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Zimmerman supporters say he was protecting neighborhood

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 8:23 PM EDT, Tue April 3, 2012
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nr taaffe zimmerman_00030225
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • George Zimmerman's friend says black men were behind eight neighborhood burglaries
  • Police reports tie three incidents to black men
  • Martin's family say that Zimmerman profiled Trayvon Martin

Sanford, Florida (CNN) -- A neighbor and friend of George Zimmerman's said Tuesday on CNN that their neighborhood had suffered eight burglaries, all committed by young black men, in the 15 months prior to Trayvon Martin's shooting.

Frank Taaffe's account paints a picture of a neighborhood watch volunteer making rounds in a community suffering a spate of burglaries when he ran across what he thought was a suspicious figure walking the streets. Police records appear to only partially substantiate Taaffe's claims about the burglaries, citing three of eight cases in which suspects were identified as black males.

Martin's family and supporters say Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, profiled Martin, who was black, as "suspicious" and ignored a police dispatcher's request not follow him. Martin did not live in Sanford, but was there with his father, whose fiance' lives in Zimmerman's neighborhood. Zimmerman, 28, fatally shot Martin, 17, on February 26. The case has triggered a nationwide debate about Florida's "stand your ground" law, race and racial profiling.

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, has said he killed Martin in self-defense, saying the teen punched him and slammed his head into a sidewalk before the shooting, according to family members and police.

Martin family attorney Jasmine Rand said that Zimmerman "was the aggressor."

"He pursued Trayvon in this instance. If he did have any medical injuries, that did not give him the right to use deadly force and shoot and kill Trayvon," Rand said.

Here's what police documents have to say about Taaffe's account of the burglaries in his neighborhood:

City officials posted police reports to the city website detailing eight burglary reports in the neighborhood in the 14 months prior to Martin's February 26 death.

In three of those incidents, black males were implicated by witnesses or arrests. A fourth incident was less clear.

A homeowner who reported that someone had broken into her home and had stolen a video game console referred police to a black man who had previously visited her home asking for her son.

Police do not list that man as a suspect in their report.

In the other four incidents, there were no witnesses or suspects, according to police reports.

It was not clear if the documents posted to Sanford's website include all burglary incidents in the time period mentioned by Taaffe. A city spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comments.

Taaffe declined further comment to CNN on Tuesday afternoon.

In his CNN interview, Taaffe credited Zimmerman with preventing what he said would have been a ninth burglary by reporting a suspicious black man trying to break into Taaffe's home.

City documents show that Zimmerman did call police on February 2 to report a black man was possibly trying to break into the house.

By the time police arrived, no one was at the scene, according to a call log posted on the city website.

Zimmerman's supporters say he was just trying to do the right thing in guarding his neighborhood.

"It was just a perfect storm that all of the components were there for this tragedy to transpire," Taaffe told CNN Tuesday.

Martin's father, Tracy Martin questions why Zimmerman suspected his son. When asked what he would say to Zimmerman if he had a chance to speak to him, Tracy Martin told CNN's Piers Morgan:

"I would ask him why did he in fact pick out my son, what was going through his mind that night?"

CNN's Tracy Sabo contributed to this report.

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