his head. One person said Zimmerman was “absolutely devastated.”

Zimmerman told both colleagues that he followed Martin — whom Zimmerman described as a “suspicious person” — so he could tell police where the teen went, but was then “jumped” by Martin. Zimmerman told both that Martin reached for Zimmerman’s gun before Zimmerman shot Martin.

In all, the FBI interviewed 35 people about Zimmerman, from current and former co-workers to neighbors and an ex-girlfriend.

Among the revelations found in nearly 300 pages of records:

• Zimmerman arrived at one of his police interviews with a friend who works as an air marshal. That friend told police Zimmerman was physically abused by his mother and had been estranged from his family.

• The day Zimmerman turned himself in to be charged with second-degree murder, authorities confiscated a handgun from his car.

• A gun dealer called police to say that some time in mid-March, Zimmerman called to say he was afraid for his life and “needed more guns.”

• An ex-girlfriend said Zimmerman had outbursts and sometimes threatened suicide. She suspected it was a result of Accutane, the acne medicine he took. She said he was the “last person in the world” she thought would be involved in such an incident.

• The ex girlfriend said she and Zimmerman had a violent argument when she caught him on a singles dating web site, even though they were engaged to be married.

• Trayvon’s cousin said he would swear “on a stack of bibles” that the person shouting in a 911 tape that recorded screams during the struggle was Trayvon.

Zimmerman, 28, claims Trayvon attacked him, breaking his nose and slamming his head on the concrete at the Retreat at Twin Lakes townhouse complex. Specially appointed prosecutors who investigated the case charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder, which carries a potential life sentence.

The state attorney’s office says Zimmerman wrongly assumed Trayvon was a criminal, and says he did not suffer injuries serious enough to require deadly force to defend himself.

The U.S. Department of Justice and FBI stepped in about a month after the killing, as protesters nationwide criticized the investigation. The original probe was conducted by police in Sanford, the central Florida community where Zimmerman lives and Trayvon was visiting while suspended from school.

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