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Police: Robin Williams Hanged Himself In Home; One Hundred Thirty Additional U.S. Personnel to Iraq

Aired August 12, 2014 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next, new details about actor, Robin Williams' death. His friends and fellow comedians are OUTFRONT to remember the man, who made so many people laugh.

Plus the breaking news, more U.S. military personnel now heading to Iraq. Chaos and violence reigning in that country. Will the U.S. put boots on the ground?

And the president weighs in on an unarmed black teenager shot by Missouri police. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, police late today revealing the heart breaking details of Robin Williams' death. After a struggle with sobriety and depression, Williams hanged himself with a belt inside the bedroom of his California home.

There is evidence that he had also tried to cut his wrists. There's been a day full of tributes to the great actor. You are looking at a live picture right now of the flowers piling up on Williams' star on the Hollywood walk of fame.

In just a few minutes in San Francisco, the Giants will honor the man they call their greatest fan. One of the landmarks from William's most iconic roles continue through the day today.

The bench where Williams and Matt Damon filmed a scene for "Goodwill Hunting." Ted Rowlands is OUTFRONT just north of San Francisco live in Tiburon, California.

Ted, what more can you tell us about the heart breaking news that we learned today of how he took his own life?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, we know for sure now that Robin Williams was indeed seeking help for depression before he died. And we also know now for sure that he took his own life.


ROWLANDS (voice-over): According to the coroner, Robin Williams, was found in his home with a belt around his neck.

LT. KEITH BOYD, ASSISTANT CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: The preliminary results of the forensic examination revealed supporting physical signs that Mr. Williams' life ended from asphyxia due to hanging. ROWLANDS: Williams spent Sunday night with his wife, Susan, according to investigators, she'd left the next morning thinking her husband was still asleep. A personal assistant found Williams at 11:45 a.m. Monday morning.

BOYD: The forensic examination did not reveal any injuries indicating Mr. Williams had been in a struggle or a physical altercation.

ROWLANDS: At comedy clubs across the country tributes to Williams have popped up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was so shocked when it happened like so tragic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Robin Williams was honestly just one of a kind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Robin Williams has passed away.

ROWLANDS: Celebrities in interview and tweets are remembering Robin Williams as a sweet man, a one of a kind comedic and artistic genius. His 25-year-old daughter, Zelda, also tweeting a heart breaking tribute. When you look at the sky at night, you, only you, will have stars that can laugh. I love you, I miss you. I'll try to keep looking up.


ROWLANDS: What we don't know, Erin, tonight is whether or not Robin Williams left a note. Investigators say they will not comment on that at this time. They also say that the investigation does continue pending toxicology results, which aren't expected for two to five weeks -- Erin.

BURNETT: Ted Rowlands, thank you very much. So many questions out there with why, with so much talent and so many people who have idealized the man that he would take his own life at 63 years old.

Comedians are mourning one of their own. They remember Robin Williams and that includes our next two guests. Actor Andy Dick, he was friends with Robin Williams, and legendary talk show host, Dick Cavett, one of the first to showcase Williams' talents back in 1979 on his late night PBS show. There he is.

Andy, what's your reaction to what the police are saying. So hard when people look at this man -- and people today are describing him to us as sometimes shy and not always comfortable with the adulation that younger actors may have felt around him.

But he had become such a lion in the industry, and to hear this happening at age 63, what goes through your head?

ANDY DICK, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: Yes. Everything. I mean, the man, first of all, 63 is so young, to me. I mean, Dick Cavett's still going strong. I saw Dick Cavett on Broadway, I don't know if you remember. What was that?

DICK CAVETT, FORMER TALK SHOW HOST: Yes. DICK: The vampire transvestite. Rocker horror picture show.

CAVETT: Rocky horror show.

BURNETT: There you go.

DICK: Now you have two dicks on your show.

CAVETT: No waiting.

DICK: No waiting. Seats available. Robin was the first time I met him, I was doing a show in San Francisco, and they came back to my dressing room and they said Robin Williams is outside in line to buy a ticket for your show. I said, first of all, hang on, man, are you sure it's Robin Williams?

And they said yes. Secondly, just bring him in. Don't make him wait in line to get a ticket. I did my show. My show is very much like his, but a poor man's version of what he does because I kind of stream of consciousness. I looked up to that man. Always have.

When I was 12 years old, I would listen to, reality, what a concept. His first album. Over and over and over with my friends on vinyl. And here he is at my show. I went up to him after the show, which is always a little bit like this, just crazy.

I said why did you come to see my show? And he said, I had to. And I think that spoke volumes to me. I knew exactly what he meant, and because I talk a lot about -- I wear my heart on my sleeve and I talk a lot about addictions. I know towards the end he talked about his.

Then we came friends. It was almost like secret friends. He actually took care of me a few times when I was not at my best, and he continued to come and support me when I would do my shows.

BURNETT: And would help you out, which is incredible how he would do that and connect with people who also suffered from some of the same demons he did. Mr. Cavett, I want to play a clip from when Robin Williams was on your show back in 1979. Here it is.


ROBIN WILLIAMS: Look, toys all over the set. Don't be afraid, Mr. Cameraman, we're going crazy. Whoa. Mother gave this so I could write my new book. An ode to Fred Silverman. Let's talk. Props, let's go. Look -- I'm not going to touch that one.


BURNETT: I see you laughing there, but looking a bit bemused as well. I mean, did you ever imagine that would be how it would end?

CAVETT: It seems a little odd to say that I'm not totally surprised. Robin probably had one of the most difficult talents to be -- to have living inside you because of its incredible explosiveness and the volatility of it and his almost world class energy. Sitting beside him on two legendary half-hour shows that I did with him on PBS years ago, it was like sitting in the barge with the Macy's fireworks display. You felt this energy exploding all over the place.

The one thing I was sorry with the two shows -- though they were hilarious right from the top. I would have loved to get robin to talk so people could see not only what a great clown he was, but what a personable, super intelligent, thoughtful man he was. But I could never shake him out of the comic mask.

BURNETT: That's amazing. He had to put that on. You know, you said -- you've been open about having to deal with depression yourself and that a number of comedians have come forward and talked about how this has been a struggle for them, Jim Carrey, Rosie O'Donnell are on that list.

Why do you think it is that comedians struggle with depression? Is it because, you said that you always have to feel that you have to be funny and you have to be smiling even when inside you feel anything but?

CAVETT: Depression is a chemical thing. That's not news to anybody. But it does seem to me that it does strike an inordinate number of people in the business. I can give you a list of who's who names, many not known to be suffers and many who are, and suicides in the business.

And I don't know. If somebody would do a great research project on it there's some chemical link between the talented brain and some other aspect of that brain that is susceptible to depression, it would be very interesting.

As Andy knows, people go to booze, to drugs for alleviation. Alcohol is the wrong way to go because although you will feel a little better for a few moments, alcohol, as we know in school, is a depressing of the central nervous system and makes you worse.

There's really no way out except a good treatment. It bothers me to keep hearing the words "he sought help." did he get it?

BURNETT: Well, that's a big question. Andy, you struggle with alcoholism. I know even back even 25 years ago, Robin Williams had struggled with some of these issues for a long time. He had sought help. Hurt his personal relationships, hurt his marriages.

What would he say to you that explained how much he was struggling with it and how much he wanted you not to go through what he was going through.

DICK: I continue to struggle with alcoholism. I went through rehab 17 times. I used to be mad when we see guys that I knew that also struggled died and I would actually refuse to do this kind of thing. Now I see it helps.

You know what he would do, to be just very simple about it? He would laugh. You know, I can still hear him laughing with me just sitting one on one or sometimes the only one when I'm on stage, he'd be the only one laughing.

So the gift of laughter was not only -- he gave it by laughing. He was always laughing --

CAVETT: Andy, excuse me.

BURNETT: No, go ahead.

CAVETT: Once Robin came off from a club where he had just killed them in New York. We went back into the dressing room and they were still cheering. And he said, isn't it ironic that I can bring all that happiness to those people but not so often to myself.

DICK: I know, I know. That's kind of touching. People will be saying how could he do it? How could they do that to his wife and children? Listen, when you're in deep depression, it's the easiest world to do anything to anybody. You don't care. You can't make intelligent decisions. Your judgment is gone. Your brain foal feels broken and you can't be blamed for what you do.

BURNETT: Thank you both so much.

CAVETT: And people will say what have you got to be depressed about? You're rich, famous, wealthy and successful. That's like saying what do you got have flu about? It's an illness, anybody can get it.

DICK: Can I say one more thing?

BURNETT: Yes, of course.

DICK: I just wanted to let people know that if you have somebody that you love and you appreciate, just tell them because I feel -- I almost feel guilty that I didn't call more often and just tell anybody you love.

CAVETT: Get treatment as fast as you can.

BURNETT: Thanks to both of you. Just that you all knew him, but also when you think he got to 63 and had been fighting and fighting and then succumbed. Did Robin's heart surgery have anything to do with his depression? Doctors out there say yes.

Plus the breaking news, the United States announcing additional U.S. military personnel on their way to Iraq. Is it mission creep? Is it a big military involvement in Iraq?

Is it another Trayvon Martin? The president has gotten involved in a case of an unarmed black teen shot dead by police.


BURNETT: Tonight, the world is mourning the loss of a comedy legend Robin Williams. Police revealing today that Williams hanged himself with a belt inside his California home. There were cuts around the actor's left wrist. It was no secret that Williams battled depression for a long time, but what ultimately was the thing that made him kill himself on this day?

Deborah Feyerick is OUTFRONT with Williams' own words on his personal struggles.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Robin Williams!

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Perhaps it was no coincidence that Robin Williams' HBO tour was called weapons of self-destruction.

ROBIN WILLIAMS, ACTOR: You are an alcoholic. And some people say, Robin, I'm a functioning alcoholic which is you can be one like being a paraplegic lap dancer. You can do it. Just not as well as the others really.

FEYERICK: And perhaps it was no coincidence either that Williams did that tour in 2009, a year after a major operation.

WILLIAMS: Please, I've had heart surgery. Thank you.

FEYERICK: Surgery that he says triggered mood swings.

WILLIAMS: After the surgery, you get very emotional. It's like we're, people go how are you?

FEYERICK: For Williams it was all fair game.

WILLIAMS: When I was growing up, they used to say, Robin, drugs can kill you. Now that I'm 58, my doctor is going, Robin, you need drugs to live.

FEYERICK: Raw, honest, self-deprecating humor in which Williams shares with the world his struggles with alcohol and drugs.

WILLIAMS: I had a little problem with alcohol. I wasn't a problem. Everybody had it. But it was the idea -- I was an alcoholic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were a drunk. Now, do you think you've beaten it?

WILLIAMS: No, Larry, it's always there. Yes, I kicked it. No, I'm fine. No, the idea is that you always have a little bit of fear like you have to just keep at it. It's a day by day.

FEYERICK: In 1992 as a young comedian Williams famously partied with pal John Belushi hours before the blues brother star overdosed on heroin and cocaine.

WILLIAMS: Cocaine, what a beautiful drug. Anything that makes you paranoid and impotent, give me more of that.

FEYERICK: He soon quit cold turkey and remained sober nearly two decades until 2003 then relapsed and rehab. Here in 2006 for comic relief.

WILLIAMS: It is always good for me to come to Vegas after rehab. I love that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a good time for you.

WILLIAMS: A good time for me. It is like going to Colombia, you know. Where are you going for detox? Colombia. Just going to take it easy in this 24-hour alcohol town.

FEYERICK: In 2008 when his second marriage ended as a result of alcoholism, he says, Williams again went to rehab, joking about it with U.S. troops.

WILLIAMS: I was violating my standards quicker than I could lower them.

FEYERICK: Wherever he went, it seems there was always laughter. But with that came unbearable pressure. William suffered manic depression.

WILLIAMS: No, I'm not always fun to be around. And that there is this thing of, yes, the world sees one thing. And what am I like at home, different because I can't always be on.

FEYERICK: Surrounded by millions who adored him, loved him. Yet in the end could not save him.

WILLIAMS: Good night!

FEYERICK: Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT tonight, Dr. Charles Sophy, a psychiatrist who met Robin Williams and Dr. Daniel Amen, the neuropsychiatrist.

Dr. Amen, let me start with you. You know, from what we know and what you just heard Robin Williams saying there, I mean, obviously, his demons and his addictions destroyed at least two marriages, but he had a supportive family. His daughter adored him. Friends adored him. But the depression took over. What could have happened to trigger this now, after fighting it for decades and decades? He's 63 years old. What would have made it happen now?

DOCTOR DANIEL AMEN, NEUROPSYCHIATRIST: Well, I think there's actually stacked stresses, so a number of them. What we know is cocaine abuse, alcohol abuse, all damage the brain. The heart surgery that he has, there's evidence that that can damage the brain, aging. And then if you take his show being canceled. You see the stacked stresses that weigh on him so get him to a point where he feels great pain is hopeless and then he kills himself.

BURNETT: And Dr. Amen, you mentioned the open heart surgery that he had in 2009, that he just referred to there in Deb's piece. Dr. Sophy, you know, he talked about that surgery and how it affected

his mind and emotional state on Ellen DeGeneres' show. And I wanted to play that for you.


WILLIAMS: With guys, especially, you know, you get this whole thing in we armor up like I'm a dude, I'm a dude. You have a heart surgery and literally they open you up. They crack the box. And you get really vulnerable. You will be like I can't (INAUDIBLE) and you get very emotional about everything.


BURNETT: You can talk about something to serious and yet it's funny when he says it.

Dr. Sophy, is there a link between heart surgery and mental health issues?

DOCTOR CHARLES SOPHY, PSYCHIATRIST: Absolutely. That's why within the cardiac rehab process, you look at the mental health pieces of yourself. You also are not just getting your body back in shape, you're getting your mind back in shape to be able to deal with the fact that you had something that rock your core that really showed you that wow, I'm infallible. I could die. And there is something that could really do me in that is more powerful. It really wakes you up. And it's very scary.

And as he was saying, men don't typically emote like that. They want to be tough. And so, with all that, you hide a lot.

BURNETT: And Dr. Amen, the Cleveland clinic, that's where Williams underwent his surgery, one of the top places in the world. They say open heart surgery patients who have life transitions going on are especially susceptible to depression. So in Williams' case is this even more apropos, the fact that he was divorced twice. He was struggling with addiction, that all of those things would make the heart surgery even more risky?

AMEN: No question about it. All of them matters. When we evaluate people, we always look at biological, psychology, social and spiritual influences. And if you have trouble in any of those circles, it makes you more vulnerable to depression and all of the consequences of it.

At the Amen clinics, what we do is we do imaging. And we can actually see the damage or the evidence of those stresses, and most people don't know that, I mean, depression really is a brain disorder and brain rehabilitation can be so helpful, diet, exercise, simple supplements, medication, a newer treatment called transcranial magnetic stimulation.

There's so much hope to rebuild and repair the brain. But a lot of people, when they get depressed, they get to such a dark place that they lose hope. And they actually lose things, as Dick Cavett (ph) was talking about, empathy, so they don't really understand what this is going to do to the people they love.

BURNETT: And Dr. Sophy, what about this issue that we've heard and I think our viewers have seen just watching these clips from Robin Williams over the past 24 hours. He was always so funny. And even when someone asked him something serious, he would answer in his mode, right? He would have the comedian side turn on. And the study from the British Journal of psychiatry says comedians that are more inclined to have -- I want to quote it -- high levels of psychotic personality traits. Is there a link between that, between great comedians and depression? And why is that? I mean, is it just as simple as you have to think you have to be funny all the time, but you're still a human underneath it. Is it that simple?

SOPHY: No, I think there is definitely a link, though. But it is as simple as saying that humor, often times, is used as a defense mechanism for people who are uncomfortable about feeling or uncomfortable where they are emotionally and they don't have the ability feel safe enough to do it in a vulnerable way. They do it in a funny way. And because that ends up becoming like their thing, they end up making money from it, they're good at it, if this becomes a way of life and a self-soothing tool. So yes, it's good to have humor as a mechanism of defense. But however, you can't use it at your own detriment.

BURNETT: Thanks very much to both of you, Dr. Amen and Dr. Sophy. And for more resources on coping with depression, go to

Still OUTFRONT, one of Robin Williams' most famous movie, one of my favorite, "Dead Poet's Society." I want to share with you my personal connection to the film. We have a wonderful story tonight.

And more U.S. military advisors are heading to Iraq. How many more Americans are going to be going into Iraq top defeat the terrorist group, ISIS. Is this a war?


BURNETT: Breaking news. We're just getting word that more U.S. military personnel are headed to Iraq tonight. Approximately 130 new military advisers are going to northern Iraq. That will bring the total number of American military personnel on the ground to more than 900. The advisers are headed to the area where tens of thousands from the minority group called the Yazidis are stranded as they flee religious persecution by ISIS.

Today, the U.S. military conducted new strikes to get ISIS' position near Mt. Sinjar. That's where the Yazidis are right now desperately trying to get assistance on the top of this mountain. They have been firing ISIS as Yazidis trying to flee the area preventing them from coming off of that mountain, just one day after we brought you the dramatic rescue as the fly mission on the mountain. Our Ivan Watson with the brave and credible reporting as helicopter that was being used to bring aid to trapped Yazidis crashed today.

Now, the pilot, an Iraqi general, died. Everyone else did survive. Ivan Watson was on that helicopter flight yesterday. And he joins us

now from Iraq.

And, Ivan, the Yazidis who made it off of that mountain, like some of the ones you met yesterday who were rushing you and so desperate to get any kind of help and assistance, where are they going?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I would say the majority of them, Erin, are sleeping out in the open, basically camping out on roadsides on the medians of highways and in the shells of unfinished and abandoned buildings. We watched thousands of them crossing, you know, some of them, handful got out on those helicopters that were flying off the mountain, an overloaded helicopter of which crashed that had many of these refugees on it, but far more were coming out on foot and were coming across a bridge into Iraqi Kurdistan. And some of those people are just literally camping out on the banks of the river at the border where they walked in.

These people exhausted. They're tired, hungry. And one of them described how on a marathon march through the desert, he had to bury two of his infant brothers who expired as a result of exposure to the elements.

BURNETT: I mean, this is just so -- it's impossible to imagine when you hear these things that they're happening in this year 2014, Ivan. But the word that's been thrown out there is genocide and whether that's a risk. And if it is, that that might be the only thing that could justify a greater U.S. involvement. It is such a crucial question in the United States.

From what you have seen in your reporting, isn't a word that is appropriate to use?

WATSON: Hey, it's certainly a word that the leadership of Iraqi Kurdistan is using a lot, that the members of the different ethnic and religious groups that are being pushed out en masse from their homes, that they're using as well. I -- from my vantage point, I haven't seen bodies, I haven't seen mass murders, but I've certainly seen what looks like a systematic policy of ethnic and sectarian cleansing where people are pushed en masse from their communities largely based on their religious or ethnic identity.

And these vast numbers of people from a wide variety of different groups, they include Kurds, and Christians and Turkmen and Syrians and Yazidis, there's one thing in common here, they're fleeing one group that's armed that's called ISIS, and they all seem to be getting shelter here in Iraqi Kurdistan, even as its troops are involved in what appears to be an existential battle against the ISIS militants -- Erin.

BURNETT: Ivan Watson, thank you so much. Ivan Watson doing, as you have all no doubt seeing, incredible and great reporting from Iraq.

And joining me now is Juan Zarate, former deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism. Juan, you know, now that we hear, we're going to have another 130 U.S.

personnel headed to Iraq, the defense secretary just talking about this moments ago, with the number. We've now got more than 900 Americans on the ground.

Is this enough to make the difference? Or is this -- when you hear what Ivan's talking about, about a policy of ethnic cleansing, a drop in the bucket and do we need to be more honest, if the United States is going to do something about it, it's going to require a lot more people and combat?

JUAN ZARATE, SENIOR ADVISOR, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, Erin, I think it depends on what our objective is. If it's to stave off the offensive against our Kurdish allies in Peshmerga, to save the Yazidis on Mount Sinjar, then the airstrikes may help, and some of these additional advisers will be helpful.

But it's certainly not going to be enough to dislodge ISIS, and it's certainly not going to be enough to defeat them and dislodge them from the safe haven they've created in both Iraq and Syria.

And so, I actually agree with the latter part of your question, which is, we've got to take a step back and ask ourselves, what are we trying to achieve here? And if we're trying to actually dislodge and defeat ISIS, it's going to take more than 130 additional advisers and it's going to take more than just airstrikes.

BURNETT: And that -- that, of course, leads to the question of boots on the ground and what ISIS is fighting with. I mean, the Kurdish regional government chief of staff told CNN, I want to quote him, "ISIS has all sorts of sophisticated weapons." And, in fact, we've heard reports that ISIS is fighting with a lot of American-sourced weapons that they've gotten from somewhere or from Syria, versus the Kurds, who don't have the same quality of weapon.

I mean, how sophisticated is their weaponry and how well-armed are they with American weapons?

ZARATE: Well, ISIS I think has been underestimated. They're well- resourced. They've obviously held territory. They've taken major cities like Mosul and Tikrit. They've overrun Iraqi security installations, have picked up weaponry, the Humvees and the tanks that we left behind for the Iraqis.

They're also well-resourced. We've talked about this before, Erin. They run a war economy. They've inspired not just donations but foreign fighters to fight for their cause.

So, this is a real enemy. They're equipped. They have a mission and they need to be pushed back.

And I'm not sure this requires American boots on the ground but at a minimum, it requires support to the Peshmerga, our Kurdish allies, who are willing to fight and who are currently fighting this group.

BURNETT: And when you talk about the need for the United States to take a step back and look at things really are, and an honest evaluation of what this might entail, it made me think about this -- the president back in January talked to "The New Yorker" about ISIS. And he said at the time, I'll quote him, "The analogy we used around here sometimes and I think it's accurate is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn't make them Kobe Bryant."

Now, here's how the Pentagon described ISIS just yesterday.


LT. GEN. WILLIAM MAYVILLE JR., DIR. OF OPS FOR THE JOINT CHIEFS: They're very well-organized. They're very well-equipped. They coordinate their operations. And they have thus far shown the ability to attack on multiple axes. This is not insignificant.


BURNETT: They didn't just get all that ability in a few months. So, why did the U.S. government underestimate them?

ZARATE: Well, I think part of it, Erin, is that we don't have a footprint on the ground the way we once did in Iraq. And so, we don't have the intelligence infrastructure, the military footprint in Iraq. We've been absent largely from Syria. So, we're a bit blind as to what's happening there, as well, which is where ISIS has really gained strength and territory.

And so, this is a group that is serious. They're piggybacking off of the al Qaeda narrative and inspiration and even infrastructure. And the reality is as you listen to American officials, there's real concern that this is now becoming a platform for potential attacks against the West.

So, this is not just a group threatening the Yazidis on the mountain or even the Kurds, this is a group that's becoming an inspiration to the global jihadi movement and that's really what has American officials worried.

BURNETT: All right. Juan Zarate, thank you.

ZARATE: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And still to come, police brace for violence in Missouri after an unarmed black teen is shot by police. Is this Trayvon Martin all over again? President Obama has weighed in.

And much more on Robin Williams, including his friendship with a gorilla named Koko. Jeanne Moos has that story.


BURNETT: Breaking news on the unarmed black teenager shot and killed by police in Missouri.

Tonight, President Obama has weighed in calling the death of 18-year- old Michael Brown heartbreaking. Anger over Brown's death has exploded into chaos and violence. President Obama addressed that in his statement saying in part, quote, "I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across this country to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds."

Tonight, though, police are bracing for more violence for a second night in a row. Shots already have been fired. Police using tear gas to disperse the crowds.

As everyone wondering, and now the president has weighed in, is this Trayvon Martin again?

David Mattingly is OUTFRONT from police headquarters.

And, David, now the president has weighed in on this, it's very significant. There was another case of white on black violence that did not -- he did not weigh in on, he has in this like he did only in one other case, Trayvon Martin.

What is this doing to the tension in the community where you are?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the president's comments today are reminiscent of the personal reaction he had to the Trayvon Martin's case -- Trayvon Martin case. And at that time, the president's comments did have an effect on the demonstrators in Sanford, Florida. They really took it to heart.

It's a little too early to see what effect it might have here in Ferguson, Missouri, but as you can see the demonstrators are not going away. These people have been outside city hall almost all day today demonstrating. It's just another example of how this case is very similar to the experience we had with Trayvon Martin.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): The tragic killing of Michael Brown prompts almost immediate comparisons to the death of another unarmed black teenager. The case of Trayvon Martin might differ in detail but its influence on the Brown investigation is evident. Within 48 hours of Brown's death, national leaders of the NAACP were already in Ferguson, Missouri, framing the killing as the latest in an ongoing national problem.

CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, NAACP PRESIDENT AND CEO: I believe that Trayvon Martin case is a prologue to a sad national narrative where we have young people who are accused of underwhelmingly minor offenses that are often met with a major overwhelming sometimes lethal use of force.

MATTINGLY: The U.S. Justice Department became involved just as quickly. Attorney General Eric Holder calling in the FBI and U.S. attorneys, but saying that local investigators should be prepared to complete a thorough, fair investigation in their own right.

In the Trayvon Martin case, the Justice Department didn't get involved until after public confidence in the police investigation was lost. A possible mistake not repeated in Missouri.

CNN contributor Mark O'Mara represented Trayvon Martin's killer George Zimmerman.

MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Without question, we have been sensitized because of the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin matter that it is going to be under a microscope. And quite honestly, in our criminal justice system, it should be. We should be looking at these cases very, very carefully.

MATTINGLY: Attorney Benjamin Crump represented the family of Trayvon Martin and now speaks for Michael Brown's parents. Crump points to one key difference -- Trayvon Martin was killed by a resident on neighborhood watch. Brown's death is at the hands of law enforcement.

BENJAMIN CRUMP, BROWN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Trayvon was shot once. But as we understand from these witnesses, this child was shot multiple times, and left on the ground like a dog.

MATTINGLY: That harsh image now drives angry demands for justice and official promises of transparency, also reminiscent of the aftermath in the death of Trayvon Martin.


MATTINGLY: And police in Ferguson prepared again tonight, but not knowing what to expect. The same posture they were in last night when they had that confrontation. The FAA also weighing in today, issuing a no-fly zone over Ferguson, Missouri, for at least the next week saying it's for safety reasons for the police investigation -- Erin.

BURNETT: A dramatic move.

Thank you very much, David Mattingly.

And OUTFRONT next, Robin Williams changed one school forever. It just happened to be mine.

And Robin Williams and one special gorilla.


BURNETT: Since Robin Williams' death was announced last night, fans around the world have been sharing their memories about him. And one of our favorite times was the time the comedian met a gorilla named Koko.

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sure, Robin Williams made us smile. But what made him smile? Tickling an ape?

ROBIN WILLIAMS, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: I tickle her and she's -- MOOS: It was an encounter he called mind-altering, holding hands with

a gorilla named Koko, famous for understanding sign language taught by her surrogate mom, Dr. Penny Patterson.


MOOS: Profiled by PBS, the cover girl in "National Geographic", and in 2001, Robin Williams asked to pay a visit.

PATTERSON: She was very drawn to him.

MOOS: She took his glasses and ended up wearing them. She picked his pocket, investigated his wallet, but mostly she asked.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tickle, tickle. She wants you to tickle.

MOOS: And they tickled and tickled and tickled.

Ellen DeGeneres noted Robin's harry arms.

ELLEN DEGENERES, TV HOST: Koko, the gorilla --

WILLIAMS: She actually looked at me and went, where have you been?

MOOS: Years later, he was still using the encounter as material but at the time of the visit.

PATTERSON: He was so quiet and respectful and just present.

MOOS: Perfect for making a gorilla swoon.

(on camera): Though this a one-and-only face-to-face meeting, Koko was already familiar with Robin Williams.

(voice-over): She had watched the documentary he did on dolphins and he watched "Awakenings" over and over.

WILLIAMS: But it was interesting to me, you know, hit on by another species.

MOOS (on camera): Koko is known to have a bit of an obsession with a certain body part.

WILLIAMS: She did this and her translator said she wanted you to lift your shirt and I lifted my shirt and she grabbed both my nipples. I went, I like you.

MOOS (voice-over): But their relationship was nipped in the bud.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't hit. Sweetheart --

WILLIAMS: All of a sudden she grabs my hand and tries to take me in the back, and all of a sudden, I see her translator going, Koko, no, Mr. Williams doesn't want to play bump, bump.

MOOS: Funny stuff, but try making a gorilla laugh. Back in 2001, Koko was 30 years old and sad about the death of her companionate named Michael. She hasn't smiled in six months until this funny man tickled her fancy.

Penny Patterson says Koko knew something was amiss.

Listening to phone calls Monday.

PATTERSON: I just said, Koko, we've lost a dear friend. You remember Robin.

MOOS: How could she or we forget him?

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: Something miraculous about great how he got her to smile after she had lost Michael.

Well, we want to give you an update on this. Koko's surrogate mother tells us actually that the encounter with Robin Williams and Koko lasted for a couple hours, which was pretty much the longest ever visit that Koko tolerated with a human.

OUTFRONT next, when Robin Williams came to my school.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

WILLIAMS: There is seating near the front. The concert begins at 5:00. It will be Mozart, Elvis, and one of your choosing. Or just so nice if heaven exists, to know that there is laughter. That would be a great thing. Just to hear God goes, two Jews walk into a bar --



BURNETT: It's tough to pick a favorite Robin Williams movie, but mine is "Dead PoetS Society." Robin Williams was unforgettable in his role as an inspiring teacher. He filmed that movie at my high school.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Captain, my captain.

WILLIAMS: Sit down, Mr. Anderson.

BURNETT: "Dead Poets Society," a movie loved by many, and the heart of an entire school -- generations of students and teachers like Eric Kerner, who is a young teacher at a school in Delaware when Robin Williams arrived there to film the modern classic.

ERIC KERNER, ST. ANDREW'S FACULTY MEMBER: There's great deal of excitement, being able to witness, having a film company on campus and filming here.

I think my favorite scene is an opening scene where he's orienting his students and has them peer at the images of past students, most of whom already passed away, and Robin Williams kind of lurks behind them as they are learning towards the pictures and he starts whispering, their voices from beyond.

WILLIAMS: Carpe diem.

BURNETT: It was more than 25 years ago, but Robin Williams' character, the passionate teacher John Keating, still defined St. Andrews School, my alma mater. The movie poster in the admissions office, pictures of Robin Williams in the main entrance to the school. I'm still so proud of my school's link to Robin Williams. I like, so many other graduates, say did you ever see the movie "Dead Poets Society" with Robin Williams? That's where I went to school.

Today, a day after Robin Williams death, the iconic locations from "Dead Poet Society" are frozen in time.

Tad Roach is head master of the school now. When he was young teacher, he spent time during Robin Williams during the months Williams spent at St. Andrews.

Tad tells me he never forgot Robin Williams and director Peter Weir. "We found inspiration from his depiction of a revolutionary and passionate classroom teacher. But we who are on campus in those days were so struck in particular by the grace of Peter Weir, and the spirit and vitality Robin Williams."

Together, Weir and Williams saw their visions unfold in the beauty of St. Andrews, pond, buildings and fields.

KERNER: I was struck by how generous it was and played off his experience of the school and experiences with the students, and very funny and very humorous. But also inclusive, but at the same time, I just still had this impression that he was almost embarrassed to be the center of attention. You know, he was a shy person.

BURNETT: Robin Williams made carpe diem, a modern phrase brought alive by a man who as a person, not just as an actor, gave a school a soul.

WILLIAMS: Left, left, left right left.


BURNETT: Surely did. It's such a part of that school and it's amazing just to imagine that he's not there anymore.

Well, tonight, CNN will have much more on the life and career of Robin Williams. CNN Spotlight "Remembering Robin" airs tonight at 11:30 Eastern with our Nischelle Turner. You don't want to miss that. It's right here on CNN at 11:30.

Thanks so much for joining us. We're going to see you again here tomorrow night.

"AC360" with Wolf Blitzer starts right now.