Thursday, March 22, 2012

Anderson Cooper transcript Trayvon Martin case

The following transcript is from CNN's Anderson Cooper from when he covered the Trayvon Martin murder case on March 19, 2012.

Anderson Cooper Transcript: Trayvon Martin Case

We're talking a lot on Twitter now about the Trayvon Martin case. The 911 tapes of Trayvon Martin being shot have been released. The unarmed teenager who was shot dead by a neighborhood watch captain. The question is, do those tapes cast real doubt on the shooter's claims of self-defense? We'll talk to Trayvon Martin's father and the family attorney and our legal team, Jeffrey Toobin and Sunny Hostin, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" tonight in the killing of 17-year- old Trayvon Martin, shot dead by an armed neighborhood watch captain named George Zimmerman in a Sanford, Florida, gated community. Zimmerman is yet to be charged with anything because, in the words of the local police chief, quote, "We don't have anything to dispute his claim of self-defense."

"Keeping Them Honest," though, from everything we've heard today, there is something. 911 tapes of the incident. And they seemed to show that Zimmerman did not flee or even simply stand his ground as Florida's deadly force law permits. But that he pursued Trayvon Martin with a 9 millimeter pistol.

Now Martin, remember, was on the way back to his dad's fiance's condo to watch the NBA All Star game. He wasn't armed, he was carrying a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. He was wearing jeans, white tennis sneakers, and a hoodie.

As we mentioned we have 911 tapes of the incident which we've kept in sequence but edited for time in the appropriate content. They start with George Zimmerman's call apparently from his car near the condo's complex gates.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH CAPTAIN: This guy looks like he is up to no good or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around looking about.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: OK. And this guys, is white, black or Hispanic?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes. Now he's coming towards me.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: OK.

ZIMMERMAN: He has his hands in his waistband and he's a black male. Something's wrong with him. Yes, and he's coming to check me out. He's got something in his hands. I don't know what his deal is.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: OK. Just let me know if he does anything, OK?

ZIMMERMAN: Get an officer over here.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: Yes, we got them on the way. Just let me know if this guy does anything else.

ZIMMERMAN: OK. These (EXPLETIVE DELETED) they always get away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, what Trayvon was doing was heading back to where he and his father were staying. His family says he may have been listening to music on his iPhone and not even aware that Zimmerman was watching. They claim Zimmerman pursued Trayvon, and as you can hear in the 911 tape, Zimmerman admits it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: Are you following him?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: OK. We don't need you to do that.

ZIMMERMAN: OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: In fact, dispatchers told Zimmerman not to even get out of his car. Police, they said, were on the way. That advice was for Zimmerman's safety and Trayvon Martin's. Under Florida's lethal force law Zimmerman could have stayed where he was, stood his ground and as long as he reasonably believed that his life was in danger, fired in self-defense. But as you heard there, he apparently did neither. He apparently followed Trayvon Martin, and at about 100 yards away from where Trayvon was going to meet his dad, confronted him. The moment is captured in another 911 call, this one from a neighbor who hears shouting outside.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: OK. And is it a male or a female?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It sounds like a male.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: And you don't know why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know why, I think they're yelling help, but I don't know. Just send someone quick, please. God.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: Does he look hurt to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't see him. I don't want to go out there. I don't know what's going on so --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're coming.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: So you think he's yelling help?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. There's gun shots.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: You just heard gun shots?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: How many?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just one. He just said he shot him. Yes, the person is dead laying on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: Just because he's laying on the ground --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Trayvon Martin died of a gun shot wound to his chest. George Zimmerman is free while state authorities determine what to do next. Federal authorities today said they're monitoring the case.

The shooting has set off nationwide protest over deadly force and race. And shortly before airtime, I spoke with Trayvon Martin's father Tracy and the family's attorney Benjamin Crump.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Mr. Martin, first of all, I'm so sorry for the loss of your son. When you hear these 911 calls, what goes through your mind? What do you think?

TRACY MARTIN, FATHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: It's heart-wrenching because those actually were my son's last words. And to hear his last words being cries of help is devastating. You know, and it tears me apart as a father.

COOPER: You have no doubt that's his voice crying for help?

MARTIN: I'm sure that that's his voice. I'm positive that's his voice.

COOPER: Police say that this man, Zimmerman, had blood on the back of his head, on his face. Have they said anything to you about how it got there? If it was his blood or your son's blood. Have they given you details?

MARTIN: They told me that it was an altercation between the two individuals. But the details, they didn't give them to me.

COOPER: As you know, the father of Zimmerman wrote -- gave a statement to the "Orlando Sentinel." And he said, "The media reports of the events are imaginary at best. At no time did George follow or confront Mr. Martin. When the true details of the event become public, and I hope that will be soon, everyone should be outraged by the treatment of George Zimmerman in the media."

He's saying his son did not follow your son. But very clearly in these 911 calls, the police say, are you following him, and he says, yes. And the police say, we don't need you to do that.

MARTIN: Yes. Exactly. Zimmerman's -- George Zimmerman's father is -- I guess he's being a father and trying to protect his son. Because obviously that he hasn't heard the 911 tapes. And if he did, he must have heard a different version than what the world has heard.

COOPER: Mr. Crump, in your dealings with the police, I mean do -- with the local police, do you think they have investigated this fully? Do you think they have taken this seriously?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: I don't. I don't, Anderson. I think from day one they didn't. And you know, in those 911 tapes tell a big part of the story. But it doesn't tell the whole story. For instance, they get to the scene, Trayvon is dead on the ground. And they don't even run a background check on the person who killed him. But number one, if it was Trayvon Martin who was the trigger man, they would have arrested him day one, hour one on the spot. He'd be still be sitting in jail right now.

COOPER: You have no doubt that if it was Trayvon Martin who had shot a -- you know, a white person that Trayvon Martin would be in jail. That if it was any African-American who had shot a white person, that person would be a suspect, would be in jail.

CRUMP: Absolutely, Anderson. And they could say self-defense all they want and everything. They would still be arrested and put in jail. But I have to say there's one other point, Anderson. And that is, if Trayvon Martin was white, don't you think they would have ran a background check of George Zimmerman no matter what he said.

COOPER: Mr. Martin, let me ask you, because one of the things when I heard that 911 tape that immediately got my attention is one of the earliest things Mr. Zimmerman said. He says this guy looks like he's up to no good or on drugs or something. He's a black male. Something's wrong with him. He's coming to check me out.

So the idea that there was something -- that Mr. Zimmerman thought there was something suspicious about your son. Your son was wearing white sneakers, jeans, and a hoodie, which I got to tell you I wear that every single day of my life when I'm not on camera. And I don't think anybody, even if they didn't recognize me, would have said well, I look suspicious, and I was wearing the exact -- I wear the exact same thing your son was wearing.

To you is that just a question -- is that just a matter of race?

MARTIN: I think it's a matter of profiling, which I think that's an issue that Mr. Zimmerman himself considers as someone suspicious. A black kid with a hoodie on, jeans, tennis shoes. But as you said, thousands of people wear that outfit every day. So what was so suspicious about Trayvon that Zimmerman felt as though he had to confront him?

COOPER: Well, Mr. Martin, again, I'm so sorry for your loss. And the words seem incredibly hollow. But we'll continue to focus on this. I appreciate you talking tonight.

And Mr. Crump as well. Thank you.

CRUMP: Thank you.

MARTIN: Thank you very much, Anderson.

COOPER: Let's dig deeper now with legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Sunny Hostin and Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeffrey, you say this case just makes want to scream.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The -- this is a 17- year-old kid who went to buy Skittles and came back dead. Period. I mean that's what this case is about. However, the Florida law is so peculiar and so protective of people who shoot people that I am not surprised that Zimmerman has not been arrested and I'm not sure he's going to be arrested.

COOPER: Really?

TOOBIN: Because I -- because I think the law is basically an invitation to use deadly force under basically any circumstance. It allows disproportionate use of force. It says that if you feel threatened, reasonably threatened, even without a gun, you can use deadly force as response.

COOPER: But even as you have pursued that person?

SUNNY HOSTIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: And that's the problem that I have.

COOPER: Even if you have gotten out of your vehicle?

TOOBIN: Well --

HOSTIN: Even though it's such a robust law and very broad -- probably the broadest law out there in terms of stand your ground laws, bottom line is there's always that exception, Jeff. And you know what. If you are the first aggressor, if you are pursuing, you cannot avail yourself of this self-defense claim. And I think that is so very clear. Had this been in any other jurisdiction, he would have been arrested and charged with a homicide.

TOOBIN: I think that's -- well, I don't know. The problem here is we don't know what happened between the 911 call where he says stay away and then the altercation.

COOPER: Right.

TOOBIN: I mean that's a lot of time. But we don't --

COOPER: Trayvon Martin's father assured that's his son calling out for help. That hasn't been confirmed by witnesses at this point.

TOOBIN: Right. But how they wound up next to each other is just not clear. And I don't think --

HOSTIN: Well, it's clear that he pursued him. That Zimmerman pursued him. Had followed him.

TOOBIN: He said he did. He said he was going to. But again we know --

(CROSSTALK)

HOSTIN: That tell me he was the person --

COOPER: But he also claims the 911 tape that Trayvon Martin is approaching his car so --

TOOBIN: Right. And --

HOSTIN: But he runs away. Because Zimmerman says on that 911 tape, on one of them, he is running. He's running away. And that's what we tell our kids all the time. Right? Stranger danger. You run away. I tell my son that. If somebody's approaching you.

COOPER: But there's so much that's not known.

HOSTIN: You feel unsafe, you run. He did the right thing.

COOPER: We don't know if Trayvon Martin identified this guy as a neighborhood watch person. We have no idea.

TOOBIN: Absolutely. That's why -- I mean, I think, you know, it's important to reserve judgment for awhile and let an investigation go forward. I mean this was a residential neighborhood. There could have been people who saw what went on here.

HOSTIN: But it's been a month.

TOOBIN: I'd like to know --

HOSTIN: But it's been a month. This happened February 26th. I think in any other jurisdiction with the same set of facts perhaps --

TOOBIN: I do --

HOSTIN: With a different race attached to the parties, this -- there would have been an arrest.

COOPER: I got to say --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I mean a great --

HOSTIN: It's flooring me.

COOPER: -- young male with a hoodie and white tennis -- look, I'm wearing white tennis sneakers now and blue jeans and this is literally what I wear every day. If it was a white male walking in his neighborhood, would this guy, Zimmerman, have been saying this person looks like they're on drugs and suspicious?

TOOBIN: And --

HOSTIN: I doubt that.

TOOBIN: And when the lawyer said, you know, if Trayvon had been the shooter, is there any chance in the world that he would not be in custody at this --

COOPER: Right.

HOSTIN: There isn't.

TOOBIN: The answer is no.

HOSTIN: The answer is no.

TOOBIN: But, I mean, I just think -- I've been looking into this today. There are a bunch of Florida deaths where someone with a gun shot an unarmed person and as a result of the stand your ground law, there was no prosecution. So, you know --

HOSTIN: And that is true, but the exception of the first aggressor still stands and applies in Florida. And I can't believe that the investigators are saying that there's nothing to dispute the self-defense claim.

COOPER: Do you think there will be an arrest?

HOSTIN: I hope there will be an arrest. COOPER: Right. But do you think there --

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: I just don't know. I mean I hope we learn more about the circumstances because there's a lot we don't know. And -- I mean this is -- I mean, it's just a sickening story.

COOPER: Yes.

TOOBIN: Because this little -- young kid is dead. And --

COOPER: Carrying Skittles and iced tea.

HOSTIN: And iced tea.

TOOBIN: Skittles and iced tea.

COOPER: Yes.

HOSTIN: That's right. And he was unarmed. Clearly.

COOPER: Sunny, appreciate it. Jeff Toobin.

We'll continue to follow this obviously.

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