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Murder Caught on Video?; Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Found Guilty; Coroner: 'Multiple Gunshot Wounds' to Victim's Back; Man Who Took Video of Shooting Speaks Out; Interview with U.S. Congressman Ed Royce of California. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 8, 2015 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:03] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: shot in the back. Investigators are studying the new video of a police officer killing a fleeing suspect. The officer is accused of murder. Should he also be charged with planting evidence?

Demands for justice. Another African-American community is speaking out against the use of deadly force by police. Was racial bias a factor?

Life or death? The Boston Marathon bomber now stands convicted of the deadly terror attack. Will jurors now order his execution?

And al Qaeda's hit list. The terrorists are offering a reward of gold for the death of two enemies in a bloody power struggle that's strengthening its power to plot against America.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: The breaking news: A police officer charged with murder after a graphic shooting video surfaced now has been fired from his job as well. New details are emerging now about his fatal confrontation in South Carolina with an African-American man who apparently was unarmed and running away.

The coroner confirming tonight that the victim had multiple gunshot wounds in his back, as well as elsewhere. Watch this. Angry protesters disrupted a news conference today by the North Charleston police chief and the mayor. This case is fueling fresh outrage across the nation about the use of excessive force by police and their treatment of black suspects.

Also breaking now, the Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, found guilty of all 30 criminal counts against him. The same jurors must now decide whether he gets the death penalty or life in prison.

We have correspondents, analysts and newsmakers, they're all standing by. We are covering all these breaking stories.

But, first, let's go to our own Brian Todd. He's in North Charleston, South Carolina, with the very latest -- Brian. BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we have just confirmed moments

ago that officer Michael Slager has just retained a very powerful attorney. The attorney's name, Andy Savage. He's a very well-known local lawyer who has represented suspected enemy combatants and police officers in the past. We are just getting that information a short time ago. Andy Savage is the new attorney for officer Michael Slager.

Also tonight, Walter Scott's family's attorney has confirmed to CNN that Scott was shot five times, he was actually five times in this incident, once in the ear, four times in the upper body with likely chest wounds exiting his chest. A total of eight shots were fired. Again, this coming tonight as we are learning more information about this officer's background with the North Charleston police.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): The final agonizing moments of 50-year-old Walter Scott's life caught on this cell phone video. Tonight, the police officer who fired the eight shots is in jail without bond, charged with murder. The victim's family is grieving and this small community is on edge.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Black lives matter.

TODD: In the moments after the shooting, Slager, a five-year veteran of the North Charleston Police Department, immediately blamed the shooting on a struggle with Scott over the officer's stun gun.

MICHAEL SLAGER, DEFENDANT: Shots fired. Subject is down. He grabbed my Taser.

911 OPERATOR: Shots fired. He grabbed your Taser. Subject is down.

TODD: Today, North Charleston's police chief and mayor would not address if Scott, a Coast Guard veteran, ever even handled the stun gun, although many here point to the video, saying it appears to show Slager dropping an object the size of the stun gun near Scott's lifeless body.

Tonight, CNN has learned Saturday's shooting is not the first time Slager has had issues involving his stun gun. He was the subject of two civilian complaints during his five years on the North Charleston police force, including one in 2013 for improper use of force against an African-American male. The individual in that case, Mario Givens, claimed that Slager used a stun gun on him when responding to a burglary call.

Givens said did he not match the description of the subject. Slager was later cleared of that charge. An earlier training report from 2010 paints a different picture, commending Slager was demonstrating -- quote -- "great officer safety tactics" in a run-in with an armed suspect. It went on to say he kept calm throughout the situation.

During a contentious press conference today, the mayor of North Charleston was interrupted repeatedly by protesters demanding justice.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: No justice.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: No peace.

TODD: Mayor Keith Summey told reporters that he grieved with the family of Walter Scott, but also felt sympathy toward officer Slager's wife.

KEITH SUMMEY, MAYOR OF NORTH CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: The officer that was terminated, his wife is eight months' pregnant. And while she -- he has been terminated, the city is going to continue to cover the insurance on her for the baby until after the baby is born. We think that is the humane thing for us to do.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[18:05:07] TODD: There are still critical gaps remaining in the story. Why did Walter Scott exit his vehicle? Was there a scuffle in this incident, as officer Slager had initially claimed? The mayor and the police chief would not answer those questions today, saying they are part of the investigation -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd on the scene for us, thank you.

The White House says President Obama is aware of this new and deadly police shooting and the incriminating video. The Justice Department here in Washington is also investigating the possibility that federal civil rights laws were violated.

Our justice reporter, Evan Perez, has more of what's going on from the federal perspective.

What are you learning, Evan?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the reaction from the Justice Department was very swift on this case. The shooting happened on Saturday and by Tuesday, the FBI and the Civil Rights Division both had opened investigations.

I think one of the things that they will be interested in is going down to North Charleston. You can see the reaction in the crowd there. There appears to be some frustration with the police and the city. That's probably one thing they will have to study, whether or not there's something bigger than just this one shooting going on down there.

BLITZER: How common -- it's pretty extraordinary, I think, for the federal government, the Justice Department to actually launch charges against a police officer in a case like this.

PEREZ: Right. That's very difficult to bring these charges simply because police officers often get the benefit of the doubt. Usually, you don't have video like this incredibly shocking video which shows what happened.

Of course, this doesn't show what happened before the person shooting the video started recording. So that's something that the Justice Department is going to want do is try to interview any other witnesses who might be able to shed light on that, Wolf.

BLITZER: Evan Perez reporting for us, thank you very much.

The chief, the police chief of the North Charleston Police Department says he was sickened when he saw the video of Walter Scott being shot in the back. We want to zero in now on some of the key moments in this really startling video, what they reveal about the confrontation. The video, as you know, is very graphic.

Our law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, is here. He is a former FBI assistant director.

Tom, walk us through some of these scenes that are on the video, because, as I say, without this video, we would probably not even know about this case.

TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: OK. Wolf, what we see here is the person that's shooting the video starts out.

And the officer and Mr. Scott have already come about almost two blocks from where the traffic stop was made. They're in the middle of the park here. They're having a little bit of an arm tussle it looked like possibly for the Taser, which might be this object sitting on the ground here.

Meantime, Scott decides to run. And the officer draws his weapon and when he gets so far, he starts opening fire on him. So we see shots fired. We can see by the arms of Mr. Scott that as he breaks his fall going to the ground, it appears that both hands are clear. It's pretty obvious that as he is going down here, it's pretty obvious that he's unarmed and being shot in the back by the officer.

Then what we see is, the officer comes over and he drops something on the ground next to Mr. Scott, who is lying on the ground possibly already deceased. And then he goes back shortly later and picks it up. This is around the time the second officer has arrived. You see his shoulder right over here. And so the question there is, is he planting evidence, then thinking about taking it back? Either way, he is tampering with a crime scene. He has no business doing that.

Then, in this video, we see them -- we see the second officer on the ground next to Mr. Scott trying to treat with him. We also see what looks like Slager having already picked up the object off the ground and placing it somewhere on the left side of his belt. And that would be consistent with where a Taser would be housed on the belt. It would be on this side of his belt. The other officer is checking.

It doesn't appear in any way that he is helping him or administering first aid. We assume that maybe they know the paramedics are going to arrive shortly and can do that. But, at this point, really, nothing is being done on behalf of Mr. Scott lying on the ground.

BLITZER: A lot of people are shocked that the police officer and the other police officer really didn't try to save the man's life when they walked over there. They just sort of handcuffed -- he handcuffed him, even though he was down on the ground. Much more on this coming up. Tom Fuentes, thank you.

Let's discuss all of this very disturbing information, including the video, with the president of the National Urban League, Marc Morial, who is joining us right now.

Marc, thanks very much for joining us.

MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: I always like to say I wish we could meet under different circumstances.

But what's the reaction, your reaction, the reaction of the National Urban League to this pretty shocking video?

MORIAL: This is an inhumane, a heinous act, where this officer was caught dead wrong, dead wrong in killing this man, a Coast Guard veteran.

[18:10:07] And then, if the Taser was what he dropped, it was as though he instinctively thought of trying to cover it up or bolster what in effect was his alibi that somehow the gentleman had taken the Taser away from him. So this is just a heinous act.

And certainly, it's good that the officer has been immediately arrested and that the city has reacted. But, Wolf, the other issues are, one, whether this police department has some sort of history, whether this officer has a history which should have sent up a red flag earlier than now that somehow he was an officer who had a history of inappropriate use of force.

So there are lots of questions that remain. And I think we have got to be vigilant, we have got to keep the spotlight on this. We have got to learn more while at the same time grieving for this family and saying, once again, we see an incident where an unarmed black man loses his life at the hands of a police officer. And it's unnecessary and unjust.

BLITZER: I'm sure we are going to learning more about Michael Slager, the 33-year-old police officer. We will certainly learn a lot more about Walter Scott, the 50-year-old man who was shot in the back and killed.

You know what? It's interesting, though. Both of these men, as you probably know, Marc, served in the United States Coast Guard. They served in the Coast Guard. I don't know if they knew each other before or they didn't know each other before. But it's interesting that they both did serve, veterans of the U.S. Coast Guard.

If there had been no video of this, what do you think would have happened?

MORIAL: It would have been covered up. If there had been no video, we would have another instance where there would have been various versions of the story and an effort that we would have here, as we have discussed in many of the incidents, in an effort to sort it out.

Thank God for that citizen who captured this on video. And here is why I have continued to emphasize time and time again why, while body cams, dashboard cams and other video equipment is a very essential tool in the area of police accountability today, and we ought to place them on officers from coast to coast.

I think it ought to be part of national policy. It's not going to stop these incidents. But herein, there is no question as to what happened and the truth is the truth.

BLITZER: What's your impression, your reaction to the way the North Charleston mayor and the North Charleston police chief, for that matter, have handled this?

MORIAL: Well, I think, to their credit, they responded very swiftly and very quickly, certainly concerned about the community's reaction.

While the process, meaning the officer has been charged as the first step in a process, there's a long process to ensure that that officer is brought to justice. This is the beginning, not the end of a process. And we certainly welcome the involvement of the Justice Department. We would urge them as they did in Ferguson to take a look at the practices of this department over the years to determine whether this incident is the tip of a bigger iceberg.

We don't know yet. But I have certainly seen information which indicates that this department has been sued numerous times in federal court for civil rights violations. So, again, questions are there that must be answered on an ongoing basis. And the National Urban League and I know many are going to continue to be vigilant.

Our local leadership is carefully monitoring and certainly involved in this effort to bring justice in this instance.

BLITZER: Let me ask you this about the population of North Charleston. And North Charleston is a different city than Charleston, South Carolina. They are right next to each other, but two different cities.

North Charleston is, what, about 47 percent African-American, 37 percent white; 80 percent of the police force though is white. Is that an issue as far as you are concerned?

MORIAL: I think that police departments should reflect the makeup of their community. And certainly, it is an issue, Wolf. And, again, as we though a spotlight, once again, we see something interesting.

We see a community which is, if you will, what might be classified as a suburban community on the outskirts of a major city or a larger city, Charleston certainly being a major city in America and a larger city than North Charleston. And we saw the same thing with Ferguson on the outskirts of Saint Louis. So, we see this under-representation that seems to be present again in this police department.

But I have to say, across the board, while it is an issue, the use of force and the inappropriate use of force is the issue, is the paramount issue, no matter what the color of the officers who may be carrying out that excessive use of force.

[18:15:02] BLITZER: We are getting more information just coming in. Marc Morial, stay with us. We will take a quick break, resume our special coverage right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're back with the National Urban League president Marc Morial.

Also joining us now, the attorney who represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown. Benjamin Crump is joining us from New York as well.

We are talking about the breaking news in a deadly shooting by a police officer all caught on video. The lawyer for the victim's family says Walter Scott was hit four times in the back, once in the ear. Obviously, he was shot and killed.

Ben Crump, have you spoken with the Scott family or their attorneys? Do you know what's going on over there?

[18:20:08] BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF MICHAEL BROWN: I have talked to attorney Stewart. He is a very good attorney.

And it's just tragic, Wolf. I wrote an op-ed piece for "TIME" magazine entitled, "When Will American Start to Challenge the Standard Police Narrative?" And that narrative is always, when there is an unarmed person of color, I felt threatened, I feared for my life, they reached for my weapon.

And they just accept it, no matter how ridiculous it is. With five shots in the back, they were ready to accept that narrative here with Walter Scott, if it were not for that video.

BLITZER: Were you shocked by the video?

CRUMP: I was -- you know, I will say this.

This scene has played out so many times with so many families we have represented, but nobody would believe them because the video -- so what was shocking to many in America, for a lot of us, we said, finally, they got caught.

BLITZER: Well, what do you say about that, Marc Morial? Because this is an extraordinary case, because it's on video. We see the whole thing. But there are people like Ben Crump who believe this goes on all the time, we just don't know about it because it's not recorded. It's not on video.

MORIAL: And I think Ben is right that I think these incidents are more common than meets the naked eye, more common than the media historically has paid attention to, more common, because what you have had a combination of what traditionally occurs, as well as Ben calls it the police narrative, the standard narrative, the alibi, the cover- up, all of that, and people begin to buy that.

And, therefore, there's been no consistent accountability across the board. And that's what we have to talk about. That is, if there is strong accountability, then that accountability certainly serves as a deterrent in these instances. But I am just shocked and stunned on this 50th anniversary since Selma and this 50th anniversary since the civil rights era that somehow this problem, this issue, this heinous situation where people are losing their lives unnecessarily at the arms of those sworn to protect and serve, has somehow resurrected itself.

And we have got to confront this as a nation, we have got to confront this as policy-makers. And we have got to send a strong message to mayors and police chiefs all across the nation that we're not going to stand for this and that the community is going to speak out and that good-meaning citizens are going to record the actions of police officers.

BLITZER: But, Ben Crump, let's not exaggerate. Most police officers around the United States -- and I assume you agree and I know Marc Morial will agree -- are hardworking, dedicated public servants. We couldn't go around the country without the police. We need the police.

This is really a very tiny element of police forces. Do you agree with that?

CRUMP: I want to believe that, Wolf. And I want to believe that we have to have those good police officers.

When they see things like this, even if there's no video, they have to speak up, because, other than that, you know, the police chief in North Charleston said, we're just -- we're not going to throw a blanket over it saying that, just because one bad officer, that's not an indictment on all officers.

But look what they do to the Michael Browns of the world, the Chavis Carters. They throw this blanket over young black men and say, we can distrust you, we can stereotype you. Well, we don't want a blanket thrown over our community neither. We want everybody to be accountable for their actions.

And police officers have to speak up when they see misconduct.

BLITZER: And just to recap, Marc Morial, you want police officers all over the country to wear body cameras?

MORIAL: I would like to see body cams. I would like to see dash cams. I think that transparency leads to better accountability.

CRUMP: Yes.

MORIAL: And I think if officers know that their actions are being recorded on a consistent basis, it's going to protect good officers who do the right thing. But it's also going to ferret out, if you will, bad actions by bad officers. And I would sway this. I have always believed that most officers are

good and want to do the right thing. What this speaks to is a police culture in some departments, the idea -- and Ben made this point -- that officers who may be good officers may feel that the culture doesn't encourage nor support them speaking out if they witness, if they see, if they overhear actions by other officers which may violate the law, violate the Constitution, violate decency and common sense.

So we have got to confront the cultural components of this that somehow disincentivize what I would call a standard of justice, a standard of truth that leads to public safety.

[18:25:08] BLITZER: Marc Morial, Benjamin Crump, guys, thanks very much for joining us.

As I said at the beginning, it's unfortunate we have to meet under these kinds of circumstances.

Just ahead, we will have more on the breaking news, the contradictions between the original police report and the video of the shooting.

And will the jurors who found the Boston Marathon bomber guilty on all 30 counts sentence him to death, or will they spare his life?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Breaking tonight, new confirmation from the coroner that the victim of the deadly police shooting in South Carolina was hit in the back.

We're studying video of the confrontation showing the man being shot while he was running away from the police officer. Let's bring in the community activist, John Gaskin, who's been a leading voice during the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. Also joining us, our CNN anchor, Don Lemon; CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin; and our law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes.

Don, there were angry protesters. You were watching the news conference earlier there in North Charleston. You reported from Ferguson. You reported on the Eric Garner case in New York, Tamir Rice in Cleveland. What message does another death like this one send out there?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: The message that it sends is that, for most of the people who have been protesting across the country, that there is confirmation of what they have been protesting for in many ways, that this happens more often than one might think.

It also sends to people who study these sorts of things, it gives them confirmation that the numbers that may be on record may not be accurate, because it is self-reporting, and that many people believe what is in the police report, that that is gospel, that police often police themselves when it comes to these matters.

So it sends -- and it sends a terrible message about police departments around the country. So it's not good. The information or what may come of this, sadly, may be good, because there will be more transparency. But it sends a message -- a terrible message around the country in many ways.

BLITZER: John Gaskin, are you surprised at how vastly differently the community and city leaders have responded in South Carolina to this incident, versus the response to what happened in Ferguson?

JOHN GASKIN, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: You know, I call Ferguson the Watergate of public relations. It's quite evident that many people are learning from the irreparable mistakes that were made by the city of Ferguson.

It appears that they're a lot more proactive there in South Carolina. They're trying to be transparent with the community. They're trying to move and get out ahead of this quite quickly. So I'm happy that they have learned from those terrible mistakes that the city of Ferguson made.

It's unfortunate that someone has been killed. But you know, this narrative that we continue to see, it has to stop. There has to be some type of change, some type of reform. Because these type of incidents seem as though they're occurring nearly every week in this country.

BLITZER: It's a very disturbing development.

Tom Fuentes, there's a discrepancy as to whether or not the police officers tried to do CPR, first aid to help this man who was shot in the back, Walter Scott. The video doesn't necessarily show that. But what's your analysis of this part of the story? Because what we do see is that he's shot in the back. He's on the ground. All of a sudden, he's handcuffed.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I agree, Wolf, that they don't try to help him in any way medically. That's obvious. And a long time passes, and you don't even see in the video how long it takes for the medical responders to arrive at the scene and determine what medical care they can give to Mr. Scott.

So, you know, the fact that they wrote in a report that they did it is terrible. The fact that you see evidence being moved around at the crime scene is terrible.

And what this officer has done is he's brought shame on the 800,000 law enforcement officers in this country. Everybody that I've talked to, former fellow officers of mine, are just irate, shamed and just find this unbelievable that, in this day and age at this time, with everything that's gone on, that an officer could be that stupid to gun somebody down and shoot them in the back in cold blood.

BLITZER: Before you joined the FBI, you were a cop; you were a police officer. You identify, obviously, with those cops out there.

Sunny, the Department of Justice -- you're a former federal prosecutor. What role, if any, should they be taking right now? HOSTIN: Well, we know now, Wolf, that the Department of Justice is

involved. The FBI is investigating this, and the Department of Justice civil rights division is investigating this. And the federal prosecutor's office in South Carolina is also investigating this.

I think, though, that because of the swift action that we've seen by North Charleston -- and we have to commend the fact that they have obviously learned lessons from Ferguson. The fact that this shooting happened on April 4, and by April 7, this officer has not only been fired; he's been charged with murder, facing either the death penalty or 30 years to life in prison.

The action has been very swift. So I suspect because of that, while the federal government is involved, it's probably going to take a back seat, watch, perhaps conduct parallel investigations.

But, again, I think what the city of North Charleston has done has learned -- it's learned lessons from Ferguson and others. And I think what is really significant is that the city police department is not spearheading this investigation. We have a separate unit investigating this shooting. And I think that's very important.

[18:35:19] When you look at police reform and a lot of the headline recommendations, Wolf, that are made, along with body cameras, along with civilian complaint review boards, you often see people ask for an independent investigator, not the same folks that are working day in and day out with these officers, investigating and then prosecuting.

BLITZER: Yes. It's the South Carolina law enforcement division, what's called SLED, a state body investigating, took charge. The mayor and the police chief handed over the investigation to the state.

John Gaskin, amid all of this uproar that's going on now as a result of what's happened in South Carolina, where you are in Ferguson, Missouri, they elected two African-Americans to the city council. Is Ferguson now moving towards the right path from your perspective?

GASKIN: Absolutely. It's -- first of all, I appreciate everyone that went out to vote yesterday to value their vote and vote their values. It's my hope that those individuals will continue to stay politically and civically engaged.

To go from 12 percent turnout to 30 percent turnout, nearly overnight, is remarkable. To see the people like the local NAACP's Patricia Binds (ph) working on the ground to mobilize those individuals in those neighborhoods, was truly a beautiful thing. And now that city council is more reflective of the city of Ferguson, which it should be.

BLITZER: Do you think this latest incident, Don Lemon, in South Carolina, long-term, is going to have an impact?

LEMON: I think -- I think this one will, because of the videotape. And because of the culmination of all of these events.

I think the protesters who have been out there, this is the way that you evolve: by getting people to do what they did in Ferguson yesterday. By going to the polls and vote. By putting people in office so that there can be change.

Listen, I agree with Tom Fuentes. I have to comment on this, what Tom Fuentes said about the 800,000 or so officers around the country. It is an embarrassment for those officers. But I think, as Marc Morial said and as Ben Crump said, those officers who see things that should not be happening -- they see people who are planting evidence; they see people who are discriminating or stopping people for no -- for the wrong reasons -- they need to speak up. Because not everyone at this point is wearing a camera, and it can't all be caught on video.

BLITZER: All right. I want all of you to stand by, because we're getting more information now about this shooting in South Carolina. The murder case now that's unfolding against this fired police officer.

Also, what would it take for jurors to spare the life of the Boston Marathon bomber after convicting him of all the charges he faced today? I'll ask our legal experts.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Breaking tonight, new confirmation from the coroner that the victim of the deadly police shooting in South Carolina was hit in the back.

We're studying video of the confrontation showing the man being shot while he was running away from the police officer. Let's bring in the community activist, John Gaskin, who's been a leading voice during the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. Also joining us, our CNN anchor, Don Lemon; CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin; and our law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes.

Don, there were angry protesters. You were watching the news conference earlier there in North Charleston. You reported from Ferguson. You reported on the Eric Garner case in New York, Tamir Rice in Cleveland. What message does another death like this one send out there?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: The message that it sends is that, for most of the people who have been protesting across the country, that there is confirmation of what they have been protesting for in many ways, that this happens more often than one might think.

It also sends to people who study these sorts of things, it gives them confirmation that the numbers that may be on record may not be accurate, because it is self-reporting, and that many people believe what is in the police report, that that is gospel, that police often police themselves when it comes to these matters.

So it sends -- and it sends a terrible message about police departments around the country. So it's not good. The information or what may come of this, sadly, may be good, because there will be more transparency. But it sends a message -- a terrible message around the country in many ways. BLITZER: John Gaskin, are you surprised at how vastly differently the

community and city leaders have responded in South Carolina to this incident, versus the response to what happened in Ferguson?

JOHN GASKIN, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: You know, I call Ferguson the Watergate of public relations. It's quite evident that many people are learning from the irreparable mistakes that were made by the city of Ferguson.

It appears that they're a lot more proactive there in South Carolina. They're trying to be transparent with the community. They're trying to move and get out ahead of this quite quickly. So I'm happy that they have learned from those terrible mistakes that the city of Ferguson made.

It's unfortunate that someone has been killed. But you know, this narrative that we continue to see, it has to stop. There has to be some type of change, some type of reform. Because these type of incidents seem as though they're occurring nearly every week in this country.

BLITZER: It's a very disturbing development.

Tom Fuentes, there's a discrepancy as to whether or not the police officers tried to do CPR, first aid to help this man who was shot in the back, Walter Scott. The video doesn't necessarily show that. But what's your analysis of this part of the story? Because what we do see is that he's shot in the back. He's on the ground. All of a sudden, he's handcuffed.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I agree, Wolf, that they don't try to help him in any way medically. That's obvious. And a long time passes, and you don't even see in the video how long it takes for the medical responders to arrive at the scene and determine what medical care they can give to Mr. Scott.

So, you know, the fact that they wrote in a report that they did it is terrible. The fact that you see evidence being moved around at the crime scene is terrible.

And what this officer has done is he's brought shame on the 800,000 law enforcement officers in this country. Everybody that I've talked to, former fellow officers of mine, are just irate, shamed and just find this unbelievable that, in this day and age at this time, with everything that's gone on, that an officer could be that stupid to gun somebody down and shoot them in the back in cold blood.

BLITZER: Before you joined the FBI, you were a cop; you were a police officer. You identify, obviously, with those cops out there.

Sunny, the Department of Justice -- you're a former federal prosecutor. What role, if any, should they be taking right now?

HOSTIN: Well, we know now, Wolf, that the Department of Justice is involved. The FBI is investigating this, and the Department of Justice civil rights division is investigating this. And the federal prosecutor's office in South Carolina is also investigating this.

I think, though, that because of the swift action that we've seen by North Charleston -- and we have to commend the fact that they have obviously learned lessons from Ferguson. The fact that this shooting happened on April 4, and by April 7, this officer has not only been fired; he's been charged with murder, facing either the death penalty or 30 years to life in prison.

The action has been very swift. So I suspect because of that, while the federal government is involved, it's probably going to take a back seat, watch, perhaps conduct parallel investigations.

But, again, I think what the city of North Charleston has done has learned -- it's learned lessons from Ferguson and others. And I think what is really significant is that the city police department is not spearheading this investigation. We have a separate unit investigating this shooting. And I think that's very important.

[18:35:19] When you look at police reform and a lot of the headline recommendations, Wolf, that are made, along with body cameras, along with civilian complaint review boards, you often see people ask for an independent investigator, not the same folks that are working day in and day out with these officers, investigating and then prosecuting.

BLITZER: Yes. It's the South Carolina law enforcement division, what's called SLED, a state body investigating, took charge. The mayor and the police chief handed over the investigation to the state.

John Gaskin, amid all of this uproar that's going on now as a result of what's happened in South Carolina, where you are in Ferguson, Missouri, they elected two African-Americans to the city council. Is Ferguson now moving towards the right path from your perspective?

GASKIN: Absolutely. It's -- first of all, I appreciate everyone that went out to vote yesterday to value their vote and vote their values. It's my hope that those individuals will continue to stay politically and civically engaged.

To go from 12 percent turnout to 30 percent turnout, nearly overnight, is remarkable. To see the people like the local NAACP's Patricia Binds (ph) working on the ground to mobilize those individuals in those neighborhoods, was truly a beautiful thing. And now that city council is more reflective of the city of Ferguson, which it should be.

BLITZER: Do you think this latest incident, Don Lemon, in South Carolina, long-term, is going to have an impact?

LEMON: I think -- I think this one will, because of the videotape. And because of the culmination of all of these events.

I think the protesters who have been out there, this is the way that you evolve: by getting people to do what they did in Ferguson yesterday. By going to the polls and vote. By putting people in office so that there can be change. Listen, I agree with Tom Fuentes. I have to comment on this, what Tom

Fuentes said about the 800,000 or so officers around the country. It is an embarrassment for those officers. But I think, as Marc Morial said and as Ben Crump said, those officers who see things that should not be happening -- they see people who are planting evidence; they see people who are discriminating or stopping people for no -- for the wrong reasons -- they need to speak up. Because not everyone at this point is wearing a camera, and it can't all be caught on video.

BLITZER: All right. I want all of you to stand by, because we're getting more information now about this shooting in South Carolina. The murder case now that's unfolding against this fired police officer.

Also, what would it take for jurors to spare the life of the Boston Marathon bomber after convicting him of all the charges he faced today? I'll ask our legal experts.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: But, you know, he hasn't done anything seriously to the officer yet that we can see and doesn't appear to be a threat to anybody else, the officer or another member of the community, which would be required to use deadly physical force.

[18:45:13] You know, most of the people I'm talking to are just -- they can't believe that this officer could do that at this time with everything going on.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right.

FUENTES: One thing in 1991 Rodney King, nobody had smart phones with cameras. But these days, this is common to be filmed doing your job out there, do it right.

BLITZER: Yes, everybody has got these smart phones with video capability. And that's what happened. And, by the way, we are just getting -- we are just hearing for the first time from the man who actually shot the video. And we're going to hear from him in a moment.

We'll take a quick break. Much more on the breaking news right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:50:07] BLITZER: The breaking news: we're finally hearing from the man who took the video of Walter Scott's shooting by North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager. Here's what he just told NBC News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FROM NBC NEWS)

LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS: What made you pick up your phone and start shooting on Saturday? FAYDEN SANTANA, TOOK VIDEO OF POLICE SHOOTING: Well, when I saw the

scene, I was walking to my job. I was walking to my job. I see Mr. Scott, may he rest in peace, and I saw police after him, chasing him. I was on a phone call and I decide to go over there and see what was going on.

HOLT: Was there a struggle?

SANTANA: There was. They were down on the floor. They were down on the floor before I started recording. They were down on the floor.

I remember the police had control of the situation. He had control of Scott. Scott was trying just to get away from the taser. You know, you can hear the sound of the taser.

HOLT: He had been tased at that point?

SANTANA: Yes.

HOLT: You heard the sound?

SANTANA: Yes, I heard the sound before I started recording. I believe he just was trying to get away of the taser. Like I say he never used the taser against him.

HOLT: So, Mr. Scott runs away.

SANTANA: He runs away.

HOLT: And then what's the police officer do?

SANTANA: As you can see in the video, the police officer just shot him in the back. I knew right away that I had something in my hands.

HOLT: Ultimately, you turned it over to the attorneys for the family of Mr. Scott.

SANTANA: Yes, to the family, yes.

HOLT: And what was their reaction to you?

SANTANA: They were very emotional, you know, when that happened, including me also because like, when I turned it, I felt, I thought about his position -- their situation and say, you know, if I would have a family member that would happen, I would like know the truth.

HOLT: As a result of that videotape, a man, a police officer has been charged with murder. How do you feel about that?

SANTANA: Well, I can say, it's not something that no one can feel happy about. He has his family. Mr. Scott also has his family. But I think, you know, he made a bad decision. You pay for your decisions in this life, you know? And I think, like I say, Mr. Scott didn't deserve this. There were other ways, you know, that can be used to get him arrested and that wasn't the proper way to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: There he is, the man who took the video. Fayden Santana speaking with NBC News' Lester Holt just a little while ago.

Tom Fuentes, you're reaction?

FUENTES: I think he's quite articulate, explaining what he saw and how (AUDIO GAP) describing the event. You know, I commend him for having taken those videos and basically resulting in an officer being taken off the street that shouldn't be on the street.

BLITZER: He, originally, Don Lemon, reluctant to be named, this individual, Fayden Santana. But he decided to go public. Your reaction?

LEMON: He's a hero. As everyone has been saying, without that videotape, we would not be here now. It's important -- he says it looks to him that the police officer had control of the situation, and that the man ran at least at that point because he was trying to get away from the taser, which was the electric shock and then he was shot in the back -- very important information to glean from that interview.

BLITZER: And Don is going to have a lot more on this later tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN, on his program, "CNN TONIGHT".

Guys, thanks very much.

I want to get to another breaking story we're following right now, an important one. The United States warning the escalating warfare in Yemen is strengthening al Qaeda's most dangerous affiliate and its efforts to attack the West. The U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the group has seized new territory as it exploits the fighting and the chaos.

We're joined now live by the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Ed Royce of California.

Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for joining us.

What's your reaction to what Ash Carter, the defense secretary, says AQAP, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is decreasing its threat to the United States right now based on the chaos unfolding in Yemen?

REP. ED ROYCE (R-CA), FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHAIRMAN: What we know, Wolf, is that they have not only seized additional territory, including cities there on the -- in the southern part of the Yemen, right on the Red Sea, but they have been able to release a lot of prisoners, about a number of these are al Qaeda prisoners. And so, as these prisoners are released, they also have now no longer have to -- do they have to fear that the United States is going to be able to take military action against them because our special operations are out of there.

Unfortunately, our intelligence has been rifled by the Iranian agents, the Quds forces, who have led the Shia militia in taking over the other part of the country. [18:55:10] And so, our ally right now, you know, is being occupied by

forces loyal to Iran in north, and by al Qaeda increasingly in the cities in the south. It's a disaster.

BLITZER: What exactly is the role of Iran? The Saudi ambassador told me the other day Iran is playing a very significant role of backing those Shiite Houthi rebels, the Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon have come in as well. What can you tell us about that?

ROYCE: The Iranian forces are leading this. The Quds forces are leading it. The Iranians are flying 14 flights a week of heavy ammunition, munitions. Their artillery is pounding the cities that they're trying to take.

And at the same time, they just dispatched two warships. Now, this is particularly concerning because, as you know, the Egyptians and the Saudis have dispatched their warships to protect those sea lanes. The Red Sea there, that's one of the most important sea lanes in the world. So, now that you hear the Iranians are putting their navy into those waters, this is quite a tender box. And we'll see what happens.

But it shows the danger of allowing Iran to have this kind of influence and power and have it go unchecked because they're not only active here, as you know, but also across the Arabian Peninsula right now.

BLITZER: We're told also the Defense Department, the U.S. military sharing intelligence with the Saudis for their air strikes. What kind of information do you think the U.S. is sharing with Saudi Arabia, someone of the Saudi coalition partners who are launching these airstrikes in Yemen right now?

ROYCE: Wolf, they're sharing situational intelligence. I would doubt they would actually share targeting intelligence in situation like this. But we are offering, as I understand it, the administration is offered to refuel Saudi fighter bombers that are carrying out attacks on the Shia positions in Yemen right now.

So, that's basically the extent of our involvement at the moment because U.S. forces have left the area and now, most of that area is in the hands of those loyal to the Iranian revolutionary government.

BLITZER: Are you OK with this U.S. support, whatever the U.S. support is? Because there's some concern the U.S. could get bogged down in another war in Yemen right now?

ROYCE: As I say, we're not probably giving direct targeting information, but what we are giving them is probably the situational analysis. We're letting them know that probably, yes, the Iranian warships are entering the Red Sea. They should be cognizant of that. The Egyptians and Saudis need to know that.

Remember, what the Saudis are working on are two premises. One, they and the Jordanians and the Egyptians cannot afford to have the Red Sea closed down. And the Djibouti foreign minster just said this the other day. He

said, the real danger here is what the Shia militias are doing. It's blocking the traffic down the Red Sea, on the sea lanes. So, it's a disaster in terms of the impact it's going to have, you know, on the Arab world in terms of commerce.

And then, the other concern the Saudis have is that Yemen is along their entire southern border, and several soldiers have been shot and killed by some of these Shia over the last few days. So, that's another tender box situation that exists there.

BLITZER: So far, the Saudis, we're told, is using air power. Do you suspect they might send in ground forces, tanks, armored personnel carriers at some point?

ROYCE: One source that I talked to said that they thought Saudi special operations people were on the ground and if that's the case, then there's an even greater chance of Iranian Quds forces coming into contact with Saudi special operations forces, which, of course, would further inflame the situation.

What we should be doing right now is, you know, there should be a unified effort in international community to tell Iran -- get your forces out of Yemen because you can't be transmitting the messages they did the other day that they control the capital of Yemen. They now say they control this situation in Damascus and Baghdad, Lebanon. And they've said some threatening things about trying to take Mecca and Medina. And, of course, that drives the Saudi government absolutely, you know, up the wall. So, the Iranians have really felt empowered in all of this.

BLITZER: Yes. We've got to leave it there, Mr. Chairman. But thanks very much, as usual, for joining us.

That's it for me. Thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.