Sunday 20 April 2014

Police told: Hold shooting evidence

The acquittal of neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman has sparked protests (AP)

The US Department of Justice has told police in Florida to hold all evidence related to the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by former neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.

Sanford police captain James McAuliffe confirmed the hold, which includes the gun Mr Zimmerman used to shoot Trayvon, 17, which he would otherwise be legally entitled to reclaim.

Mr Zimmerman was acquitted at the weekend of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges over Trayvon's death last year. The verdict has sparked civil rights protests across the US.

Jurors found that Mr Zimmerman was acting in self-defence when he shot the unarmed black teenager in Sanford. Mr Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.

US attorney general Eric Holder said during an NAACP convention in Orlando this week that the Justice Department had an open investigation into the case. The department is looking into whether Mr Zimmerman violated Trayvon's civil rights.

Florida governor Rick Scott later told protesters that he would not ask politicians to revamp the state's self-defence laws.

Mr Scott returned to the state capitol in Tallahassee and spent nearly an hour with seven members of the group that has been staging a protest in his office for three straight days.

During the meeting, those present talked about the verdict in the Zimmerman murder trial as well as racial profiling they said they had witnessed.

They asked the Republican governor to show "leadership" by calling a special session.

Mr Scott said he planned to call for a day of unity on Sunday and would be willing to listen to their ideas on how to deal with racial profiling. But he said he had no plans to call a special session.

Press Association

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