'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
Guests: Joy-Ann Reid, Melissa Harris-Perry, Matt Gunman, Richard Kurtz, Eugene O`Donnell, Charles Blow, Cheryl Brown, Benjamin Crump, Natalie Jackson, Jonathan Capehart
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Breaking news tonight on the killing
of Trayvon Martin. We have new witnesses to hear from tonight, and for the
first time we are seeing what the shooter, George Zimmerman, looked like
immediately after the killing of Trayvon Martin.
This police video obtained by ABC News shows Zimmerman arriving at
the police station in Sanford, Florida, in handcuffs, after shooting and
killing Trayvon Martin.
And in an exclusive report by NBC News TheGrio.com, a source with
knowledge of the investigation says it was then Sanford Police Chief Bill
Lee along with Captain Robert O`Conner, the investigation supervisor who
made the decision to release George Zimmerman from those handcuffs on the
night of February 26th after consulting with state attorney Norman
Wolfinger in person. The state attorney was there.
It`s not known whether that in-person meeting took place at the scene
of the shooting or inside this police station that you`re seeing right now
where George Zimmerman was questioned by police.
We are joined now by ABC News Matt Gutman, a reporter who obtained
this video of Zimmerman on the night of the shooting. It first aired on
"ABC World News" tonight.
Matt, what do you see as the significance of this video in terms of
helping us with the evidence of what happened here?
MATT GUMAN, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): It`s the first
time we see anything of Zimmerman, Lawrence, and it`s quite remarkable.
For weeks now we`ve been seeing that mug shot of his from 2005. He looks
rather courtly, bearded. And now he looks more chiseled. He looks like
someone who is rather well built.
Also, clearly important to tall of this is his face. In the police
report and eyewitnesses said that he appeared bloody right after the
scuffle with Trayvon Martin. He said that Trayvon Martin cold clocked him,
punched on him, pinned him to the ground and smashed his head on the
But you`ve seen the video. We`re watching it. It doesn`t seem he
was that badly beaten in the face, which raises other questions what really
So I think it serves to contradict, to some extent, his version of
being mercilessly attacked by Trayvon Martin.
O`DONNELL: Matt, you`ve done extraordinary reporting on this. Not
just tonight but leading up to this. It`s fascinating to me what`s going
on here institutionally between the police department and the state`s
attorney office that made the call that night to not go ahead and
prosecute, according to the other leaks that are coming out, and it seems
as if what might be happening here now -- is it your sense that some of
what is happening here is the Sanford Police Department has had enough of
being criticized about not going forward with charges here, and this
actually -- this video, helps focus attention on the decision that the
state attorney made after the police actually recommended a prosecution?
GUTMAN: It seems so. It was rather, you know, simple to obtain.
All they have to do is ask for it and wait a couple of days. The police
were quite helpful. So, I think the sentiment that perhaps they want to
get rid of this story and show they did do their due diligence. There were
significant steps involved in the case as well.
Apparently, he was never given -- Zimmerman was never given a
toxicology exam. They didn`t interview witnesses, like the people we spoke
to today, including Trayvon`s girlfriend who was on the phone with him just
seconds before he was shot. Those people were never spoken to.
But, clearly, there was some disconnect between the police department
and the prosecutors. We have the source that was telling us that it`s
simply impossible to get charges on anyone unless the state attorney
figured that he had a slam dunk case, and that was clearly what happened
Obviously, this "Stand Your Ground" law makes it very, very difficult
for prosecutors to prove beyond reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman
didn`t feel threatened, Lawrence. And that`s really the operative term.
Even if his face wasn`t badly damaged, as long as he had reason to believe
and can prove that, that his life was threatened or he felt his life was
threatened, this law entitles him essentially to use deadly force.
O`DONNELL: Matt, you`ve just ruined the night of every reporter on
site whose bosses are asking them tonight why didn`t you get this video.
All you have to do is ask for it. That`s not what the other reporters
wanted to hear.
I want to go to the 16-year-old girlfriend of Trayvon Martin who you
also managed to interview. It`s just a week or so that we`ve known about
her existence. Attorney Benjamin Crump revealed in a conference about a
week that she was on her cell phone with Trayvon on his cell phone leading
up to this incident.
And I want to read a transcript here that we have of some of what she
told you. She said he was walking fast. When he said this man was behind
him again. He comes and say -- said he looked like he was about to do
something to him and then Trayvon said the man was still behind him.
And then I said to him, run. Paraphrasing what she said word for
word. It`s available in your report. It will be widely distributed.
What did you make of her contribution to our understanding of this?
GUTMAN: Again, it was another contradiction of Zimmerman`s version
of events. For minutes it seemed Trayvon Martin knew he was being followed
by this unidentified person behind him. At one point he said there`s this
crazy white dude behind me. I don`t know why he`s following me.
And this continues. He tries to run, and then he walks. And then he
thinks he loses Zimmerman. And Zimmerman catches up to him. And then they
had this confrontation, Trayvon Martin asking Zimmerman, why are you
following me? Zimmerman responding, what are you doing here? And the next
thing that this 16-year-old girl says, Dee Dee, that she heard was a
scuffle. Trayvon`s treasured phone falls to the ground. She hears the
rustle in the grass, and then the phone cuts out.
O`DONNELL: Matt --
GUTMAN: He was terrified of being followed.
O`DONNELL: Matt, quickly before you go, you talked to her. What`s
your assessment of her credibility?
GUTMAN: I think she`s credible. I don`t think she has anything to
hide here. We`ve been talking to her for days now. This is not the first
time that I`ve heard her speak. I have no reason to believe that she`s
Obviously, you know, at some point, this may or may not go to court,
and she could be subpoenaed. But at the very least I think that it`s
obvious since her number is in the phone record, which is how we got to
her, that the police should have talked to her, at least interviewed her.
But they never have.
O`DONNELL: They still haven`t?
GUTMAN: That`s one of the most surprising things about this case.
O`DONNELL: Matt, the police still haven`t talked to her?
GUTMAN: No. I parentally prosecutors plan to meet her next Monday,
but that`s only because the new set of prosecutors just came in.
O`DONNELL: ABC News correspondent Matt Gutman -- thank you very much
for joining us tonight. Thank you for sharing your video with us.
And keep asking the police what else they have.
GUTMAN: Thanks, Lawrence.
L. O`DONNELL: Thanks, Matt.
Joining me now are: Eugene O`Donnell, professor of police studies and
of law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Joy-Ann Reid, she`s the
managing editor of "The Grio" and MSNBC contributor today.
And, Joy-Ann broke that story today.
Joy-Ann, your story about the prosecutor. Not an assistant state
attorney. But the man, the top guy, being on the scene. Do we know
whether he was in that shooting scene that night making this evaluation and
this decision? Or whether he was in that police station where we are now
seeing George Zimmerman was taken?
JOY-ANN REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Lawrence, the source who I
spoke with early is this morning didn`t make that clear. But what is clear
is that this case was investigated at a very high level, at the highest
level. We`re talking a Sunday night, after dinner time.
The chief of police went to this the scene of the shooting, which in
it of itself is unusual. But then there was a confrontation between the
chief, the guy who`s charged with supervising all investigations, criminal
investigations for this department. And according to this source, this
state attorney, the guy who would eventually get this case from police and
have ultimately recused himself because he wanted to avoid an appearance of
a conflict of interest.
I think just the high level at which the decision not to arrest and
not to charge Zimmerman, that in it of itself I think is noteworthy.
L. O`DONNELL: Joy-Ann, I want to go to that high level. There`s
usually a special circumstance for that. It usually involves the shooting
of a police officer, the shooting of a notable person, or some -- what --
so, the whole world is wondering now, what about this particular crime?
What about this incident, if it was not a crime? If it was unintentional,
homicide, under these circumstances, justifiable homicide -- what about it
would bring out the absolute top level people, the chief of police, Bill
Lee, who has now been, in effect, suspended and this chief prosecutor who
has recused himself from the case.
And I think what people are wondering about, they know that George
Zimmerman`s father is a retired judge. I believe he was a judge in
Virginia. So, it isn`t clear to me that he would be connected very well to
the system down there. But is there some connection that George Zimmerman
had, either through his family or through himself, somehow, that would say
if he`s involved in this shooting, we need the top level deciders to be out
there on the street.
REID: Well, I got to tell you, Lawrence, that is a question that has
been racking my brain all day. We do know, as you just said, George
Zimmerman`s father lives in Lake Mary. Sanford, just to give you a lay of
the land, is a sort of middle income to lower middle income next door city
to Lake Mary, which is where the more affluent people live.
And Zimmerman`s father owns a home there. They moved there in about
2002. Initially, George Zimmerman lived with his father. And his name was
on the deed to the house for a while.
So the question is, that I would have obviously, would be did George
Zimmerman call his dad? Does George Zimmerman`s father know someone to
call? Because I got to tell you, Lawrence, I know my share of police
officers. I even know a police chief or two. I don`t know too many that
come out of their homes on a Sunday night to go to the scene of a shooting.
And it`s not as if this community hasn`t had prior crimes, egregious
crimes. I was told of a number of really heinous murders where you didn`t
see the chief of police show up.
So I think the combination of that and Wolfinger getting directly
involved saying, don`t charge him, we don`t have enough to hold him, blue
the inconsistencies in George Zimmerman`s story raise a lot of questions.
L. O`DONNELL: Eugene O`Donnell, as a police officer, as a
prosecutor, you`ve responded to these kinds of scenes -- what brings out
the top level players for this situation?
EUGENE O`DONNELL, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Well, to
some extent it`s reassuring that they were there. I just don`t know -- the
prosecutor`s job is to do justice. It`s not to get meshed in legal
technicalities and get overwhelmed?
I mean, what did the evidence show in the case? The evidence does
not appear -- the credible objective evidence does not appear to show a
justifiable homicide. And prosecutors have to be courageous in their
discharge of justice. So, I can`t for the life of me understand why these
prosecutors seem to be --
L. O`DONNELL: Eugene, let me get you your view of this videotape
that we are seeing, because what we are seeing as he steps out of that car,
unassisted, by the way, he`s handcuffed, he`s handcuffed behind his back in
the backseat of a police officer. You know, Eugene, I know, it`s actually
not easy to get out of the backseat of a police car when you`re handcuffed
or any car handcuffed. Go home and try it, people. You`ll find out it
Officers very normally, routinely, injured or not, they will assist
that person getting out. They were fully confident that this guy can jump
out of that backseat by himself with no help whatsoever. When you`re
looking at this, what are you looking for this in first image we see of
George Zimmerman after the shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin?
E. O`DONNELL: Well, you have George Zimmerman`s account, which is
just definitionally, the least reliable piece of evidence. He has a motive
to lie. He`s facing homicide charges. So, it`s definitionally suspect
right off the bat.
So, what you`re looking for is objective, credible evidence that`s
beyond dispute. This video shows that whatever it was taking, it`s a short
time after the incident, that it`s beyond dispute that there are no serious
physical injuries. He`s not in the hospital. There`s no bruising that`s
If he alleges that he was in a life and death struggle, this video
belies that claim. It`s possible that there were injuries that are not
seen on the video. But a short time after this video, this, in conjunction
with the audiotapes, these are objective pieces of evidence that you put
great faith in.
L. O`DONNELL: And it would be great if you`re on the Zimmerman side
of the story to look at the video and say, look, there`s something that
supports my story. It doesn`t have to prove your story. It doesn`t have
to be conclusive.
For example, if he had a bloody nose, sure. The people who responded
to the scene as they say in their report could have helped him clean up the
bloody nose at the scene. But would there be no blood on his shirt? Look
at that short.
You know, the red jacket might not show what we`re looking for in
terms of blood in the front. But on the front, if he had a bloody nose, if
he was at very close quarters shooting someone who he`s almost embracing in
the chest, would there not be blood splatter onto him? Onto his body if he
was that the close in an altercation or at least his own bloody nose? Some
evidence of his own bloody nose dripping on the front of that shirt.
E. DONNELL: Well, this does not show a life and death struggle.
There`s no evidence of a life and death struggle.
The bottom line here is the reasonableness of his conduct. And if he
misperceived a danger and took a wholly unreasonable decision to shoot,
that would be a very obviously important conclusion. From this evidence,
there`s no evidence -- to this video, there`s no evidence of a life or
death struggle of serious physical injury, great bodily harm, and certainly
no evidence that he had to go to the hospital.
L. O`DONNELL: Now we don`t have an accompanying autopsy report on
the body of Trayvon Martin.
What we do have, and joining me now, is Richard Kurtz. He`s the
director of the Roy Mizell and Kurtz Funeral Home. He prepared Trayvon`s
body for the funeral.
We have him joining us by phone.
Mr. Kurtz, can you tell us what you saw in the condition of Trayvon
Martin`s body that might be consistent with having been in an altercation?
Any wounds to his knuckles? If you`re throwing punches, even when you`re
hitting flesh, even hitting jaws of other people, when you throw punches,
your hands do not come out unscathed.
RICHARD KURTZ, FUNERAL HOME DIRECTOR (via telephone): The only thing
that I was able to see was the gunshot wound at the chest. Examining his
hand, I could not see any evidence like he had been, you know, punching
somebody, as the news media say he was punching. It doesn`t add up to me.
L. O`DONNELL: I want you to listen to something that Trayvon
Martin`s father said today in an interview with the "Washington Post." I
want you to listen to this, because he is describing what the police told
him about what happened that night in the altercation between Trayvon
Martin and George Zimmerman.
Let`s listen to what Trayvon Martin`s father says here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN`S FATHER: Zimmerman proceeds to reach
in his pocket to get his cell phone and that`s when Trayvon attacked him.
He said Trayvon hit him, knocked him to the ground, got on top of him, put
his knees on his arms, pinned him down. Put his left hand over his mouth,
told him shot the "F" up, and proceed beating him with the other hand.
Zimmerman then says Trayvon was able to -- I mean, Zimmerman was able
to unholster his weapon and fire one shot, and Trayvon fell back and said,
"You got me." That`s what the police initially told me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
L. O`DONNELL: Richard Kurtz, when you looked at Trayvon`s body, did
you see anything that would in any way support that story.
KURTZ: I didn`t see anything that would support that story.
L. O`DONNELL: Let me go to specifics. His knees -- he said that he
had his knees on Zimmerman`s arms. That mines at some point Zimmerman must
have gotten free of that, according to that story. When you`re in those
tussles on the ground, as you`ve dealt with bodies in the aftermath of
altercations, the contact points, frequently, knees, the palms of hands,
the knuckles -- all those contact points that normally get banged around,
any evidence of scrapes of any type or bruising of any kind in those areas?
KURTZ: No, sir. I cannot tell there was any bruising. However, you
know, a couple of days some of them could disappear. But at least there
would have been some evidence of a bruise that would still be visible in
that, I did not see.
L. O`DONNELL: And I know you`re not a medical examiner, but did you
see two wounds on the body? Did you see one that would have been an
entrance wound and one that would have been an exit wound?
KURTZ: I only saw what I considered the entrance wound. I can`t --
I couldn`t tell where the exit wound, no.
L. O`DONNELL: So you only saw the entrance wound, and was that in
the chest, as we`ve heard?
KURTZ: Yes, sir.
L. O`DONNELL: Funeral Director Richard Kurtz -- I want to thank you
very much for helping us with this information tonight.
KURTZ: No problem, Lawrence.
L. O`DONNELL: Eugene O`Donnell, whether or not there`s an exit
wound, it`s a big deal. If there is no exit wound, it may tell you the
trajectory of that bullet may be entered here and actually have to travel
through a lot of body. It wasn`t possible to just go straight through,
which is the shortest distance to the body.
What are you looking for in the autopsy report when we eventually get
E. O`DONNELL: Well, you`re trying to see if there`s corroboration.
If there`s a story that`s been told is the evidence available. The
credible objective evidence, is it consistent with the story?
There does not have to be an injury on Mr. Zimmerman, of course.
Theoretically you could have a fight without an injury, but there would
tend to be, certainly a life and death ferocious struggle.
L. O`DONNELL: You`ve heard a lot of people tell you.
E. O`DONNELL: Absolutely.
L. O`DONNELL: Now we`re hearing as Trayvon`s father just said that
the police told him Trayvon is on top of this guy. He`s got his knees on
his arms pinned. He`s got him completely pinned and defenseless. Both
arms are now pinned.
And he`s holding him down with one of his hands additionally to
stabilize him so that he can punch him and punch him and punch him.
If that is true, how -- if you`re listening to someone tell you this
story as an investigator -- what does that person need to be able to tell
you about how he escaped from that complete fizz control that the other
person is exerting over him, and got to a gun that`s in a holster
underneath the body of the other person, who is obviously sitting on that
gun. What does he have to tell you to convince you that he actually was
able to turn the tables in that situation and then shoot that person dead?
E. O`DONNELL: And that`s the heart of the whole investigation.
Trying to find out if it`s a believable, plausible story and what the
independent witnesses show. There was a reenactment. We`ll have to see
That`s a very good question as to how this could occur. It would be
an extraordinary move -- it sounds like it would be an extraordinary move
to get from out from you should this kind of grip.
L. O`DONNELL: We are looking at the first video of George Zimmerman
after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin.
We will talk to a mother of a 13-year-old witness. She`s going to
tell us what the chief investigator told her about this case. She`s going
to join me next.
O`DONNELL: A 13-year-old boy may have been the last person to see
Trayvon Martin alive before George Zimmerman shot and killed him. We`ll
hear that tape of the 13-year-old telling the 911 dispatcher what he saw
and what he heard. His mother will join us next and tell us what the
homicide detective told her after the killing me Trayvon Martin.
O`DONNELL: We`re back with more on the killing of Trayvon Martin.
First, listen to a 911 call from a 13-year-old boy to the Sanford
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CALLER: My brother said someone got shot behind our house.
DISPATCHER: Is your brother there right now?
CALLER: He`s next to me.
DISPATCHER: OK, can you give him the phone?
DISPATCHER: Hello, sir, what exactly did you see?
WITNESS: I saw man laying on the ground that needed help that was
screaming, and then I was going to go over there to try to help him, but my
dog got off the leash, so I went and got my dog and then I heard a loud
sound and then the screaming stopped.
DISPATCHER: OK. Did you see the person get shot?
DISPATCHER: OK. Did you know the person who was shot or did you see
the person who had the gun?
WITNESS: No. I just heard a loud gunshot and then the screaming
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Cheryl Brown, the mother of the 13-
year-old witness, and Alicia Adamson her lawyer.
Cheryl Brown, how long did it take for the police to talk to your
CHERYL BROWN, MOTHER OF SHOOTING WITNESS: They didn`t talk to him
until Mar 5th.
O`DONNELL: But he had made the 911 call the night of. Were you
expecting after this incident that because he was on a 911 call, that they
would come looking for him?
BROWN: Yes, absolutely. I figured since they had our contact
information from the 911 call that someone would be contacting us.
O`DONNELL: And how did you finally -- and your son finally end up
talking to the police? Did they come to your home?
BROWN: They did, yes.
O`DONNELL: And how many officers came to your home?
BROWN: Two detectives came.
O`DONNELL: And do you remember their names?
BROWN: Detective Serino, and he was with a female officer. I don`t
remember her name.
O`DONNELL: That`s Chris Serino, homicide investigator on this case?
O`DONNELL: Yes. He`s a central figure in this case now. And how
long did take talk to your son?
BROWN: They were at our house for 30 minutes.
O`DONNELL: And would you say it was a cooperative discuss? Was it
easy going? How did your son feel about it?
BROWN: I guess, you know, he was -- is doing as well as could be
expected. You know, it`s a nerve racking experience, and he`s probably
O`DONNELL: Do you think, did your son think the officers were making
any kinds of accommodations for him given that he`s 13-years-old? And I
assume, you tell me, is he accustomed to talking to police officers?
BROWN: He`s never talked to a police officer. Not in that
O`DONNELL: And so, what was your sense of what was going to happen
next in this case after they got your son`s information?
BROWN: I was hopeful that there would be an arrest, based on what
the investigator told me at my house.
O`DONNELL: Is that Chris Serino?
O`DONNELL: What did he say to you?
BROWN: He told me that he and the other officer with him felt that
it was not self defense, and that they needed to prove it wasn`t self
defense. And he said that I needed to read between the lines because there
was some stereotyping going on.
O`DONNELL: And you`re reading between those lines about stereotyping
BROWN: I took it to mean that he felt that George Zimmerman commit -
O`DONNELL: Sorry. Go ahead.
BROWN: -- that he committed this crime based on whether it`s
stereotyping or racial profiling or whatever you want to call it. But
those were his words. Stereotyping.
O`DONNELL: Did you get a feeling this is one of those things you see
in a movie or TV episode, where here`s a cop who thinks he has the right
way of looking at a case, but higher ups in the department, they`re going
slowly or they`re not interested in getting out what`s going on here? Is
that something that was between the lines?
BROWN: I didn`t take it as that. I took it as he was referring to
George Zimmerman did this because he was stereotyping this person that was
O`DONNELL: I see. Stereotyping on the scene by Zimmerman based on
all he knew about him was that he was black, which we all know from the 911
tape that Zimmerman, that that`s the only thing he knew about him
O`DONNELL: Cheryl, did it seem to you, I don`t know if you can tell
this, and not necessarily -- but did it seem to you that what your son had
to say was considered important by detectives?
BROWN: Well, when they first came to the house, he did -- Mr. Serino
did say they initially were trying to not involve Austin, and they were
trying to not speak to him. But they felt they were at a point in the
investigation where they needed to.
O`DONNELL: Cheryl Brown and Alicia Adamson -- thank you both very
much for joining me tonight. I really appreciate it.
ALICIA ADAMSON, ATTORNEY: Thank you, Lawrence. Good night.
L. O`DONNELL: Thank you.
I want to go quickly to Eugene.
I mean, when dealing with a 13-year-old witness like that. There is
an understandable reluctance to drag a kid into something that might not
necessarily need his involvement. What do you make of what you heard
E. O`DONNELL: This sounds like police work.
L. O`DONNELL: Yes.
E. O`DONNELL: There`s roadblocks on the way to get to the truth, and
the police have to go through to the roadblocks. They have to be sensitive
at times. But it sounds like you have a police officer with a commitment
to do what`s right and he`s going to go and do it.
L. O`DONNELL: All right. We`re going to be back with more.
Up next, George Zimmerman`s father broke his silence just minutes ago
in Florida. We`ll play you the tape of what George Zimmerman`s father said
his son told him about the final moments before George Zimmerman shot and
killed Trayvon Martin.
O`DONNELL: Just moments ago, George Zimmerman`s father broke his
silence for the first time since his son shot and killed Trayvon Martin.
Up next, we will play that new Zimmerman interview tape and get reaction
from the Martin family`s lawyers.
O`DONNELL: George Zimmerman`s father appeared tonight in an interview
on Orlando`s Fox 35. He`s in shadow, the station said to protect his
identity. Robert Zimmerman describes what he says his son said happened
just before Trayvon Martin was shot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, FATHER OF KILLER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: In doing so,
his firearm was shelled. Trayvon Martin said something to the effect of
you`re going to die now or you`re going to die tonight, something to that
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Benjamin Crump, the head attorney for
Trayvon Martin`s family, and Natalie Jackson, co-counsel for the Martin
Benjamin Crump, Trayvon Martin sees a gun, sees that George Zimmerman
has a gun and he tells the guy with the gun, "you`re going to die tonight.
You`re going to die now." Your reaction?
BENJAMIN CRUMP, LAWYER FOR MARTIN FAMILY: Again, it`s Zimmerman`s
very self serving statement, Mr. O`Donnell. There is nothing to
corroborate that but George Zimmerman, when all the other evidence clearly
contradicts everything George Zimmerman has said.
America has now listened to those 911 tapes with their ears. And now
they see this video tonight with their eyes. And it is clear that what was
in that police report was a fabrication. And --
O`DONNELL: Go ahead.
CRUMP: It was a fabrication. And the American people again are
asking when is he going to be arrested for killing him in cold blood,
O`DONNELL: OK. Natalie Jackson, I just want to be clear, this is not
in a police report. That quote does not come from a police report. That
comes from the shooter`s father in an interview with a Fox TV station in
Florida. The only quote -- the only quote we have a in a police report
from George Zimmerman that night is at the scene, where officer Timothy
Smith quotes him as saying, quote, "I was yelling for someone to help me
but no one would help me."
Natalie Jackson, if George Zimmerman faced one who said to him,
"you`re going to die tonight, you`re going to die now," isn`t it likely
that that`s what he would have been quoting, that that`s what Officer
Timothy Smith would have heard him say?
NATALIE JACKSON, LAWYER FOR THE MARTIN FAMILY: Exactly. That`s
something from a movie that George made up. Attorney Crump is absolutely
right. We`ve been told by George Zimmerman -- we`ve been told by George
Zimmerman`s father -- we`ve been told by Joe Oliver, do not believe our
lying ears and do not believe our lying eyes.
The people are not crazy. They need to make an arrest tonight. We
had an armed vigilante walking the street, and he shot and killed someone`s
innocent child. He needs to be arrested.
O`DONNELL: Benjamin Crump, I have full sympathies with George
Zimmerman`s father. If George Zimmerman told his father that, I have full
sympathies with his father believing it completely, even with his
experience as a judge. As a judge, he probably wouldn`t buy it, because it
just sounds too perfect and too convenient.
But when it`s your own son, in trouble like this, all that objectivity
falls away. So I have no fault with him coming -- advancing this notion
that he said this. But how does it line up? What we are challenged with
now is given everything we now know about Trayvon Martin, how does this
line up with what we know about him?
CRUMP: Well, it`s just -- Lawrence, when you think about, you`re show
is called THE LAST WORD. This video really is the last word on this case.
O`DONNELL: The police video we`re looking at now, you mean?
CRUMP: Yes. This is THE LAST WORD on this. And as Sabrina Fortune
(ph) said, this is the icing on the cake. You know, what more does it take
for him to be arrested? Don`t take my word for it. Don`t take his
mother`s word for it? Don`t take his father`s. Don`t take attorney
Jackson, attorney Parks. Don`t take anybody`s word for it.
Just look at the video, listen to the 911 tapes. And Lawrence, reason
those incoming phone log records on Trayvon`s phone. Everything suggests
that Trayvon was walking home, trying to get home when he was stopped by
this armed vigilante, and killed this kid in cold blood.
All Trayvon Martin had was a bag of Skittles. He had a nine
O`DONNELL: Ben Crump and Natalie Jackson, attorneys for the Martin
family, I cannot thank you enough for getting in here and joining us
tonight when we really need you and we`re going to need you to come back.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
JACKSON: Thank you.
CRUMP: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, we will play more from that new interview of
George Zimmerman`s father in Florida. And Jonathan Capehart, Melissa
Harris-Perry and Charles Blow have been waiting to react to all of this.
And now we have the latest developments from George Zimmerman`s father.
That`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: More with breaking news on the killing of Trayvon Martin.
And joining us now, Charles M. Blow, editorial writer for "the New York
Times," joining us with Eugene O`Donnell here in the New York studio.
Joining also, Jonathan Capehart, "Washington Post" editorial writer and
MSNBC analyst, and Melissa Harris-Perry, Tulane University professor and,
of course, MSNBC host joins us now.
Charles Blow, this latest statement from Robert Zimmerman, George
Zimmerman`s father, says Trayvon Martin sees that George Zimmerman has a
gun. Sees -- we have been -- it`s been reported that it`s in a holster in
his belt, and that Trayvon Martin`s reaction to that, to the guy with the
gun, is, quote, "you`re going to die tonight; you`re going to die now."
This is the kid who has Skittles and ice tea. He`s telling the guy
with the gun he`s going to die.
CHARLES BLOW, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Right. So none of this is adding
up to me. But -- maybe I`m the only person who knows anything about a
fight that`s hearing this conversation.
O`DONNELL: I don`t think so. Not with the two O`Donnell here, no.
BLOW: Because I`m trying to figure out, when does he say that? Is it
before or after he pins him down? If the father`s story is correct, and
Trayvon has his knees on both the man`s arms, holding him with one arm,
hitting him with the other arm, then that means his body is so far forward
on Zimmerman`s chest that the gun, which the police have said is in a
holster on his waist, is behind him.
So when does he, Trayvon, take a break from the beating to look behind
him to see that he has a gun on his waist? When -- how is it that
Zimmerman gets his hands free?
O`DONNELL: You and I are going to reenact it right now. We`ve got
some room right over here.
BLOW: Prepares the gun to be shot. Somehow moves it up from behind
Trayvon Martin`s back to the front of him and then shoots him in the chest.
Some -- the logic here is not making sense.
O`DONNELL: We have more from the father. Let`s listen to more of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZIMMERMAN: George was trying to get his head off the concrete, trying
to move with Trayvon on him into the grass. In doing so, his firearm was
shown. Trayvon Martin said something to the effect of you`re going to die
now or you`re going to die tonight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, we here have all met Trayvon Martin in
death. We have learned as much as we can about him in death. Charles has
met with his mother, talked to her at great length, drawn a picture of him.
You`ve drawn a picture of him over time.
That sounds like two things. It sounds like an awfully convenient
quote for a judge to supply -- he`s a former judge -- in the case, to
justify the shooting. And it also is something that on the state of the
evidence of what we know about Trayvon Martin doesn`t link up, as far as I
know, with anything else we know about Trayvon Martin.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Right. As I`ve written
many times, nothing about this case makes sense. Nothing. And today --
O`DONNELL: And Jonathan, it makes less sense now. After everything
we`ve seen tonight with this new police video, with the father`s statement,
we find ourselves at 10:49 p.m. tonight understanding it less.
CAPEHART: Right. Actually I think George Zimmerman`s case is
beginning to crumble. Between -- between, you know, the ABC video plus the
interview you just did with the 14-year-old witness` mother, where you have
Inspector Sorino (ph) saying that he believes that Zimmerman did not shoot
in self defense.
And today, this morning, we at the "Washington Post" had an 85-minute
meeting with Sabrina Fulton and Tracy Martin and Benjamin Crump and Darrill
Parks, talking about all of this.
And Mr. Martin said something very interesting in his recounting of
what happened. And it was -- it was Inspector Sorino who was the one who
came to the house and talked to him about what happened to his son. And he
said -- and I`m going to have to paraphrase here, because I`m not going to
rifle through my papers to try to find it.
But apparently Sorino told Mr. Martin that he doubted -- that he
doubted parts of the story. So we`re beginning to see from a whole lot of
angles that -- and see literally with the ABC video that George Zimmerman`s
story is crumbling before our very eyes.
O`DONNELL: Melissa Harris-Perry, George Zimmerman`s father says that
Trayvon beat him for almost a minute, which conveniently fills what we know
to be the blank minute in our understanding of the story, between the last
moment Trayvon spoke to his girlfriend on the phone and the shot was fired.
Melissa, we need you here because we need someone who has never been
in one of these physical fights to give us a fresh eye and ear about what
all this sounds like to you.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: I`m sorry. What makes you think
I`ve never been in a fight?
CAPEHART: I think I`m the one who has probably never been in a fight
in this group.
HARRIS-PERRY: So we`re going to pause and come back to that
conversation at a some later point. I will tell you about the fights that
I`ve been in. But what I will say is this: I unfortunately disagree with
Jonathan that this makes no sense, because it feels like it makes far too
It`s just that it doesn`t make sense if we assume that Trayvon Martin
would be presumed to be innocent. In other words, what makes sense here is
if you assume that the body of an unarmed 17-year-old minor is presumed
guilty, presumed guilty potentially by Zimmerman and presumed guilty
apparently by various stages of the Sanford Police Department, Zimmerman`s
own father, other witnesses, that -- the assumption is that somehow this
young man is culpable in his own death, culpable in his own killing,
despite the fact that what he did was walk to the store and walk home, or
attempt to walk home unarmed.
And I think even -- even the need at this point to look at the video
and to say, oh, look, Zimmerman doesn`t appear to have blood. He doesn`t
appear to have a black eye. He doesn`t appear to have contusions on the
back of his head. He jumped up out of the back of that police cruiser as
if he wasn`t stiff or harmed in any way.
In a certain way, this is us falling into the trap that if Trayvon
Martin had thrown a punch at Zimmerman, you are talking about a citizen who
was unarmed throwing a punch at an armed man who was following him. Why
wouldn`t Stand Your Ground protect Trayvon Martin in that circumstance,
rather than Zimmerman? Why is Zimmerman assumed to have the right to
impede on Trayvon, whether Trayvon actually did these things, which the
evidence now clearly begins to look like it`s not.
And so I think for me what`s most distressing is we keep having to try
to explain why it is problematic for an armed adult to kill an unarmed
O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to take a break right here. We`re
going to come back. We`re going to keep everyone, come back and analyze
everything that`s happened here.
O`DONNELL: We`re back with a final two minutes of reaction in this
breaking news night in this case of the killing of Trayvon Martin. Charles
Blow, if you could make one point right now, what would that be?
BLOW: Squeeze to it. The 13-year-old saw -- seems to say he saw only
one person on the ground, which would directly contradict what Zimmerman is
saying and what his father is saying. And there`s only a one-minute
window. So there`s not enough time for a bunch of jumping up and getting
The other thing is anybody who has ever washed a load of clothes knows
that if you are rolling around in wet grass, because it was raining that
night, and you have to no signs of dirt or grass stains on the back of your
jacket, either you had a wardrobe change or that`s not true.
O`DONNELL: Eugene, can you pick a most important piece of evidence
E. O`DONNELL: I would just simply say that this simply underscores, I
don`t know why there was a summery rush to judge this case. It`s a
homicide case. There`s always time to do justice.
O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, your LAST WORD.
CAPEHART: The one thing that I`ve seen tonight that basically
crumbles everything is in the video when they show the back of George
Zimmerman`s head. For someone who had his head banged, banged, banged into
a sidewalk, it looks pretty normal to me.
O`DONNELL: And Melissa Harris-Perry, the reason we`re evaluating
Zimmerman`s story is his the only story that exists. Trayvon Martin
doesn`t have a story to tell. So if Zimmerman`s story cannot hold up and
cannot make sense, then Trayvon Martin, from the grave, wins with his
Of everything that has flown in here tonight, Melissa, and crowded
this story and changed it tonight, what does it leave you thinking about
where this stands?
HARRIS-PERRY: Look, in the end, George Zimmerman deserves a jury of
his peers. He deserves a presumption of innocence. And he deserves a
vigorous defense. Every American citizen does.
But that all should happen after he`s arrested and charged. No one
should have to try this case on the THE LAST WORD, on any media. This
should be -- should be gathered and presented in a court of law. The
miscarriage of justice is that this man is still a free man. And there`s
no possibility for anything that feels like justice until he`s arrested and
O`DONNELL: Eugene, I want to do one quick point with you. They had a
chance to take him to the hospital for medical treatment. They obviously
looked at him and said he doesn`t need anything.
E. O`DONNELL: Yes. They should have taken him to medical treatment.
They should have immediately taken photos too, to document if there were
O`DONNELL: Which we don`t know. They may have done. Those would be
crime scene photos. There should be a lot of crime scene photos, incident
photos for this, if they don`t consider it a crime scene.
E. O`DONNELL: But he shouldn`t be walking around in his clothes after
O`DONNELL: They should have taken possession of his clothes as
E. O`DONNELL: Absolutely, unequivocally.
O`DONNELL: Charles Blow, this has been a day almost like no other in
this case. We`ve had very big developments, but not normally a whole
handful of them in a day. Your sense of tomorrow in this case?
BLOW: I am having a hard time seeing how the investigators in this
case do not at least come forward and make some sort of a statement as to
why an arrest cannot or will not be made in the case immediately. And if
not -- and somebody moving forward with some sort of arrest of George
Zimmerman in this case.
O`DONNELL: An amazing night of developments in the killing of Trayvon
Martin. We had exactly who we needed here to cover this.
Charles M. Blow of the "New York Times," Eugene O`Donnell, Jonathan
Capehart and Melissa Harris-Perry, thank you all very much for staying with
CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: You can have THE LAST WORD online at our blog,
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