Return to Transcripts main page

LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD

Polio-Like Illness Strikes California Kids; Deck Collapses With 24 People; Vegas Police Leave It Up to Drivers in Fender-Benders; Sinaloa Cartel Leader "El Chapo" Revered in Culiacan, Sinaloa; Florida Stand Your Ground

Aired February 25, 2014 - 12:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: A mysterious polio-like illness is creeping up suddenly and causing paralysis in children in California. And right now, about 20 cases have been identified over the past 18 months, including this little girl on your screen. Her name is Sofia Jarvis.

Her case is one of only a small number that we know of so far. But her case absolutely gives chills when you hear it, especially if you're a parent in this country.

Our Dan Simon decided to dig in and take a look at this and also shows us how Sofia's life seemingly completely changed in the blink of an eye.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sofia Jarvis is an adorable 4-year-old, happy and seemingly healthy until a year and a half ago when her left arm suddenly stopped moving.

JEFF JARVIS, FATHER OF PARTIALLY PARALYZED 4 YEAR OLD: We kind of joked that this was like the leveler in Sofia's life. She's a redhead. She's beautiful. She's talented. She's got older brothers. She's got - you know, she's really bright.

SIMON: Doctors say Sofia is one of at least five children in California showing signs of a mysterious, polio-like illness, the exact cause unknown What they do know is her arm is paralyzed, and it came on suddenly after Sofia initially showed symptoms of asthma.

JESSICA TOMEI, MOTHER OF PARTIALLY PARALYZED 4-YEAR-OLD: She started wheezing suddenly. She had not had any history of asthma.

SIMON: After a few days at the hospital, Sofia's mom took her back to the doctor for a follow up.

TOMEI: As we were leaving that appointment, Sofia went to the treasure box to grab her toy after seeing the doctor, and I saw her left hand mid-grasp stop working. SIMON: An MRI later showing she had a lesion on her spinal cord.

Sofia never got better. She calls her arm --

SOFIA JARVIS, LEFT ARM MYSTERIOUSLY PARALYZED: Lefty. Lefty is my favorite one.

SIMON: Doctors don't know what's causing these cases of weakness in limbs or paralysis.

DR. KEITH VAN HAREN, PEDIATRIC NEUROLOGIST: And the prognosis that we've seen so far is not good. Most of the children we've seen have not recovered.

SIMON: Twenty more cases are suspected, but they haven't been officially verified, all of them occurring in the last 18 months and all of them in California.

Still doctors say parents should not panic.

HAREN: It's extremely rare. Our suspicion is it's a virus, but that's unproven We know it's not polio virus. There are other viruses that can do this.

SIMON: Researchers say two of the children tested positive for something called Enterovirus 68, which has been linked to polio-like symptoms in the past.

The bottom line is, doctors and Sofia's parents just want to get the word out.

Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD: Thank you, Dan.

We're about to show you some pretty remarkable surveillance video. It's a deck collapsing beneath the 24 people who were on it, celebrating at a Christmas party in New Albany, Indiana, getting ready for a picture, and bam.

Unbelievable, the deck just fell from beneath them.

Our affiliate, WABE, says the family involved is suing not only the deck builder, but also the homeowners' association that ran the clubhouse where that party was being held and where that photograph was being taken.

So many different angles, too, watch this happening again. It's really scary.

The builder is saying that the law shields them from any liability at this point, because they say that deck that all those people thought they were so safe on and ultimately were not was more than 10 years old. Ouch. Congress is already drawing some battle lines over military cuts. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is proposing the smallest Army in 70 years.

He wants to cut the number of overall active duty troops to pre-World War II levels, while focusing more on special forces, which will see increased numbers.

His plan would also retire that extraordinarily noisy and frightening sounding A-10 Warthog fighter plane. It will also reduce some of the benefits for military personnel.

What happens in Vegas, if you get into a fender bender, anyway, is your own business. Don't even bother calling 911, because the Las Vegas police say they just do not have the time any more to deal with you.

So starting March 3rd, they're leaving it up to drivers in these minor accidents to exchange insurance data on their own and file a report themselves.

The world's most wanted drug, ""El Chapo", was captured on his home turf in Mexico. But here's the deal. He was protected by so many people for so long. Why on earth would they do that?

Don't forget, this guy is vicious, violence and he's a suspected multiple murder. Again, why would they protect him?

You're about to find out in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: We're learning more about how the world's most-wanted drug lord finally was taken down. We're talking about Joaquin Guzman. You might remember him or heard of him as ""El Chapo."

The authorities in Mexico say that he had an assault rifle that was handy when the authorities showed up and raided his beachside hideaway over the weekend in Mazatlan. Weird thing was, he never opened fire.

Do you want to know why? The Marines had infrared and body-heat scanners to pinpoint the locations of everyone inside that condo so that they could make sure they were asleep. Now, that is clever.

And the reason they had to be so clever, as our Gary Tuchman found out, is that "El Chapo" was an extraordinarily dangerous man.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is one of the most dangerous spots in Mexico, a place where few outsiders go.

We're driving through the heart of the Mexican state of Sinaloa, which is the home of the multinational business known as the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most powerful, wealthy, brutal, ruthless drug cartels that ever was. Its leader is a man by the name of Joaquin Guzman, better known as "El Chapo," And this is his home. This is "El Chapo" back in 1993 after he had been captured. But in 2001, he escaped from prison in a laundry cart. Marijuana, cocaine, meth, heroin and murder are all part of his business.

Violent scenes like these, bodies stuffed in garbage bags, police executed and journalists assassinated, are directly connected to the wrath of the Sinaloa Cartel. Much of the blood is spilled here in Culiacan, the largest city in Sinaloa, and the violent nerve center of the cartel.

As rumors spread that "El Chapo" was killed in a gun fight, no one here seemed to believe it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via translator): Around here, he is the legend of Sinaloa.

TUCHMAN: And that mystique is part of the reason people are protective of him.

"El Chapo" is seen as a modern-day Robin Hood, helping churn the Sinaloan economy with drug money.

A common feeling -- leave "El Chapo" and his cartel alone and he'll leave us alone.

At this Sinaloa cathedral, one of the priests says it's commonly understood that people mind their manners when it comes to "El Chapo" and his bloody exploits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): People from around here know not to speak about "El Chapo." We don't talk with him.

TUCHMAN: Just drive around here and you'll see how the drug king pin and members of his cartel are idolized. Storefronts bear the name of the cartel leader, and it's not uncommon to see "El Chapo" printed on the tops of license plate frames.

But nothing idolizes the narco-trafficking trade more than here. Money lines the walls and ceiling of a business and place of prayer that celebrates the drug culture, and the life of a man who many compare to "El Chapo."

This is a site you would never expect to see in a law-abiding society. This is literally a chapel dedicated to a man by the name of Jesus Malverde who was born in 1870, died in the early 20th century.

He is considered a patron saint for drug dealers and those who sympathize with drug dealers. He was considered a Robin Hood back in his time.

Drug dealers come here, family members, to pray for people who died and also to pray for good transports of the drugs up north.

Here's a sign for example. This is a chapel right inside here, and here is a sign. In Spanish, it said, "Thank you to God, thank you to St. Jude and thank you to Jesus Malverde for the favor of protecting our family," and it's signed by a family here in Culiacan, Sinaloa.

But the most bizarre scene in Sinaloa may be this. Driving down this street in Culiacan, it first looks like you're entering a neighborhood, but this is a cemetery, where cartel members are buried.

This looks like a house, but it's not. There's a body buried in here. It's a tomb.

There are scores of similar mausoleums in the cemetery with the faces of the drug kingpins posted outside the crypts, narco-traffickers who likely grew up in poverty in homes much smaller than their final resting places.

And when the drug trade is glorified like this, it's easy to see how someone like "El Chapo" could elude capture for so long.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Culiacan, Mexico.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD: Great reporting from our Gary Tuchman. Thank you, Gary.

I have a case for you about a blind man who was acquitted of murder in Florida, and after he was acquitted with the cane and the glasses, guess what he got back? His guns.

Yep, a blind man got his guns back. Do you agree with this? And just to shake you up a little bit, guess what entered into the picture? "Stand-your-ground," baby!

We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: I have another, right here, controversial stand your ground case in Florida. And before you say "stop, you're so repetitive," this is very different. A judge says that the state's polarizing law has forced him to return a pistol and a rifle to a legally blind man who shot and killed his drinking buddy. His name is John Wayne Rogers. I am not making this up, John Wayne Rogers. He shot James Dewitt with a rifle in his home in 2012 after Dewitt allegedly started punching him, threatening his life.

And during the first degree murder trial last month, there were conflicting witness accounts and that prompted the judge to dismiss the jury and award Rogers immunity from prosecution. That's that stand your ground law. You get that hearing before you actually have to go to trial. Might not even have to go to trial at all, and that's what happened here.

It also meant that the judge had to give Rogers back his weapons, a pistol and a rifle. He's blind. He won those guns back at a hearing yesterday in the very same Sanford courthouse where Trayvon Martin, where that case was tried. Rogers says that he needs those guns for self-defense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN WAYNE ROGERS, ACQUITTED OF MURDER: It's my constitutional right, first of all. Second of all, I wasn't carrying these firearms around. I was in my house, on five acres, on a private road in Geneva, out of the way. I'm happy that justice was done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: OK. So in case you're wondering, it was a construction accident that left Rogers legally blind. The neighbors, by the way, say that they actually believe that Rogers can see to some degree. Not completely blind. Rogers learned to shoot before the accident and Rogers even served in the military. So that's a few more counterpoints to enter into this discussion.

Joey Jackson and Paul Callan have been mining for laws or restrictions that might enter into this in any way possible in Florida. But the fact that you're legally blind does not impede you from having a weapon in that state?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No. I mean, I'm stunned by it because when I saw the topic at first of, you know, a person who's blind can possess a gun in Florida? Well, here's what I found. These are the only restrictions in Florida. Drug addicts, alcoholics, mental incompetents and vagrants cannot own or possess firearms.

BANFIELD: Wow.

CALLAN: Everybody else can.

BANFIELD: Well, children.

CALLAN: No.

BANFIELD: No. Can't - really?

CALLAN: I even found that even if you're under the age of 18, you can have an unloaded - a firearm -

BANFIELD: Are you kidding me?

CALLAN: Except at your home or if you're engaged in lawful activities. So you could be five years old and if you're lawfully hunting, you have the right to have a gun, even if you're a child.

BANFIELD: I was one of those children who was lawfully hunting under the age of 12 with my family and the rifles in the back - I mean we had a gun rack and 22s and -

CALLAN: Now, bear in mind, I don't want to be sending people into the streets of Florida with more weapons than they already have. Florida does have restrictions on carrying concealed weapons.

JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. CALLAN: You need a permit for that.

BANFIELD: Changes the game here.

JACKSON: Yes.

CALLAN: And I don't even think in Florida they give a blind person a concealed weapon permit -

BANFIELD: A concealed weapons permit.

CALLAN: But they might. I mean, I don't know, but you have to -

JACKSON: Well, they won't, because, Ashleigh, it says here, the physical inability to handle a firearm safely. Concealed firearms -

CALLAN: But he has partial sight.

BANFIELD: OK.

JACKSON: Concealed firearms would be a disqualification. But in this case, there are distinctions. Remember, he's in his home, right?

BANFIELD: Yes.

JACKSON: And as a result of being in his home, he's not carrying it on the street. He's not representing a danger to the populous or other people. He's protecting himself in his home environment.

BANFIELD: Well, there was something that he said that really resonated with me outside the courtroom, because I feel for this guy. He's done military service. He does have the same right to protect himself, like you and me -

JACKSON: Absolutely.

BANFIELD: Against bad guys. And he said he's got a Second Amendment constitutional right. When does your Second Amendment, or any kind of constitutional right for that matter, actually start to come into play with the people with Disabilities Act protecting you and all sorts of other reasons? How can you deprive a person of a constitutional right just because he has some kind of physical ailment?

CALLAN: Even the National Rifle Association recognizes that there are limits to the Second Amendment. They don't --

BANFIELD: Like?

CALLAN: Like alcoholics, vagrants, mental incompetence. We don't allow them to possess weapons. Now, I think you can make a strong argument that if a person is blind and can't properly aim the gun, maybe it's not such a good idea for them to possess the gun, even in a country that has the Second Amendment.

JACKSON: Well, he certainly had the ability to protect and defend himself by aiming enough to hit this person in the chest to kill him. So he must have had some ability or acuity to, you know, exercise his rights with that firearm.

BANFIELD: So let me just give you this. I'm the mother of two boys who are crazy. They get all over the neighborhood. I --

JACKSON: They're beautiful! Beautiful kids.

BANFIELD: Honest - yes, belies the devil inside, I'll tell you, those boys. If I don't know where they are and they're out roaming the neighborhood before street lights and they're having a grand old time and that man lives in my neighborhood, I think I'm really scared right now. And I have no recourse here as a mom?

JACKSON: But understand that he was in his own home and he wasn't firing outside.

BANFIELD: But those guns can shoot outside that home.

JACKSON: That's very true.

BANFIELD: They go through window.

JACKSON: Very true, but -

BANFIELD: They go through walls.

CALLAN: No, but if you -- if you lived in Florida, no, you would have no resource against him.

BANFIELD: Interesting.

CALLAN: I mean the judge said it's his property. There's no law against him possessing it. I've got to give it back to him. That's the law in Florida.

BANFIELD: Paul Callan -

CALLAN: Yes.

BANFIELD: Joey Jackson, as always, you guys are brilliant. You should teach this stuff.

JACKSON: A pleasure and a privilege.

BANFIELD: Oh, wait, you both do. I forgot. You're both professors.

We're back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Well, it's back in the news again, that guy, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, the Canadian mayor who admitted to smoking crack. We last saw him at a celebration on Sunday. Here he is after the Canadians won the gold in hockey at the Olympics. And he showed us why you should watch where you are walking. Ow, as he bumped into a fire hydrant right there. Oh, the look on his face says it all. That, of course, just joins the myriad of other famous clips like the mayor -- I don't know what he was doing, pretending to drink and drive at a city council meeting. No, I still don't know exactly what that was. But is he still smoking crack or doing any drugs? He would not give a straight answer this morning on NBC's "Today" show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR ROB FORD, TORONTO: I don't use illegal drugs. I experimented with them, like, probably a year ago. But I don't use drugs. And we're in great shape. And right after this interview, I'm going to hit the gym. So I'd be at the gym usually at this time now. But, no, things are going fantastic, Matt.

MATT LAUER, HOST, NBC'S "TODAY": And in terms of drinking, I mean you admitted to me in that interview that on occasion you drink too much. But you also told other people subsequent or after that interview that you were done with drinking 100 percent. Are you still drinking heavily on occasion, Mr. Mayor?

FORD: No. No, not at all. Have I had a drink? Yes, I have. But not to the point of some of the episodes before. So, you know what, that's past me and we're moving on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Well, we did see him in that kind of crazy thing in the fast food restaurant speaking with Jamaican patwa (ph). Nonetheless, the mayor says he plans to attend a mayor's conference. It's of mayor city's mayors. It's happening tomorrow in Canada's capital city of Ottawa. It will be great to look at the others - the other mayor's faces when he shows up. And the voters, by the way, in Toronto, still have to decide whether they want to keep him in office, because there is an October election that's coming up and he says he's in to win and that he's going to win.

After 69 years, a World War II veteran finally has the medals that he earned while serving the United States. Love this story. Eight-nine- year-old Ben Weber was shot in the eye, and in the leg, during the battle for Iwo Jima. A fire destroyed most of his service and injury records, hence this extraordinarily long delay. For Sunday's ceremony in Lufkin, Texas, he put on the exact uniform that he wore in the army all those years ago. Sir, Mr. Weber, thank you for your service.

Victorious and free from the hands of Ariel Castro, the three women who were held and kidnapped for more than a decade in his house of horrors have been honored in Ohio. Cheers and applause and a standing ovation there, the governor there, John Kasich, brought Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus on stage yesterday to award them with medals of courage. One by one, the close-up picture, there they looked in their medals and their glory. Good for them. Great survivors.

Thanks, everyone, for watching. WOLF starts right now.