(WASHINGTON) — The Republican presidential candidates called for further investigation into the death of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old boy gunned down by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida.
Martin was killed in a swing state that will be crucial in the fall election, where the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law allows people not to retreat in the face of a perceived threat.
“What happened to Trayvon Martin is a tragedy,” former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said in a statement Friday. “There needs to be a thorough investigation that reassures the public that justice is carried out with impartiality and integrity.”
Newt Gingrich told reporters in Port Fourchon, La., “I think it’s exactly right for the district attorney to empanel a grand jury. They have to review, as I understand it, this particular person had been calling something – again this is just hearsay I haven’t investigated it and I don’t want to pre-judge – apparently there have been 50 cases in the past year of him calling 911…”
Gingrich suggested that the shooter, George Zimmerman, might have been outside the bounds of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
“The law involves somebody who’s coming at you and as I understand he was trailing the young man,” he said. “The young man wasn’t trailing him so I suspect that justice will be done. … I believe that there are some things that go to the other extreme where you can’t even defend yourself when somebody breaks into your own home. So there has to be some common ground.”
Gingrich Thursday called for letting officials continue with their investigation on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight.
“I have faith that the American system of justice will in fact work. … I think that Americans can recognize that while this is a tragedy, and it is a tragedy, that we’re going to relentlessly seek justice and I think that’s the right thing to do”
Meanwhile, Rick Santorum told reporters in West Monroe, La., “Stand Your Ground is not doing what this man did. So, there’s a difference between Stand Your Ground and doing what he did and it’s a horrible case. It’s chilling to hear what happened and of course the fact that law enforcement didn’t immediately go after and prosecute this case is another chilling example of you know obviously horrible decisions made by people in this process.”
When asked whether the Justice Department should get involved, Santorum said, “I think that the local and state can do a great job here – whether the justice department get involved, I think it’s pretty clear the problems that we’re seeing in this case and that hopefully the state attorney general as well as the local committee has reacted and responded and hopefully this matter will be an example of what law enforcement has to do in a case like this.”
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