Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dr. Drew Outrage on Trayvon Martin Case Transcript

This is the complete transcript from Dr. Drew's March 20, 2012 episode where he covered the Trayvon Martin case.

Outrage Over Trayvon Martin`s Murder

Aired March 20, 2012 - 21:00 ET


DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Here we go.

A neighborhood volunteer -- get this -- guns down an unarmed teenage boy and then claims self-defense. But was racism really the cause? Who is this guy, and why was he so sure Trayvon Martin was a threat? What if this were your child?

And later, men behaving badly. Is the midlife crisis just an excuse?

Let`s get started.


PINSKY: Welcome. And we are live tonight.

And I was just saying that as I went through that intro that this story we`re about to dig into is affecting me deeply. It has me very upset emotionally. I almost don`t know what to do with it. And so, we`re going to try to tease it apart and make sense of it for people.

But I got to tell you -- let me just tell you about the story. It`s a 17-year-old. You guys have been hearing about this whole day. He steps out for a candy and a drink.

In fact, the candy and drink -- no, get back to me here on the screen here if you wouldn`t mind. Come on.

Candy and a drink happen to be this, Skittles and an iced tea -- a tea. Even if I point it at you, or I hold it like a bazooka, is that -- is anybody in their right mind going to make this a threat? If we could darken the lights in here, come on!

This story is just so, so outrageous. This young boy, great kid, buys candy, talking to his sister, never returned home. He`s shot and killed by a neighborhood watch captain who claims he was acting in self-defense. There`s a picture of him right there. And then doesn`t get arrested.

This is the thing that I -- what goes on in Florida?

Of course, naturally the story is in Florida. The death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman who is the other gentleman there sparked outrage and prompted more questions than I have answers for.

Was Trayvon targeted because he was African-American? Who exactly is George Zimmerman? And what kind of person transforms a can of iced tea and Skittles into a dangerous threat?

Guys, going to shoot at me now? You guys are pretty -- you know, you guys are a little tough. Is this? Am I threatening you?

OK. All right. Police says there`s no evidence of a crime. Really?

But there is a grand jury who will investigate the killing. Tonight, we`re trying to understand why this happened.

Joining me to help tease this apart is Dr. Paul Ragan, associate professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. I`ve go Steve Kardian, former police detective. And in the studio with me, attorney Tanya Acker.

Tanya, who was this guy, Zimmerman?

TANYA ACKER, ATTORNEY: Well, well, what we`ve learned about him so far is that he used to want to be a cop. He made about 46 calls to the police department reporting suspicious behavior.

PINSKY: I`m going to stop -- this is a guy that makes repeated calls. I`ve got a couple of the calls here. We`re going to actually play I think one of the calls or read it, in any event. But suspicious people, he`s always on the phone.

Is this the guy you want doing your neighborhood watch?

ACKER: And what`s interesting, or troubling, I should say, about this, Drew, is that a number of these suspicious characters were simply men of color. I mean, that`s one of the things that`s` really upsetting about this case.

And, frankly, not just as an African-American person, but as a human being, the notion that the color of someone`s skin can all of a sudden make them inherently threatening or dangerous is something we really need to be concerned about. We really need to be concerned about a culture where we have decided that one group of men are inherently dangerous because they are dark.

And I think that this is really something -- this case will hopefully re-open, reignite that conversation.

PINSKY: And Zimmerman, himself, is he of a certain ethnicity? Is he -- isn`t he Mexican-American?

ACKER: He`s -- the reports are that he`s --

PINSKY: Latino anyway.

ACKER: He`s Latin and white. He`s white and Latino.

PINSKY: He`s a mixed.

ACKER: So, I don`t exactly what the composition is, but I`m told he`s of both ethnicities.

PINSKY: But there`s a piece of this, too, that says that, you know, racism comes in many different flavors. You know what I mean? It`s not all one thing.

ACKER: Racism is never -- I mean, it`s never all just one thing. It`s not just everybody of one group hating everybody of the other group or being suspicious of them. But what we have in this particular incident is someone who identified, you know, Mr. Zimmerman identified this kid as being suspicious and one of the things that made him suspicious was that he was black.

PINSKY: His color and a hood, and don`t forget his Skittles. I mean, it`s crazy.

ACKER: Skittles -- the dangerous threatening Skittles.

PINSKY: Now, Zimmerman called the police on the evening of February 26th, 2011, to report a suspicious person. As we`ve said, he`s been calling and calling all year long. This was in this gated Florida neighborhood where he lives.

Now, listen to him. Here he is now making one of his calls.


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: These (EXPLETIVE DELETED) always get away. This guy looks like he`s up to no good or he`s on drugs or something.

Something`s wrong with him. Yes, he`s coming to check me out. He`s got something in his hands. I don`t know what his deal is.

DISPATCHER: Are you following him?


DISPATCHER: OK. We don`t need you to do that.



PINSKY: OK. That actually is the call that was made just before Zimmerman would fatally shoot Trayvon Martin with a single gunshot wound to the chest.

Dr. Ragan, to me, this guy is not only racist, but he`s paranoid. Do you pick that up, too? I mean, he`s calling all the time. Everyone`s out to get him, people`s following him. This very grandiose sense of his own self-importance and he`s a racist.

Do we need this guy carrying a gun? Let me ask the question, again -- do you think he`s paranoid?

DR. PAUL RAGAN, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, I don`t know clinically, obviously, without examining him if he`s paranoid. But there`s really an old-fashioned term that describes this man`s behavior. He`s under sort of the loose auspices of being a watch captain.

But he`s a vigilante. That`s what I`m hearing. Vigilantes can be very paranoid and vigilantes are on the prowl and they are looking for something. You listen to that tape, he is saying -- he looks suspicious.

Come on. If I`m walking along and suddenly a truck comes up next to me and some guy`s starting to give me eye, I`m going to become defensive. And you can start interpreting that any way you want.

But I think that, yes, he`s paranoid. And the old-fashioned term for vigilante was cop wannabe. That`s what I think we have here.

PINSKY: Wow, this guy really was a cop wannabe. We`re going to talk to a vigilante in the next segment.

Tanya, your shoulders began to go up during the last segment.

ACKER: They did. I just wanted to take issue with the doctor`s description a little bit. Not in terms of whether or not Mr. Zimmerman may or may not have been paranoid but the idea of calling him a vigilante almost suggests there was some crime that he was avenging.

You know, when I think vigilante, I think somebody who`s taking the law into his own hands to go after somebody who did something bad. I don`t think somebody who`s taking the law in his own hands to shoot a kid who`s got Skittles and iced tea.

PINSKY: Well, I have Steve Kardian who is somebody who can help us sort this out.

What went wrong here? Is this a cop wannabe who is paranoid and takes the law into his own hands?

STEVE KARDIAN, FORMER POLICE DETECTIVE: Dr. Drew, in my 30 years in law enforcement, I wish I had a dollar for every one of these type personalities I ran into. These are individuals that secrete themselves into positions with a little bit of authority and they try and act like police officers.

So, yes, he absolutely is a cop wannabe. He had a four-year degree in criminal justice and he was acting out his desired dream of being a police officer. He overstepped his lines and now we have a young man dead.

PINSKY: Steve, how do we -- I mean, to me, we have to -- this is crazy, but we have to protect ourselves from these guys, not just the criminals, right?

KARDIAN: You know, they do. And this was a homicide. It`s a homicide. The "Stand Your Ground" law is an affirmative defense or offense to the homicide according to the law. And it just wasn`t investigated like a homicide, unfortunately.

And we have to protect -- we have to protect ourselves from people like this that take the law into their own hands, that wear the police officer`s cap and people get hurt and die.

PINSKY: Well, you`re bringing up a whole other issue.

And, Tanya, I got less than 30 seconds here, but in Florida they didn`t think to arrest this guy. That he was a -- they have some law in Florida called "Stand Your Ground" where you`re allowed to take extreme action, your own self-defense. Not such a great law it seems like to me.

ACKER: Well, even, you know, putting aside the merits of the law for a moment, what happened in this case was not simply standing your ground. I mean, the law -- the law permits you to stand your ground against an aggressor, not to go hunting. It doesn`t allow you to go hunting., It doesn`t allow you to go hunting for people.

PINSKY: That`s where this went. It was completely out of line.

Again, just to sort of wrap up here where we started -- I am no less uncomfortable. I`m deeply disturbed by this. I don`t know quite what to do with it. I want to than Dr. Ragan for joining us.

RAGAN: You`re welcome, Drew.

PINSKY: As we go to break, listen to this dramatic 911 call made by a neighbor. You can hear Trayvon Martin in the back. We`re going to talk more about this when we get back.


CALLER: It sounds like a male.

DISPATCHER: And you don`t know why?

CALLER: I don`t know why. I think they`re yelling help, but I don`t know.

Just send someone quick please. I can`t see him.

DISPATCHER: Does he look hurt?

CALLER: I can`t see him. I don`t want to go out there. I don`t know what`s going on.




TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON`S FATHER: 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?


PINSKY: I want to thank "A.C. 360" for that footage.

Reminder, we`re coming live tonight. I was talking to Tanya off the air.

I`m trying to -- aside from the obvious tragedy here, this thing really troubles me. I`m beginning to think that the reason is I feel completely helpless and there`s a helplessness about this situation that is unpleasant, and then the fact that this Trayvon really seem like a really good kid. And he happened to be around this guy, he happened to have darker skin.

This could happen to anybody`s kid. Right? I mean, that`s what`s disturbing about this.

ACKER: And I think that, you know, something else that`s particularly disturbing to me is that in addition to this great potential -- I mean, this kid sounds like he was just on his way to such a bright future. There`s no -- there`s really -- I`m really discomforted. I`m really uncomfortable with the manner in which, frankly, the local authorities in Florida seem not to be protecting all of the state citizens.

I mean, for, you know, somebody to be shot down for looking suspicious because he`s carrying iced tea and Skittles and then to simply take the word of the shooter that this person was attacking them is really troubling. I mean, I think it raises some really upsetting questions about the justice system down there, frankly.

PINSKY: Let`s not also forget what we heard going out to break was how horrific this situation was for that kid. How threatening this guy was. This guy is a 28-year-old criminal justice student named George Zimmerman. As Tanya mentioned, he remains free despite shooting and killing Trayvon Martin, unarmed teen. I`m sorry, armed with Skittles and Arizona iced tea.

Listen, so, we`re trying to figure this out. Is this racism? Is this something just a sinister at play?

I`m back with attorney Tanya Acker, and Steve Kardian, former police detective.

Joining me is Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels.

Now, Curtis, we had discussion before you came on about vigilantes and about these cop wannabes becoming vigilantes. Do you do something when you enlist people`s help to protect yourself against that kind of guy?

CURTIS SLIWA, FOUNDER, GUARDIAN ANGELS: Oh, sure. But, Dr. Drew, know this, every night there are tens of thousands of community volunteers, Guardian Angels, auxiliary police, block watch, crime watch, patrolling some of the roughest, toughest neighborhoods in America and these kinds of situations don`t take place.

Now, I`ve been to Sanford. A few years ago, there was floods. So, we were there from Orlando, the Guardian Angels, to sandbag and help people. That`s an interracial community. We`re not talking a land of the three (INAUDIBLE) fornicators, you know, deliverance, where there`s a lot of hate. There`s blacks, whites, Hispanics, they live side by side, many of them lower middle class, poor, impoverish and middle class and they get along generally pretty well.

I think you had an individual here who had a gun. Doc, you know, you went to the mindset of people who have the furniture upstairs rearranged in their own roof. That`s the phallic symbol. You act with a gun, particularly when it`s exposed, a lot differently than you do if you have no weapon dealing with the situation.

And I think he felt empowered by the gun and he just went off the hook and he`s got to pay the price. He should have been arrested right at the scene.

PINSKY: What you guys do -- what do you guys do to protect yourself from somebody like that? I had a psychiatrist in the last segment who was saying that, you know, being a vigilante attracts guys like this. Do you scream, do you try to get your kids out of this service, or do you put them into professional training so they can be made better? What do you do?

SLIWA: First off, Dr. Drew, we patrol as a group. There`s a leader, there`s a secondary leader.

We don`t carry any weapons. We don`t have special powers and privileges. But we do physical interventions. We make citizens arrests.

A, number one, the police told him after making the 911 call, back off. Wait for us. Now, he might have thought in his head, oh, the cops, they`re pounding donuts, it will take them a month of Sundays to get here. Who cares? Wait there.

If you thought the person was suspicious, follow them at a safe distance. If the young man felt threatened he might have stopped and said, who are you? Are you a cop? Show me your badge.

Then, all of a sudden, you`re threatening his manhood. You know, he`s the guardian of the property. People are depending on him to guard the property.

And that`s where his empowerment begins to burst forward and he takes the law into his own hands and you have a dead young man there. It should have never amounted to this -- never amounted to this.

PINSKY: And Tanya says, Tanya says that`s racism. I say it`s grandiosity and paranoia.

Steve, I have a question for you. Is it the fun and the lone ranger that really caused this thing to spiral out of control?

KARDIAN: We know that when he exited the vehicle, he had gun in hand. So God only knows his mindset at that moment. I mean, did he feel threatened before he even spoke to the kid?

So, again, we have somebody acting out in capacity of what they believe is a police officer and we now have a fatality as a result of that.

PINSKY: And, Steve, you heard the question I asked Mr. Sliwa. I`m going to ask you the same thing. I mean, shouldn`t vigilante group that do tremendously positive work be wary of guys like this?

KARDIAN: Absolutely. What I like about Curtis` organization, he`s got structure, leadership, and organization, and they act a little differently. Like he said, he goes out in groups. They don`t carry weapons.

They can and do intervene when they have to, physically, but there are laws that -- the use of force laws, justification laws allow for that.

PINSKY: All right. Let me go to quick Facebook comments from viewers here.

Linda writes, "Volunteers shouldn`t carry guns. Tasers should be enough for them. If that`s not enough, they don`t need to be out there on the streets." That`s a really good comment.

Let me go to Kelly also, who says, "You don`t shoot somebody you think might have broken into somebody else`s place. The guy is guilty of being an idiot. I don`t see why that makes him a racist."

Well, it makes him an idiot and a racist, I think. Don`t you think? That`s what we`re talking about here.

And I think, again, that`s what`s so problematic about this. It`s, for me, it`s more than just racism. But the racism is so grotesque that is almost overshadows the other complexities here. Is that right?

ACKER: I think so. I mean, I think the entire situation is pretty grotesque. And one of the real issues with this law is that you`ve got to think about whether or not we should be empowering people to shoot people who may, you know, put race aside for a moment. He might just be paranoid. He might just have any one of a disorder.

Part of the reason we have a professional police force --

PINSKY: As Curtis said, Mr. Sliwa said, I`m rearranging the furniture in the head.

ACKER: Right.

PINSKY: He may need it rearranged.

ACKER: And --

PINSKY: Hold on, I got to go to break actually. I really appreciate your comments, though.

SLIWA: But, Dr. Drew --

PINSKY: Yes. Ten seconds, go.

SLIWA: Dr. Drew, that could have been Eminem. He could have had the hoodie on. He could have been the baddest white boy in town.

That same thing would have happened to the white guy. It was all about the empowerment of the guy who appointed himself guardian of that community.

PINSKY: I got to take a break. We`ll be right back. Thanks, Curtis.



SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN`S MOTHER: I`m so very hurt by this whole situation. It`s a nightmare. And I don`t understand why this man has not been arrested, at least charged. And let a judge and jury decide if he`s guilty. Thank you.


PINSKY: It is so painful watching that poor mom. That`s Trayvon Martin`s mother.

As I hear more about this case and I hear myself talking about it and Tanya talking about it, I really wonder if this goes under hate crime. I really do.

But let me keep going through this here. The shooting, what we`re talking about, of course, the shooting death of her teenage son. She is begging for justice.

This man has been walking free. I`m led to believe that there is a grand jury organized to finally bring some justice to this.

Ands I`m back with Tanya Acker. I also want to thank, Steve Kardian and Curtis Sliwa. I didn`t have a chance to say good-bye to them. I ran out of time.

But Trayvon Martin`s girlfriend was reportedly on the phone with him seconds before he was shot and killed. Here`s what she told family`s lawyer. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trayvon, run for it. Then he said he lost the man. Trayvon said the man still was following him.

I asked Trayvon to run. He was going to walk fast from the back. The man was just following him.


PINSKY: Seeing that grieving mother, hearing the girlfriend`s call, and then you and I just heard that this man, Zimmerman, used some outrageous language to the 911 caller.

I see your jaw tightening up thinking about this.

ACKER: It is. He reportedly during this 911 call referred to Trayvon Martin as an F-ing coon. I know it`s hard to get into someone`s head.

PINSKY: No, I don`t need to get into anybody`s head to understand that. That`s language -- that`s what makes me think about this as a hate crime.

Let me go to some of my callers and see if they agree with this. Kristel in Oklahoma.

Do you got something to say to us?


PINSKY: Hi, Kristel.

KRISTEL: Hi, how are you doing?

PINSKY: I`m good. What do you got for us?

KRISTEL: I really feel that this is a hate crime because he called -- the guy called in, like 46 times in 12 months I think it was.


KRISTEL: And each time he says there`s a black guy here.


KRISTEL: And his friend was on another show on that station, I think about 6:00 tonight, and his friend stated there had been a group of black kids who had been breaking into houses there.

PINSKY: Yes. Yeah. You know, I understand that -- you know, one of the things I was going to get into is how much we profile and don`t profile.

This is way more than that. This is a guy that was, A, paranoid, I`m convinced of that, and, B, severely racist. And to the point where if you can use language like that about a guy you just killed, how is that not a hate crime?

ACKER: And I also think it`s very interesting. I mean, look, this is the sort of case where defenders of Mr. Zimmerman or defenders of the police department might say, well, you know, there are lots of evidence of black men being criminal and blah, blah, blah.

PINSKY: Hold on, don`t forget. Hold this. Let me see if you look differently. Hold on that.

ACKER: Right. Exactly. I`m scary and dangerous.

PINSKY: You pretty suspicious now.

ACKER: I`m scary and dangerous with this.

And this kid, if you`re going to suggest that somebody who, perhaps, hangs out in a gang or has a weapon, might be dangerous, that`s fine. Skittles and Arizona iced tea do not a danger make.

PINSKY: Tanya, thank you so much for joining me.

Coming up: I`m switching gears. We`re going to take your calls. We`re also going to talk about infidelity, that`s one of the things that can bust up a marriage. We`ll explore midlife crisis and a couple who lived through it. First, we`ll answer your questions.

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