George Zimmerman is like a cat using up his nine lives, except that his are with the legal system.
The Department of Justice announced on Tuesday that it will not file federal civil-rights charges against Zimmerman for shooting and killing unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012.
“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 DOJ said in a statement.
Thursday marks three years to the day since the self-proclaimed neighborhood-watch captain killed the 17-year-old in a Sanford, Fla., gated community.
Zimmerman deemed Martin, who as wearing a hoodie on his way back from a convenience store, suspicious. After calling authorities, Zimmerman ignored a police dispatcher’s orders to remain in his truck and not to follow Martin.
Instead, the two ended up in a confrontation that ended with Zimmerman shooting and killing Martin.
Zimmerman was found not guilty of murder in a 2013 criminal trial. One juror publicly said that race did not play a role in the verdict, though other jurors put out a statement seeking to distance themselves from those comments.
More than a million people signed a petition calling on the DOJ to file charges against Zimmerman.
Martin has been viewed by many as today’s Emmett Till, including by Oprah. His death brought a powerful speech from President Obama, who said that “Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago.” Much as raised hands have become a manner of protest since the death of Michael Brown, athletes and celebrities used hoodies to protest Martin’s killing.
But there have also been those who celebrated Zimmerman’s acquittal and who used poor, offensive judgment in respect to Martin’s death. An Alabama teacher was suspended for having her class reenact the Brown and Martin shootings. College students dressed as Martin and Zimmerman on Halloween.
Since his acquittal, Zimmerman has found himself in legally questionable circumstances again, and again, and again, and again.
In rare public comments about the shooting, Zimmerman stumbled through questions about his remorse for the shooting and said he still carries a gun.