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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Police Violence Making Headlines; Anti-War Protester Cindy Sheehan Speaks Out

Aired February 1, 2006 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everyone. Appreciate your being with us.
Tonight, a controversy that is making headlines in cities all across the country -- law and order, and the use of deadly force.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: The "Eye Opener" -- dramatic video of an unarmed man on his knees, shot by police. But does this picture tell the whole story? Why is police violence making so many headlines?

"Outside the Law" -- Cindy Sheehan takes her anti-war protests all the way to the State of the Union, provoking outrage and arrest.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Free Cindy now!

ZAHN: When does a political T-shirt go too far?

And what were they thinking?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to see some crazy, crazy stuff tonight.

ZAHN: As incredible as it seems, these kids are playing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh.

ZAHN: Barbed wire, broken glass, no holds barred.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's lighting himself on fire.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: The brave new world of backyard wrestling.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: We are starting tonight with some incredible videotape of a police officer shooting an unarmed man who was on his knees. In fact, if the kids are watching, you may want to get them out of the room right now. The images and sounds on the tape are truly chilling.

But this story is one of only three different cases of police violence we are going to look at tonight, cases making headlines in communities all over the country, cases that have caused outrage and have reignited debate over the difficult question of how much force is too much force.

The first one comes from California.

Here is Ted Rowlands with tonight's "Eye Opener."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The home video starts with Elio Carrion, an Air Force security officer recently home from Iraq. He's on the ground. He was a passenger in a car that had just been pulled over after a brief chase. A sheriff's deputy with gun drawn stands over Carrion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) on your side, all right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROWLANDS: Carrion tries telling the deputy that he's a military police officer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. I serve part time in (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROWLANDS: Then it sounds like the deputy tells Carrion to get up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going get up.

(GUNSHOTS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROWLANDS: Carrion was shot three times in the chest, shoulder and leg.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired! Shots fired!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then, the deputy calls in and continues to yell at Carrion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut (INAUDIBLE) up! Shut (INAUDIBLE) up!

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROWLANDS: Sirens can be heard racing to the scene, bringing more deputies. According to the time stamp on the home video, Carrion is in handcuffs, lying, bleeding in the street, for seven-and-a-half minutes before somebody shows up to administer first aid. Carrion survived the shooting. He's hospitalized, listed in stable condition.

While this appears to be an example of excessive force, a police training expert who reviewed the tape says there could be more to the story, saying, for example, that maybe the officer misspoke and meant to say, don't get up. Or maybe the audio on the tape is poor quality.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going get up.

(GUNSHOTS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE BERG, POLICE TRAINING EXPERT: It is not clear if the deputy has actually misspoken, which is possible, given his -- his state of probable tension and anger and adrenaline and the circumstances, or, if he spoke correctly, but he's misheard.

ROWLANDS: All of this comes as Southern California was reminded of another high-profile case of questionable police behavior. A year ago, 13-year-old Devin Brown was shot seven times by a police officer in Los Angeles, after the boy backed a stolen car he was driving into a squad car.

Brown's death sparked outrage in the community against the L.A. Police Department.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: No justice. No peace. No racist police.

ROWLANDS: Police Chief William Bratton came in for special scorn after he decided the shooting was justified. But now the Los Angeles Police Commission has ruled that Chief Bratton and the department were wrong.

JOHN MACK, PRESIDENT, LOS ANGELES POLICE COMMISSION: The use of force was out of policy, administrative disapproval by a 4-1 vote.

ROWLANDS: The officer who shot Devin Brown now faces possible dismissal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going get up. (GUNSHOTS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROWLANDS: The deputy who shot Elio Carrion is on administrative leave while the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department investigates whether this shooting was justified.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROWLANDS: The FBI has been brought in to lead that investigation.

Meanwhile, the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department is asking people to be calm and patient until that investigation can be concluded -- Paula.

ZAHN: And that might take a while.

Ted Rowlands, thanks so much.

Now we move on to suburban Saint Louis, where a TV helicopter captured a police chafe and -- chase, that is -- and the brutal beating of a suspect that followed.

Here is Jonathan Freed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The burning question in Saint Louis right now is whether you're watching a case of excessive force by local police.

The man on the ground is Edmon Burns. And this incident ended a high-speed chase that started around 7:00 Monday morning in the city of Maplewood, just west of Saint Louis. Police thought Burns was acting suspiciously outside a convenience store. They ran the plates of his van and discovered they weren't on file with the state. Burns took off.

And the chase lasted about 10 miles, weaving through streets during morning rush hour, passing school buses along the way, ending up in Saint Louis.

JAMES WHITE, MAPLEWOOD, MISSOURI, POLICE CHIEF: On at least four occasions on the audiotape, the vehicle being pursued attempted to run the police car off the road.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go. There is the fishtail maneuver.

FREED: Police rammed Burns' van, but he still wouldn't stop. And when they finally cornered his vehicle, Burns took off on foot. And that's when three Maplewood police officers, wearing the light blue uniforms, and one Saint Louis cop subdued him.

Burns' lawyer his says client suffered a cut to the head, requiring stitches, fractured ribs, and a spinal injury.

DONNELL SMITH, ATTORNEY FOR EDMON BURNS: Mr. Burns is in great pain. Police abuse remains one of the most serious and divisive human rights violations in the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: What do we want?

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Justice.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: When do we want it?

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Now.

FREED: Adding to the controversy, the suspect is black, as is the Saint Louis officer. But the three Maplewood officers are white.

ZAKI BARUTI, CO-CHAIRMAN, COALITION AGAINST POLICE CRIME: The attack and use of excessive force by Maplewood and Saint Louis police officers represent the kind of Ku Klux Klan mentality that our community experiences on a daily basis.

FREED: The three Maplewood officers suffered injuries, including a broken wrist and a separated shoulder. The Saint Louis officer was not hurt. The Maplewood police chief says they later discovered there were warrants out for Burns' arrest for traffic violations. And:

WHITE: He has a lengthy arrest record, including interfering, resisting, and assaults.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: So, Jonathan, does there continue to be tension between the police force and the community there?

FREED: Well, Paula, that's the question here.

And it depends on who you talk to. Some minority groups say there has been tension, racial tension, in this community, going back for years. But the police department insists that there is none of that. They say that nothing more than you would find in a typical city of this size.

ZAHN: Jonathan Freed...

FREED: Paula.

ZAHN: ... thanks for the update.

Appreciate it.

Our special look at police violence continue in just a minute. Coming up next, a dark night, a scared teenager, and a snap decision -- did police overreact? Or were they just doing their jobs? Also:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Adaora Udoji in New York.

Backyard wrestling, it's a booming teenage subculture, sometimes shockingly violent and bloody, and sometimes not. Just how dangerous is it?

The story when PAULA ZAHN continues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Plus, we will have for you tonight the tale two of T- Shirts. Were they really too hot for the State of the Union?

We will debate that.

But now our countdown of the top 10 most popular stories on CNN.com. More than 21 million of you logged on today. At number 10, a warning about a new computer worm that may be lurking in thousands of Windows systems. The Kama Sutra worm promises porn, but, in the process, destroys files. Experts fear an attack could be launched on February 3.

And, number nine, President Bush takes his agenda on the road one day after his State of the Union address. Today, he spoke at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

Stick around -- number seven and eight coming up.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Still to come tonight: a baffling mystery -- pictures of him are posted all over San Francisco. But could this man be wandering the streets without knowing who he is?

And, tonight, we're talking about the police and violence and how much force is too much. There is new controversy across the country after a number of police confrontations. And the one you're about to see has devastated a small town in New England.

Here is Jason Carroll.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Serious crime doesn't happen very often in Plymouth, Massachusetts. And an incident that raises questions about the city police is so rare, it stops the normal talk about tourism and fishing. So, when police officers shot and killed a 16-year-old boy in this place where the Mayflower landed, it tore this community apart. DENISE MCGRATH, MOTHER OF ANTHONY MCGRATH: I don't know if there is any words to describe how I feel. I don't even think I know how I feel right now. I'm just -- part of me is dead.

KRISTINA MCGRATH, SISTER OF ANTHONY MCGRATH: He was the best brother anyone could ever have.

CARROLL: Tony McGrath's family say they still can't believe he's gone, still can't understand why it happened. Police say that, in the early-morning hours of January 10, they got a call about a broken window at this liquor store. Dispatch transmissions give a picture of what followed.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A vehicle that might be related to this. I'm heading southbound.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CARROLL: An officer in a police cruiser spotted Tony McGrath driving alone near the store. There was no evidence that Tony McGrath had anything to do with the broken window or with any crime, but police say McGrath saw them and drove away.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guy is running on me. I'm on North Street, heading down Water Street. His vehicle is right over...

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CARROLL: That's when the situation seems to have become a little confusing for everyone.

(on camera): Police say McGrath hit a wall, then backed in one of their cruisers, hit a pole, and then accelerated toward the officers who were outside of their cruisers. So, the officers opened fire.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired! Send us an ambulance ASAP!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired. Need an ambulance.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CARROLL (voice-over): The debate began soon after the fatal shots were fired.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the cops were definitely out of line by what they did by shooting and killing him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think he had any business being out at 3:00 in the morning. CARROLL: The main question of the debate, was anyone at fault?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he had just pulled over, how much trouble would he have gotten in?

K. MCGRATH: I can't say if I'm angry at the police officers or not. But I do think they went beyond their -- the scope of discretion and overreacted in every way.

CARROLL: Police wouldn't comment on the shooting because of their ongoing investigation. But letters to the editor poured into the local paper on the subject. Some pointed to McGrath's past.

At 16, his family says he was no stranger to the juvenile court system. They say he had been in trouble in the past for minor offenses, but would not elaborate. They did say, at the time of the shooting, he was on probation. His mother also says she has received hate mail.

D. MCGRATH: Got a letter in the mail with no name or address with lots of questions of why he was out at 3:00 in the morning, why was he running from the police, and then a question -- the question was, don't you think because you're a lousy mother and he's a no-good bum?

CARROLL: McGrath's neighbors say the shooting is a sore subject in this small city where so many people seem to know each other.

JULIE MISKOVSKY, NEIGHBOR OF MCGRATHS: I actually have spoken of this case to other people that I know. And some have the police in their family. And they haven't been very nice to me.

CARROLL: Even at Christ Church Parish, Reverend Mally Lloyd hears both sides.

MALLY LLOYD, CHRIST CHURCH PARISH: The danger is that people will either focus on Tony's family and make it all their fault, or on the police and make it all their fault, and not try to see where the true responsibility lies, probably in the midst of all of the town.

D. MCGRATH: I don't -- I don't know who I blame or if I blame anyone.

CARROLL: The McGraths say the real issue is trying to find out why such an important part of their lives, a 16-year-old boy, could be with them one day and gone the next.

Jason Carroll, CNN, Plymouth, Massachusetts.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And joining me now, someone who teaches prospective police officers, Mike Worley, former police chief of Meridian, Idaho, who is now an instructor at the University of Louisville's Southern Police Institute.

Good of you to join us, Mike.

MIKE WORLEY, FORMER POLICE CHIEF OF MERIDIAN, IDAHO: Good to be here.

ZAHN: We have just heard a number of stories about police violence directed at folks they're in the process of arresting. Are those statistics showing that that kind of violence is way up?

WORLEY: Well, I -- I haven't seen anything, Paula, that indicates that it is up.

In fact, it may actually be down, compared to what it was several years in the past. But it -- I think there is a factor that, because of the speed of modern communications, we just become more aware of it.

ZAHN: Do you think there is too much violence used in cases like we have seen tonight?

WORLEY: Well, I can't comment specifically on these cases. Obviously, I haven't even all the -- of the information, but some of these confrontations do get to be very violent.

And we owe it, as police and as the communities, to find out ways that we can -- can curb this kind of violence.

ZAHN: And, when you talk about curbing it, a lot of people think there have got to be much more effective ways to subdue suspects. Why aren't those being used, in -- in your judgment, more frequently?

WORLEY: Well, certainly, there are.

We have much more -- or many more tools available today than we had in the past, as far as effecting arrests and -- and controlling subjects with less than legal -- lethal force. But those tools sometimes -- it depends on the circumstances, what an officer can bring to bear in a very short period of time.

ZAHN: Depending on whatever these officers have access to, do you think it is just inevitable we are going to see cases like this from time to time?

WORLEY: Well, you're dealing with humans and perception, the -- the officer's perception of -- of a threat to himself or to other people, and what he deems, in a very short period of time, is the appropriate action to take to -- to curb that threat.

ZAHN: And we know that's why you're working on this training program so hard.

Mike Worley, thanks so much for your time. Appreciate it.

WORLEY: You're welcome.

ZAHN: Coming up next, the T-shirt that was too much for the State of the Union. It got anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan arrested last night. Should she have known better? I will ask her.

And, a little bit later on, pictures that are even more shocking than these. Are your kids doing this just for fun?

Now on to our CNN.com countdown.

At number 10, warnings about the Kama Sutra computer worm. And, nine, the president takes his agenda to Nashville.

Coming in at number eight, Andrea Yates, who is awaiting retrial on charges that she drowned her children, has now been granted $200,000 bail. She is expected to leave jail and go to a mental hospital.

At number seven, Britney Spears will guest star on an upcoming episode of the NBC sitcom "Will & Grace."

Stay right there -- numbers five and six just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: So, what will you remember about last night's State of the Union speech? The addicted-to-oil line? The tough talk on terrorism? Or the T-Shirts? Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan was arrested because she wore a T-Shirt showing the number of American troops killed in Iraq. Her son Casey was one of them. But Sheehan wasn't the only person kicked out of the House gallery last night for wearing a T- Shirt with a slogan. So, too, was the wife of Florida Congressman Bill Young.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BILL YOUNG (R), FLORIDA: Because she had on a shirt that someone didn't like that said "Support our troops," she was kicked out of this gallery while the president was speaking, encouraging Americans to support our troops. Shame. Shame.

BEVERLY YOUNG, WIFE OF CONGRESSMAN BILL YOUNG: They told me outside that that had an incident and that they didn't want this to be another incident, and that, you know, I could be arrested. So, I told them, arrest me. Take me here. Take me. Whatever. You're not going to -- you're not going to tell me I can't do this. You are not going to tell me that I cannot support those kids that are right, as we were speaking, being shot and blown up. They're just not going to do it. Nobody is going to do that to me. You know, they want to arrest me, arrest me. I'm -- I will go back in again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: In tonight's "Outside the Law" segment, should a T-Shirt get you arrested? In the end, the congressman's wife was not. But Cindy Sheehan was, although the Capitol Police chief is now telling CNN -- quote -- "We made a mistake," and neither woman should have been removed from the chamber.

He's recommending the charges against Cindy Sheehan be dropped. She joins us now in the very same T-Shirt she was wearing last night. Thanks so much for joining us tonight.

CINDY SHEEHAN, MOTHER OF KILLED U.S. SOLDIER: Thank you.

ZAHN: First off, Cindy, did you wear that T-Shirt to provoke an arrest?

SHEEHAN: No, because I didn't think it was against the law to wear a T-Shirt in the Capitol. And it turns out it is not against the law to wear a protest T-Shirt in the Capitol.

ZAHN: But whether it was against the law or not, I think most of America recognizes you and -- as an anti-war protester. What exactly were you trying achieve by wearing it?

SHEEHAN: I was trying to make a statement, like I always do. I always wear shirts like this wherever I go.

I had worn this shirt all day in D.C. yesterday at other events that I was at. And I didn't think I would be provoking an incident. I didn't think there would be anything wrong with it. I just sat down in my seat and unzipped my jacket. And they hauled me out of my seat and took me to jail.

ZAHN: But now you hear that the head of the Capitol Police is saying that they made a mistake, they need better training, that you never should have been arrested in the first place. Do you accept that apology?

SHEEHAN: Well, they had me in jail for four hours yesterday, last night. And they charged me with unlawful conduct. So, it seems like, between the time they arrested me, 8:30, and the time they -- they let me go, at 12:30, that somebody could have figured out that what I did was not against the law.

ZAHN: So, are you saying tonight that this was all about politics and that's the only reason you sat there for four hours, because you might have had an unpopular position with someone on the police force?

SHEEHAN: That's not what I'm saying.

I'm saying that I was there for four hours. If they -- it figure -- it seems like someone could have figured out that they made a mistake in four hours. And I got arrested, and she didn't. So, you know, what does that tell you? And...

ZAHN: Well, what -- what does that tell you? It is obviously she -- that she is a wife of a congressman.

SHEEHAN: And she had a...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: And her husband happens to be a Republican.

SHEEHAN: She had a shirt on that was pro-George Bush's message. I'm not against the troops. I don't have anything on here that says that I'm against the troops.

ZAHN: Finally, if you had been allowed to stay in the chamber, were you planning to disrupt the speech in any way or simply just wear this T-Shirt, hoping that the cameras would perhaps capture...

SHEEHAN: That is what I was...

ZAHN: ... a glimpse of you in the chamber?

SHEEHAN: That's what I was planning to do. I never would have disrupted the State of the Union speech at all, and out of respect for the many Congress people and senators I have there who are my friends, and who I respect immensely for their courage and for their strong stances, especially Lynn Woolsey, who gave me the ticket and invited me.

I never would have disrupted it. If it got too hard for me to be there, if he said anything that was too hurtful, I simply would have walked -- got up and walked out quietly.

ZAHN: Cindy, finally tonight, need a brief answer to this one. Given what the head of the Capitol police is saying now, that they have made a mistake, do you still plan to -- to file some sort of First Amendment suit?

SHEEHAN: I absolutely do. I absolutely do.

My civil rights were violated. They -- I unzipped my jacket. They treated me like I got -- I took a weapon out. They were rough with me. I have bruises. I have sore muscles. They arrested the mother of a war hero who gave his life for this country.

And why did my son die, if his mother can't even wear a T-Shirt? And I'm going to file a lawsuit for -- for defamation of character and because my civil rights were violated, hoping that it will never happen to another person, hoping that my son's death will count for something.

ZAHN: Cindy Sheehan, we have got to leave it there.

Thank you...

SHEEHAN: Thank you.

ZAHN: ... so much for sharing your side of the story with us tonight.

SHEEHAN: Thank you, Paula.

ZAHN: Appreciate it.

ZAHN: Coming up next, something that could be going on in your neighborhood. Why should you worry if your teenagers tell you they're going to do a little backyard wrestling? Well, check out these pictures, and you will understand why you should be pretty darn frightened. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Peter Viles in San Francisco, where there is an unprecedented search now under way for a very popular father of two who has been missing for two months.

The disappearance of Jerry Tang -- that story when PAULA ZAHN NOW returns.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: But, first, here is number six on today's countdown of the top 10 stories on CNN.com.

German scientists say that a distant object found in space last year could be a 10 planet in our solar system. No new planet has been named since Pluto was discovered way back in 1930.

And number five, in Iraq, at least five people died in insurgent attacks today. Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein was a no-show again at his trial. Today's proceedings went on without him.

Number four in our countdown when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Now some truly outstanding video, or astonishing may be a better word, of teenagers doing what they do best, finding ways to shock their parents. It seems that every generation of kids tries to outdo the previous one. So today how are thousands of teens across the country managing it? They have found a frightening and dangerous past time.

Here is Adaora Udoji with another case of "What Were They Thinking?"

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UDOJI: How did you guys find this place?

(voice-over): Nearly every weekend, 17-year-old Shawn and his friends head into their Brooklyn field of dreams into a violent and bloody world you are not going to believe

SHAWN: You are going to see some crazy stuff today.

UDOJI: Prepare yourself. It is shocking. This is hardcore backyard wrestling. And it is Shawn's dream to go pro. Shawn, who is studying for his GED, started IBW or the Insane Backyard Wrestling federation with more than a dozen of his closest friends.

(on camera): Why do you call it that?

SHAWN: Because we are insane. If you watch any other backyard tapes and something, there is nothing like this out there. UDOJI (voice-over): They call it entertainment. A combination of showmanship and choreographed moves using weapons, meant to shed blood but only look painful.

There are no rules. No supervision. Just friends bashing each other with keyboards, whacking themselves with fluorescent light tubes and ramming each other into the ground head first. And that is Shawn, stage name Pyro, setting himself on fire just to get the crowd going.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's lighting himself on fire!

SHAWN: It makes it more interesting. Especially for, like, our fans. If you did a move or something, they'll be like that's cool, but if you hit somebody with one of these, they'll go crazy, they'll be like oh my god that was sick.

UDOJI: Notice there are no trainers. No adults, not even a band-aid. But they insist no one really gets hurt. The blood is just show for the cameras.

SHAWN: We won't wrestle unless it is on tape.

UDOJI (on camera): Because?

SHAWN: Because then you got hurt for nothing.

UDOJI (voice-over): That video ends up on Web sites like these where teenage boys post thousands of clips showing their most daring moves in an online battle to prove who is toughest. There is an estimated 700 amateur backyard wrestling federations nationwide. And with ten to 15 members in each group, we're talking about more than 7,000 young men.

A quick Google search triggers nearly a million hits to sites with names like Megacarnage, New Blood Wrestling, and slogans that brag, brutality is our business.

You might wonder why Shawn doesn't play football or basketball or soccer. We did too.

SHAWN: I'm really bad at sports. This is the only thing I'm good at.

UDOJI: He says backyard wrestling opened up a new world and new friends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's my best friend here. We can beat each other up and still friends.

UDOJI: But where do they get these ideas?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thumb tacks.

UDOJI: They say they learn the moves watching video games like this one where a wrestler's head is pushed into a deep fryer. And DVDs widely available from World Wrestling Entertainment or WWE in which pro wrestlers use fire and cheese graters for maximum shock value.

(on camera): WWE officials responded in a statement, saying they are adamantly opposed to the concept of backyard wrestling because of the risks of injury to untrained amateurs.

(voice-over): The statement goes on to say, "We urge parents to be proactive in discouraging their children from undertaking this dangerous practice."

Back in Brooklyn, Joe Giardano had no real idea what his son Jordan was up to until he saw it for himself. It was his first time and he watched in horror as Jordan took a beating.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll talk about this later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is right there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Want some water?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it bad?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of those little ones?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UDOJI (on camera): You're clearly upset.

JOSEPH GIORDANO, FATHER OF BACKYARD WRESTLER: Yes, a little bit. I thought I would handle this a lot better. I thought it was kids wrestling. All I can see is a piece of glass going in his face and his eye, his hand. This isn't what kids should be doing.

UDOJI: And then there is this kind of backyard wrestling, literally in a backyard with well choreographed moves, well developed characters and supervised by parents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Show Stealer will never be defeated.

UDOJI (voice-over): This is 18-year-old Jared, stage name Brimstone. And his parents' backyard, the matches are elaborate. He and many of his friends go to professional wrestling school.

They spend hours developing detailed plots of good versus evil. Each line, every move perfected before they enter the ring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As soon as I do it, he comes in.

UDOJI: No weapons are allowed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A well executed move looks ten times better than some idiot smashing themselves over the head with the trash can.

UDOJI: That's good news to Jared's mother Arlene who, along with other parents, watches in the sidelines. (on camera): You see yourself as supporting his ambitions as opposed to creating a potential risk for him.

ARLENE WERNER, MOTHER OF BACKYARD WRESTLER: The parents have to be more involved with their kids. You can't go in a ditch and wrestle. There is nobody there. What if they really do get hurt?

RENEE CARLSON, DANIEL CARLSON'S MOTHER: Ready to head out.

DANIEL CARLSON: Yes.

UDOJI (voice-over): That risk is now a reality for 16-year-old Daniel Carlson and his parents Renee and Dale. Last summer Daniel was dropped on his head in a backyard wrestling match and broke his neck. Life for the Carlsons changed forever.

CARLSON: Doctor looked at us and said your son is going to be paralyzed. I have to admit, the first thing I thought of was he's 16 years old. This isn't right. He had his whole life ahead of him.

Daniel, can I get you anything else then?

UDOJI: The Carlsons say they thought Daniel was just horsing around, They had no idea he and his friends were staging organized wrestling matches.

CARLSON: They can say they know what they're doing, but they really don't. And you can get seriously hurt and Daniel is proof of that.

UDOJI: But physical injury isn't the only risk according to pediatrician Shari Barkin who studies links between images of violence and aggression. She watched our video of hard core teen wrestling in disbelief.

DR. SHARI BARKIN, PROFESSOR, WAKE FOREST UNIV.: Being violent creates an addictive property. So that once you've done it, just seeing the same thing over and over again is no longer interesting you have to escalate it. And escalate it. And escalate it. So where as the final escalation?

UDOJI: Dr. Barkin says teens who feel invincible through hard core violence may not be learning the coping skills they need to reach their full potential.

Back in Brooklyn, Shawn's match has moved on to thumb tacks, dozens of them, for a favorite big finish. It is hard to believe but he says getting punctured several times in the back is no big deal.

UDOJI (on camera): None of that hurts, Shawn?

SHAWN: No.

UDOJI: It looks painful.

SHAWN: That's the whole point. UDOJI: But it is a very big deal to Jordan's dad, Joe.

GIORDANO: I'm sure the other parents have no idea what is going on here.

UDOJI: Are you going to tell them?

GIORDANO: Every kid that is here that I know I'm going let their parent know.

UDOJI: OK.

GIORDANO: If they don't believe me, let them come and take a look for themselves and let them get shocked like I did.

UDOJI (voice-over): Adaora Udoji, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: If you would like to help the paralyzed young man you just saw on our story, please go caringbridge.com and type in the name Daniel Carlson.

Coming up next, a mystery that stumped San Francisco police. Why did this man vanish into what seems like thin air? Could he have forgotten who he is?

And then a little bit later on, did you know you probably have the technology in your pocket or purse to enter a film festival? All on your cell phone.

Now, number four on our countdown of the top stories on CNN.com, a puppy rescued from Hurricane Katrina is helping a lion cub at the San Diego Zoo get used to the outside world. See more of the story on CNN.com. Click on to watch video. Stay with us. Number three is ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Tonight, there are hundreds of people in San Francisco hoping for a miracle. They are the friends and family of a 40-year- old father of two who simply vanished almost two months ago. And since then, they've been searching desperately to find him. Peter Viles has the rest of the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VILES (voice-over): A devoted father of two boys, an Ivy League graduate, a software engineer with a large network of close friends. So look closely at Jerry Tang because if you've seen him lately, you hold the answer to a mystery that has haunted San Francisco for weeks. What happened to Jerry Tang?

SGT. NEVILLE GITTENS, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE DEPT: The strange thing about this, it's going into two months and so we're concerned and a missing persons unit is doing everything they can to locate him. Unfortunately at this point in time, we do not have any new leads.

VILES: He disappeared November 29th. He took his wallet and cell phone, but not his car keys. And when his wife called the phone, it was off.

JOYCE TANG, WIFE OF MISSING MAN: He always had it on. And it was very unusual that -- sometimes he doesn't answer it, but it always rings a couple of times -- you know, but it went directly to voice mail and it has ever since then.

VILES: The search has been so extensive, police call it unprecedented. Hundreds of Jerry's friends, some from as far way as Europe, came together to search for him. They started a Web site, findjerry.org, pooled money for a $10,000 reward, pleaded with local and national media outlets for news coverage that might help the search.

They even got the Web site craigslist to add little findjerry links on its pages. And they have blanketed the Bay Area with thousands of posters and leaflets.

(on camera): Now Jerry Tang had suffered a stroke and three seizures in the past three years. So one theory of his disappearance and it is an optimistic theory, is that he suffered another seizure but survived and is wandering the city disoriented or perhaps even with amnesia.

(voice-over): So if you walk the streets of San Francisco's Skid Row, the tenderloin, among the countless homeless you just might see this elderly couple. They are Jerry Tang's parents and they are searching for their son. Jeffrey Tang walks these streets almost every day.

(on camera): So you think there is a chance that he's essentially living on the streets?

JEFFREY TANG, FATHER OF MISSING MAN: Yes, you know, to tell you the truth, we really don't know exactly what has happened.

VILES (voice-over): Jerry's wife holds out hope that he's alive, even if that mean he's living on the street.

JOYCE TANG: That's what we have been thinking. I mean, especially now we're getting sightings of him still in the city. I mean, obviously we're trying to follow them up and see how credible they are.

VILES: The day we walked with Jerry's father, a homeless man inside this shelter, claimed to have seen Jerry recently.

JEFFREY TANG: A person by the name of Tom. He said he has seen him two weeks ago but he can't remember where and when. So it may not be too reliable.

VILES: But like other tips, that so-called sighting was a dead end. And as time passes, Jerry's family has to consider other more dire scenarios. Perhaps he chose to disappear, to run away, or was murdered or took his own life. And in San Francisco, when the subject is suicide, everyone thinks of the Golden Gate Bridge, even Jerry Tang's wife.

JOYCE TANG: Yes, I definitely had them check the bridge tapes, you know the first few days.

VILES: But the Tangs can't believe he killed himself.

JOYCE TANG: Just by the scale of the search you see, how -- what a loving person he was and caring, and I can't see him hurting not just me or his children, but his parents and his brother and sister and the friends that he has.

JULIE TANG, MOTHER OF MISSING MAN: He really knows how we love him. I'm sure he knows it. So I don't think he would do that kind of thing to us.

VILES: Jerry's image is all over San Francisco. His parents wear it as a badge of hope. His wife asks that you take one more look at it.

JOYCE TANG: Just look at the picture and see if you see him anywhere. And be kind to him and bring him home.

VILES: Peter Viles for CNN, San Francisco.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: We hope it helps.

Coming up on CNN, what does former president Jimmy Carter think of the State of the Union address last night? Well he's the guest with Larry King coming up at the top of the hour. Right now though, Erica Hill has the latest on a developing story in our Headline News Break. Hi, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Paula, more lives lost in West Virginia coal mines today after a gas pipeline explosion. It was actually just one of three accidents to kill two more coal miners. The governor is now asking all coal operators to halt production for safety inspections. Sixteen West Virginia miners have died in just the last month.

And who can forget this fiery tragedy, 23 nursing home patients who were killed when their bus burst into flames in Dallas as they were fleeing Hurricane Katrina. Well today, the owner of the bus company was arrested, accused of falsifying safety regulations.

Republican Senator Arlen Specter says it is time to consider whether big oil is too big and now has consumers over a barrel. Just this week Exxon Mobil reported the largest yearly income of any U.S. company in history, $36 billion.

Also in Washington, today, Samuel Alito voting on his first case before a ceremonial swearing in at the White House today. Justice Alito voted with the majority, upholding a stay in a Missouri death penalty case.

And how low can you go? Drug agents busted a Colombia ring that, get this, smuggled heroin by implanting it inside imported puppies. Poor little guys. All right Paula, that's going to do it for us. Back over to you in New York.

ZAHN: Sick folks behind that plot. Erica Hill, thanks so much.

Later on in this hour, they're all the rage, even though they won't win any Oscars. Have you made a CellFlix?

Before that, No. 3 in our countdown on the top stories on CNN.com. With 20 of you -- not 20, let's try 20 million of you went online today to check this out. The death toll and a former postal worker's rampage in California now stands at eight. Police say Jennifer Sanmarco killed seven people on Monday and then committed suicide. We've got No. 2 straight ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Well, it happens to be that time of the year. We have the Oscars, the Golden Globes, the MTV Movie Awards. And wouldn't you know it, our Jeanne Moos has discovered yet another award. But hold the phone. You've never seen films like this before.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Calling all movie directors. At the CellFlix festival, there is no red carpet to roll out. No one will ask you...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who are you wearing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prada.

MOOS: You can skip the three-hour epics. We're talking 30- second movies, shot with a cell phone.

(on camera): Mike, what was your budget for this film?

MIKE POTTER, DIRECTOR, "CHEAT": It started at zero.

MOOS (voice-over): Speaking, where else, on a cell phone, festival winner Mike Potter said his movie "Cheat" took half an hour to shoot. It stars his grandparents, Fred and Rosemary.

POTTER: They have a very endearing relationship.

MOOS: "Cheat" was one of 178 submissions to Ithaca College's CellFlix festival. Finalists planted their cell phone cameras on escalators and under trains.

But Mike Potter's 30-second love story won the $5,000 prize. Here is the film in its entirety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have this game we play on Sunday, my Rosemary and I. I call out a headline. Rosemary, Bruschi's not gonna play on Sunday.

And if she correctly guesses the headline, I give her a kiss.

Well, that's true.

I gotta tell you something, sometimes I cheat.

MOOS: So they had to do the kiss three times to get it just right, and shooting with a cell phone invites complications.

(on camera): Mike, you never missed any cell phone calls while you were shooting, did you?

POTTER: I had it ring once. I think it was my girlfriend.

MOOS: How can you shoot yourself and know what you got?

(voice-over): Some of us have enough trouble making a phone call, let alone a movie. And talk about multitasking with your cell. A Dutch comedy show foresees cell phones that shave, cell phones that iron, cell phones you can make grilled cheese in, even cell phones that you can order to self-destruct.

This may be Mike Potter's first movie-making award, but already he's issuing a challenge.

POTTER: I challenge Mr. Steven Spielberg, the great storyteller, to a cell phone film battle.

MOOS: Even ET didn't know how to use a cell phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ET, phone home.

MOOS: Steven Spielberg, phone Mike Potter.

POTTER: Let's take away the budget. Let's take away the big- name actors, and let's compete on a smaller screen.

MOOS: Smaller pictures. Now, that's something Norma Desmond knew a thing or two about.

WILLIAM HOLDEN, ACTOR: You used to be in silent pictures. Used to be big.

MOOS (on camera): I am big! It is the pictures that got small!

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Looking good, Jeanne. Be sure to stay with us. Former President Jimmy Carter is Larry King's guest for the full hour tonight. What does he think of the State of the Union? He'll sound off.

But first, number two on our countdown story. A story we brought you just a few moments ago. Peace activist Cindy Sheehan's arrest in the House chamber just before the president's State of the Union address. Now the Capitol Police are calling that arrest a mistake. Don't move, we've got number one coming right up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Now it's your turn to tell us some of what you had to say about some of the stories we have run tonight. We're hearing an awful lot about -- is everybody OK back there? Wow, sorry. Thought something had fallen.

You were commenting on our lead story about violent police confrontations that have recently made headlines in communities all across the country. Here is what one of you e-mailed us just a short time ago. "I am a middle-aged mother, and have always been law- abiding, but I am afraid of police. I no longer view them as being there to help. There's something wrong with police training in America. Keep reporting on this."

But with a completely different point of view, another e-mail: "If you do something wrong, just stop and do what the police say to do. It's pretty much a no-brainer."

And if you have anything to say about the stories we've had on tonight's show, please leave us a voicemail at 1-877-PAULA-NOW, or email us at heypaula@cnn.com.

Speaking of CNN.com, here's number one on our countdown. At a zoo in Paraguay, this elephant trampled a 13-year-old boy to death when he tried to feed the animal a mango. Unfortunately, the boy got into the cage before anybody could help him.

That's it for all of us. Appreciate you joining us tonight. We'll be back tomorrow night. Good night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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