Zimmerman fate following acquittal uncertain

Will defendant face civil rights charges?
Associated Press
Jul 14, 2013

Following his acquittal on all charges in the fatal shooting death of Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman will spend no time behind bars.

But that's about the only certainty in the former neighborhood watch volunteer's immediate future.

The Department of Justice has announced it will look into the case, which could lead to criminal civil rights charges, and Zimmerman may also face civil lawsuits from Martin's family.

He could also potentially make a lot of money by writing a book or from a lawsuit he filed last year against a major television network for allegedly editing his 911 call to police to make it sound like he was racist.

For the moment, however, veteran publicists say Zimmerman's options are limited.

The case and his trial have become — for some — a symbol of everything that's wrong with the country's justice system, and with race relations in America today.

The six-member jury's not-guilty verdict late Saturday prompted a wave of anger among civil rights leaders and others, and protests have erupted across the country. Image handlers say Zimmerman needs to take that anger, and potential death threats, seriously.

"I have one short piece of advice for him," said Jonathan Bernstein, president of the Southern California-based Bernstein Crisis Management Inc.


Hiding is not an unfamiliar feeling for Zimmerman, whose last known appearance in public was on Feb. 26, 2012, the night of the shooting: He was headed to Target to do his weekly grocery shopping before he encountered Martin.

Zimmerman has been living a hermit's life since then and during the months leading up to his highly publicized trial. And now, despite the acquittal, it is unlikely that he will ever be able to do something as mundane as grocery shopping — at least not unaccompanied — for a very long time.

Security experts and crisis management pros say the former neighborhood watch volunteer must immediately get a security plan in place. This could involve hiring an expensive team of bodyguards or consultants who will assess whether the threats against him are credible.

Richard Davis, the operations director for The Bodyguard Group of Beverly Hills, said that if Zimmerman were to hire his firm, he would have a stable of former Navy SEALS and Special Forces guards looking out for his safety around the clock. They would relocate him to a safe home (probably in a large city where he can blend into a busy community), quietly file court paperwork to change his name and create a "protective bubble."

"No one enters the bubble," said Davis, whose company has provided security for A-list celebrities and politicians. "It moves with you."

Davis described what he thinks is the optimal security plan for someone in Zimmerman's situation: a big team of guards for the initial few weeks following the verdict, a cross-country move, and an armored car. Restaurants would have to be pre-screened, exercise would have to be done in a home gym and a trip to the movies would be out of the question.

"You can't go in that store alone, you can't go to the movies ever, unless you rent out the whole theater for yourself," he said. "A movie theater is a death trap."

All of this isn't cheap. Davis estimates that it would cost $3,000 a day initially to pay for such security. But if it keeps Zimmerman alive, he said, it's a small price to pay.

To be sure, there are less expensive security and bodyguard options. But all will cost money — and Zimmerman, who worked as a mortgage underwriter prior to the shooting, isn't independently wealthy.

At one point following the shooting, Zimmerman had his own website and raised $200,000 for his legal defense. His family and attorneys also have set up separate fundraising websites, but it's unclear how much they have raised.

Zimmerman's attorneys say that their client hasn't worked since the shooting. Of course, people in high-profile cases sometimes win lucrative deals to write books or sell their life stories so they can be made into a movie or television program.

Bernstein said if Zimmerman was his client, he would advise against this right now.

"If he's doing a book deal, he should keep it quiet, and don't come out with a book in a hurry," said Bernstein, adding that he would advise Zimmerman not to speak to the news media in either paid or unpaid appearances.

"The more you talk, the more you are a target," he said. "The court has spoken for him. The best thing he could possibly do is go below the radar."

There's also the possibility of further legal action against Zimmerman — some of which could impact any money that he makes.

Martin's family could sue Zimmerman in civil court, much like Ronald Goldman's family did with OJ Simpson. Any proceeds Zimmerman makes from a book or movie deal could be turned over to the Martins, if a civil jury were to find him guilty.

And then there is the possibility that the Department of Justice could bring a federal hate-crime charge against Zimmerman. While legal experts say this is unlikely, Zimmerman could be forced into paying for more lawyers if it does happen.

Veteran publicist Glen Selig said in the coming weeks and months, Zimmerman should let others speak for him and avoid most, if not all, publicity. By speaking to the news media about the case, Zimmerman risks making the story about him — and not about the larger, more complicated issues of race and justice.

"I would clearly advise him not to become the lightning rod for this issue," Selig said.

Emotions over the case are running high, especially among those who think Zimmerman should have been found guilty, said Scott Sundby, a law professor at the University of Miami.

"The hard thing about the law sometimes is that we can have intuitive responses that an outcome is not fair but that doesn't necessarily mean that the law was not followed," Sundby said.

"The criminal justice system is often an imperfect system of handling wrongs that occurred. Many acts we feel were unjust will go unpunished by the law because of larger issues as to why the system is set up that way."






Sun, 07/14/2013 - 4:29pm

"I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher.

But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken.

I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son."

- Pres. Obama.

My compliments to a VERY presidential statement.



Re: "Interesting!"

I complimented the STATEMENT, NOT the MAN.

Again, more proof of Obama-hole illiteracy.

Politics is based on the art of deception and Pres. Obama is VERY political.


You also translated the statement not the MAN! Proof you are full of HOT AIR! Your idiocy is very transparent!


Are the Obama-holes OK with the DOJ, i.e. Pres. Obama filing civil rights charges against Zimmerman?

If charges are filled, how does that not make Pres. Obama's statement HYPOCRITICAL and MY translation correct? :)

Have a nice day b*tchin' and moanin'.


IF pooh! IF? You just hate to be called out on your BS!


Re: "IF?"


Are the Obama-holes OK with the DOJ, i.e. Pres. Obama filing civil rights charges against Zimmerman?

Typical Obama-hole: Don't answer the question instead deflect, deny & distract. :)

"NAACP Wants DOJ To Prosecute George Zimmerman":


Yeah, the Obama-holes need to keep lying to themselves that it's not about race. LMAO.

The Big Dog's back

One, Two, Three strikes your out pooh.


Re: "Three strikes your out"


And YOU'RE still an illiterate DERPY. :)


You're still OUT!! Hit the road Jack!


Re "You're (snip)"

AND you STILL haven't answered the question. :)


These two never do when they know they're wrong.


this was a victory for "stand your ground" laws everywhere. The color of the parties is secondary to everything. Had things been reversed and the a black slain a white you would NOT be hearing a thing from the black community but "it was justified" and "he did the right thing". You can count on it. They are unhappy because they wanted a pound of flesh on this one. From the beginning, the black leaders like Ms Ali, Jesse Jackson and others fanned the flames of racism as much as possible to MAKE it racism. Until that time, it wasn't anything more than another stand your ground killing and everyone knew that...but once THEY got on board it became a racially motivated problem with marches and hate-filled problems. We can thank THEM for making this what it is now.

The prosecutors never had a shot at getting a guilty verdict here. The jurors never had any other choices BUT to follow Florida law and find him not guilty. Its over...both men were racists. Let it die out now. Stop beating the drums and move on. Case closed.

Go back to Jodie Arias and put her away or to death and forget what has finished. Move on to the next cases waiting. The State VS Zimmerman is now history. Lets not beat it up any more. I feel sorry for the family, the young man who lost his young life but it IS over.

The Big Dog's back

Why are you so quick to want to go back to the Old West?


Don't kid yourselves . IF any one of us would have been in his shoes we would have done the same damn thing. It 'll be a cold day in hell before I let anyone try to beat on me without defending myself , BY ANY MEANS I HAVE TO USE!

That's why it's self defense.

There has been no national public outcry when whites get killed by blacks or blacks getting killed by other blacks like everyday in CHICAGO.

Hmm ... why is that?



2010: Nearly 700 CHILDREN were shot, 66 of them died.

If there was a (bleeping) disease that killed 66 children, the feds would be asking questions and the media would be ALL OVER IT!!!

Where's the POTUS, where's the media, where's the OUTRAGE?


Wouldn't you think the president would be more active in addressing the crime in Chicago? It's his home. I can't even imagine what the young people in Chicago have to deal with on a daily basis.

dorothy gale

IF I had been in his shoes, I never would have gotten out of the car. I would have waited for the PROPER authorities to arrive. This is not about race, it is about a man who decided HE had the authority to take the law into his own hands.


I agree that GZ played a part in setting the stage. However, he wasn't doing anything illegal. I'm sure the jury struggled with that.


and if someone was following me, I would turn around and confront them and punch them in the face if necessary. Martin was the victim here and a court of law and many Americans fail to see that fact.

dorothy gale

Thank you! What about Trayvon's right to walk down the street without being stalked? Maybe he feared for HIS life but he can't tell us about it, now can he? GZ took that right away from him as well!

sandtown born a...

Come to my neighborhood and you will be followed and watched if you don't live there no matter your color. I wouldn't suggest punching anyone tho


Why? Is it because you fear all your precious belonging will be taken regardless of the color? What would you suggest? Just stay out of YOUR neighborhood? Why not put a big concrete wall around YOUR neighborhood? You need to get in the real world kid!

sandtown born a...

Yes your correct I'm a kid like a 50 yr old kid. We look out for all in our neighborhood regardless of color. Choose to try to commit a crime and you will get caught by one of us. Homeowners that is, I look after my investments that I worked hard for, no handouts welfare food stamps etc. it's called being responsible for your life try it sometime.


Well 50yr. old, you are not the only homeowner out there nor the only person with a flat screen tv. You are not the only person that has worked for a living without the need for help. GET OVER YOURSELF ALREADY!

The Big Dog's back

Amen. That 50 year old has some serious issues.

Darwin's choice

Well, hello head cheerleader! Obama finally let you out from under the desk?


Ease up on the spinach Dagwood!

sandtown born a...

Yes sir I have issues, especially with racists like deercrap and pound puppy 2 of the biggest racists to comment thus far


What would you have done if you had been in Martin's shoes? What do you tell your kids to do? Do you tell them to follow young black men?
Hmmmmmm??????? Do you tell them to be aware of their surroundings and to defend themselves if necessary? This was a CLAIM of self defense!


I wouldn't have put myself in Martins shoes. First I wouldn't have confronted someone following me, even though I have a CCW and usually carry when walking at night. Second I wouldn't have struck someone for following me. Third I wouldn't have straddled someone and kept striking or slamming their head on the ground or sidewalk. I would have called the cops, walked or ran home or back to the store or somewhere there were people to either help me or scare the follower away.

I have done so (walked away went back where I came from) a couple of times when walking in new places, even though I was carrying a firearm.

I wouldn't have done what Zimmerman did either. I might have/ probably would have, followed him if I had been in my neighborhood. I wouldn't have gotten out of my truck when I saw the stranger again. I would have called the cops and followed or made sure the stranger had a place he was going, by watching.

That being said, if some stranger in my neighborhood was acting strangely, walking slowly in the rain and looking around, I would have called the cops also would have kept an eye on him till he got where he was going or the cops came.

In other words as far as I am concerned both Zimmerman and Martin made mistakes. The biggest mistake was when Martin attacked Zimmerman. That was when the law was first broken. After that the witnesses told us who was on top. From then on it was a fight. In a fight you don't know the intentions of the other person. Will they stop beating you when it is claer they "won" the fight? Or will he not stop till the loser is dead? If you say the "winner" will stop, and the loser has no idea who the "winner" is what do you base your conclution that the winner will stop before the loser is dead? What will you guarantee that with? The word of the stranger who attacked you? Really?