SANFORD, FL (WCMH/AP/CNN) – George Zimmerman was punched in the face at a restaurant on Saturday after a man said he was “bragging” about shooting and killing teenager Trayvon Martin, a Seminole County Sheriff’s Department report says.
Zimmerman allegedly walked into the Gators Riverside Grill to place a to-go order and walked by a man who nodded at him. Zimmerman complimented the man on his tattoos, and the man shook his hand and asked Zimmerman if he was “that guy” and asked for proof. Zimmerman pulled out his ID and was talking with the man and his friends. Another man, identified as Eddie, approached the table.
A deputy took the following statement from Zimmerman, according to CNN:
Mr. Zimmerman was explaining to the people sitting at the table that he shot Travyon Martin in self-defense, when a large fat man approached with an orange shirt, later identified as Eddie and asked “You’re bragging about that?” Mr. Zimmerman replied “No” at which point Eddie replied “You better get the f*** out of here you n**** lover, you ain’t welcome here.” and Mr. Zimmerman walked back to his table to join his friends eating.
Mr. Zimmerman stated approximately 2 minutes later Eddie approached him and stated “Didn’t I tell you to get the f*** out of here n***** lover?” at which point Mr. Zimmerman replied “I am not looking for any trouble”. Mr. Zimmerman stated Eddie then punched him directly in the face, pushed him aside to knock a phone out of (another man’s) hands, a friend of Mr. Zimmerman. Mr. Zimmerman stated restaurant staff came over and got in-between Eddie and Mr. Zimmerman’s friends in an attempt to deescalate the situation. Mr. Zimmerman then called 911.
Other people involved in the incident had different accounts. A friend Zimmerman was with said five males approached the table and began yelling at Zimmerman before one punched him in the face.
Other witnesses disputed Zimmerman’s self-portrayal as an innocent victim. One man told deputies that it was Zimmerman who took the initiative by walking up to them and bragging, “My name is George Zimmerman, you know, that guy who killed Trayvon Martin.”
No arrests have been made.
Zimmerman, who is now 32, has said he was defending himself when he killed Martin, 17, in a gated community near Orlando. Martin, who lived in Miami with his mother, was visiting his father at the time.
Zimmerman’s acquittal sparked protests and a national debate about race relations. The Justice Department later decided not to prosecute Zimmerman on civil rights charges.