Florida Senator calls for independent prosecutor in Martin case

Mar 21, 2012

State Sen. Gary Siplin wants Governor Rick Scott to appoint a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation into the death of an unarmed black teen in Sanford. Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman. The case has sparked national allegations of racism.

“We’re not contesting the veracity of the current prosecutor but of course, through tradition, he has a relationship with the sheriff’s department, the police department and the city of Sanford. And we think he should step down to make sure there’s no doubt. Because in my community they are very upset, they’re very excited and they’re ready to ignite,”  said Siplin,  an Orlando Democrat, who says the prosecutor should be independent to avoid the appearance of bias.               

Siplin says the city of Sanford, which is only minutes from Orlando, has a history of racial discrimination. He adds that the shooting has caused tensions within that community. Zimmerman says he shot Martin in self-defense. But 911 tapes released earlier in the week show Zimmerman pursued Martin after officials told him not to. He has not been charged with a crime.