(Reuters) - One of the jurors who acquitted George Zimmerman of murder said the Florida neighbourhood watch volunteer was “justified” in shooting unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in an interview broadcast by CNN on Tuesday.
Zimmerman, a white Hispanic man, was found not guilty of murder and manslaughter on Saturday after a racially charged trial that has triggered demonstrations across the country.
Speaking on the “Anderson Cooper 360” program, the juror identified as B37 said she wanted to find Zimmerman guilty of “not using his senses” but that “you can’t charge him with anything because he didn’t do anything unlawful”.
Shortly after the interview, CNN said four other jurors released a statement distancing themselves from the comments.
“We, the undersigned jurors, understand there is a great deal of interest in this case. But we ask you to remember that we are not public officials and we did not invite this type of attention into our lives,” they said.
“We also wish to point out that the opinions of juror B37, expressed on the Anderson Cooper show were her own, and not in any way representative of the jurors listed below.”
The jurors have remained anonymous under a judge’s order. CNN said they identified themselves only by their jury pool numbers. Reuters was unable to verify the authenticity of their statement independently.
In an interview aired by the network on Monday, B37 said she did not think Zimmerman racially profiled Martin and believed Martin attacked Zimmerman first. It prompted extreme reactions including death threats on social media.
Juror B37 has previously been described as a mother of two who grew up in a military family and used to have a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
In the interview she said Zimmerman “started the ball rolling” and could have avoided the situation by staying in his car. “But he wanted to do good. I think he had good in his heart, he just went overboard,” the juror told CNN.
Asked later whether she thought Zimmerman was within his rights, she said: “He was justified in shooting Trayvon Martin.”
Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Elizabeth Piper