A former supporter of George Zimmerman (pictured) said Wednesday that he wanted to make amends with Trayvon Martin’s family by testifying before a federal grand jury convened in downtown, Orlando, Fla., the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Frank Taaffe, a former Zimmerman neighbor, was subpoenaed by a U.S. Department of Justice attorney to testify Wednesday before the grand jury, the report says. The grand jury is believed to be hearing testimony in the civil rights investigation in to the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Martin by Zimmerman. In a criminal trial last year, the former neighborhood watch-captain was acquitted of second-degree murder in the 2012 shooting that sparked protests around the globe against racial profiling.
Before entering the courthouse, Taaffe spoke to reporters, offering a complete about-face from his original stance on the case. Asked why his views had changed, Taaffe’s reply was blunt: “Death.”
Taaffe explained both of his sons died recently, leading him to reflect on the loss felt by Trayvon’s parents.
“This is a young man who didn’t deserve to die,” Taaffe said.
Trayvon’s family believes he was racially profiled by Zimmerman, who accosted the teen as he walked through the rain Feb. 26, 2012, and called police to report him as suspicious. Taaffe told the Sentinel that he now counts himself among those who also believe Martin was profiled.
“In my heart of hearts, I do believe that,” he said.
Reached Wednesday, Zimmerman would not comment on Taaffe’s remarks.
It is unclear when the grand jury will finish its investigation, but the Washington Post recently reported federal charges against Zimmerman are unlikely.