DOJ puts hold on Zimmerman’s gun as it pursues civil rights investigation

Updated
Sanford police officer Timothy Smith holds up the gun that was used to  kill Trayvon Martin, while testifying during George Zimmerman's murder trial in...
Sanford police officer Timothy Smith holds up the gun that was used to kill Trayvon Martin, while testifying during George Zimmerman's murder trial in...
Joe Burbank/Reuters

George Zimmerman won’t be getting his gun back anytime soon thanks to the Department of Justice’s decision to place a hold on all of the evidence related to the shooting of Trayvon Martin, according to the Associated Press.

Although Florida Judge Debra Nelson had released the gun along with all other evidence after the not-guilty verdict was read Saturday evening, clearing Zimmerman to retrieve the gun if he wanted to, Zimmerman’s defense team spokesman Shawn Vincent told NBC’s Kerry Sanders earlier this week that, “it is unlikely George will take it back.”

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed after the verdict that the Justice Department has an open investigation into the Zimmerman case, but it is unclear what will come of that investigation.

Civil rights attorney John Burris, who helped Rodney King win his 1994 civil suit against the Los Angeles Police Department, says the move shows the Justice Department is taking its investigation into possible civil rights violations seriously. But also points out it’s just one of the first steps in the process.

“If they want to do an investigation they will freeze and impound all the evidence that’s out there,” he said. “And, then of course they have to determine and find out if there’s any other evidence.”

Burris says it will be important for Justice Department officials to also review the records of Zimmerman’s calls to the police in prior incidents to “see what kind of pattern” they may show, specifically to “see if you can develop a profile that suggests race as a motive.”

He says it’s “laudable” to see them moving forward.

“There’s a lot of political heat and there’s a lot of raw nerves now, and it’s sort of one of the signature issue of the day, of this generation period,” he said, noting that it’s still unclear exactly what charges if any the DOJ will bring. ”At least they should indicate that they’ve exhausted all avenues and reviewed all evidence.”

Trayvon Martin’s parents will join Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network this Saturday at vigils in New York City, Miami, and dozens of other cities across the nation, rallying for the end of “Stand Your Ground” laws and also putting pressure on the Justice Department to thoroughly pursue the investigation.

Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the February 2012 shooting death of Martin. Zimmerman says he was acting in self-defense the night he shot the Martin.

Editor’s note: George Zimmerman has sued NBC Universal for defamation. The company strongly denies the allegation.

DOJ puts hold on Zimmerman's gun as it pursues civil rights investigation

Updated