Trayvon lawyer: Police trying to blame victim
(CBS News) The attorney for the parents of Trayvon Martin said the Sanford Police Department is blaming the victim in the case by leaking information beneficial to George Zimmerman and by "correcting" the testimony of witnesses whose stories diverged from the shooter's claims of self-defense.
A police report was released Monday stating that, according to Zimmerman, Martin had attacked and punched the neighborhood watch volunteer on February 26. The Associated Press also reported that Martin had been suspended from school after an empty plastic baggie containing traces of marijuana was found in his book bag. The AP also said Martin had no juvenile offender record.
Sanford city manager Norton Bonaparte said the information about Martin's school suspension should not have been released, and wants whoever leaked it fired.
Appearing on "CBS This Morning," Martin family lawyer Ben Crump said that the police are "trying to attack his reputation, blame the victim, and that has been the pattern of the Sanford Police Department.
"There is no relevance any of this has on what happened on February 26," Crump told Charlie Rose. "The only thing that matters on February 26 is George Zimmerman disobeyed the police and got out of his car and pursued and stalked Trayvon Martin to cause this fatal encounter.
"Charlie, all you need to do is listen to the tape," Crump continued. "Zimmerman did not know Trayvon Martin before this tape. He said why he was suspicious and he says why he ran after Trayvon Martin. And if the police want to leak information, why don't they leak the witnesses who say they saw him pursuing Trayvon?
"But they have only [done] things that are beneficial to Mr. Zimmerman's claim of self-defense, and the only reason we can think [why is] that, from day one, they made a decision they were not going to arrest George Zimmerman. And each day goes by, the whole world is saying, 'You at least got to arrest this guy.'"
Some witnesses report that police who interviewed them "corrected" their testimony, with officers telling the witnesses that it was Zimmerman, not Martin, who was being attacked and crying out for help. Another witness said police refused to hear her story that Zimmerman did not act in self-defense, saying the police "blew us off."
Crump told Erica Hill of one witness, a child, whose mother said "the police were asking him very confusing questions and he was confused, and like the other witnesses there's a pattern that the Sanford police 'correct' witnesses when it doesn't go with their version of it. Three witnesses have now said that the Sanford police changed their testimony."
Hill asked about another, anonymous witness, who corroborated Zimmerman's story that Martin was the aggressor in the confrontation to a local Florida TV station. The lawyer said the family was not told of the witness, and blamed the police: "That's leaked information that we don't know because the police only leak information to the media, not to the family.
"If that was your son, Erica, wouldn't you think the police would tell you first before they go tell the world and sully his name?" he said. "That is the whole disrespect that they have given to this family, for what reason?
"That's why people are so outraged. The whole way the police have conducted this investigation has been that Trayvon Martin is the subject ... then that makes George Zimmerman the victim. That is the problem. The investigation was never fair and impartial."
Martin's parents have met with the special prosecutor and have conveyed their concerns about the investigation, Crump said. "I hope that the state attorney will look at that, and I hope they will at least arrest" Zimmerman.
"The family isn't asking for a conviction. They only want what would happen to Mr. Zimmerman what would happen to their son had he pulled the trigger, and that's equal justice and a fair and impartial investigation. They deserve that. That's the least that they deserve."
To see Crump being interviewed by "CBS This Morning" co-host Charlie Rose, click on the video in the player above.
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