SANFORD, Fla -- George Michael Zimmerman, the man at the center of the racially charged killing of an unarmed black teen, is a former altar boy, insurance salesman and college student.
And another label has also stuck in the publics perception: frustrated cop wannabe.
Over the years, his scores of calls to police showed he pursued shoplifters and errant drivers with zeal, reporting pit bulls, potholes, children playing in the street, open garage doors and suspicious youths usually black males loitering in the street.
He peppered his calls with jargon familiar to police. In one case, he chased a reckless driver while calling 911 the driver later told police he was terrified that Zimmerman was going to attack him. In another case, Zimmerman tailed a supermarket shoplifter until a police officer successfully arrested the thief.
On the night of Feb. 26, he tailed Trayvon Martin through the Retreat at Twin Lakes, the gated community where Zimmerman lived with his wife, describing his every move to a dispatcher who told him he didnt need to follow the young man. A scuffle ensued and Zimmerman shot Trayvon dead. Zimmerman claims self-defense.
Dr. Laurence Miller, a Palm Beach County clinical psychologist who works with local police agencies, said he believes Zimmerman likely was acting out the whole TV cop role in his head when he confronted Trayvon.
A lot of people like the power and control that law enforcement officers have but with that comes a tremendous amount of responsibility, Miller said, pointing out that a police officer is the only profession that can use coercive physical force or lethal force to subdue a suspected criminal.
People act like cowboys and like the power, but not the responsibility.
Travyons killing has sparked large rallies, worldwide press and social media attention.
Sanfords police chief and the Seminole County State Attorney, lambasted for their handling of the case, have both stepped off of the investigation.
Jacksonvilles State Attorney will now spearhead the probe, which will likely go to a grand jury next month.
Zimmerman, 28, and his family have gone into hiding since the shooting amid reports of death threats. The latest, according to the Orlando Sentinel, a $10,000 reward for Zimmermans capture by the fringe group New Black Panther Party.
His newly hired defense attorney, Craig Sonner, insisted Friday that his client is not a racist.
Let the investigators do their job and lets see what the evidence shows. My client can prove it was self-defense, Sonner told CNN, adding that Zimmerman and his wife mentored two black youths.
What is known about Zimmerman comes from public records and interviews with the few who have defended the mans reputation.
His father told The Orlando Sentinel that his son is not a racist, stressing that he grew up in a multi-ethnic family.
Anybody who knows my son knows and routinely tells me that they dont believe one thing of whats reported in the media, Robert Zimmerman, told the newspaper.
Zimmerman, one of four siblings, grew up in Manassas, Va. His father was a former military man who raised the children in a very strict, respectful household, neighbors recalled.
His mother, Gladys Zimmerman, was a courts employee of Peruvian descent. The family worshiped at All Saints Catholic Church, where Zimmerman served as an altar boy, neighbors said.