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THE SITUATION ROOM
Feds: U.S. ISIS Supporter Plotted Suicide Bombing; Interview With Rep. Ed Royce of California; Passenger Questioned, Released Without Charges; New Police Dash Cam Video of South Carolina Shooting; Illinois Town Battered by Storm. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired April 10, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:10] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. American bomb plot. A U.S. man who enlisted in the U.S. Army is arrested for allegedly trying to carry out a suicide car bombing in a major U.S. military base. We're learning new details of his pledge to wage jihad for ISIS.
Isolation. The former South Carolina police officer charged with murder is now separated from other inmates for fear he could be harmed. We have new information about the case that shocked the nation.
Wiped off the map. Total destruction as a town is leveled by a tornado, leaving multiple people dead and injured. Did early warning systems save lives?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
Let's get right to the breaking news. Today's arrest heading off what federal officials call a suicide bomb plot, targeting soldiers at a major U.S. Army base. The suspect is a 20-year-old American who authorities say was inspired by ISIS.
According to court documents, he was plotting to kill as many U.S. soldiers as possible by detonating a car bomb at Fort Riley. That's the Kansas-based home to the U.S. military's acclaimed 1st Infantry Division. We are bringing in the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Republican Representative Ed Royce, to take our questions. Our correspondents and experts, they've been working their sources. They're all standing by to bring us the very latest on this story and all the important news breaking right now.
But let's begin with the very latest. Our justice reporter, Evan Perez, is standing by -- Evan.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, John T. Booker, 20 years old, was arrested today as he was preparing, making final preparations to carry out a suicide bombing at Fort Riley, Kansas.
According to the FBI, Booker, who also goes by the name Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, had been preparing to do this since last year. He posted on Facebook, got on the radar of the FBI last year when he posted on Facebook, "I will soon be leaving you forever, so good-bye. I'm going to wage jihad and hopes that I die."
According to the FBI, Wolf, he first signed up for the Army in February of 2014. Afterwards he made these Facebook postings. The FBI came and spoke to him and interviewed him. He said, "Yes, I want to kill U.S. military members, whether here or overseas, and I want to do it for al Qaeda."
Later on, the FBI introduces him to a couple of informants, and he lays out plans to carry out this suicide mission for ISIS. He recorded a couple of videos, Wolf, right before this plot was going down just in the last couple of weeks, in which he declared his allegiance to the leader of ISIS and said that he was going to do this, warning members, people who had family members inside the military that they should get them out, because he was coming for them, Wolf.
BLITZER: Did he not think that people were monitoring these kinds of warnings, these videos or whatever?
PEREZ: You know, that's what's so shocking about this. You know, he gets a visit from the FBI, again, last -- March in 2014, and he admits to everything. The FBI keeps looking at him, keeps watching him, and they introduce a couple of informants in October and in March of this year as he continues to make his plot.
So it leads us -- you know, it leads us to ask the question whether everything is right in his head or perhaps he's just not a smart guy, that he didn't think the FBI was going to be onto him.
BLITZER: And he formally converted to Islam when he was inspired by online social media material, is that right?
PEREZ: That's right. He -- in the presence of the FBI informants, he was looking at some of these ISIS videos. He said he was actually inspired by Mohmed Mohamed Abusallah (ph). This is an American who goes by the -- went by the name Jihad Joe, who carried out a suicide bombing in Syria and he looked at that video and said he was inspired to do exactly that here in the United States.
BLITZER: Very disturbing information. Evan, thanks very much for that report. Stay with us.
I want to bring in our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto. Jim, this is the 21st ISIS-related arrest here in the United States since the start of this year, and only two days ago a Madison, Wisconsin, man was arrested after flying to Turkey in an attempt to fight for ISIS.
Does this number reflect the growing threat ISIS poses to the United States? Because we've heard from a lot of top U.S. homeland security officials, they are pretty alarmed right now.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It reflects two things. One, it does reflect the draw of ISIS, not just in the U.S. but in other western countries. It's something that U.S. counterterror officials have consistently told me. If not the most capability in terms of attack, it's the most likely attack to happen in the U.S., in part because they're hard to track. They're lone wolves; they're easily radicalized online. It's a real problem. And federal law enforcement and counter terror, they're going after this aggressively.
[17:05:10] The second thing this shows is that law enforcement is looking for these guys aggressively, and as they do, they're going to catch them. And as you see in this case, not all of them are necessarily the brightest lights in the chandelier, to paraphrase something that Evan said. He was posting very publicly online that this is something he planned to do, and you're going to see that. I mean, you're seeing varying degrees of capability.
And of course, the most dangerous ones are the ones who keep quiet before they carry out their attack, as opposed to go public. So you're seeing two things here. It's a demonstration of ISIS's reach, its ability to recruit online, the draw that it has not just in the Middle East and in Europe but here in the U.S.
But it's also showing that law enforcement is looking harder for these guys. And as they do, they're often going to find them, whether it's by postings online or in sting operations that we've seen recently. It means, in a way, that some of these efforts are working.
BLITZER: It's interesting because the defense secretary, and you know this, Jim, he told our own Erin Burnett that he feels AQAP, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, may be an even bigger threat to the U.S. homeland, to Americans, than ISIS.
TAPPER: Well, here's what I hear from counterterror officials. They say the two biggest, most severe, most capable threats to the U.S. homeland are AQAP and the Khorasan group, this group that first came to be known, really, at the start of the U.S.-led air campaign in Syria. It's an offshoot of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan that reorganized, in effect, in Syria. Those two have the most capability. They have the most history of attempting to attack the U.S. homeland or U.S. assets overseas.
ISIS perhaps has the greatest chance of attacking here, just because we're not talking about, you know, complicated plans necessarily directed from home base in Iraq and Syria. We're talking about lone wolves like this gentleman at Fort Riley. Read something online, comes up with his own plot. That's a lot easier and a lot easier to do. You don't need a lot of resources to do it. And you only need one guy. And it's also a lot harder to track.
So in terms of bigger, more capable attacks, AQAP and Khorasan group, in terms of easier to carry out attacks, perhaps more threats, it's more the ISIS or the al Qaeda-inspired lone Wolf attack.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by for a moment. Evan, does the FBI think these alleged cases here in the United States represent a real major legitimate threat to the American homeland? PEREZ: Look, you know, the FBI is in a quandary over these types of
cases. This guy -- this guy doesn't look like the smartest guy at all, and -- but the problem is even someone who maybe has mental problems or who's not that smart can kill people. There was a case just a few months ago with a person who had mental health issues and attacked two New York City officers with a hatchet.
And again, that's now -- the FBI now says that is the first ISIS- inspired attack in this country. So it goes to show you that, if they don't do something about these people, they still could carry out an attack.
BLITZER: Good point. All right. Evan, thanks very much. Jim Sciutto, thanks to you, as well.
Let's talk about what's going on. Republican Congressman Ed Royce of California is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He's joining us live. Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for joining us.
REP. ED ROYCE (R-CA), HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Thank you, Wolf. Good to be with you.
BLITZER: Have you already been briefed on the arrest of this Kansas man, this individual, 20-year-old man named John Booker, also known as Mohammed Abdullah Hasan? We're showing his picture on the screen. What can you tell us about what's going on? Because it's pretty disturbing. Twenty-one arrests like this since the beginning of this year.
ROYCE: What I can tell you is the FBI feel pretty confident at this point that, because in the last -- in the last ten days, they've made seven such arrests, that they're doing a good job. They've really picked up their pace in terms of intercepting those who are trying to carry out these attacks.
And the indication from them is that there are now cells or people that they're watching in all 50 states across the country. And at the same time, their biggest problem is the dissemination of that messaging out of ISIS: kill the enemy where they are. In other words, carry out the attacks inside the United States. This is the big challenge for the FBI and homeland security.
BLITZER: The court documents in this particular case say the suspect had enlisted, tried to enlist in the U.S. Army, was due to head out to basic training only a few days ago, on April 7. Is there a concern that individuals inspired by these terror groups like ISIS or AQAP might start trying to infiltrate U.S. military headquarters, commit attacks inside the military?
ROYCE: Well, I think there's more investigation of that potential ever since the Fort Hood massacre. And I would -- I would add that there's heightened awareness of what ISIS is doing online ever since the al Qaeda publication, "How to Make a Bomb in Your Mother's Kitchen." Since that was used in the attack on the Boston Marathon, there is now, you know, very close monitoring of what ISIS is putting out. [17:10:19] The problem is that, you know, this is worldwide, this
effort to recruit, and the victories that ISIS has overseas are inspiring, unfortunately, young men who read that magazine, "Inspire," to make themselves available to commit suicidal acts, and this was an attempt at suicide by this young man today.
BLITZER: Yes. That "Inspire" magazine in English, pretty slick online and the actual title of that article, which they repeated several times, is "How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom." So they try to be very clever with all of their techniques. And as you know, it's not very difficult to get the raw material here in the United States, probably legally, to go ahead and build that kind of bomb, right?
ROYCE: That's the difficulty. And that's what the FBI is up against.
BLITZER: His arrest, as I pointed out, is the 21st ISIS-related arrest here in the United States since the start of the -- this year. I pointed out a Madison, Wisconsin, man arrested after flying to Turkey, coming back, was arrested.
We know these radicalized individuals, as you point out, they are being investigated probably in all 50 states. How much of a threat do you believe ISIS, specifically ISIS as opposed to al Qaeda, the other terror groups, really pose to the United States?
ROYCE: Well, the difference is that ISIS believes in mass attacks on civilians. When you're looking at al Qaeda, they have a strategy of trying to be strategic, trying to maximize the damage done on an institution. For example, an attack on the World Trade Center would be typical of the long-term planning that would go into an operation of al Qaeda.
Their bomb-making capability is, you know, second to none. And certainly, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has shown that aptitude. That's why Yemen is such a problem right now, because that is where their bomb makers were housed. And for them and the Khorasan group, they now have free rein, unfortunately. Many have been released from prison as a result of the prison breaks since the government fell.
Our ally, our allies in Yemen are now removed from the equation. So these are the concerns we have about al Qaeda right now.
BLITZER: The defense secretary, Ash Carter, says it's a huge and growing concern. I want to pick that thought up as soon as we come back. Mr. Chairman, stay with us. We'll take a quick break.
Much more with Ed Royce right after this.
[17:17:25] BLITZER: We're following the growing terror threat, new concerns tonight about al Qaeda plots to attack right here in the United States after disturbing remarks by the defense secretary, Ash Carter, in an interview with CNN's Erin Burnett. He's now saying al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is growing, becoming more dangerous, because of the situation, the disastrous situation unfolding in Yemen.
We're back with Republican Congressman Ed Royce of California. He's the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
You agree with Ash Carter that al Qaeda, AQAP, in the Arabian Peninsula, has clearly got a freer hand now to do destruction and damage.
ROYCE: And the reason they do, Wolf, is because what they seek is a situation in which you have got a stateless society. And now that President Hadi has been run out of Yemen and his Army has collapsed, this gives them in the south of Yemen not only this ability to go back to staging attacks, but the United States was on the ground with our closest anti-terror ally there along the Red Sea. Now we're gone.
And so there's no one basically able to keep them at bay, and many of their allies have been freed from these prisons, so yes, they're on the mend. They're building their operations, and this is of grave concern to us.
BLITZER: Let's talk about the Iran nuclear deal. Some are suggesting it could be on life support right now. Do you think it's still alive, potentially, or is it dead?
ROYCE: You know, it's hard to say, because there's such a distance between what the Iranian officials are saying in the document. And you see the assertions not just of the chief negotiator and the president but also of the ayatollah himself that say, look, in our document, we don't see that this constricts us. You cannot have -- from our position, you cannot have the ability to go into any of our military sites and have inspections there or have snap inspections.
And on top of that, they're saying that the sanctions have to be lifted immediately and that nowhere in the document does it say they're phased, phased up, the lifting of the sanctions.
So this is very different than the interpretation that the administration has given, and the release of those documents will be interesting, but also important here is the attitude we're seeing out of the ayatollah, because once more yesterday, as he spoke to this issue, he led the audience in chants of "death to America."
So this has repeatedly gone on week after week, and you would think that in the middle of negotiations he would -- he should pull back a little bit from the threatening behavior to say nothing of the fact that his forces are now in Yemen overthrowing another government. So his conduct has really been extraordinarily aggressive.
[17:20:18] BLITZER: And so when administration officials say it's like it's bluster for the domestic consumption in Iran, he's trying to appease hardliners, if you will, don't take it all that seriously, you say?
ROYCE: I say he has said they're going to mass produce ICBMs, and we know right now they're mass producing three-stage ICBMs. And we're informed that as soon as next year, they'll be able to target the western hemisphere.
I would say we have a problem in this, given the fact that, in the past, I've seen those rockets go off, as you have, you know, in the Middle East against Israel that were built by Iran. They don't seem reticent about using their inventory.
So I would say we really need to do something in this negotiation, Wolf, to make sure they don't have a fleet of these ICBMs and undetectable nuclear breakout capability. And if we don't have the inspectors go in there and inspect the military sites, such as Porto (ph) or, you know, Parchin, they won't let anybody in to Parchin. We know a thousand pages of documents that show that they were developing a warhead for a nuclear weapon there. This really needs to be addressed.
BLITZER: All right. I want you to listen to what Senator John McCain had to say about this back and forth between the grand ayatollah, with U.S. officials, the secretary of state, the president of the United States. McCain now spoke at an interview with a radio talk show host, Hugh Hewitt. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA (via phone): It's probably in black and white that the ayatollah is probably right. John Kerry is delusional. And he came back, and mind you, I think you're going to find out that they had never agreed to the things that John Kerry claimed that they had.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The White House press secretary later responded, Josh Earnest saying McCain's comments -- calling them naive and reckless. What's your reaction to this exchange right now? Strong words when John McCain calls the secretary of state, John Kerry, delusional.
ROYCE: Well, here's the problem. A lot of this has been presented as sort of a negotiation, the broad framework completed, and now we are going to have these technical adjustments over the next few months. Clearly, for anybody looking at this objectively, there is no agreement on any one of the major four points. There is great distance.
So what we will be doing on Monday when I return, I'll be chairing along with Eliot Engel of New York, the members of Congress, we're going to have a closed-door briefing on this information with the secretary of state and energy and treasury about what the administration perceives is in the deal as opposed to what the Iranians perceive is -- is the language of the agreement. There's clearly a conflict of visions, and nobody seems to be on the same page. So we're going to try to get to the bottom of it.
BLITZER: All right. Your bottom line is the deal is still alive but maybe barely. Is that right?
ROYCE: My bottom line is we have to come out, as you know my feelings about this, at the other end of this negotiation with the inspection regime such that we can go anywhere, any time. And I don't mean we have to appeal to the U.N. first to get the approval to do it.
Those international inspectors have to have that right in the document. Otherwise, this isn't worth, you know, what it's printed on. There are other concerns, as well, but that's the most basic concern right there. Nor should we immediately lift all of the sanctions and lose our leverage on this, as the Iranians are claiming we agreed to do.
BLITZER: All right. Ed Royce is the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Mr. Chairman, thanks, as usual, for joining us.
ROYCE: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, a jailed former policeman now accused of murdering an unarmed African-American is put in isolation for his own protection. We'll go there. We'll have a live update.
And we're also live in what's left of an Illinois town hit by a massive tornado. Authorities just confirmed the death of another victim.
[17:38:53] BLITZER: Breaking news, CNN has just confirmed that some new dash cam video that we've just received from the South Carolina police shooting. This is from another officer's car. Watch this. You see the man -- eventually, you'll see the man who shot the video that's so disturbing, the video of the shooting, the killing of Walter Scott, the 50-year-old individual shot by the police officer, Michael Slager. You'll see this dash cam going in there.
And I'm going to just let it play out. Eventually you'll see Feidin Santana shooting that video. We'll freeze it in a moment and get it to you.
CNN has just confirmed also that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has interviewed a key player in that South Carolina police shooting. A man was the passenger in Walter Scott's car when he was pulled over, chased, then shot and killed by the former police officer, Michael Slager.
[17:30:01] CNN's Brian Todd is joining us once again from North Charleston. He's been working his sources there.
Brian, what's the latest? What are you learning?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you mentioned that that passenger has been interviewed or has met with officials from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. We do have that confirmed. We have also been told by them that he has insisted that his name not be released so they are not releasing the name of that passenger in that vehicle.
Also, Wolf, a serious complaint tonight from Officer Michael Slager's attorney, Andy Savage, who says that despite his repeated requests, he has not received the same kind of cooperation in this case that the media has. He's not gotten investigative documents, audio and videotapes, that he's only gotten Slager's arrest warrant. We reached out to the North Charleston police for response to that. We have not heard back.
This comes tonight, Wolf, as you just mentioned that we have just now gotten dramatic new images from two new dash cam videos.
TODD (voice-over): CNN has obtained stunning new dash cam video from other officers arriving on the scene moments after Walter Scott is shot. You can see Officer James Gann speeding from a nearby traffic call when he hears shots are fired. Here, it appears you can see Feidin Santana at a nearby fence shooting his cell phone video. The key evidence in the murder case against Officer Michael Slager.
South Carolina's Law Enforcement Division says Slager, seen here in dash cam video from his police cruiser, has spoken to investigators at least once, though it is not clear if the state is referring to this debrief filmed shortly after the shooting.
Tonight, investigators and analysts continue to pore over that dash cam video and the audio recorded from the wireless microphone Officer Slager was wearing. The dash cam video shows Walter Scott jumping out of the car and running. Officer Michael Slager is not seen chasing him, only heard, at one point telling Scott to get on the ground.
MICHAEL SLAGER, FORMER NORTH CHARLESTON POLICE: Get on the ground now! Get on the ground.
TODD: Seconds earlier, Slager can also be heard screaming that he has deployed his Taser.
SLAGER: Taser, Taser, Taser.
TODD: Eyewitness Feidin Santana who shot this video said he heard the sound of a Taser.
FEIDEN SANTANA, WITNESS: The cop was on top of him and he was tasing him. Tasing Mr. Scott.
TODD: Could that sound be a clue to what happened?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're hearing a Taser, someone says they can hear it, that's not good, because that means it's arcing in the air. When it hit something conductive it goes from loud to quiet. You see the difference?
TODD: It's unclear whether Officer Slager used his Taser successfully or if this image shows what appears to be the Taser's wires. CNN has learned Officer Michael Slager is being held in isolation away from other prisoners in this Charleston County, South Carolina, jail. Officials would not say if he is on suicide watch or if he has received threats from other inmates, only that he is being monitored for his mental health.
TODD: And the Scott family is holding a wake for Walter Scott at this hour. They are planning his funeral tomorrow -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Brian, stay with us. I know you've got reporting. We'll be back with you.
I want to bring in our guests right now, the community activist John Gaskin, he was the leading voice during the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, he's here with us in Washington. Our justice reporter Evan Perez and our law enforcement analyst, the former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes. Also joining us from New York, our HLN legal analyst, the criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson.
Tom, one of the problems in this kind of situation, we have two eyewitnesses. One of whom says one thing, the other one says something else, one says there was a tussle but it wasn't much of a tussle. The other one says they were both on the ground just before the shooting. What do you make of these contradictory eyewitness accounts?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, my opinion, I'm skeptical of the girl that came forward. First of all, if she was a serious witness, call the FBI. They will protect you. Call the state police, they will take care of that. To go to the media first, you know, is one clue that she might just want the attention. And she completely contradicts Santana's version, and he's the guy taking the video.
Another reason why I think his version makes sense to me is that when you tase somebody, they typically go to the ground for a short time. They are stunned for a few seconds, giving time for the officer to handcuff them, get control. So when he says they're on the ground together and the officer's on top of him, I believe that because when they're both on their feet which is when the video starts, you see Scott take off running and you see one of the Taser cords still attached to him, stretching as he runs away.
The second one appears to be tangled around the officer's arm and lying on the ground. Now normally when you fire a Taser, you would not get tangled in the cords unless they had close body contact and were in kind of a wrestling match.
BLITZER: You know, Evan, we're showing the viewers the original video from the cell phone, the very dramatic video, the awful video where you can see Walter Scott running away, the police officer Michael Slager shooting him several times in the back and eventually killing him. Now we have all this dash camera video as well from the police officers arriving on the scene. I know the FBI, the Justice Department, they're going to be looking at all of this as they pursue their case potentially, a civil rights case.
[17:35:12] EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. They already are taking a look at some of this information. They are working with the local law enforcement there. One of the emerging questions that they are going to have to deal with is the question of whether this is a symptom of just one cop or whether this is a broader problem, whether this is a department that uses -- is too quick to use the Taser, for instance.
Those are all questions that are being asked of the Justice Department. The local NAACP has asked for a pattern and practice investigation of the department. The Justice Department says that they are going to review that request, it's going to take probably some weeks and perhaps months before they do anything about that.
BLITZER: Yes. This is new dash cam video that we have just received. We have been showing our viewers.
Joey Jackson, as we show our viewers this video, we've also learned new details about the former police officer Michael Slager's confinement. He is now in isolation. He is under monitoring, not necessarily a suicide watch. He's allowed visitors only by video link with the exception of his own lawyers. Is that unusual? Is it pretty standard in a case like this?
JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, what ultimately happens is it's up to the discretion of the person who runs the facility. And obviously this is no standard case and every situation is different. Now there are consistent treatment of different inmates, but you know, he has not -- remember, it's early on in the case. Yes, he's been charged. There has not been an indictment yet. He is not certainly, you know, confined with regard to being sentenced. And so he's going to be treated as he is here, under the discretion of the person who runs the facility.
If I could just say one thing, though, Wolf, with regard to the witnesses that we talked about earlier. Tom Fuentes was talking about. Now here's why what they're saying may not necessarily be consistent. It's a very important point for viewers to understand. You have Mr. Santana who says three very critical things. The first thing is that there was a tussle on the ground. There's some kind of struggle.
The second thing he says which is significant is that at the -- regarding this tussle, what ends up happening is the officer is in control. The third thing that he says is that apparently Walter Scott ran away for fear of being tased. Now the second witness, briefly, Miss Nichols, she says two things. But she says that there's a tussle. She doesn't witness anything on the ground and then she says she hears no verbal command. Which is not inconsistent because on that video we don't hear him say, stop, I'll shoot.
What's important to understand is the witnesses may not necessarily be inconsistent. It could very well be that that second witness, Miss Nichols, when she observes it, that Walter Scott is off the ground.
Witnesses observe, they see and perceive things at certain times. At the time Santana's recording everything, he sees everything. At the time that Miss Nichols looks, it could be that he's up, that is Walter Scott, from the ground. So it's not necessarily an inconsistency. And that's something prosecutors will be working with as the defense will be working with.
BLITZER: I'm sure they will be. There will be a defense, he's got a defense attorney already.
John Gaskin, according to the "Atlantic," and I've got some statistics here, there were more than 22,000 traffic stops in North Charleston, South Carolina, in 2014, more than 16,700 involved African-Americans. That's about 76 percent of the traffic stops in the city. That's 47 percent black. More than 10,000 of the traffic stops involved black men. Does that give credence from your -- in your opinion to this charge that there is racial bias that African-Americans are unfairly targeted?
JOHN GASKIN, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: Absolutely. As Marc Morial so eloquently put it yesterday, we do need to take a look into the patterns and practices of the North Charleston Police Department. As we see across the country in black and brown communities, they are oftentimes over-policed. The people in those communities are oftentimes targeted. And oftentimes in those communities, there is a theory of policing for profit, as we saw which was out of control in the city of Ferguson, it appears, that that could be the possibility in the city of North Charleston.
PEREZ: It is important, though, to point out that this is -- you know, this is a city that's going through some very high crime issues. You know, they have a lot of shootings. This is a police department that's under pressure to do something about that. There's a lot of law-abiding people in this city who I'm sure want to go to sleep at night without hearing gunshots outside.
So while I understand, I think I can see those statistics and, you know, the local newspaper had some similar statistics that they pointed out as well, I do think it's important to point out why it is that some of these tactics are being used, whether they are being done correctly or not, it is something that --
BLITZER: And let's not forget, North Charleston, which is a different city than Charleston, South Carolina, has a population of about 100,000 people. And back in 2007, it was listed, it was identified as one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. So they've had a lot of work to do to try to make it less dangerous over these years. I don't know how much success they've had. But I know they are very sensitive to that.
Tom Fuentes, take a look at this video. We slowed it down now. This is video from another dash cam. And it's going to show the -- if a freeze pane, but you can see on the left, you can see the -- Feidin Santana, he's the individual who took that horrific cell phone video of the actual shooting that was going on. So you see he's there, you see the picture of him right there. All of this is going to be evidence down the road, right?
[17:40:24] FUENTES: Right. What it will do is confirm where the witnesses were, how far away, what's their view, anything obstructing it. We already know Santana has a good view because he's taking the video which shows his view. But the other witnesses come forward, any other witnesses that may in the future be identified, it will help. But if you -- they say they are close to it, they should come up on these videos that they are close.
BLITZER: Joey Jackson, you are a criminal defense attorney. If you were representing this police officer who has now been charged with murder, the initial dash cam video from the initial stop from his own vehicle, does that help him? Would that potentially help him avoid the charge being convicted of murder?
JACKSON: I really don't think so. I think what you're going to see the defense do here, Wolf, is look to the issue of mitigation to bring it down from murder to something else, because if you look at the classic issue of murder here, I think the principles are met. It's an intentional act. Now three very brief things. The first thing is you are going to look at the immanency of the threat posed to him at the time of the fatal shooting. How imminent was the threat. If the threat is moving away, it presents a problem for a defense attorney.
Step number two, the proportionality of the force. You are firing eight times at someone who is moving 10, 15, 20 feet away from you. So clearly it's disproportionate, your force, to the threat that's being posed. Then the final thing is the reasonableness of the conduct that's going to be evaluated, and of course, as we look at it, there's I think a uniform determination that it's unreasonable. So you are going to have to question the mindset.
Now also, Wolf, briefly, in the initial encounter, what you look for is how could the state of mind be impacted in any way. Now he was professional, absolutely. There was a general discussion, license, registration, which all of us may have experienced before. Also, Walter Scott didn't say anything, didn't do anything that was overly untoward or inappropriate.
So how did he get to the mindset, the defense attorney will have to say at some point that he was acting out of impulse, sudden passion, but that's difficult because the video doesn't show that he was stressed in any way. It seems as though he was standing there and shooting very calmly.
JACKSON: So it's going to be a concern for the defense.
BLITZER: And there is not video of the part in between the original arrest -- not the arrest, the original encounter and Walter Scott running away, then eventually the horrific video in between. We have some eyewitnesses but we don't have any actual video.
BLITZER: Everyone, stand by. We are going to continue the breaking news coverage. We will take a quick break. Much more after right this.
[17:47:27] BLITZER: The breaking news we're following. We now have second dash cam video of the South Carolina police shooting. This is from another officer's car. The camera shows the man who took the video of the shooting that would be Feidin Santana.
We are back with our experts.
Tom Fuentes, this dash cam video from the various police cars, how significant potentially could this be as far as a case of murder against this police officer?
FUENTES: I think that Slager's dash cam really isn't going to help get him off of a murder charge. I think that the other video is going to be so compelling; it's going to be hard to overcome that. But dash cam of the traffic stop shows that he acts in a very professional manner. So we don't see at that point any indication of a racial bias or unprofessionalism. He doesn't call Scott any, you know, racial epithets or anything. So I think that in the civil rights part of this, it does play in his favor.
BLITZER: I assume the FBI, the Justice Department, is going to be taking a look to hear if they hear any -- you know, any derogatory terms referring to this African-American man.
PEREZ: Right, Wolf. And you know, one of the things that I think will be a problem is if indeed these witnesses have differing versions of exactly what happened in the part of this confrontation that we don't have on camera, the part where there -- is there a tussle, are they on the ground, are they standing up, that's going to be very key.
Again, this doesn't really excuse what we see on camera, the shocking video of this officer shooting a man in the back as he's running away. But I think, you know, for his own defense, I think they would want to see -- to hear more from those people who can explain what might have motivated this.
FUENTES: No, I agree with that. And Santana's statement that they're on the ground and Scott's -- the officer, I mean, is on top of Scott on the ground, and then turn around and make a statement they weren't -- he wasn't going for the Taser, he couldn't know that.
BLITZER: All right.
FUENTES: You couldn't see under them.
BLITZER: We got to take another break, guys. Stay with us. There's other breaking news we're following. The aftermath of those massive tornadoes in the Midwest. Much more right after this.
[17:53:57] BLITZER: We'll have much more ahead of the South Carolina shooting, including the dash cam video from a second police car. But breaking now a second death is confirmed in the wake of those tornadoes in Illinois. Dozens of homes are completely destroyed or uninhabitable.
Let's bring in CNN's Ed Lavandera. He's joining us now from Fairdale, Illinois.
I take it that place was nearly wiped off the map. Is that right?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Devastating destruction we have seen here, Wolf. You know, the fire chief here in the town of Fairdale says that tornadoes of this magnitude is just simply not something that they are used to. So it took a deadly toll here. But there are also amazing stories of survival if you look behind me. These two cars inside three adults and three children trapped inside when the tornado hit but they survived to tell us about it.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): With terrifying ferociousness, tornadoes ripped through small towns west of Chicago. Residents in the storm's path looked on in fear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'm scared to death of storms. So I was -- you know, I was watching everything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like it's a bad dream, something I would be watching on the news somewhere else, not in my neighborhood.
[17:55:05] LAVANDERA: One tornado cut a 22-mile path through this Illinois flatland. The town of Fairdale is a small dot on the map. But a tornado tore right through it. The town does not have tornado sirens. Two elderly women were killed here and dozens of homes destroyed. Those that survived like Andy Kettleson know just how lucky they are.
ANDY KETTLESON, FAIRDALE RESIDENT: It was such an adrenaline rush. Everything seemed like it happened in two seconds.
LAVANDERA: Kettleson rode the storm out while sitting inside this blue Ford Focus. You can see it here on the edge of this picture that Kettleson took just after the storm struck. They were inside an iron workshop. Kettleson was inside the car with a co-worker who had raced over with his wife and three young kids to seek shelter. Moments later the tornado made a direct hit.
KETTLESON: I just remember looking through the windshield and seeing the roof of the shop starting to come up and down. And next thing I know, the blocks all coming down and beams are falling. Luckily, nobody got hurt.
LAVANDERA: Kettleson and his friend's family managed to get out of the debris to see this is what's left of the building around them.
Search and rescue teams have spent the day looking through miles of debris, looking for survivors, trying to make sure everyone in the storm's path is accounted for. Emergency officials say that work is now winding down. CHIEF CHAD CORNELL, KIRKLAND COMMUNITY FIRE DEPARTMENT: We are very
confident that we have covered all the areas that need special attention.
LAVANDERA: And, Wolf, you know, emergency officials say that throughout much of the region many people had about 30-minute warnings of the storms that were coming this way. The fire chief here says unfortunately in this situation of the two elderly women that were killed here in this town would not have made much of a difference. Where those two women lived was the hardest hit area of this town -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Ed Lavandera, thanks very much.
Breaking -- up next, major new developments in the South Carolina police shooting, including some new dash cam video. New information about the officer charged with murder.