Feds won't prosecute George Zimmerman in shooting of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin
The fatal shooting three years ago of an unarmed Florida teenager in a gated community by volunteer neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman “was a devastating tragedy,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a Tuesday press release.
However, an exhaustive investigation has failed to turn up evidence sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman violated applicable criminal federal civil rights statutes. They prohibit willfully causing bodily injury due to the victim’s actual or perceived race and willfully using or threatening to use force to interfere with a person’s housing rights due to the individual’s race or color. Hence, a federal criminal case will not be pursued against Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.
The willful standard requires proof that the defendant knew his conduct was unlawful and acted in open defiance of the law, the DOJ notes.
“Though a comprehensive investigation found that the high standard for a federal hate crime prosecution cannot be met under the circumstances here, this young man’s premature death necessitates that we continue the dialogue and be unafraid of confronting the issues and tensions his passing brought to the surface,” Holder said.” We, as a nation, must take concrete steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future.”
Attorney Benjamin Crump represents Martin’s parents. He told the New York Times (reg. req.) they are devastated by the news that Zimmerman will not be prosecuted by the feds. Zimmerman, who insisted he acted in self-defense, was acquitted of second-degree murder in a 2013 trial in Florida.
Suspicious of Martin, 17, an unfamiliar black teenager wearing a hoodie and walking in Zimmerman’s gated Sanford community, Zimmerman provoked a confrontation on Feb. 26, 2012, prosecutors said. A police dispatcher told him not to, but Zimmerman got out of his vehicle and confronted Martin. Angry and feeling threatened, the teen pushed Zimmerman to the ground, punched him and slammed his head on the pavement, prosecutors said. At that point, as he was flat on his back, Zimmerman drew a gun and shot Martin, according to the government.
The teen had been in the neighborhood with his father, visiting his father’s fiancee, who was a resident there. He had gone to a convenience store to buy snacks and was en route back to her home when he was shot, according to USA Today.
Attorney Don West currently represents Zimmerman. “Certainly, there is great relief that the case is closed,” he told the newspaper. “This was a tragedy for the Martin family and a tragedy for George.”
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