Zimmerman, cleared in Trayvon Martin death, faces outrage

A protester blocks an Expo Line train at the intersection of Exposition and Crenshaw boulevards, following the George Zimmerman verdict in Los Angeles, California, July 13, 2013.   Credit: Reuters
A protester blocks an Expo Line train at the intersection of Exposition and Crenshaw boulevards, following the George Zimmerman verdict in Los Angeles, California, July 13, 2013.
Credit: Reuters

Cleared by a Florida jury, George Zimmerman walked free from criminal charges in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin but was still under fire from civil rights leaders and critics who were dismayed by the verdict.

The six women jurors who deliberated for 16 hours over two days found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter Saturday night in a case that has polarized the U.S. public.

Debates about racial profiling, guns, self-defense laws and the equality of justice that arose from the 2012 shooting continued the morning after the verdict.

“I remain stunned at the decision,” civil rights leader Jesse Jackson said on CNN on Sunday. “The (U.S.) Department of Justice must intervene to take this to another level.”

Benjamin Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Sunday he had spoken to senior Justice officials about pursuing federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman.

“When you look at comments made by young black men who lived in that neighborhood about how they felt especially targeted by (Zimmerman), there is reason to be concerned that race was a factor in why he targeted young Trayvon,” Jealous told CNN.

The jurors were sequestered during the three weeks of testimony and remained anonymous by court order. They declined to speak to reporters after the verdict.

Defense lawyers had argued that Martin, 17, attacked Zimmerman on the night of February 26, 2012, in a gated community in Sanford, Florida. Prosecutors had to prove that Zimmerman committed a crime in pursuing Martin and that he did not act in self-defense.

The court unshackled Zimmerman from an electronic monitoring device that he had been wearing while on bail. Zimmerman, who had received death threats, now faces a possible civil wrongful death lawsuit from Martin’s family.

The tense drama that had been building for 16 months climaxed with the late-night reading of the verdict when a court clerk said “not guilty.” Zimmerman, 29, showed no emotion at first, but later broke into a smile after sitting down.

NO ARREST SPARKED OUTRAGE

Outrage over the case was triggered by the refusal of the police department in the central Florida town to arrest Zimmerman after the shooting, believing his story that he acted in self-defense when he shot Martin.

Protests began in Sanford and soon spread around the country, creating pressure that forced the Sanford police chief to step down and led Florida’s governor to appoint a special prosecutor, who brought a second-degree murder charge 45 days after the shooting.

Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, spotted Martin from his car inside the gated community where he was a neighborhood watch coordinator and called police, believing Martin to be suspicious. The teenager was staying in the neighborhood, the houseguest of his father’s fiancée.

Minutes later, after Zimmerman got out of his car, the two engaged in a fight that left Zimmerman with a bloody nose and head injuries. The encounter ended when Zimmerman shot Martin once through the heart with a 9mm pistol.

Some critics said special prosecutor Angela Corey overcharged the case by alleging second-degree murder, saying the lesser charge of manslaughter was more appropriate.

The acquittal will weaken any wrongful death civil lawsuit that Martin’s family might bring. Such a case would have a lower burden of proof and Zimmerman, who opted against taking the witness stand in his criminal trial, might be forced to testify.

“We will seek and get immunity in a civil hearing,” said Zimmerman’s lead defense lawyer, Mark O’Mara.

Civil rights leader Al Sharpton called the verdict “a slap in the face to the American people” and urged federal action.

He cited the example of Rodney King, the man whose videotaped beating by Los Angeles police triggered rioting two decades ago after a state criminal trial found the police officers not guilty. Later, the Justice Department prosecuted some of the officers in a federal civil case.

Demonstrators outside the Seminole County Courthouse where the trial was held chanted “No justice, no peace” before and after the verdict, and the activist group Act Now to Stop War and End Racism called demonstrations on Sunday in New York, Boston, San Francisco and other cities.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Call of Duty hoaxer blamed for $100K SWAT…

A heavilly-armed SWAT team and an army of police officers stormed a Long Island home fearing a grisly double homicide – only to find it…

National

Minnie Driver tweets naked celebrity snap to 'shut…

Actress Minnie Driver has responded to bitchy critics who sniped about her bikini body by Tweeting a naked picture of herself. The 44-year-old star of…

National

American middle classes no longer world's richest (guess…

America's middle classes are no longer the richest in the world – having been overtaken in the wealth stakes by their Canadian counterparts. For almost…

Local

Federal prosecutors charge 3 men in multi-million dollar…

Federal prosecutors in New York charged three men in connection with a $33 million fine art scam that spanned more than two decades.

Television

John Turturro tags in for Robert De Niro…

The cast of the courtroom drama miniseries has undergone yet another shift. Following Robert De Niro's exit, the cable network has brought in John Turturro…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 22: 'Glee,' 'Agents…

'Glee' Rachel makes her Broadway debut in "Funny Girl." Remember when she was just a high school drama nerd? FOX, 8PM 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'…

The Word

Lindsay Lohan's big, drunk interview

Lindsay Lohan appears to be completely off the wagon now, if Kode magazine's chronicle of her trip to Coachella is any indication. According to the…

The Word

What we learned from the premiere of 'True…

Does watching someone's marriage implode make for great TV? The show runners at "True Tori" think Tori Spelling's heartbreak is hot stuff indeed.

NBA

Nets settle for 1-1 series tie with Game…

DeMar DeRozan, who was an All-Star this season, hit two huge jumpers back-to-back to give the Raptors an 89-85 lead over the Nets with 2:10 to play.

NHL

Rangers reclaim home ice with Game 3 road…

The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the first period for the second straight game. This time, they held on.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers,…

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees surge. The A's, Braves, Rangers, Giants and Rockies are also in the top 10.

NBA

Jason Kidd reacts to Mike Woodson being fired…

Jason Kidd played for Mike Woodson last year and Joe Johnson spent four seasons being the main focus on offense for Woodson in Atlanta.

Wellbeing

How to burn off all that Easter candy

Sorry to be a buzzkill, but you can't eat chocolate eggs and Jelly Bellys forever.

Food

Powdered alcohol: 5 things to know about 'Palcohol'

What's the deal with powdered alcohol? Here's what you need to know about Palcohol.

Travel

Travel hacks: 6 tips on living out of…

Lynne Martin shares her travel hacks on living out of just two suitcases.

Wellbeing

Tough Mudder pro gives tips on conquering a…

Learn hacks from head designer Nolan Kombol.