FBI report: No evidence George Zimmerman is racist
An FBI investigation into the shooting of black teenager Travyon Martin concluded that there's no evidence the suspect, George Zimmerman, was motived by racial bias or hatred.
After interviewing 30 people familiar with George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain charged with killing African-American teenager Trayvon Martin, FBI agents found no evidence that the shooting was driven by racial bias or animus.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Florida vs. George Zimmerman: Case closed?
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Before Thursday's release of a Department of Justice report, both sides have argued over whether smatterings of racially charged testimony should be released to the public before the trial – in particular, the testimony of “Witness 9,” whom state prosecutors say has described an “act” by Mr. Zimmerman that suggests “he had a bias toward black people.”
The report released Thursday made clear that the FBI found no one willing to go on the record as saying Zimmerman is racist. Even one of the most skeptical local investigators with the Sanford, Fla., police department, Chris Serino, suggested to the FBI that Zimmerman followed Trayvon “based on his attire,” not “skin color,” and added that he thought Zimmerman had a “little hero complex,” but is not racist, according to the Orlando Sentinel, which obtained copies of the document.
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Prosecutors say Zimmerman profiled Trayvon as a criminal (though the teen was doing nothing wrong), followed him, confronted him, and then killed him after a brief scuffle. Zimmerman says he shot Trayvon in self-defense after the teen jumped him, knocked him down, and bashed his head against a sidewalk. The case caused a national uproar over racial profiling and gun laws after local police originally declined to charge Zimmerman. Forty-four days after the shooting, a special state prosecutor charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder.
The report outlines how FBI agents asked each person interviewed whether Zimmerman "displayed any bias, prejudice or irrational attitude against any class of citizen, religious, racial, gender or ethnic groups." No one said he had.
Despite the FBI’s findings, questions about Zimmerman’s mind-set and possible biases could continue to play a part in his upcoming trial. Three weeks ago, Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Lester ruled that the “Witness 9” statements should be released, but both the defense and the prosecution pleaded with him to reconsider. In a previously released statement, Witness 9 is quoted as saying, “I know George, and I know that he does not like black people.”