Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) is calling for repeal of her stateâ€™s â€œstand your groundâ€ law following the deadly shooting of unarmed African-American teenager Trayvon Martin last month.
â€œTrayvon Martinâ€™s death is a tragedy and that has rightly spurred a national conversation and calls to action,â€ Wasserman Schultz, who chairs the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement posted on her website Friday and circulated on Twitter Saturday.
â€œThis case is further evidence that Floridaâ€™s â€˜Stand Your GroundÂ Law,â€™ which passed in 2005, needs to be repealed. The failure of the Sanford police to further investigate this crime as a result of their interpretation of this law is an injustice to Trayvonâ€™s family and to all Floridians,â€ she said.
The shooting of Martin has increased scrutiny of the 2005 Florida statute and similar laws in other states.
The Florida law allows a person attacked in a place where they have a â€œright to beâ€ the license to â€œstand his or her groundâ€ and use deadly force, rather than retreat, if they â€œreasonablyâ€ believe it’s necessary to prevent death or serious harm.
Roughly 20 states have some version of stand your ground laws on the books.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), according to The Associated Press, said the stand your ground law that he signed should not apply in the Martin case. â€œStand your ground means stand your ground. It doesnâ€™t mean chase after somebody whoâ€™s turned their back,â€ he said, according to AP.
Martin was killed by George Zimmerman, self-identified volunteer neighborhood watchman, on February 26 in Sanford, Fla., a community near Orlando. Zimmerman told police he was acting in self-defense.Â Martin was carrying only Skittles candies and a can of iced tea when he was shot.Â
Just prior to the shooting, Zimmerman called 911 to report what he said was suspicious behavior by Martin. Zimmerman then began to follow Martin, despite the emergency dispatcher telling him not to do so.
Zimmermanâ€™s lawyer, Craig Sonner, said the stand your ground law does not apply in this case.
â€œThis is self-defense, and that’s been around for forever â€” that you have a right to defend yourself. So the next issue (that) is going to come up is, was he justified in using the amount of force he did?â€ he said, according to CNN.
The case and lack of an arrest of Zimmerman has generated protests and intense media focus.Â Â
The Justice Department has opened an investigation and President Obama spoke about the case in personal terms Friday, noting â€œIf I had a son, heâ€™d look like Trayvon.â€
Wasserman Schultz, in her statement, said she is â€œpleased that the Department of Justice is looking into this incident and that a special prosecutor has been appointed to investigate this case.â€
â€œI am hopeful that federal, state and local coordination will ensure a complete and thorough investigation. My thoughts and deepest sympathy are with Trayvon Martinâ€™s family and friends during this difficult time,â€ she said.