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Miami Lawyer Kendall Coffey- Sanford Police wanted to charge George Zimmerman

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Published on Aug 1, 2012

Miami Lawyer Kendall Coffey on the George Zimmerman case

Tamron Hall: Joining us now from Miami is criminal defense attorney also former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey. Kendall, it's great to see you again, help me understand here. The state attorney made the decision the night of the shooting, the killing of Trayvon Martin, is that usual business?

Kendall Coffey: It's not inconceivable but all of this is startling, especially when we were told that early on there was never any consideration given to charging Zimmerman. It was an open and shut self defense case supposedly. Now we're hearing something very very different. According to these reports the lead investigator, the person on the scene, the person that normally law enforcement would say is in teh best position to assess whether or not there's probable cause of arrest. HE apparently was effectvely overruled by people sitting back at the office. It does happen, but it certainly raises a lot of questions.

Tamron Hall: So what question does it raise? Are you asking if the Sanford police department is incompetent? The question many other people are asking is this a cover up? What question does the experienced, top legal person in the state of Florida, what is the main question that you have, 30 days after Trayvon Martin was killed now we're learning this critical information about the lead investigators analysis of the scene and what he thinks should have happened?

Kendall Coffey:Well, the most obvious thing it tells us is that there is now going to be a through investigation, not only of what happened that night, but also an investigation of the investigation of Sanford's police and the state attorney's office. But from my standpoint one of the big concerns is how can you so quickly dismiss what the lead investigator said? When you have somebody dead, an unarmed somebody that was killed by somebody with a gun? If that decision was going to be made so quickly they better be darned ready to show a detailed file of all the other steps they took before they overruled the judgement, the professional judgement, of the person in the best position to determine whether or not there was probable cause to arrest George Zimmerman.

Tamron Hall: Kendall, all of those are obviously relevant legal questions. What I'm about to ask you right now, now, I'm not even sure if it's relevant at this point, but you've got this individual who's out there, who said he was George Zimmerman's friend but now says that he was an associate of George Zimmerman's family, none the less he's making the rounds of a lot of different shows. I want to play two clips from Lawrence O'Donnell's show last night on the last word on Zimmerman's friend, who is so far the only person who's coming out defending him. Let's play both of those clips please.

George Zimmerman's Friend: George Zimmerman learned from his mistakes and grew from them.

Lawrence O'Donnell: What mistakes did George Zimmerman tell you about and how did he tell you he grew from his mistakes?

George Zimmerman's friend: I'm just saying from what I have seen the person that I know, that the George Zimmerman I know was not the George Zimmerman who was arrested in 2005 and I wouldn't put myself on the line like this if I didn't know in my heart that George Zimmerman was in a life or death struggle. I would not be risking myself...

Panelist: How do you know in your heart?

George Zimmerman's friend: Have you ever had a gut feeling?

Panelist: You were not there...

George Zimmerman's friend: were you there?

Tamron Hall: So Kendall, you've been a prosecutor, you've been a defense attorney, if you were George Zimmerman's attorney would you at some point contact this alleged friend and say, "you're not helping the situation here. What is your motive here?"

Kendall Coffey: I would have called him a few days ago. Enough already! You understand that part of defense strategy sometimes, because remember that you can't put George Zimmerman on the camera, is to use surrogates, but this is becoming an unhelpful distraction. It keeps feeding emotion and public discussion and controversy. So if I was the defense lawyer I would have said, sit down, go quiet, you've had your fifteen minutes of fame, let's move on.

Tamron Hall: Is it likely that Oliver is acting on his own? Or do you believe that Zimmerman's attorneys would at this point using this guy, whose story changes with every interview, as a surrgotate for him?

Kendall Coffey: Well, someone connected him up with the press. I don't know for a fact, but my instinct and intelligent speculation, is that a defense lawyer did it initially. It might have gotten out of his control at this point, but it's not helping George Zimmerman, that's for sure.

Tamron Hall: Alright. Kendall Coffey, thank you so much for your reactions.

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