The fatal shooting of unarmed black 19-year-old Tony Robinson by a white police officer in Madison, Wisconsin, sparked protests in the city.
Peaceful protesters took to the college town’s streets with chants of “Black Lives Matter”.
Authorities say police fired after the officer was assaulted. The city’s police chief said he understood the anger, assuring demonstrators his department would defend their rights as he implored the community to act with restraint.
Tony Robinson died Friday, March 6, after being shot in his apartment following a confrontation with Officer Matt Kenny, who had forced his way inside after hearing a disturbance while responding to a call, authorities and neighbors said.
Madison Police Chief Mike Koval on March 7 said Matt Kenny was injured, but didn’t provide details. It wasn’t clear whether Tony Robinson, who died at a hospital, was alone.
“He was unarmed. That’s going to make this all the more complicated for the investigators, for the public to accept,” Mike Koval said of Tony Robinson.
The department said Matt Kenny would not have been wearing a body camera.
Several dozen protesters who gathered outside the police department on March 7 held signs and chanted “Black Lives Matter” – a slogan adopted by activists and protesters nationwide after recent officer-involved deaths of unarmed blacks – before walking toward the neighborhood where the shooting took place.
The shooting came days after the U.S. Justice Department said it would not issue civil rights charges against Darren Wilson, the white former Ferguson, Missouri, officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed, after a struggle in the street in August 2014.
Mike Koval said Matt Kenny, a more than 12-year veteran of the Madison department, also shot and killed a suspect in 2007, but was cleared of wrongdoing because it was a “suicide by cop-type” situation. In that shooting, Matt Kenny responded to a 911 call of a man with a gun and shot the man twice after police said he pointed the gun at officers. It turned out to be a pellet gun.
Matt Kenny has been placed on administrative leave pending results of an investigation by the state’s Division of Criminal Investigation.
Madison, about 80 miles west of Milwaukee, is the state capital and home to the University of Wisconsin’s flagship campus. About 7% of the city’s 243,000 residents are black. Neighbors said Robinson’s apartment is in a two-story gray house on Williamson Street, known to many as Willy Street.
B29, a juror in the trial of George Zimmerman, who killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, has come forward to say he “got away with murder”.
But the 36-year-old, named as Maddy in an ABC News’ Good Morning America interview, said they could not find him guilty based on the law.
The only non-white member of the six-woman jury, Maddy suggested the trial had been little more than a sham.
Florida neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman was cleared after shooting dead 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012.
There were nationwide protests following his acquittal of murder and manslaughter charges earlier this month. George Zimmerman claimed self-defense.
Maddy, a nursing assistant and a mother of eight who had recently moved from Illinois to Florida, said she feels she owes an apology to Trayvon Martin’s parents.
Juror B29 has come forward to say George Zimmerman got away with murder
“I felt like I let a lot of people down, and I’m thinking to myself, <<Did I go the right way? Did I go the wrong way?>>” she told Good Morning America programme.
But she said that based on instructions from the judge, she could not convict George Zimmerman under Florida law.
“That’s where I felt confused, where if a person kills someone, then you get charged for it,” Maddy said.
“But as the law was read to me, if you have no proof that he killed him intentionally, you can’t say he’s guilty.”
Known as Juror B29, she said she initially voted to convict 29-year-old George Zimmerman of second-degree murder, but changed her mind after nine hours of discussing evidence on the second day of deliberations.
“I was the juror that was going to give them the hung jury,” she said.
“I fought to the end.”
Maddy, who is of Puerto Rican background, said the trial was “a publicity stunt”, because she believes Florida laws provided no opportunity to convict. But she said George Zimmerman will still be judged.
“George Zimmerman got away with murder, but you can’t get away from God. And at the end of the day, he’s going to have a lot of questions and answers he has to deal with.”
Earlier this month, another juror – known only as B37 – told broadcaster CNN that she believed George Zimmerman had good intentions, but events “just went terribly wrong”.
Trayvon Martin’s family is considering whether to sue George Zimmerman in civil court for liability over the death of the unarmed black teenager.
George Zimmerman’s attorney, however, is convinced that his client is immune from such a suit.
Having already admitted to shooting Trayvon Martin and with the burden of proof lower in civil court than in criminal court, George Zimmerman may not emerge victorious from such a lawsuit.
While no estimates have yet been floated as to the amount of financial liability, George Zimmerman may face in a civil suit, Trayvon Martin’s family already settled with the town of Sanford, Florida, and the gated community Zimmerman shot the teenager in while patrolling as a volunteer neighborhood watchman.
The housing complex doled out over $1 million to the grieving family, according to the Orlando Sentinal.
Trayvon Martin’s family is considering whether to sue George Zimmerman in civil court for liability over the death of the unarmed black teenager
Mark O’Mara, George Zimmerman’s attorney, says his client is immune from liability.
“If someone believes that it’s appropriate to sue George Zimmerman, then we will seek and we will get immunity in a civil hearing,” Mark O’Mara said in a post-verdict press conference, adding: “We will see just how many civil lawsuits are spawned from this fiasco.”
Florida law would also prevent George Zimmerman from selling the rights to his story for a book or movie deal in order to pay for a civil suit should he be found liable for Trayvon Martin’s death, according to televised media reports.
George Zimmerman could also face trial on federal civil rights abuses in the death of Trayvon Martin.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Reverend Al Sharpton are working towards making that happen.
The NAACP with a petitionaddressed directly to US Attorney General Eric Holder and Al Sharpton with planned meetings with community leaders in Florida and likely rallies to follow.
The US Department of Justice confirmed today that it will look into the shooting death of Trayvon Martin to determine whether federal prosecutors should file criminal charges against George Zimmerman in the wake of his acquittal.
The department opened an investigation into Trayvon Martin’s death in 2012, but stepped aside to allow the state prosecution to proceed.
In a statement Sunday, the Justice Department said the criminal section of the civil rights division, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Middle District of Florida are continuing to evaluate the evidence generated during the federal probe, in addition to the evidence and testimony from the state trial.
The statement said that, in the government’s words, “experienced federal prosecutors will determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation”.
This move follows demands from a furious NAACP for the Obama administration to intervene.
Already, over 100,000 people have signed up to an online petition and the NAACP has written a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder urging the Department of Justice to press civil rights charges against 29-year-old George Zimmerman.
In his first public statement since the verdict, President Barack Obama called for calm on Sunday after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, saying his death was a tragedy and that the country should seek ways to stem gun violence.
Barack Obama urged Americans to broaden “the circle of understanding and compassion” in their communities and put some of the emotion the case has aroused into curtailing gun violence.
On Sunday, Daryl Parks, an attorney for the family of Trayvon Martin was non-committal when asked if they supported the NAACP’s call for George Zimmerman to be prosecuted by the Justice Department.
When asked on Fox News Sunday if Trayvon Martin’s father, Tracy Martin and mother, Sybrina Fulton, supported such a move, Daryl Parks seemed to defer.
“The beauty of our country is that we have several tiers of government, several aspects of laws and that different times different aspects apply,” said Daryl Parks.
“Different laws apply at different times, different places apply at different times. That would be a different arena.”
Both Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton chose not to be in the Seminole Circuit Court when the jurors announced their decision just before 10 p.m.
George Crump, the family’s attorney, said that they will still be pursuing a civil case against George Zimmerman.
NAACP President Benjamin Jealous was unequivocal in his response to the not-guilty decision by the Florida jury.
The Department of Justice confirmed that it will investigate the death of Trayvon Martin in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal
“We are outraged and heartbroken over today’s verdict,” Benjamin Jealous said in a statement.
“We will pursue civil rights charges with the Department of Justice, we will continue to fight for the removal of Stand Your Ground laws in every state, and we will not rest until racial profiling in all its forms is outlawed,” he said.
Politicians such as Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y) and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson have all added their voices to the NAACP’s position and demanded the administration review the case.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, called the verdict “a sad day in the country” and “a slap in the face to those that believe in justice in this country”.
“I think this is an atrocity,” Al Sharpton said.
“It is probably one of the worst situations that I have seen.”
Jesse Jackson called the verdict: “Old South justice.”
“I’m disappointed and I’m saddened for the family,” Jesse Jackson said.
Benjamin Jealous said Trayvon Martin’s family may bring a civil suit against George Zimmerman but said federal criminal charges must be filed because evidence suggests race was a factor in the case.
He told CNN the black community is upset with a situation in which “our young people have to fear the bad guys and the good guys. The robbers and the cops and the self-appointed community watch volunteer who think that they’re keeping folks safer”.
Al Sharpton cited the example of Rodney King, the man whose videotaped beating by Los Angeles police triggered rioting two decades ago after a state criminal trial found the police officers not guilty.
Later, the Justice Department brought a federal case that resulted in the conviction of two officers.
However, after George Zimmerman was found not guilty on second-degree and manslaughter charges by a Florida jury on Saturday, Attorney General Eric Holder has been left with a decision of massive implications.
The enormous pressure on Eric Holder, the United States’ first African-American attorney general, will grow over the coming days – especially in light of previous statements made on the matter.
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice (DOJ) launched a review of the shooting and Eric Holder went on record to say that he would take appropriate action if there was sufficient evidence of a civil rights crime.
“If we find evidence of a potential federal criminal civil rights crime, we will take appropriate action, and at every step, the facts and law will guide us forward,” said Eric Holder in a speech in April to Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.
However, in remarks subsequent to that, Eric Holder toned-down his comments, saying that the DOJ faces a “very high barrier” to bring federal criminal charges.
Eric Holder made personal remarks about the death of Trayvon Martin in April, saying “as a parent I reacted to it”.
“This is a pain that no parent should have to endure. The notion of having to bury a child is something that is, I think in some ways for a parent, the ultimate pain,” he said.
“The primary responsibility we have in the Justice Department is to support the state in its ongoing investigation, to do our own thorough and parallel investigation which we are in the process of doing and try to resolve this matter in as fair and complete a way and as quickly as we can.”
The full text of the NAACP’s petition to Attorney General Eric Holder
“Attorney General Eric Holder,
The Department of Justice has closely monitored the State of Florida’s prosecution of the case against George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin murder since it began.
Today, with the acquittal of George Zimmerman, it is time for the Department of Justice to act.
The most fundamental of civil rights – the right to life – was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin.
We ask that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman for this egregious violation.
Please address the travesties of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin by acting today.
George Zimmerman shot dead Martin in Sanford on February 26th, 2012.
George Zimmerman, 29, maintains he shot Trayvon Martin, 17, in self-defense, while the state argued that Zimmerman “profiled” Martin and concluded he was a criminal.
For their part, the NAACP is trying to build a ground swell of support for its call for federal charges.
George Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watchman who shot dead unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin last year, has been found not guilty.
Lawyers for George Zimmerman, 29, argued he acted in self-defense and with justifiable use of deadly force in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
The jury retired on Friday to consider its verdict on charges of either second-degree murder or manslaughter.
The case sparked a fierce debate about racial profiling in the US.
Protesters are gathering in Sanford, the Florida town where the shooting took place.
Police and community leaders have appealed for calm.
After the verdict, Judge Deborah Nelson told George Zimmerman he was free to go.
“Your bond will be released. Your GPS monitor will be cut off when you exit the courtroom over here. And you have no further business with the court,” Judge Nelson said.
George Zimmerman showed little reaction as the verdict was read out.
“Hopefully everyone will respect the jury’s verdict,” his lawyer Mark O’Mara told reporters after the case.
Mark O’Mara said George Zimmerman would now have to be “very cautious and protective of his safety because there is still a fringe element who have said that they would revenge – that they would not listen to – a verdict of not guilty.”
Lawyers for George Zimmerman argued he acted in self-defense and with justifiable use of deadly force in the death of Trayvon Martin
Another member of his defense team, Don West, said: “I’m thrilled that this jury kept this tragedy from becoming a travesty.”
The case brought into sharp relief some of the most divisive issues in the United States: race, gun control and equal justice under the law.
Florida police did not arrest George Zimmerman for six weeks after the shooting, provoking mass rallies in Florida and throughout the US.
Under the state’s controversial “stand your ground” law, the use of lethal force is allowed if a person feels seriously under threat.
Benjamin Crump, the Martin family lawyer, said: “Trayvon Martin will forever remain in the annals of history… as a symbol for the fight for equal justice for all.”
He, too, appealed for calm, saying “for Trayvon to rest in peace, we must all be peaceful”.
The family’s legal team said they were not in the courtroom when the verdict was read out.
State Attorney Angela Corey said she believed prosecutors had “brought out the truth on behalf of Trayvon Martin”.
“This case has never been about race or the right to bear arms,” she said.
“We believe this case all along was about boundaries, and George Zimmerman exceeded those boundaries.”
As the jury retired on Friday, the judge told the panel of six women to consider whether George Zimmerman acted in self-defense and with justifiable use of deadly force.
Without explicitly discussing race, the prosecution had suggested George Zimmerman assumed the African-American teenager, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt as he walked in the rain, was up to no good.
But the defense said Trayvon Martin punched their client, slammed his head into the pavement and reached for George Zimmerman’s gun.
The accused, who was legally armed with a pistol, had been sitting in his vehicle on a dark street when he saw Trayvon Martin.
George Zimmerman telephoned police to report a suspicious person, then left his vehicle in apparent pursuit of the teenager.
Shortly afterwards, Trayvon Martin was found dead, shot in the chest.
Earlier, George Zimmerman’s lawyer said he had proven his client’s “pure, unadulterated innocence” in Martin’s death.
But prosecutors said the accused had told a series of lies.
President Barack Obama commented on the case last March following calls for the arrest of George Zimmerman.
He said the “tragedy” of an unarmed black teenager shot dead in Florida should prompt some national soul-searching.
“If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon,” President Obama told reporters at the White House.
Following the verdict, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) – best known for its battles against segregation and discrimination – said it was calling “immediately for the Justice Department to conduct an investigation into the civil rights violations committed against Trayvon Martin”.
“This case has re-energized the movement to end racial profiling in the United States,” Roslyn M. Brock, chairwoman of the NAACP, said in a statement.
Gary Dobson and David Norris, the two men convicted of the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993 after he was stabbed to death, will be sentenced later.
Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty by an Old Bailey jury after a trial based on forensic evidence.
The two men will be sentenced as juveniles because they were under 18 at the time of the attack, which happened in south-east London in April 1993.
Police say the investigation could be reopened if new evidence emerges.
Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, can expect to receive sentences considerably shorter than would an adult convicted of the same crime under today’s laws.
Reports say they could serve minimum prison terms of around 12 years each.
Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty by an Old Bailey jury after a trial based on forensic evidence
Scientists found a tiny bloodstain on Gary Dobson’s jacket that could only have come from Stephen Lawrence. They also found a single hair belonging to the teenager on David Norris’s jeans.
Acting Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, who ordered the 2006 cold case review that led to the convictions, acknowledged that police believe there were five people involved in the murder, but there are currently no “live” lines of inquiry.
“If there was an opportunity to bring the other people who were involved in that night to justice, we would do so,” she said.
In a statement read by his lawyer outside the Old Bailey on Tuesday, Stephen Lawrence’s father, Neville Lawrence, said the convictions were a moment of joy and relief – but he could not rest until all of those who killed his son were brought to justice. He described the investigation and preparation of the case as “faultless”.
The father later told Channel 4 News: “I’m praying that these people now realize that they’ve been found out and say to themselves, <<yes I did this awful deed, but I wasn’t alone in that action that night and there are other people also guilty of what I’ve done>> and name them.
“I hope before the sentence is passed, they will talk and give the rest of these people that killed my son up.”
The original failed investigation into the murder led to the Metropolitan Police being branded as institutionally racist.
Stephen Lawrence was 18 when he was stabbed to death near a bus stop in Eltham, south east London, in April 1993.
Police identified five men who were later named in a damning public inquiry as the “prime suspects”.
By that time, there had already been a catalogue of police errors and two failed prosecutions, one brought by Stephen Lawrence’s parents.
In a four-year-long cold case review, a fresh team of forensic scientists uncovered microscopic evidence linking two of the five men to the murder – evidence that the police had held all along.
The material – bloodstains, clothing fibres and a single hair belonging to the teenager – were recovered from the clothes of the suspects which had been seized in 1993.
Scientists recovered the material using advanced techniques which were not available to the original case scientists.
Stephen Lawrence was 18 when he was stabbed to death near a bus stop in Eltham, south east London, in April 1993
Gary Dobson and David Norris denied the murder. They said their clothing had been contaminated as police mixed up evidence over the years. Detectives spent months establishing the movements and handling of the exhibits since 1993 – and the jury were told that contamination was implausible.
Gary Dobson, who was jailed for five years in 2010 for drugs trafficking, is among a small number of men to have been tried twice for the same crime after the Court of Appeal quashed his 1996 acquittal for the murder.
David Norris was convicted in 2002 of a separate allegation of racially threatening behavior.
In mitigation, ahead of sentencing on Wednesday, counsel for Gary Dobson said there was no evidence he had been the leader or prime motivator of the group that attacked the teenager.
David Norris’s counsel repeated his client’s pleas of innocence – and revealed his client had been beaten up while on remand at Belmarsh prison, suffering a broken nose and four broken ribs.
Justice Treacy discharged the jury and thanked them for their “dedicated service”. He told them the public owed them a debt of gratitude.
As the defendants left the dock, Gary Dobson told his family not to worry, and David Norris waved to the gallery. Members of both men’s families shouted back.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “In the 19 years since his murder, Stephen Lawrence’s family has fought tirelessly for justice.
“[The] verdict cannot ease the pain of losing a son. But, for Doreen and Neville Lawrence, I hope that it brings at least some comfort after their years of struggle.”
Matthew Ryder QC represented the Lawrence family in its civil claim against the police. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the Lawrence case was a “Rosa Parks moment” for British society.
“It was a moment when you saw the victims of injustice fighting for justice and the system letting them down and I think for that reason it profoundly changed how we view race and racism within this society,” Matthew Ryder said.
“On the face of it – it was a crude, violent form of racism – which every reasonable person would condemn – but what followed on from that, what’s always been part of the Lawrence case, was the pernicious, systemic forms of racism which caused the investigation to fail.”