DOJ reviewing possible federal charges in Trayvon Martin case - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Civil rights charges possible in Trayvon case

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Trayvon Martin, 17, was killed by a single gun shot wound to the chest by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, 28. (Source: Jerome Horton/CNN) Trayvon Martin, 17, was killed by a single gun shot wound to the chest by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, 28. (Source: Jerome Horton/CNN)
George Zimmerman, 28, has maintained he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense. Florida's "stand your ground" law has shielded him from charges. (Source: Facebook) George Zimmerman, 28, has maintained he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense. Florida's "stand your ground" law has shielded him from charges. (Source: Facebook)

WASHINGTON (RNN) - Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that members of the Justice Department have gone to Sanford, FL, as part of their independent investigation of Trayvon Martin's shooting death.

"If we find evidence of a potential federal criminal civil rights crime, we will take appropriate action," Holder said.

In a call to Sanford police on the night of Feb. 26, neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman can be heard uttering what some have claimed is a racial slur. It is unclear whether he whispered the slur "coons" or "punks," as Zimmerman's former attorneys have claimed.

If it is determined that Zimmerman said "coons," a derogatory and somewhat outdated word referring to black people, he may be charged with a hate crime.

Three weeks ago the Justice Department and the FBI opened an investigation into the case amid public outrage over the lack of an arrest in the case.

Martin, 17, was shot and killed by Zimmerman, 28, who thought Martin looked "suspicious" as he walked through a gated community. Zimmerman claimed he shot the teen in self-defense.

Police didn't arrest Zimmerman because they said evidence on the scene matched his story.

Zimmerman made headlines Tuesday after his lawyers announced they had lost contact with him, and they would no longer represent him. Earlier that day, he had created a website for supporters and allegedly called Fox News host Sean Hannity and the special prosecutor's office - all without contacting his attorneys.

Holder's comments were made at the annual convention of the National Action Network, a civil rights organization founded by Rev. Al Sharpton.

The Martin family, who has been vocal about their distrust of the Sanford Police Department investigation, is scheduled to speak at the convention at 12 p.m. CST.

Zimmerman's website says he needs funds to help meet living expenses since he has been forced into hiding from the publicity and public outrage.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Zimmerman worked as a "forensic loan review analyst" for Digital Risk, LLC, a mortgage risk-management firm. The Sentinel says he hasn't been to work since the shooting.

A spokeswoman declined to confirm his employment to the Sentinel.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

Trayvon Martin (SIDEBAR)

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SLIDESHOW: Outrage over Trayvon Martin case Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot and killed last month by George Zimmerman, self-appointed captain of an unofficial neighborhood watch, while walking to his father's. More>>

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