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Developments in the Killing of Trayvon Martin; Who is George Zimmerman?; Whitney Houston Autopsy Report

Aired March 22, 2012 - 20:00   ET



Good evening, everyone. We begin with breaking news on two fronts tonight. The coroner's report is back in the death of Whitney Houston. The bottom line, drowning, heart disease, cocaine, plus a cocktail of other drugs, legal and illegal, in her system when she died. We'll talk to Dr. Drew Pinsky and 360 MD Sanjay Gupta shortly.

But we begin with a story unfolding before our very eyes tonight. After a day of major developments in the killing of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed African-American teenager shot by a neighborhood watch captain in a central Florida gated community. Tonight the outrage has come national, has come full circle. It has come home.

You're looking at a rally tonight in Sanford, Florida. People gathering from all around the country, not far from where on the 26th of February Trayvon Martin was returning to his future stepmother's home with a bag of candy and an iced tea. That evening George Zimmerman, armed with a 9 millimeter automatic, mistook Trayvon for a would-be criminal, pursued him, allegedly confronted him, then shot him dead.

Today after weeks of withering criticism about his department's handling of the case and a vote of no confidence by Sanford's city commission, Sanford's police chief temporarily stepped aside. He did not step down. Nor did Sanford's city manager fire him even though he has the power to do so. In a moment we'll ask him why.

First, John Zarrella who's at -- who's at tonight's rally -- John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, some of the late developments today is that Governor Rick Scott, Florida's governor, has appointed a special task force to also contribute to this investigation. And it's being headed by State Attorney Angela Cory from the northern district of Florida. Now we assume that she'll get her group together and panel that task force pretty quickly on.

We are here at this rally, as you know. Many thousands of people are here tonight, Anderson. We just heard from the Reverend Al Sharpton. We're now hearing from Trayvon Martin's parents. They are speaking right now.

Earlier today they met with members of the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the U.S. attorney for the middle district of Florida. In those meetings they were told, look, please, give us patience. Have patience. This is going to take time. And they were also told that the investigation by the federal government, the Department of Justice, civil rights violations investigation that they are just getting started, just beginning the fact-finding, and they do not at this point have all the facts, or anywhere near all the facts -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, John Zarrella, thanks very much.

Now keep in mind that civil rights investigation by the federal government really may hinge on whether or not George Zimmerman uttered a racial -- racist slur on that 911 tape. We're going to play you an enhanced audio recording of that 911 tape. We ran it through with our best audio engineer here at CNN. We played it for you last night. We're going to replay that for you because it's critically important in terms of the federal investigation and the possibility of federal charges in this.

It is worth starting tonight with Police Chief Lee's own words. Let's listen.


CHIEF BILL LEE, SANFORD POLICE DEPARTMENT: I stand by the Sanford Police Department, its personnel, and the investigation that was conducted in regards to the Trayvon Martin case. It is apparent that my involvement in this matter is overshadowing the process.


COOPER: Chief Lee says he stands behind the investigation, but at almost every stop along the way, "Keeping Him Honest," both his statements and the course taken by his department have come into question.

It begins the night of February 26th when George Zimmerman says he shot Trayvon Martin in self defense. Acting properly he says according to Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. Now looking at the police report you can see that at least initially police suspected the shooting may have been a crime. Take a look at the upper left-hand corner in the offense section. It reads homicide, negligent, manslaughter, unnecessarily killing to prevent unlawful act.

Zimmerman was taken to police headquarters after the shooting. Further down the responding officer, Timothy Smith, writes, "Zimmerman was placed in an interview room at SPD where he was interviewed by investigator D. Singleton."

Now his gun was kept as evidence but Zimmerman was allowed to leave. We don't know anything about how the interview was conducted. Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte said he was questioned extensively and made to reenact the shooting. Whatever police did, we do know they concluded that Zimmerman was in the clear and there wasn't even probable cause to hold him on suspicion. Yet they already had one key piece of evidence that should have been very suspicious, evidence in George Zimmerman's own words that called into question his claims of self defense.


UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: Are you following him?


UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: OK. We don't need you to do that.



COOPER: Well, police had access to that 911 tape from the very beginning. They only made it public last Friday under very heavy pressure from the Martin family three weeks after the fact. Earlier this week, Chief Lee publicly downplayed it, seeming to take Zimmerman's side, calling what the 911 dispatcher said, quote, "not a lawful order that Mr. Zimmerman would be required to follow."

Legally that is absolutely true, but it was unusual for the chief to say so given how quiet his department has been about answering any questions considering the case. So let's go back to the investigation. The family's attorney says police never asked neighbors if anyone was missing a child, which could suggest they suspected at least at the time that Trayvon was an intruder, not a kid visiting his dad in the neighborhood.

Nor did they check Trayvon's cell phone. They say his phone was locked and they are waiting for records from the phone company. As of yesterday, however, they still hadn't contacted the last person to speak to Trayvon alive. He was talking to his girlfriend just seconds before his killing.

The Martin family, on the other hand, did uncover the cell phone records, trace the girlfriend. She gave family attorney Benjamin Crump a statement recounting the call. Quote, "He said this man was watching him so he put his hoodie on, said he lost the man." She went on to say, quote, "I asked Trayvon to run and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run but he said he was not going to run."

She said the man caught up to Trayvon. Quote, "Trayvon said what are you following me for? And the man said, what are you doing here? The next thing I hear is somebody pushing and somebody pushed Trayvon because the headset just fell."

So at the end of the day here's what we have. At least two key pieces of evidence casting suspicion on George Zimmerman's self- defense claim. Allegations the Sanford Police Department did a sloppy job, a vote of no confidence by Sanford City Commission. A Justice Department investigation, a big rally tonight and a national uproar. All of it, 25 days and counting since Trayvon Martin headed home from the store with a bag of Skittles and iced tea, and his whole life ahead of him.

Now given all of that, given the national attention, the intense local pressure, a lot of people are asking not just at tonight's rally for two things, the arrest of George Zimmerman and the firing, firing of Chief Lee. He just stepped down today.

One man tonight has the absolute power to do one of those things -- fire the chief. He's not exercising it. Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte. Earlier tonight I asked him why and why George Zimmerman is not in custody.


COOPER: Mr. Bonaparte, I heard you're doing an interview with Al Sharpton this evening on MSNBC and you said you want justice for the, quote, "murder of Trayvon Martin." You used the word "murder" which is not a word one would use to describe an act of self-defense or justifiable homicide or anything under the "Stand Your Ground" law. So if you believe Trayvon Martin was murdered, why hasn't the man who shot him been arrested?

NORTON BONAPARTE, SANFORD, FLORIDA CITY MANAGER: What I have been told, Anderson, and this is a law enforcement matter, that when the police arrived, they handcuffed Mr. Zimmerman, they took him to the police headquarters, they questioned him, they brought him back out to the scene, they asked him to reenact what happened.

And based upon what they heard from him and based upon the evidence that they saw at the scene, and based upon some information from witnesses, they could not un-corroborate the fact that he said it was self defense. What they have determined, at least at the scene, was that because of the Florida state statutes, they could not arrest him.

COOPER: So do you believe Trayvon Martin was murdered, though?

BONAPARTE: I believe that he was certainly killed and it was unfortunate and it was a tragedy. No parent wants to have their child killed. Whether it's murder accident or anything like that. I think that what we need to look at is how we can get justice, and at this point, we're looking for the state's attorney to look at the evidence that the Sanford police has provided, along with the evidence that they'll get from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the grand jury.

COOPER: So your use of that word earlier "murder" was not to indicate that you believe it was not self defense?

BONAPARTE: I believe that's up for the state's attorney and the justice system to look at. I am not going to be prejudging. We have a judicial system and I'm looking forward that justice is done.

COOPER: The police chief of your city, Bill Lee, steps aside temporarily today. He says he stands by the investigation into Trayvon Martin's death, is only stepping aside because he's become a distraction. Is that acceptable to you? BONAPARTE: Yes. I think it was very clear to Chief Lee that based upon the city commission's vote yesterday of no confidence and the uproar that's brewing not only in this city but around the country regarding the focus being on the police chief and not on the killing of Trayvon Martin, that he decided to step aside so that we can refocus on getting justice for the death of Trayvon Martin and that's through the justice system.

COOPER: Do you have confidence in the investigation thus far?

BONAPARTE: I don't know the investigation. That's why Mayor Triplett, Congresswoman Brown and myself went to Washington, D.C. to ask the United States Department of Justice to overlook and to see -- for them to review and to share with us do they think there was a fair and impartial investigation.

COOPER: But clearly, I mean, if you went to ask for outsiders to look at the investigation, that would indicate a concern you have about the investigation?

BONAPARTE: What I say is that because of the national attention and because of the tragedy of this place, the tragedy of the killing of Trayvon Martin, we want to have outside eyes look at this, fresh eyes, independent eyes of the Sanford Police Department so that we can have confidence in whatever they find.

COOPER: You said earlier on CNN, quote, "If this took place in another city, certainly Mr. Zimmerman would have been arrested." What did you mean by that?

BONAPARTE: I said that when I spoke to other law enforcement officials, one in particular in New York, indicated that if it had taken place in New York, Mr. Zimmerman would have been arrested. However, based on Florida's laws, he understood why the Sanford Police did not arrest Mr. Zimmerman.

COOPER: Trayvon Martin's parents have said this evening they want Chief Lee to be permanently removed. You have the authority to fire him. What do you say to Trayvon's parents?

BONAPARTE: I say, I will remove him if I have reason to believe that he did something inappropriate. I am not rushing to judgment. I've called for a review. I want to know the facts. Did the Sanford Police Department do something they shouldn't have done or did they not do something that they should have done?

Give that to me and then I can make a determination not only just about Chief Lee but about the whole Sanford Police Department.

COOPER: Do you have confidence in the investigation that Chief Lee oversaw?

BONAPARTE: Right now it doesn't make a difference. What we really want is to make sure that the state's attorney has all the information they need so they can determine whether they should indict Mr. Zimmerman and they have provided -- we provided them with the police department but in addition to that they have information and the resources of Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the United States Department of Justice.

COOPER: So you don't want to go on record saying whether or not you have confidence in the investigation or not?

BONAPARTE: What I go on record saying we want justice for the Martin family. And right now it's in the hands of the justice system through the state's attorney office. He's doing -- the one to determine what the fate of Mr. Martin is -- what the fate of Zimmerman is in terms of pressing charges.

COOPER: Mr. Bonaparte, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

BONAPARTE: Thank you.


COOPER: Let's bring in legal analysis, former federal prosecutors Jeffrey Toobin and Sunny Hostin.

Jeffrey, clearly he doesn't want to take a position. I mean he's kind of just ducking all over the place.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: And I don't know what that heck that business is with taking a temporary leave?

COOPER: Right. So --

TOOBIN: What does that mean?

COOPER: That's the other question I wanted to ask you about.



COOPER: The police chief stepping down, does that really mean anything, taking temporary leave?

TOOBIN: No. What does it mean to temporarily step down? I mean is he still in charge of the police department except for this case? Is he just taking vacation? I mean it's just -- it seems like a -- it is either too much or too little, but it's a meaningless gesture, I think.

COOPER: And Sunny, the meeting today between Trayvon Martin's parents and the Department of Justice, what does that mean for the case?

HOSTIN: You know, I think they wanted to manage the family's expectations. I think they wanted to ask the family's patience so that they can continue the investigation. It's just the very beginning. And I think Jeff will agree with me, trying a federal hate crimes case, it's just very difficult to prove. I mean you have to prove specific intent, so you have to get into someone's head, and it's the highest level intent under our criminal law system.

And I think they wanted to manage the family's expectations but make it very clear that they are there, they are on the ground, they are investigating but they aren't taking over the investigation because this, in my view, is very much still a local law enforcement case.

COOPER: I want to talk in a little bit about what was in his head and what we know about that based on what he said on the 911 tapes, whether he used a racist slur because that does have a key -- key impact on whether the feds can bring in charges.

Before we get there, though, we know very little about the gun that was used. Apparently the police confiscated it. That's a big issue.

TOOBIN: It's an enormous issue because the ballistics and the autopsy evidence, they're not public yet and they will be extremely important. I mean, for example, Zimmerman told the story, we don't know the details, of how this shooting took place. Does the autopsy evidence match up with that? For example, he will say I shot him in the chest or I shot him, you know, in the arm or whatever.

Does the autopsy evidence confirm that? Does the autopsy evidence show that he shot him in the back when he said he shot him in the front?

HOSTIN: Well, and I --

TOOBIN: I mean that's very important and we don't know that yet.

HOSTIN: And I think there's some crucial evidence missing because my understanding is that Zimmerman was allowed to leave the police station with the very clothes that he had on for the shooting. So if there is any discrepancy in terms of how far he was away from Trayvon Martin, that information is now lost, that forensic information is now lost.

COOPER: And --

HOSTIN: There's -- you can't have gun powder residue and that sort of thing because apparently it just wasn't conducted appropriately.

COOPER: And whether also there was no drugs --


TOOBIN: You know, now that evidence is gone forever.

COOPER: Right. Also, I mean, we know from at least two eyewitnesses Trayvon Martin was face down on the ground. Still, he could have been shot in the chest and the bullet could have spun him around. We simply don't know enough of the details.

TOOBIN: That was very -- when you interviewed those eyewitnesses that was a very striking image of him straddling --

COOPER: George Zimmerman --

TOOBIN: Zimmerman on top of him straddling him face down, which is just -- I mean the whole thing is bizarre, but that was I thought a very bizarre image. And you wonder how that could have happened.

COOPER: We've got to take a quick break. Jeffrey and Sunny, stay with us. There's plenty more on this and other stories at We're going to continue to talk about it right after this break. We're on Facebook, follow me on Twitter @Andersoncooper. We're tweeting about this case right now and having a conversation on Twitter about it.

Up next, we don't know where the shooter, George Zimmerman, is tonight. We're also learning a lot about who he is or at least some more about his background. We'll take you up close next.


COOPER: We're looking at pictures at tonight's massive rally in Sanford, Florida. Martin Luther King, III speaking right now. The protesters calling for -- they say what they want is justice in Trayvon Martin's killing, including the arrest of the shooter, George Zimmerman. That is what they -- many of the people at the protest want.

CNN has tried numerous times to contact Zimmerman. So far no luck. I want to take you up close tonight. Who is George Zimmerman? Who is this volunteer neighborhood watch captain who says he fired in self-defense? His name is now well known across the country. We're beginning, just really beginning to learn about his background.

We know he's dreamed of a career in law enforcement. He once had a run-in with the law and his father insists that his son is certainly no racist.

John Zarrella reports.


ZARRELLA (voice-over): George Michael Zimmerman, 28 years old. Until a month ago he was, his neighbor Frank Taaffe says, just a guy who cared.

FRANK TAAFFE, NEIGHBOR: George is a caring -- he had a passion for the safety of our neighborhood. And he demonstrated to the rest of us that one person could make a difference. And he was an average guy, just like me.

ZARRELLA: We know him only from what people say of him, from a couple of pictures there are of him, and from his voice on the 911 calls he made February 26th, the night he shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he's up to no good or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around looking about.

ZARRELLA: Zimmerman says the shooting was self-defense. He has not been charged with a crime. What we've been able to piece together about George Zimmerman's life you might say is a contradiction. In 2005 he's arrested for resisting a police officer without violence after an incident at a local bar. He pleads not guilty. But later he enters a six-month pretrial diversion program as part of a plea deal.

As this document shows, it's extended two months because, quote, "My program participation has not been satisfactory." Later that year, Zimmerman and his ex-fiancee both filed for protection against domestic violence after each alleged there was pushing and hitting.

None of this sounds like the boy George and Kay Hall knew. Zimmerman was an altar boy in the Catholic Church. He didn't move to Florida until after he graduated high school here in Manassas, Virginia. In this house across the street from Hall.

KAY HALL, FORMER NEIGHBOR: They were a tight-knit family. Very good with their children, they were very well-behaved. They weren't -- they didn't run around loose or anything. They were faithful. They were active in the Catholic Church.

ZARRELLA: And this is the George Zimmerman, the just a guy side, the man trying to make something of his life. The side George Hall knew.

Zimmerman was a part-time student at Seminole State College studying general education, but today the college withdrew him for safety reasons. He's worked various odd jobs, security for a home party company. And for a time around 2008, he worked at CarMax.

(On camera): That same year Zimmerman applied for and was accepted into a citizens outreach program run by the sheriff's department, which introduces participants to law enforcement procedures. Before he's accepted, Zimmerman has to explain his 2005 arrest.

(Voice-over): He writes in part, quote, "I hold law enforcement officers in the highest regard as I hope to one day become one." End quote. In fact, a couple of years ago Zimmerman called his old neighbor, George Hall, asking for a letter of recommendation for a law enforcement application.

GEORGE HALL, FORMER NEIGHBOR: Very positive one. I mean I have nothing but the strongest positive feelings for the whole family, including the boys.

ZARRELLA: We don't know what happened to the application, but when he volunteered for and became the neighborhood watch captain a couple of years ago, it may have been George Zimmerman's way of walking a beat.


COOPER: John, what are we hearing from others who knew Zimmerman and his family?

ZARRELLA: You know, Anderson, we heard late this afternoon from the parish priest in Manassas, Virginia, where the Zimmerman family attended church, and that parish priest wrote in a statement that they were very saddened by the developments, what had happened. But he also said that Zimmerman was very active in the church as a youth, not just an altar boy, but he also worked in the church office. And, he added, that the Zimmerman family was well respected within the community -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. John, thanks.

Once again let's bring in legal analysts Jeffrey Toobin and Sunny Hostin.

I want to play for our viewers, in case they missed it last night, part of this 911 tape that a lot of people believe has a racist slur on it. We have enhanced the audio with our best audio engineer at CNN to try to really isolate the sound. Again, you may be offended by what you hear but this is incredibly important and potential evidence so we're playing it for you without beeping out anything, so if there's a young child in the room, you might want to have them leave. But I just want to give you that warning right now. So let's play this.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): How long does that portion last that everyone is talking about?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A second 18 frames.

TUCHMAN: Second 18 frames, so that's about 1.6 seconds.


TUCHMAN: So let's listen to it like 10 times in a row if we can.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): What we're listening for is the racial slur "coons." It follows the F word. Some people say they hear it. Others say they don't.


COOPER: So we talked about this last night, Jeff. This is incredibly important, why?

TOOBIN: It is, because most homicides are prosecuted by the states. A crime only becomes a federal crime in terms of a homicide if there is racial animosity at the -- at the heart of it. So if the Department of Justice can establish that he used a racial slur and then seconds later shot young Mr. Martin, that makes it a much stronger potential federal case. And all the issues that we talked about in terms of the "Stand Your Ground" law become immediately irrelevant.

COOPER: And, Sunny, he already is on tape calling -- saying these a-holes, they always get away.

HOSTIN: That's right.

COOPER: Which you could interpret as certainly a derogatory comment toward an African-American male, whether or not it's based on race unclear.

HOSTIN: Right. I think that's right. And so you're talking about sort of the cumulative evidence at this point. And the Justice Department no doubt will be looking at that. I know when this story first broke, Anderson, that was my first reaction. What did he mean by these a-holes? Was that -- did that sort of have a racial tinge? But now that I hear this, I think, slur now sort of isolated, you take all of that together, including his actions, that I think would be a pretty strong case for the Justice Department.

TOOBIN: Yes, this is a much bigger deal than these "a-holes", because these "a-holes" could refer to prowlers, burglars, and certainly that's what his defense would say. That -- if he's using the slur that both of us hear, then that --

COOPER: You think --


HOSTIN: Those are taken together.

TOOBIN: I hear C-O-O-N-S. That's what I hear. But obviously, you know, we have good enhancement material but the FBI has the best in the country. You know they use tapes in all their organized crime cases. When I was an assistant U.S. attorney, all the organized crime prosecutors spent all their time with headphones and enhancement material. This is something they can do very well.

HOSTIN: That's right.

COOPER: Interesting. We're going to obviously continue to follow it and I think we have online more of Gary Tuchman's piece because it's really -- it's a fascinating, really isolation of that sound.

Let us know what you think. We're on Twitter what you heard on that tape.

Jeff Toobin and Sunny Hostin, thanks very much.

Other breaking news tonight, official word on what killed Whitney Houston. Toxicology -- initial toxicology report is out. The number of drugs that were in her system when she drowned in a hotel bathroom. We'll tell you what the autopsy says. We're going to talk to Dr. Drew Pinsky and also Dr. Sanjay Gupta about what it all means next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Well, finally some answers tonight about what killed Whitney Houston. The Los Angeles County coroner released an initial autopsy report just a short time ago saying that Houston accidentally drowned but that heart disease and cocaine were a factor. The report is just a page long but it does say a lot including that it appears Whitney Houston used cocaine just before she collapsed in the hotel bathtub where she was found dead.

That she was alive when she slipped under the water and that a cardiac event complicated by the cocaine use may have caused that slip. Now other drugs were also found in her system. Marijuana, Xanax, a muscle relaxer and an allergy medicine but they did not contribute to her death, according to this report. The coroner says no trauma or foul play was suspected.

Let's talk about it with chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, also Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of HLN's "Dr. Drew."

So Sanjay, the autopsy report says she died from accidental drowning with heart disease and cocaine use as a contributing factor. I found it really confusing, what does this mean?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the best way to put it together is that she had a history of heart disease. It sounded like what is known as arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, something that's pretty typical and something that can be tremendously worsened by the use of cocaine.

Your arteries are already a bit narrow, but hardened as a result of this disease. You add cocaine, which can cause constriction. It can cause spasm of the blood vessels. It causes a big adrenaline surge and all of that can be very damaging to the heart.

And cause a cardiac event as they described it or a heart attack specifically, Anderson, that could cause her to lapse into unconsciousness. As you know she was in the bathtub and she slid into the water at that time.

So that's how you -- sort of reading this whole report sort of piece it together.

COOPER: Sanjay, how do we know she died from drowning and not from a heart attack from cocaine use?

GUPTA: Yes, this is one of those tough things to really talk about. But the way you know is because her lungs had water in them. So what that basically means is at the time she went into the water, she slid underneath the surface of the water, she was still breathing.

And then when she was still breathing, though unconscious, she actually inhaled water and it went into her lungs. That's the way a coroner would make that determination, Anderson.

COOPER: Dr. Drew, this is probably a stupid question. I don't understand though, if you were breathing and you go under water and you inhale water, doesn't your body -- don't you wake up? Why wouldn't she realize she's drowning?

DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST, HLN'S "DR. DREW": Right. Now, the presumption here is that what Sanjay described as a heart attack was probably either as we say the narrowing the arteries causing a clot, which injures the muscle, which causes a massive rhythm disturbance or a rhythm disturbance of the heart, which normally beats regularly just from the direct effect of the cocaine that results in no blood pressure.

So she's really in kind of a rapid coma and she may not respond normally to things like the external environment if something is over her mouth like water. Also, by the way, you add the Xanax. You add the (inaudible) nervous suppression of the Flexeril in there and it's makes it even more likely she's not going to breathe.

COOPER: The autopsy report, though, Dr. Drew, did say that all those other things, the marijuana, the Xanax, the Flexeril, Benadryl, they did not contribute to her death. What kind of -- what does that tell you?

PINSKY: Well, you know, again, we're trying to piece together a preliminary report. I think what they mean is there was not a direct result, direct correlation to her death. The direct effect is the cocaine, the heart event and then the drowning.

The other medicines may have exacerbated things. They certainly didn't help, but they didn't directly cause her demise. But let's be clear here. The entire story is an addiction death.

This is somebody in massive relapse as we've been saying here though, Anderson, I must tell your beloved Ambien has been spared in this particular case, but this is an addiction death. She was in relapse and somebody in her age group exposed to cocaine is in serious trouble.

They have cardiac events. I have to tell you on my HLN program tonight at 9:00. Bobby Brown's sister makes some stunning allegations about who is directly responsible for all of this. I don't feel as though I'm in a position to repeat it, it's so stunning, but that is tonight on our program at 9:00.

COOPER: It obviously leads to questions like where does she get the cocaine if she had flown into L.A. and wasn't living there.

PINSKY: Exactly.

COOPER: Who was the contact? The people in her circle she must have known because she's not out getting her own cocaine I would imagine.

PINSKY: These Bobby Brown's family, his sister and his nephews, her nephews, Whitney's nephews and cousins of Bobbi Kristina are laying the blame. They're very clear about what happened and it's really uncomfortable to hear, but they say it tonight.

COOPER: All right, we'll watch that at 9:00. Sanjay, how long would something like -- cocaine, how long would you have to take it before it really damages your heart? Can this just be a one-time event or is it something that is long term?

GUPTA: It can be a one-time event, but also there are a lot of studies that have been done about chronic cocaine use and how it damages some of the smallest blood vessels that supply the heart.

It's a terrible problem actually because when you have the kind of heart damage that results from chronic cocaine use. It is very difficult to treat as well with some of the typical medications that you'd use. So it can cause long-term damage.

But, you know, Anderson, you've heard stories about people who are young and tried it early on in their lives that can also have a catastrophic heart event like Drew was describing, again, because you get this huge adrenaline surge.

You also get this reaction where your blood vessels spasm. So instead of allowing blood to sort of flow through normally, the blood vessel that say go through the heart, it's spasming and, therefore, the heart itself is not getting enough blood and that can happen in a young person as well.

COOPER: Scary stuff. Drew, I said we'll be watching you at 9:00 on HLN. Sanjay, thanks very much.

President Obama made a promise today on his four-state energy tour. Did he signal a possible shift in his position on the Keystone pipeline? We'll talk about that next.


COOPER: Another "Keeping Them Honest" report. The politics of oil in Cushing, Oklahoma, today, President Obama made this announcement.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Right now, a company called Transcanada has applied to build a new pipeline to speed more oil from Cushing to state-of-the-art refineries down on the Gulf Coast. Today I'm directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles and make this project a priority.


COOPER: The pipeline he's talking about is actually part of the controversial Keystone pipeline that Transcanada and many Republicans and some Democrats in Congress want to build from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Now, in January the Obama administration denied a permit for the full pipeline.

Last month, Transcanada said it would move forward and build the southern half of the pipeline which, would begin in Cushing. Today as part of a two-day, four-state energy tour, President Obama promised to do his part to fast track the work. Right away Republicans pounced.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, the president announced he was going to open a path of the Keystone pipeline. That's right. This is a pipeline to nowhere. That's a good one. So Obama is matching with a pipeline to nowhere.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The southern half is great, but you've got to get the oil out of Canada and North Dakota.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Apparently, the slipping poll numbers have convinced him to announce the lower half of that pipeline. If they can get his poll numbers just a little lower, we may be able to get the other side too. So let's get that job done.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Now, this is what I'm calling the Obama energy gap. Up here in Canada and in North Dakota, we've got all this oil.

And the president is down here in Oklahoma taking credit for part of the pipeline that's going to go through the normal process. It's already gotten it's approvals.

This idea that the president is going to expedite this will have no impact on the construction of this pipeline.


COOPER: You know, keeping him honest. House Speaker John Boehner has a point. Permits for pipelines within U.S. borders are issued at the state and local levels. Federal government doesn't have much to do with the process unless the project crosses the U.S. border.

The White House is standing by its claim saying that fast tracking the project will have a real impact, but not saying exactly how it will shorten the timeline or by how much.

With gas prices already high and climbing, the timing of the president's energy tour probably isn't surprising. In a new Gallup poll, four in 10 Americans describe the country's energy situation as very serious.

The Republican presidential nominees are hoping high gas prices will be President Obama's Achilles heel in November.


ROMNEY: This is a president who doesn't like oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear. We're seeing some of the results of that as you look at gasoline prices today.

SANTORUM: When you see that gas pump, when you're pumping gas the next time and you see that number go from dollars with two columns to that third column and you see that zero come up, think of zero for "O" for Obama.

GINGRICH: I have developed a program for American energy so no future president will ever bow to a Saudi king again and so every American can look forward to $2.50 a gallon gasoline.


COOPER: For his part, President Obama has called out his rivals for he says playing politics with gas prices.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: This has been going on for years now. And every time prices start to go up, especially in an election year, politicians dust off their three-point plans for $2 gas. We can't just drill our way to lower gas prices. There are no quick fixes or silver bullets.


COOPER: A lot of people wondering if the president's support for the southern half of the Keystone pipeline is a signal the president will flip-flop on the northern part of the pipeline.

Let's look at the raw politics tonight. Joining us is political contributor and Democratic strategist, James Carville, also Rich Galen, Republican strategist and former press secretary for Newt Gingrich.

So James, is this big energy push from the White House basically a sign of desperation, a sign that those gas price attacks by the Republicans are having an effect?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: It could have a little bit of the latter. I mean every energy expert agrees on it. The president doesn't have anything to do with gas prices. Every political person knows that when these things rise, you know, it hurts the president a little bit.

So it could be that they decide to get out front of this. The other explanation is that they may think energy prices will go down and by doing this action they'll think they get more credit for it. I have no idea, but I suspect it's one of the two, Anderson.

COOPER: Rich, whether it's fair or not, is this line of attack by the Republicans working?

RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, of course it is because any president at this point it happens to be a Democratic president, it has been a Republican president, the roles would have been reversed, but the language would have been exactly the same.

Another point I think though, James, that particularly may bother the president and the president's folks is that high gasoline taxes are -- high gasoline prices are the most regressive tax because they hit hardest the people that can least afford it. I mean, thank goodness you and I, if we -- if the gas prices go from $3 to $4, it's a couple of Starbucks. But if we were worried about trying to get to the end of the month on our paycheck, an extra $3 is a big number.

So this goes right to the heart of the core of Barack Obama's supporters. I think he needs to show he can't change it, but he does need to show that he's trying to do as much as he can.

COOPER: James, is there a risk for the president in making a big deal in the decision like the Cushing pipeline? Doesn't it imply he does have some control over prices? If they don't come down after this, will some viewers assume his policies have failed?

CARVILLE: It could have some effect. By the same token, he who lives by high energy prices dies by high energy prices. I don't have any idea what the energy prices are going to be in October, but let's say they come down. Whatever goes up, comes down.

Then the president will say I was out front. It won't have -- them coming down will have as much to do with him as them going up do but that's the danger of doing this kind of thing.

Actually since the president has been in office, domestic production has been up and consumption has been down, which tells you that we're in a world market or tells you that political instability or having some kind of a factor on these energy prices and speculators.

But again, I have no ideas what they're going to do, but if they go high, it does take some political toll on the incumbent, that I would readily agree with.

COOPER: Rich, when you hear your former boss, Gingrich talking about, you know, guaranteeing $2.50 gasoline per gallon, I mean, do you buy that?



GALEN: No. I mean, the days of $2.50 gasoline are long gone, but there are things to do. As you know, I do some work for Boone Pickens on the Pickens plan in natural gas. We're very focused on trying to bring natural gas on to especially heavy duty trucks where the infrastructure in terms of refuelling is a big issue.

But in five years, we could reduce our import totals from OPEC by about 40 percent, which would have been effect. But is that going to happen between now and November? No. But it's the kind of thing that we need to do.

One of the problems I think that the president is facing is that Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, a physicist, has been so laser-like focused on battery powers, we know that's not ready, it's not ripe yet. The Volt line has been shut down. So there are some issues that I think this administration has to deal with. They made some bad bets, I think.

COOPER: Rich Galen, sorry, James, do you want to say something?

CARVILLE: I just am not sure, technology moves pretty quickly. I can say production is up under this president and consumption is down. That ought to help at some point.

COOPER: Yes. James Carville, Rich Galen, guys, thanks very much.

Got a new word about the American soldier accused of killing 16 civilians in that shooting rampage in Afghanistan. We'll tell you what charges the Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales is going to face. We'll be right back.


COOPER: We're following a bunch of other stories tonight. Isha's here with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a Pentagon official tells CNN Staff Sergeant Robert Bales will be charged with murder in the killings of Afghan civilians. It could happen tomorrow. It's expected he'll be charged with 17 counts of murder, although 16 people were reported killed. There's no explanation at this point for the discrepancy.

A more than 31-hour standoff between French police and an armed gunman accused of murder came to a bloody end this morning.

Police stormed the suspect's apartment. Officials say he opened fire. They shot back and killed him. The 23-year-old Mohammed Merah was a self-described Jihadist.

Mississippi' attorney general is moving again to challenge the legality of almost 200 pardons, including those of four convicted murderers. Former Governor Haley Barbour issued the pardons as he left office, but the attorney general claims he did so in violation of the state constitution.

Stock in the company that makes Etch-A-Sketch soared today. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have used the toy as a prop on the campaign trail exploiting a gaffe made by a top Romney aide.

The "L.A. Times" report Etch-A-Sketch sales have jumped 1500 percent.

And Anderson, check this out, this cat definitely has nine lives. She fell 19 stories from her owner's high-rise apartment in Boston and she survived with only one minor injury.

Her name is Sugar, and she landed on a patch of soft grass and mulch, a very lucky pussy cat. COOPER: I'm not sure I buy it.

SESAY: What do you mean you don't buy it?

COOPER: I don't know, 19 stories? I find that's hard to believe.

SESAY: Well, here's your geek fact for the night. According to one rescue manager, cats that fall higher than nine stories have a better chance of survival.

COOPER: Wow, thank you.

SESAY: You're welcome.

COOPER: "The Ridiculist" is coming up. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist." Tonight, we're adding Panda Tea. An entrepreneur in China has launched a new beverage business called Panda Tea which makes it sound cute and cuddly. After all, what doesn't love a panda? They're adorable, right.

But the not-so-secret ingredient in Panda Tea happens to be tons of Panda droppings. I mean, that literally, just ton after ton of Panda poop, which is used to grow the leaves for this tea, tea leavings.

Who's thirsty now? I don't like hot beverages, but even if I did, I'm not sure I would take the Nestea Plunge. The owner says it's very nutritious just based on the sheer volume of excrement. You know what, I'm going to let him tell you about it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The digestive and absorption abilities of the Panda are not good. They keep eating and they keep producing feces. They're like a machine churning out fertilizer. They absorb less than 30 percent of the nutrition from their food. That means more than 70 percent of these nutrients become waste.


COOPER: OK, number one, don't say "The Ridiculist" never taught you anything about the bowel idiosyncrasies of the giant Panda. It is true, though, apparently their particular poop does indeed make rich fertilizer.

Let's call it pandemonium nitrate and pandas make a lot of it because they eat up to 40 pounds of bamboo a day, which I guess explains why they always have those shoot-eating grins.

Number two, is it just me or is the tea guy perhaps just a little too into his business model. Should the head of the company really be wearing that? How can you take someone seriously when they're dressed like that at work?

Look at him in this meeting. A grown man in a full-on animal costume, I mean, who does that? A bib. The bunny has a bib. This is pretty much the strangest assignment I've ever had. Nobody laugh. Hello. OK, in my defense, the ape asked me to do that.

Now, I'm sure the pandas didn't ask the tea guy to put on that costume. Come to think of it, I bet he didn't bother to ask if he could have all their poo so he could use it as night soil. Today, I learned night soil is another way to say manure also meadow muffins.

By the way, a cup of Dung-Fu Panda is going to cost you. The first batch is priced at about $200 a cup. If you're the adventurous type or just like to splurge on crap, literally, sorry, you won't find a better cup of tea on "The Ridiculist."

Why does poop always make me giggle? That does it for us. You'll see us again at 10:00, one hour from now. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts right now.