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George Zimmerman helps rescue family from overturned SUV

July 22, 2013|By Michael Muskal | This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

Days after he was acquitted of murdering an unarmed black teenager, George Zimmerman helped rescue four people from an overturned vehicle, Florida authorities said Monday.

On July 13, Zimmerman, 29, was acquitted on all charges in connection with the shooting of Trayvon Martin, 17, last year in Sanford, Fla. On July 17, Zimmerman, who has been keeping a low profile because of threats, and another person helped rescue a family of four from an overturned SUV, Seminole County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Heather Smith said.

A blue Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle had gone off the road and rolled over about 5:45 p.m. in the area of Interstate 4 and State Road 46, Smith said in an emailed statement. Inside were two children and their parents.

By the time a deputy arrived, Zimmerman and another man "had already helped assist the family by getting them out of the overturned vehicle," Smith said in the statement.

"Zimmerman was not a witness to the crash and left after making contact with the deputy," Smith said. "There were no reports of injuries to the vehicle occupants."

There were no details on the other man or on the rescued family, Smith said by telephone. Those details will be included in the final report, which will be released when completed, she said.

The shooting of Martin, an African American, by Zimmerman, who identifies himself as a Latino, has continued to inflame emotions. Thousands across the nation have marched, demanding that Zimmerman face federal civil rights charges after a six-women jury returned the acquittal in the case that stoked questions about race and guns.

After buying candy and a soft drink, Martin was returning from a convenience store to the home where he was staying in a gated community in Sanford on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman, then a neighborhood watch volunteer, saw the youth and called authorities to report a suspicious person. Zimmerman left his vehicle and the two had an altercation.

Zimmerman has long maintained that he shot Martin in self-defense when the teenager attacked him. Police originally accepted that claim but after weeks of protests led by civil rights leaders, a special prosecutor charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder, arguing that Zimmerman, a cop wannabe, had profiled Martin.

The case again exposed the differences in how blacks and whites see the same events.

In a poll released Monday by the Pew Research Center, blacks overwhelmingly -- 86% to 5% -- said they were dissatisfied with the acquittal. Additionally, 78% said the case raised important issues about race that need to be discussed.

But 49% whites said they were satisfied with the verdict versus 30% among blacks, and just 28% of whites said the case raises important issues about race. About 60% said the issue of race was getting more attention in the case than it deserved.

The survey was conducted between July 17 and 21 among 1,480 adults nationwide.

A Gallup poll, also released Monday, had a similar finding on the verdict: 85% of blacks interviewed said the acquittal was wrong, while a majority of whites, 54%, said it was correct.

The Gallup poll also found that 68% of blacks say the American justice system is biased against blacks, and 25% of whites agreed. Blacks' attitudes about the justice system have remained virtually constant over the last 20 years, but whites have become less likely to say there is a bias, the polling group said.

For the record, 3:47 p.m. July 22: A previous version of this post said that by a wide margin, 49% to 30%, whites said they were satisfied with the verdict. The margin would be 19 percentage points.

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