FLORIDA –– The pistol used to kill unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin appears to have been removed from an online auction.
George Zimmerman, who shot and killed the 17-year-old, had planned to auction it on the website Gun Broker.
The bidding was due to begin on Thursday, with the first bid starting at US$5,000.
Mr Zimmerman, 32, a neighbourhood watchman, was cleared over the death of the teenager in February 2012 after saying he acted in self-defence.
In an online posting to announce the auction, Zimmerman said that he would use the profits to “fight” the Black Lives Matter movement and oppose Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
A lawyer for the Martin family told the Washington Post that “it is insulting to this family that he would decide that he would sell the gun that he killed their child with”.
“Think about what that means: This is a gun that took a child’s life and now he wants to make money off of it.”
On the auction site, Zimmerman refers to the gun as an “American icon”, and says it was recently returned to him by the US Department of Justice.
He claimed that the Smithsonian museums had expressed interest in buying the 9 mm handgun, but Smithsonian officials denied that in a statement.
Speaking to a Florida radio station, Zimmerman had defended the auction saying “I’m a free American, and I can do what I’d like with my possessions”.
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries said on Thursday that “Trayvon Martin’s cold-blooded killer should be in prison. Instead, he is trying to profit from the stunning miscarriage of justice”.
Florida police did not arrest Zimmerman for six weeks after the shooting in Sanford, Florida, provoking mass rallies in Florida and throughout the United States.
Police justified their decision not to detain him by citing the state’s controversial “stand your ground” law, which allows a citizen to use lethal force if he or she feels in imminent danger. Police initially said the law prevented them from bringing charges.
Zimmerman’s defence said Trayvon Martin had punched their client, slammed his head into the pavement and reached for Zimmerman’s gun. Prosecutors accused Zimmerman of telling a number of lies.
The case led to protests in several cities in the United States and to the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Zimmerman’s name has been in news headlines several times since his closely watched trial.
Twice, assault charges against his girlfriend were dropped.