On last night's Politics Nation, Al Sharpton interviewed George Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara. The questions asked weren't as sharp as I would have preferred, but we get a little insight into how O'Mara is going to proceed. In some of what he said, I got the impression that he's going to use a bit of racism. I imagine it will depend on the jury that's selected, but it was the feeling I got. See what you think.
Now, how can Mr. Zimmerman claim self-defense if he was the one with the gun and he was the one pursuing Trayvon Martin, even after he agreed with the dispatcher that he didn't need to follow him?
The question is when he was pursuing him, and if he continued to pursue him, the question is not really one of whether or not any pursuit then allows violent response. The Florida law, ignoring stand your ground because it doesn't really apply, Florida's self-defense law says you're allowed to respond with force, with life force, and when that force gets to force likely to cause great bodily injury, you can respond with deadly force. So, if you suggest, well, Mr. Zimmerman was at one point pursuing, following Trayvon Martin, then he can't argue any type of self-defense, that's just not the law. It really comes down to what happened when the two individuals, the two people got together and what happened at that point which would justify either on of them doing something to the other.
But you can't dismiss how they got together and if they got together……..then you can't come back with only one alive and say, "I was defending myself."
O'MaraThere are questions about who was screaming for help. O'Mara believes the question about who was screaming will never be answered, as there are varying opinions.
I understand that perspective, but you have to understand that there isn't evidence whatsoever, and the State has not brought forth any evidence to suggest that Mr. Zimmerman was following Trayvon Martin after the dispatch said, "You don't have to do that," because Mr. Zimmerman's response was, "Okay." There's no evidence to support that he continued to pursue. I understand what you're saying, if he did, but there's no evidence to support that.
On the night of Trayvon Martin's death, police let Mr. Zimmerman go. Many of us felt that that violated the rights of Mr. Martin and which is why a lot of us became interested in the case. Did they make the right decision to let him go without a full investigation.
O'MaraIIRC, until Al Sharpton made this case public, they weren't going to proceed further. The person who made that decision was fired, and the governor appointed a prosecuting attorney from another county. If I remember that, he probably does also.
Well, three answers. For those who are very concerned how young black males are treated in the criminal justice system, no, because it looked like they were ignoring the fact that a young black teen was lost or killed and the guy went home. So, from that perspective, no. They didn't make the right decision. From the perspective of looking at the statute that says if you have a belief that he acted in self-defense, you cannot arrest until you get to the point of probable cause. From that perspective, they did the right thing because they waited until they gathered more evidence to decide what to do. And, that's not a bad thing. There are many cases where people are shot, people are killed and arrests are not made. The third point is this, and as a former prosecutor, when you arrest, the six month speedy trial clock starts ticking. If you arrest on January 1st, you've got to try that client by June 30th, and if you don't, he could walk…….Three different perspectives, but I certainly understand all three and if it was anything other than a concern for how the community was going to react, then I think the decision was probably proper to wait on the arrest.
But Mr. O'Mara, are you saying then police should have the right to determine whether or not there was evidence of self-defense? Because you said that if they determined there was evidence of self-defense, they could not make the arrest. The police in the police station, whether the person is black, white, Latino, Asian, anyone---is dead. How do the police then become empowered to determine whether it was self-defense or not when there's one person dead, and the only other witness is the one that's alive, how do they become the judge and jury and prosecutor of that?
O'MaraThere is more discussion about probable cause.
Well, if you look at our statutes and this is throughout the states, not just here in Florida, cops make decisions on probable cause every day, and with every arrest they have to look at it and say, is there a probable cause here. Do I arrest you for a DUI because I have information that you're driving under the influence? And, in a murder case, was your shooting of this person justified or not?
Then Sharpton asks about the negative picture of Trayvon Martin O'Mara has made public. And O'Mara ends with this bit of hypocrisy.
O'MaraThank you. And, yaw'l come back now, y'hear?
I'm very worried that we have tied was too much to this verdict, whatever verdict it is. That the country is getting divided by the case in that people are going to react negatively to it. So, let me be very clear. This needs to be tried in a courtroom. It needs to be tried with the law and facts of the case, and everybody, even if they don't like the result, everybody's got to respect it. This is the best system in the world. It will lose its shine if we lose respect in it. So, even though we've had troubles in the past, and you know them better than I, we have to rely on the jury system to do what they do and trust it and live with whatever result that is.
This is my edited version. It would be best to listen to the whole thing, as you may find other parts to be more interesting or revealing. Please share your thoughts.