February 17, 2014
Guest: Corrine Brown; Larry Hannan, Kendall Coffey, John Burris, Rudolph
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you
for tuning in.
Tonight`s lead, the injustice of the stand your ground law. We have now
sent a signal that you can be killed and your life will not be
acknowledged. Over the weekend, a Florida jury could not agree on the
first-degree murder charge against Michael Dunn for the shooting death of
17-year-old Jordan Davis. The jury did find Dunn guilty on three counts of
second degree attempted murder of the three other teens inside that car.
And one count of firing into the vehicle carrying Jordan Davis and the
three friends. But they could not agree on the most serious charge of
first-degree murder. The judge declared a mistrial on that charge and
prosecutors intend to try it again.
Now, many will say Dunn may be going to jail for life anyway, but that`s
not the point. The point is the message it sends to both potential
shooters and to our kids. This is about the value of Jordan`s life, a
teenager who would have been celebrating his 19th birthday yesterday. Dunn
said he saw Jordan with a gun, but that story wasn`t backed up by any other
witness or any other evidence in the case. His fiancee said she was never
told about a gun. Dunn fled the scene after the shooting. He went back to
his hotel and ordered a pizza. But we have a dead 17-year-old and a hung
jury. How is that possible?
We don`t know what happened inside that jury room, but it came likely down
to Florida`s self-defense law that includes stand your ground, saying if
you feel reasonably threatened, and the person isn`t engaged in unlawful
activity in a place they have a right to be, they have no duty to retreat.
A right to stand their ground, and can meet force with force, including
deadly force. If they reasonably believe it is necessary.
The trial further sends a chilling message to parents that you can shoot
first and ask questions later. That`s not justice, and this law needs to
Back with us tonight, former prosecutor Faith Jenkins, Florida criminal
defense lawyer Ken Padowitz, and legal analyst Lisa Bloom.
I want to hear from all of you first, starting with you, Lisa. Your
reaction to the verdict.
LISA BLOOM, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we got justice for the three young
men who by the grace of God survived this incident, even though bullets
were whizzing by their heads in those three attempted murder convictions.
We got justice for the car because he was convicted of shooting into a car.
But we did not get justice for Jordan Davis, the 17-year-old unarmed kid
who was killed by Michael Dunn.
And so, I think a retrial is very important. I think it`s important that
these prosecutors learn from their mistakes. We all make mistakes. The
only problem is when we don`t learn from them. And we see that happening
with Angela Corey especially losing the Zimmerman case, being unable to get
a murder conviction against this man for shooting an unarmed teenager.
This should be a second-degree murder trial the next time around with six
people on the jury. It will be easier to get a consensus. We`ve got
second-degree attempted murder convictions for the three young men. Let`s
get a second-degree murder conviction now for taking the life of Jordan
SHARPTON: All right. Ken, your reaction to the verdict.
KEN PADOWITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, justice was not completely
served here. We have a stand your ground law in Florida which trips up
juries. It creates violence out on the streets. It places our young men
and women in danger. And when it comes time for justice at a courtroom and
a trial, the stand your ground law is inserted into the law, and it makes
it more difficult for juries to understand how to apply this law and how to
get to justice.
When the evidence is as clear as it is in this case, and this was a very
strong, very clear second-degree murder case. When you have a case like
that, and then you insert this law that makes it very difficult for jurors
to apply and to understand and be able to not be confused, you lead to
problems where you can`t get a verdict and you get a hung jury. Then on
top of that, a prosecution team where the jury makes the same mistakes.
It was clearly a case of being overcharged. They had some premeditation
here that they can argue. But it was clearly a second-degree murder case
in my mind, and the time and energy should have been spent on explaining to
the jury the application of the second-degree murder instructions and that
really was not done here. Enough time wasn`t spent on that. They placed
all of their forces on first-degree, and you know, we ended up here now
with a partial verdict. And now the taxpayers of the state of Florida have
to have this case retried while the poor family has to sit through another
FAITH JENKINS, FORMER CRIMINAL PROSECUTOR: You know, I think the evidence
in this case was really overwhelming and compelling against Michael Dunn,
and there should have been a conviction for the murder charge against
Jordan Davis. And so for me, when justice isn`t served, I really have to
look at the system. And there are some larger issues that have to be
addressed or history will continue to repeat itself.
One, we have to look at the continued cultural demonization of young black
men in this country and how that impacts juries, and when they are the
victims of crime, how is that jurors aren`t able to see them in that way?
They always think they are the initial aggressors.
Two, the law you talked about, stand your ground, and how people -- this
law is encouraging people to take the law into their own hands, based on
their own fear. And a person can have a true and real and honest fear, but
it could be based on a completely false and erroneous presumption about
another person. And then they`re taking to it trial and the jurors are
supposed to determine if their fear is reasonable.
And then the third thing is jury selection. I think we have to look at the
jury selection process and how demographics may a role in our jury
selection process, and how people, implicit biases are not exposed during
the process and how that could impact their decision in cases like this
where I think the evidence was crystal clear.
SHARPTON: Now, ken, you talked about and Faith just spoke about it as well
about the complexity of the stand your ground laws when things need to be
dealt. It`s no secret I`ve taken this position for some time now. These
laws in 23 states need to be repealed around stand your ground. What was
very telling to me is even the judge in this case admitted how confusing
the self-defense law is. And even though he read to it the jury when they
asked for a re-read, of that portion of the jury, watch what he said. This
is the judge in that trial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE RUSSELL HEALEY, DUVAL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: He wants me to read the
first paragraph of justifiable use of deadly force?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, your honor.
HEALEY: Which is an incomplete instruction. And I do not want to go
through that whole justifiable use of deadly force instruction because that
is the most confusing thing -- one of the most confusing things I read to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: One of the most confusing things I read to them. Now, he had
already read it. He would not read it again. It was not clarified. Here
you have the judge at the trial saying it`s a very confusing to the jury.
So, I mean, why do we have something on the books like that? And how do we
sit there and allow this jury who the judge says may be confused. He had
already read it one time. Make a decision when you have a young man that
lost his life.
PADOWITZ: Well, that`s exactly it, Reverend. I mean, shame on the state
of Florida. The law is confusing in every criminal case to begin with.
And all lawyers, whether they be prosecutors or defense attorneys are well
aware of this. But when you hamstring the prosecution with this self-
defense law that basically confuses the jurors even further, confusion
leads to reasonable doubt.
As a defense attorney, I`m going to use the law in representing my clients
to the best of my ability. But the prosecution shouldn`t be hamstrung.
They already have a very high burden, which they should in a free society
such as ours that they have to prove our case beyond a reasonable doubt,
and that the defendant is presumed innocent. But you should not have laws
that are so confusing that when the jury goes back into the jury room and
tries to apply the law to the evidence, you`re going to have a lot of
misinterpretation. You`re going to have a lot of confusion. And confusion
leads to reasonable doubt. So it`s a problem for the state of Florida. If
you want to enforce the laws, you want to get rid of this law.
SHARPTON: Now, Lisa, you had talked about earlier this law with me. You
had talked about how it was in this case the defendant that seemed to
almost tell her some of the things that he said when he took the stand that
fit the elements of this law. Let me give you an example.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL DUNN, SHOT AND KILLED JORDAN DAVIS: I was trying to get her to
relax and stop hyperventilating and calm down, explaining to her that it
was self-defense, that we were not in trouble with the police. We might be
in trouble with the local gangsters, but not, you know -- I didn`t do
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And she, as you said, was a wreck, right?
DUNN: Yes, she was.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because she knew that you had just fired into a car
with human beings inside?
DUNN: She doesn`t understand self-defense. He is showing me a gun and he
is threatening me. I thought I was going to be killed. It was self-
defense. I had no choice but to defend myself. It was life or death. I`d
already been afraid for my life, but now the fear was imminent. I`m not
going to forfeit my life to somebody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I had no choice but to defend myself, which fits elements of
stand your ground. I had no choice. It was self defendants. She didn`t
understand self-defense. Talking about his fiancee, because they were
questioning him about his fiancee was a wreck. This is his reaction. She
didn`t understand self-defense, meaning he does. And if he understood the
self-defense law, he was possibly creating his defense there. She didn`t
And it`s interesting. He never told her he had a gun when he was saying to
her you don`t understand the self-defense law. He left out a little object
like the other guy had a gun, the young man had a gun. Jordan Davis had a
gun. He left that out while he was explaining to her they were not in
trouble with the police, that she didn`t understand self-defense. You
would have thought if he really thought he saw a gun, he would have brought
that up at that point.
BLOOM: Right. So of course she didn`t understand that it was self-
defense, because what she saw was an argument over loud music. He takes
out a gun. Shoots into a car, and then doesn`t even mention this imaginary
magical gun that only he saw. None of the other people in the car, none of
the other people at the scene, not of the bystanders who rushed to try to
save the life of Jordan Davis saw. Only he saw that gun. And yet she
doesn`t understand why it`s self-defense. So I think that`s evidence of
Michael Dunn`s arrogance.
But it also points to something else that I think you`re getting at. And
very much like George Zimmerman. I Michael Dunn understand the law of
self-defense. Well, you know what? A lot of people in Florida do
understand the law of self-defense because stand your ground has been
talked about a great deal. And they understand that under the prior law,
you had to prove that there was no possible way that you could safely
retreat before you take that gun out and shoot it. That law is now gone.
Stand your ground is now the law, and you don`t have to retreat. He gets
in his car to get the gun. He takes the time to open the glove
compartment, take it out, un-holster it. He could have used that time to
step on the pedal and get the heck out of there. A life would have been
saved that would have been required under the prior law. No longer
required under stand your ground.
SHARPTON: And every shot he had to pull the trigger, and there was even a
Faith, let me ask you this quickly. We talked last week about race in
this. And the application of stand your ground when it`s a difference in
race. When you look at the fact this same prosecutor did not allow stand
your ground for Marissa Alexander, a black female who was sentenced to 20
years in jail for a warning shot that didn`t shoot or hit anyone, didn`t
harm anyone, she was prosecuted. Couldn`t use stand your ground, got 20
years from the same prosecutor. Yet the same prosecutor missed two
convictions now. Where is race in this, now that we`ve seen the verdict,
and where is it going forward to a retrial?
JENKINS: Well, the racial animus in this case was clear from the very
beginning when Michael Dunn`s fiancee got on the witness stand and said he
didn`t like this thug music. So it started there from the very beginning,
and all of his actions follow through I think on some very clear racial
biases and stereotypes and frankly prejudice that this man possessed. And
I don`t think that that was clearly set forth in the trial. But it was
sort of one of those underlying issues.
You know, we`ve got to figure out how we address these issues as
prosecutors, because I know that on the one hand, it`s a very polarizing
issue for the jury. You sort of insert that and for some juries, they
don`t believe that racism is still an issue. Or they don`t want to be
confronted with it and have to address it. So prosecutors sort of dance
around it sometimes. But in a case like this where this man has been so
explicit in his letters about how he feels about black people, he even said
he didn`t want black jurors on this the juror for this very reason because
he knew he went through that narrative in his testimony. So, going
forward, I think we have to look at that in jury selection and how we
address that issue going forward.
SHARPTON: Well, we`ll talk more about him and his opinions of race coming
Faith Jenkins, Ken Padowitz and Lisa Bloom, thank you for your time
PADOWITZ: Thank you.
BLOOM: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Coming up, fighting to repeal the unjust stand your ground law.
Congresswoman Corrine Brown was inside the courtroom and joins me next.
Plus, the race factor. Michael Dunn`s language of gangsters and thugs and
new questions about the state case.
Plus, Trayvon Martin`s parents speak out about the verdict.
Plus, who was Jordan Davis? We remember a young man who would have been
celebrating his 19th birthday over the weekend. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: It`s a law that permits someone to shoot first and ask questions
later. We cannot stand for it. Congresswoman Corrine Brown of Florida was
in the courtroom every day. She`s fighting to repeal the law. That`s
SHARPTON: The mistrial of Michael Dunn on first-degree murder charges has
thrust the debate over shoot first law back into the spotlight once again.
The controversial stand your ground law says if you reasonably feel
threatened, there is no duty to retreat or withdraw before using deadly
force to defend yourself.
But I believe this law is emboldening people into confrontation. Florida
was the first state to add the stand your ground language to its books in
2005, and it quickly spread across the country. Over 20 states. But
Dunn`s trial is the latest in Florida re-igniting calls for change to its
self-defense law. There were calls for change when George Zimmerman was
acquitted in the killing of Trayvon Martin, and it came up again in
Florida, again when Marissa Alexander was sentenced to 20 years after
firing what she says was a warning shot. Her husband had a history of
domestic abuse. Yet she wasn`t allowed to claim stand your ground. She is
currently awaiting a new trial.
So that`s three high profile cases in Florida alone. This law is dangerous
and frightening, and we must fight to change it.
Joining me now is Congresswoman Corrine Brown, Democratic of Florida and a
tireless fighter to repeal stand your ground. Congresswoman, thanks for
REP. CORRINE BROWN (D), FLORIDA: Thank you. And thank you for your
SHARPTON: You were in the courtroom.
SHARPTON: For jury deliberations. How does this Dunn case affect the
fight against stand your ground?
BROWN: Well, the point is regardless of the outcome, it was always a
feeling that we must change this law and we all must go to Tallahassee and
change it there. Because even when you talk about the jury deliberation,
part of it was in the instructions to the jury. Stand your ground is a
part of the instruction whether it was discussed or not. It was in the
And so basically, it is part of the jury`s instruction. And we must deal
with it. It`s too broad. It`s a sloppy law. It says that you can shoot
and kill. You can start the fight, and then say I felt threatened. That`s
bull. I mean, it`s just unacceptable.
SHARPTON: Now, Congresswoman, a study of race in stand your ground cases
showed there is a clear division between white and black victims. The
Tampa bay times found that in 200 cases, people who killed a black person
walked free 73 percent of the time. Those who killed a white person went
free only 59 percent of the time. And this is whether it`s blacks killing
blacks or not. You know how hard we fight that as well in our own
community. But this data is startling and is grounds for review just on
the application based on race of stand your ground.
BROWN: Absolutely. That`s true. But it emboldens people to do things
they ordinarily would not do. For example, texting. So you are texting
now. And so I feel like, well, I feel threatened by app, so I kill you. I
mean, it sends the wrong message. And it`s not a message we want for our
children. It`s not a message we want for our community, for our state, and
it started in Florida 2005. And what we need to do is repeal it. It`s
like a cancer and it`s spreading to 22 -- 24 different states.
SHARPTON: Now, the Florida statute, so people understand it, the Florida
statute on stand your ground allows a person to use deadly force if they
are not engaged in unlawful activities or in a place that they have a right
to be, they have no duty to retreat. They have the right to stand their
ground and meet force with force, including deadly force when they
reasonably believe it is necessary.
SHARPTON: But who decides what is reasonable, Congresswoman?
BROWN: But the main thing is you started the fight.
BROWN: You approach me. And I take up my gun. I shoot you, and I feel
threatened. I mean, that`s my story afterwards. That`s my story, and I`m
sticking to it. There is something wrong with that.
SHARPTON: And sticking to the story, both the Zimmerman case, which as you
said stand your ground was part of the summations and the defense, and now
this case, two very high profile cases, no conviction in either. You have
a case of Marissa Alexander, same county as this case that we are dealing
with now. And that prosecutor who you confronted by the way denied and
fought for her having the right to use stand your ground. She is sentenced
to 20 years. Not only didn`t kill anybody, doesn`t even shoot anybody.
Shot a warning shot at her husband who had threatened her life and has a
history of domestic violence.
BROWN: And not only that, when it was discussed, I was told, well, someone
could have gotten hurt. Could have. We`re talking about cases where
people got killed. And the person who did it walked. It`s something wrong
with that process.
SHARPTON: Congresswoman --
BROWN: I mean, no one can understand it. And we must change the law.
SHARPTON: Well, we`re going to stay on this, and we`re going to keep
fighting. Thank you so much, Congresswoman Corrine Brown for your time
BROWN: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Ahead, did the prosecutor mishandle the case against Michael
Dunn? New questions tonight about whether Angela Corey repeated her
mistakes from the Zimmerman trial.
Also, what happened to those racially charged letters that Dunn wrote from
jail? Why weren`t they used at trial? The answer might surprise you.
Plus, marching for justice in peace. What young men of color are feeling
in states where stand your ground is the law of the land. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: What was going on inside that jury room for more than 30 hours
of deliberation? Since the verdict came down over the weekend, we haven`t
heard from any of the 12 jurors.
Joining me now is Larry Hannan, a courts reporter from the "Florida Times
Union." He was in the courtroom every day of the Dunn trial.
Thank you for joining us tonight, Larry.
LARRY HANNAN, COURTS REPORTER, FLORIDA TIMES UNION: Thanks for having me.
SHARPTON: Larry, what was your sense about where the jury was headed?
HANNAN: Early on, I thought that we were going towards a conviction on all
accounts for the highest counts. But then we began to see irritation among
some jury members. At first, it seem to be irritated at the defense
attorney. But later on they seemed to get annoyed at what some of the
prosecution was doing. And by the time we got to jury deliberations, there
was a lot of talk that we were going to have a hung jury, and that`s pretty
much what happened. It seems as though there were some pretty bad
deadlocks among the jurors.
SHARPTON: Now,. you reported several jurors seemed near tears. How did
that strike you?
HANNAN: It was unusual. I`ve never seen that in the time I`ve covered
courts. But when we came back on Friday night, the jurors asked the judge
could they deadlock on one count and have a verdict on the others. At that
point I saw one juror who seemed to be fighting back crying at that time.
Another one who had very red eyes, suggesting that she had been crying
earlier. And we had a third juror who just seemed incredibly angry to the
point he just kept staring at the ceiling and refused to make eye contact
with anyone else, which suggested to me there had been a lot of fights in
that jury room.
SHARPTON: What happens now to Michael Dunn moving forward, Larry?
HANNAN: His sentencing hearing is going to be March -- the week of March
24th. He`ll be sentenced for the attempted murders and the firing of the
bullets into the car. After that, we`re going to set a new trial date.
And we don`t know when that is going to be. A lot will depend on whether
his current Attorney Corey strong stays with the case or not. Dunn is out
of money, so it possible Corey -- will withdraw, the public defender will
be appointed to replace of him.
SHARPTON: Larry Hannan from the Florida Times Union, thank you for your
HANNAN: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Ahead, new questions surrounding the prosecutor, the same
prosecutor in the George Zimmerman trial. Were mistakes made? Next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(Protesters): Hey, hey, ho, ho, has to go. Hey, hey, ho, ho, Angela
Corey has to go.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We want Angela Corey out of office.
(Protesters): Yes. Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Protesters directing their anger and disappointment at Florida
State Attorney Angela Corey after the Michael Dunn mistrial. This is the
third high profile case that Corey`s office has prosecuted, dominated by
controversial issues of self-defense, including Stand your Ground. Her
office failed to get a conviction in the George Zimmerman trial. She
wouldn`t accept a Stand your Ground defense from Marissa Alexander, the
woman who says she fired a warning shot to scare off her abusive husband.
And now a mistrial in the first-degree murder charge against Michael Dunn.
Angela Corey says her office will move forward with the retrial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA COREY, STATE ATTORNEY: So retrying the case is something that we`ve
all had to do, and we will continue to have to do, and we`ll give it the
same full attention. We don`t back off having to retry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: They don`t back off. But after the mistrial, many people are
asking if Corey mishandled the case. And some are also asking why letters
that Dunn wrote from jail weren`t talked about in court. In one letter he
wrote, quote, "I`m not really prejudiced against race, but I have no use
for certain cultures. This gangster rap, ghetto-talking thug culture
that certain segments of society flock to is intolerable." Dunn also
wrote, quote, "I just got off the phone with you, and we were talking
about how racist the blacks are up here. The more time I am exposed to
these people, the more prejudiced against them I become." These comments
are explosive. They generated a lot of passionate debate. But the jurors
never got to see those letters.
Joining me now, a former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey and criminal defense
Attorney John Burris. Thank you both for being here.
JOHN BURRIS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Thank you, Rev.
KENDALL COFFEY, FORMER FLORIDA U.S. ATTORNEY: Thanks, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Kendall, the judge ruled on these Dunn letters just before the
trial. He said, quote, "The comments are not admissible and irrelevant
because they came after the shooting." Why did he make that ruling? And
how did that affect the prosecution`s case?
COFFEY: Well, the judge certainly wasn`t trying to sanitize Michael Dunn.
He was trying to minimize the risk that an appeals court, after
everything that would happen during one or maybe two trials might reverse
it, because there are some appellate decisions which seem to indicate that
comments, even racist comments made in some separation of time after the
fact can`t be brought in. So the judge is trying to get it right and have
an error-free trial. I think without the judge intending to do so, to some
extent, he pulled the rug out from under the prosecution on that issue
because the prosecution had valuable extremely on-point evidence that they
And I`m not criticizing the judge. He may have been correctly following
Florida cases. But then it made it that much more difficult for the
prosecution to do what they need to do, which is thoroughly discredit
Michael Dunn`s motive. Because when Dunn took the stand from the
perspective of some jurors, this became a one-witness trial. If they
believed Dunn, if he came across OK, that could be enough to create a
reasonable doubt, at least in the minds of some jurors. And I think on
retrial, the prosecution is going to focus heavily on the cross-examination
of Michael Dunn. They have to do more damage to him than they did in the
SHARPTON: John, beside the letter, Dunn`s phone calls were also considered
irrelevant. Here is what he said on one phone call to his fiance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL DUNN, CONVICTED OF ATTEMPTED MURDER IN "LOUD MUSIC" TRIAL: So
being in a room by myself kind of sucks, but I guess it would be better
than being in a room with them animals.
RHONDA ROUER, MICHAEL DUNN`S FIANCE: Well, you know, they probably
wouldn`t think too highly about what is going on. And so it is best. But
I can only imagine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, it`s better than being in a room with those animals.
Couldn`t the prosecution when they were cross examining -- when they were
direct examining the fiance, who was their witness, when he said he never
mentioned a gun, couldn`t they have played like this phone call would hurt
him from jail saying even on this call he never mentioned a gun, and let
them also hear the kinds of thoughts this man had by putting this into the
BURRIS: No. The judge would not have allowed that in. That statement
would have been more prejudicial than probative. They could have gotten
easily in the statement that he did not mention he had a gun because he
asked that question earlier. So that wouldn`t have been an impeaching kind
of statement. The judge was very clear that you can`t put in these kinds
of statements after the fact unless they go directly to the issue at the
hand. These are not admissions. They`re verbal tirades. Certainly they
would be prejudicial and they would have been help to the prosecution.
But the judge already ruled the statement after the fact they would not
come in. The only way they would come into evidence is during a cross-
examination of Mr. Dunn he makes some statement that opens the door.
And that`s what the prosecution should have been trying to examine him for
purposes of opening the door to some comment that he makes and suggests
that he has this great mind, that he is not prejudiced, he doesn`t have any
ill will toward anyone and the other statements could have come into
evidence. But short of, that the prosecution was kind of hamstrung in many
ways from preventing that from coming in.
SHARPTON: Now, you know, Kendall, prosecutors did try to bring up
inconsistencies of Dunn referring to thug music. Let`s watch the testimony
starting with his fiance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN WOLFSON, PROSECUTOR: Did the defendant say anything about the music
when he parked the car next to the red car?
WOLFSON: And what did the defendant say?
ROUER: I hate that thug music.
WOLFSON: And what was your response to the defendant?
ROUER: I said, yes, I know.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You don`t recall saying I hate that thug music?
DUNN: No if I would have said anything, I would have called it rap crap.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So, were the prosecutors there trying to show that he thought
Jordan Davis was a thug?
COFFEY: Well, for sure they were trying to develop that point and get it
across. And give them some credit. They had a very strong contradiction
between what Michael Dunn was saying and what his own fiance was saying.
Not only about that, but the question whether Dunn told her that he had in
fact claimed he saw a gun. So they did a good job I think by all accounts
up until the verdict came back. There was a view that they were doing a
very good job. They lost or failed to get a conviction on the central
account. So it`s hard to ask what they could have done better.
SHARPTON: John, do you think they were doing a good job?
BURRIS: Well, I would say this, when that opening came and he said he
didn`t use it, the question who have been said, well haven`t you done that
or used that term before or later? I think that would have been an opening
to explore that he has used words of that kind before. And that would go
to impeaching. The prosecution sort of was limited to some extent by not,
in my view, they didn`t do a good job of explaining the Stand your Ground
law and self-defense, to the extent that jurors were confused about it.
That`s the prosecutor`s job to make it clear.
BURRIS: And they did not do that. And they didn`t deal with the question
of reasonable conduct and how you cannot be subjectively set your own
standard. And not have it -- and make that be the law of the land or the
defense. It has to be reasonable. And they had ability and they had
responsibility to determine what reasonableness was in light of the fact of
what the facts were. So they didn`t do a good job and explain the jury
instruction and self-defense in Stand your Ground, nor did they do a good
job I think on the question of reasonableness and why it wasn`t reasonable
for what he did. And so there is a lot to be desired from that point.
SHARPTON: Now, Kendall, there was also some who felt the prosecutors
didn`t do enough to humanize the victim, Jordan Davis. Here is what his
father said, for example, about his son on Saturday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON DAVIS, FATHER OF JORDAN DAVIS: I thank you all for seeing that we as
parents were good parents to Jordan, and that he was a good kid. He wasn`t
allowed to be said in the courtroom that he was a good kid, but we`ll say
it. He was a good kid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: It wasn`t allowed to be said in the courtroom. A lot of people
felt that they should have spent more time, Kendall, humanizing and giving
a profile of who this kid was to the jury that lost his life.
COFFEY: Well, that`s a fair comment. And the prosecutors went into this,
Reverend, with an overwhelmingly strong case. A very weak self-defense
case. And now that they have seen that maybe it wasn`t quite enough, I
think they`re going to go back, find the most effective possible way to
cross-examine Dunn now that they know word for word what his story is going
to be. And I think issues like letting the jury know all about who Jordan
was, that`s very important too. So you`re going to see some changes. And
I don`t think you`re going to see a hung jury next time.
BURRIS: Here is what I think, Reverend. On terms of humanizing him,
Jordan, they could have easily done that once this person put into evidence
that he saw Jordan Davis had a gun of some kind. He could also have put in
evidence that he didn`t have a gun. The mom, the dad could have testify he
didn`t have a gun, didn`t know anything about guns. And therefore to put
that into perspective that he wasn`t a person who carried firearms.
SHARPTON: Well, I think a lot was left to be desired. Kendall Coffey and
John Burris, thanks for your time tonight.
BURRIS: Thank you.
COFFEY: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Coming up, how a stunned community is making sense of the
Michael Dunn verdict, and marching to protect our kids. That`s next.
SHARPTON: Seven months after the shock of the George Zimmerman verdict,
many Americans, many are grappling with another jury`s controversial
decision. After mistrial was declared on the first-degree murder charge
against Michael Dunn, people marched in peaceful protests to the
courthouse. All weekend marchers were demanding justice for Jordan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We will not raise it, until we get the type of justice
that we deserve.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: What do we want?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: When do we want it?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: What do we want?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: When do we want it?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I have a 4-year-old son, and 13 years from now, 14 years
from now, this could actually be my son.
(Protesters): Michael Dunn do the crime.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Someone lost their life. Where is the justice for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Where is the justice for Jordan? That`s the question that
echoed across the state and the country all weekend.
Joining me now is Bishop Rudolph McKissick, senior pastor of the Bethel
Baptist Institutional Church. Bishop McKissick, thank you for coming on
the show tonight.
BISHOP RUDOLPH MCKISSICK, BETHEL BAPTIST INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH: Hey,
Reverend Al. You know I`m always glad to be with you.
SHARPTON: Now, you passed a major church in the African-American community
there in Jacksonville. You`ve been there in the courtroom. You`re there
with the family when the verdict came in. As a community, where do we go
from here in seeking justice?
MCKISSICK: Well, I think we`ve got to balance the marching with some
methodology. We`ve got to realize first of all that we`ve got to do more
than just be angry. We have to have anger, but let that anger be
productive. We`ve got to change some of the laws that are in place. Vote
some of the persons out who put the laws in. And we`ve got to do something
to make sure our young men understand that there was nothing wrong with who
they are, and that it`s someone else`s problem who can`t handle them being
authentically who they are. So we have to make sure we do all of those
things. The marching is good. The protesting is good. But beyond that,
we`ve got to do something that is productive to change some of the laws
that people are using to kill our black boys.
SHARPTON: Now, a 13-year-old in Jacksonville, Florida, told a local paper,
and I`m going to read you the quote. "I have if taken off my hoodie. I
usually wear it in the stores, but I`ve taken it off. And I don`t really
listen to music. I don`t really listen to music loud, but I look around.
I watch my back while I`m walking down the streets." This weekend you
talked to a number of teenage boys in your congregation. What are they
MCKISSICK: The same thing. I had a group of young men in my office that
came down to the pulpit with me at the beginning of the service, and
they`re all feeling the same thing. I have a 15-year-old son who likes to
wear hoodies. And I`m not going to make my son feel like this is the new
white fountain, black fountain, black bathroom, white bathroom situation.
That`s what it`s setting up to be. And it`s sad that in this day and time,
we still hate differences instead of celebrating differences. Our young
men now, and my fear is, Reverend Al, that now you`re going to see young
men arming themselves to protect themselves. We don`t want that that`s not
SHARPTON: We denounced that clearly.
SHARPTON: And one of the things I have respected is that all of these
marches and rallies have been totally nonviolent.
MCKISSICK: And that`s --
SHARPTON: You know I have some very hard feelings about a lot of the
language and self-hate that is expressed. But that should not be used an
excuse to kill people and walk away.
MCKISSICK: No. And that`s one of the things we want to put across to our
young men. That, you know, you are not to react because that just gives
them more fodder to talk about. You do not need to be angry to the point
of thinking you have to protect yourself like that. While that is a fear,
that is something as pastors that we want to make sure we come against,
that we begin now to put together, my dear friend Dr. John Gunns has a
wonderful platform save our sons. We`re going to use that platform here in
the city to begin to talk about policy issues, mentoring issues,
educational issues. And then, Reverend Al, we`ve got to bring whites to
MCKISSICK: To really have an honest conversation about race relations
without them calling us insightful because we bring things up. That`s
disingenuous. Come to the table. Be honest, face it so we can fix it.
SHARPTON: And work it together. You know, the parents of Trayvon Martin
released a statement supporting Ron and Lucia, the parents of this young
man. But it`s hard to believe the timing, but George Zimmerman is making
the rounds, talking about his case. He says that his case was a
miscarriage of justice. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What was the miscarriage of justice?
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, TRAYVON MARTIN`S SHOOTER: The fact that two law
enforcement entities stated that I had acted within the laws of our nation
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You don`t think it was about the law?
ZIMMERMAN: I know it wasn`t, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And what does that make you?
ZIMMERMAN: Like a scapegoat.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: A scapegoat for?
ZIMMERMAN: The government, the President, the Attorney General.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: They would be scapegoating you why? Just to show that
they`re taking a position on something that matters to loot of people?
ZIMMERMAN: I don`t know what they`re thinking or why they`re thinking it.
All I know is why they`re doing it. I don`t know what agenda they have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: He is a scapegoat.
SHARPTON: Again, we see the defendant here saying what is going on here
like he was in disbelief he got any convictions.
SHARPTON: It seemed no one understands the value of these young boys`
life. I`m going to have to leave there it, Bishop. Good to see you.
MCKISSICK: Good see you, sir.
SHARPTON: We work together in National Action Network and other groups for
SHARPTON: Keep the peace but keep fighting for justice. Bishop Rudolph
McKissick, thank you for your time this evening.
MCKISSICK: Thank you, Reverend Al.
SHARPTON: Coming up, remembering Jordan Davis. We hear from his parents
SHARPTON: Finally tonight, remembering the victim at the heart of this
case. Seventeen-year-old Jordan Davis. He was killed the day after
Thanksgiving back in 2012. His mother says that at dinner one day earlier,
he said the grace, giving thanks to God for his friends and family. A day
later, he was dead. Jordan was like most teenagers. He liked football and
basketball. He was a high school senior, and he talked about maybe joining
the military after graduation. His mother says she was put on bed rest for
eight months so she could give birth to a healthy baby. Later she faced
breast cancer down twice, never thinking she`d outlive her son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUCIA MCBATH, JORDAN DAVIS` MOTHER: I was telling my husband every time
we go by the funeral home that, you know, I wanted to be buried in, I`d
say, you know, when my time comes, this is where I want you to take me, you
know. And this is what I want played at my funeral. And you know, this is
where I want to be buried. And I never imagined it would be my child.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: What many of us seem to forget is that these are real human
beings. Yes, they`re bad kids, though clearly this kid Jordan, by all
accounts was not that. But we fight to make them rise to a good standard.
But we can`t meet them with a double standard. Their lives matter, and
when they`re taken, people must be held accountable.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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PoliticsNation, Monday, February 17th, 2014