On Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced it would not file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Martin’s family described the decision as a “disappointment.” The federal government will now close the investigation for good.
According to USA Today, the federal investigation did not find sufficient evidence in the Trayvon Martin case to meet the high standards for a civil rights violation. The announcement will close the federal investigation, but Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement that it should not end the dialogue and scrutiny over race relations in America.
“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.”
The Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida launched a series of protests that have largely failed to produce a tangible response from lawmakers. Eric Holder’s reaffirmed there’s still work to do to prevent future tragedies.
“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.”
The Department of Justice (DoJ) may have failed to get the necessary evidence, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
The George Zimmerman investigation began almost immediately after the shooting on February 26, 2012, but was postponed while Zimmerman faced trial for second-degree murder in Florida’s state court. After Zimmerman’s acquittal on July 13, 2013, the federal investigation resumed.
DoJ conducted 75 interviews with witnesses, reviewed police encounters with Zimmerman, and even retained the services of an independent biomechanical expert. They attempted to determine if Zimmerman approached Trayvon Martin in a threatening way or if his surveillance was racially motivated.
Evidence from the independent investigation, combined with evidence from the murder trial, was still deemed insufficient.
Holder’s statement ended, “our decision not to pursue federal charges does not condone the shooting that resulted in the death of Trayvon Martin and is based solely on the high legal standard applicable to these cases.”
Martin’s family was “disappointed” by the result, according to the Washington Post. In their own statement to the media, they said they would carry on with Trayvon’s memory still in their heart.
“We will never, ever forget what happened to our son, Trayvon, and will honor his memory by working tirelessly to make the world a better place.”
[Image Credit: Getty Images]