The Associated Press (AP) has asked George Zimmerman, whose 2012 shooting of a black US teenager sparked national outrage, to halt the sale of one of his paintings, saying it copies an AP photograph.
Simply titled Angie, the painting in question is a close-up of the special prosecutor who charged him with second-degree murder of Trayvon Martin during a news conference where she announced the charges.
In red and orange tones, it is inscribed with a phrase Zimmerman apparently made up, though attributed to Florida State Attorney Angela Corey: “I have this much respect for the American judicial system. — Angie C.”
Corey’s hand gesture in the image suggests she was referring to a small amount.
Zimmerman “clearly directly copied an AP photo to create his painting of Florida State Attorney Angela Corey,” AP spokesman Paul Colford said in statement cited by the news agency.
The AP demanded that any sale of the painting be blocked — and that the news cooperative be paid damages if there is a sale.
The image was first posted on Twitter late on Wednesday by Zimmerman’s brother Robert, saying it would go on sale on Thursday.
Last month, Zimmerman sold a painting he said was the first he completed by hand for US$100,000 on eBay.
It was a patriotic blue-hued portrayal of the Stars and Stripes flag overlaid with the words “God, One Country, with Liberty and Justice for All” in typewriter font.
The 30-year-old Sanford, Florida, neighborhood watch volunteer fatally shot Martin, 17, in February 2012 as the unarmed African-American high-school student was walking home with iced tea and candy.
Zimmerman insisted he had been following Martin on suspicion that the youth was involved in a robbery, and that he shot him in an act of self-defense.
Police soon released him, prompting a national outcry that led to a jury trial for second-degree murder and manslaughter in June 2012 that ended with his acquittal.
Zimmerman was also accused of pointing a gun at his girlfriend, though she later dropped the charges.
Said by his lawyers to be deep in debt, Zimmerman said on his eBay listing that he created his debut canvas using house paint donated by a friend.