For many years to come, George Zimmerman will forever be synonymous for the issues of race and gun control in America, thanks to the events that preceded and followed his fatal shooting of a black teenage boy who was notably unarmed at the time. Read on to find out more about his early beginnings, the shooting incident, and life afterwards.
On the 5th of October, 1983, in Manassas, Virginia, George Michael Zimmerman was born as the third of four children to Gladys Cristina (nee Mesa) and Robert Zimmerman Sr. His mother is Peruvian while his father, who served 22 years in the United States military, is an American of German descent.
Zimmerman was raised in a devout Catholic home. From the age of 7 to 17, he served as an altar boy while first attending All Saints Catholic School before later transferring to the public Osbourn High School. In 2001, George Zimmerman graduated from high school and moved to a suburb of Orlando, Florida called Lake Mary. To make ends meet, he got a job at an insurance agency which led him to take night classes to obtain a license to sell insurance. A few years later, Zimmerman opened a satellite office of Allstate Insurance which folded under a year. He then went on to work at a car dealership and then a mortgage audit firm before marrying cosmetologist Shellie Dean in 2007. The pair went ahead to rent a townhouse in a gated community at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Florida in 2009 as Zimmerman enrolled at Seminole State College to acquire an associate degree in Criminal Justice.
A few months after Zimmerman graduated from Seminole in December 2011, he fatally shot a 17-year-old unarmed African-American boy named Trayvon Martin. According to Zimmerman, who was at the time, the neighborhood watch coordinator, he saw Martin and deemed him to be a suspicious person. Because of this, he called the police, however, before the police could arrive at the scene, an altercation occurred between the pair that led to Martin being shot in the chest.
Zimmerman, who sustained injuries during the incident, told police officers that he killed Martin in self-defense, which under Florida’s Stand Your Ground statute was not an offense. After questioning him for about five hours, the police released Zimmerman, saying they could not find any evidence to refute his claim. His release made headlines all across the United States and caused an uproar in the African-American community as protests sprung up in different cities across the country, prompting comments from the U.S. Justice Department and President Barack Obama. After further deliberation, Florida Governor Rick Scott appointed a special prosecutor who, six weeks later, charged George Zimmerman with the murder of Trayvon Martin.
George Zimmerman’s Trial
George Zimmerman’s trial began on the 10th of June, 2013. It lasted for about 33 days, until the 13th of July, 2013, to be exact, after which a jury acquitted him of second-degree murder and manslaughter. This verdict did not stand well with the public as the anger shifted from Zimmerman to the Stand Your Ground statute which allows for people to protect themselves with lethal force, especially when the other party might not have been armed, as was the case with Trayvon Martin.
Following the court rulings, the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) began their own investigation on Zimmerman on civil rights charges, however, three years later, it concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to prove a hate crime occurred and that Zimmerman was not going to be prosecuted.
Where Is He Now? Is He Dead, In Jail, Or On Probation?
George Zimmerman is very much alive and free. Since his trial ended, he has been involved in a few run-ins with the law, mostly due to domestic violence issues. In other cases, he was the supposed target of other people who had identified him for killing Martin. One of such persons was Matthew Apperson who went as far as shooting at Zimmerman. This led to Apperson being sentenced to 20 years in prison for attempted murder and aggravated assault with a firearm.
In 2018, Zimmerman was arrested and charged with stalking. He had, on multiple times, contacted a private investigator working with Michael Gasparro and Jay-Z on the documentary series Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story which looked at racial tension in the United States as well as a few aspects of the case.