Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., addressing a civil rights group's annual convention today, promised the Justice Department will conduct a "thorough and independent" review of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida.
"I know that many of you are greatly–and rightly–concerned about the recent shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a young man whose future has been lost to the ages," Holder said in a speech at the National Action Network’s convention in Washington.
Holder declined to speak in any detail about the pending DOJ investigation of Martin’s death. Martin, 17, was fatally shot in Sanford, Fla., in February.
The authorities have not arrested the gunman, George Zimmerman, who alleges he acted in self defense. His attorneys yesterday quit, saying that they lost contact with him in recent days.
State Attorney Angela Corey, the special prosecutor assigned to the investigation, announced earlier this week that will not use a grand jury in the shooting death probe.
Holder said today that DOJ officials, including Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez of the Civil Rights Division and Robert O’Neill, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida, have met with the Martin family, community members and local authorities.
“In all of these discussions, we’re listening carefully to concerns–and emphasizing that the Department will conduct a thorough and independent review of the evidence,” Holder said in prepared remarks.
Holder continued, saying that “if we find evidence of a potential federal criminal civil rights crime, we will take appropriate action. And, at every step, the facts and the law will guide us forward.”