"There would have been George dead had he not acted decisively and instantaneously in that moment when he was being disarmed," the brother of George Zimmerman told CNN's Piers Morgan last night in one of the most extensive interviews yet with someone from the family of the man who shot and killed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26.
Robert Zimmerman Jr., saying he was basing that conclusion on what his brother has told the family about what happened, said it's his understanding that 17-year-old Martin had threatened his brother and was trying to get the 28-year-old man's handgun as the two struggled.
Zimmerman Jr., CNN adds, "also called the shooting a tragedy but warned that some of the responses have not been healthy. 'This is a tragedy. Her son was lost,' he said trying to send a message to Martin's mother. 'I feel very badly about that and I want, in the end, not for her son's memory to be seen as how we degraded our system and turned it into mob rule and went into a hate speech. Ultimately, we all wish that this was a different situation.' "
And he said that medical records will show that his brother did suffer a broken nose and cuts to the back of his head during the incident. Zimmerman Jr. said, as we noted was possible yesterday, that a police video of his brother was taken after George Zimmerman had been treated at the scene — which could explain why there are no "clear signs of injuries" on the tape, as CNN says.
Martin's death has become a national story because his family and supporters have made the case that the African-American teen was a victim of racial profiling — first by neighborhood watch volunteer Zimmerman and then by authorities who declined to arrest the shooter. There have been marches and rallies in various cities, and calls from Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill for Zimmerman's arrest. There have also been calls for changes to the "stand your ground" laws, in Florida and 16 other states. Those statutes make it easier for citizens, such as George Zimmerman, to claim self defense.
George Zimmerman, who had called police to report a "suspicious" person in the neighborhood and had been following Martin, told authorities he was walking away from Martin when the teenager approached him. Zimmerman says Martin knocked him to the ground and slammed his head on to the sidewalk.
Martin's family and supporters do not believe Zimmerman's account. And there were multiple reports this week about police investigators who wanted to charge him with manslaughter, but were told by the local prosecutor that they needed to gather more evidence.