The Justice Department announced Tuesday that no federal charges will be brought against George Zimmerman for the 2012 fatal shooting of unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman, who argues that he shot Martin out of self-defense, was acquitted of second-degree murder by a Florida judge in July 2013. Following this ruling, Martin’s family turned to the federal government for a separate investigation in hopes that Zimmerman will be held responsible for his actions.
The Justice Department’s investigation focused on whether the killing was a federal civil rights violation and motivated by racial animosity, but the federal agency said they did not find enough evidence to bring civil rights charges against Zimmerman.
This decision comes as Attorney General Eric Holder prepares for his departure. Holder, who has worked to make civil rights a focal point of his tenure, said just days after Zimmerman’s acquittal that Martin’s death was “an unnecessary shooting.” In a news release Tuesday, Holder echoed those same remarks.
“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,” Holder said. “We, as a nation, must take concrete steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future.”
Currently, the Justice Department is conducting an investigation on a similar incident that sparked racial tension within the country involving the death of unarmed Ferguson, Missouri teen Michael Brown. While no official word has been released in regards to the federal agency’s decision, it’s being reported that the Justice Department will also clear local police officer Darren Wilson of any charges in Brown’s death.