ORLANDO, Fla. » George Zimmerman helped rescue four people from an overturned vehicle last week, just days after he was cleared of all charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, officials said today.
Seminole County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Kim Cannaday said in a statement that deputies responding to the wreck in Sanford — the Orlando suburb where Martin was shot — found Zimmerman and another man had already helped a couple and their two children out of the flipped SUV. They were not hurt.
The sheriff’s office statement said Zimmerman spoke with a deputy at the scene and then left. He did not see the crash happen.
This is believed to be the first time Zimmerman has been seen publicly since his acquittal on a second-degree murder charge in the 17-year-old Martin’s February 2012 death. Zimmerman’s parents and his attorneys have said in interviews since the verdict that they fear for his safety because of those who may not agree with it.
A message left at the office of Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara was not immediately returned today.
The acquittal prompted rallies nationwide in the days afterward calling for a civil rights probe and federal charges against Zimmerman.
It also led to a sit-in at Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s office demanding that legislators repeal the state’s stand-your-ground self-defense law. The law, passed in 2005, generally eliminated a person’s duty to retreat in the face of a serious physical threat. At least 21 states have a self-defense law similar to that in Florida.
Martin’s shooting also started debate across the U.S. over racial profiling, self-defense and equal justice. Protesters nationwide lashed out against police in Sanford, as it took 44 days for Zimmerman to be arrested. Many, including Martin’s parents, said Zimmerman had racially profiled the unarmed black teen. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.
Six anonymous female jurors considered nearly three weeks of often wildly conflicting testimony over who was the aggressor on the rainy night Martin was shot while walking through the gated townhouse community where he was staying and where Zimmerman lived.