SANFORD — George Zimmerman's father, Robert Zimmerman, has told a local TV station that his son had no choice but to kill Trayvon Martin 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.' ''
Robert Zimmerman, a retired Virginia magistrate, told the Orlando Fox affiliate that the family is in hiding.
He said his son was heading to Target the night he spotted Martin. He thought Martin, 17, looked suspicious because there had been a rash of break-ins and Martin was walking in a paved path behind two sets of townhouses.
George Zimmerman, 28, 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, the father said, Martin approached him saying, " 'Do you have an f-ing problem?' " George said no and reached for his cellphone.
Martin "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."
Robert Zimmerman said George tried — with Martin 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."
He said his son had a broken nose and 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.
"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.
Spike Lee apologizes, settles with couple
Elaine and David McClain have reached a settlement with Spike Lee after the pair said they had to leave their Sanford home when Lee helped spread a Twitter posting listing their address as that of George Zimmerman.
Their attorney, Matt Morgan, says Lee called to apologize for retweeting their address. Settlement details weren't disclosed.
Information from the Miami Herald and Associated Press was used in this report.