Lawrence O'Donnell forcefully criticized the police handling of the Trayvon Martin case during his Tuesday show.
The killing of Martin — an unarmed teenager who was shot dead by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida — has become a major national news story. In a web video after his show, O'Donnell admitted that he "couldn't care less" about the Illinois primary taking place at the same time. "I just wanted to do Trayvon Martin for the whole show," he said.
O'Donnell spent three segments of the show on the Martin case. In one, he spoke to Rep. Corrine Brown and to Jasmine Rand, one of the attorneys for the Martin family.
O'Donnell zeroed in on what is quickly becoming one of the more controversial aspects of the case: a portion of the 911 tape where shooter George Zimmerman can be heard muttering something many say sounds like "f-ing coons," a racial slur. On Wednesday night, investigators in Florida told ABC News that they had "missed" this portion of the tape.
Rand said that she also heard Zimmerman say the slur. Later in the show, though, she said that her law office had analyzed the tape it had been given by the police and could not find that portion there.
"I heard what you heard, and I heard it repeatedly," O'Donnell said. "Legally, those two words ... it seems to me constitute obvious evidence of hateful intent. This is a racial slur that you're hearing him say minutes, seconds possibly, before he shoots a black teenager to death for doing nothing."
He then went on to make an even more serious charge against the police.
"I've studied police cover-ups in the past," he said. "...I believe that what we have here is evidence of a police cover-up...that local police department never wanted anyone to hear those two words."