Published July 19, 2013
The FBI has asked authorities in Sanford, Fla. to not give George Zimmerman back his gun after he was cleared of all charges in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a Department of Justice official tells Fox News.
The report may serve as further confirmation the Justice Department is taking seriously its investigation into whether or not to pursue a federal civil rights case against Zimmerman, after Attorney General Eric Holder said in an address Tuesday to the NAACP that his department would "consider all available information" before deciding whether to move forward.
The Sanford Police Department told the Orlando Sentinel Thursday that evidence released earlier this week to the agency has been placed "in a hold status," pending the Justice Department investigation.
The items include all the evidence collected by the agency in its investigation of the fatal shooting, such as Zimmerman's gun, Martin's clothes, cell phone, the bag of Skittles and beverage found in his pockets, the newspaper reported.
Amid pressure from the NAACP and several Democratic lawmakers to pursue Zimmerman, the department expanded its probe Wednesday by setting up a public email address asking for any tips or information regarding the case.
The department also held a conference call with civil rights leaders on Monday.
The conference call included DOJ officials, along with representatives from the FBI and federal prosecutors. They spoke to civil rights leaders from Sanford, Fla., as well as others from around the country.
The call was convened by Tom Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division.
A Justice official told Fox News that both the conference call and the email address asking for tips and information are fairly standard procedure when dealing with a high-profile investigation such as this one. The department has used such tip lines in the past, including in a probe last year of the Albuquerque, N.M., police department.
Some attorneys and analysts have cautioned that Holder would have a difficult time bringing a civil rights case against Zimmerman, particularly since the investigation so far is thought to have turned up no evidence or claims that Zimmerman exhibited racial bias.
Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the shooting death of Martin who was unarmed. His attorneys argued that he shot Martin in self-defense, but the case sparked an outcry because Martin was black and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.
Meanwhile Thursday, protesters who set up camp in the state Capitol building earlier this week finally got to meet with Gov. Rick Scott and urged him to push for the repeal of Florida's "state your ground" law and to take steps to combat racial profiling.
In a conference room near his office suite, Scott met for nearly an hour with seven leaders of the protest, which began Tuesday. They described their frustration about last weekend's acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin and their own experiences of being racially profiled.
Saying the 17-year-old's death happened on Scott's watch, the protesters renewed their request that the Republican governor call state legislators into special session to repeal the law which justifies the use of deadly force when a person's life is in danger.
"There has to be a comprehensive approach to make sure every child in Florida can feel safe again," Gabriel Pendas told the governor.
Scott, who said he had spoken earlier in the evening with Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, instead said he would call for a day of prayer on Sunday for "unity."
He also urged the protesters to talk to local legislators if they wanted to change state law and offer them examples of why they believe it may lead to more violence.
"If you believe stand your ground should be repealed tell them why," Scott said.
Fox News' Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.