State attorney 'outraged' by federal review request in Trayvon Martin case
Updated On: Apr 03 2012 08:17:38 AM EDT
State Attorney Norm Wolfinger released a statement on Monday saying he is "outraged by the outright lies" contained in a letter written by the attorney of Trayvon Martin's parents, who are seeking a federal review in the case.
Martin family attorney Ben Crump said he is asking the U.S. Justice Department to review the investigation for possible interference by Wolfinger's office on the night Martin was shot to death by Neighborhood Watch leader George Zimmerman.
Crump sent a formal request to the Justice Department on Monday, saying, "within hours of the shooting in which Trayvon Martin was killed, Sanford Chief of Police Bill lee met with State Attorney Norm Wolfinger. We also believe that family members of shooter George Zimmerman were present at the police department. It was further revealed that State Attorney Norm Wolfinger and Chief Bill Lee overruled the recommendation of the lead homicide investigator, Chris Serino, who recommended that George Michale Zimemrman be arrested for manslaughter for killing Trayvon Benjamin Martin."
Wolfinger said he was "outraged by the outright lies contained in the letter..." and he, "encourages the Justice Department to investigate and document that no such meeting or communication occurred."
"I have been encouraging those spreading the irresponsible rhetoric to stop and allow State Attorney Angela Corey to complete her work," Wolfinger said. "Another falsehood distributed to the media does nothing to forward that process."
In the letter, Crump also says that Serino filed an affidavit stating that he did not find Zimmerman's statements credible in light of the circumstances and facts surrounding the shooting.
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"There's enough information to say that George Zimmerman was not acting in self-defense and that he should be arrested and brought to trial," said attorney Natalie Jackson, who also represents the Martin family. "If (Serino) recommended that George Zimmerman be arrested, what happened? Why isn't George Zimmerman arrested? That is what we're asking the Justice Department to investigate."
Jackson said the Martin family just wants answers on why they never knew about the meeting and why Zimmerman wasn't arrested.
"We're not saying that it wasn't an appropriate meeting we're saying investigate it and find out what happened," Jackson said.
Wolfinger stepped aside in the aftermath of Martin's death, and Gov. Rick Scott appointed a special investigator to decide if Zimmerman should be charged, cleared or if the case should be sent to the grand jury. The Justice Department launched an investigation into Martin's death on March 19.
Martin, 17, was fatally shot by Zimmerman, 28, after Zimmerman called police to report him as a "suspicious" person on the evening of Feb. 26.
Zimmerman says he killed Martin in self-defense after the teen punched him and slammed his head on the sidewalk, according to police. Enhanced video of Zimmerman at the police station released Monday appears to show a possible wound on Zimmerman's head.
Police cited Florida's "stand your ground" law, which allows people to use deadly force anywhere they feel a reasonable threat of death or serious injury, for not immediately arresting Zimmerman.
Martin's family and supporters say Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, racially profiled the teen, who was black, and ignored a police dispatcher's directive not to follow him.
The killing sparked nationwide protests, including a march Saturday by civil rights luminaries, carrying "Justice for Trayvon" signs in a marching to the Sanford police headquarters.
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The Sanford Police Department has come under intense scrutiny for its actions following the shooting, and protesters renewed their call for the firing of Lee, who stepped aside temporarily last month amid criticism.
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