In a statement Sunday, the Justice Department announced that the criminal section of the civil rights division, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Middle District of Florida keep on evaluating the evidence generated during the federal investigation, in addition to the evidence and testimony from the state trial.
The statement said that, in the government’s words, “experienced federal prosecutors will determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation.”
The news come next day after a federal court found that George Zimmerman was not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter in a case that has received national response.
During the hearings the alleged killer assured the jury that he had shot Martin to save his own life after being attacked by the teen on Feb. 26, 2012.
After a four-week series of hearing and testimony, more than a dozen witnesses and a host of controversy, Zimmerman walked out of court a free man.
As USA Today writes, “For Zimmerman, it means trying to recapture his life after he was at the center of a national maelstrom over racial profiling, state gun laws and what constitutes self-defense.”
As the jurors voiced their decision, the accused hardly showed any emotions, smiling slightly and shaking hands with one of his lawyers.
The court found that Zimmerman didn’t “intentionally commit an act or acts that caused death” or demonstrate a “depraved mind without regard for human life” – Florida’s definitions of manslaughter and second-degree murder, respectively.
Benjamin Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People – the US’s largest black advocacy organizations – suggested that the case in which Zimmerman followed and later shot the teen met the benchmark for an inquiry by the Department of Justice.
Despite Zimmerman managed to assure the jurors that he acted in self-defence when he killed Martin, he was caught on a recording of a call to police using the words “fucking punks” and “these assholes, they always get away”.
“When you look at his comments and when you look at comments made by young black men who lived in that neighbourhood about how they felt especially targeted by him, there is reason to be concerned that race was a factor in why he targeted young Trayvon,” Jealous said.
The president of NAACP released a statement immediately after the court’s decision, which followed more than 16 hours of deliberations by the six-strong jury.
“We are outraged and heartbroken over today’s verdict. 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,” it said.
Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara said his client will now need to get on with his life, adding: ”I think he’s going to be great. I think he is still worried. Hopefully everyone will respect the jury’s verdict.”