Feds to investigate fatal shooting of Fla. teen
SANFORD, Fla. (AP) -- The growing national attention -- and outcry -- over the case of an unarmed black teen in Florida who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch captain has culminated with the federal government's announcement that it will la...
SANFORD, Fla. (AP) -- The growing national attention -- and outcry -- over the case of an unarmed black teen in Florida who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch captain has culminated with the federal government's announcement that it will launch an investigation.
The announcement late Monday by the Justice Department followed a day of protests calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman, 28, who claims he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last month in self-defense during a confrontation in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. Police have described Zimmerman as white; his family says he is Hispanic and not racist.
Zimmerman spotted Martin as he was patrolling his neighborhood on a rainy evening last month and called 911 to report a suspicious person. Against the advice of the 911 dispatcher, Zimmerman then followed Martin, who was walking home from a convenience store with a bag of Skittles in his pocket.
"The department will conduct a thorough and independent review of all the evidence and take appropriate action at the conclusion of the investigation," the agency said in an emailed statement.
The federal agency said it is sending its community relations service this week to Sanford to meet with authorities, community officials and civil rights leaders "to address tension in the community."
An online petition urging local authorities to prosecute Zimmerman has drawn more than 500,000 signatures at website Change.org
Civil rights activist Al Sharpton is expected to join Sanford city leaders in a Tuesday evening town hall meeting to discuss with residents how the investigation is being handled. Earlier Monday, students held rallies on the campus of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee and outside the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center, where prosecutors are reviewing the case to determine if charges should be filed.
Yet authorities may be hamstrung by a state law that allows people to defend themselves