The FBI has ordered the Sanford, Florida Police Department not to return George Zimmerman's gun to him while a federal civil case against him is still pending. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the request is a clear indication that the U.S. Department of Justice is moving forward with its investigation as to whether Zimmerman violated the civil rights of teenager Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012, the night of Martin's death.
The gun and all other pieces of evidence in the criminal trial against Zimmerman were on the verge of being surrendered by the police when the order came down from the Justice Department. Sanford Police Department spokesperson Captain Jim McAuliffe told the Sentinel, "The evidence is just in a hold status, pending their DOJ investigation."
After a six-member jury acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder and manslaughter last weekend, the Seminole County Clerk released all 250 pieces of evidence to the police department, where it is currently being held in a secure location, McAuliffe said.
Among the items being held as evidence are Trayvon Martin's clothes and personal effects, including his cell phone and the bag of Skittles candy he was carrying back to his father's apartment from the store. Martin was returning to his father's when Zimmerman accosted him and the altercation began which ended with Zimmerman shooting the unarmed teen in the chest and killing him.
Attorney General Eric Holder told a gathering of the NAACP in Orlando on Wednesday that the Department plans to investigate all aspects of Martin's killing to determine whether Zimmerman violated the teenager's rights.
"This afternoon I want to assure you of two things: I am concerned about this case," said Holder, "and as we confirmed last spring, the Justice Department has an open investigation into it."
"Now, while that inquiry is ongoing," he continued, "I can promise that the Department of Justice will consider all available information before determining what action to take. But independent of the legal determination that will be made, I believe this tragedy provides yet another opportunity for our nation to speak honestly -- honestly -- and openly about the complicated and emotionally charged issues that this case has raised."
Florida's Gov. Rick Scott met with protesters on Thursday night who oppose the state's "Stand Your Ground" law. The protesters asked the governor to call a special legislative session to repeal the law, saying that it creates an environment of dangerous vigilantism in the state and places African-American young people at undue risk.
Scott told the protesters that he wholeheartedly supports "Stand Your Ground" and that he will not call a special session. He said that on Sunday he will call for a day of prayer for unity in the state.