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Health Care Fate; Alleged Afghan Shooter's Defense; JetBlue Pilot Charged

Aired March 28, 2012 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, HOST: Breaking news. A man defending Sergeant Robert Bales on 17 counts of murder says his client definitely had PTSD. He joins us tonight.

And charges just filed against the JetBlue pilot who ranted about Israel, Iraq and had to be tackled by passengers. What happened?

And the latest developments in the Trayvon Martin case, could a similar thing happen somewhere else? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, health care on trial. It was the final day of dramatic Supreme Court hearings on the president's controversial health care law. Now, justices again signaling a huge divide, a chasm that could doom Obama's signature domestic achievement. Now with all uncertainty surrounding the law's fate, business owners around the country are looking at how their costs will be affected and that means yours, if you're an employee.

So for some clarity, we turn to our "Strike Team" made up of entrepreneurs, innovators, CEOs, companies of all different sizes and our team members agreed their costs would go up but the big question was how much. Here are some specifics. David Roberts is the chairman of Carlisle Companies and he said his health care costs under the new law would go up by about 3.5 percent. He would pass all of that on in turn to employees.

Now Stuart Miller, the president and CEO of Lennar, which is a homebuilder, said his health care costs would rise between five to 10 percent by the year 2014 and again that would be passed on to employees and we heard that from all the companies. So they get an increase that goes straight through to your premiums. Now if the individual mandate is struck from the law, costs could increase even more.

That is if other pieces of the law go through, if the individual mandate is struck down. This is a crucial question and it matters to every American. Jeffrey Toobin is here to talk about the last day of hearings at the Supreme Court and the fate of the law. So Jeff, let me just ask a sense from you of this question. If the mandate is struck down, what will be left? Is the entire law thrown out or would things like covering pre-existing conditions theoretically be allowed to remain in? JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Erin, that question which you just asked me is what the justices spent an hour discussing today. And they did not reach a consensus because some justices said look, it is not our job to pick and choose among the remaining provisions if the core of it is unconstitutional. Antonin Scalia said get rid of the whole thing. At times so did Chief Justice Roberts and Anthony Kennedy and Justice Alito although they were less committed on that issue.

The four liberal justices were deeply committed to arguing, look, if part of the law is unconstitutional, that's the only part you get rid of. That question of whether all of it goes or some of it goes, that really was not resolved. I think we know or we have a very good sense that the individual mandate is in deep, deep trouble. But how they will carve the law up, just the mandate, just the related parts, all of it, I really couldn't conclude based on what I heard today.

BURNETT: Which is a terrifying thing just in terms of raw cost because I'm sure as everyone can understand if the mandate is struck down, you don't have all these extra people suddenly insured, but you're keeping a lot of the higher cost elements of the plan like allowing pre-existing conditions. That could mean costs for Americans really go significantly higher, so it's really important --

TOOBIN: But at least three justices raised that very question. Scalia -- not Scalia -- Alito, Roberts and Kennedy all said what are the insurance companies going to do without the mandate?


TOOBIN: Now, I didn't hear anyone say what are the 30 million people who are going to lose insurance coverage going to do? That was a striking difference of priorities that was evident in this oral argument. But certainly that issue of what's going to happen to the poor insurance companies was very much on the mind of some justices.

BURNETT: Yes, right. I mean I guess the point I'm making is people who do have jobs and have insurance could -- you know their premiums could go up significantly.


BURNETT: A lot of those people struggling to make ends meet as well, but let me ask you a quick question here, Jeff, the solicitor general making the case for the White House, General Verrelli. You had called him a train wreck yesterday. White House came out today bells and whistles defending him saying oh come on, he's doing a good job, keen judgment, he did a great job. He's able. How did he do today? Did he make up for yesterday's mistakes?

TOOBIN: He did better today. He only argued the part of the law which was the challenge to the Medicaid expansion. Medicaid is for poor people. This law would expand the state's obligation to pay while giving the states a lot more money to pay for poor people. Verrelli had a much better day today and that part, that last hour of the six hours, I would say was the best part for the Obama administration in terms of getting support from the court, although even that is no sure thing. But certainly Verrelli had a much better day and that part of the law looked somewhat more secure than the rest of it, but again, not a sure thing. There are several justices who really think this law is a bad, bad thing.

BURNETT: All right Jeff Toobin, thank you very much.

Now, the arguments are done. They have a lot of time to ruminate and think and hopefully to read those 170 friend-of-the-court briefs. The ruling then will come in June. And this is crucial because that's the height of the presidential election. So this is where it gets, well just, you know, this is where we can't resist here OUTFRONT. If the law, say gets struck down, what does that do to the president's reelection chances?

Do they surge or plunge? Our new poll shows the president right now has a double-digit lead over both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. The president's approval rating topping 50 percent for the first time since last May, so does the health care law, if it's defeated or not defeated, what does it do to the president? James Carville joins us and John Avlon. And Mr. Carville, I've been seeing you there listening to Jeff Toobin. You had that little devilish smile I love so much on your face. All right, if the law gets struck down, this whole individual mandate thing, you think it would be great?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well first of all, let me -- you've got to give it to Toobs (ph) man. He's worried about 30 million people without insurance and not insurance companies. How quaint. But anyway, look, but I think if they overturn it 5-4, I think it would be the best thing over a period of time that ever happened to the Democratic Party because people will say that the health care costs are going to go up and they're going to say my god we tried, five people overturned an election, overturned this. And the same people (INAUDIBLE) Citizens United, Bush v. Gore bring you this and I think we'll have an issue to go for a long, long time, so I'm fine with it. Overturn the thing 5-4. Let the hacks have their day.

BURNETT: John, you disagree?

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I mean you've got to search pretty hard for a silver lining to come up with a scenario where having the signature legislative accomplishment of this administration struck down becomes a good thing electorally (ph). I agree with James to this extent that in the short run I think it will help turn out the Democratic base and it will make the issue of -- the power of the president to appoint a Supreme Court justice resonate far beyond Roe v. Wade and abortion. I think it will actually mainstream that issue and help get out the base. Whatever side, quote unquote, "loses this" I think we'll see a surge in the base. But given the pain the Democrats went through in 2010, the elimination of the Blue Dogs virtually in part because of the political cost of carrying this piece of legislation across the finish line that would all be for naught and that would be a disaster for the administration.

CARVILLE: Well let me try to explain. What's going to happen is health care no matter what health care costs are going to escalate. Twenty out of 100 people are now 65 or older and 2020 is going to be 26 out of 100 and every time that somebody loses their insurance because of pre-existing condition, every time they go up, every time somebody goes bankrupt my answer is go see Scalia. He'll take care of you. And the Democrats will say we tried. We had this in place. We had addressed this problem at great political cost to ourselves and at great courage and five people on the Supreme Court substituted their judgment.

And everything that happens in health care from the day that they strike this down is all going to be on the Republicans and the Supreme Court's doorstep. That's just a fact. And as the population ages, more and more things are going to happen. So I'm just talking politically. I'm not talking about a citizen. I'm not talking about an individual or anything. As a professional Democrat, this thing would be a good thing for Democrats over a period of time, I absolutely believe that.

BURNETT: I mean John, it's interesting the argument James makes. Certainly that would be the Democratic establishment argument they're going to make and there is a certain power to that. You know getting defeated by a slim margin does sort of give you that -- you know that underdog that moral authority. The Citizens United link that also helps, doesn't it?

AVLON: Look, again, I do think it will help motivate the base in the near term but James just said he is speaking as a political consultant. He's framing the debate. He's saying you know what, people's frustrations and resentments with health care going forward that will be on Republicans and the Supreme Court. That's a great argument to make. That's a great narrative to set up, but I don't think it actually takes away from the fact that this would be a devastating blow by a -- to the signature legislative accomplishment of this president. And there's no way to spin that in the near term to make Democrats feel good about that --

BURNETT: All right. All right, well thanks very much to both of you. I appreciate you taking the time.

And next our exclusive interview with John Henry Browne. He is the man defending Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, the man accused of killing 17 Afghan civilian.

And a JetBlue pilot now faces federal charges after passengers had to subdue him during flight. Are we properly screening our flight crews in this country?

And hundreds, maybe thousands of people are planning to burn iPads in China. We'll tell you why.


BURNETT: Breaking news. PTSD, that is to blame for Staff Sergeant Robert Bales' allege shooting rampage in Afghanistan earlier this month. That's according to his lawyer, John Henry Browne, today. He is also looking into the medication Bales may have been on at the time of the incident, including malaria medicine that some say can cause severe paranoia and hallucinations as well as violence. I sat down with Brown shortly before our show and I started by asking him what Staff Sergeant Bales has told him in the 11 hours of time they have spent together over two days.


JOHN HENRY BROWNE, ATTORNEY FOR STAFF SGT. ROBERT BALES: It's really interesting. He's obsessed with what the allegations might cause problem wise for his brothers, and the younger soldiers that he was mentoring. He's obsessed about that. He's really not thinking about his own future right now, which is quite interesting, since he should be.

BURNETT: Now you had -- you had talked about him as being a deer in the headlights. His wife has said he appeared confused. At this point does he understand what's happening? Does he understand exactly what he is accused of doing?

BROWNE: I don't think so, to be honest with you. I -- we have told him -- he knew what the allegations were before I met with him. He knew in Kuwait. They told him.

BURNETT: So what does he remember? Does he remember shooting --


BURNETT: What does he remember specifically?

BROWNE: He remembers before the alleged incident and he remembers after the alleged incident and he has some little windows kind of into things, remembers hearing things and smelling things and -- which is very common with people with head injuries if they have a memory problem.

BURNETT: Smelling what, like --

BROWNE: Gun powder, blood, things like that. But I'm not -- I'm not saying that's what he told me. I think that's common for people with head injuries.

BURNETT: So he does have some windows --

BROWNE: Yes, yes.

BURNETT: And can you at least give us a little sense of what those might be --

BROWNE: No, I can't.


BROWNE: I can't. I can't. It wouldn't be appropriate right now.

BURNETT: The context here is it's a war that's been going on a long time. It's been a massacre of innocent civilians. No one else has come forward --

BROWNE: The allegation --

BURNETT: An allegation. No one else has come forward. When he came back on the base, whether it was in between or after, he talked about having shot people.


BURNETT: Isn't that difficult to -- from a broader contextual point of view to try to say that he didn't do it?

BROWNE: I don't know that I trust anything about him saying I shot people, because I have not heard that from any source I trust.

BURNETT: That means that you are still trying to prove or force the prosecutors to prove that he actually did this to begin with?

BROWNE: Well, it's a fascinating case from a defense lawyer's perspective. The first thing you do is prove it. And that's -- you know, it's not a traditional crime scene. There is no crime scene. The military has not even been back to the villages where this allegation stems from. They haven't been back there. So there's no crime scene. There's no DNA. There are no fingerprints. There's no confession. It's -- you know, the Afghan people traditionally, I understand, and understandably, bury their dead very quickly.


BROWNE: So it's going to be a tough case for the prosecutors.

BURNETT: So what sort of defenses would you take? Obviously proof being your first step. Are you still considering -- I mean is insanity possible? Is PTSD possible, diminished capacity? Do you have any sense of where you might go?

BROWNE: Well, I think that when the experts are done with this case that they'll definitely be PTSD, I mean just from what I know. I've represented battered women a lot. I'm very proud of those cases more than anything. Many of whom have PTSD. So I know a lot about PTSD and the symptoms and everything and I'm convinced from my conversations that PTSD will be an issue. So whether that -- you know, insanity means under the law is you don't know the difference between right and wrong --


BROWNE: -- basically. That's a pretty high standard, hard to beat. Diminished capacity is different and that is because of something going on -- because of a mental disease or a defect --

BURNETT: So diminished capacity could be because of PTSD.

BROWNE: Or concussive head injury.

BURNETT: So that -- OK -- now -- BROWNE: That's a possibility.

BURNETT: So that seems like that would be more the direction you would be going, PTSD, diminished capacity?

BROWNE: If I am convinced they have a case --


BROWNE: And if I think there are facts to support it. I mean I know there's a concussive head injury and I know that he has memory problems. He couldn't relate to us even what kind of medications he had been prescribed earlier, which to me really proves to me that he has legitimate memory problems. I know there's a lot of discussion about this malaria drug and I don't know yet --

BURNETT: So you don't know --


BURNETT: Lariam (ph), you don't know whether he was taking it yet?

BROWNE: No, we have to get his medical records and I don't know. I wouldn't be surprised, but I don't know that.

BURNETT: And so he didn't remember taking Lariam (ph)? I'm curious obviously --

BROWNE: No, no, he doesn't remember anything he was taking.

BURNETT: Anything.

BROWNE: So what I'm saying is I can't confirm to you --


BROWNE: -- that he was taking it because that would be dishonest of me.

BURNETT: When do you hope to have the results, to have his medical records --

BROWNE: The next two weeks.

BURNETT: They do say all those things. His past also includes though assaulting a girlfriend --

BROWNE: No, no --

BURNETT: 2002 was accused --

BROWNE: Allegedly assaulted a girlfriend.

BURNETT: Accused of assaulting a girlfriend in 2008 --


BURNETT: -- cited for leaving the scene of an accident before he joined the Army, arbitrators ordered him to repay a million dollars --


BURNETT: -- due to trading fraud when he was a financial adviser. He never paid that money back, but there was an arbitrator who had ordered him to do so.

BROWNE: And you really think that --

BURNETT: This guy was not -- I mean --

BROWNE: You really think that people are going to go out and kill women and children because they have financial problems? I don't think so.

BURNETT: No, but to portray someone as an innocent and a saint that no one ever says anything bad about would seem to be also slightly inconsistent with that.

BROWNE: I didn't say a saint.

BURNETT: You said no one said anything bad about him.

BROWNE: No, the people that worked with him since he's been in the Army, nobody has said anything but really good things about him.

BURNETT: All right, well, thank you very much, John Henry, I appreciate it.

BROWNE: You're welcome. It was an honor. Thanks.


BURNETT: What's interesting is his attorney also said that while he expects to see Sergeant Bales as soon as tomorrow, that Sergeant Bales may soon see his family. He will not see his children. He says they are too young to understand what's happening to their father and they believe that he is still working in a faraway place.

We also have some more breaking news tonight and charges filed against the (INAUDIBLE) the JetBlue pilot whose frightening rant about Iraq and Israel forced an emergency landing yesterday in Amarillo, Texas. The federal criminal complaint alleges the 49-year-old captain interfered with the flight crew during a midair meltdown.

It reads "Osbon began talking about religion, but his statements were not coherent. The FO -- that's the First Officer -- became concerned when Osbon said 'things just don't matter'. Osbon yelled over the radio to air traffic control and instructed them to be quiet. The FO became really worried when Osbon said quote 'We need to take a leap of faith'." Passenger Jason Levin talked to OURFRONT just after yesterday's incident.


JASON LEVIN, PASSENGER ON DIVERTED JETBLUE FLIGHT: He decided to then bang on the cockpit door and the bathroom door, demanding it to be opened and (INAUDIBLE) yelling give me the code, give me the code to get in, telling the pilot to put it in idle, put it in idle, and then that's when everyone jumped up, the front six rows of men subdued him and just took him down to the ground. All I could think of was my wife and my twin children and that's the only thing I could think of and that's just it. (INAUDIBLE) we got it, this can't happen.


BURNETT: Lots of questions today about the pilot's mental health. JetBlue responded saying that the company is in full compliance with the FAA's requirement of annual health screenings for pilots under 40 and twice a year for those over 40. Jim Tilmon is a former commercial pilot for American Airlines and he joins us tonight and thank you very much sir for coming OUTFRONT. Can I just ask you are you -- how shocked are you to hear about an incident like this?

JIM TILMON, FORMER COMMERCIAL PILOT: Oh, I don't know if shocked is the right term to use, but I am terribly surprised because I've never seen this kind of thing in my own personal experience after decades of flying for a commercial airline. And I can only find in the history maybe three or four cases similar to this at all in the industry.

BURNETT: Well, I want to ask you about these screenings. I mean can you tell us about what these mental screenings entail? I mean do they give you a medical physical check? Is it just a question and answer session? How does it work?

TILMON: It's all of that and beyond. The flight physicals are very, very thorough and they look at almost everything there is. They delve into your medical history. They want to check everything they can check. The one thing that seems to be at least difficult, if not impossible, is being able to peer into the person's mind, into their psychology and to know something more about what's going on with them emotionally. That's not generally part of the examination; at least it wasn't in any of the exams that I had. But it's as thorough as they can get superficially.

BURNETT: So is it possible that they could ask you questions about what medications you are on or what your mental health state was and you could, you know, feel that you would be stigmatized or something if you were honest and therefore you think you know it's not a big problem whatever I have and so you lie?

TILMON: Yes, indeed. And I know that sounds like an indictment on the integrity and honesty of some of the airline pilots, but I know a number of pilots who just don't take certain kinds of ailments and problems to the FAA-approved flight surgeons because it's like a ticket to leave your career. But you could go to your private doctor and you might be able to get the kind of treatment you need and nobody ever knows the difference. And generally that's what happens. Now, you do have to you know to certify that you have not been to another medical doctor when you go in for these flight physicals, so yes indeed, you may very well not tell the full truth.

BURNETT: And you know we reached out to the Airline Pilots Association. They said airline pilots are professional in every aspect of their duties and you know when they heard that you might be very skeptical about their screening they said the statement of a former pilot should not affect the reputations of thousands of respectable pilots who fly in this country. What do you say to their response? Are they -- is -- how common is what you're saying, people being dishonest on these results in your view?

TILMON: Let's get one thing straight. I'm not going against the integrity of the professional pilot group. I have spent many, many times on air defending the professional attitudes that I feel about the pilot group.


TILMON: I am simply saying to you that there is a bit of skepticism about whether or not you should acknowledge that you have certain types of problems because the airline management people are not the type of people that generally will understand that. Let me give you this little bit of history. Back in the day, the chief pilot was a person that you could depend on. You could go in, he was like an uncle, a father, whatever else and you could tell him your troubles. They would be able to listen to that and be compassionate and work out some kind of a program for you. I don't know that that's the situation now with the professional group out there.

They very often find that the chief pilot is just a messenger for other management, and that can get you into all kinds of hot water. I -- you know, I'm not -- I'm not promoting or not promoting the union or the pilot group or anything else. I'm simply being honest about the fact that with the skepticism that's out there and the stigma that's out there particularly for mental things, depression or whatever else, it would be very risky for a pilot to just raise his hand and say, yes, sir, I am depressed and I'm having to take these medications and whatever else.

BURNETT: All right, well thank you very much, sir. I appreciate it. I appreciate you coming out making a -- calling light to some of those issues.

Well, the latest developments in the Trayvon Martin case and another controversial shooting, this time in Chicago. Was it self defense or was there more to this one?


BURNETT: We start the second half of our show with stories we care about, where we focus on our own reporting, do the work and find the "OutFront 5".

First, breaking news, the lawyer for Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, accused of shooting 17 Afghan civilians earlier this month, says when the facts of the case come out, it will be clear his client had PTSD. Attorney John Henry Browne is also looking into the medications Bales may have been on at the time of the incident, none of which he says his client recalls. He's looking into a particular malaria medicine that can cause severe paranoia and hallucinations. Browne also believes though that the case against his client when it comes to technically what was visible in that village is thin.


BROWNE: It's not a traditional crime scene. There is no crime scene. The military has not even been back to the villages where this allegation stems from. They haven't been back there, so there's no crime scene. There's no DNA. There are no fingerprints. There's no confession.


BURNETT: Number two, Iran announced today it will hold long- awaited talks on its nuclear program. They are set to commence on April 13th.

The main topic will be uranium enrichment. Iran says its enrichment is for fuel rods for nuclear power. But an IAEA report has serious concerns about military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program.

Our Fran Townsend, a former homeland security adviser, tells OUTFRONT that given Iran's history with negotiations, the United States must move forward with tremendous caution and skepticism.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned another six Iranian companies in an ongoing attempt to hurt the country's economy.

Number three, the ousted president of Mali, Amadou Toumani Toure, is free and unharmed. That's what the former leader said today in an interview with a French radio station. It's actually the first time we have heard from Toure since a coup forced him from power last week. Toure told the radio station he's still in Mali and added, "I think the most important thing today is to find the way out of the crisis."

Note that America has suspended millions of dollars of aid until the elected government returns to power. America remains concerned about Muslim extremists in the north of the country.

Number four: a hearing today on Capitol Hill regarding the collapse of MF Global. The hearing focused on an instance of transferring funds and who knew the details of the transfer. One person believed to know all the details is Edith O'Brien. She was that assistant treasurer at MF Global, which, of course, was run by Jon Corzine.

We watched the hearing and here's what she said when asked about the money.


EDITH O'BRIEN, ASSISTANT TREASURER AT MF GLOBAL: On the advice of counsel, I respectfully decline to answer based on my constitutional right. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: O'Brien repeated that phrase each time she was asked a question. "The Wall Street Journal" has reported she's in talks with the Department of Justice about possible immunity in exchange for her cooperation.

Well, it's been 237 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Well, the outrage over the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was front and certain today on the floor of the U.S. House. Congressman Bobby Rush, Democrat from Illinois, was removed from the floor after he addressed the chamber wearing a hoodie sweatshirt like the one Martin was wearing the night he was shot.

We're also learning that George Zimmerman, who shot Martin last month, was almost arrested immediately after the shooting, but so far he has not been charged.

George Howell is in Miami for us tonight.

And, George, what's the reaction to that news, that there were some in the police department that did say that Zimmerman should be arrested immediately?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, there's a lot of talk today about these published reports that the Sanford Police Department, specifically the lead investigator in this case, that he wanted to arrest George Zimmerman on negligent homicide and manslaughter charges.

Now, you'll remember the police chief, who has temporarily stepped aside, that in his first press conference he said that his officers were prohibited from making an arrest that night. Also in that initial police report, you see these charges listed on the document. All of this was sent over to the state prosecutor -- or rather the special prosecutor and the prosecutor in this case decided not to file charges.

BURNETT: So, you have been speaking with some people I know that are very close to Trayvon today. What -- what have you learned?

HOWELL: It's interesting. You know, we're trying to get a better picture of who was Trayvon Martin. We spoke to a good friend of the family and his long-time coach, Jerome Horton. And he explained to us what Trayvon was like outside of school, that he wanted to become a pilot.

But also he talked about Trayvon getting into trouble in school from time to time, according to some published reports. He also talked about why Trayvon was in Sanford with this suspension, the most recent suspension.

Here's what he had to say.


JEROME HORTON, MARTIN FAMILY FRIEND: I know how much his dad and his mom stayed on top of him, teaching him. Like they can say, oh, he was suspended for ten days for whatever reason, but what's not coming out is that he was also under punishment for 10 days that he was suspended. No one is bringing that up.

He wasn't just up at Sanford, suspended from school and up in Sanford kicking it and having a good time. He was up at Sanford because his dad knew I'm not going to let you stay home, you're suspended from school and have a good time. No, you're going to stay with me.


HOWELL: It's interesting. It was a very interesting interview. Horton described Martin as an average student, a good kid. His mother also said he was an average student at school -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. We appreciate it.

And, literally, as George was finishing speaking, we have some breaking news. We've got video just in.

This is from It's police surveillance tape of George Zimmerman reportedly arriving at the police department in handcuffs the night of the shooting. Just keep watching this, play this out.

I'm here with Paul Callan. Just trying -- we'll see exactly what we have. You can see him at the very bottom of the screen. It looks like that's George Zimmerman there with the orange, that's what it appears to be.

Just looking at this with you, Paul.


BURNETT: Paul, can you see anything in this? I mean, this just looks like they're pulling up to the police station.

CALLAN: Yes, nothing yet. We're not getting a clear view of whether he's handcuffed or --

BURNETT: Trying to se if the shot moves so we can see the bottom of it. We are told he is handcuffed, although -- there we go. And now it looks like -- does that just loop back, Andrew?

All right. So that looks like it looped back. I cannot see myself whether he was handcuffed.

CALLAN: It looks like he is.

BURNETT: But it looks like -- we are told that he is handcuffed.

CALLAN: He's got his hands behind his back. He probably is handcuffed.

BURNETT: OK. So because that's what we're told, although I can't see it myself, let's assume that's the case. That's what we're seeing. He was handcuffed.

What does that tell you about how this situation was going that night?

CALLAN: You know, as a former prosecutor, this does not surprise me at all, because when there's a killing and one guy has got a gun and the other person is unarmed and dead, usually the guy with the gun is placed under arrest. And under arrest means he's handcuffed.

So I'm betting what this means is when police officers arrived on the scene based on what they saw, they probably slapped the handcuffs on him. They brought him into the precinct. Then what happens next is the investigation starts in more detail. They get his story and that's when he tells his self defense story, which for some reason makes them change their mind about whether they're going to continue with the arrest.

BURNETT: OK. So does this make you skeptical, though, about why then they decided not to arrest him, not to go ahead? I mean --

CALLAN: No, it doesn't because -- and I know what it looks like and I think -- the interesting thing about this case is we still don't know exactly what happened in that darkened night encounter, and we're struggling. We're looking at little bits and pieces like was he in handcuffs.


CALLAN: As opposed to saying what's the evidence of the encounter between the two individuals. What happened?

BURNETT: Yes. But something dramatic must have happened for them not to arrest someone who shot someone who did not have a gun.

CALLAN: You know what the default position for the cops is? Arrest the guy. OK?

BURNETT: Right. So what could it have been that overwhelmed, first of all, the arrest and the guy he shot didn't have a gun.

CALLAN: Well, as far as I'm concerned, there are two possibilities. Possibility number one is the cops really believe that he acted in self defense, that he was jumped from behind and maybe he was in danger of losing his life, or at least he thought he was.

Or number two, he's wired into the police department, he's a cop wannabe. He had friends and they were bending over backwards to help him and not make the arrest. And now, they're belatedly defending their position.

Here's the one thing that drives me crazy about this case. If the cops get criticized normally, you know what they do, they release al the facts in the case. Videotape, confession, statements, everything is released.

BURNETT: So they could do that right now.

CALLAN: Absolutely.

BURNETT: There's no legal reason why they couldn't say, you know what -- instead of saying, we have a reason. They couldn't say exactly what it was.

CALLAN: I was talking to a homicide prosecutor in Manhattan the other day. I was talking about a high profile case that they were getting flak on. They released everything -- grand jury minutes, the whole investigation, to show that they were fair and they had done the right thing.

Why haven't Florida cops done that? I don't know. It's a strange, strange thing.

Anybody who tries criminal cases is going to say what's going on here, the public wants to know? And you know something? In the end, maybe Zimmerman is right, maybe he did act in self defense, or maybe he deserves to be prosecuted.

But the public deserves to know. They should be releasing this evidence so we all can see it and talk about it, and not look at a guy in handcuffs and say -- I wonder why he's in handcuffs, you know?

So, anyway, that's my humble opinion.

BURNETT: All right. And there he is. Now you can see him walking away and he was in handcuffs. So we can say absolutely and categorically in that picture, he is in handcuffs, the man in orange --

CALLAN: But, obviously, those handcuffs come off and we're right in the middle of this controversy now.

BURNETT: They come off and --



BURNETT: All right. Well, thanks very much to Paul Callan. It's just a pretty amazing why they won't release that information.

All right. Well, next we're going to be joined by Miguel Marquez. And he's live in Flint, Michigan. The reason he's there is -- well, this is a pretty amazing story, about a neighborhood watch and taking justice into a community's own hands. Miguel with an exclusive report from Flint.

And the Pope meeting with Fidel Castro. What they discussed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: It's not just in Sanford, Florida, that members of the community take the law into their own hands. Budget crunches are leading to strip down stretched thin police force around the country. And nowhere has this been more visible that in the state of Michigan.

Michigan has seen the biggest drop in police officers over the past decade, yet it is home to two of the 10 most dangerous cities in this country, Detroit and Flint. Here is Miguel Marquez.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Flint, a city in ruins, is trying to rise from the ashes.

KAT VANSICKLE, FLINT POLICE OPERATIONS: People love this city. People want to see Flint come back. So what we are doing, we are arming ourselves with computers instead of guns, and we're giving voice to the citizens of Flint.

MARQUEZ: Vansickle is one of the organizers of the group Flint Police Operations. They're not a police force but citizens fed up with rampant crime.

VANSICKLE: The government can only do so much, the Flint police can only do so much, the mayor can only do so much.

MARQUEZ: What she and 20 other volunteers are doing, posting police scanner traffic to Facebook and Twitter -- a modern day crime blotter, everything from gunshots to suspicious characters in the neighborhood, giving citizens the power to connect to their neighborhoods and community.

(on camera): When a call comes in, what makes your blood run cold?

VANSICKLE: Any shootings or stabbings. It just drives right to my heart.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): She has a lot to worry about. The FBI calls Flint the most violent city in the country. Last year, 55 murders here, a huge number for a city this size.

(on camera): You have 129 cops.


MARQUEZ: You want 200.

LOCK: I think we need a minimum of 200, yes.

MARQUEZ: Small city, but a very high crime rate?

LOCK: Yes.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): But, says the Police Chief Alvern Lock, the most cops he can get on the street here at any one time is 21. (on camera): Even for a normal city of 100,000, that seems like a very small number.

LOCK: Well, it is what it is. I'm not going to tell you something that's not true. But I think -- I know we need more.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): In 2010, Deion Bradley (ph) watched her 18-year-old friend, a mother of two, die from a gunshot wound to the head.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For me to see her just lay there in her own house, just laid out in blood just everywhere --

MARQUEZ: Driving high crime here, the lack of hope, the lack of jobs, as the auto industry shut down and moved away, so did the work.

(on camera): This is the corner of Minnesota and Colorado in east Flint. This neighborhood and the city have been in decline for 40 years, but the Great Recession of 2008 was devastating.

Jobs are starting to creep back to the city, but unemployment remains at 17 percent and among young people here, it is dire. Fifty percent of them don't have jobs.

(voice-over): Mayor Dayne Walling says the city is slowly, very slowly coming back.

DAYNE WALLING, MAYOR OF FLINT: We are going through that slow, gut-wrenching process of changing our community for the better and making sure that there's a stable foundation here that the future generations can build on.

MARQUEZ: With 32,000 friends and followers, Kat Vansickle has big plans for Flint Police Operations.

VANSICKLE: We're going to be getting out there into the communities, helping clean parks. We're going to be supporting the community, meeting the people of the city.

MARQUEZ: Leaving the keyboard behind and hitting Flint's streets in an all-out effort to make them a little kinder.


MARQUEZ: Miguel is live in Flint tonight.

Miguel, just sort of a painful thing to watch, just to hear all of that. But I know you've had a chance to talk to a lot of people about the Trayvon Martin case and whether they think, given the incredible shortage of police that you've been talking about and the rise in their own justice, could that happen there?

MARQUEZ: Yes. Well, there certainly is a lot of anger and frustration. The group that we talked to doesn't think that they would ever, you know, bear arms and go out and do policing like that. But I will tell you, in investigating the situation here in Flint, there is plenty of frustration to go around. There are lots of groups out there doing their own community policing, and it is legal to carry a weapon here openly or if you have a permit, to carry it concealed. A lot of those groups do do that. They are in their neighborhoods constantly watching them, letting people know in those neighborhoods that if they are thinking about doing criminal behavior, that they're watching and they could pay the price.

BURNETT: All right. Miguel, thank you very much, reporting from Flint, Michigan, tonight.

Now, let's check in with Anderson.

Anderson, what do you have on "360"?

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "A.C. 360": Erin, we have more on the breaking news ahead. New video from the night Trayvon Martin was shot. Surveillance tapes showing George Zimmerman being led in handcuffs into the Sanford, Florida Police Station. We're going to discuss those developments with Marcia Clark, the prosecutor to O.J. Simpson, and Jose Baez, who defended Casey Anthony.

The question is do you see or is any blood visible on the back of his head or on his nose, as was earlier reported? It's hard to see. We'll try to take a closer look.

Also, a small religious school in Montana facing very serious allegations of abuse tonight. It's religious status exempts it from licensing requirements and state oversight. And critics say that puts students in danger. That's part two of our "360" investigation, "Ungodly Discipline".

Those stories and tonight's "Ridiculist," Erin, at the top of the hour.

BURNETT: All right. Anderson, thank you very much. Looking forward to that. And that video, it is hard to see but it certainly doesn't look like he was injured at this point or having trouble walking. So, that could be really crucial video.


BURNETT: All right. Well, we do this at the same time every night, our "Outer Circle," where we reach out to our sources around the world.

And tonight, we go to Cuba where Pope Benedict condemned the U.S. trade embargo after a 30-minute meeting with former leader Fidel Castro. The Pope is wrapping up a three-day visit to the country. Castro asked for a modest and simple meeting with Pope Benedict.

Our Patrick Oppmann is in Havana and I asked him what they actually talked about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PATRICK OPPMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, Pope Benedict left Cuba Wednesday after meeting with both Raul Castro and Fidel Castro. His meeting with the former Cuban head of state involved discussions over books and he met some of Fidel's family members.

It was really billed as more of a personal visit. The discussion of politics fell to Raul Castro and talked about the Pope's desire for the Cuban government to continue to open up to the Catholic Church here.

While at a mass this morning, thousands and thousands of Cubans, Pope Benedict said there need to be change in Cuba. The Cuban government for its part, Erin, said that they appreciated the pope's comments, but said there was no political change in the works -- Erin.


BURNETT: All right, thank you.

Hundreds, maybe thousands of people in China are buying iPads just so they can set them on fire. Yes, we'll tell you why.

And a soldier gives his life to save a child. We have the story.


BURNETT: So, the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, is in China. He was there today to meet with the country's vice premier. That's what happens when you're the CEO of Apple. And everyone in China wants a little bit of what you have and, you know, it's a big deal.

Talks focused on labor issues, though, which is obviously a very hot topic and a tough one for Apple. Apple also talked about its plans to expand in China.

China is the world's biggest mobile market and the second biggest market for Apple. But they only have five stores there. Cook says Apple merely has scratched the surface -- which brings me to tonight's number, $85. That's how much it costs to buy a paper replica of an iPad in China.

April 4th is tomb sweeping day and the holiday where families in China remember their ancestors and they often burn, you know, fake money, paper replicas of expensive items and clothes and cars, things that people who died cared about. The big sell this year is the paper replica iPad. The replicas are made of paper and are very realistic and even come with things like headphones.

Just to show you how ubiquitous Apple really is, but also to say -- I mean, people make all kinds of cracks about China making things for cheap and rip-offs. But $85 for a paper iPad, that's a lot of inflation.

All right. An American soldier sacrifices his life to save a young child in Afghanistan. It's an amazing story, and it's next.


BURNETT: Last week, Specialist Dennis Weichel of the Rhode Island National Guard died while serving in Afghanistan. Now, the official Pentagon press release says he died from injuries suffered in a noncombat-related incident. But those words don't really tell you the truth, because according to the Rhode Island National Guard and the U.S. Army, last week, Dennis and his unit were traveling in a mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle. You probably heard of them as MRAPs. They were in northeast Afghanistan.

And along the way, they came -- they saw a group of children and children were in the road. Dennis was worried about the children's safety. So, he got out of the MRAP and he wanted to move the kids out of the way. So he moved them aside but one little girl ran back to pick up some of the brash shell casings. And the Dennis saw her at the last second and about to get hit by the vehicle and an MRAP is about 16 tons. So, he dived in front to grab her out of the way.

Well, what happened was, the vehicle hit him instead. The little girl's life was saved. She was fine.

Specialist Dennis Weichel died, though, from the injuries sustained while saving her life.

It's a story so moving and really worth sharing because we've all recently been so focused on the shooting of 17 Afghan civilians, the murders of U.S. troops in response to the accidental Koran burnings. There have been so many horrific stories out of Afghanistan that make people wonder why we are even there to realize a soldier like that may not have known why he was there but he sacrificed his life to save a child. He put his life on the line and there are so many soldiers out there doing that every single day.

We wanted to celebrate that and salute Specialist Dennis Weichel tonight.

Thanks for watching. Anderson Cooper starts now.