Updated:SANFORD, Fla. —
The Trayvon Martin case is bringing more scrutiny on the Sanford Police Department. The city manager has asked the Department of Justice to investigate cases handled by the police
department, after receiving complaints from Sanford citizens.
It's been more than a month since 17-year-old Martin was killed and only a week since the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI launched investigations into why George Zimmerman shot him.
"The citizens of Sanford will continue to have some idea that their concerns would be heard by an independent agency when they have issues with the Sanford Police Department," said Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte.
Bonaparte announced his request on Tuesday afternoon after receiving numerous complaints about the way officers handled other cases.
He said that so many people complained at Monday night's city commission meeting about Sanford officers, the city asked the
Department of Justice to step in.
"I am now in the process of talking with the
Department of Justice and instituting a mechanism whereby citizens that have concerns or complaints about the Sanford Police Department can have their concerns heard and investigated by an independent agency," said Bonaparte.
WFTV found out the investigations could pave the way for a long relationship with federal officials.
After complaints surfaced in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, the Department of Justice found a pattern of civil rights abuse. Then, it completely took over the departments and entered into "consent decrees" to improve them. The Department of Justice took over the department in LA for eight years and in Pittsburgh for four.
"Only that we are having conversations with the
Department of Justice in some of the things they have seen other cities do," said Bonaparte.
Sanford officials will not know what this will mean for its police force until the
Department of Justice tells them what it found.
The Department of Justice has not announced a sweeping investigation yet.
What was supposed to be a peaceful walk-out by students at Martin's school in Miami turned into
chaos, and it was all caught on video.
About 100 students can be seen on the video running into a Walgreens near the school. The walk-out was planned as a protest of Martin's death, but the group took it as an opportunity to cause trouble, knocking stuff off shelves. No one was arrested.
George Zimmerman claims he shot Martin in self-defense but now, some state lawmakers want to review Florida's
"Stand Your Ground" law because of this case.
The law allows someone to use deadly force if their lives are threatened. Some question if Zimmerman's life really was in danger.
Democrats want the law re-examined, but Republicans say they want all the facts in this case to come out before moving forward.
Martin's parents used an appearance before a congressional panel to thank the people who helped them turn their son's death into a rallying cry against racial profiling.
Congress accused the Sanford Police Department of not doing a real investigation.
"They have profiled so much in this case; they decided that they were already going to make the victim, the
cause... and let someone walk away without even questioning," said Gregory Meeks, (D) New York.
During the trip to Washington, DC, Martin's mother told lawmakers that what happened to her son could happen to anyone.
Martin's family is making a move to trademark his name. WFTV discovered that new federal filings show the family has applied for trademarks for the phrases "I am Trayvon" and "Justice for Trayvon."
The family insists that it will not try to profit from Trayvon's name. They say they want to prevent other people from printing any merchandise.
Trailers and posters for a movie coming out this summer have been pulled out of Florida theaters in the wake of the teen's death. (Watch the movie trailer here)
The movie "Neighborhood Watch" is a comedy starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill.
Twentieth Century Fox says the movie has no connection to the Trayvon Martin shooting and they stopped promotions out of respect.
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