George Zimmerman, the Florida neighbourhood watchman who shot dead an unarmed black 17-year-old male last year, has been found not guilty. Lawyers for Mr Zimmerman, 29, argued he acted in self-defence and with justifiable use of deadly force in the death of Trayvon Martin.
The jury retired on Friday to consider its verdict on charges of either second-degree murder or manslaughter. The case sparked a fierce debate about racial profiling in the US.
Protesters are gathering, reports the BBC’s David Willis, in Sanford, the Florida town where the shooting took place. Police and community leaders have appealed for calm.
After the verdict, Judge Deborah Nelson told Mr Zimmerman he was free to go.
Mr Zimmerman showed little reaction as the verdict was read out. “Hopefully everyone will respect the jury’s verdict,” his lawyer Mark O’Mara told reporters after the case.
He said Mr Zimmerman would now have to be “very cautious and protective of his safety because there is still a fringe element who have said that they would revenge – that they would not listen to – a verdict of not guilty.”
Another member of his defence team, Don West, said: “I’m glad this jury kept this tragedy from becoming a travesty.”