SANFORD, Fla. -- Trayvon Martin threatened to kill George Zimmerman the moments before the neighborhood watch captain took out a handgun and shot him, Zimmerman's father told a local television station.
Speaking out for the first time, Robert Zimmerman gave an interview to the Orlando Fox affiliate, telling the station that his son had no choice but to kill Trayvon or risk being beaten to death.
"Things were not going to go well. One of them was not going to walk away," he said. "I hope at one point everyone will go beyond the hate. At some point when all this settles, they'll say, 'George Zimmerman is a pretty nice guy.' "
George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Feb. 26 in a case that has triggered protests nationwide. The college criminal justice student was not charged, leading attorneys to believe that police and prosecutors conspired to protect him.
Robert Zimmerman, a retired Virginia magistrate, said the family is in hiding and can't go to the doctor or do anything that requires using their own names.
He said his son had just made dinner for his wife and was heading to Target the night of the NBA All Star game when he spotted Trayvon, who he didn't recognize as a resident. He thought Trayvon looked suspicious, because there had been a rash of break-ins, and instead of walking on a main sidewalk, Trayvon was walking in a paved path that goes behind two sets of townhouses.
George Zimmerman called police, and started "walking in the same general direction to see where the individual was going," and get an address for police.
At one point, he said, Trayvon approached him saying, 'Do you have an f-ing problem?' George replied no and reached for his cellphone.
Trayvon "punched him in the nose, his nose was broken, and he was knocked to the concrete." Robert Zimmerman said. "It's my understanding Trayvon Martin got on top of him and just started beating him in the face, in his nose, hitting his head on the concrete."
"After nearly a minute of being beaten," Robert Zimmerman said George tried -- with Trayvon still on top of him -- to move away from the concrete onto the grass. In doing so, the gun he kept in a holster on his waist was exposed.
"Trayvon Martin said something to the effect of 'you're going to die now' or you're gonna die tonight' -- something to that effect," he said. "He continued to beat George. At some point, George pulled his pistol and did what he did."
In other points, he said:
--He insisted that it's George heard screaming in the 911 video.
--He believes that the girl who claims she was on the phone with Trayvon in the minutes that led up to the encounter is not telling the truth.
--George had a broken nose and two cuts on his scalp.
--He had not seen the police department surveillance video showing Zimmerman some time after the incident, in which he does not appear to have any injuries. Maybe he was cleaned up by then, he said.
"He's not dealing with it well. I don't know if the injuries are physical or mental. He's not in good shape," Robert Zimmerman said.
Asked if he had a message for Trayvon's family, he said: "I'm sorry for all of the hate -- from the attorneys, from everyone involved. They're making up things that are not true about George. How he's being portrayed is an absolute lie."
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