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Tim Tebow Heads to New York; Outrage Grows Over Death of Florida Teen; French Serial Killer Taped Shootings; French Gunman Was on No-Fly List; Sanford City Manager to Speak; Landmark Hate Crime Conviction; Sanford Police Chief Steps Aside; Deryl Dedmon Pleads Guilty in Mississippi Murder; Will Matthew Shepard Law Be Invoked in Florida?
Aired March 22, 2012 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And now this. All right. Let's continue on here, hour two. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Top of the hour, I want to begin with breaking news. As I speak, the Department of Justice officials are believed to be meeting with the parents of the unarmed teen, Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed just about a month ago by a neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Florida.
So keep that in mind. Also in the next half-hour, we're expecting to hear from the city manager of Sanford, Florida, and he's expected to make an announcement in the case, so that happening 3:30 Eastern time. We will dip into that live.
Also, just last night, the city council in Sanford voted 3-2 approving the vote of no confidence in the city's police chief, Bill Lee, who by the way has been on the job for all of 10 months. His officers have yet to arrest the watch captain, George Zimmerman, seen here in this exclusive photo that CNN obtained.
Joining me now is legal analyst Sunny Hostin.
First, a lot to talk about obviously as the story continues. What do you make of this vote of no confidence? What exactly does that do? Ultimately it is the city manager who we will be hearing from and perhaps he will make news in half-an-hour, but it's ultimately his call whether or not the chiefs stays or goes.
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's right. It is his call.
But we know, Brooke, because there has been such outrage in this case that many people are calling either for the resignation of the police chief or the firing of the police chief and the city manager has made it very clear that he is going to listen to the recommendation and he was waiting for that recommendation.
So as you mentioned, we know there will be a news conference at 3:30. I wonder whether or not we will learn how he felt about that vote of no confidence, the 3-2 vote, but certainly I think it spells some serious concerns about how the Trayvon Martin matter has been handled by the police department under the lead of the police chief.
BALDWIN: And apparently this news conference is to be the first of many it sounds like daily briefings put on by the city manager and, of course, we will take that live in less than half-an-hour from now.
Meantime, as we mentioned, the Department of Justice officials are meeting with Trayvon Martin's parents right now obviously behind closed doors. But what can we glean from what might be possibly happening there? What might the feds be telling them, going over with them, what's the purpose of this?
HOSTIN: Well, we don't know exactly.
I have been in contact with the Martin family attorney, and it was confirmed they would be meeting with the Department of Justice attorneys, two officials in particular, and my understanding it is going to be one of the deputy chiefs of the Civil Rights Division as well as a U.S. attorney, and the U.S. attorney of Florida.
And we know also, Brooke, the Justice Department has commenced an investigation into Trayvon Martin's shooting death, and that's a civil rights investigation, and so perhaps they are going to update the family on their plans.
The Justice Department has indicated this would be a difficult case to show, a difficult case to prove. But we do know that the FBI is investigating, the Justice Department is investigating. We don't know whether or not they're taking over the investigation from the local authorities.
Many people are -- and I made several phone calls -- and many people are telling me that this is very much viewed as a local law enforcement investigation, but that the Justice Department and federal investigations will be run in tandem with the local investigation.
BALDWIN: Still just about a month from the shooting and the death, no arrest, no charges. I know that just today about 1,000 students in Florida, they walked out of class to protest the fact that that precise fact that no one has been arrested.
And with the pressure, Sunny, could perhaps a defense attorney use that later saying police felt compelled and felt pressured to make an arrest in this case?
HOSTIN: If an arrest happens, certainly, I suppose that would be the argument, but we know that the state attorney's office has sent this and sent it over for a grand jury to hear on April 10.
HOSTIN: I suspect that the police department has handed over this investigation to the state's attorneys office and the evidence will appear in front of the grand jury, so the police department isn't going to effectuate an arrest any time soon.
The most that would come out it is if the grand jury chose to indict. That would almost be akin to an arrest warrant and he would be charged with whatever crimes the grand jury indicted on. I don't suspect we will be seeing an arrest by the Sanford Police Department.
BALDWIN: Until perhaps an indictment comes down and you mentioned April 10.
HOSTIN: That's right.
BALDWIN: Sunny Hostin, thank you.
I know Sunny knows this intimately. We will talk a little about the stand your ground law and how it has really played this front and center role as to why Sanford police did not arrest 28-year-old George Zimmerman the night of the shooting just about a month ago. The law in 21 states keep in mind, this isn't just Florida -- 21 states -- allows people to use deadly force in defending themselves and since it passed in 2005 justifiable homicides in Florida have more than doubled.
And Randi Kaye has the story of one family mourning a loved one after the shooter allegedly tried to stand his ground.
RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): When David James, an Iraq war veteran, escaped combat in the Middle East unscathed, his wife, Kanina, breathed a sigh of relief.
KANINA JAMES, WIDOW: I would worry about him, but I thought he would be safe here.
KAYE: She was wrong and now wants to know why Trevor Dooley, a 71-year-old retired bus driver, shot her husband in broad daylight, right in front of their 8-year-old daughter. Dooley says it was self- defense. Kanina James calls it murder.
K. JAMES: What person brings a gun to a park when there's children? I mean, he killed my husband. He could have just talked to him.
KAYE: Whether or not Trevor Dooley fired in self-defense is at the heart of this case. Also central to the this story is Dooley's defense, Florida's stand your ground rule, which allows a person to stand their ground and use deadly force if they fear someone could seriously harm them.
(on camera): Here's what witnesses say happened on that September Sunday in 2010 -- 41-year-old David James was playing basketball with his daughter here, when witnesses say Dooley who lived right across the street started yelling at a teenager who was skateboarding to get off the court.
That's when witnesses say James intervened.
(voice-over): James yelled back to Dooley, asking him to show where any signs said no skateboarding. Dooley then crossed the street to the park to confront James.
A tennis player at the park, Michael Whitt, testified things turned ugly when Dooley reached for his waistband. Whitt says James then lunged at Dooley. The two men struggled on the ground before James was shot, once through the heart. On the 911 call, Whitt is heard trying to help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you hear me? Sir, can you hear me? Sir, can you hear me? He's shot in the chest, ma'am.
911 OPERATOR: And he's not breathing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he's not breathing.
QUESTION: Mr. Dooley, what do you want to say about what happened?
TREVOR DOOLEY: no comment.
KAYE: Dooley tells a different story that contradicts the witnesses. He says when he took the gun out of his right front pocket, James saw it and knocked him to the ground. At a hearing to get the charges dismissed, Dooley testified -- quote -- "He was choking me to death."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You agree you do not want to go to prison for killing David James, correct?
DOOLEY: I don't think I should.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes or no.
KAYE (on camera): Dooley's lawyer told us his client turned to walk away towards home and that James was the aggressor. He said Dooley did pull a gun, but didn't use it until he felt his life was threatened. He says the charges against his client should be dropped, given the stand your ground law.
(voice-over): Kanina James says her husband of 13 years had never been aggressive, that he was a gentle family man. She believes he was trying to protect himself and their daughter Danielle after he saw Dooley pull the gun.
K. JAMES: He loved Danielle so much. And that breaks my heart that Trevor Dooley took my daughter's best friend away from her. She will never have her daddy.
KAYE: Danielle's testimony about how and why the situation turned violent is key in a case that hinges on self-defense. Danielle, now 10, recalled how her father asked Dooley where the signs that said no skateboarding on the court.
DANIELLE JAMES, DAUGHTER: My dad got on top of him, so he could keep him down so he could get the answer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where were your dad's hands?
D. JAMES: On his arms.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the man's arms? D. JAMES: Yes.
KAYE: The little girl then recalled her father's last moments.
D. JAMES: I think the guy pulled out the gun then.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you hear anything?
D. JAMES: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you hear?
D. JAMES: Like when it shot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You heard a gunshot?
D. JAMES: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did your dad say anything then?
D. JAMES: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did he say?
D. JAMES: Call the ambulance. I have been shot.
KAYE: When Kanina James got there, her husband was already dead and her daughter was crying, asking, why isn't anyone helping my daddy?
Randi Kaye, CNN, Valrico, Florida.
BALDWIN: Just an example of stand your ground in Florida.
Again, we pulled up this live picture thanks to our affiliate KMG. We're awaiting, should happen in about 20 minutes if they're running on time this news conference out of Sanford, Florida. We're expecting to hear from the city manager to discuss the case. What specifically will he be saying, we don't know yet. That's why we will dip into it live. Stay with us for that.
Also, experts say terror agents are now inside the U.S. They're backed by Iran. Find out who is keeping an eye on them. That's next.
Plus, big news involving mortgage rates in America. They have been so low for so long, but that is suddenly changing. We have got the details. Stay right with me.
BALDWIN: A couple stories here.
First, the president fast-tracking part of the Keystone XL pipeline today. Also, a report surfacing that Iran has terror agents working in the U.S. right now and more people working, but mortgage rates are starting to spike.
Time to play "Reporter Roulette."
Dan Lothian, let's begin with you on the news today with this Keystone pipeline. Why just this one part of it? Why fast-track the southern part of the pipeline and that's it?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: As the president himself pointed out, there is a bottleneck of oil in Cushing, Oklahoma, some of that oil coming from places like North Dakota that needs to get down to the Gulf where it will be refined and it is not getting there quickly enough, so the president saying this pipeline will help make that happen.
I should point out that the president has no real say over pipelines that are constructed inside the United States like this one, the southern part of that pipeline. Where he can, though, have great influence is over the northern part of the pipeline, which of course runs from Canada or would run from Canada into the United States.
This administration has blocked that part of the pipeline because of environmental concerns, Brooke.
BALDWIN: We know he is calling to drop the red tape. What specifically is he referring to and will that help speed anything up?
LOTHIAN: That's a very good question because Jay Carney was asked that very question on the gaggle aboard Air Force One and he said in fact this will be effective and it will help to get rid of some of the red tape that will make this move along much more quickly, much more efficiently.
But I can tell you publicly the company has said, the company that will build this pipeline has said they were planning for a launch date of around June and that they don't believe any of these actions will change that timeline.
BALDWIN: Dan Lothian for us at the White House, Dan, appreciate it.
Next here, the FBI is watching suspected Hezbollah agents with ties to Iran right here in the United States.
Next on "Reporter Roulette" senior national security producer Suzanne Kelly.
And, Suzanne, we heard a lot about this during a House committee hearing. Tell me about it.
SUZANNE KELLY, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL PRODUCER: We did, actually, yes. That's the buzz this week, these Hezbollah agents that are here and present in America.
We heard House Homeland Security Committee yesterday, Chairman Peter King said there are hundreds of these agents throughout U.S. cities. There are a panel of experts who testified to that fact and they talked about how they have been here for 10 years or more basically raising money to support what they're trying to do back home.
However, they haven't made a switch yet to becoming operative groups. CNN did a little further digging and talked to some federal law enforcement officials here who -- because it is a very sensitive issue and there are ongoing investigations, they're not going to comment on the record but they did say that the cases that the U.S. brought involving Hezbollah to this point has only been about fund- raising and that they haven't actually involved serious plots or terror attacks.
Now, because of fears of Israeli attacks though against Iranian nuclear facilities, that has sort of gotten the buzz whipped up and people are very worried that Iran might use its ties to Hezbollah if anything happened as a retaliatory effort, so there are all eyes on this group this week in Washington, Brooke.
BALDWIN: I know you are quick to qualify they're fund-raising so far as you point out in a dozen or so U.S. cities. What can the U.S. do about these people, though, if anything so far?
KELLY: Well, actually, law enforcement feels like they have a pretty good handle on these groups because they have very good intel on them. They feel like they know what they're doing. It is better for them to watch them and continue to gather intelligence and know where they are and what they're up to than say for al Qaeda, which is a much more difficult operation to sort of follow and get intel on.
They're watching very closely what they're doing.
BLITZER: OK. Suzanne Kelly in Washington, Suzanne, thank you.
(STOCK MARKET UPDATE)
BALDWIN: And that's your "Reporter Roulette" here on this Thursday.
And as I am looking at the clock, we are just about 12 minutes away. You see the camera guys getting set up for that news conference that's supposed to be happening there. This is Sanford, Florida. These are live pictures. We're expecting to hear from Norton Bonaparte. He's the city manager in Sanford. He will step in front of the microphones and talk a little bit more about the Trayvon Martin case and he might make news. We just don't know yet. So of course stay tuned. We will bring that to you live.
Also, as you know, there are calls to fire the police chief over that whole investigation. More on that.
Plus, she is the youngest woman on death row and one very dangerous character. Well, investigators say a friend and a prison guard plotted her escape. We're "On the Case" next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: The only woman sitting on Tennessee's death row is busted again, this time for an escape plot. And the two men now are charged with trying to help her out.
Want to bring back in CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin.
Tell me -- her name is Christa Gail Pike. She is one dangerous character, I hear. Tell me why she is on death row first.
HOSTIN: She really is. And she was sentenced to death in 1996 for the 1995 -- she was only 20 years old, Brooke -- for the 1995 murder of Colleen Slemmer, who she met at the Job Corps center which is now defunct but that was in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Apparently she felt that Colleen was trying to take her boyfriend away and get this, Brooke. She beat her and she slashed her and she carved a pentagram in her chest and then crushed her skull with a piece of asphalt and then kept a piece of her skull in her pocket, and so a very gruesome, gruesome murder.
It was alleged that there was sort of a satanic cult that was also involved and a satanic bible was found in her possession, so a very gruesome and vicious, vicious killer and she was put on death row for that killing.
BALDWIN: Given all of those horrible details, who are these two guys who tried to help her bust out?
HOSTIN: It is remarkable.
She has a boyfriend. Her boyfriend was helping her trying to get out of prison, along with a corrections officer, someone that worked there at the prison, a prison guard. He was, of course, fired and then arrested and he faces several charges for conspiring to help her break out of prison.
BALDWIN: Do we know any more about the plans of breaking out? Did she actually get close to escaping?
HOSTIN: Well, of course authorities aren't giving us much information about the plot. I suppose they don't want anyone else to get any grand ideas.
But prison officials have indicated, Brooke, that she wasn't -- that this was not going to be a plot that would work. Apparently, she wasn't very close to the escape plot. It was about a month in the making, but they got a tip that the prison guard was involved in it and they got some investigators to start looking into this alleged plot and they found some corroborating evidence in her cell, some contraband in her cell, and so this plot was foiled in its infancy.
BALDWIN: Well, good thing. I guess maybe that guy won't be writing any love letters to her any time soon, Sunny Hostin.
HOSTIN: I don't think so.
BALDWIN: Sunny, thank you, thank you.
And for 32 hours here, a guy who called himself al Qaeda barricaded himself inside this apartment, toyed with police. We are now hearing what investigators found inside this home, including the chilling videos he apparently recorded.
We are also standing by for this live news conference, should be happening in just about five minutes from now, Sanford, Florida. We're going to be hearing from the city manager holding this news conference related of course to the death just about a month ago of Trayvon Martin, that 17-year-old.
We will bring that live. We will be right back.
BALDWIN: Disturbing new details coming in now about the French serial killer who murdered seven people, including schoolchildren and soldiers.
So the French TV station France 2 has now identified the man you are seeing here. This is 23-year-old Mohamed Merah. He is now dead, killed in a hail of bullets, ending a 32-hour standoff with French police.
Want you to just listen here. This is a scene outside Merah's apartment this morning moments before he was killed. Inside his apartment, officials say they found videos of all of his shootings and the first video showing the shooting of a French soldier in Toulouse back on March 11.
Merah told the soldier: "You kill my brothers, I kill you."
In another video showing how Merah gunned down two French soldiers last week, he is heard saying Allahu akbar, which means God is great.
And I want to bring in CNN correspondent Diana Magnay. She has been covering this whole thing really off and on for the last 32 hours for us in Toulouse. She's live with us.
Outstanding stuff, Diana.
Let me just -- let me talk to you about the standoff with police that again lasted 32 hours. What happened during that time and how ultimately did it end?
DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it ended in a firefight and it began in a firefight.
The police raided the apartment, and Mohamed Merah put up an enormous fight, which is why they basically backed off and you had that siege situation, which went on for a very, very long time. He was in negotiations and discussions with that elite unit for a good sort of 12 hours and in that time he revealed an awful lot about why he had done what he had done, about his supposed al Qaeda affiliations and about how in the end he decided he wanted to die as a mujahideen with his weapons in his hands.
After he said that, they didn't hear from him for again about ten hours, and they were using all sorts of means to try to flush him out and basically stun grenades thrown into the apartment to blow out the windows and stun him and intimidate him into surrendering himself. None of it worked.
Early this morning they decided to move in and when they did, they looked through all of the rooms for him and couldn't find him and didn't know whether he was alive or dead because they heard gunfire in the night. Then he suddenly burst out of the bathroom shooting, the way the chief leader of that elite unit said, in a way that he had never seen such a violent reaction, shooting, and then jumping out of the window and finally being shot by one of that team with a bullet to the head, the end to a long siege and also to the torment of the people of Toulouse who were worried he might strike again which he said was something he planned to do.
BALDWIN: To imagine him jumping and shooting and being shot, we are learning more about him. I know CNN in the last hour or so, we're hearing from the U.S. intelligence officials saying that he had in fact trained at an al Qaeda camp in Pakistan. He was on the no-fly list in the U.S. We know French police have been watching him closely. What more do you know about him?
MAGNAY: Well, exactly. French police have been watching him. They were already aware he had gone to Pakistan and Afghanistan to train with al Qaeda there, and he wasn't on their radar enough. They hadn't managed to sort of piece the puzzle together.
He was really known in Toulouse for various sort of criminal offenses, violent offenses, and it was sort of the day after that shooting in the Jewish school that they looked through a lot of CCTV footage and matched it with his violent profile and began to put him under suspicion. Then apparently it was a question of finding out where he was geographically, but it was Tuesday night already that they decided to make the raid that they did, that then lasted 32 hours as you say, Brooke.
BALDWIN: I am sure the people in Toulouse have been absolutely terrified during this time and Diana Magnay, forgive me, thank you so much. We appreciate your reporting there.
Again, just a reminder, this live picture, here we go. Any minute we will be hearing from the city manager in Sanford, Florida. He is expected to discuss the Trayvon Martin case. As you know, there are calls to fire the police chief over the investigation. We heard and saw the vote last night from the city council 3-2, this no confidence vote over the police chief who's just been on the job ten months. Will this man who ultimately holds the fate of this police chief in his own hands, will he do so in the course of the next couple minutes? we're waiting, watching, we'll let you know. Plus this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA ANDERSON YOUNG, MURDER VICTIM'S SISTER: We the family are praying for racial conciliation.
BALDWIN (voice-over): A white teenager admits he targeted a black man and ran him over with his pickup truck. The whole disturbing scene was caught on video. Even though a judge just sentenced him, the story is far from over. Drew Griffin all over this new twist in the case. He's next.
BALDWIN: I know a lot of you are sticking with me as we're all awaiting the city manager at Sanford, Florida, to step in front of that podium and to speak. He is so far running seven minutes late. As soon as he speaks, we will bring that to you live. We don't know specifically what he is talking about, if he might make news but we have our eyes glued to that.
In the meantime, I do want to move along and talk about while the nation has been outraged, accusing a neighborhood watch volunteer of killing a teenager because of the color of his skin, in Mississippi a man has just been sentenced it two concurrent life terms for doing precisely that. The murder of James Craig Anderson is a landmark case, major developments are happening right now. We're going to get into the details here.
First, to this murderer's apology, Deryl Dedmon ran over and killed Anderson because the 49-year-old man was black. Yesterday Dedmon apologized and the Anderson family accepted it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DERYL DEDMON, CONVICTED MURDERER: I live with this every day. I hope God will soften your hearts to forgive me. I ask God for forgiveness for my sins daily and I will do no more evil. I did a very malicious thing that night for no reason. I wish I could take it all back and restore what your family has lost. I ask and beg for your forgiveness.
ANDERSON YOUNG: We the innocent family, I pray for racial conciliation, not only in Mississippi but all over this land and country. We are praying for the defendant Dedmon and his family, that they find peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Forgive us. We will go back to that in just a moment. I have Drew Griffin standing by with the update. I want to take you live to Sanford, Florida here and take a listen. This is Norton Bonaparte, the city manager.
(BEGIN LIVE FEED)
NORTON BONAPARTE, CITY MANAGER, SANFORD, FLORIDA: -- to assist us in your role and assist us in getting information out we would like to establish regular press conferences. You will be getting more information about that. This is the initial one. This also, however, is a special one in that we do have an announcement to make which at this point I would like to call upon police chief Bill Lee.
CHIEF BILL LEE, SANFORD, FLORIDA POLICE: Thank you, Mr. Bonaparte. As a former homicide investigator, a career law enforcement officer, and a father, I am keenly aware of the emotions associated with this tragic death of a child. I am also aware that my role as a leader of this agency has become a distraction from the investigation. While 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. Therefore, I have come to the decision that I must temporarily remove myself from the position as police chief for the city of Sanford. I do this with the hope of restoring some semblance of calm to the city, which has been in turmoil for several weeks. As the chief of police of the city of Sanford, I have made sure the facts of this case have been presented to the office of the state attorney. It is my hope that the investigation process will move forward swiftly and appropriately through the justice system and that a final determination in this case is reached. Thank you.
BONAPARTE: In the interim, police captain Scott O'Connor will assume the co-duties of running the Sanford police department while we look for an interim police chief. This is a very difficult time for this community. It is a very difficult time for our nation. This incident has gathered international attention. I ask that the citizens both of Sanford and of the country understand that the judicial process is put in place and what the city of Sanford wants more than anything else for the Trayvon Martin family is justice. It has been turned over to the state attorney's office, the governor has asked the Florida department of law enforcement to assist, Mayor Triplett and Congresswoman Brown having joined in gotten the United States Department of Justice part of this process, so we are looking for a complete, thorough review and that justice will prevail. At this point I would like to thank you. We'll be getting a schedule of regular press conference. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What do you mean temporarily remove himself?
(END VIDEO FEED)
BALDWIN: Reporters are shouting and trying to get a little bit more clarity. They're not answering. Certainly news was just made. You heard initially from the city manager who held the fate of that police chief in his hands and you saw the police chief, Chief Lee, come forward and say he is temporarily removing himself from duty so a current police captain will be taking over, essentially saying he is aware of the emotions associated now with the case and certainly struck a chord in Sanford, nationally, and globally over the death of a 17-year-old a month ago, Trayvon Martin.
But he still absolutely stands by the investigation that's been conducted by the Sanford police department which is now turned over to the state's attorney. We know a grand jury will be convening April 10 and perhaps then there will be an indictment. I want to bring in Sunny Hostin, who's been following this case closely. Your reaction, temporarily removing himself. Good enough? SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am not -- it is not good enough. I am not surprised that he won't be holding that position at the moment because of the no confidence vote that we heard about, and because we knew that the city manager was going to take that into consideration. But I don't understand the language temporarily remove himself. It sounds to me as if there is some tension there at the top because we also now hear that the city manager is going to look for an interim police chief while still appointing Scott O'Connor to do it. I think we got mixed messages there, but certainly I believe that the pressure of the outrage that has come about because of Trayvon Martin's death certainly moved, I think, this forward.
BALDWIN: It sounds like and let me know in my ear if we have the sound from the county NAACP leader I soak with earlier, Turner Clayton, and he has been part of the community for decades, worked with the sheriff's department for about 20 years and he talked about how the problem seems to be endemic within the community as it relates to the Sanford police department and how there have been issues that have been his word was a pattern, that it's been repeated, and this is just the most recent. I want to play that if we have it and we'll talk on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: The NAACP held this gathering at a church and town last night talking about the shooting of Trayvon Martin and also about the experiences that individuals have had with police in town. Can you just give me an idea of what you heard last night?
TURNER CLAYTON, PRESIDENT, SEMINOLE COUNTY NAACP: Yes. We had various citizens come in to voice their complaints they have with the police department. Some stated that their loved ones have been killed and in some cases no report was actually taken or there was no complete investigation as to why they were killed and anyone brought to justice in those particular cases. We had several complainants who voiced the same concern in regards to that.
BALDWIN: We brought some of those concerns, one of our producers on the ground, you know, brought the concerns to the Sanford police department. Their response to us was no comment.
As I mentioned, you worked with the Sanford sheriff's department for more than two decades. When you hear these complaints voiced multiple times last night, does it sound like the Sanford that you know and lived in for years?
TURNER CLAYTON, SEMINOLE COUNTY PRESIDENT, NAACP: Well, yes. Just listening to what they had to say, yes, I can verify a lot of those complaints because it is not the first time I have heard those complaints. Of course in some of those cases even though we did not investigate complaints within the city limits concerning murders and other killings, we did have knowledge of those taking place. So a lot of times justice did not prevail in those cases.
BALDWIN: If you had the knowledge and didn't investigate as a citizen leader, why not? Why not sound the alarm earlier? CLAYTON: Well, as a citizen, as a leader of the NAACP, once we actually found out about what has happened, then we launch our independent investigation and of course we also ask the state attorney to come in and prosecute those cases and we also have referred cases to FDLE to come in and investigate. And some of those cases they have taken and investigated and turned those reports over to the state attorney's office. And most likely the state attorney and a lot of those cases did not prosecute.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: And you know he mentioned, Sunny, Turner Clayton told me that he met with the police manager 30 minutes prior to our conversation and hoping this announcement that we just heard happen that chief Bill Lee would go away. And now we know it is temporary, but it sounds to me like the city of Sanford -- they have a lot on their hands.
HOSTIN: They really do. I have also been speaking to a lot of people in Florida, a lot of attorneys, spoken to Ben Crump, who isthe family attorney for the Martins, and I keep on hearing the same thing, Brooke. That this is sort of systemic, in terms of what's going on in this police department, at least that's sort of what people are saying and talking about.
And I think what's important to note is that the police here indicated that they couldn't arrest George Zimmerman, that they were prohibited under the law from arresting him. And many people now are, of course, questioning that decision, questioning why there was no arrest and questioning the investigation that the decision was based upon.
Because we have learned so many things since the Martin family has sort of become their own investigative team, right. We have learned that perhaps George Zimmerman wasn't tested for blood or alcohol, rather drugs or alcohol that night, that he was allowed to leave the police station with the very clothes that he had on during the shooting. So there is no forensic evidence that can be gathered from his clothing.
We have learned that they may not have yet spoken to the girl that was on the phone with Trayvon Martin when he was shot by George Zimmerman. So there are a lot of questions about how the police have handled this ongoing investigation, and I believe that is why the Sanford police chief had to step aside.
BALDWIN: Temporarily, Sunny Hostin. Excellent point. Thank you.
I do just want to point out CNN tried reaching the Sanford police department just to get their response to these allegations that there have been issues that have been endemic to the force and involving community members and their answer has been no comment.
We're going to take you live to the ground to Sanford, Florida, in a moment and in case you missed it, big news in Sanford. Want to play this again, this is chief Bill Lee. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL LEE, SANFORD CHIEF OF POLICE: As a former homicide investigator, a career law enforcement officer, and a father, I am keenly aware of the emotions associated with this tragic death of a child. I am also aware that my role as a leader of this agency has become a distraction from the investigation.
While 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. Therefore, I have come to the decision that I must temporarily remove myself from the position as police chief for the city of Sanford.
I do this in the hopes of restoring some semblance of calm to the city, which has been in turmoil for several weeks. As a chief of police of the city of Sanford, I made sure the facts of this case have been presented to the office of the state attorney. It is my hope the investigation process will move forward swiftly and appropriately through the justice system and that a final determination in this case is reached.
All right. You just heard the breaking news moments ago that the Sanford police chief, Bill Lee, will be stepping down from his post temporarily while they continue this investigation into the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
That shooting happened in a gated community just about one month ago. Let me glance down at my notes. He is aware of emotions associated with a child's death, the child being Trayvon, he realizes it has been a distraction from the investigation. But he does stand by the investigation that his own police officers have been conducting.
I want to go to Vivian Kuo who is also covering another part of the story. Vivian is one of our CNN producers. Vivian, we are also awaiting a news conference given in the spot that you're standing by the patients of Trayvon Martin. Tell me what they've been up to today.
VIVIAN KUO, CNN PRODUCER: Today, Brooke, we just learned about an hour ago they met with the department of justice and civil rights leaders to talk about what they've -- what the case has been doing.
They met with Eric Holder and the attorney general's office yesterday, earlier this week, and they are talking to them about what they're going to do in this case.
Reverend Al Sharpton meeting with them right now and they're going to talk about where they're going to go next. Now today we're hearing that there is a press conference at 4:30 p.m. They're going to say what they expect to happen next. What they want to happen next and where they expect it to go from there. BALDWIN: Okay, Vivian. I see you pulling on your earpiece. Can you hear me now? Give me a thumb's up if you can hear me.
KUO: I can. I can.
BALDWIN: OK. We're awaiting this news conference with the parents in half an hour. Can you tell me where you are and, we just heard the news from this police chief that he's stepping down temporarily. I'm curious if there's been any reaction.
KUO: Brooke, I counted more than 150 people here already. We are more than three hours away from the rally and this is just an indication of how electric this atmosphere is here.
I've heard small chants of I am Trayvon Martin. I am Trayvon Martin. You can see the emblem on several of the T-shirts here. I've seen people carrying hoodies here. People here are energized, they're powered up and ready to go. What they say is they want justice for Trayvon Martin.
BALDWIN: They want justice for Trayvon. Do you know if there's been reaction from the folks you se around you -- from the folks you see around you with this temporary removal of -- okay. You can't hear me.
Vivian Kuo, thank you so much. We're going get a quick break in and we'll get back with Drew Griffin in this stunning case in Mississippi. We'll be right back.
BALDWIN: OK. So, last summer, CNN's Drew Griffin went to Mississippi to investigate and uncovered surveillance video of this hate crime, and I want to bring Drew in. But first, before we get to the news of the day, remind us, I mean -- I forever have that seared in my head, that video.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There was a group of teenagers who specifically left a party hunting for a black man to beat up. It was that quick, that easy an explanation and it was their own explanation.
And Deryl Dedmon, the person who pleaded guilty yesterday and was sentenced to two life terms, is the person who actually killed James Craig Anderson. And we do have the surveillance video that was caught at a hotel of this large pickup truck, an F-250 pickup truck driving over a man who was walking down the street.
That was the act of murder. Today what's happening is, for the first time in the case involving death --
BALDWIN: There it is.
GRIFFIN: There's the surveillance tape. Today the department of justice has filed hate crime charges using the Matthew Shepard law for the first time in a case involving a death, not just against Deryl Dedmon, but two of the other people who were there, John Rice and another fellow named Dylan Butler.
BALDWIN: So it was these three guys in total. These three white guys.
GRIFFIN: It gets a little more complicated than that. It was a group of seven white teenagers from Rankin county, Mississippi, who on a Saturday night, drunk, decided to drive 19 miles into Jackson, Mississippi, decided to find a black person to beat up.
They found the first black person and they killed him. And four of those people remain uncharged. We expect possibly more charges to come later this afternoon in Jackson federal court.
But I think what is interesting is we may see the same thing happen down in Florida where the department of justice comes in, applies the Matthew Shepard hate crime law and perhaps seeks prosecution against George Zimmerman under the hate crime legislation.
BALDWIN: Again, just want to warn our viewers because we hadn't wanted to play it in full, the surveillance video, right, if I remember correctly, is from a nearby motel. It's tough to watch. Just a fair warning for those of you as we play out the surveillance video, and you're potentially connecting the dots to what we may see in Florida. You mentioned this 19-year-old Deryl Dedmon who is the one who will now be serving two concurrent life sentences. What are we looking at?
GRIFFIN: You can see the kids going back and forth. They're actually going and beating up the victim, punching him and yelling racial slurs. One of them even yelled white power as they were leaving. And then you see the pickup truck, and look for that man coming out of the corner there. That's the man stumbling. That's the victim, James Craig Anderson. Just up from being beat up, he's stumbling --
BALDWIN: Inside the circle.
GRIFFIN: Inside the circle. Deryl Dedmon backs up and gets a good aim and then just plows him over on the way out and to be absolutely factual at the end of this, Deryl Dedmon is laughing with his friends and actually called on a cell phone. And pardon my language, there was no other way to say this, says I just ran over that f-ing nigger, that's what he said.
And it was a clear-cut case of pure racial intent murder that took place there, which is why, quite frankly, it was so easy to apply the hate crime legislation in this case. There was no question about it, unlike the circumstances involving the case in Florida.
BALDWIN: The 19-year-old, two concurrent life sentences. We will wait and see if those other four are charged, and it's interesting, if we will see something like that with DOJ now involved in Florida, if the Matthew Shepard law is applied.
Drew Griffin, thank you very much. And thank you so much for watching, here. I'm Brooke Baldwin at CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
And now to Washington, to Wolf Blitzer. "THE SITUATION ROOM" starts right now.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S THE SITUATION ROOM: Brooke, thanks very much.