DOJ: George Zimmerman Won’t Face Federal Charges for Killing Trayvon Martin

Report: DOJ Finds No Evidence Zimmerman Intentionally Violated Trayvon Martin's Civil Rights

Report: DOJ Finds No Evidence Zimmerman Intentionally Violated Trayvon Martin’s Civil Rights

ABC News is reporting that the Justice Department found no evidence George Zimmerman intentionally violated Trayvon Martin’s civil rights when he fatally shot him in Sanford, Fla. In other words, he will not face any federal charges. The teen was not armed when he was killed in February, 2012.

Here’s the entire press release from the DOJ on Trayvon Martin case:

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.”

Following the shooting, a team of some of the department’s most experienced civil rights prosecutors and FBI agents conducted a comprehensive, independent investigation of the events of Feb. 26, 2012.  The federal investigation was opened and conducted separately from the state of Florida’s investigation of the shooting under local laws.  Once the state initiated the second-degree murder prosecution, federal investigators began monitoring the state’s case and halted active investigation in order not to interfere with the state’s trial.  Federal investigators provided reports of interviews and other evidence they obtained to the state’s prosecution team.

Shortly after Zimmerman’s acquittal in state court on July 13, 2013, federal investigators resumed active investigation.  Federal investigators reviewed all of the material and evidence generated by the state of Florida in connection with its investigation and prosecution of Zimmerman, including witness statements, crime scene evidence, cell phone data, ballistics reports, reconstruction analysis, medical and autopsy reports, depositions, and the trial record.  Federal investigators also independently conducted 75 witness interviews and obtained and reviewed the contents of relevant electronic devices.  The investigation included an examination of police reports and additional evidence that was generated related to encounters Zimmerman has had with law enforcement in Florida since the state trial acquittal.  In addition, federal authorities retained an independent biomechanical expert who assessed Zimmerman’s descriptions of the struggle and the shooting.

The federal investigation sought to determine whether the evidence of the events that led to Martin’s death were sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman’s actions violated the federal criminal civil rights statutes, specifically Section 3631 of Title 42 of the U.S. Code or Section 249 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, as well as other relevant federal criminal statutes.  Section 3631 criminalizes willfully using force or threat of force to interfere with a person’s federally protected housing rights on account of that person’s race or color.  Section 249 criminalizes willfully causing bodily injury to a person because of that person’s actual or perceived race.  Courts define “willfully” to require proof that a defendant knew his acts were unlawful, and committed those acts in open defiance of the law.  It is one of the highest standards of intent imposed by law.

The federal investigation examined whether Zimmerman violated civil rights statutes at any point during his interaction with Martin, from their initial encounter through the fatal shooting.  This included investigating whether there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman violated Section 3631 by approaching Martin in a threatening manner before the fatal shooting because of Martin’s race and because he was using the residential neighborhood.  Investigators also looked at whether there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman violated Section 3631 or Section 249, by using force against Martin either during their struggle or when shooting Martin, because of Martin’s race.

“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.”

After a thorough and independent investigation into the facts surrounding the shooting, federal investigators determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a violation of these statutes.  Accordingly, the investigation into this incident has been closed.  This decision is limited strictly to the department’s inability to meet the high legal standard required to prosecute the case under the federal civil rights statutes; it does not reflect an assessment of any other aspect of the shooting.

The Justice Department is committed to investigations of allegations of bias-motivated violence and will continue to devote the resources required to ensure that allegations of civil rights violations are fully and completely investigated.  The department aggressively prosecutes criminal civil rights violations whenever there is sufficient evidence to do so.

The family of Trayvon Martin issued a statement:

“We would like to thank the Department of Justice for their extensive and thorough investigation into the killing of our son. 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.

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,” the family statement read. “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.”

New Rochelle Cop Holds Black Teens at Gunpoint Over Snowball Fight

New Rochelle Cop Holds Black Teens at Gunpoint Over Snowball Fight

New Rochelle Cop Holds Black Teens at Gunpoint Over Snowball Fight (Photo Credit: YouTube Video Screengrab)

A video has surfaced of a New Rochelle police officer holding some teenagers at gunpoint over a snowball fight.

The video was posted on local news blog Talk of the Sound. The cop forced the teens to kneel on the ground and put their hands up.

As he approaches the teens he shouts, “Don’t f*cking move guys.” He then frisks one of the teens and pointed his gun at another.

HBO Picks Up “Thug Music” Documentary About Jordan Davis Shooting

HBO Picks Up "Thug Music" Documentary About Jordan Davis Shooting Trial

HBO Picks Up “Thug Music” Documentary About Jordan Davis Shooting Trial

HBO picks up the “Thug Music” documentary, 3 1/2 Minutes about the trial for the murder of black teen Jordan Davis by Michael Dunn, in Jacksonville, Fla., in November 2012.

3 1/2 Minutes, which was directed by Marc Silver, made its premiere at the Sundance Music Festival last week. HBO bought the U.S. television rights to the movie and will air it later this year after its theatrical release.

Shiela Nevins, president of HBO Documentary Films said, “I am grieved that these continuing stories are everyday matters swept away. By bringing this powerful film to HBO audiences we hope to elevate the national conversation around these tragic issues.”

The jury deadlocked on the first-degree murder charge while returning a guilty verdict on three counts of attempted murder during the trial last February. Michael Dunn was retried and found guilty of first-degree murder for Jordan Davis’ murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Last year, Jordan Davis’ family attorney John Phillips released a damning video of a neighbor, Charles Hendrix, slamming Michael Dunn as a bully and someone who was hard to get a long with.

Watch the trailer for “3 1/2 Minutes” via Participant Media:

Jeff Roorda Accused of Pushing Black Woman As Brawl Erupted at City Hall

Jeff Roorda Accused of Pushing Black Woman As Brawl Erupted at City Hall

Jeff Roorda Accused of Pushing Black Woman As Brawl Erupted at City Hall (Photo Credit: KMOV Video Screengrab)

Missouri Republican lawmaker Jeff Roorda is accused of pushing a black woman after a brawl erupted at a meeting to discuss police conduct stemming from the shooting death of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson.

The meeting was held Wednesday night to address a proposed civilian oversight board that would examine the police force’s actions in the future. The audience became upset as officers spoke out against the board, KMOV reports..

City police union business manager Jeff Roorda, who wore a support Darren Wilson wristband, reportedly got involved in a verbal altercation with the meeting chairman Terry Kennedy. Roorda allegedly pushed Cachet Currie as the melee erupted. She reportedly suffered a scratch to her forehead.

People in the crowd could be heard shouting at Roorda:  “You white supremacist motherf*cker. Get out of here, man!”

What I am concerned about is how Jeff Roorda can represent the people of his district, which I assume also includes black residents but side with the police because he is the business manager of the union. Isn’t there a disconnect here?

NY Times’ Charles Blow “Fuming” Son Stopped at Gunpoint by Yale Cop

NY Times Columnist Charles Blow Tweets Son Stopped at Gunpoint by Yale Cops

NY Times Columnist Charles Blow Tweets Son Stopped at Gunpoint by Yale Cops (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

New York Times columnist Charles Blow ranted on Twitter about his son, Tahj, allegedly being stopped at gunpoint by a Yale University cop because he “fit the description” of a suspect they were looking for:

A spokesman for Yale University reportedly confirmed that police stopped a student Saturday but did not disclose the name or address allegations that it was at gunpoint.

According to a university spokesperson, Yale police responded to emergency calls Saturday from undergraduates in Trumbull College. “Several students reported that an individual had just entered their rooms under false pretenses, pretending to be looking for someone.”

The spokesperson states in an email that students at the College had been victims of a burglary that week and “a person matching the physical description of the individual, as well as the story of “looking for someone” has been seen several times in the college.”

On Saturday night, students called police and described the suspect as a tall, African-American, college-aged student wearing a black jacket and a red and white hat, the spokesperson states.

“This was the description that Yale police used as they converged on Trumbull and attempted to track down the suspect. During the efforts to locate and detain the suspect, a Yale College student, who closely matched the description of the suspect, was briefly detained and released by Yale police.”

The real suspect was apprehended and was charged with multiple felonies.

Mistrial Declared in Case of SC Ex-Police Chief Charged with Bernard Bailey’s Murder

Mistrial Declared in Case of SC Ex-Police Chief Charged with Bernard Bailey's Murder

Mistrial Declared in Case of SC Ex-Police Chief Ricard Combs Charged with Bernard Bailey’s Murder

A judge declared a mistrial in the case of former Eutawville, SC, police chief Richard Combs for the murdered of unarmed black man, Bernard Bailey. The jury deadlocked 9-3 in favor of guilty of murder or a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter before the judge declared a mistrial.

Prosecutor David Pascoe told NBC affiliate WIS-TV that he would seek to retry Combs again for Bailey’s murder. Pascoe believes the state has a good chance at a retrial because nine out of 12 jurors believed Richard Combs was guilty.

Richard Combs shot Bernard Bailey, 54, three times during an altercation at the city’s town hall in 2011. He tried to arrest the retired prison guard on an obstruction of justice charge. Bailey attempted to leave by getting into his pickup truck, but Combs followed him, fatally shooting Bailey.

Richard Combs’ defense lawyers say race had nothing to do with the shooting, but that he feared for his life.

Off-Duty Black Cops in NYC Say They Experience Same Racial Profiling as Eric Garner

Off-Duty Black Cops in NYC Say They Experience Same Racial Profiling as Eric Garner

Off-Duty Black Cops in NYC Say They Experience Same Racial Profiling as Eric Garner

A group of black ex-cops said they have also been racially profiled while off-duty by other cops. This comes as police brutality protests rocked the U.S. following the shooting deaths of unarmed black males by white police officers.

Reuters interviewed 25 African American male officers on the NYPD, 15 of whom are retired and 10 of whom are still serving. All but one said that, when off duty and out of uniform, they had been victims of racial profiling, which refers to using race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed a crime.

The officers said this included being pulled over for no reason, having their heads slammed against their cars, getting guns brandished in their faces, being thrown into prison vans and experiencing stop and frisks while shopping. The majority of the officers said they had been pulled over multiple times while driving. Five had had guns pulled on them.

Desmond Blaize, who retired two years ago as a sergeant in the 41st Precinct in the Bronx, said he once got stopped while taking a jog through Brooklyn’s upmarket Prospect Park. ‘I had my ID on me so it didn’t escalate,’ said Blaize, who has sued the department alleging he was racially harassed on the job. ‘But what’s suspicious about a jogger? In jogging clothes?’ Source: Daily Mail

However, a former black LAPD chief begs to differ:

“It makes good headlines to say this is occurring, but I don’t think you can validate it until you look into the circumstances they were stopped in…

“Now if you want to get into the essence of why certain groups are stopped more than others, then you only need to go to the crime reports and see which ethnic groups are listed more as suspects. That’s the crime data the officers are living with.”

President Obama Recounts Personal Experiences with Racial Profiling

President Obama Recounts Personal Experiences with Racial Profiling

President Obama Recounts Personal Experiences with Racial Profiling (Photo Credit: Pete Souza/White House)

President Obama and the First Lady discussed their own experiences with racism with People magazine, in light of the incidents of racial profiling and the police officer-involved deaths of black males. Michelle Obama said, “I think people forget that we’ve lived in the White House for six years. Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs.”

More from Michelle Obama:

I tell this story–I mean, even as the first lady–during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new.

President Obama added, “There’s no black male my age, who’s a professional, who hasn’t come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car and somebody didn’t hand them their car keys.”

He alluded to the recent deaths of Michael Brown and Tamir Rice by two white officers:

The small irritations or indignities that we experience are nothing compared to what a previous generation experienced. It’s one thing for me to be mistaken for a waiter at a gala. It’s another thing for my son to be mistaken for a robber and to be handcuffed, or worse, if he happens to be walking down the street and is dressed the way teenagers dress.

Of course, President Obama’s critics will make it seem as though he is just trying to appease the black community. Never mind the fact that he is biracial.

Sandra McElroy, Key Witness in Darren Wilson Case, Has History of Lying to Police, Racism

Sandra McElroy, Key Witness in Darren Wilson Case, Has History of Lying to Police, Racism

Sandra McElroy, Key Witness in Darren Wilson Case, Has History of Lying to Police, Racism (Photo Credit: KMOV/Twitter)

Sandra McElroy, “Witness 40,” in the Darren Wilson case, may have helped to exonerate him, even though she has a history of lying to police and blatant racism. This is yet another reason why many blacks are convinced prosecutor Bob McCulloch really didn’t want to prosecute Darren Wilson. How else can you explain putting someone in front of a grand jury with such a spotty history, that also includes mental illness?

The Smoking Gun released a report identifying Sandra McElroy as “Witness 40.” It would seem that she completely fabricated her story about Michael Brown’s shooting, but has not even been charged with lying under oath. Looking at her history, McElroy was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 16 and told the grand jury she hadn’t taken her medication in 25 years. She also admitted that a car accident in 2001 left her “struggling with a faulty memory.”  This is the person you put on a witness stand? Really?

In the weeks after Brown’s shooting–but before she contacted police–McElroy used her Facebook account to comment on the case. On August 15, she “liked’ a Facebook comment reporting that [witness Dorian] Johnson had admitted that he and Brown stole cigars before the confrontation with Wilson. On August 17, a Facebook commenter wrote that Johnson and others should be arrested for inciting riots and giving false statements to police in connection with their claims that Brown had his hands up when shot by Wilson. “The report and autopsy are in so YES they were false,” McElroy wrote of the “hands-up” claims. This appears to be an odd comment from someone who claims to have been present during the shooting. In response to the posting of a news report about a rally in support of Wilson, McElroy wrote on August 17, “Prayers, support God Bless Officer Wilson.”

…Commenting on a September 12 Riverfront Times story reporting that Ferguson city officials had yet to meet with Brown’s family, McElroy wrote, “But haven’t you heard the news, There great great great grandpa may or may not have been owned by one of our great great great grandpas 200 yrs ago. (Sarcasm).”

Federal investigators, not McCulloch and his team, were suspicious of McElroy’s account. For example, she claimed she was in Ferguson, which is 30 miles from her home, because she had planned to drop in on a high school classmate who lived in the neighborhood but got lost. She changed her story again on November 3 after she revealed she kept a journal. That never came up before. Her report to police matched Wilson’s testimony which was leaked to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch days before:

McElroy, again under oath, explained to grand jurors that she was something of an amateur urban anthropologist. Every couple of weeks, McElroy testified, she likes to “go into all the African-American neighborhoods.” During these weekend sojourns–apparently conducted when her ex has the kids–McElroy said she will “go in and have coffee and I will strike up a conversation with an African-American and I will try to talk to them because I’m trying to understand more.”

…McElroy’s last two journal entries for August 9 read like an after-the-fact summary of the account she gave to federal investigators on October 22 and the Ferguson grand jury the following afternoon. It is so obvious that the notebook entries were not contemporaneous creations that investigators should have checked to see if the ink had dried.

The opening entry in McElroy’s journal on the day Brown died declared, “Well Im gonna take my random drive to Florisant. Need to understand the Black race better so I stop calling Blacks Niggers and Start calling them People.” A commendable goal, indeed.

Read more at The Smoking Gun

CA Police Chief Chris Magnus Defends Joining Police Brutality Protests

CA Police Chief Chris Magnus Defends Joining Police Brutality Protests

CA Police Chief Chris Magnus Defends Joining Police Brutality Protests (Photo Credit: Video Screengrab)

Chris Magnus, the police chief for the Richmond Police Department in California, is defending his decision to join a protest against police brutality while in uniform. He said, “I would do it again. I would like to be a little more prepared for, perhaps, the fallout.”

Magnus was seen on video holding a sign that read “#BlackLivesMatter.” He said the thought it was harmless to hold up the sign, since “the idea that black lives matter is something that I think we all should be able to agree on.”

The Richmond Police Officers Association released a statement blasting Chris Magnus for engaging in political activity while wearing his uniform. To that, Magnus said, “It certainly wasn’t intended to be a political statement, it was intended to be a human statement.”