George Zimmerman (r.) speaks with attorney Don West. (Joe Burbank/AP)
George Zimmerman (r.) speaks with attorney Don West earlier in the day. (Joe Burbank/AP)

“We will respect the rule of law. And we won’t do what George Zimmerman did when he got out of his car, profiled and pursued Trayvon and took the law into his own hands. We won’t resort to vigilante justice. We will let vengeance be unto God.”

Those words said to me by Martin family lawyer Benjamin Crump during an interview in February with full agreement by Sybrina Fulton (Trayvon’s mother) take on special resonance tonight, when a jury of six women found George Zimmerman the killer of Fulton’s son, Trayvon Martin, was not guilty. Not guilty of second-degree murder, which was a stretch under the law. Not even guilty of manslaughter. After more than 16 hours of deliberation, the verdict was unanimous.

This is a crushing decision for the Martin family. They had to fight to get Zimmerman arrested. Once arrested, they had to fight to ensure that the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot their unarmed son in the heart was held accountable before a jury. And now they must deal with the disappointment of their verdict.

But the decision is a blow to those of us who believed that Zimmerman profiled Trayvon as a criminal, who believed that Zimmerman shot him dead after an altercation of the wanna-be cop’s initiation, who believed that Zimmerman’s version of events — from his reenactment of the events to what he said he did with Trayvon’s hands to where his gun was holstered — never added up.

“We can live with a jury verdict,” Crump told me four months ago. Tonight, we all have to live with that verdict. That’s our justice system. We don’t have to like the jury’s decision. But we must respect it.

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Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.