Nationwide — The Justice Department says George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot and killed an unarmed teen back in 2012, will not face federal charges.
Zimmerman, who was white, has said he acted in self-defense when he shot Martin, who was black, during a confrontation inside a gated community in Sanford, Florida.
Zimmerman had already been acquitted of second-degree murder by a state jury back in July 2013, but Martin’s family had been hoping a federal investigation would hold him accountable.
The Justice Department, however, said there was not enough evidence to establish that Zimmerman willfully deprived Martin of his civil rights — a difficult legal standard to meet — or killed the teenager on account of his race.
“The death of Trayvon Martin was a devastating tragedy. It shook an entire community, drew the attention of millions across the nation, and sparked a painful but necessary dialogue throughout the country,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.
He added, “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. We, as a nation, must take concrete steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future.”
Benjamin Crump, the Martin family attorney said the decision not to file federal charges against Zimmerman was “a bitter pill to swallow,” although they were not completely surprised. He added that Martin’s parents were “distraught”.
Read the official press release here: