NAACP pursues federal case against Zimmerman
UPDATED 6:19 p.m.: The acquittal of George Zimmerman in the slaying of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin may not be the final word on the case, as the NAACP pushes for federal charges.
The civil rights group is calling for the Department of Justice to prosecute Zimmerman after a jury in Florida found him not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter Saturday.
“We will pursue civil rights charges with the Department of Justice, we will continue to fight for the removal of Stand Your Ground laws in every state, and we will not rest until racial profiling in all its forms is outlawed,” NAACP president Ben Jealous said in a statement, adding that the organization was “outraged and heartbroken” by the verdict.
The NAACP launched a petition drive to pressure the DOJ to “address the violation of Trayvon's most fundamental civil right — the right to life.”
The DOJ, which has an open investigation into Martin's death, said in a statement that the office will review evidence from the federal investigation and state trial to determine “whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation of any of the limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction.”
Zimmerman stood trial for shooting 17-year-old Martin during a Feb. 26, 2012 confrontation in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, approached Martin after reporting to police a “suspicious person” and got into a physical altercation that ended with Zimmerman shooting the teen. Zimmerman, who was charged by a special prosecutor more than a month after Martin's death, maintained he acted in self-defense.
Troy Smith, a criminal defense attorney in New York, said there was conflicting testimony over the identity of the voices in a 911 call during the incident and who was physically overpowering the whom during their fight. Further, Smith said that Zimmerman's version of events aligned with medical evidence.
“Nobody's saying that George Zimmerman is innocent,” Smith said. “It's just that when you're a defense attorney, all you're trying to do is create reasonable doubt. That's a powerful tool.”