In this image released by NBC, parents of Trayvon Martin, Sybrina Fulton, second left, and Tracy Martin, second right, appear on the “Today” show with Fulton’s other son Jahvaris Fulton, left, and co-host Matt Lauer in New York. Martin’s parents plan to participate in separate vigils on Saturday. Sabrina Fulton and Jahvaris Fulton will join Al Sharpton outside New York Police Department headquarters while Tracy Martin is set to be at a similar event at a federal courthouse in Miami. (AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer)
MIAMI (AP) — Trayvon Martin’s parents made appearances on network news shows Thursday, saying they are still shocked that jurors acquitted George Zimmerman in the 2012 shooting death of their 17-year-old son.
“My son was unarmed, and the person that shot and killed him got away with murder,” Sybrina Fulton told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday night, as she made the case for a change in self-defense laws. She said she’s now afraid for her oldest son and not sure how to advise him to react when faced with a threat.
On NBC’s “Today” show earlier Thursday, Fulton questioned whether jurors looked at the shooting from her son’s point of view.
“He was a teenager. He was scared. He did run,” Fulton said, who added that she believes the justice system failed her son.
“We didn’t get the verdict we wanted because we wanted him to be (held) accountable.”
Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, expressed disbelief in the verdict handed down Saturday by a six-woman jury following a three-week trial in central Florida.
“We felt in our hearts that we were going to get a conviction,” Martin said. “We felt that the killer of our unarmed child was going to be convicted of the crime he committed.”
On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Tracy Martin said he felt the jury did not get a chance to get to know the teen. “They didn’t know him as a human being,” he said.
Martin’s parents said they still believe Zimmerman, who identifies himself as Hispanic, racially profiled their son.
“Obviously, any time you have a person that makes an assumption that a person is up to no good, that’s some kind of profiling,” Martin said. “Was he racially profiled? I think if Trayvon had been white, this never would have happened.”
Martin’s parents said they support the federal government looking into the case. The Justice Department announced Sunday it plans to review the case to determine whether federal prosecutors should file criminal civil rights charges now that Zimmerman has been acquitted.
Zimmerman, who was charged with second-degree murder, claimed he shot Martin in self-defense.
Martin’s mother said she believes the verdict sends a “terrible message to other little black and brown boys.”
“They can’t walk fast. They can’t walk slow. So what do they do? How do they get home without people assuming you are doing something wrong?” Fulton said.
Fulton told “CBS This Morning” her son was not a burglar.
“He simply went to the store and was headed back home,” she said. “And for somebody to look at him and perceive that he was a burglar, that was the problem that initiated everything.”
The parents’ attorney, Benjamin Crump, didn’t rule out a civil lawsuit against Zimmerman in response to a question from CBS’s Charlie Rose.
“We’ll look at all legal options. Right now, we’ll ask the Department of Justice to answer … ‘Can a private citizen with a gun profile and follow our children home?'” Crump said.
In the CNN interview, Martin’s parents expressed concern about comments by a juror to the news network earlier in the week.
Juror B37 said she believed race was not a factor in Zimmerman’s decision to follow Martin last year, that Martin struck Zimmerman first, and that the neighborhood watch volunteer had a right to defend himself. She also said she believed Martin “played a huge role in his death.”
Fulton said it was a “joke” to suggest race didn’t affect Zimmerman’s following of Martin. Tracy Martin called some of her remarks insensitive, and said, “She had her mind made up.”
Martin’s parents said they’re trying to channel their energy into a foundation created in their son’s name.
“The change that we hope to affect is with the law,” Fulton told CNN. “We want to make sure any teenager who is walking down the street won’t be killed, that they will make it home safe.”