NewsNation | March 20, 2012
>> martin was killed on february 26th . on march 8th , martin's father tracy market held a news conference calling for sanford police to arrest him for the murder. 911 calls were released on the same day attorney for martin's family call for an arrest. and late last night, an investigation into, and today a grand jury will convene on april 10th to investigate the the shoeing. with me, one of the most prominent attorneys in florida . south florida , kendall coffee. i pointed out, you're one of the best. we want to get your thoughts on this. i just got a note from dennis baxley. he tells nbc news, there is nothing that authorizes anyone to pursue and confront. it is a strictly self- defense bill here. as we know, george zimmerman says he was acting in self- defense . what happens now?
>> the stand your ground law has become a huge obstacle to preventing exactly this kind of self-pointed vigilanteism. this kind of vigilante justice. it used to be if you shot somebody in quote/unquote self- defense , you were protected. but in 2005 , florida decided to become the pioneering state to extend this kind of self-protection to wherever the heck you go. like a zimmerman , unless there are witnesses that say, i saw you do it, the kid wasn't pro you, it wasn't self- defense . unless you've got witnesses it becomes very difficult to prove the circumstances that the shooting took place in. so cases have been defeated repeatedly where similar kinds of shooting took place. a lot of time they don't even try to bring the case because it is so hard to get convictions unless you've got witnesses or unless the shooter shoots the victim in the back. what you've got is no witnesses except for the alleged perpetrator who says it was in self- defense . how do you prove that's a lie?
>> with that that, is that why you believe the sanford police department avoided or did not bring this case to the grand jury and accept george zimmerman 's word that he was acting in self- defense . is that because of the difficulty that is presented with this law.
>> the law presents difficulty. it presents an easy out if the police department doesn't want to get very aggressive about investigating it. because certainly, if you have somebody's word, you can still try to break it apart but effective interrogation of the so-called suspect. and if you put that interrogation together with some kind of witness reports, people who said they heard crying or some kind of sound that sounded like it was the young man, right before he was shot. if you try to put those things together, sometimes you can shake the suspect and get to the truth. the problem is if this was a slip shod investigation of a person where there is no actual eyewitnesses, who says he did it in self- defense , it could be very, very hard for anybody to get to the proof and to prove a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt . i applaud the justice department 's intervention. they're going to look at the actions of the police department . they're going to look at the possibilities of hate crime. but i don't want anyone to be unrealistic in terms of expectations as to where this ends up. it may already be too late to ever get the truth or to ever get a real prosecution out of this case.
>> let me ask you regarding the 911 phone call that were released. calls made by neighbors, who were at least overhearing the commotion and the call made by george zimmerman where the operator says do not get out of your car. do not pursue. does that play a role in all of this in what the grand jury will hear? does that come into play at all?
>> it does come into play and the grand jury will want to hear it and they'll want to hear from the neighbors and they may find it was extremely poor judgment, even reckless judgment in continuing as zimmerman did to pursue the suspect. the problem will be at the end of it all, if all you can get is zimmerman 's story, that he was being attacked. and the only way to contradict that is a couple people who heard things but didn't see things. from a prosecution standpoint, it becomes a very difficult case to get any kind of homicide conviction beyond a reasonable doubt . the proof of that, sadly enough, is that in florida since the stand your ground law was enacted, in these cases generally people don't even get prosecuted anymore. when they have attempted to prosecute these claims of self- defense , they've almost always been acquittals.
>> thank you very much. i know we'll be with you again soon.