George Zimmerman friend tells court he now thinks Trayvon Martin was targeted for his race
One of George Zimmerman’s most outspoken supporters has apparently changed his story.
Frank Taaffe testified Wednesday before a grand jury that Zimmerman may have called him and made racially charged comments in a phone call shortly after he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012.
He told the grand jury that he received a call from an unknown number two years ago from a man who made racist comments about Martin.
At the time, he thought it was a prank call and disregarded the comments, but now he suspects the call may have come from his neighbor and friend, Zimmerman.
A federal grand jury is hearing evidence in the case to decide whether Zimmerman – who was acquitted of murder charges in the case – will face federal charges for violating the unarmed teen’s civil rights.
Taaffe defended Zimmerman on national TV shortly after the fatal shooting, saying his friend was not a racist.
He said he has received death threats for his defense of Zimmerman.
Taaffe did not testify during Zimmerman’s previous trial.
But he decided to tell the FBI about the call earlier this year after both of his sons died recently, which allowed him to identify more strongly with Martin’s family.
Taaffe told investigators that he now believes Zimmerman targeted the teen due to his race.
“In my heart of hearts, I do believe that,” Taaffe said.
He said Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, should never have followed the teen he suspected of criminal wrongdoing.
“If there’s a young man that’s not doing anything but talking on the phone, in the rain, sauntering about, let it go,” Taaffe said. “You know, that’s why we have law enforcement — let them handle it.”
However, he cannot say for certain whether his friend made the remarks in the call.
“People knew my phone number so it could have been anybody,” Taaffe said. “I brought it up and they wanted me to go on the record with what this alleged George said with this phone call from unknown destination.”
Taaffe told reporters Wednesday that he hoped his grand jury testimony would “make amends” with the Martin family.
He said his support for Zimmerman had caused his daughter, a U.S. Marine, to be ostracized – which had damaged their relationship.
“I miss her and I love her,” Taaffe said. “She’s my only child I’ve got left.”
Watch this video report posted online by WFTV-TV: