Trayvon Martin's family attorneys alleged that Sanford officials met hours after the teen died to discuss overruling a police detective who prepared an affidavit to arrest Zimmerman, CNN reports.
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Martin family said Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, and State Attorney Norm Wolfinger met the night of the shooting and ignored a detective's advice to arrest the neighborhood watch volunteer.
According to the Miami Herald, local police went to the Seminole State Attorney with a request to file charges and the police report labeled the case as "homicide/negligent manslaughter." On Tuesday, Martin family attorney Jasmine Rand insisted Wolfinger and Lee met to overrule the decision to charge Zimmerman.
Wolfinger denied the lawyers' accusation in a statement Monday, saying that no "such meeting or communication occured."
"I am outraged by the outright lies contained in the letter by Benjamin Crump," he said.
The Sanford police department has been the focus of withering criticism for its handling of the initial investigation. The case has become a flashpoint in the national debates over racial profiling and gun control laws. Martin was black. Zimmerman's father is white and his mother is Peruvian.
On Wednesday evening, special prosecutor Angela Corey, who took over the investigation, announced Zimmerman had been charged with second-degree murder and taken into custody. A day later, he appeared in court, and although he did not enter a plea, he is expected to plead not guilty. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
According to CNN, FBI agents were in Sanford on Tuesday, conducting interviews for their civil rights investigation of the case. They have spoken with Frank Taaffe, one of Zimmerman's most vocal supporters, and the 16-year-old girl who Martin was on the phone with shortly before the fatal confrontation.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the department will act decisively if it finds evidence that the teen's civil right were criminally violated.