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Justice system 'didn't work for us,' Trayvon Martin's father says

By Dana Ford and Chelsea J. Carter, CNN
July 19, 2013 -- Updated 0340 GMT (1140 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Verdict came as a "complete shock," Martin's mother says
  • She talks about a possible disconnect between jurors and her son
  • "Does the system work? It didn't work for us," says Martin's father
  • The parents did not say whether they may file a civil lawsuit

(CNN) -- Trayvon Martin's father, Tracy, said Thursday it was difficult to listen to testimony about his son, particularly the negative comments, during George Zimmerman's trial.

"That wasn't the Trayvon that we raised. That wasn't the Trayvon that we knew, and that we love," he said during a Thursday night interview on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."

Still, Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, said that she felt the need to sit through every day of Zimmerman's trial because her son was "not here to say anything for himself."

She said that she wanted to "show a face" for her son.

Martin's parents spoke out Thursday for the first time since Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

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"It came as a complete shock for me," Fulton said about the verdict.

"And the reason I say that is because I just look at people as people, and I thought for sure that the jury looked at Trayvon as an average teenager that was minding his own business, that wasn't committing any crime."

Martin's parents opted not to be in the courtroom when the verdict was read. They thought they would not be able to control their emotions -- whichever way the jury decided.

When they heard, they broke down.

"When I heard the verdict, I kind of understand the disconnect," Fulton said. "Maybe they (jurors) didn't see Trayvon as their son. They didn't see Trayvon as a teenager. They didn't see Trayvon as just a human being that was minding his own business."

'Does the system work? It didn't work for us'

Tracy Martin said he wasn't concerned about the racial makeup of the jury before the start of the trial, which has become a forum for debate about gun laws and race in America. But, like Fulton, he believes jurors never saw the event from the perspective of his son.

The jury had six women -- five white and one an unspecified minority.

Tracy Martin said he believes Juror B37 had her mind made up before the trial began. The juror gave an exclusive interview to CNN's Anderson Cooper this week and said the jury felt like it knew Zimmerman but didn't know enough about Martin.

Trayvon's dad: My heart is broken, my faith is not

Martin's mother said that despite that comment, jurors had sufficient information.

"They knew he was a teenager. They knew he was on his way home. They knew he ran," she said. "... How much do you need to know?"

Referring to Juror B37's statement that she did not believe race was a factor in the shooting, Fulton said, "I think that's a joke."

Tracy Martin said that his children had grown up in a diverse community, so he had never felt feel a need to have a conversation about how his sons should deal with race.

Rather, he said he talked with his children about "how we prepare them to become teenagers, to become upstanding citizens, to conduct themselves in public."

Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, is joined by her son Jahvaris Fulton as she speaks to the crowd during a rally in New York City, Saturday, July 20. A jury in Florida acquitted Zimmerman of all charges related to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. View photos of key moments from the trial. Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, is joined by her son Jahvaris Fulton as she speaks to the crowd during a rally in New York City, Saturday, July 20. A jury in Florida acquitted Zimmerman of all charges related to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. View photos of key moments from the trial.
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Photos: Reaction to Zimmerman verdict Photos: Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
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But once his unarmed son was shot, he said that changed. "What is it I can tell my child now?" he asked.

In spite of his son's death, Tracy Martin said he has faith in the legal system.

"The state did all they could with what they had" given the poor quality of the investigation, he said.

"Does the system work? It didn't work for us. We remain prayerful that through this injustice, we can close that gap and hopefully the system can start working for everyone equally."

'Hopefully, we can find some positive'

Martin's mother said that she hoped that a foundation started in her son's name would allow for something good to come out of his death.

"The change that we hope to affect is with the law," Fulton said. "We want to make sure any teenager who is walking down the street wont' be killed, that they will make it home safe."

"Hopefully, we can find some positive, some bright side out of all of this," she said.

The parents did not say whether they may file a civil lawsuit.

Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Martin's family who also appeared on "Anderson Cooper 360," said they are hoping for a federal civil rights investigation into the teenager's death.

He said they were pleased by the charges brought against Zimmerman because they felt it got to the heart of the allegations.

But he said he did not believe the police were aggressive with the shooting investigation, appearing to take Zimmerman's word for it.

"Not only did (Zimmerman) profile Trayvon Martin, the police profiled Trayvon Martin," Crump said.

'Forgiveness takes time'

Earlier Thursday, in interviews on the three network TV morning news programs, Martin's parents assailed the verdict and the Zimmerman defense team's argument that the killing was in self-defense during an attack by the unarmed teenager.

Fulton told "CBS This Morning" she was "in a bit of shock" after the verdict. "I thought surely that he would be found guilty of second-degree murder," she said.

On NBC's "Today," Fulton said the case is "sending a terrible message to other little black and brown boys -- that you can't walk fast, you can't walk slow. So what do they do? I mean, how do you get home without people knowing or either assuming that you're doing something wrong? Trayvon wasn't doing anything wrong."

Speaking to ABC's "Good Morning America," Martin added that he and Fulton did not find the verdict fair, "and of course it's devastating."

"Today" asked them whether they may forgive Zimmerman, the 29-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer.

"Forgiveness is like a healing process. Forgiveness takes time," Martin responded. "The Bible says that you have to forgive and forget, but also the healing process is a long process and the forgiving process is a long process."

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CNN's Josh Levs, Joe Sterling and Jason Hanna contributed to this report.

Watch Anderson Cooper 360° weeknights 8pm ET. For the latest from AC360° click here.

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