George Zimmerman may yet face federal civil rights charges in the 2012 killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.
The volunteer neighborhood watchman was acquitted in July of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges filed by the state of Florida, but the Justice Department still could charge him with violating the slain 17-year-old’s civil rights once its investigation is completed.
“I’m not sure exactly how much longer that will take, but we will get to a point where we are able to make a determination,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Zimmerman claimed he shot Martin in self-defense after the teen attacked him during a confrontation that started when the volunteer watchman suspected the teen of criminal activity and began following him.
He was not initially charged in the case due to Florida’s “stand your ground” law, but a special prosecutor filed criminal charges after widespread public outcry.
“The case of George Zimmerman and what happens there, I think a substantial part was resolved in the case that was tried,” Holder said Monday.
The attorney general had said in April that the agency would “take appropriate action” if its investigation finds any evidence of a federal civil rights crime against Martin.
But Holder has cautioned that the Justice Department faces a “very high barrier” in pursuing federal criminal charges in such cases.
Zimmerman avoided charges in a recent domestic dispute with his wife shortly after she’d filed for divorce.
His estranged wife also told investigators that Zimmerman had left behind a bullet-riddled target at the home they shared after she asked him to move out.