March 27th, 2012

Joe Oliver: Zimmerman told him what happened before ‘the gun went off;’ ‘race had nothing to do with it” ‘race had nothing to do with it’

Joe Oliver, George Zimmerman’s friend, appears on Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien to talk about the Trayvon Martin case, including what Zimmerman has told him, Zimmerman’s condition, the 911 tape and why he has volunteered to help Zimmerman.

Oliver says, “Well, I spoke with George yesterday as a matter of fact and was able to get some more details about what happened. The report that was released yesterday is what George told me, what happened, where the report stops he filled in the blanks for me as well. And unfortunately at this time I’m not able to discuss that, but basically it fills in the gap between what happened when Trayvon and George came face-to-face and by the time the gun went off.”

He continues, “[Zimmerman’s] extremely remorseful, even though he took someone else’s life in order to save his…. Race had nothing to do with it.”

“What it had to do was George living in a community that had been victimized by a number of burglaries and on his way home from the grocery store, he saw a suspicious individual,” Oliver says. “And as someone who has taken the responsibility and volunteered to keep an eye out for his neighbors, he made a call to a non-emergency phone line and did what he thought was right and it turned out horribly wrong.”

Oliver adds, “I volunteered because of my experience with the media and understanding what he was going to have to deal with. I volunteered because I’m a black man and I understand what is happening because of this story. Like I said, if I didn’t know George and if I didn’t know what I know, I’d have been in downtown Sanford last night with everyone else. I would have been here the night before with everyone else. I understand why we’re having this conversation, because I grew up with it. I lived it. I’ve had those conversations with my own son on what it’s like to be a black man in this country. I get that. But what I also get is this was not a racial incident. This was an incident of a good man trying to do the right thing.”

Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien airs weekday mornings from 7-9am ET on CNN.