George Zimmerman, the ex-neighborhood watchman accused and then acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin, said he doesn’t feel guilty “for surviving” the incident. But he blames President Obama for the way he handled it.
Zimmerman lashed out in a 13-minute video posted online Monday by his lawyer. He said with the Justice Department investigation behind him, he finally felt he could speak out “without fear of retaliation” by the president.
In February 2012, Zimmerman shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old Martin in Sanford, Fla., where Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch volunteer. Since then, Zimmerman has maintained that he pulled the trigger in self-defense. Still, Martin’s death ignited worldwide discussions about racial profiling.
Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder and, in July 2013, a jury acquitted him. Then last month, the Justice Department, which had been investigating the case as a potential hate crime, decided not to prosecute him.
In the video, Zimmerman compared his ideals to those of Anne Frank, saying, “I still believe that people are truly good at heart, as Anne Frank has said, and I will put myself in any position to help another human in any way I can.”
He said he would only feel guilty for Martin’s death if he thought he could have saved both Martin’s life and his own that night.
“Only in a true life or death scenario can you have mental clearness to know that you cannot feel guilty for surviving,” he said. “Had I had a fraction of the thought that I could have done something differently, acted differently so that both of us who survived, then I would have heavier weight on my shoulders. That sense in the back of my mind but in all fairness you cannot as a human feel guilty for living, for surviving.”