George Zimmerman (Getty Images)
UPDATED Tuesday, February 24, 2015, 3:05 p.m. EST – The Department of Justice’s decision not to charge George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin marks the end of the road for any legal recourse his family will seek in the case, a family lawyer told NewsOne.
When asked if they will seek any further remedy from the justice system, Benjamin Crump replied, “They are not even looking at that,” and said Trayvon Martin’s parents Sabrina Fulton and Tracy Martin will now shift focus. “They were very brokenhearted, but they are committed to pushing forward with the legacy of Trayvon Martin with the work of the foundation,” Crump said in a telephone interview. “They are trying to prevent any more senseless acts of violence that they can from happening to our children. They’re going around the country mentoring and speaking and being prayer partners for other families of people lost to senseless violence.”
The family also released a statement, which reads:
We would like to thank the Department of Justice for their extensive and thorough investigation into the killing of our son.
We would also like to thank the millions of people around the world who have supported us through prayer and vigilance.
Although we are disappointed in these findings, it has steeled our resolve to continue traveling the country with the message of the Trayvon Martin Foundation (www.trayvonmartinfoundation.org), which is dedicated to protecting our youth and empowering those who demand justice and peace.
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 unexplainable loss we have endured.
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.
The Department of Justice also released a statement, which reads, in part:
The Justice Department announced today that the independent federal investigation found insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman for the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida. Prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, officials from the FBI, and the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service met today with Martin’s family and their representatives to inform them of the findings of the investigation and the decision.
“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,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Though a comprehensive investigation found that the high standard for a federal hate crime prosecution cannot be met under the circumstances here, 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.”….
“Although the department has determined that this matter cannot be prosecuted federally, it is important to remember that this incident resulted in the tragic loss of a teenager’s life,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division. “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 will soon be notified of the Justice Department’s findings, ABC reports.
Federal prosecutors concluded there is not sufficient evidence to prove Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman in Sanford, Fla., intentionally violated Martin’s civil rights, sources told ABC News.
Zimmerman, who shot the 17-year-old Florida teen in 2012 as he was walking home, was acquitted of murder and manslaughter in July 2013 after prosecutors failed to produce enough evidence to prove their case.
One juror -– the only minority on the all-female jury –- later told ABC News that “as the law was read to me, if you have no proof that he killed him intentionally, you can’t say he’s guilty.”
“You can’t put the man in jail even though in our hearts we felt he was guilty,” she said. “But we had to grab our hearts and put it aside and look at the evidence.”
The case sparked a national conversation about race — Martin’s family believed the teen was racially profiled when he was approached by Zimmerman, but Zimmerman’s defense argued that race did not play a role in his decision to confront the teenager or use deadly force.
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and FBI opened an investigation into the case, noting “experienced federal prosecutors” would determine “whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation” of federal law. In a statement, the department noted there are “limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction.”
Privately and publicly, Justice Department officials have been telegraphing all along that they were unlikely to file charges against Zimmerman. And in November 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder said the case against Zimmerman “in substantial part was resolved” with his acquittal months earlier.
Nevertheless, federal officials have insisted their civil-rights probe would be thorough and complete. Several months ago –- nearly two years into the Justice Department’s investigation –- Holder said federal investigators were still seeking to interview certain witnesses “as a result of some recent developments.”
Holder had said then when a decision is announced in the Zimmerman case, it will be accompanied by “as much information” as possible detailing the Justice Department’s findings.
Holder has previously said he hopes to announce the findings of the Zimmerman case, as well as findings from a probe into the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, before he leaves office.
Officials are still conducting an investigation into the latter. We’ll keep you updated with the latest.