George Zimmerman will avoid civil rights charges for gunning down Trayvon Martin three years ago. The U.S. State Department announced Tuesday (Feb. 23), that insufficient evidence led to the decision, meaning that the investigation could not prove Zimmerman committed a “hate crime” by killing the unarmed Black teen.
“This young man’s premature death necessitates that we continue the dialog and be unafraid of confronting the issues and tensions his passing brought to the surface,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.
Although they thanked to DOJ for an “extensive investigation” (which included reviewing case evidence from the state of Florida and interviewing more than 50 witnesses) Martin’s family is “disappointed” in the conclusion.
“We remain poised to do everything in our power to help eradicate senseless violence in our communities, because we don’t want any other parent to experience the un-explainable loss we have endured,” the family said in a statement. “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.”
Zimmerman shot Martin to death in February of 12, 2012, following what he says was both a verbal and physical confrontation. The teen was on his way back from the store at the time, when Zimmerman called 911 to report someone “suspicious” in the Florida neighborhood.
He was tried and acquitted of second-degree murder in 2013, and has had several run-ins with the law since then.
The State Department made it clear that the lack of 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.”
Photo: AP/Orlando Sentinel, Joe Burbank, Pool