Skip to main content

George Zimmerman (L) appears, along with his attorney Mark O'Mara, in front of Circuit Judge Kenneth R. Lester for a bond hearing at the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center in Sanford, Florida, June 29, 2012. Zimmerman, 28, is charged with second-degr

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.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Sharpton

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?

O'Mara

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.

Sharpton

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'Mara

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.

There 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.
Sharpton

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'Mara

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.

IIRC, 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.
Sharpton

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'Mara

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?

There is more discussion about probable cause.

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'Mara

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.

Thank you. And, yaw'l come back now, y'hear?

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.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site