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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Protests in Ferguson, Missouri, Again Turn Violent
Aired August 17, 2014 - 23:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news here on CNN, as we have been covering tonight from Ferguson, Missouri. Increased tensions - really the most tense night between authorities and protesters there on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.
You're looking at live pictures now. It was very, very tense just about an hour ago. We can also show you those pictures on one side of your screen so you can get a perspective of what has happened here, hundreds of protesters on the street in Ferguson, Missouri clashing with police officers. What we know from our Steve Kastenbaum, our producer on the ground there, is that he witnessed shots fired at the police. We also know that the Missouri State Patrol had said that some of the protesters did become violent, that some were encroaching on their command post. If we can, in the control room there, I'd like to show a split screen to our viewers so they can see what has transpired there over the past two hours, and what we are seeing now, the live pictures. We're going to work on that for you. I want to get to Ed Lavandera, our reporter on the ground there. Ed, we talked to you on the phone throughout the last hour as you were getting to the scene. What does it look like now? Is it significantly calmer?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's an interesting situation now because the officers have moved north along the street that has been of greatest concern. And now, news media is essentially blocked behind the line that authorities have set up along North Florissant Road here. And we're being told by officers that there were reports of more gunfire. There were reports of a fire in a market just up the road. They have a line set up and then they have officers. They're patrolling through the neighborhoods, trying to confirm these reports as well. So it's an extremely tense situation.
Our vantage point at this point is not as good as it used to be but, you know, it's definitely a situation where, beyond the police line, you can hear that it is still extremely tense in here. Officers and -- speaking on the bullhorns, if you will, from the patrol cars, you can see the helicopter with the floodlights line over the neighborhoods, and you can see the patrol cars moving. You can hear the radio traffic from the line of the SWAT team that has been moving north along this road.
So they are trying to confirm those reports of more gunfire. It's not exactly clear if that gunfire was directed at officers or if that was directed at people within the crowd. We have not been able to verify what exactly is going on with that situation. But it also seemed that the more -- another pressing situation is that fire in that market, but it's exactly trying to -- from our vantage point, it's very difficult to tell exactly whether that has happened. I don't see any flames in the distance or any kind of smoke rising up through the flood of police lights and -- that are scattered and the streetlights. So we're waiting to kind of hear any kind of confirmation we can on that, Poppy.
HARLOW: Ed, standby. I want to play some sound for our viewers coming from a protester. A woman protesting earlier tonight that came into us from our affiliate. They're on the ground. I want you to listen to what she said on camera to them, if we can roll that please for our viewers?
LISHA WILLIAMS, WITNESS: So we was marching peacefully. We was (inaudible) in front of the command center, just simply wanting to bend down to our knees with our heads up and say to the police, "Our hands are up. Don't shoot." And all of a sudden, we (inaudible) and started shooting teargas. I did teargas in the military. I know what teargas is when it's burning my face and my eyes. And that's what they were shooting us with. Where there's nobody (inaudible), no firebombs, where nobody shooting. We simply marched up to their command center to say, "Hands up. Don't shoot," and they started shooting.
HARLOW: Lisha, I can hear how upset you are. I am sorry for everyone having to go through this all around. You know, right now, obviously, the authorities wanted peace and calm. That is not what happened. Can you tell me -- I know that you say you were protesting peacefully. I do want to tell you that the Missouri State Patrol is telling us here at CNN that some of the protesters became violent for their officers and were encroaching on us on the command post. Did you see that?
WILLIAMS: That is a complete (inaudible) lie. No one -- I was at the flank. No one came aggressive to them, no one. That is a lie. There was no fight. There were no shots fired. Only ones who were shooting were the police. They got to win because there was black people, thousand of black peoples, came up on them saying, "I'll be damn smart, you know we're falling to our knee." We didn't have to be shot down with no teargas. I did 10 years in the military, just came back from Iraq, and you're shooting me with teargas? I didn't get teargas in Iraq but I'm on city streets getting teargas.
HARLOW: That was from our conversation last hour with Lisha Williams, one of the protesters on the ground. I do want to get to Steve Kastenbaum, our producer. Because, Steve, you -- our viewers just heard what Lisha said happened to her and some of the other protesters. At the same time, you witnessed shots fired during this tense standoff between protesters and police. You witnessed shots fired at police, am I correct?
STEVE KASTENBAUM, PRODUCER, CNN RADIO CORRESPONDENT: That's correct, yes. And everybody hit the deck when we heard the unmistakable sound of shots fired. I'm actually standing in the general vicinity where Ed Lavandera is now and we're hearing off in the side streets in the community here in Ferguson, the SWAT teams have gone off into the community, presumably, to look for the people who scattered as the police approached. And we hear warnings going off on either side from us, the loudspeakers, you know, saying all sorts of warnings, you know, "Stand down," or, "Move," that sort of thing occasionally.
We're still hearing the sound of canisters being fired. I don't know if it's smoke or teargas. I'm not sure if you're able to bring in Ed Lavander now. I understand we may have a camera feed up with him and we may able to bring you some live looks here now, what's going on, Poppy. I'll let you (inaudible) with the control room as I'm talking. But if you need to interrupt me at any time to bring in Ed, let me know. But ...
HARLOW: So I'm going to -- I am going to interrupt you, Steve, to bring in Ed Lavandera. Thank you for that. Don't go anywhere, standby. We appreciate your reporting on the ground. Let's go to Ed Lavandera. I believe we have his shot, if we can bring it up, do we? There we go. Ed, you're on the ground. And the first thing I thought when I saw you is it is good news behind you because at least from this vantage point it looks like things have calmed down.
LAVANDERA: Well, I -- we started off this way because I wanted to show you exactly. This is North Florissant Road and this is Canfield Drive. And if you make a left to your -- and you turn that way, that is the road where the shooting of Michael Brown took place. And this is -- I wanted to set the scene about how this evening started with the protest, and it was starting peacefully. There were families out here, children out here, and they were starting to make their way toward the command center, which is probably about a half mile or so up this road. And then the police started pushing the crowd back. And this is where I want to bring in Steve Kastenbaum who has been here throughout most of the night. Stevie, but you've been telling me -- and now, you've been talking about it on air, but now, we can kind of start showing people exactly what you've been talking about. But you were just up at the beginning neither.
LAVANDERA: You can see the McDonald's down there in the distance. You were in that area.
KASTENBAUM: Yes, we were at that McDonald's back there. The parking lot next to the McDonald's is where the media had been staging for the curfews. And we could see off down a little bit beyond us that there was a confrontation going on between the group of hundreds of protesters that had marched toward the command post at the target center parking lot. We could see the blue lights. We could see smoke coming in our direction. We knew something was going on and then we heard the telltale sounds of those smoke canisters and teargas canisters being fired on the crowd. Now, we have just watched this group of people marching in that direction. And ...
LAVANDERA: You know, at this point, it's peaceful. Everything looks calm.
KASTENBAUM: Peaceful, absolutely peaceful. Obviously, they're angry, they still want answers about the shooing of Michael Brown, they're not happy with the way they feel they've been treated by police throughout all of this. But for the most part, we saw peaceful people. There were even families in there with little children marching in that direction. Many of them with their hands up, using that now familiar chant, you know, "Hands up, don't shoot." So, as they were coming back to us, that's when it got extremely chaotic.
We don't know what triggered it. But the smoke canisters, the teargas started flying in every direction. Canisters fell right at our feet, our cameraman, Quentilus (ph), was actually hit by one of these canisters. One of the other canisters of teargas literally bounced off of the vehicle I was in as I was trying to get our gas masks out and the car was enveloped in smoke. So it's a very chaotic situation.
LAVANDERA: Got you. Now, we're talking about a half mile, Poppy, as things moved that way and then started coming back this way. You can see here -- and I don't know if you can zoom in on the roadway here, but there's a bunch of bricks along the road, shattered glasses, well -- and Steve, you're telling me, this was a barricade that some of the protesters, as they were being pushed back, set up and put up in the middle of the roadway.
KASTENBAUM: Exactly. It was a very intense situation here because we saw several hundred police, heavily armed, riot gear, pushing the crowd back as they were forming a line behind their armored vehicles. And all the while using not just smoke and teargas but we also heard flash grenades going off in the crowd. Several demonstrators refused to move, they stood their ground, they weren't aggressive, they were just standing their ground, they were defying orders to move back, to move back, you're too close to us. And we did shoot some video of one man who was shot by rubber bullets. Quentilus (ph) was shooting this as it happened literally a feet from him -- a feet away from him. But all of that time, there was a body of demonstrators that was not dispersing. They were standing their ground. They were defying this order from the riot police to disperse.
LAVANDERA: How big do you think this group is?
KASTENBAUM: It's hard to say. It was in the dozens, possibly 100 to 200, but no more than that. And they were approximately 75 to 100 yards away from the riot police. So, there was a significant distance between the police lines and the protesters line. And it would ebb and flow. There would be moments where there was calm and you didn't hear any canisters going off and then it would start up again. You would -- the warnings would be heard in the loud speakers, "Disperse or you face arrest." They didn't disperse, it fired another round of smoke and teargas at them. And there was lot, I mean ...
LAVANDERA: Let me show one thing here because I want to come and talk to Steve about the gunfire that we've been hearing. But we are on the back side of this police line. I'm going to get Steve to kind of show a few look over here in front me. This is where the back of the police line is here that has move down or up and this is facing north here on North Florissant Road. And the SWAT teams have moved up this way and the police lines are down here. And this where authorities are now focused on in that area, we cannot get pass them at this point, you know, and the investigating police here not knowing as they've been hearing more gunfire, reports of gunfires, not confirmed at this point, but that is the area they're looking for. And they got patrol cars and those armored vehicles into that area as the -- one of the officers here told us a little while ago, "This is a situation where you cannot send just any patrol car into these situations with gunshots obviously." Gunfire can penetrate these cars and the say that's why they're using the stronger vehicles to be able to protect themselves from the gunfire. But -- so let me bring Steve Kastenbaum again. Because, Steve, when I first rolled up here, I did hear the ricochet of several gunshots. In all, throughout the evening, how much of this have you heard tonight?
KASTENBAUM: It's hard to say. When we first arrived here tonight to just prepare for coverage studio overnight because we've been working here through the overnight hours, during the curfew and the pervious evenings when we saw some balloting (ph) taking place, we were parked just over there with our other crew that's out here shooting video tonight as well. Another producer, Chuck Condor (ph), has been on the air talking about this. And while we were situated there, there was the unmistakable sound of gunshot and we saw muzzle blast. You could see the flash, this muzzle flashes. So, it was clear that even though the overwhelming majority of the people who where here, there were families out here, people who live in this side streets where protesting peacefully, there were a few bad actress in the crowd. So it was a very tense tonight.
LAVANDERA: All right. Thanks, Steve. And we'll -- Poppy, we'll continue to monitor the situation and talk to these guys. Poppy?
HARLOW: And, Ed, I want you to keep Steve there with you because I just want to really clarify for our viewers because that's significant, what Steve Kastenbaum is reporting. It's significant that he says that he actually witnessed shots fired at police. Can we clarify that with Steve, that he did indeed -- he witness shots fired at the police there, correct? I mean I know that there also were some belief fireworks going off as well, so I just want to clarify for our viewers the difference here, that both may have been happening. But I'm not on the ground there and you and Steve are. So, Steve, tell us exactly what you saw.
LAVANDERA: Yes, you know, we're talking about the shots that you heard. Were they directed at police, you think?
KASTENBAUM: The initial shots earlier and the evening you're talking about, the ones we've heard over here. No, we don't believe so. There was -- there were groups of people (inaudible) about in different areas and this -- that we saw, those muzzle flashes that Condor (ph) saw -- Chuck Condor (ph) saw were in a parking lot in the back area off of the main the drag here. So, no, we don't believe that those initial shots were directed ...
HARLOW: But, Ed, what shot did he see?
KASTENBAUM: (Inaudible) we came back up here as we were advancing along with this confrontation, there was a moment when we reached this spot where everybody hit the deck because there was the unmistakable sound of gunshots.
LAVANDERA: And the ones you saw were the initial ...
KASTENBAUM: Right, correct. Earlier in the evening.
LAVANDERA: And that was the -- it's really what started all of this?
KASTENBAUM: I wouldn't even say it started all. I think it made police very aware of the fact that there were some bad actors in the crowd here, that there were some people who were not here just to peacefully protest or least were armed. You know, they were aware of the fact, you know, our own security were telling us, you know, that this is the case here. There are definitely people, and you don't know how many, and again, I really want to reiterate that the overwhelming majority of the people who were here weren't protesting peacefully. They had brought out their children, you know, who were talking part in this demonstration here. So there -- I can't stress that enough. It was a small number of people. But nonetheless, there were some bad actors here in crowd who for whatever reason came here with guns.
LAVANDERA: And we're still some time away. I'm trying -- I don't know how far away we are from the official curfew ...
KASTENBAUM: We're 45 minutes away from the official curfew. And we should say that behind us right now, it seems relatively quite but the ...
LAVANDERA: It has been quite since we meet ...
KASTENBAUM: The SWAT teams, what has happen here is they found out -- we're told by local police official, they found out into the side streets because a lot of the people who were taking part in this demonstration who were standing up to their police lines sort of scattered of into the side streets. And we hear, you know, the teams going to the crowd, going to the side streets, we hear the announcements periodically. Occasionally, we hear another sound of a canister, a gas canister, being fired so.
LAVANDERA: Right. Yes, we hear that. So, you know, still very chaotic.
HARLOW: And, Ed ...
LAVANDERA: Poppy, we're still trying to get the same song of just how much of that gunfire has been fired. Go ahead.
HARLOW: Ed, before you go with Steve, I know it's hard because for our viewers, Steve doesn't have what we call an IFB and meaning he can't hear me, so Ed has to relay what I'm asking to Steve. But I just want to be clear because we've been reporting this through the night from what we've been told by Steve, but is it -- I know that he heard shots fired at multiple times in different locations throughout the evening. However, did he indeed witnessed shots fired, did he witness them, see them, shots fired at police as we have been told? Is that what he saw?
LAVANDERA: The initial ones -- that those initial gunfire -- Poppy is asking, that initial gunfire, that was not directed at police as you've said. Did you see anything directed at police?
KASTENBAUM: We did not witness anything direct to the police. In fact, earlier in the evening, we saw a repeat of what we saw last night, which was police from several municipalities, primarily Saint Louis Metropolitan Police Department officers, were lining the street here in front of (inaudible). We saw this last night. Molly (ph) had ride here with them -- there's a vehicle backing up behind us, sorry -- they were not wearing their right gear.
LAVANDERA: We have to move over to this side a little bit.
KASTENBAUM: They were not even wearing the right gear. They were standing -- just standing watch over private property here as they did last night. And there weren't -- was very little of any interaction between police and the crowd, you know, that I think the crowd here knew because of what happened a few nights ago, balloting (ph), but the police were here to protect private property along either side of the street, you know. The community members here were very upset about the people (inaudible). He spoke to them the next day, the community members, and they told us what they witnessed was unforgivable some of them said.
LAVANDERA: And I've been amazed because I was here earlier in the evening when people were staring to show up and I was amazed by the -- a lot of the roadways actually into this stretch of -- the road have been block off way up there at the north and here at the south, and even off along the side roads that people were taking and people were parking their cars to come participate in the demonstration tonight. And all the side roads that kind of feed into this main stretch of road were jam-packed with cars of people trying to get in here. When I got back here tonight, you know, a lot of those cars were gone, a lot of those people were heading out of here.
KASTENBAUM: In fact, there was definitely a different tactic being employed here tonight. Last night, there were lots of vehicles parading up and down the avenue here, right up until the curfew happened. And those vehicles have lots of people piled on top of them as they were demonstrating. That was clearly a very unsafe situation. I mean, you know, we were saying over and over again that we were concerned nobody get hurt. Somebody crossing the street might get hit by one of the car, like fall off on one of the vehicles. And it was clear to us that the police very early in the evening were not allowing vehicles into this area probably because of that (inaudible). So it was mostly people on foot. They were walking in here.
LAVANDERA: (Inaudible) another step line of the police cars making there way, kind of reinforcement here. Poppy, I don't know if they're going to go beyond the line. But this is another line of car -- police cars that are coming into the area. The helicopter that is hovering over the neighborhood now is just over our head. It had been further up north along the road, so I don't know if that means they're focusing on a different area in this neighborhood, kind of hard to stay at this point given our vantage point. Poppy?
HARLOW: Absolutely. And again, as we just remind our viewers, Steve and Ed, thank you for that. We are watching this unfold as they are watching this unfold. And we are going to be back after a very quick break. We're going to bring in a State Senator there from Missouri on the phone to get her reaction to all of this, the latest breaking news from Ferguson, Missouri and the other side after a quick break.
Welcome back to our coverage here on CNN, a live coverage of the situation that has been enfolding this evening in Ferguson, Missouri. What you are looking at now is live pictures of the scene there. What has happen tonight is that over the last few hours, the tension has escalated significantly between protesters and of course also between the authorities. The situation has seemed to calm down significantly from how it was just about an hour ago.
I want to bring in on the phone -- we have a State Senator, Maria Chappelle-Nadal, on the phone with us. What can you tell us about what you know in terms of what has transpired there on the streets of Ferguson? A lot of people still want an answer as to why this escalated so quickly? What can you tell us?
MARIA CHAPPELLE-NADAL, MISSOURI STATE SENATOR, DEMOCRAT: So, here is what I can tell you. The people who I was with this evening, we left about literally 10 minutes prior to seeing the news on television. I will tell you, as we were leaving the corner of Canfield and West Florissant, we heard about five to six shots. And in the car, we all ducked down, the three of us. And we're definitely nervous, not a little bit nervous but definitely nervous, and we decided to reroute the direction where we're going to go.
Consequently, there's a lot of traffic. And as we are leaving going South and West Florissant, what I noticed first, there was only not even a minute after we heard the gunshot. We didn't see any of the police officers that had been on both sides of West Florissant going east and west. And so, I knew something was going on, something was up. So the only experience that I had was the five or six shots, and then by the time we got to our location, a few municipalities over, then that's when I thought (inaudible) on the news.
I will tell you that my constituents have emailed me, Facebooked me, texted me tonight and have said that there were several different things going on. Some black on black crime, unfortunately, and then the engagement between police officers. They had not indicated that any of these incidents were connected whatsoever, but it is what I know and this is what has been stated in several inquires. And these (inaudible), just making sure that I was not on the ground. Again, between the time I left and the time that things started being reported on the news, was really 10 minutes. And so, whatever erupted was very fast. I will tell you that I'm still very concerned about everything that's going on.
We had a very positive day. When I left, there were several parents, a lot of mothers, a lot of children who were on the ground. And so, I'm very concerned about their welfare at this point right now. I'm still receiving some reports from the ground of people who had been in the area and you had left the area. So I'm still taking in information. But I will tell you that at the time that we left, there were several families that were still on the ground peacefully protesting. And I think this may be -- I don't know for a fact, but I think it may be a situation where there are some few bad actors who just ruined the entire day or my entire community. This has been the -- if not the biggest turnout of private citizens, it was certainly the second biggest turnout of private citizens today, or since this whole incident occurred.
HARLOW: Thank you very much for joining us there, State Senator, Maria Chappelle-Nadal. I appreciate you joining us on the phone there. With that, thank you for calling in. I want to go now to Julie Bosman. She is a New York Times, Chicago Bureau Chief. I'm going to bring in my colleague, Brian Stelter, who knows Julie well, as well through all of this. Julie, can you hear us?
JULIE BOSMAN, CHIEF, NEW YORK TIMES, CHICAGO: Yes, I can.
HARLOW: So, Julie is on the ground there with some of the protesters in Ferguson. What can you tell us?
BOSMAN: Well, I'm standing here at the corner of West Florissant and Layne which is just few blocks north of the QuickTrip that was alluded (ph) one week ago today. And right now, the side streets are very quite. We have a helicopter (inaudible) overhead and there are several large armored police vehicles that are just south of us, in front of the QuickTrip. And they are telling everyone to go home. Every time a car turns on the street, they say to disperse. So, it's clear that the curfew has kicked in earlier than the police have planned. And right now, I'm standing with a group of four young men who live on the other side of West Florissant and are effectively trapped because they're afraid to cross the street to get home.
HARLOW: I want to bring in Brian Stelter as well here, our CNN media correspondent who's been tracking this with me this evening. I know you have a question.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I wonder for Julie, how many arrests have you seen tonight? How many arrests do we know because it seems like police have tried not to arrest too many people in prior nights unless they absolutely have to?
BOSMAN: I am not personally seeing any arrest generally speaking as every night has gone on. The police have waited until usually 3:00 or 4:00 or even 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning to tell us the number of arrest. Last night which as you know was quite (inaudible) crowd past midnight, even then the police only made a small handful of arrests. So it seems that they have tried everything they can to not take that step even if it means, you know, releasing teargas and using other measures to get people to go back to their home.
STELTER: Have you ever experienced that intimidation from the police because there's been a lot of claims from other reporters tonight of police saying, "Get out of here, get out of here?"
BOSMAN: Well, I have to say in this experience, you know, the police have not treated journalists with any special privileges. They in fact have sometimes (inaudible) our coverage which they say is for our safety. Last night, of course when midnight hit, they wanted everyone to go into, you know, press tents. But they did say, "You're welcome to be outside of the press tents. You are just, you know, putting yourself at risk for arrest." But I personally have not seen any kind of, you know, intimidation from the police, but I also have been treated just like every other person our here whether, you know, violent demonstrator or people protester.
HARLOW: And Julie, it's Poppy here. I do have one other question for you. You know, one of the things that as we've been live reporting, as it has been unfolding on the ground, is, you know, we want to hear from as many protesters on the ground as many authorities on the ground as we can. We've heard from several protesters. We have not been able to get any of the authorities on the line with that however. Do you have any sense from the people that you've talked with or you're with on the ground there of why this escalated? Because there's conflicting reports and there's not a lot of clarity right now.
BOSMAN: Well, what I'm hearing is probably what you're hearing which is that there were gunshots. The police responded to that. They are taking report of gunshots very seriously. And I think what you're seeing here tonight is large groups of people who are protesting but has very different ways of doing so. The young man that I was talking to a few minutes ago said, "Look, we have lived in Ferguson our entire life. We want this to be over. We believe in it but this has gone too far and we don't agree with the people who have been looting and burning and, you know, and doing what they have done that has made our town seemed so chaotic." And I think a lot of people here feel like this has just gone completely out of control.
HARLOW: Julie, thank you for calling in. I just want to remind our viewers as we have you on the phone as well that this curfew begins 30 minutes from now. The curfew that is supposed to take place for the second night tonight in Ferguson, Missouri such take place in about 30 minutes at 12:00 midnight local time, Central time there in Ferguson, Missouri. We're going to get in a quick break. We'll be right back with all the developments of what's unfolding tonight as this tense situation continues on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.
Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. We are continuing to cover the situation unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri where the tension has risen to its highest level between protesters and police in the last eight days since that unarmed teenager, 18-year-old, Michael Brown, was shot and killed by a local police officer.
What you're looking at now are live pictures of a situation that has become much more calm as we are less than half an hour away from that curfew, set to take effect at 12:00 midnight, local time. I want to go Ed Lavandera on the ground because, Ed, these pictures that we're seeing when you contrast them with what we saw about an hour and half ago, looks much more calm. But what are you seeing from your vantage point there on the ground right now? LAVANDERA: Hey, Poppy, we are witnessing a situation here where we have -- from we're about 100 or so yards away and there's two SWAT vehicles surrounding what looks to be like three men. We can see them. They have been hit with the floodlights and we can see them standing there with their arms up. We hear a lot of yelling back and forth, various voices that we hear. It's hard to make out exactly what is being said, but it looks like -- I'm trying to listen as we speak here. But -- and I think you can make out a little bit here in the darkness and you see one of the people there with their hands up.
And then there appears to be about 25 officers in riot gear standing back. Now, they're starting to move a little bit. It's not exactly clear if they're trying to arrest these people or push them back to get them inside. The SWAT vehicles are kind of approaching at them, but all three of the guys, from where I can tell, have been standing there with their arms up for the last 10, 15 minutes or so.
HARLOW: OK, Ed. Thank you very much. Please stay with us. Stay safe. It is a very tense situation there as you can see. We're going to get more on what is happening on the ground. I want to tell you something. As we've been reporting throughout the night, our Steve Kastenbaum had earlier reported that witnesses -- that he witnessed shots fired at police. We're also getting confirmation now from the Saint Charles Police Department telling CNN, quote, "Shots were fired in our direction," that coming from the Saint Charles Police Department right in the vicinity there of Ferguson, Missouri.
I want to go to our Brian Stelter to talk a little bit more about -- this is another important development that we've been getting tonight about the autopsy. The autopsy -- the independent autopsy that was done on Michael Brown's body are requested by the family done by famed pathologist, Michael Baden. The New York Times first reported that CNN has confirmed it. What can you tell us about the significance here?
STELTER: Well, a couple of details are brand new. One is that six shots were -- that six shots were fired according to these independent autopsies, one of three that is either happened or going to happened. Because we learned today that the Justice Department has approved its own autopsy that they will also do that will happen later. But this is an independent one at the request of the family. And here, that six shots were fired, at least two of those in the head, it gives people more evidence depending on what they think happened. Unfortunately, it's nothing conclusive. It doesn't tell you any ones for sure.
HARLOW: Right. And they know that. And New York Times reported ...
STELTER: Yes. But then I think the medical exam was very being careful, saying, "We need more information." For example the police should be examined in the automobile to see if there is gunshot residue in the police car.
STELTER: But already, based on this limited information, people believe it, you know, it plays into whatever theory they have about what happened. Because these shots were all in the front apparently that might (inaudible) people's theories that Michael Brown was going after the police officer on the other hand.
STELTER: The shots were all in the front, you know, they're all on the arms in the front. Does that mean that his arms were up? Well, that (inaudible).
HARLOW: And then you have two shots to the head, one to the top of the head, correct?
STELTER: Right, right. And that's what is believed to have been the fatal shot. But this is a -- it's a case where it's not necessarily more information, not necessarily better information, you know, because ...
HARLOW: That's an important point to make, Brian, it is. I mean as we -- you cannot jump to any conclusions. We are not experts on an autopsy report, that is for sure, and we are reporting what this independent autopsy is showing at this point in time.
STELTER: And of course the first autopsy, the one that was done, you know, in the media wake of this tragedy has not been released.
HARLOW: Has not been released. We don't know if it will be released. What I can -- or we can tell our viewers is that we know at 9:30 a.m. local time there in Ferguson, we know that Michael Brown's family along with their attorneys are going to be holding an -- holding a press conference to talk about the results of this autopsy. That is going to happen tomorrow morning.
STELTER: And what we're seeing is a battle of dueling narratives. We saw a lot of this on Friday with the police coming out and releasing the name of the officer who killed Michael Brown. But then in the same time, releasing information about an alleged robbery that Michael Brown was involved in. That I think was an example of the police trying to take back the narrative. Well, you might think that this autopsy report that was done at the request of the family is an attempt by the family to take back the narrative. It is ugly, isn't it, because what we're seeing are these dueling sides trying to win.
HARLOW: It is. And frankly, it shouldn't be about a narrative. It should be about pursuit of the truth.
STELTER: And figuring out what happened and why. There are a lot of unanswered questions of this report in the New York Times, and our independent confirmation doesn't answer. One of them that I keep asking is why was this body on the ground for hours? There are even some reports that the paramedic wanted to do CPR and was told not to. There are a lot of questions about he immediate aftermath of this shooting. They are just as important as the shooting itself. And we don't have answers of this question.
HARLOW: Brian, I appreciate you going through that for us or reporting that for us here on CNN. I want to get to Steve Kastenbaum, one of our producers on the ground there who's been reporting with us all night. Steve, as I've just told our viewers just a moment ago that Saint Charles Police Department saying to CNN, quote, "Shots were fired in our direction." And I know you throughout the night have heard multiple shots fired. But I want to clarify something for our viewers because we got reporting here into CNN coming to me from some of our teams saying that you witnessed shots fired at police. Can you clarify that for us? Did you see shots fired at police?
KASTENBAUM: Sure, absolutely, Poppy. And as you can imagine, it's very chaotic moment when all of this is going on and unfolding and there were spilled teargas canisters going on and a lot of (inaudible) in the air. So it's important for us to clarify exactly what happened and make sure we're, you know, make sure we're clarifying this. And I'm telling you exactly what I saw and witnessed. So, as the line of riot police were advancing towards the whole demonstrators, we saw -- well, first we heard the unmistakable sound of gunfire. There was no doubt in our mind it was gunshot. We had heard it earlier in the night. We have heard it throughout the course of events here in Ferguson from time to time.
Everybody hits the deck. The police went down, hits the deck. Several of them got behind their armored vehicles and we heard several of them saying, "Shots fired, shots fired." The -- some of the police pushed us back for our own safety and that's where the Captain from the Saint Charles County Police came out and told us that shots were fired in their direction. So, again, I want to make sure we're clear about this. While I was behind the police line, we heard the unmistakable sound of shots being fired. Everybody hit the deck. We saw the police taking cover. And then it was moments later that the Captain of the Saint Charles Police came out and told us that shots have been fired in their direction.
HARLOW: Steve, thank you. I want to bring -- don't go anywhere. I'm bringing in Brian Stelter who has a question for you.
STELTER: Steve, just a followup question. Because if you hear shots were fired at police, the obvious followup question would be are there any reports of injuries among the police, sustained by the police?
KASTENBAUM: Well, you know, we're waiting up for an update actually. Momentarily, there's going to be some sort of update from the officials here. So, as of right now, we haven't heard of any injuries. Well, you know, if you're looking at the images that we sent in earlier, I'm sure you're seeing how all of these police officers have bulletproof vests and some of them are in full-body armor. We're looking now at some officers (inaudible) naturally. I'm looking at a police officer now who is walking back over the avenue with a flashlight. I don't know what he's looking for, evidence or what not, but he is slowly walking down West Florissant Avenue with a flashlight on the ground and he is going over all sorts of debris that's in the street right now. So perhaps, they're looking for evidence of the shooting. I'm not sure.
STELTER: Anyone ... KASTENBAUM: He's also going over the barricade that had been put together rather hatefully by the demonstrators. They've somehow found bricks or pieces of concrete, blocks that they've piled up in the street that ultimately the armored vehicles were able to drive over. But again, I'm watching this state trooper going over the area with his flashlight and examining the ground very closely right now.
STELTER: Steve, anyone who had hope that the heavy handed presence of police, the militarize vehicles that we saw several days ago, anyone who'd hope those would be taken off the streets will be disappointed tonight. We still see a militarize presence on the streets of suburban Saint Louis.
KASTENBAUM: Yes. And before this all started, there were police here but it was peaceful. They were mostly officers from Saint Louis Metropolitan Police Department who had been brought in to help assist. And while they had riot gear with them, they weren't wearing it tonight. And it was a very large crowd out here. The demonstration was going on as it had happened several nights in a row. And the police officers were taking a very hands-off approach to policing the protest earlier in the evening. They were basically just scattered, lined up in front of the shops here on the avenue. And occasionally, there would be some interaction with people in the crowd but it was friendly interaction.
There wasn't any sort of -- well, we didn't see any examples of confrontation between police and the demonstrators earlier in the evening. It was -- it didn't turn -- it didn't take a turn, and so the marchers going up towards the command post that is situated at the parking lot of the Target shopping center.
HARLOW: Steve Kastenbaum on the phone for us. Steve, thank you for the reporting throughout. We're going to let you get back to talk to people on the ground and continue assessing the situation there. We're going to take a quick break here on CNN. We're going to be back in just a moment with more of the development from the ground there in Ferguson, Missouri on his tense night there. We'll be back in just a moment.
Welcome back to our viewers both here in the United States and around the world. We are following the development on the ground in Ferguson, Missouri. Live pictures there you're seeing of relatively a much more calm scene and we had seen unfold tonight. If I can have our control room pull up by split screen if we can to show you what the situation was like, the intense clashes between protesters and authorities, police on the ground there over the last two hours. And now, the situation is we are just about 15 minutes away from that curfew there in Ferguson, Missouri.
The situation has gotten much more calm. There are images from earlier tonight. We saw authorities with armored personnel vehicles, we saw smoke grenade fired, and also, we saw teargas fired. And now, the situation has gotten much more calm on the street. If we can make that so people can see both images, I'd like them to see live images as well if we can please make that happen. As we do that, I want to bring in our National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem, who is also former Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. She's joining us from Boston. I believe she's on the phone.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes.
HARLOW: Juliette, looking at this situation as you have been watching, as we have been watching throughout the night, it has unfolded these images from earlier today, what can you tell us about how you handle a situation like this on the ground that has escalated really the most that we've seen in this eight days since Michael Brown was shot and killed?
KAYYEM: What the primary goal, and it appears at least there were some success in this regard, is to separate the lawful demonstrators of which I would say a majority, you know, 99 percent of the people there were from what appears to be a few people were either harassing or threatening the police and their bunker. And so, that being done by dispersing them in ways that look horrific on the screen, but essentially, disperse the crowd, set up the curfew is exactly what needs to be done because all you care about at this moment is deescalating so there's no further violence. The questions can be asked later about what happened, why did the police start this or who started it?
I think the second thing is I'm sort of surprised still at the lack of, I guess, sort of public persona of Governor Nixon. I mean, at this stage, we're now in day seven or eight. This is no longer a local event. It's no longer just about Ferguson. And this just becomes a national-international event, and this is when leadership outside of Ferguson needs to stand up and I think that we ought to see more of that leadership come forward to try to just, you know, sort of deescalate the situation that seemed to have elevated rather quickly. The curfew will also help and then in the morning determine actually what happened.
HARLOW: You know, Juliette, there's been a lot of discussion over what we have seen. Police wearing there in Ferguson in the protest earlier in the week in terms of the tactical gear that has been worn, you know, the riot gear, the armored personnel vehicles that we saw earlier on the week. Then they weren't there. You know, on Thursday night, we had this peaceful protest and now they're back. Is this the equipment that is needed at this point in time from what you can see?
KAYYEM: Generally, no. And I was very critical of the use of that military-grade weapons and equipment early on in the week. It seemed unnecessary if you propose peaceful protest. I think in most instances, this -- situations like these can be handle by normal community policing, which is essentially what you saw mid week. The escalation today and probably the sort of military equipment that we're seeing on the air now is the result of the police officers feeling threatened. We don't know if that's true or not, but we have to, you know, we have to protect our first responders. And so, part of it is just ensuring that they are not in harmed way. And so, it's just we just don't know specifically what started this escalation. The military-grade weapons are unnecessary in most domestic incident in this uncertainly peaceful protest will qualify when, you know, normal community policing efforts are the right response. And this is where once again the state should've stepped in, make sure that a small police department which simply does not know how to handle a situation like that that the state should've stepped in earlier to handle this in a way that was appropriate because you just -- you simply had a situation that got out of hand way too fast and it was not inevitable. This could have been stopped early on.
HARLOW: Juliette Kayyem our National Security Analyst. Thank you for calling in and watching this with us tonight and giving us your expertise. I appreciate it. Thank you very much. I want to go now to the ground. We have two photojournalists there on the ground, Tim Schinsky also Chris Daniel with us who can talk to us about what they saw tonight. Let me go first to you, Chris Daniel, what did you see and what happened and what are you seeing now in terms of the deescalation that it appears to be on the streets there?
CHRIS DANIEL, PHOTOJOURNALIST: Well, from the beginning we're -- I was in front of the protesters as they were making a march heading towards -- it would be (inaudible), that direction on West Florissant. It's completely peaceful. Angry, yes, but chanting well within their right, you know, protest. We were -- the photographer going from side to side, for me, just trying to set up our shots. There was nothing out of the ordinary that was happening at the moment.
At one point, I climbed just where Emerson Electric is. I climbed up onto the hill there to get a better viewpoint and a better shot and angle. And that's when I noticed that the armored vehicles began to move in rapidly -- excuse me. As they did, I took a few more steps and that's -- they made an announcement to disperse immediately and what's -- literally was a couple steps to my right to get another angle is when the first shot rung out. And it was gas at that moment and just pretty much panic at that incident.
HARLOW: And what about for you, Tim? I mean the question that everyone's been asking the night, that frankly we're likely not to get full clarity on is why this escalated so quickly. Again, we haven't yet heard or been able to get any of the authorities, the police, or Captain Ron Johnson for example in charge of security there on the line to talk to us about this. We do have a number of reporters and producers on the ground. You're there. But what did you witness and do you have any insight into why this escalated so quickly?
TIM SCHINSKY, PHOTOJOURNALIST: I'll answer the same. When those -- when you say peaceful protest, there were just protesters on the streets chanting with their arms up, but there was a definite police line down the street in the distance with sirens and they're already had engaged in shooting sound (ph) cannons, maze canisters, whatever they have, pepper spray canisters hitting me on the ankle, and really escalating, engaging, kind of almost like starting the conflicts. And only -- the people on the ground weren't really in the combative state of mind so they are provoked. And so, they started shooting. I was behind two lines of the crowd and then I was actually shot in the thigh with this rubber bullet just to show you the scale of these things. And before I even realized what happened to me, I told myself I was just shot out of nowhere and then I felt on the ground, don't know what it was, someone else picked it up. I don't know if I was going to explode. They picked it up and headed to me and I realized that it was just a rubber, big, giant projectile that hit me in the thigh. And its -- I have a little bit of a limp and of course I'm swelling and I took some medical attention for that.
But I'm just appalled at how the -- it seems like the police are provoking kind of like combat, if you're going to call it that, and shooting at a crowd of good -- I can't even see their faces that's how far they were away, how they were shooting projectiles, pepper sprays, sound (ph) grenades and projectiles at us. There's kids running around. There's -- and I won't say families, but there are teens and young children actually in the crowd.
HARLOW: Yes. Tim, I apologize for interrupting you. Thank you for joining us both here. I'm sorry, Tim, that you got hurt in all of this. I do want to say to be clear the Missouri State Patrol telling us that some of the protesters were encroaching on their command post and that some of them became violent and that is why they began using more of this tactical gear and why we may have seen some of this reaction. Still a lot that needs to be clarified, but that coming to us from the Missouri State Patrol saying some of the protesters had become violent.
Other protesters telling us live here on CNN, "We were peacefully protesting throughout," and obviously, you know, there are people clearly from, you know, with -- telling us. Some people are protesting peacefully, we know that. And the authorities are saying some of the other people aren't. We're going to take a quick break here. Thank you both gentlemen for joining us and for your work on the ground there. A quick break. We'll be right back on the other side.
I'm Poppy Harlow, live in New York. We have been following the unfolding situation in Ferguson, Missouri where those protests became increasingly intense throughout the night. They seemed to have calmed down a bit as we approach that midnight curfew, their Central time in Ferguson, Missouri.
I'm going to hand it off now to my colleague, Errol Barnett and Rosemary Church. They are going to be live with you throughout the night here on CNN as we continue to follow these developments. Thank you for being with us. We'll bring you the very latest as soon as we have it. Rosemary and Errol, I'll hand it over to you now.