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Civil rights charge eyed in Trayvon case

April 11, 2012 at 12:46 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. Justice Department will look at potential civil rights violations in the slaying of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, Attorney General Eric Holder said.

No state charges have been filed against neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman; however, Holder told a civil rights group in Washington Wednesday the feds would be reviewing the case as well.

"If we find evidence of a potential federal criminal civil rights crime, we will take appropriate action, and at every step, the facts and law will guide us forward," Holder told the National Action Network.

Murder is not a federal offense; however, the Justice Department can step in if it appears a slaying in some way violated the civil rights of the victim.

An assistant attorney general from the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has been to Sanford, where the 17-year-old black teenager was shot to death after being confronted by Zimmerman on a neighborhood street, Politico said. Zimmerman told police he fired in self-defense and was released from custody under a Florida law that allows citizens to shoot if they are threatened.

Civil rights activists nationwide have demanded that Zimmerman, who is white, be charged with murder in the case.

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