MIAMI (CBS4) – “I would never have arrested (him) that night. Take your time and do it the right way.”
That’s the cautionary word from career South Florida law enforcement investigator, Wayne Black. He said the national outrage that no arrest was made the night of the Trayvon Martin shooting is misplaced. As CBS4 Chief Investigator Michele Gillen found, he’s not alone.
“I believe there absolutely should not have been an arrest. As you know after many, many years of experience, I have seen things go awry because people were arrested too soon,” says veteran attorney Bill Richey.
After 4 decades of trying cases, two terms as a Miami-Dade prosecutor, including assistant state attorney to Janet Reno, Richey says a hasty arrest is the surest way to jeopardize a conviction
“Calls for arrest, are well intentioned. People’s hearts are in it. They want something done. But by arresting the man now they may make a fundamental mistake that absolutely destroys the case eventually,” added Richey. “If there’s outrage now, you can’t imagine if the wrong charges are filed, he’s acquitted then you will see outrage.”
That’s the concern of former federal prosecutor Ryan Stumphauzer who agrees in-depth evidence gathering and analysis is critical to a case like this. Black also agreed and said that investigators have to figure out exactly what Zimmerman was up to before, and right up to, the gunshot.
“You can’t have it both ways. You can’t jump into the lions den and then justify why you shot the lion,” said Black.
The Trayvon Martin legal team insists there is already enough evidence to file charges.
In a phone interview Gillen asked attorney Natalie Jackson what charges she believes George Zimmerman should be arrested on.
“I believe the minimum that he should be arrested on is aggravated manslaughter of a child. And what makes it aggravated is that Trayvon was under 18 years old. I think there proof enough to show that there was at least a negligent killing of Travyon,” said Jackson.
Richey added, “My thoughts on that charge is we don’t have enough information to decide what charge to bring. What if we want to bring a better stronger charge? Because we find out in the end there are better stronger charges. If in fact this ought to be first degree murder case and you charge him with the lesser and he walks in and pleads guilty, jeopardy is attached. The case is over, you have lost the ability to bring a proper stronger charge Don’t do it. Let’s bring the right charge.”
On calls for federal charges to be filed? Stumphazer said the standard for federal charges is tougher than for state charges.
“The Federal government has to add an extra element, moreover that the crime was committed because of race. They will have to prove what was inside Mr. Zimmeman’s mind when he pulled the trigger,” said Stumphauzer.
A specially chosen state attorney is days are expected to file charges on her own or bring it before a grand jury.