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“Who was following who? I mean, isn’t that what this case was about? That was our theory what it boils down to was a kid minding his own business being followed by a stranger, and so I would submit that’s when it started.”

But following someone does not mark the start of a confrontation — not under the law. A person does not forfeit their legal right to self-defense just because they upset someone else. Mere words never justify violence under the law, and Florida officials know this.

From the beginning, Florida officials lacked the evidence to secure a conviction. They lacked probable cause to even file charges.

Even after Mr. Zimmerman was acquitted, state officials made extrajudicial statements released to the public.

Shortly after the verdict was returned Ms. Corey described Mr. Zimmerman as a “murderer,” during a media interview, and U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. stood on a stage at the NAACP and said that Trayvon’s death was unnecessary — implying that Mr. Zimmerman was at fault.

Perhaps Ms. Corey and Mr. Holder should read — and reread — American Bar Association Rule 3.8, which admonishes prosecutors to “refrain from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused.”

Since the Justice Department is considering new, federal civil rights charges, Mr. Zimmerman should still be afforded the rights of any accused person.

The U.S. Justice Department should not repeat the mistakes of the state of Florida and initiate another baseless prosecution to ease racial tensions. It should, however, consider launching an unlawful-conduct probe into the state of Florida to protect other citizens from future abuse of power.

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro is a former Washington, D.C., prosecutor and an investigative journalist.