25 Mar 2012

Florida taskforce to probe killing of black teenager

9:29 am on 25 March 2012

The governor of Florida has appointed a taskforce to investigate the death of unarmed black teenager as calls grow for the man who shot him to be charged.

Trayvon Martin, 17, was gunned down by a neighbourhood watchman on 26 February.

The man who shot him has not been arrested. Florida law allows citizens to use lethal force in self-defence.

Rallies have been held in Florida and New York demanding the gunman be charged.

In his first comments about the incident, the United States President Barack Obama told reporters at the White House: "If I had a son he would look like Trayvon."

"I can only imagine what these parents are going through and when I think about this boy I think about my own kids," Mr Obama said on Friday.

The Department of Justice and FBI have launched a civil rights investigation into the conduct of the local police department and a grand jury is considering whether to lay charges.

Mr Obama says all Americans should take the death with the seriousness it deserves.

"We're going to get to the bottom of what happened.

"Every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this and everybody pulls together, federal state and local, to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened," he added.

The grand jury will hear evidence on the case on 10 April.