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Zimmerman Behind Bars

Aired April 12, 2012 - 21:00   ET


DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Here we go.

George Zimmerman remains behind bars tonight in protective custody. His attorney is here. And says his client is concerned about getting a fair shake. I`m concerned about his attorney getting hurt.

Should he be worried or could the case be dismissed before it gets to trial?

And we`ve got official details about Trayvon Martin`s final moments.

I`ll address your calls, your concerns, your comments. So, let`s get started.


PINSKY: Good evening.

George Zimmerman makes his first appearance. He is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin.

Attorney Mark O`Mara is representing Mr. Zimmerman. Mr. O`Mara, his name will become household soon enough. He joins us by phone from Florida.

Mr. O`Mara, how is George Zimmerman doing tonight?

MARK O`MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERNA`S ATTORNEY (via telephone): He`s tired and stressed and frustrated. But I think there is at least some benefit to knowing that there`s a process now in place so we know what the next few steps are.

PINSKY: Let me ask you a question. I know you defend a lot of, you know, unpopular types, I imagine. Was this a case you had to think long and hard about to take? Were you afraid for the safety?

I talked to Mark Geragos yesterday, last night. He said at times he`s been afraid for his family when he`s taken very unpopular cases or had horrible things happen as a result of those cases.

Did you have any of those kinds of concerns?

PINSKY: I mean, you can`t be ignorant of it. I mean, there is that concern out there, because there`s been a groundswell of the way the case is handled and the focus went against Mr. Zimmerman. And, of course, when you add that there are concerns over whether or not there were racial implications to it, it makes it that much more of an emotional event.

But quite honestly, I`m hoping that the community, now that the process is moving forward, now that an arrest has been made, that they will believe that, give us our time, let us work through it and the proper result will come. And that they`ll both trust the system again. They may have had some concerns over the system, but I`m hoping they`re going to trust it from this point forward.

PINSKY: Well, I don`t think people are going to. I think, you know, all the research shows that African-Americans have a disproportionate distrust of the system and this whole experience has borne that out for them, it`s reinforced all that. Are you sympathetic to African-Americans who feel that way?

O`MARA: I understand the concerns. But, you know, what I do is represent people in a criminal case. And that focus is now on what Mr. Zimmerman did that day, did he do something wrong? How it happened?

So the racial component doesn`t really play into that from my goal and my purpose.

PINSKY: Although looking at the state of Florida`s affidavit of probable cause, there was some things that kind of smack of potentially racially charged material. Let`s face it.

O`MARA: I agree the affidavit makes some reference to that.

PINSKY: And finally, what is George`s mindset tonight? I mean, his previous attorneys talked about posttraumatic stress disorder. I frankly was stunned by their behavior. I don`t know if you want to comment on that or not.

But, you know, they`re saying specifically that obviously he`s been involved in an altercation and somebody`s dead. That causes an acute stress reaction. But take us a little bit inside how his -- how he feels tonight. What is he thinking of, other that frustrated and tired?

You know, looking at his pictures, by the way, Mr. O`Mara, he`s blinking, his eyes are moving. He`s very anxious. He is clearly and reasonably terribly anxious.

O`MARA: And that`s exactly right. He`s incredibly stressed right now. He`s facing second-degree murder charge, that in and of itself would be very stressful. Without the enormous focus that this case has. And, of course, he`s been in virtual isolation for several weeks. And he`s suffered through the event where someone died in an altercation with him.

So there`s a lot going on with him. But I do think that he is capable of assisting me -- certainly in the defense. I`ve had two conversations with him and going to continue to. It`s just a very stressful time.

PINSKY: I`ve heard you say you want him to get out of bond so he can help you with the defense. I assume that`s one of your motivations, one of your priorities right now. But as far as the virtual isolation goes, was that -- because of his own safety, or was he on his way out of the state?

O`MARA: No, I think he was concerned because there was a groundswell against him, and he was fearful of that. I don`t think that anyone would have thought that Mr. Zimmerman could walk down the street in Sanford or central Florida or Florida and not at least run into concerns. And do that for six or eight weeks and it`s going to have some effect.

PINSKY: I have one last question. Are you, or he more importantly, afraid he`s going to jail for life?

O`MARA: If I was charged with second-degree murder, I would be afraid I might go to jail for life because that`s a possibility in this case.

PINSKY: It`s a possibility. Does he talk about that?

O`MARA: We haven`t discussed the facts of the case. We haven`t discussed the reality of the potential sentences. Now that may change over time, but, no, we haven`t really got into any of that.

PINSKY: Given that 95 percent of the criminal cases are negotiated down, is that going to be a priority short term?

O`MARA: Percentage is quite lesser than that with murder cases, but I always keep all options open. You know, once we start finding out more about the case, and once we can craft our response to the state`s situation, not necessarily to the media, but to the state, and maybe to motion, I think that will open up or keep open the possibility of resolving this short of trial.

PINSKY: Mr. O`Mara, I thank you for joining us. I hope you`ll come back as this thing moves along to tell us what you thinking, what Mr. Zimmerman is feeling and what your plans are. So, thank you again.

O`MARA: OK. Take care.

PINSKY: Thank you.

Now I`m joined by a family attorney for the Martin family. Her name is Natalie Jackson.

There you are, Natalie. What are your thoughts about what you just heard?

NATALIE JACKSON, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: I think Mark is a very good lawyer, dr. Drew.

What concerns me about what I heard is really a question that you asked. You -- the way that some people are posing this question is that the protesters who rally for an arrest of George Zimmerman are the danger. We`ve had a completely peaceful protest. There`s been -- there`s nuts on both sides. Trust me. There`s been a danger from the supporter of George Zimmerman also.


JACKSON: But what we know, and what this side knows is that, you know, these are just a few of the people. There were 2.2 million people that came together in unity and asked for justice.

And so, you know, when we have these discussions, it`s very important not to just point out one group, and that`s what I`m hearing sometimes. Because I can tell you, some of the supporters for Zimmerman, not all of them, because I`m sure they have lots of supporters also, have been really out of control. And so --


JACKSON: -- that is something that these attorneys, my team had to think about, and the family has had to think about in the process of their grieving and losing a child.

PINSKY: Yes, I agree.

JACKSON: And going out in public.

PINSKY: Natalie, I thank you for bringing that up. I hope also now that the process is under way, we can now move away from the Zimmerman issues per se, and talk about this delay and the fact that the whole country virtually had to speak up about this for their to be a process that took hold. Right? I mean, that`s the really big question.

JACKSON: Yes, and the beauty of it --

PINSKY: Why did this take so long? Why the bias, what`s going on? What -- we have to really examine ourselves. We have to check ourselves a little bit. Don`t you agree?

JACKSON: Yes. Even as I listen to Frank Taaffe and talked about the black kid who was burglarized that lived in the neighborhood. That`s the issue here. Just because someone else did it did not mean Trayvon was going to do it. That`s profiling.

PINSKY: Got to break. Thank you, Natalie. I agree with you.

Next up, Trayvon`s mother said this morning this tragedy was an accident, then took back that statement. I`ll tell you later.

Plus, George Zimmerman`s big advocate, as Natalie mentioned, is here. We`ll be joined after this.


PINSKY: Welcome back.

Trayvon Martin`s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin are saying they have been praying for George Zimmerman`s arrest since their son was shot and killed in February. Earlier today, Trayvon`s mother was on NBC`s "Today" show addressing the arrest and saying the death of her son was an accident. Take a listen.


SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN`S MOTHER: One of the things I still believe in, a person should apologize when they are actually remorseful for what they`ve done. I believe it was an accident. I believe that it just got out of control and he couldn`t turn the clock back.


PINSKY: Later on "NANCY GRACE," Trayvon`s mother clarified her statement. Take a look at this. Quite different.


FULTON: The point that I was trying to make was that if Zimmerman had never gotten out of his vehicle, he would not have met Trayvon, and I said that encounter was accidental. That Trayvon meeting Zimmerman was accidental. It was in no way, shape, form, or fashion did I imply that this was an accident, that the shooting was an accident.


PINSKY: So it was an accident of fate that the two of them met that night rather than the shooting, itself, was an accident. The legal process is now in play and has to work itself through.

Joining me tonight is George Zimmerman`s friend and supporter, Frank Taaffe.

Frank, I got a bunch of questions for you. First of all, how are you?

FRANK TAAFFE, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN`S FRIEND: Good evening, Dr. Drew. I`m doing fine. Thank you.

PINSKY: OK. I saw you on "NANCY GRACE" last night and you seemed agitated. And you seem calmer tonight. Is -- are things going better? Are you more satisfied with how things are being worked through? Where are you at with all this?

TAAFFE: You know, Dr. Drew, you know, acceptance is key to all this. I`ve accepted the charges against my friend, George. And we`re going to move forward with this with great anticipation, of George being exonerated of all these charges when we have our day in court.

PINSKY: You seemed angrier last night and tonight you seem more subdued and almost depressed. Is it depressing to come to terms with this?

TAAFFE: No, not depressing. It`s acceptance. I`ve fully accepted the fact we have to move forward with the charges. We have a great lawyer on the case, Mark O`Mara. And the only thing I`m really concerned with are the charges that were brought to Mr. Zimmerman, the second-degree murder charge.

And the reason why I`m on your show tonight, because you are an expert in the field of psychology. And in the charge, the murder charge, itself, there have to be a propensity for depravity of mind. And I looked it up in the law library today and I, myself, would like to hear from you what your definition of depravity of mind is.

PINSKY: Well, listen. Let`s be clear, I`m an internist, addictionologist. The depravity in mind is a legal question rather than a psychological question.

I had Mark Geragos on last night. I asked him that very same question. Lisa Bloom, standing by, I`m going to ask her the very same question, because the court, the legal system has --

TAAFFE: Because it says in, you know, in horrible, inhumane acts and of an immoral turpitude. I mean, it was very verbose. So I would like to hear y`all`s interpretation. I`d love to.

PINSKY: Frank, let me ask something. Can I bring in Lisa Bloom, an attorney? If you`re OK with that, I`ll bring her in to answer that very question. I have her sitting down if you want --

TAAFFE: Yes, I respect --


So here we have Lisa Bloom.

Lisa Bloom, thank you for joining us.

LISA BLOOM, ATTORNEY: Thank you. So --

PINSKY: Let me just say what I discussed with Mark Geragos last night, was, what I asked him was, is depravity something that can happen in the moment you`re pulling the trigger? Can it be a split second of depravity? He said yes.

BLOOM: Yes, it can. Now, depravity legally is different than depravity in a mental health form. So, you`re right about that.

PINSKY: I`m sorry to interrupt you. To me it means inhuman. Let`s face it. No acknowledgement of other people having feelings, treating other people as animals.

BLOOM: Right. And you`re on the right track.

Depravity legally means a callous indifference to human life. That you don`t care if a person lives or dies. You don`t care if they`re harmed or not harmed.

Frank, you may have looked that up. There may be different definitions in different cases, different legal contexts. But when we`re talking about homicide, which is what we`re talking about here, first- degree murder is the intentional taking of a human life. That`s not what George Zimmerman has been charged with.

Second degree is a lesser degree of intent. Perhaps he didn`t intend to take the life but he just didn`t care. He had a depraved indifference as to whether that life was taken or not. That`s what he`s been charged with.

TAAFFE: I disagree. I disagree. After listening to the 911 tapes, which aren`t really 911, because George calls in on a non-emergency line. Everybody is talking about 911. He called in on a non-emergency line.

The dispatcher clearly -- and I looked up the charging affidavit today where he said that -- where it was stated by special prosecutor Corey that he disregarded the dispatcher`s request not to continue his surveillance of Trayvon Martin. And I heard it clearly, so did the rest of America, where he says, OK. Did you not hear that?

BLOOM: Listen, I`m not saying he`s guilty. I don`t want to be misunderstood. I`m say that`s what he`s been charged with. It`s going to be up to a jury to decide whether he`s innocent or guilty.

TAAFFE: I`m going back to the charging affidavit that was just released one hour ago.

BLOOM: Yes, I`ve seen that.

PINSKY: I heard him say OK.

BLOOM: I have it right here.

TAAFFE: Please, I`d like to hear your --

PINSKY: I heard him say OK. It seemed like he continued to pursue him. That`s how he got himself into trouble.

TAAFFE: How you know that? How do you know that?

PINSKY: Well, we don`t for sure.

TAAFFE: Thank you. OK. Thank you.

PINSKY: That`s something we`re going to see a timeline from Mr. O`Mara at some point and I`m sure those are the kinds of things that Lisa he will take issue with.

BLOOM: Listen, Frank, you make a very important point. That is that there should not be a rush to judgment here. What we have is one side of the case in this charging affidavit, which is the way the criminal justice system proceeds. We have law enforcement and the prosecutor`s side. We don`t have the defense side yet -- which is why none of us should rush to judgment. In fact, some of the facts in here might be disproved at trial.

PINSKY: Let me say, from my perspective, somebody who`s sitting in California, Frank, it looks weird to the rest of the country that Florida has these laws. It looks like an injustice. And, that`s -- you know, that`s what it looks like to us all watching. If people hadn`t spoken up, this wouldn`t have happened. Your friend probably wouldn`t have been arrested. The reality is.

But it`s a weird sort of circumstance of Florida that in other states he would have been arrested that night, right?

BLOOM: Yes, I`ll say this, Frank, also on behalf of you and your friend, George Zimmerman. Now that I`ve read this just released probable cause affidavit, we should be clear, there is no evidence alleged by the stay that George Zimmerman made any racial comments about Trayvon Martin, any racial epithets or had any racial animus. There are no hate crimes alleged in this case. I think --

TAAFFE: Thank you, Lisa.

BLOOM: -- that`s important to point out.

TAAFFE: Thank you, Lisa.

BLOOM: You`re welcome. But let me say one other quick thing. He`s accused of saying these a-holes, these punks. That to me is getting close to "these people." What do you mean -- what category is this stranger being put in with a group? This is somebody, Trayvon Martin --


TAAFFE: I respect what you`re sharing. I respect what you`re sharing, and on "NANCY GRACE," we went around and around on this 100 times. When I first heard that, prior to Nancy`s show, I came up with the cold theory, C-O-L-D. She kept chanting, or ranting, it was the other "C" word.

You know, the CNN experts ran it and they enhanced the audio and one day it`s cold, the next day it`s punks. But it was never the other "C" word.

PINSKY: Frank, Frank, would you stay with me for another segment? I`ll keep Lisa here. We`ll keep this conversation going. Will you be willing to stay a couple minutes?

TAAFFE: Absolutely. Glad to be here.

PINSKY: OK. What I want to know, a couple things, one is from Lisa, was the second-degree murder charge something they expected to be negotiated down eventually? As sort of, you know, sort of a strategy? You know, he asked why second-degree murder. There may be leverage, number one.

And, number two, Frank, I want to know from you how George is feeling, what his mindset is, what you feel he is going through now.

We`ll talk about that after the break.


PINSKY: OK. We continue this conversation with Lisa Bloom. He`s an attorney, author of the book "Think."

I also have Frank Taaffe with us.

And, Frank, before we go on to the second-degree murder issue and negotiations, please tell me what`s going on with George right now. What is his mindset? What is he thinking? Does he feel he has been unjustly put upon?

TAAFFE: Dr. Drew, last time I talked to George was Monday of this week. And there were four talking points that he wanted me to share with the public on that day. Number one was his Web site.

Number two, he shared with me the fact that when on the night my house was getting burglarized, he ID`d the gentleman and that person was later apprehended in so far as he burglarized my neighbor`s house four doors down. This was approximately three weeks prior to the Trayvon Martin shooting. And in that, it was a young, black male, who was apprehended by Sanford police, and here`s the twist that he brought to my attention, that this assailant lived in our neighborhood. He was right there in the Twin Lakes retreat. And he also shared with me that there was truth in the 911 tapes and for me to reiterate and share with you all the police narrative of the on-the-scene police officer, whereby he stated to the police officer that he was the one yelling for help and that no one came to help him.

And the police officer also noted in that report that he had close contact with Mr. Zimmerman. That was Officer Smith. Check out the police report. I`m sure you have. That he had close contact upon close contact with George Zimmerman who he never knew before.

And believe this, this police officer does not work on commission, so he did not try to embellish this police report. That he observed Mr. Zimmerman with blood coming out of his nose. There was blood and bruises on the back of his head and his jacket and pants were wet with grass.

PINSKY: Frank, respectfully, I have to say that in this state, that`s not justification for killing somebody. Just isn`t. And the whole thing still revolves around that issue.

TAAFFE: Dr. Drew, how many --

PINSKY: You know, whether standing ground or not --

TAAFFE: Go ahead, please.

PINSKY: Hey, you defend yourself with appropriate force. I understand that`s what`s going to be the issue. Let me have Lisa -- I have a few seconds left. Let me have Lisa answer your question about second- degree murder and why that`s likely the case they issued that charge.

BLOOM: Well, I am concerned if this case was charged at a higher level, second-degree murder, so that the prosecutor would have some bargaining power. Because that`s not the way it`s supposed to work. A prosecutor is only supposed to charge a charge that is appropriate in good faith based on the facts of the law.

PINSKY: But, but --

BLOOM: But in reality, this happens all the time.


BLOOM: If this were you or one of your children, or your friend or family -- I mean, we have to consider the prosecutors have a tremendous amount of power in the system and they should only charge what is appropriate.

PINSKY: What percent of cases are negotiated down?

BLOOM: Ninety-five percent.

PINSKY: OK, Frank, there you go. Ninety-five percent expect negotiating down. I think that`s what we`re going to see here.

Frank, thank you for joining me. I do appreciate it.

Lisa, of course, as always.

Coming up, what role did protests play in the arrest of George Zimmerman?

And next, I`m taking your calls and questions. Go to to let us know what you think about this story or any other. And as I promise, we had to reschedule this yesterday. We`ll get a show here, one hour, all your calls and comments.

Stay with us. We`ll be right back with more.



PINSKY (voice-over): Coming up, today, the world watched as George Zimmerman appeared in court for the first time. Did the system work or did the people force it to work? Did protesters help or hurt this case? And why did it take so long?


PINSKY (on-camera): Welcome back. It is now time for your questions and calls. So, let`s get right to it. I`ve got Jon in California. What`s up there, Jon?

JON, California: Hi, Dr. Drew.

PINSKY: Hi, Jon. Uh-oh. Your phone`s breaking up, my friend? Can you find a spot? Let`s go.

JON: OK. Can you hear me now?

PINSKY: I got you. Let`s go.

JON: OK, Cool. Does Trayvon`s mom think that Zimmerman did not intend to kill her son? That the act of (INAUDIBLE) escalated and cost her son`s life?

PINSKY: She didn`t specify that. I don`t think she thinks that. I mean, it sounded this morning on the "Today" show like she thought maybe this was an accident, sort of an overaggressive maneuver, but then, when she went back and recanted what she said was no, no, this was intentional, but the fact that these two men came together that night or this man and this child, let`s be clear, that was the accident.

Let me ask something, Jon. I want to ask something. You ready? I can barely hear you. Are you there?

JON: Yes. Can you hear me now?

PINSKY: I got you. It`s like a cell phone commercial.

JON: Yes, I know.

PINSKY: Not a good one, by the way. Do you think he murdered Trayvon?

JON: No. I think -- I really think he was some guy that actually instigated violence, and Trayvon probably fought back --

PINSKY: Let me ask you this. OK, let me ask you this. If you were in that situation, let`s just say for the sake of argument some guy is beating you up, and it was a guy you were scared of, you were suspicious of, for whatever reason, he`s beat you up. Do you think that`s a reason to kill somebody or even if you had a gun, it`s OK to shoot to kill?

JON: Well, one thing about me, I`m actually a martial arts instructor.

PINSKY: So, you -- as that, you know to control things, right?

JON: Yes, yes.

PINSKY: You`re the perfect person to talk to. Don`t you think that in that moment of, I mean, extreme intention to hurt somebody, that`s what he intended to do. Here`s my opinion. I think he murdered him. I do. My question to you, Jon, is, my question to you is, what`s wrong if I say that? Why can`t I say that?

I`m not saying the justice system shouldn`t function. I`m not saying he`s guilty. I don`t know how the justice system is going to find it. I`m just saying, I`m a private citizen. I`m looking at this. Outside of Florida, I think that`s a murder. I do. And why can`t I say that? Why can`t we talk like that? We can have opinions about this and disagree and agree and discuss it.

I said this yesterday and Twitter went nuts that I was shameful. I encourage people to have opinions. I think that`s OK to have opinions. I`m not saying be judgmental of the system. Allow the system to operate, and you know, whatever the system finds. We`ve got Casey Anthony walking around, guys.

I mean, system, I still have faith in the system. But, I think something bad happened that night. Thank you, Jon. It`s a good call. Thank you.

I`ve got Sabrina on Facebook. "Justice has been served," she says. "Now, let`s see how it plays out in court." That`s of course, we all want to know. I got Renee in Indiana. You are on the line. Go right ahead there.

RENEE, INDIANA: Yes, Dr. Drew.

PINSKY: Hi, Renee.

RENEE: My concern in this case is such a high profile case like the Anthony case, and in my opinion, the jury in that case failed the justice system.

PINSKY: Hold on a second. So, the jury failed in Casey Anthony`s case. You`re afraid the same thing is going to happen here?

RENEE: Absolutely with it being such a high profile case.

PINSKY: Do you think that was a function of the high profile nature of the case? I think if anything, the jury should have been biased against Casey Anthony, shouldn`t they have?

RENEE: You think they would have been, but my concern is, I think the jury to get out of sequestration took the easy road out. And, I think they didn`t find in favor the justice system in the way they should have, and my concern is that this is going to be the same situation.

PINSKY: All right. Renee, let me ask you more opinions tonight. I want people to give me their opinions. That`s what I`m interested in. Do you think the jury system works? Do you think juries generally find the truth?

RENEE: I think the jury system works, but I think it`s over- investigated -- the jury --

PINSKY: Well, you know, it`s funny you say that, Renee. I know what you`re getting at. And Mark Geragos, in this program last night, said that once the jury is seated, the case will have already been determined. Who is in that box is going to determine the outcome of this case before it`s presented, which is the fascinating way of looking at this.

Most defense attorneys and prosecutors -- particularly prosecutors seem to think that jury gets at the truth. So, I say, faith in the system. Even though I think something horrible happened that night, I have faith in the system. Thank you for your call.

I`ve got another Facebook here. Kimberly, "The court needs to see all the evidence, actual and circumstantial, to determine whether or not the shooting was justified." Justified, justified homicide because somebody`s beating on you? Again, this whole how it`s going to be looked at in Florida to me is the thing that`s kind of, eh, wild.

Anyway, Kim in New York. What`s going on in your mind?

KIM, NEW YORK: Yes. Hi, Drew.

PINSKY: Hey, Kim.

KIM: I`ve been wondering if -- I haven`t heard anyone talk about the possibility that George Zimmerman self-inflicted the injuries.

PINSKY: I`ve heard little sort of -- I don`t think that happened. Come on, now. Do you? Come on.

KIM: Well, it`s possible.

PINSKY: Well, OK. It`s possible. Again, we haven`t heard the evidence yet. And by the way, you know, can you put George Zimmerman`s picture back and get Kim`s name off there and put George Zimmerman`s picture up there from his booking last night? Can you guys do that for me. I want to show you something, Kim. Well, OK, here he is now. No, no, this is fine.

Let`s keep this one up here. Oh, yes, yes. So, people have asked me whether or not this is a nose that`s actually (ph) been fractured. Again, we`re talking about some months ago, right, some several weeks ago. Hard to say. Certainly wasn`t what I`ve heard some people call a major nasal fracture. Major fracture is actually opened. I mean, like the bone sticks out.

This is not a major fracture. He looks pretty good there. Now, he might have had some treatment. That`d be interesting to know if he did. Treatment, outcome can be quite good, but if he had not had treatment, that`s not much of a nasal fracture.

Got Facebook now. Thank you for your call, by the way, Renee. Stacy, "I hope the jury sees this just as it was. Self-defense? Zimmerman doesn`t even deserve probation." So, there you go. There are extreme opinions on both sides of this case. And I say, fine, have opinions about this. I`m all about opinion. We need to practice having opinions more in this country, I say.

I think we`re afraid to have opinions. Don`t ever have opinions that could harm other people or hurtful to other people. Be respectful. Be empathic (ph). It`s good to have opinions.

Jan in Florida, what`s your question?

JAN, FLORIDA: OK. I just want to know, with so many teens being kidnapped and killed today, how can Zimmerman claim self-defense?

PINSKY: So many -- wait, wait. Slow down, Jan. Jan, slow down. So many what?

JAN: So many teen, so many teenagers are being kidnapped, right, or killed today. How can Zimmerman claim self-defense? He was following Trayvon. We teach our kids about stranger danger. Zimmerman got out of his truck, Trayvon did what he was --

PINSKY: I see what you`re saying. I see what you`re saying.

JAN: Trayvon was the one standing his ground.

PINSKY: Well, this -- yes, Jan, I`ve heard this argument from people that, you know, it`s really sort of the poor Trayvon argument, which is the guy`s stalking him in the middle of the night. And by the way, there`s all kinds of social and cognitive psychology experiments out there that show if you treat someone with the expectation that they`re hostile as though you expect them to be hostile and aggressive, we, as humans, generally respond in kind.

We usually give you probabilistically, higher probability of giving you hostility. And then, of course, things escalate, and that`s what we have here. But yes, I agree with you. We do a lot of coaching our children, our teenagers, that, you know, that the world is a dangerous place. And we may be creating some of that, some of what (INAUDIBLE) Trayvon maybe.

Nathaniel, Facebook, "May 29th will be when we find out what the prosecution has up their sleeves. Seems like an eternity away." Yes. I mean, there`s a lot -- this process is going to take a long time, guys. This is not something that`s going to be over tomorrow. I`m suspicious that Zimmerman may be out on bail.

I know they`re going to have the so-called Arthur hearing where they try to grant him -- try to capture immunity for having stood his ground. We heard that, some of the attorneys talking about that yesterday. I don`t think he`s going to get that, but that`ll be interesting to see how they try to do that.

OK. Listen, next, did all the outcry and activism push the state of Florida to charge George Zimmerman? That is the question. Did it actually cause justice to be served or should we feel good about this or did it raise racial tensions in America? We`re going to have that conversation after this.



REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Had there not been pressure, there would not have been a second look. And I think that that credit should go to the nameless, faceless people, Black, White, Latino, and Asian, all over this country that put hoods on and said take another look at this and that look has led to where we are tonight.


PINSKY: George Zimmerman spent weeks in hiding before being charged with second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin. Outraged African-Americans already filled with a deep seed and distrust between themselves, police officers. They organized protests and marched nationwide, advocating for an arrest.

The establishment argued to let the system work. Did people power pressure authorities and force an arrest or were racial tensions raised as a result?

Joining me, Bob Tur. He was the helicopter pilot who videotaped the attack on Reginald Denny during a Los Angeles riots 20 years ago. There`s the tape right there. We also have MSNBC contributor and editor of, Jeff Johnson, and Armstrong Williams, a conservative newspaper columnist. Armstrong, was protesting by the likes of Al Sharpton and Jeff Johnson the reason why George Zimmerman is in jail?

ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS, RADIO, TV TALK SHOW HOST: Absolutely. That`s part of the reason. And it`s more of an indictment of law enforcement than it is the case, itself. Obviously, law enforcement dropped the ball. George Zimmerman should have been arrested long ago, and he should face the music and let a court and jury of his peers determine his fate.

You know, my only concern here is this. There`s no doubt in my mind, I agree with you, Dr. Drew, that George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, and that`s unfortunate. And I think Trayvon`s parents have been an incredible example of what parents should be, especially after losing their son.

But, it`s the emotional reaction by American Blacks overall to George Zimmerman versus O.J. Simpson almost few (ph) years ago. O.J. Simpson allegedly killed Ron Goldman and Nicole Simpson. And, the emotional outrage was, they didn`t care about the evidence. As it unfolded, no matter what was said. If the glove did not fit, acquit.

They wanted O.J. to walk tree. And when the jury reached the verdict, which shocked me that he was found not guilty, not saying he was innocent. I mean, you could talk to people, there were kids in classrooms around the country jumping up and down hooraying for the fact that O.J. Simpson was released.

My thing is, if George Zimmerman goes through a jury by trial and just for some reason that we cannot figure out, like in the case of Casey Anthony, George Zimmerman is found not guilty, will many Blacks in this country have the same emotional reaction and there will be no violence or anymore protests and they accept the verdict as many Americans had to do in the case of O.J. Simpson?

PINSKY: Jeff, what do you think about that? Is there likely to be a reaction? Go ahead.

JEFF JOHNSON, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, POLITIC365.COM: One, I think that Armstrong is reaching by trying to compare this to O.J. Simpson. I think even if we look within the last six months, we saw people rallying all over the country -- a large number of African-Americans, but there were those that were also White, Asian, Latino, for Troy Davis. Many people believe that there was evidence that created a reasonable doubt.

Many people were aware of what that evidence was. People were mobilizing all over the world, not just in the United States of America. People were at the Supreme Court. I was one of those people at the Supreme Court when he was put to death. And when that happened, people did not begin to riot even though they believe that the justice system did not serve them.

I agree with Armstrong in the fact that I think that there`s a great deal of emotion around this case, but it is not an all -- it`s not driven down racial lines the way O.J. Simpson was. I marched with students from Daytona to Sanford, and they were Black students, White students, Asian students, Latino students.

People have been able to see the humanity in Trayvon. And as a result of that, they have responded. I think this arrest taking place will be able to create some calm. I think the process of the trial will be able to create some calm.

And I think we just have to wait and see if people believe the justice is served or not regardless of what the outcome is. But this is a very different kind of environment that I think we saw during O.J. Simpson.

PINSKY: Well, I think you`re right, but Bob, you were actually there when one of these violent eruptions occurred.


PINSKY: You found him?

TUR: I found him down in Orange County. I was the first to find him.

PINSKY: Oh, interesting. Does this feel in any way the same? I mean, somebody brought up earlier this evening -- let me just say, there are extreme types on both sides, both on the George Zimmerman side and on the Trayvon side right now. Could those people, the fringe, start to collapse with those of us that are trying to push this conversation to a higher ground are doing?

TUR: It could. I think this case is more similar to April 29th, 1992, the L.A. riots, where you had, you know, this polarizing effect with the Rodney King trial. Really, what we`re looking at is a prosecution, George Zimmerman`s prosecution, did a great deal to defuse community anger and prevent a possible riot.

PINSKY: So, you think, they`re speaking up yesterday when they presented their case.

TUR: Yes.

PINSKY: That was a good move. They didn`t seem gleeful or glib or some other words I`ve heard tossed about about how they seem -- they`re celebrating their action.

TUR: Not so good for George Zimmerman, however, it was great for the community, because it really saved and spared the community from civil unrest. Really, we had all the ingredients if you look back in history. And I was there at Florence and Normandy, April 29th, and I saw the very spark of the worst rioting in U.S. modern history.

A billion dollar damage, 55 people killed. I saw and see the same ingredients here in Florida had this man not been --

PINSKY: We`re looking at it right now. The footage with the --

TUR: Yes -- had this man not been charged and with the media attention, the constant playing of the tapes, and people speculating about the facts and rumors and things of that nature. You could very well have seen civil unrest, rioting.

PINSKY: Armstrong, are the African-American leaders -- I`ve got less than a minute here -- are the African-American leaders who are stepping up and taking, making this as an opportunity to bring these issues back to the fore, are they stirring up a hornet`s nest unnecessarily?

WILLIAMS: I don`t think they, themselves, are working to stir up a hornet`s nest. I think that Reverend Sharpton and Reverend Jesse Jackson, what they represent and the reputations of the past and what they find themselves associated with, people cannot forget that symbolism and the images with that.

And so, the images in and of itself stirs up controversy. You just cannot separate one from the other. And it is a fact that these leaders pick and choose where they decide to show up and advocate justice, and that`s something you can`t argue.

JOHNSON: But this can`t continue to be a referendum on Reverend Sharpton and Reverend Jackson. They have been involved in this case, in particular. You`ve had almost 40 days of protests of some form --

PINSKY: We have to take a break here, Jeff. I`m sorry to interrupt.

JOHNSON: No violence, no arrests.

PINSKY: We`ll be right back to keep this conversation going. Sorry, Jeff.


PINSKY: I`m back with my panel. And Jeff, I`m sorry, I had to interrupt you as we went off to break there. You want to finish what you were saying?

JOHNSON: No, sure, I mean, there`s been some form of protests for over 40 days. None of it has been violent. Even when some of those fringe groups have attempted to come in and incite violence, the leadership of those like Reverend Jamal Bryant, Reverend Sharpton, has been able to create a sense of calm even in the midst of great frustration.

And that`s why I don`t see this being the same, but that`s why I also believe that these protests and these mobilizations in Sanford and around the country really did help shine the light that was necessary to bring about, I think, this indictment sooner than we may have seen it, otherwise.

PINSKY: But Jeff, the concern is what if he`s found not guilty or what if he gets off on the Arthur hearing that he has? How are people going to react then? Could it be a tinderbox?

JOHNSON: Well, sure, but at the end of the day, let`s begin to talk about the precedent that`s been set in this scenario. In this scenario, all of the protests have been positive. In this scenario, even while pushing for justice, there`s been a request for calm. In this scenario, even know you have leaders that are saying, let`s see this process work itself out.

And so, I think leadership has been responsible from the national level to the local level in making sure that we even expectations about what`s possible, about what needs to happen, about trusting the justice system and, again, I think that we saw just a few months ago with Troy Davis the same level of emotion that did not erupt in the violence when the outcome was not what they wanted it to be.

WILLIAMS: Listen --

PINSKY: Jeff, although your words are reassuring, I`m not sure Armstrong agrees with you. Go ahead, Armstrong.

WILLIAMS: Jeff knows I have tremendous respect for him. I`m just shocked that we are wearing kid gloves on this topic. The centerpiece of this case is the issue that is race, as it was with O.J. Simpson.


WILLIAMS: And in the emotional -- and I`m talking about the emotional reaction to O.J. Simpson and that killing of two people. They could have care less about the evidence. The fact that he killed two people, it was just an opportunity, the justice system was going to work against a man and finally a brother was going to get off.

And the fact that O.J. Simpson was acquitted, people were jubilant about it, and for you not to face the fact that that was the case, and my issue is, and you said it could be --

JOHNSON: I`m sorry, I didn`t say that wasn`t the case. I`m saying that you --


WILLIAMS: No, no, it is a comparison. But it is. If it could be a scenario, it should be a scenario because of this. If Black people were willing to be jubilant about the fact that O.J. Simpson was acquitted on his murder charges, they should have the same tone, the same reaction if George Zimmerman is acquitted.

PINSKY: Armstrong, I`m going to interrupt you. I`ve got less than about 45 seconds. Jeff, finish it up.

JOHNSON: Armstrong, you`re talking about a case that was over almost two decades ago. We`re talking about a different black community, a large number of young people, a large number of community people that don`t want to see their communities torn up. They want to see their communities fixed.

What I see happening is not people going negative or people using this as a Rosa Parks moment to be more active in their communities even if this doesn`t go the way they want to. Let`s look for the best, not the worst.

PINSKY: I want to leave it positive. Armstrong, Jeff, I think well articulated. I`m going to leave it positive. Bob, I suspect you agree with the that?

TUR: I do.

PINSKY: You`re a little bit hesitant?


TUR: I really think that --

PINSKY: We`ve got five seconds.

TUR: Five seconds. Time will tell.

PINSKY: Time will tell. I want to believe Jeff`s view of the future. Thank you, Armstrong, thank you Bob, thank you, Jeff, and also, thank you for watching. We`re going to keep this conversation going. I want to bring Jeff, Armstrong, and Bob back. See you next time.