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JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Man Killed by Police after Argument

Aired February 26, 2014 - 19:00:00   ET

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


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight, unforgettable and very disturbing video of a police confrontation spiraling out of control, leaving a father dead. Was it police brutality? Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live. You look at the tape, you decide.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A tragic story that started as a spat between a mother and her teenage daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he bleeding?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see five men get on top of him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he OK? He doesn`t move!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The argument ended with a deadly encounter with the police.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ruiz, are you OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s fine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They used pepper spray and multiple officers to take him down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you hurting him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And condolences to the Rodriguez family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For newly widowed wife Nair (ph) Rodriguez, the words did little.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They do not have the license to kill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Forty-four-year-old Luis Rodriguez, who had no history of violence, died after a night at the movies with his wife and 19- year-old daughter. This happened almost two weeks ago.

The family got into an argument at the theater. The mom slapped her daughter for being disrespectful. They all walked out. The teen headed for the family car. The dad tried to catch up with his daughter.

Instead, five officers caught up with the dad in the parking lot and confronted him. They say he was uncooperative and combative. Specifically, he allegedly refused to hand over his I.D. and pushed an officer`s arm away, clenching his fist.

The officers pepper sprayed him and took him down, with five men ending up on top of him, two of whom who are not even cops. Now, Mom grabbed her cell phone and she hit record. Turns out she was recording the last minutes of her husband of 22 years, his life. The last minutes of his life. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Luis, please! Luis, please!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Calm down, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look how you`re treating him. Luis, are you OK? Luis? Luis, are you OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s fine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why you come to all this? Please, tell me. Listen, this -- this person, this our youngest daughter has been treating us like crap.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything`s under control. Do you have any I.D.? I understand there`s a domestic here. Someone hit someone?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I hit my daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is your daughter?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. A crime was committed. Domestic abuse. We came here to investigate it. Asked for his I.D. He got combative. That`s why -- that`s why he got put in this position, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why he still -- is he bleeding?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m bleeding. That`s me. We`ve got medical here. Everything`s OK. Right now, I need your I.D.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need your I.D., OK?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I need to record this also. I`m recording.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand that. What I need is your I.D. OK? Just stay with me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is incredible. You see, that man doesn`t look for trouble, at all. At all. I will give you my I.D. You are five men, five men. Training. Hitting that guy. Just because our daughter...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma`am, don`t get yourself in trouble, OK? I need your I.D.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he OK? He doesn`t move.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re going to take care of him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn`t move! You kill him ! You kill him! You`re killing my husband! Please, somebody, tell me that he`s alive!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Was he dead already? The police chief called the officers` actions reasonable. Three of them are on administrative leave, while an investigation is underway.

And here`s what we don`t see. During the widow`s six-minute-long videotaping, the initial confrontation with police, the pepper spray, the takedown, that, all of it was caught on theater surveillance video, however. If that surveillance video shows the officers acted reasonably, as their boss maintains, why haven`t police released that video?

Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

My expert Lion`s Den panel is ready to debate this one. But I want to start with Michael Brooks-Jimenez, attorney for the Rodriguez family. Now, we don`t know the results of the autopsy because they`re waiting for the toxicology tests to come back. As we all know, that could take a long time. But I want to ask you, why do you think Luis Rodriguez died, sir?

MICHAEL BROOKS-JIMENEZ, ATTORNEY: Well, at this point, I don`t know if we have enough information to know why he died, other than he was trying to make peace between his wife and his daughter.

He was in the parking lot. There was a call. He responded to the call. Or the police responded to the call. And after that, I think, through probably a lack of training, that -- that they used excessive force.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me ask you this question. The attorney for one of the officers says they didn`t do anything wrong. They used standard procedure. It was a tragic event that resulted in death. But I have not seen anything that shows that they`ve done anything wrong. There`s a surveillance video that purportedly shows the entire thing start to finish. Have you seen it? Why are the police not releasing it?

BROOKS-JIMENEZ: I`ve not seen it. We`ve requested a copy of that video from the Moore Police Department, and so far they`ve not been willing to give us a copy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me give you a very -- we`ve got callers lining up, so I`m just writing down their names. This struck a nerve, apparently. But here`s what struck me. Of the five men on top of Luis Rodriguez, who has no criminal history, from our understanding. Two of them are game wardens, moonlighting as security guards. Two of the officers were on-duty cops. One of them was an off-duty cop. That makes three.

And the last two men are game wardens who were also working as security guards at the theater. At the movie theater. These guys are not trained police officers. I don`t want two game wardens involved in a case of life-and-death. And that, of all the things that I heard -- and I`ll throw it to Lisa Bloom, legal analyst for Avvo.com and author of the fantastic new book "Suspicion Nation" that just came out. I don`t want game wardens involved in a situation like this. This is not game. These are human beings.

LISA BLOOM, LEGAL ANALYST, AVVO.COM: Right. Absolutely. And, Jane, this is one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen. This is sickening. Unless this man was threatening their lives, they had no right to take his life.

If three police officers, or five officers can`t take someone into custody who`s maybe a little belligerent, doesn`t want to show his I.D., maybe hits their hand away when they ask for his I.D., if they can`t take a man like that into custody without taking his life, then we need to rethink how we`re training our police officers, because this is absolutely appalling.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon Leiberman.

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Jane -- Jane, this is definitely -- look, Lisa`s right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t want to bring race into it. I think this is something -- let`s just take a look at it. These people, nobody has mentioned anything about that. I just think we look at this situation as it is, without piling on other...

LEIBERMAN: Jane, let me say -- ;let me say something.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon Leiberman, go ahead.

LEIBERMAN: Look, No. 1, no doubt this is a tragedy. It`s certainly unfortunate that this man, you know, died.

But you also have to look at the totality of the situation. First of all, the wife came out and said that police beat her husband. We don`t see -- at least I don`t see any beating taking place on this tape. So that`s one thing that you have to look at.

The other thing is, we haven`t heard the 911 call. The call might have come out that this man was involved in the domestic. We don`t know if this man had any preexisting medical condition.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There was no 911 call, FYI. There was no -- you know why?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Jane, the police officer was leading -- we don`t know if there was an altercation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on. There was no 911 call. What happened was, they were responding to something else at the theater. Apparently, there were some drunk people who were asleep, or whatever, inside the movie theater. That`s why they were there.

LEIBERMAN: The police officer was bleeding.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And so there was no 911 call, but somebody...

LEIBERMAN: So apparently, there was some sort of altercation earlier.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me finish. Somebody said, oh, there`s a domestic situation going on outside.

Then the police run out, including the off-duty police officer who`s doing security at the movie theater, including the two game wardens who are doing security at the movie theater, and that`s when you get five officers.

Now, that, I find sort of, you know, why does the off-duty officer, who`s working security at the theater, have to get involved? And why do the two game wardens feel that they`re entitled to get involved, and nobody`s talking about this? Now the police...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jane, can I...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There`s at least one witness -- let me play a little clip, there`s one witness who corroborates the story that Rodriguez was out of control and that officers did not beat him up. Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An independent witness has stated that they observed the incident and never observed a beating occur, but did see officers attempting to grab Mr. Rodriguez`s limbs to get control of him. They described it as the officers actively trying to get an out-of-control person under control.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, if Rodriguez was out of control as opposed to simply saying, "I don`t want to show you my I.D." and brushing off the hand of an officer, wouldn`t the theater surveillance video show that? Couldn`t we put this entire, entire controversy to rest by releasing that video?

And Areva Martin, why do you think, as an attorney, they`re not releasing this videotape? Don`t say it`s because it`s an ongoing investigation, because we get video all the time in ongoing cases.

AREVA MARTIN, ATTORNEY: I don`t think it`s an ongoing investigation. I think it`s because it probably contradicts what the police chief is saying in support of his officers.

Another thing to me, Jane, that`s most disturbing about that tape, Jon said there`s no evidence of Mr. Rodriguez being beat. What I see is an officer with his hand pressing Mr. Rodriguez`s head into the concrete, and other officers using their knees to needle his back into the concrete. So I see these officers using what`s clearly beyond what would be necessary to take somebody into custody. There`s a training issue here. There`s an excessive force issue here. I hope that that tape shows this could have been handled completely differently.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: C.W. Jensen, you`re a retired police captain. Do you think this could have been handled differently?

C.W. JENSEN, RETIRED POLICE CAPTAIN: I don`t think it needed to be handled differently. First of all, Jane, let me give a little shout-out to the game wardens. They are generally -- I can`t speak for all 50 states, but generally are sworn law enforcement officers. And many game wardens who you dismiss have been killed in the line of duty enforcing laws. So let`s not...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what? I`m sorry. No, I disagree with you 100 percent. I don`t think game wardens should get involved in this. These are not game; these are people. OK. I disagree with you. They`re movie theater security guards. What are they doing inserting themselves into this situation?

And I`d love to get somebody else, you know, thoughts on that. Because why don`t we go back to the attorney, Brooks-Jimenez. Do you think it was appropriate for the two game wardens to get involved?

And you see that on top of this man -- by the way, I couldn`t see him moving. They`re huffing and puffing but I don`t really see him -- you know, I don`t see the kind of actions that require that level of force from five people.

Now, they have -- they put his arm behind his back. Now, watch this carefully while you`re talking. Keep it on. See if he moves at all. Because I tried to watch it. I didn`t see any movement. This goes on for several minutes. But go ahead, Michael Brooks Jimenez, attorney for the Rodriguez family, do you feel that the game wardens should have gotten involved?

BROOKS-JIMENEZ: Well, at this point we don`t know the level of training that the game wardens received. And so if they`re trained, certified law-enforcement officers, I don`t see a problem with them serving as security officers. But the question is, what happened that night that...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I didn`t ask you about serving as security officers, sir. I asked them about -- I asked you about them getting on top of your client`s husband.

BROOKS-JIMENEZ: OK. Whether or not it -- obviously, I don`t feel like it was appropriate for five people, regardless if it was the two game wardens or the police, the three police officers, for all five of them to pile on top of my client.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. C.W. Jensen, you wanted to say something. We got off on the game warden issue. But continue on.

JENSEN: This is standard procedure. I mean, they didn`t strike. Sometimes people go rigid, and it`s even more harder than if they were being violent.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. You know, again, it`s easy to second-guess police. They don`t know the whole story when they arrive on the scene. They don`t know that this father, who`s married 22 years, who goes to church so often they call him the pastor, who doesn`t have a history of violence, is just racing after his unruly teenage daughter who got disciplined, perhaps a little too harshly by mom a second ago. They have no idea. All they know is it`s a domestic situation.

So I don`t want to -- we`re asking questions. We`re not necessarily answering. You know, we`re asking questions. The fact is, that we wouldn`t even be able to ask these questions, were there not cell phone videos. You know, in these cameras.

This is changing the landscape for law enforcement, for teachers, for people in hospitals, for journalists. Everybody can be caught on tape at a moment`s notice. It`s a different world, thanks to this.

But we`re just getting started. The calls are lining up. We`re going to take them right on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You all, five men, five men, training, hitting that guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They keep telling me that he was alive. Oh, my God, is he OK? Let me see him. I knew he was dead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did Luis Rodriguez, the husband of that woman you just heard from, have to die? They were going to the movies, a family outing. The teenage daughter gets sassy. The mom slaps her. The teenage daughter runs to the car. Dad follows her.

Somebody said there`s a domestic going on. The cops confront the dad, not knowing he didn`t slap anybody. And he was uncooperative, according to police, and confrontational. Next thing you know, he`s on the ground. Five guys, including two game wardens, on top of him, and he`s dead. We don`t know exactly where he died. He might be dead as she`s videotaping. Or did he die at the hospital. We`re going to get to that in a second.

But the phone lines. Mary Jo, Pennsylvania. Mary Jo, what do you have to say?

CALLER: Hi, Jane. How are you?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hi. Fine, thanks.

CALLER: My question to you is, I just -- this is just police brutality. This man -- this man did nothing. And five cops and only two on duty. Two were off-duty and two were -- excuse me, what`s going on here?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And there`s three police officers. Two were on duty. One was working security. And then there was two game wardens also working security at the movie theater.

You know, Adam Swickle, I want to get to you. I think maybe the question isn`t so much -- or maybe one question was, were they legally within their rights, the officers? But the other is, was there an alternative? Was there another way to handle this situation? What do you think?

ADAM SWICKLE, ATTORNEY: I think what we need to do is, first, look at the facts as we see them. We only have this video. And I`ve done a lot of police brutality cases. This is as far from police brutality as you can get. They never struck him. They never hit him. They never kicked him. They never smashed his head into the ground.

But there`s another interesting point. We don`t know yet what he died from.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, but Adam -- Adam...

SWICKLE: Hold on, Jane, if I can just add this one point.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait. Let me look at the video. He`s dead and they`re on top of him. You know, you don`t necessarily have to hit somebody on the head to kill them. He`s a very large man, very big. We don`t know if he had medical issues. And there`s five guys on top of him. And he`s dead. You know, at some point along this process, he dies. You don`t just die.

SWICKLE: I understand that. Let me finish my statement, if I can.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead.

SWICKLE: Thank you, Jane.

Here`s what`s interesting. We don`t know what he`s died from. I actually spoke with an expert today in preparation for this. And there is actually something called excite delirium, where in these kinds of situations, people do lose their lives, even though law enforcement didn`t do anything to cause that.

BLOOM: Oh, please.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Who said, "Oh, please"?

BLOOM: Lisa Bloom did.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Lisa. Lisa Bloom, OK.

SWICKLE: It`s a fact. It`s a fact.

BLOOM: The man...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let Lisa speak.

BLOOM: I mean, according to him, this was just a tea party and everybody`s happy. The man died.

SWICKLE: That`s not what I said.

BLOOM: He`s obviously suffocated by five people who acted improperly. If they acted according to the rules, then the rules...

SWICKLE: How do you know that?

BLOOM: Because he died.

SWICKLE: So if he dies, they must have killed him?

BLOOM: Don`t come up with some bizarre medical theory that he happened to die at that moment when five police officers were on top of him.

SWICKLE: Let`s wait until the report comes out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time.

SWICKLE: Let`s wait til the report comes out.

LEIBERMAN: ... looked at, Jane. I agree with Adam. One thing that needs to be looked at obviously is what led up to this. You heard one police officer say he was bleeding. Did that happen in a confrontation with this gentleman? We don`t know how he ended up on the ground. We`re only seeing this one snapshot in time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon, it all comes back to the surveillance video, and I`ll put it to Areva. They could solve this whole thing. I don`t want to find bad behavior where none exists. I don`t want people fired for no reason, if in fact, they were doing reasonable behavior. Let`s see the videotape.

And you tried to get it, Mr. Brooks-Jimenez, attorney for the Rodriguez family. They won`t give it to you. I mean, Areva, should they go to court to try to get this video?

MARTIN: Absolutely, Jane. They should get the video. My problem with this argument about the cops is, when we go into denial, we miss an opportunity to do something different.

We can`t have police officers trying to, you know, investigate a domestic violence situation and a man ends up dead. That`s just not acceptable. Police are there to protect and serve.

So if there is something that needs to be fixed, let`s just deal with it. Let`s be open about it. Don`t put our heads in the sand and deny. People shouldn`t die just because they got asked to show their I.D. That`s not acceptable in this country.

SWICKLE: That`s -- that`s not necessarily what happened. That`s not necessarily what happened.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What I will say...

SWICKLE: You`re giving conclusions that you don`t have supported information. These are not conclusions.

MARTIN: And I`m saying, let`s get the information. We can`t get the information if we`re in denial about the police`s responsibility.

SWICKLE: They may have been acting responsibly. You don`t know what happened.

BLOOM: And it`s just a coincidence that he died at that moment?

SWICKLE: You don`t know why he died.

LEIBERMAN: We don`t know why he died.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Can I ask you a question, Adam? Do you think they should release the videotape so we could solve it?

SWICKLE: Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If we had that tape right now...

SWICKLE: Absolutely. I agree with that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... we might not even have a story. SWICKLE: I agree 100 percent with you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We might say, look at that. One hundred percent justified. Why don`t they release -- Michael Brooks-Jimenez, did they tell you why they wouldn`t give you the video?

BROOKE-JIMENEZ: Well, at this point the investigation was originally started by the Moore Police Department. It was an obvious conflict of interest. And so, as a result, the case was removed from the investigation from the Moore Police Department and sent to the Oklahoma state Bureau of investigations.

And so as a result, the Moore Police Department said they cannot disclose the video because they`re concerned it may interfere with the investigation from OSBI.

BLOOM: Sure.

MARTIN: I`m sorry, I don`t buy that.

BLOOM: Any of us fall for that?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Up next, we`re just getting started, people. There is another unbelievable video. A firefighter and a cop. Yes, a firefighter and a cop, in a brawl. The firefighter ends up dead.

These cameras are -- they`re recording -- they`re catching everything that happened. Did the police officer have no choice but to use his gun? We`re going to debate that one on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, what did he do!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could I have some help here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, don`t fight the cop. Don`t fight the cop! It`s not going to...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, don`t fight the cop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh! Oh!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Newlywed firefighter killed by a police officer. And it`s all caught on tape.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The tables kind of turned when he started to fight back. And you just can`t do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable. More shocking new video. This one, just released, shows a newlywed Kansas City, Missouri, firefighter -- something like a third generation firefighter -- and an off-duty cop in a vicious brawl. The fight ends with the firefighter dead with two bullets to the stomach. Witnesses caught the entire fight on, once again, cell phone camera.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to leave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, don`t. We`re just getting this on video.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did he do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could I have some help here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, don`t fight the cop! Don`t fight the cop!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, oh (EXPLETIVE DELETED)!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Those are the gunshots.

Investigators say it all started when the firefighter, Anthony Bruno, got into a fight with a taxicab driver over a $6 cab fare on the way home from his own wedding reception. His new wife said the cabbies threw money at her and used a sexual slur, so she says her firefighter and newlywed husband started punching him in retaliation.

OK. Police Officer Don Hubbard was working as a security guard, but he raced to the scene, only to see the fireman run away from him. He catches up to the fireman, and the fireman continues to resist arrest, even though the cop gives him verbal commands over and over again, telling him to stop. And the cop also yells to bystanders, "Hey, help! Call for help!"

The firefighter eventually flips the cop on his back, and you`ll see it there. He`s beating him. OK? Punches him repeatedly in the face.

Now according to the police, the firefighter said, quote, "You shouldn`t have hit me. Was that a warning or threat?"

The cop said he had no choice but to shoot the firefighter, Bruno, twice in the stomach, killing him. The officer has been cleared of wrongdoing and reportedly had to undergo facial reconstruction from the punches he got.

I`ll start with eenie meanie miney moe. I`m trying to figure out who to start with. I would say, C.W., let`s start with the retired police captain. What do you think, did he do everything right?

JENSEN: Yes, he did. And who did everything wrong? The people standing around with their hands in their pockets, with a cell phone. Makes great TV. If they had run up and tried to help, as the officer begged, and called to this guy, and told him, "relax, stop," tried to help the officer, this guy would be alive right now. So it`s their bad.

Once this officer gets on the ground -- and I don`t know about the rest of your guests, but I`ve been popped in the head with a knee, with a fist, with an elbow, and I`ve almost gone unconscious. This officer knew he was going down. He thought he was going to die. He had one option, he took it. I would do the exact same thing.

I`ve been popped in the head with a knee, with a fist, with an elbow, and I`ve almost gone unconscious. This officer knew he was going down. He thought he was going to die. He had one option, he took it. I would do the exact same thing. If anybody says they wouldn`t, they`re lying.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.

Well, panel, anybody say they wouldn`t do the exact same thing? Raise your hand. Ok, so everybody believes, everybody here thinks the cop did the right thing, even though a firefighter, third generation, is dead?

All right. Let`s talk about another point that CW Jensen, retired police captain, raises. He attacked the people who are videoing. Now I always say don`t blame the messenger. Everybody today with a cell phone camera is a journalist, is a citizen who can record this stuff. I think that it`s their right as citizens to record it, and we`re learning something.

This isn`t just for television. This is us taking a look into what has happened since time immemorial, since guns were invented, since people ran into each other on the street at 2:30 in the morning, since cops were a part of our society. We`re seeing it on tape for the first time in the history of humankind. And we get to study it.

And Lisa Bloom, author of "Suspicion Nation", don`t you think that`s a helpful thing for us as a culture?

LISA BLOOM, AUTHOR, "SUSPICION NATION": I do. And I`m watching this fight very closely. And I dissected the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin fight very closely in my book. And it does seem that right at the moment that he pulls the gun, his head was being punched, banged into the concrete, very different than what happened in the Trayvon Martin case.

And of course, at that moment, he could pull a gun and shoot to kill in self-defense. You know, he is asking for help, though. And when somebody`s life is being threatened, as important as it is to preserve it on video, and it is important in general, isn`t it more important to save someone`s life and put the phone down and rush in and hold down an arm, hold down a leg so that a life doesn`t have to be taken?

I think I agree that it`s more important to help.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t know. I mean I don`t know if getting involved in a situation like this where some reports indicate the firefighter may have had something to drink. It was his wedding. Maybe he was intoxicated. I don`t know that citizens should insert themselves.

I just criticized two game wardens for getting involved in a situation. I`m not going to suggest now that citizens, who appear to be slurring their words --

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, people are scared. I mean the reality is a lot of people in this day and age are scared to get involved. They`re Ok with videotaping it, but they don`t want to jump in out of fear for what might happen to them.

And I mean look, in this case, Officer Hubbard had been a cop for more than 20 years. He was a well-trained police officer. When you have a well-trained police officer begging for help, I mean it`s just horrifying and tragic to watch.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But I do want to say my heart goes out to the firefighter`s family -- my condolences. This is very sad. And his widow.

On the other side, once again, and this one`s a real shocker, did an elementary schoolteacher taunt a student in front of her class, and videotaped the whole thing? It`s unbelievable.

We`re going to talk with the boy`s mother next and show you more of the video and the audio of what the teacher`s saying. Stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She would never jeopardize or bully anyone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did you get in that situation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This wasn`t simply a teaching moment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to get tasered?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lack of compassion, and then sending this video around that we`re playing after the fact.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She had a sense of humor and she tried to make light of the situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, outrage over this humiliating cell phone video. This little boy, elementary school kid, a special needs student with Asperger`s Syndrome is trapped in his classroom chair while the teacher doesn`t rush in to help him. Just stands back, shames, blames, and videotapes it all, even threatening to taser him in front of the entire class.

Now, all this happened in a Michigan suburb at Oak Tree Elementary School. Critics are calling the teacher`s behavior cruel and unacceptable. The fifth grader got stuck in the chair while playing during recess. But instead of helping him out, his teacher Nicole McFay whipped out her cell phone to videotape it. Watch this. You won`t believe it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want to get tasered?

If you wouldn`t have put your head in there to begin with, you wouldn`t be in this situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow, get tasered? You won`t believe it. The principal, who immediately resigned, said after walking into the classroom -- we`re going to show you that video in a moment. The boy`s parents say their son was stuck in the chair for 10 to 15 minutes like that. Until a maintenance worker finally freed his head.

We reached out to the teacher, who videotaped this. She`s on paid administrative leave. We have not heard back. She`s invited on our show anytime. A lot of people are defending her, saying we got it all wrong by criticizing or questioning her behavior. We`ve got a great "Lion`s Den" debate panel.

But first, straight out to -- well, we`ll call her Ann, the young boy`s mother, we`re leaving out their real names. This is awful. My heart goes out to you.

First of all, how has this affected your 10-year-old son?

ANN, mother: It`s just -- it`s horrible. I mean every day when he goes to school, I`m not even sure how the other children are treating him. And he, thankfully with his Asperger`s syndrome, it kind of acts as a protective cloak, because he can close himself off from things and act as if, you know, he`s oblivious to the situation. But it`s affecting him. He talks about the video still and repeats things about the humiliating video and things of that nature.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, how did it impact you, emotionally, as this young boy`s mother, when you saw this video? What ran through your heart, and your head?

ANN: Honestly, all I could do was cry. I mean it was awful watching him struggling and wiping tears away from his eyes. And the next day, I mean his eyes were so bloodshot, so many blood vessels were broken from crying and screaming his head and just helpless and confused because I mean Miss McFay was a trusted teacher that requested my son for a second year. And I happily obliged, because she did so well with him. And I trusted her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you feel that she betrayed your trust?

ANN: This is all so confusing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you feel there`s --

ANN: I do. I do. There`s so many unanswered questions.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He`s crying at this point is what you`re saying. He`s crying. This is not like goofing around oh, he`s enjoying it. The kids are laughing. But he`s not laughing, mom.

ANN: No. He was crying through this whole video. It`s very hard to hear the audio. But he actually says that he doesn`t want to die. At one point he said, "Please help me, I don`t want to die." In his mind that`s what was going to happen.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, my gosh. Well, at a recent school board meeting, parents and people in the community blame this child for the incident? Is that possible? And spoke in support of the teacher? Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is very compassionate. She has taught the children compassion. She`s taught them how to accept others. She loves the children. She is a very good teacher. She would never jeopardize, or bully anyone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was no incidents whatsoever where that teacher bullied that student. Yes, she had a sense of humor and she tried to make light of the situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Out to the "Lion`s Den". We want to get to the attorney for the family in a second. But I`ve got to go to Lisa Bloom at avo.com. I mean, these parents are very, very fierce in their defense of this teacher. And, you know, they say, well, when she says do you want to get tasered, or words for that effect, tasering is apparently code for tickling there and they feel that it didn`t mean that much? Do you buy it?

BLOOM: This is a special needs child who`s being humiliated. Children laugh as he`s crying, as he`s stuck in an awkward position. And the teacher is videotaping it like she`s another cruel 11-year-old in the classroom. This is absolutely appalling. My heart goes out to the mother and this child. And I hope the teacher gets fired. That`s the minimum that should happen to her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s not clear why --

AREVA MARTIN, ATTORNEY: Can I -- Jane, can I jump in?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sure, yes.

MARTIN: I have a child that has autism. I`m an autism advocate. And this breaks my heart because this is what happens to kids with special needs. Not only are they often bullied by their peers, they are actually bullied by the adults that are entrusted to care for them. Any of the parents that are standing up for this behavior, they should be silenced -- I don`t know, I just can`t even imagine parents seeing that this is in some way a sense of humor.

This woman videotaped this, and she just didn`t send it around to the school, she sent it to her friends.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know --

MARTIN: This is just an incredible violation of his privacy.

LEIBERMAN: That`s right.

MARTIN: And this is the worst kind of humiliation that a kid with special needs can suffer and a family.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Patrick Greenfelder, the attorney for the family of this young boy. That, I think of all the things, she videotaped it. The teacher -- there`s no contest. She videotaped it. And then it got out somehow. Not just to -- it got out to kids, to students, even friends of some of the administrators. Is that true?

PATRICK GREENFELDER, ATTORNEY FOR THE FAMILY (via telephone): Yes, that`s my understanding of this. And you know, the interesting thing about this whole bullying issue, I`ve had cases with kids and other students bullying people in the past. But bullies always think it`s funny. They try to pass it off as humor. "I was just being funny."

That`s ridiculous. That`s what bullies do. And that`s how they`re trying to pass this off. I don`t know, once you`ve seen this video, I don`t know how you can pass this off as humorous, or some sort of a teaching moment. That makes no sense to me. I think the video is indefensible, it speaks for itself.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, so many people are calling. They want to weigh in. Let`s take a short break. And we`re going to play -- we haven`t gotten to what the principal said, when he walked in. Stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are waiting for the maintenance to help you get out because you can`t get out without maintenance help. If you wouldn`t have put your head in there to begin with, you wouldn`t be in this situation. They`re trying to hurry up. But you know what, they have to probably come from a different building.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not really an emergency in their books.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The principal said it`s not really an emergency. Jon Leiberman, you`re a dad. What could be more of an emergency than this, a broken pipe somewhere, are you kidding me?

LEIBERMAN: The fact that a principal, of all people, would say that, and I mean now it`s pretty obvious why he resigned just a couple of days later, frankly. I mean, the insensitivity, that`s really what gets you. The insensitivity of how they sounded, passing around the e-mail. The teacher, actually the school board voted to fire the teacher. But because of the tenure rules, she`s going to have a hearing now, so she is actually only on leave right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Rod, Illinois, what have you got to say? Rod?

ROD, ILLINOIS (via telephone): Hey. Well, I think that this -- the teacher needs to be like fired, because, you know, I mean, it just appalls me because I have children myself, you know?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ann, we only have a couple of seconds. What do you feel when you hear these parents fiercely defending the teacher who did this?

ANN: It hurts. It hurts. I want my son to be supported. I want my son to be protected. I mean I don`t understand what could come before a child.

Yes, she is a great teacher. She was a great teacher. But that day, she made a terrible, terrible, terrible mistake. And she should be responsible for her mistake, just like our children have to be.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to tell you, we`re going to stay on top of this story. We want to find out what happens with the teacher. We want to have you all back to discuss this again.

And I`m sorry you went through that, buddy. You`re going to be ok. It will make you stronger. That`s what they say. What doesn`t kill you makes you stronger, right?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, on the other side of the break, the creator of "The Simpsons" has flown halfway across the world, even though he`s suffering, suffering physically, from a very serious illness, because he wants to save lives.

He`s on live from Japan with us -- the creator of "The Simpsons". Stay right there. He has a message for you at home.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We leave early today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yey -- whoop di doo. Whoop di doo to the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, we have the co-creator of "The Simpsons", one of the biggest TV shows of all time. With us live tonight from Japan, he`s a legendary TV producer and a heroic animal rights activist -- a crusader. He went to Taiji, Japan to bear witness to the dolphin slaughter.

This year`s dolphin slaughter hunt reportedly ends this week but in six short months, the waters of the cove have run blood red over and over again. This horror spotlighted in the Academy award-winning "The Cove" from Lions Gate films.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are totally freaked out, stressed out to the max.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got it. We got it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s national star, Hayden Panettierre weeping after leaving the bloody waters, upset, devastated by what she witnessed the slaughter of these highly intelligent mammals in the cove.

Now according to the organization Sea Shepherd says more than 800 dolphins have been hunted down and killed in that cove in September. They claim another 247 were taken captive including this beautiful, rare, albino nicknamed "Angel", ripped away from her mother who then reportedly committed suicide.

I want to go now to Academy award-winning television executive producer and co-creator "The Simpsons", Sam Simon. Thank you for joining us from Japan.

Why have you decided to go to Japan to bear witness to this horror?

SAM SIMON, CO-CREATOR, "THE SIMPSONS": Hi JVM thank you for having us on the show, your true friend of the animals as always. We came to -- I came to Taiji with Missy Hargraves (ph) and Alexandra Paul to help expose this horror that goes on in Taiji. And while it`s true and awful that they kill all these animals, the thrust and the main reason for the hunt at this point is to capture live dolphins, the youngest, unscarred females that they can find to end up in "Swim with Dolphin" shows and other captive attractions which are a life of slavery and total misery for these animals.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What can we do to get Japan to stop this? Only a few seconds Sam.

SIMON: You must boycott SeaWorld. You must boycott all "Swim with Dolphins" attractions and that will end the slaughter at the cove. The only reason it goes in is because they can get hundreds of thousands of dollars for these animals.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The industry in general, uses these animals -- I don`t know about that particular company but we understand your point. I want to applaud you for going there and bearing witness. And it`s important to all of us as viewers to bear witness and do something. Contact Japan -- the embassy -- tell them to stop.

Thank you Sam.

END