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Zimmerman Won't Face Federal Charges in Trayvon Martin Shooting

FILE - George Zimmerman, shown answering a Florida judge's questions during a November 2013 hearing on charges stemming from a fight with his girlfriend, will face no civil rights charges in the fatal shooting of a black teen in 2012.

The U.S. Justice Department will not file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot unarmed African-American teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012.

A Justice Department statement released Tuesday said that the evidence did not meet the "high standard for a federal hate crime prosecution," but that the decision should not end efforts to explore racial tensions in the justice system.

The decision closes the federal investigation.

Zimmerman, who is white, shot Martin on February 26, 2012, as the teen walked back to a relative's home after purchasing snacks at a convenience store in Sanford, Florida.

Once Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder by a state jury in July 2013, Martin's family turned to the federal investigation in the hope that he would be held accountable for the shooting.

The killing sparked protests and a national conversation on race.

Days after Zimmerman was acquitted, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he considered Martin's death an "unnecessary shooting.'' In a news release Tuesday, Holder echoed remarks he made in the shooting's aftermath.

"We, as a nation, must take concrete steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future,'' he said.