The Department of Justice will reportedly announce that it will not bring federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman over Zimmerman’s self-defense killing of Trayvon Martin, reports ABC News.

This decision comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with the actual facts of the case. Zimmerman’s claim of lawful self-defense was overwhelmingly supported by evidence presented at trial, and there was no additional evidence suggesting Zimmerman had set out to deliberately violate Martin’s civil rights.

Indeed, the only shocking aspect of this is that it took the Department of Justice 19 months after Zimmerman’s acquittal to make the announcement. Given the Obama Administration’s incessant spinning of the news cycle so as to avoid getting pinned down to any single particular scandal, it seems likely that the announcement will be timed to coincide with the three year anniversary (February 26, two days from today) of Martin’s death.

Soon after the 2012 shooting, the Department of Justice ordered a team of FBI agents to interview witnesses, neighbors, co-workers, and friends of Zimmerman in a search for any evidence of racism.  They didn’t just come up empty; what evidence they did find confirmed that Zimmerman was decidedly not racist.

At trial, Zimmerman’s black neighbor offered glowing testimony about how he had helped her on a regular basis.  Another black witness, a military officer and one of Zimmerman’s college instructors, gave Zimmerman a nod of respectful acknowledgement as he took the witness stand, and had nothing but positive things to say about him.  As a child, Zimmerman did his homework under the watchful eye of his mother alongside black children from the neighborhood.  Months prior to the shooting, Zimmerman had organized and led a protest against the local Sanford Police department, claiming that it had failed to zealously investigate an incident in which a police officer’s son had beaten a black man.

19 months later, and not so much as a single piece of evidence suggesting that Zimmerman has a racist bone in his body.

We covered the Zimmerman case at length here at Legal Insurrection, as well as at my own blog, the Law of Self Defense.  A complete list of all these aggregated posts, including day-to-day coverage of the pre-trial hearings and trial itself, as well as a series of “myth buster” posts debunking the many lies spread about the case by race activists and a cooperative media, can be found here.

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

UPDATE by WAJ: It’s official now, with a statement posted on the DOJ website:

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 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.


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Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog (autographed copies available) and Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle). He also holds Law of Self Defense Seminars around the country, and provides free online self-defense law video lectures at the Law of Self Defense Institute and podcasts through iTunes, Stitcher, and elsewhere.