Florida’s state attorney’s office released new evidence today in the case against George Zimmerman, including more than 30 FBI interviews with Zimmerman’s friends, co-workers, neighbors, and his ex-fiancée, none of whom said that Zimmerman was a racist. The lead investigator in the case, Sanford Police detective Christopher Serino (later transferred to the patrol division at his request), told the FBI that he believed Zimmerman tracked Martin not because of his skin color but because Martin was wearing a hoodie. An FBI agent wrote in a report that Serino said, “Zimmerman’s actions were not based on Martin’s skin color, rather based on his attire, the total circumstances of the encounter and the previous burglary suspects in the community.”
The report also contains the following passage about Serino’s view of Zimmerman’s perception of Martin:
Serino explained to agent that local gang, referred in the community as “GOONS”, typically dressed in black and wore hoodies. Serino believes that when Zimmerman saw Martin in a hoody, Zimmerman took it upon himself to view Martin as acting suspicious. Serino described Zimmerman as overzealous and having a “little hero complex”, but not as a racist. Serino explained on numerous occasions he asked Zimmerman if he followed Martin based on his skin color and Zimmerman never admitted to this fact.”
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Zimmerman’s ex-fiancée told the FBI that Zimmerman was “protective and territorial” toward her and had “a bad temper,” but that he was not racist. An agent wrote in a report that the ex-fiancée said Zimmerman played basketball with white, black, and Hispanic men, and that “he never exhibited any biases or prejudices against anyone and did not use racial epithets of any kind.”
There may be others interviewed in this case who say that Zimmerman is indeed racist. However, racial sentiment may speak more toward public perception and not have any bearing on the outcome of the case. Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump told Erin Burnett on CNN’s OutFront on Thursday regarding Zimmerman’s attitude on race, “None of that matters to why this armed watchman with a 9 mm gun got out of his car and chased an unarmed teenager and shot him in the heart.” He continued, “The fact I wear a hoodie doesn’t justify you killing me.”
Below are two images contained among the evidence released by the attorney’s office: two sweatshirts worn by Martin on the night of the shooting, a light gray Nike sweatshirt, and a dark gray Fruit of the Loom hooded sweatshirt.