NEW YORK (Reuters) - Florida Governor Rick Scott on Monday cautioned against a rush to judgment in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, saying state authorities were still gathering facts.
Martin, a 17-year-old African American, was killed on February 26 while walking through a gated community in an Orlando suburb. George Zimmerman, a white Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer, believed the young man in a “hoodie” hooded sweatshirt looked suspicious. Zimmerman followed him and an altercation ensued.
Zimmerman’s attorney has said Zimmerman acted in self-defense. He has not been arrested.
“Justice will prevail. That’s what we all want. We want the know the facts and we want to know that justice happens,” Scott said in an interview with Reuters Insider in New York.
Florida law enforcement has been under fire for weeks as protests decrying inaction in the case have spread to cities across the country. Over the weekend, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter told MSNBC he considered the shooting to be “nothing short of an assassination.”
Protesters, many dressed in hoodies like the kind Martin wore at the time of his death, point to a 911 call Zimmerman made before the altercation began. Zimmerman told the dispatcher he was following Martin, who he described as appearing to be “up to no good.”
Martin reportedly had been returning from a convenience store carrying candy and a can of iced tea when he encountered Zimmerman.
Last Thursday, Scott said State Attorney Norman Wolfinger had agreed to remove himself from the investigation. Scott appointed another Florida prosecutor, Angela Corey, to handle the case.
Scott also created a task force to study crime prevention, and specifically the state’s controversial Stand Your Ground law, which allows people to use deadly force in self-defense.
Asked if the case rose to the level of a possible hate crime, Scott said such a judgment would be premature.
“Hopefully, it wasn’t anything like that, but we don’t know enough facts. I mean, my goal is, let’s get the facts and let’s make sure if somebody did something wrong, let’s hold them accountable,” he said.
Editing by Doina Chiacu