George Zimmerman's family denies all allegations that his shooting of Trayvon Martin was racially motivated. Zimmerman's father is white; his mother is Latina. His family told reporters that he has black relatives. Zimmerman's father wrote a letter to the Sun-Sentinel
insisting that his son is not racist: "He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever."
Though initially portrayed by police as "squaky clean," Zimmerman, 28, has had prior legal troubles. In July, 2005, Zimmerman was arrested after a fight with a policeman who was arresting his friend outside a bar. One month later, he was accused of domestic violence by a woman.
Despite having had run-ins with police, Zimmerman displayed a strong interest in law enforcement. He reportedly wanted to become a policeman, but eventually settled for volunteering in a Neighborhood Watch program. He took criminal justice courses, and in 2008 applied to a Seminole County Sheriff's Office program for citizen law enforcement. He was dedicated to his neighborhood watch position, and placed 46 calls to 911
over the past year, often to report petty occurrences such as a stray dog or an open garage door. However, there is doubt whether Zimmerman was an official member of the Neighborhood Watch at all. According to a statement issued by the National Sheriffs' Association, which heads the Neighborhood Watch programs, "NSA has no information indicating the community where the incident occurred has ever even registered with the NSA Neighborhood Watch program."