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Follow Up of the Day: A few hours after press secretary Jay Carney told reporters the White House is “not going to wade into a local law-enforcement matter,” the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and the FBI both announced that they will yield to requests to investigate the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.
“The department will conduct a thorough and independent review of all of the evidence and take appropriate action at the conclusion of the investigation,” said the DOJ in a statement.
Despite moving forward with the investigation, the Justice Department sought in the same statement to temper expectations: “With all federal civil rights crimes, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person acted intentionally and with the specific intent to do something which the law forbids — the highest level of intent in criminal law.”
One of the major impediments to an open-and-shut manslaughter case against Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, is Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which permits residents to “meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm.”
Zimmerman told police that Martin attacked him from behind as he was walking back towards his truck, and it was fear for his life that prompted him to fire his Kel Tec 9mm handgun.
In addition to the DOJ and the FBI, Florida’s state attorney, Norm Wolfinger, announced this morning that a grand jury will be called to investigate the case. “I share in the desire of the family and the community to accurately collect and evaluate all the facts surrounding the tragic death of Trayvon Martin,” said Wolfinger in a press release. The grand jury will convene on April 10th.
Also this morning, ABC News revealed that Martin was on the phone with a female friend moments before he was shot by Zimmerman. The 16-year-old girl spoke with Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump, and recalled their final conversation.
“He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man,” the unidentified girl is quoted as saying. “I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run but he said he was not going to run.”
The last thing she remembers is Martin trying to escape by running, but being cornered by Zimmerman who asked him what he was doing there. “Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell,” she said. “I called him again and he didn’t answer the phone.”
In an effort to drive home the racial motivation behind Zimmerman’s actions, Touré pointed to the self-appointed neighborhood watch captain’s 911 call, where, at 2:21, it sounds as though Zimmerman is whispering “f*ckin’ coons.” After listening to Zimmerman’s exchange with the emergency dispatcher, New York Times columnist Nick Kristof said he found “shades of 1950’s Mississippi” in the tape.
“Remember the Name TRAYVON MARTIN” — The Melissa Harris-Perry Show (MSNBC)
We want an arrest.
By Cornelius Walker
[C]onsider this: acting in self-defense has always been admissible against charges of manslaughter, one that a jury might consider mitigating circumstances in a prosecution. At what point does a claim of self-defense preclude an arrest? When is the last time you heard of an arresting officer letting a black guy go because he claimed to have shot someone in self-defense?
This is heartbreaking beyond words.
The police seem to be going out of their way to try to ‘prove’ self-defense and avoid arresting Zimmerman. What year is this?
George Zimmerman, Neighborhood Watch Captain Who Shot Trayvon Martin, Charged With Violence Before —by Trymaine Lee
[…] Zimmerman, who is white, has not been charged in the death of Martin, who was black. Police in Sanford, where the shooting occurred, told Martin’s family that Zimmerman had a “squeaky-clean” record and that’s why they had not arrested him, according to Tracy Martin, the teen’s father.
Crump said public records show that Zimmerman was arrested in Orange County in 2005 on charges of resisting arrest with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer.
“They just lied to the family,” Crump said. […]
In an interview with HuffPost on Thursday, Tracy Martin said that when he asked police why Zimmerman hadn’t been charged, officers told him “they respected [Zimmerman’s] background, that he studied criminal justice for four years and that he was squeaky clean.”
He continued: “My question to them was, did they run my child’s background check? They said yes. I asked them what they came up with, and they said nothing. So I asked if Zimmerman had a clean record, did that give him the right to shoot and kill an unarmed kid?”
Trayvon Martin’s Family Calls For Arrest Of Man Who Police Say Confessed To Shooting (UPDATE) —by Trymaine Lee
[…] Martin was packing little more than a bag of candy and a canned iced tea on the night he was killed.
“He had a gun, and Trayvon had Skittles,” Benjamin Crump, a family attorney, told The Huffington Post this afternoon. […][…] Meanwhile, a heartbroken father struggles to deal with the weight of his son’s death. He tells the story of his son’s heroics at age 9, when he pulled his father from a burning kitchen, and of his love of sports and horseback riding and his dreams of attending college and becoming an aviation mechanic.
Sign the petition to Florida’s 18th District State Attorney Norman Wolfinger: http://www.change.org/petitions/prosecute-the-murderer-of-17-year-old-trayvon-martinjustice injustice racism race United States florida crime murder social justice police Trayvon Martin