Gov. Scott appoints special prosecutor in Trayvon Martin caseby Dara Kam | March 22nd, 2012
Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi have appointed a special prosecutor to take over the investigation of the shooting of Trayvon Martin, responding to increased pressure from national civil rights leaders outraged over the killing of the unarmed black 17-year-old by a neighborhood watch volunteer whom local authorities have not charged with any crime.
Scott and Bondi asked State Attorney Angela Corey of Jacksonville to take over for Seminole County State Attorney Norman Wolfinger. The appointment came the same day Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee temporarily stepped down amid outrage over his failure to charge George Zimmerman with any crime in the Feb. 26 shooting. Wolfinger said in a letter to Scotthe was stepping aside “in the interest of public safety” and to “avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.” The U.S. Justice Department is also investigating the case.
Scott also announced the formation of a task force headed by Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who is black, to look into the use of the state’s first-in-the-nation “stand your ground” law, which allows individuals to use deadly force to defend themselves when they feel threatened. Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self-defense, and Lee said he lacked evidence to arrest him.
Several black lawmakers, including Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens who represents the district where Martin lived with his mother, had asked Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, and House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, to appoint special legislative committees to look into the law. Yesterday, both leaders said they did not believe the committees were yesterday. But today, Scott said they have agreed to suggest appointees to the task force.
Scott’s announcement of the task force comes two days after Scott held an impromptu meeting with about 50 black lawyers and civil rights leaders who marched to his office demanding he create such a panel to look into racial profiling.
Read Scott’s statement regarding the “Citizen Safety and Protection” task force after the jump.
“As law enforcement investigates the death of Trayvon Martin, Floridians and others around the country have rightly recognized this as a terrible tragedy. Like all Floridians, I believe we must take steps to ensure tragedies like this are avoided. After listening to many concerned citizens in recent days, I will call for a Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection to investigate how to make sure a tragedy such as this does not occur in the future, while at the same time, protecting the fundamental rights of all of our citizens – especially the right to feel protected and safe in our state.
“To this end, I have asked Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll to lead the Task Force, conduct public hearings, take testimony and recommend actions – legislative and otherwise – to both protect our citizens and safeguard our rights. Reverend R. B. Holmes, Jr., the pastor of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee has agreed to be the vice-chair of the Task Force. I have also reached out to Attorney General Pam Bondi, Speaker Dean Cannon, President Mike Haridopolos and incoming presiding officers Don Gaetz and Will Weatherford who all agree that a Task Force needs to be assembled. They will be recommending individuals for me to appoint to the Task Force, which will thoroughly review Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law and any other laws, rules, regulations or programs that relate to public safety and citizen protection.
“It is my intention to have the Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection convene immediately after the investigation into the death of Trayvon Martin by the newly Assigned State Attorney Angela B. Corey (of the 4th Judicial Circuit) formally ends. At that time they can define their mission and scope as well as set a timetable for a report, with recommendations to be delivered to my office and to the Florida Legislature. The Task Force will hold public hearings, take testimony, solicit ideas and review all matters related to the rights of all Floridians to feel safe and secure in our state. As we exercise our right to be free and secure both in public and in the privacy of our own homes it is important that we have an open and honest discussion on these issues so that we might help avoid such tragedies in the future.”