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Slaying won't be reviewed by feds
By JANET ZINK, Times Staff Writer
Published January 16, 2008
TAMPA - Federal officials say they won't investigate the death of Martin Chambers, an African-American man killed by Tampa police officers in the summer of 1967.
The U.S. Department of Justice says the case exceeds the department's five-year statute of limitations on criminal civil rights investigations.
Mayor Pam Iorio and the Tampa City Council asked the U.S. attorney general to look into the case in July at the behest of Chambers' family. But an attorney for Chambers' family said that's not enough.
St. Petersburg lawyer Darryl Rouson says now that legal options appear to be exhausted, Iorio and the City Council need to show some "fortitude" and "resolve" and pay restitution to the Chambers family.
Chambers said that's the kind of leadership Gov. Charlie Crist showed when he successfully supported a bill in the last session that awarded $5-million to the family of Martin Lee Anderson, the teenager who died after being roughed up by guards at a state boot camp.
Curtis Stokes, president of the Hillsborough chapter of the NAACP, agreed the city should offer to compensate the family.
"I'm sure they can work out a sum if they know the city was negligent," Stokes said.
Chambers, 19, was suspected of robbing a camera store in 1967 and was running from police when he was shot in the back in a predominantly black neighborhood. His death sparked days of riots.
A court proceeding following the shooting and a reinvestigation in 1990 by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found no wrongdoing on the part of Tampa police. But for decades the teen's family and others in the community have maintained the shooting was racially motivated.
Rouson said after reviewing hundreds of pages of documents, he concluded the investigations were "absolutely insufficient."