US Attorney General pledges thorough probe of Trayvon Martin shooting
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday promised a “thorough and independent” investigation by the Justice Department into the death of the black youth Trayvon Martin who was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida.
Speaking at length for the first time about the incident, which has been in the national news for weeks, the chief U.S. law enforcement official acknowledged concerns among the black community about Martin’s death.
“If we find evidence of a potential federal criminal civil rights crime, we will take appropriate action,” Holder said in remarks to the National Action Network, which was founded by Rev. Al Sharpton, who has championed the cause of Martin, who was black.
Holder said the FBI was assisting local law enforcement officials who are weighing whether to bring charges against the shooter, George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch member who is a white Hispanic.
Lawyers withdraw after George Zimmerman allegedly goes rogue
The lawyers representing George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin but has not been arrested, on Tuesday said they have withdrawn from the case after losing contact with Zimmerman.
Attorneys Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig said they were concerned that Zimmerman had telephoned the special prosecutor probing the case directly, set up a legal defense fund website and may have spoken with Fox Television commentator Sean Hannity, all without their knowledge.
“We have lost contact with him,” attorney Craig Sonner said at a press conference outside the Seminole County Courthouse.
No grand jury investigation in Trayvon Martin shooting
The special prosecutor in the investigation of the shooting death of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin has ruled out using a grand jury to investigate the case, meaning her office alone will decide whether to charge shooter George Zimmerman.
The case has captured national attention, largely because of race. Martin was black and Zimmerman, who has not been charged, is white and Hispanic. The state attorney who was previously investigating the shooting, Norm Wolfinger, had said the case would go to a grand jury on April 10, but Wolfinger removed himself from the case on March 22 and was replaced by Angela Corey.
“State Attorney Angela Corey has decided not to use a grand jury in the Trayvon Martin shooting death investigation,” her office said in a statement.
NBC News’ decision to air an edited call from George Zimmerman to police in the moments before he shot Trayvon Martin was “a mistake and not a deliberate act to misrepresent the phone call,” according to the president of the network’s news division.
The edit in question, which aired on the network’s flagship “Today” morning show last week, made it appear that Zimmerman told police that Martin was black without being prompted, when, in fact, the full tape reveals that the neighborhood watch captain only did so when responding to a question posed by a dispatcher.
Under growing public pressure to explain the incident, NBC News President Steve Capus provided Reuters with the fullest explanation to date of how the edited call made it on air and what the network is doing to prevent such a consequential error from happening again.
If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.
Reverend Al Sharpton speaks during a public rally to honor the memory of Trayvon Martin, at Fort Mellon Park in Sanford, Florida March 22, 2012. [REUTERS/Octavian Cantilli]
Latest update: Fla. governor creates task force to probe teen’s killing
The shooting death of Trayvon Martin has drawn national attention to Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which says there’s no duty to retreat — anywhere — before using force in self-defense. But Florida is not alone.
In many states, a legal doctrine called the “castle doctrine” allows the use force in self-defense, without retreating, if a person is at home. It’s derived from the old adage that “a person’s home is his castle.” But critics worry about the unintended consequences of “castle” laws, and especially Florida’s “stand your ground” law. [REUTERS graphic]
Read more: ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws, state by state
Florida politicians and civil rights leaders joined calls for the firing of a police chief in the case of a neighborhood watch captain who killed an unarmed black teenager, as new details emerged on Wednesday about police handling of the investigation.
“The reality is that people in this community have lost faith in the police chief’s ability to keep their children safe,” Benjamin Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), told Reuters.
Florida congresswoman Frederica Wilson, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, echoed the call in an appearance on CNN. “Not only would I like to see it happen, but I’m joining with them to make sure it happens,” Wilson said.
Speaking in the U.S. House of Representatives, Florida congresswoman Corrine Brown criticized the police investigation of the shooter, George Zimmerman, who remains free almost a month after gunning down 17-year-old Trayvon Martin outside a gated community in Sanford, near Orlando.
“No drug tests. No alcohol tests. No lie detector tests. It’s just his word that he felt threatened, so therefore he shot to kill. That is unacceptable,” said Brown, who is also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The trial to decide who should pay for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been delayed by a week, to allow BP Plc to try to cut a deal with tens of thousands of businesses and individuals affected by the disaster.
Less than 24 hours before the case was set to start in a New Orleans federal court, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier pushed back the date to March 5 from February 27.
The delay allows further talks between BP and the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC), which represents condominium owners, fishermen, hoteliers, restaurateurs and others who say their livelihoods were damaged by the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and subsequent oil spill.
Eleven people were killed, and 4.9 million barrels of oil spewed from the mile-deep Macondo oil well, in by far the worst offshore U.S. oil spill.