Zimmerman lawyer: DOJ charges unlikely

A lawyer for George Zimmerman on Monday said it was unlikely Zimmerman would face federal civil rights charges after his acquittal in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin.

A jury in Sanford, Fla., found neighborhood watchman Zimmerman not guilty on charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the killing of Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in a case that gripped the nation’s attention and sparked debate about racial profiling and gun laws.

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“I don’t think the federal investigation will develop into any sort of charges,” said Don West, a lawyer for Zimmerman in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” 

Democrats and civil rights groups are pressing for the Justice Department to bring federal charges against Zimmerman. 

The DOJ on Sunday said it was evaluating the evidence in the case and reviewing the state trial. 

“Experienced federal prosecutors will determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation of any of the limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction, and whether federal prosecution is appropriate in accordance with the Department's policy governing successive federal prosecution following a state trial,” said Dena Iverson, a DOJ spokeswoman.

Iverson said the inquiry was being conducted by the DOJ, FBI and U.S. attorneys in Florida. The department first began looking into the Zimmerman case last year.

West said Monday that he had seen nothing that suggested federal authorities had a case against Zimmerman based on their initial review.

“We have received extensive information along within the discovery in our case of what the FBI has done. Absolutely nothing would suggest that this was a hate crime in any way whatsoever,” he said.

But Attorney General Eric Holder is facing intense pressure from Democratic lawmakers and civil rights leaders to act.

“I think the Justice Department is going to take a look at this. This isn’t over with, and I think that’s good,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” 

NAACP President Ben Jealous said Sunday his group had already spoken with top DOJ officials about possible federal charges and launched a petition to rally support.

President Obama on Sunday called the death of Trayvon Martin a “tragedy” but urged “calm” after Zimmerman’s acquittal. Obama did not comment on the calls for federal prosecution.