The incident occurred July 17 about 5:45 p.m. When a sheriff’s deputy responded to a single-car accident in the area of Interstate 4 and State Road 46, he found that two men, one of whom was Zimmerman, had already assisted the family by getting them out of the overturned vehicle, according to Cannady.
Zimmerman was not a witness to the crash, Cannady said. He spoke briefly to the deputy, giving him his account of what had happened, and then left the scene. He was not operating in any official capacity, Cannady said.
There were no reports of injuries to the family members. It was unclear whether they would have been injured if Zimmerman and the other man hadn’t helped pull them from the car.
It was the first reported appearance of Zimmerman in public since he walked away from a Sanford courtroom a free man July 13, after a jury of six women acquitted him of a second-degree murder charge in the shooting death of Martin.
The Zimmerman trial was widely reported by the media, with a number of high-profile civil rights leaders and celebrities speaking out against Zimmerman’s actions. The court decision sparked nationwide demonstrations and debates on the role of race in Martin’s death. African Americans in particular had a strongly negative reaction to the not-guilty verdict, with eight in 10 saying the shooting was unjustified, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The day of the verdict, Benjamin Jealous, president and chief executive officer of the NAACP, launched a petition to call for the Justice Department to file civil rights charges against Zimmerman. The overwhelming response crashed the NAACP Web site, and hours later, the Justice Department announced that its civil rights division still had an open investigation into Martin’s death.
In a historic moment, President Obama used the incident to speak on race relations in America in a White House news briefing. Calling on Americans to “do some soul searching,” Obama said that “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” indicating that the national conversation on Zimmerman and Martin was not over.