PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who last year called the shooting death of a Florida teenager an “assassination” by a former neighborhood watch volunteer, said Sunday that he’s “deeply saddened” by the verdict in the case.

In a statement, Nutter said he respects the criminal justice system but strongly disagrees with the not guilty verdict in the trial of 29-year-old George Zimmerman in the February 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, unarmed black teenager.

“A young black man is dead without any real explanation,” he said, adding that Martin “was made to appear threatening during the trial.”

Jurors in Sanford, Fla., acquitted Zimmerman of all charges late Saturday. Zimmerman had maintained that he acted in self-defense.

Nutter, who a month after the slaying called Martin’s death “nothing short of an assassination,” said Zimmerman took an innocent life and he believes the jury “should have exacted a penalty.”

“As a parent, I can’t begin to know what Trayvon’s proud and dignified parents are feeling right now, but I pray for them in this dark hour,” he said. “And I urge everyone to keep them in their thoughts and prayers.

Nutter also called on all Americans to be “calm and reflective” and pointed to the number of black males killed across the country daily in what he called “outrageously alarming numbers.”

“Whether they die at the hands of a vigilante or another African American male, we must all commit ourselves to eliminating the conditions in our community that cause too many people to see young African American males as ‘threats’ instead of seeing the promise within each child,” he said. “If only we adults could find ways to offer a pathway of education and responsibility toward a productive life.”

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