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Florida police chief, prosecutor step down from Trayvon Martin case

Thousands held a rally yesterday calling for an arrest following the teenager’s death last month

Thousands attend a rally for Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida yesterday.
Thousands attend a rally for Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida yesterday.
Image: AP Photo/Roberto Gonzalez/PA

A FLORIDA police chief is to temporarily step down amid increasing controversy over the handling of an investigation into the fatal shooting of a teenage boy last month.

Trayvon Martin, 17, was walking home from a convenience store when he was shot and fatally wounded by a man from a neighbourhood watch programme on 26 February. The teenager was unarmed at the time of the incident.

George Zimmerman, 28, said he fired in self-defence.

Under Floridian law, there is no duty on a person to retreat if they feel threatened and they have the right to stand their ground and meet force with force, including deadly force.

Mass rallies have been held in recent weeks calling for further investigation into the death and for Zimmerman’s arrest.

Yesterday, the police chief criticised for not arresting Zimmerman and the county prosecutor both stepped down from the case. Just a day earlier, Sanford commissioners had passed a motion of ‘no confidence’ in police chief Bill Lee.

Announcing he was temporarily stepping down, Lee said he hoped his actions would restore “some semblance of calm to a city which has been in turmoil for several weeks”.

Earlier this week the US Justice Department announced that it would “conduct a thorough and independent review of all the evidence and take appropriate  action at the conclusion of the investigation”.

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Martin’s father told a thousands-strong rally of supporters yesterday that the family wants an arrest and a conviction, saying: “We want him sentenced for the murder of my son.”

- Additional reporting by the AP

US Dept of Justice to investigate unarmed teenager’s shooting >

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