The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday that no federal civil rights charges will be filed against George Zimmerman, in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, citing lack of evidence.
According to CNN, prosecutors and FBI agents met with Martin’s family to inform them of the decision. Charging someone with a hate crime requires a much higher standard of evidence than a regular criminal charge, because it requires that prosecutors prove that the person who committed the crime did so with “an added element of bias,” as defined by the FBI. It literally requires a prosecutor to prove what was going through someone’s mind when he or she committed a crime.
Attorney General Eric Holder said, in a statement,
Though a comprehensive investigation found that the high standard for a federal hate crime prosecution cannot be met under the circumstances here, this young man’s premature death necessitates that we continue the dialogue and be unafraid of confronting the issues and tensions his passing brought to the surface. We, as a nation, must take concrete steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future.
Will Zimmerman defenders proclaim vindication for their support?
George Zimmerman was acquitted of the charges against him in the murder of Trayvon Martin in July, 2013. He already had prior confrontations with the law at that point, and his run-ins with law enforcement have continued. Just over a month ago, Zimmerman was charged with aggravated assault with a weapon, after he allegedly threw a wine bottle in the direction of his girlfriend.
Prior to that, in November 2013, he was arrested for aggravated assault, domestic battery, and criminal mischief after an encounter with another girlfriend. That girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, later declined to press charges. In September 2012, his wife, who had recently filed divorce papers, accused him of smashing an iPad, and threatening her with a gun. She later recanted part of her story, and would not press charges.
Zimmerman has been involved in traffic incidents as well. Vox reports that he has been stopped by police three times since his acquittal. In one instance he told police that he had a gun in his glove compartment. Another motorist said that Zimmerman threatened to kill him, in a 2014 road rage incident. That motorist refused to press charges.
George Zimmerman was the glory boy of the Fox News crowd during the lead up to his criminal trial. But in recent months, as evidence mounts that Zimmerman is nothing more than a hot head who likes picking on or exerting control over those he thinks are weaker than him, especially when he has a weapon. Many former allies have been curiously silent. Will those former allies come rushing back into the Zimmerman fold now that the federal government has declined to pursue civil rights charges against him? It will be interesting to see whether we hear from them. Given his continuing encounters with law enforcement, it is likely that we will continue to hear more from George Zimmerman. Let’s just hope that when we do, it’s not because he has killed again.
Here’s a report, from USA Today:
Image via ThyBlackMan.com