U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder assured hundreds of black civil rights activists Tuesday during the NAACP’s annual convention in Orlando, Florida, that his Justice Department still ‘has an open investigation’ into the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the African-American teenager shot and killed by George Zimmerman in February 2012.
He also offered a scathing critique of so-called ‘stand your ground laws’ in effect in Florida and 29 other states. Zimmerman’s attorneys did not claim refuge under Florida’s version, which holds that the victim of a potentially deadly assault is not required to retreat to safety before using deadly force in return.
‘It’s time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods,’ Holder said. ‘These laws try to fix something that was never broken. There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if – and the “if” is important – no safe retreat is available.
Holder complained that ‘stand your ground’ laws have ‘eliminat[ed] the common sense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely.’
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