US & Canada

Trayvon Martin: George Zimmerman's father speaks out

The father of the man who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin says his son was attacked and threatened before opening fire.

Speaking to local TV, Robert Zimmerman said Martin broke his son's nose and cut the back of his head.

Recently released police security video shows George Zimmerman shortly after the shooting - without any injuries on his head or face visible on camera.

Mr Zimmerman, who says he acted in self-defence, has not been charged.

"It's my understanding that Trayvon Martin got on top of him and just started beating him," Robert Zimmerman said, adding that Martin asked his son "Do you have a [expletive] problem?"

When asked about why Martin's girlfriend had said she was on the phone with him in the moments before he was shot, the elder Zimmerman said he did not believe that had happened.

Rallies calling for Mr Zimmerman's arrest and prosecution have been held in New York, Washington and in Sanford, Florida, where the shooting occurred on 26 February.

The racially charged case has generated significant public anger and grabbed national headlines.

Police leak

Robert Zimmerman's account of the incident closely matches what George Zimmerman told Sanford police after the crime occurred,the Orlando Sentinel reported.

One witness said that the cries for help heard on a 911 emergency came from George Zimmerman - not Trayvon Martin.

His father agreed: "All of our family, everyone who knows George, knows absolutely that is George screaming. There's no doubt in anyone's mind."

Image caption Rallies for Trayvon Martin have gone national, including one led by New York City Council

Orlando police did not dispute the version of events reported by the Sentinel, and Sanford's city manager said he would pursue whoever was responsible for a presumed leak.

Martin was carrying a bag of sweets and a can of iced tea when he was approached by Mr Zimmerman as he walked back to his father's fiance's house.

Mr Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watch volunteer, had told a police dispatcher he thought Martin, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, looked suspicious and said he had decided to follow the teenager.

A grand jury is considering whether to charge Mr Zimmerman and will hear evidence in the case on 10 April.

The Department of Justice and the FBI are also conducting civil rights investigations into the police handling of the case.

More on this story