Zimmerman could face federal legal trouble

Dept. of Justice looking into case further

Author: Sheli Muniz, Reporter, smuniz@wkmg.com
Published On: Jul 14 2013 11:50:58 PM EDT   Updated On: Jul 15 2013 12:53:22 AM EDT
George Zimmerman
SANFORD, Fla. -

George Zimmerman's criminal case closed Saturday night, but his legal battle may not be over.

The Department of Justice said Sunday that it will continue its probe to see if there was a hate crime.

"The whole system is guilty, the whole system is guilty," since the verdict came down Saturday, across the country, the state, and Sanford, people have been speaking out. In their eyes, the system failed. The same legal system some people were petitioning to get involved last year when Zimmerman wasn't immediately arrested.

Estefania Galvis is part of the Coalition for Justice for Trayvon. She told Local 6 during a Sanford rally, "Saturday night we were just surprised that they [the jury] totally let us down."

A Sanford resident at a rally told Local 6, "Well, the trial is over with, but the trial is far from over with."

Zimmerman may not be quite out of legal trouble. The Department of Justice said Sunday that federal prosecutors would continue looking at the case to see if any civil rights were violated. WKMG Legal Analyst Luis Calderon said anything coming out of this is unlikely.

Calderon said, "You're talking about a criminal civil rights violation. I mean, you've really got to show something above and beyond just a prosecutable crime that he was already acquitted of."

On Sunday, Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith said people got to see the entire investigation unfold and believes his officers have vetted themselves.

"You know what, I think it's a good opportunity for a second set of eyes to see what took place," Chief Smith said.

Calderon said, "If there is an issue with the system, then you change the system. But to go after one defendant, almost seems like a witch hunt."

Calderon said federal criminal charges are not going to be easy. Last year U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder hinted at that.

DOJ's response comes after NAACP and some lawmakers petitioned following the verdict.