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July 12th, 2013
11:32 PM ET

Law enforcement expert Dennis Root on Zimmerman: "As long as he perceived that he was in imminent peril...he is justified in discharging a firearm"

On a day which saw the six jurors tasked with deciding the fate of George Zimmerman deliberate for more than three hours before breaking until Saturday morning, on Friday evening Piers Morgan invited a collection of audience members to join him in studio for a live edition of his primetime CNN program.

Dedicating his entire hour to the case that has gripped the nation for nearly a month, the "Piers Morgan Live" host welcomed a panel of legal experts to join him in the middle of the room, while also engaging with those seated around him.

One such audience member was Dennis Root, a man who was called to the witness stand by the defense, and asked to speak to a very specific point.

"You gave this testimony which you basically imply that the only course of action that was left open to George Zimmerman was to take out his gun and shoot Trayvon Martin," explained Morgan, conversing with the man stationed directly in front of him. "Why did you believe that so strongly?"

A law enforcement expert who offered his services to the Zimmerman camp before the trial, Root explained why he feels the defendant had little choice but to use deadly force:

"You take into consideration everything you learn about an individual," explained Root, who during the trail noted that Zimmerman lacked a warrior mentality, and would be at a disadvantage in an altercation with Trayvon Martin. "I have 22 years of training behind me. Mr. Zimmerman did not."

As part of his live conversation with Morgan, the guest maintained that the incident on that fateful February night in 2012 may have been more complicated than the prosecution would like the jury to believe:

"Everybody makes the presumption that it's just a 17-year-old kid walking home," he said. "None of us, including myself, know exactly how the altercation began and ended up where it was. The perception that's important is what took place in George Zimmerman's mind at the time he discharged the weapon, and as long as he perceived that he was in imminent peril for great bodily harm or death, he is justified under Florida law in discharging a firearm."

Watch the clip for more of Friday's live audience show, and for the next edition of "Piers Morgan Live," watch CNN every night at 9.
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Filed under: The Big Story
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. OK9403

    The thing that I do not understand is the race thing, we are talking about two minorities, we should be united as minorities, not separated and also, The people on major networks never mention both are minorities, but focus on blacks, if trevor martin did have zimmerman straddled and puching his face, did he not feel the gun with his knee and try to grab for the gun, the defense did not bring this up with the dummy, which I find odd, it was a dark place, rainy, so I am really confused as I have been watching this trial alot. Especially, when it was proven that apartments were broken into by black guys, with one arrested, even if it was lantinos or whites, would not the same apply, It would seem with so many holes in the prosecutor's case, nothing was definite. The networks do not talk about this, Maybe I missed that part, but it is a terrible tragedy, but if this part of florida is becoming a southern city, I really feel people as a whole should unite and change it. I pray and hope that the people in florida feel they are alone, as in chicargo alone it happens on a daily basis as in miami, with all races...but my opinion.

    July 13, 2013 at 12:58 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • okdokee

      ok cnn after listening to the show tonite its time to send pierce back to am has talent because america is sick of his ultra liberal gibberish and his biased opinions have me make a choice between cnn and reality and i choose reality. goodby cnn and your financial supporters.

      July 14, 2013 at 12:01 am | Report abuse | Reply
      • marge

        I agree with okdokee
        and the way pierce treated Robert Zimmerman jr was appalling. pierce should be fired. he is so biased along with sunny h. why don't you work at healing America instead of leaving it up to George Zimmerman and his family. there is way more to this story than a boy going to the store to get a bag of skittles. get real. I have four brothers and 8 grandsons. I am not stupid. my question to cnn is: why do you keep showing that picture of trayvon when he was 12? why can't we know his school record? why can't we know about his drug use? CNN starts the trouble with their total bias. let the records show. George Zimerman is an innocent man. the jury of 6 women (5 with children agree) do you not belive in our justice system. CNN take a stand. let it be to stand up for our justice system. quit stirring hatred.

        July 14, 2013 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
      • G

        I thought Pierce Moran was illegal and Obama intervened for him to be here. Perhaps he has a debt to pay?

        July 14, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      I used to like piers but realized after this event; he's ridiculous. He was minimally responsible for making this a race issue. with clear retardation, he continued to push an issue that held no weight; raciism. I mean geez man. get over it. He would do well to get over himself. Without going into the details of the case. He made it all worse. Once he locks in to some unreliable idea he works his way down the rabbit hole of looking dumber and dumber. Quit criticising the american people piers. Your ignorance and partisanship in palpable. As a journalist your so far from objective its almost gross. In fact, he's gross. he's ignorant, he's afraid to be challenged. he's unreasonably disagreeable, he's emotional and he's wrong. He perpetuated the race card...because he he could. Piers, if there are any race riot as a result of the verdict...its his fault. Piers is responsible for stolen TVs and fire in a city...Piers, now, is ridiculous....

      July 14, 2013 at 12:21 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Mitch

    Can everyone put all these assumptions aside for a minute, and explain to me "How it is possible that regardless of who started the altercation, only one individual received all the injuries"?....and,....."What do you feel that indicates?

    July 13, 2013 at 1:00 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • jmoreno

      Yes, only one suffered injuries and the other just die of an extra doses of metal.

      July 13, 2013 at 11:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. TCinque Sampson

    The fact that Zimmerman had "Already" drawn his weapon contributes to the likelihood that it was Trayvon and not Zimmerman who was yelling for help, during the struggle. A man with a gun does not scream for help. An unarmed CHILD

    July 13, 2013 at 1:00 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Luiz Carlos Mascarenhas

    Zimmerman trial
    After hearing the defense arguments, the fact the prosecutor added – in the end – a compromise option makes evident his recognition of his weak case in the first place. To me such a tactic move is far enough to consider the defendant not guilty under the strict reading of the law, “beyond a reasonable doubt”, for the prosecutor himself passed a receipt he is not sure, or why then settle for less?
    Luiz Carlos Mascarenhas

    July 13, 2013 at 8:35 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Greg

    Just wondering how Zimmerman was able to scream when his mouth was covered? How was Trayvon able to slam "Z" head into the pavement at the same time reaching for "Z" gun? If "Z" head was pounded so hard, how was he able to recall so many details? Everyone knows the address to any home is in front f the house, why was it so hard for "Z" to locate? It's not in the back. If "T" would have killed "Z" with the pavement, would he be found not guilty by way of self defense with all the same information except "Z" words?
    How many crimes were committed in this neighborhood and how many died? Was Trayvon out to beat down anyone before going to the store or after? or was he just standing his ground against someone who was following him?

    July 13, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Realist

    He didn't cover the mouth/nose the whole attack. Also, you can't assault someone for observing or following you. Following someone, even within one foot, is not a crime. Assaulting someone because you don't like it, is a crime. When you assault someone unjustly, you face the consequences. Many people carry concealed weapons and are willing to use them if they need to save themselves. He should have gone home or called 911 if he was truly scared.

    July 13, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Darlington

    Still waiting on the jurors. Cant even take a wink. This is one case that will prove the American justice/legal system being one of the best world wide.

    July 13, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • BillB

      "...the American justice/legal system being one of the best world wide."

      Do you really believe that? For openers: We have whistleblowers who expose crimes and corruption. They are persecuted while the criminals and crooks go free.

      July 13, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. BillB

    Despite all the hot air expended by the many talking heads on television, no one seems to have focused on the last few seconds of the conflict between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. For the sake of argument, let's assume that Martin was on top of Zimmerman and pounding Zimmerman's back and head against the concrete as Mark O'Mara demonstrated with the dummy. How was Zimmerman able to turn on a side to get his gun out from behind his back? No one seems to have asked that question. Next questions: Was Trayvon Martin's heart the only part of his body that Zimmerman could shoot to stop this alleged one-sided beating? Could Zimmerman not have shot Martin in another area that would not have been lethal? What do they call someone who is losing a fist fight and who resorts to pulling a gun on an unarmed opponent?

    July 13, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • G

      In fear of his life.

      July 14, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • BillB

        No points for that answer. Now try answering the other questions.

        July 14, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kenneth Dawson

    There is no justice in AMERICA, A man with a gun should not had to shot an unarmed child even if he was black.

    July 13, 2013 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Sad day

    There never was any justice in America. Justice has been an empty word. One man had a gun the other did not.
    Trayvon Martin would have been alive if his pigments were different.

    July 13, 2013 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Commander Zsvartz

    Mercy..mercy...there's no justice for poor nasty children who make their parents
    celebrity millionaires.
    What time does CNN start covering the riots?

    July 13, 2013 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Griff

    Quote from E African Standard News. Osama bin Laden was taken outUpdated Saturday, July 13th 2013 at 23:44 GMT +3
    But there was no answer. Ibrahim shouted on his phone “Abrar I cannot hear you. I am coming.” At that moment, there was a knock on the door and Ibrahim asked in a loud voice, “Is that you Abrar?” He opened the door.

    From outside someone fired at him through the window. He seemed to duck to avoid the bullet. But he had been mortally hit and fell to the ground. As he fell his feet hit the door he had just opened and it closed.

    Maryam felt a bullet graze her cheek and teeth and she felt a bullet (the same or another) hit her right shoulder. She fell. One of her younger children rushed to her crying “Mother don’t die. If you die what will we do?”

    She heard American soldiers shouting to her to open the door. She told them “You have killed my husband and now only my children and I are in the room.” A soldier shouted in Arabic “If you do not open the door we will blow the house up.” Despite her injuries she managed to drag herself to the door and open it.

    The wives, children and grandchildren of OBL, the children of Abrar and the wife and children of Ibrahim survived. OBL, his son Khalid, his couriers i.e brothers Abrar and Ibrahim and Abrar’s wife Bushra were killed. Unquote.
    All the best Griff.

    July 13, 2013 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Kirtan

    Today is just a remarkable day. Indeed if there is a country you can get away with murder....its this one. God bless America. Indeed a very forgiving country!!! Long story short, if you commit a crime, don't hesitate in pleading guilty by any chance...just make sure to tell the jury & judge that its due to insanity and you are a free. smh as if a person who chooses to murder someone isn't insane enough to begin with. Or you can plead not guilty. Just make sure to tell the jury & judge that its for self-defense. Hey no what if you are the person with a gun following a teenager (regardless of his past reputation, race, and color) going long as no one was in sight to witness your harsh act of violence it can't be proven and all is well. Thank you Justice System...thank you for opening my eyes...thank you for you injustice. #freecountryindeed

    July 13, 2013 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Name*john clayton

    Even if Travon had attacked zimmerman, that would have met the same requirements of self defense that the defense claims Zimmerman used to kill trayvon. He was being followed and stalked by a creepy older man and defended himself.

    July 13, 2013 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Tayquan

    pearce is da king. hopeing that Pearce keeps it up and goes after Zimmerman. Lead us pearce, you no he is guilty. He only had Skittles – that is good candy! Go down to to Sanford and join us in a rally Pearce. You is the man. Kepp talking about the Skittles Pierce and lets get angry.

    July 13, 2013 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  16. brian schneden

    pls do not give any more airtime to the zimmerman family

    July 13, 2013 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Bob S

    Your interview with Robert Zimmerman Jr. was disgraceful. Your clearly biased! .

    July 13, 2013 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Vern

    The DA was in on it. The fix is in Pearce. I know you smell it too. Get the DA on your show pearce, and grill him. We need you Pearce to get the truth. Do it for Tray, Pearce. We know your in our camp!!!

    July 14, 2013 at 12:01 am | Report abuse | Reply
  19. johnny

    how did Frank Taffee go on national TV after the question to the judge about manslaughter and say: he had an inside tip 5 of the jurors had already voted for acquittal and they were working on the sixth.... how could he had known this without the jurors talking about the case to someone on the outside. which was against the rules of the judge

    July 14, 2013 at 12:04 am | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Kamaloni Manu

    The brother asked" what rage was the young boy to make him beat his brother like tha" it's called fear, when your a child and a grown ass man is following you, in fear for his safety he defended him self

    July 14, 2013 at 12:07 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Keva Jantz

      Yes!!! Any one would act out of fear in the same way that Trayvon Martin did. Why would a man get out of his car knowing that he was armed!!! Why, because he intended to take the law into his hand!!!

      July 14, 2013 at 12:16 am | Report abuse | Reply
  21. don

    Why are you beating up Zimmermans brother on live tv. You and all the other reporters. Had him guilty from day one. Do you think you are helping the family's heal by what you are doing. Tomorrow you will find a new story to pick apart. Stop reporting on what you think and report on the facts only. Reporters are to give a unbiased report of the news only, not put experts on to give their opinion. Or give your's. Give the news only in a unbiased opinion. That is what reporters are supposed to do. Stick to your profession and leave the lawyers to do their job. I am sick of seeing you try to make something out of nothing. Your job is to report not speculate on things. You and Nancy Grace are the worst reporters I have seen. GET A LIFE not someone else's life.

    July 14, 2013 at 12:12 am | Report abuse | Reply
  22. WileyBoone

    I loved the Piers Morgan interview (post verdict) with Robert Zimmerman. He took Piers to school on the obvious facts of the case ... the jury understood what ol' Piers can't seem to comprehend ... facts,law and justice. Uou need to send Piers back across the water, or if that isn't a budget item, you could send him to the men's room to clean the toilets. He hasn't the intellect to sit brfore your cameras ... or any other, for that matter.

    July 14, 2013 at 12:29 am | Report abuse | Reply
  23. kruckemeyer

    The media need to acknowledge that justice was done and apologize for driving the guilty assumption in the days leading up to the verdict.

    July 14, 2013 at 12:36 am | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Mike

    Pearce: What was wrong of you? I could not believe that some of questions you asked were inappropriated.
    Look at the facts, not emotional on this event. Don't you know George himself as a mixed racial too? Why not just look at this case as a simple criminal case trial. There is no racial profile here. My son had been teased during his high school by his black peers so many many times. One day, he got pushed and with big lacerations on his knees, legs, head many places on him which forced him to fought back. One fist blew on the other party resulted a badly nose bleed. Luckily, the other party admitted he was the one started it. Why do we look at the statistic in crime? What is the percentage of white breaking the law? What is the percentage of black breaking the law? What is the percentage of Asian breaking the law? What is the percentage of Hispanic breaking the law? What is the percentage of White pregnant teens depending on welfare check?What is the percentage of Black pregnant teens depending on welfare check? What is the percentage of Asian pregnant teens depending on welfare check? What is the percentage of Hispanic pregnant teens depending on welfare check? There are not many people willing to be in neighborhood watch team. I have to admire George put himself out there to serve his community. I bet after this event he will not be in the neighborhood watch team any more. His private life is over. Why can we look at his side?

    July 14, 2013 at 12:49 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • d.szczekoski

      Piers –find a new job–your interview skills are not of a real professional

      July 14, 2013 at 1:20 am | Report abuse | Reply
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    You’re already doing a great job with the website and the blog. I love the content here and I’m always glad to come back and read some toughts on photography – be it gear, shooting or something else, loved the recent video for Samsung. I love that it isn’t a gear review site. I’d suggest you keep doing what you are and adding some odd piece of gear you found interesting and think people don’t know enough about or don’t use it enough or in the right way.
    If someone wants a review there are already sites that do them and are doing only that. This site isn’t that and it should never be.It’s not like it’s hard to find a review today for anything.

    July 14, 2013 at 4:02 am | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Gloria Jean Dwyer

    What would have happened if George Zimmerman was the one that was shot and killed that night? Would Martin have been immediately arrested and charged? Could he have pled self defense? Would the jury let him off because of reasonable doubt? what if he felt Zimmerman was going to kill him because he had a gun and was following him, they struggled, the gun went off and it was Zimmerman that was dead?

    July 16, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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