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Family Of Teen Killed In Sanford Demands Justice, DOJ Opens Probe

SANFORD (CBSMiami/AP) – As the investigation continues into the death of a Miami teen shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, the victim's family is speaking out about the senseless tragedy.

"How are you feeling three weeks after this happened?" asked CBS4's Jorge Estevez who spoke to 17-year-old Trayvon Martin's father Tracey.

"Devastating, but after listening to the 9-1-1 tapes, it is even more heart wrenching," said Martin.

Martin is looking for justice for his 17 year old son.

"Three weeks after this happened, did you think you would be here looking for justice?" asked Estevez.

"After listening to the Sanford Police Department, I knew I would be here," said Martin.

Martin's family said they'd like the FBI to take over the investigation because they no longer trusted the Sanford Police.

Late Monday, they got their wish. The Department of Justice released a statement saying they have opened an investigation into the incident.

"The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida, and the FBI opened an investigation into the facts and circumstances of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.  The department will conduct a thorough and independent review of all of the evidence and take appropriate action at the conclusion of the investigation.  The department also is providing assistance to and cooperating with the state officials in their investigation into the incident.  With all federal civil rights crimes, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person acted intentionally and with the specific intent to do something which the law forbids – the highest level of intent in criminal law.  Negligence, recklessness, mistakes and accidents are not prosecutable under the federal criminal civil rights laws.  The Community Relations Service will be in Sanford, Fla., this week to meet with civil rights leaders, community leaders, and local law enforcement to address tension in the community."

It's welcoming news to Ben Crump, the Martin family attorney. He told CBS4 News Monday how dissatisfied the family is with the police investigation.

"We believe they have taken the loose cannon, George Zimmerman's word for everything. There is not a shred of evidence to support everything he said in the way of self-defense, but they accepting that," said Crump.

The victim's father is not accepting anything but justice.

"He destroyed a piece of my family and it is sad. As a father, I want justice for my son," said Martin.

Several rallies are planned for this week to demand justice for Trayvon.

On Monday, students from Florida A&M University and Florida State University staged a rally in which they demanded Gov. Rick Scott take the lead to ensure that justice is served in the state.  A similar rally was held outside of the Seminole County courthouse.

Wednesday, a peace march will be held in Liberty City starting at 5 p.m. The group will meet at Sherdavia Jenkins Peace Park to start the march. The family of Martin will be in attendance at the march.

On Thursday the Rev. Al Sharpton will lead another rally at the First Shiloh Baptist Church in Sanford.

No charges have been filed in the February death of Martin. His family has criticized police for not arresting 28-year-old George Zimmerman, who admitted to shooting the teen but said he fired in self-defense.

"I don't think a man who exited his vehicle after the 911 dispatcher told him to stay inside the car can claim self-defense," Carl McPhail, a 28-year-old Barry University law school student, said at the Sanford rally.

Trayvon's parents said he was a good teenager and was working toward a career in aviation mechanics. They said he had never even been in a fight at school. In contrast, Zimmerman's arrest record shows he's been in trouble with the law before.

"You would think that Sanford is still in the 1800s claiming that this man can call self-defense for shooting an unarmed boy," said restaurant owner Linda Tillman, who also was at the Sanford rally.

On the night of the shooting, Martin was walking back to his father's fiancé's home from a nearby convenience store when he was spotted by Zimmerman who called 911 to report a suspicious person.

Sanford Police released eight 911 calls made during and after the shooting. On the first call Zimmerman told police he was following Martin and said Martin was running.  A dispatcher told Zimmerman not to follow Martin.

"This guy looks like he is up to no good. He is on drugs or something," Zimmerman told the dispatcher.

He also said the teen had his hand in his waistband and was looking at homes as he walked.

"These *expletives.* They always get away," Zimmerman told the 911 dispatcher.

Zimmerman has claimed that he acted in self-defense when he shot and killed Martin. The family of Martin has said that is far from the truth and that Zimmerman chased Martin before shooting him.

Martin's family says 911 calls show the teen was terrified as he tried to flee Zimmerman.

"He was yelling for help, and no one could help him," Tracy Martin said. "He saw his life being taken away from him."

Just after Zimmerman's first call, 911 dispatchers were inundated with calls about a scuffle between two men, some screaming, and then a gunshot.

"I just heard a shot right behind my house," a male caller said. "They're wrestling right behind my porch. The guy is yelling, "Help!" I'm not going outside."

Zimmerman's father says his son has been unfairly portrayed as a racist.

Sanford Police refused to file charges against Zimmerman for the shooting.

Gun control advocates said the case is emblematic of permissive gun laws in Florida, which was among the first states to allow residents to carry concealed weapons. Florida was the first state to pass a "Stand Your Ground" law, which has been dubbed a "Shoot First" law by gun control advocates.

Currently, about half of all U.S. states have similar laws, said Brian Malte, legislative director of the Brady Campaign, which describes itself as the nation's largest organization dedicated to the prevention of gun violence.

"It's coming to dangerous fruition," Malte said. "There are more states like Florida."

An online petition to get the state attorney to prosecute Zimmerman is gaining support. More than 365,000 people have signed the petition.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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