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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Investigating Freddie Gray's Death; Calm in Baltimore; Police: No Report to Be Released Friday. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired April 29, 2015 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much.
National Guardsmen, state troopers all here on the ground rolling around in MRAPs at the ready should the fragile calm in Charm City shatter and be replaced by the kind of violence that we saw Monday night.
But it is a very different Baltimore than we saw Monday night.
Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Anderson Cooper, live in Baltimore in front of Baltimore's City Hall right here. My colleague John Berman is with me also this hour coming from the Orioles' Camden Yards -- John.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Anderson, the Orioles are batting in the bottom of the eighth inning right now, leading 8-2 in front of exactly zero fans.
This is an absolutely unprecedented step by Major League Baseball, to close the gates to the public like this. We will have much more on this in just a moment, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Surreal, to say the least, to see that.
Today is almost eerie in many ways. Many worry the city could again explode in violence, violence that President Obama said this morning he has seen too many times before. Those were his words. Now, across the country, as tensions between police and black communities have boiled over, and we have seen that now, that tension, at least for one night, stayed mostly at bay here in the city of Baltimore.
Law enforcement did enforce that 10:00 p.m. citywide curfew and fired smoke canisters to disperse some protesters. Now, today, school was back in session, keeping the streets mostly empty for much of the day. Now that school is out, crowds in places like North Avenue could pick up. And with a report on Freddie Gray's death not expected to be turned over to the state's attorney until Friday -- and, by the way, that report likely will not be seen. People will not see it.
People here remain very ill at ease. There's a lot to talk about in the hour ahead.
John, this very strange day over there at the ballpark, tell us more about what you have been seeing and hearing. BERMAN: It's so interesting, Anderson. You go around the city today,
and it is a little more normal. People went back to work. The kids are back to school. The streets are full of people walking and driving and eating at restaurants.
But it's not normal here, not even close. And what is going on right behind me just shows you just how abnormal it is. They're playing this game in front of nobody. And so I don't think there's ever been as much attention on a day baseball game on a Wednesday because of how few people were actually watching it in person.
And it's a reminder, I think an important reminder, Anderson, of how far they still have to go here. Yes, last night was not as bad as the night before. Who knows how bad tonight will be? But they have got a long way to go to make this city feel like it did a week or two weeks or three weeks ago, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, it's not just an issue of stopping the immediate violence. There are much longer-term issues obviously which have been going on here which still need to be addressed.
John, stay right there. We are going to continue to come back to you throughout this hour.
Miguel Marquez, of course, has been with the protesters since Monday.
Miguel, explain where you are and how things are today.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is Pennsylvania and North, Penn and North, as it's known here. This is the place that's seen the worst of the worst, a much, much different feeling today.
There was a food drive here earlier. They're playing chess out here now. There are people up from D.C., even, who are sort of doing an impromptu job fair in front of the CVS that's burned out. The intersection in of Pennsylvania and North that was sort of like a carnival-like atmosphere yesterday until they cleared the streets is now open again.
And it feels like a much different day in Baltimore.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): After two nights of unrest, local and state police and the National Guard flooding some Baltimore streets, the city on alert two days before the expected police report on Freddie Gray's controversial death is released to prosecutors.
An all-night curfew went into effect Tuesday night. Tough to implement, but effective.
CAPT. ERIC KOWALCZYK, BALTIMORE POLICE DEPARTMENT: Our sincere hope is that we see what we saw yesterday, which is people coming together in a peaceful manner.
MARQUEZ: Only 35 people were arrested since the curfew kicked in. That's compared to 235 arrests during Monday's lawlessness; 100 of them are still awaiting charges.
With the renewed peace, Baltimore city schools reopened on Wednesday after being delayed. The Baltimore Orioles played the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday afternoon, but in an empty stadium, the game closed to the public, believed to be the first time that's happened in Major League Baseball history.
Two hours earlier, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra played a free concert to support the community just a short drive away from some of the city's worst violence earlier in the week.
[16:05:02] After the violence started on Monday, this video went viral of a mother going into a crowd to pull out her 16-year-old masked son and then hitting him repeatedly.
TOYA GRAHAM, MOTHER: To see my son come across the street with a rock in his hand, I think at that point, I just lost it.
MARQUEZ: Toya Graham tells CBS she used tough love because she wanted to keep him safe and away from the violence.
Later that night, some residents, angry at police, rioted, looted and set fire to businesses, all of it especially devastating for owners of already struggling businesses like Record Connection, which has been in the neighborhood for 37 years.
(on camera): How are you going to recover?
REGINA LEWIS, RECORD CONNECTION: By the grace of God, we're still here. We're still --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pick up the pieces.
LEWIS: Got to pick up and going to start all -- start over.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Stephen Ibironke is trying to salvage some of the appliances at his store after smoke from a fire at a nearby shoe store turned them all black. He tells CNN the riots were the final straw.
STEPHEN IBIRONKE, OWNER, S&B QUICK APPLIANCE: I don't even want to stay in this city anymore.
MARQUEZ (on camera): Where will you go?
IBIRONKE: I will try and find a new area, if I can get to one. The building belongs to me. I have made up my mind now to sell it, because I don't want to be mingled with all these people anymore. I'm fed up.
MARQUEZ: Really amazing to talk to the individuals in this neighborhood, to hear the stories that are happening here. For as bad as it seemed Monday night and as unrecoverable as it seemed, today is a much different feeling. Yesterday was still pretty raw. Today feels much better. Baltimore
is certainly not out of the hot water yesterday, because as we have seen in other cities, Anderson, as I know you have seen, it goes in waves and it can change in an instant. But right now, with all of this happening behind us and this neighborhood kind of coming back together, it feels pretty good, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, and there's certainly still, as you know, a lot of work to be done.
In fact, Miguel, I actually just was over at Toya Graham's house. Toya is the mom there who you saw there dragging her son away from those protests when she saw him about to throw a rock at police. My interview with her is on tonight on "360."
And I also interviewed her son, Michael, who was wearing that mask, was about to throw that rock, about that moment when he suddenly made eye contact with his mom at that demonstration and he knew he was in deep, deep trouble with his mom. That will be tonight.
Miguel, we will check in with you throughout the day.
Unlike yesterday, there is a very different scene here throughout the streets. Today, Baltimore public school students spent the day in class. That's different. But now the bell has rung, police are at the ready. There is a heavy police presence on the street.
I want to go now to our Ryan Young.
And I should actually point out, Ryan, at the location we're at right now at City Hall, we're actually now seeing a large, relatively large group, it looks like, at least maybe 200 or so, protesters, maybe 150 protesters walking by City Hall. It's not clear if this is a group which was in school earlier and has now come out or if this is a group of older people or mixed, but it's a group which is marching around the plaza here by City Hall.
But, as we said, there is a pretty heavy presence of National Guard, State Police as well. Are students now out of class? How is that in the area where you're at? Is that amping up tensions? Are you seeing students out on the streets, Ryan?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we were told they were getting out of class at 3:45.
And we're going to point the camera across the street at sort of the school, Frederick Douglass High School, and, as you can see, there's nothing over here. We haven't seen any large groups of students walking this direction or even getting close to this mall area.
In fact, we have seen more officers than we have seen students. Just in the last five minutes, there was a woman in this parking lot and she rolled up on two kids and she said, why are you outside of this mall? When they didn't have a good answer, she told them, get home or do you need a ride home? It was part of that parenting that we have seen over and over from members of the community who are trying to step in.
You can see these two high school students walking this direction, but you can also see the Guardsmen that are just standing right there. And we are going to turn this camera just a little over this direction, so you can see the large contingent of officers who are in that direction who are on the ready in front of this grocery store just in case something happens. But as of right now, all we have had is a handful of students coming in our direction and that one parent who was making sure no one crosses lines so there will be no issues.
So, so far, the notice here is all good -- Anderson.
COOPER: Ryan, thanks very much.
And that's really -- that was the story yesterday as well as today, the difference that parents and volunteers, church groups, pastors, just individuals, men in the community have made to police themselves, to police others, standing often between crowds and the police, just trying to keep things peaceful protests.
And that's what we're seeing right now, certainly here outside City Hall.
I want to go back to John Berman at Camden Yards -- John.
BERMAN: Hey, Anderson.
I heard Ben Jealous, the head of the NAACP, say last night he was calling on clergy and people in the community to be giants. Everyone, go out and be a giant in your own space, to try to make things OK.
One update. The Orioles just won. They won 8-2 here. They beat the White Sox and no one was in the stadium behind me to see it because of the security concerns, again, a long way to go to get things back here.
Athena Jones is in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of Baltimore, which is one of the toughest and poorest neighborhoods in this city. It's also one of the places that Freddie Gray lived.
Athena, while you were on with me early today on "AT THIS HOUR," you had a chance to speak with the Maryland governor, Larry Hogan. What did he have to say to you this morning?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. That's right.
I'm here right next to a memorial to Freddie Gray. I talked to Governor Hogan and I asked him how he felt last night went, with far fewer arrests. It was much calmer. I asked him if he thought it was a turning point. He said it was a turning point, but there were still some areas of concern. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R), MARYLAND: It was a great night. But it's not over yet. There's still a lot of frustrations. There's still a lot of hostility. There's still anger in the community. And there's still people out there that want to make trouble and there's still some folks that are out there that want to get things out of control, that don't want to go on a peaceful way, like the majority of the people do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: The governor said that they are going to have as many resources on the streets as they need to until they're certain that the situation is calm and going to remain peaceful -- John.
BERMAN: All right, Athena Jones for us, having just spoken to the governor of Maryland, who also told Athena, frankly, that he doesn't think that he did anything wrong here and has no regrets over the way things have been handled here.
There will be questions about that going forward, although right now there's concentration on what happens tonight and tomorrow and the next few days.
Athena Jones, thanks so much.
Lost in the violence of what has gone on here and Monday night is the reason that the protests started more than a week ago to begin with, Freddie Gray's mysterious death while in police custody. In just two days, the initial police investigation into his death should be wrapped up. The question is, will the information be released to the public?
[16:16:29] COOPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
You're looking at some live pictures and really the location that we're at, there's a helicopter shot from WJZ, I believe, from right in front of the courthouse which is also just about 300 feet or so from city hall, the location we're at. That's the group of protesters I was talking about earlier who arrived here probably 15 minutes ago and they're now standing outside the courthouse area. Some people are making speeches and talking. And these are the kind of roving protests that we've seen a lot over the last 24 hours or so.
We're also anticipating a press conference from law enforcement officials. We'll obviously bring that to you. We're expecting a press conference from the Baltimore police department any moment. We'll take that live.
And in just two days, that department is going to wrap up their investigation into the death of Freddie Gray. The police report is going to be sent directly to prosecutors, not necessarily released publicly. In fact, I talked to the attorney for the Gray family on Friday who's trying to tamp down people's expectations that on Friday, they're going to get some sort of word about the results from that investigation. The lack of answers, though, into what happened to Freddie Gray whose spine was severed has certainly inflamed days of protests and Monday's outbreak of violence.
Cell phone videos of Gray dragged inside that police van have angered crowds, angered people now for weeks. Along with that mystery of what happened to him, were his injuries sustained during the arrest, were they sustained inside that vehicle? If so, how? Six officers involved in the arrest are on paid leave but did any of their actions lead to Freddie Gray's death? We simply do not don't have any injuries.
I want to bring in CNN's Evan Perez.
Baltimore leaders, they're working now basically to set up a game plan, right?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: That's right, Anderson. They're trying to come over the game plan of how to lower those expectations, which --
COOPER: On Friday.
PEREZ: On Friday, which is I think what the Gray family attorney is also trying to do. I expect that we're going to hear a little bit more about that game plan in the next couple of hours from city officials.
The problem that they have right now is that the investigation -- this is going to be a preliminary report offered up --
COOPER: So, this is the police department report?
PEREZ: Police department report. And it is considered preliminary because they're going to continue their investigation. And it's not going to provide any complete answers, not even to the state prosecutors.
The issue is this -- even at this point, they don't believe that there's any clear-cut answers here as to what happened. There's no roadmap here for charges just yet. They're still waiting for some very key things, including the medical examiner's report, which could be weeks away.
COOPER: You know, the last I heard of -- I mean, this was probably four, five days ago. Five of the six officers had at least given preliminary statements. Do we know if that sixth officer has or is he still maintaining his right to remain silent?
PEREZ: What we know so far is that it's simply been five of the six, right, exactly. That doesn't mean the sixth is guilty of anything.
I want to bring in our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin who is standing by.
Jeff, you're a former federal prosecutor. What if anything do you think we're going to hear about this report on Friday? Will details be released or leaked out or will the prosecutor want to keep it close to the vest if she builds a potential case?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I think that's a really tough call. There are a lot of competing pressures. Under ordinary circumstances, you wouldn't hear much because this is preliminary and usually, this begins a process of give-and-take with the prosecutors where the prosecutors say, look, I need you to interview the following three or four more witnesses, I want to get the following tests done.
[16:20:04] I mean, preliminary means preliminary. Here, of course, there's tremendous demand. I would anticipate that the family of Freddie Gray would be brought in and informed at least somewhat about how much -- about the information that's been gathered. But, you know, as you pointed out just a couple of minutes ago, there is a lot that remains mysterious about how Freddie Gray died and what caused it. And it's going to take more time to determine that and especially to determine if anybody needs to be criminally charged in connection with it.
COOPER: Sunny Hostin, former federal prosecutor, is also joining us. And as we always point out, she is also friends with the mayor of Baltimore.
I talked to the attorney for the Gray family last night and he was saying, look, I want to tamp down the protesters' expectations that Friday, they're going to get some, you know, vital information. And he doesn't want them getting upset on Friday when that information is not forthcoming because he's arguing for the Gray family and for the prosecutor, they want to keep their strategy close to the vest. They don't want to give out all the information that's going to let anyone who may be potentially indicted know exactly what's coming.
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think that's right. It's really important in a case like this to manage everyone's expectations because all eyes are on how the prosecutor's office will handle this.
And I think further along in the process, quite frankly, is going to be very interesting because prosecutors as Jeff Toobin knows have two potential tracks. And we've seen that play out. You can either choose to charge yourself as the prosecutor because that is well within your jurisdiction, or you can choose to bring whatever evidence you have to a grand jury.
And so, people need to understand that not only does the investigation have to continue because if I'm the prosecutor, I do want to see forensic evidence. I may want to bring in some experts to help me discern what happened in terms of the autopsy. And, you know, I think you also have to recognize that a prosecutor once that person has all the evidence also has to determine which track to follow.
COOPER: Jeff, in terms of a time line, how long a process are we talking about?
TOOBIN: Well, just for starters, according to the usually procedure in Maryland, a full autopsy is not presented until 30 to 45 days after the autopsy takes place. That pushes the timeline out considerably. And that, at least to me based on what I know, is going to be perhaps the single most important piece of evidence in this case. How did Freddie Gray die? What was the cause of death? And there is no guarantee that an autopsy will present the answer to that question, which means you may have to bring more experts.
So I think a month, two months is far from out of the question. It is far better, though, I think to be late, to be slow than to be wrong. And I think if it takes a while, it's going to take a while. But it really is important for prosecutors and police to get this one right.
COOPER: You know, on another subject, you're friends with the mayor, today she came out and said basically that she got it wrong, that she shouldn't have called the young people who were being violent on the streets Monday thugs, that she regretted calling them thugs. President Obama also used that term.
But it was interesting that she's now come forward and said that, which is something you've been saying frankly --
HOSTIN: I have been critical of the mayor in terms of those remarks. She is a very close friend of mine. But I was surprised that she chose to use that word. She is very measured, she's a critical thinker. She's sensitive to the issues facing communities of color, and I was quite surprise that she would use that term.
What is also interesting to me is that people are saying that she has sort of this apathetic way about here, that she seemed to be flatfooted or a deer caught in the headline.
I know because I know her personally that she is someone that does not wear her emotion on her sleeve. She is very measured just as a person. And so, the fact that she used that term shows me that she was very, very -- almost upset about what was going on.
COOPER: It's one of the things I talked to Toya Graham, the mom who famously dragged her son, Michael, out of the protests when she saw him about to throw a rock. I actually asked her about those comments, she made a very good point saying, my son has made some mistakes but my son is not a thug, 16 years old, has dreams of what he wants to be. And that was something that offended her, I believe, even though she was the mom who has been identified as the kind of mom who cares for her kid and was dragging her kid out of --
HOSTIN: It is offensive. And I have received I don't know how many tweets and e-mails in response to my suggestion yesterday that the word "thug" has become racialized. I'm not saying it's a racial term. But it's also used as a term for young African-American men, and I think we have to be very careful when we call people that name.
[16:25:02] I think that certainly, you can call someone a criminal if they are committing arson and thief and assault, which is what we saw during those riots, and the looting, but to sort of frame everyone as a thug, I think it's misplaced.
COOPER: Sunny, I appreciate you being with us. Jeffrey Toobin as well.
There's still a lot to talk about in this hour.
Coming up, we're awaiting the police press conference, expected at any moment. We're gong to bring that to you live. We're going to take a short break.
Plus, the Baltimore Orioles just trounced the Chicago White Sox. None of their fans got to see it in person. What's it like playing in a totally empty stadium? Details on that from our John Berman, ahead.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. John Berman here in Baltimore. What you're looking at right now, a press conference here by Baltimore City police.
Let's listen in.
CAPT. J. ERIC KOWALCZYK, BALTIMORE POLICE: The peaceful expressions that we've seen today. This is again in alignment with what we are used to seeing in Baltimore and we're very pleased about that.
We anticipate that there will be a group of protesters later this evening around 5:30 to 6:00 at Penn Station, which is our train station just north of where we are now. We anticipate that that will be a large group that will march. From what we understand right now, they will march through the city to city hall. We are asking that they remain peaceful.
As with all of the groups that we've seen, with all of the gatherings that we've seen and marches that we've seen, we'll evaluate our response on how we handle then on a case-by-case, individual basis. So long as people remain peaceful in their expression, we continue to support everyone's first amendment rights and their ability to voice concern.
As of this afternoon, we don't have any new arrests. We have not had any major or significant incidents connected to the demonstrations throughout the city. And we continue to have officers spread throughout the city able to respond to any incident should that arise.
Finally, I want to clear up some confusion. There is this -- there's a lot of conversation about the report that is supposed to be issued. There is not a report. And we want to be clear here. There is not a report that's going to be issued.
What we are going to do, which is unique, is turn over all of our findings, all of our investigative efforts to the state's attorney's office. Those findings -- we have an obligation to be accountable to the people of Baltimore in this investigation. We know there are a lot of people who want answers, who have concerns that they want to have addressed. And we have an obligation to do our best to be accountable.
We cannot release all of the information from this investigation to the public because if there is a decision to charge in any event by the state's attorney's office the integrity of that investigation has to be protected. So, by turning these documents, our findings over to the state's attorney's office as quickly as we can, we are being accountable to them so that we can be accountable to the public.
I hope that answers and clears up any concerns or confusion about that report. We just wanted to be clear, we continued to see reports of that and we wanted to address any confusion that might be there. I'll take a few questions.
KOWALCZYK: Our hope is to be able to provide as many updates as we can, whatever new information that we might be able to share, our hope is to continue to be able to do that. We will clearly continue to brief what we have done, what you've seen us do from the beginning, is update as often and as much as possible whenever we are able to do so, and that is exactly what we will continue to do.
REPORTER: How about the protests affecting your resources to deal with other things that (INAUDIBLE) past few days? Are you handling all that in addition to this --
KOWALCZYK: You know, so, we're incredibly thankful to our state partners, to our local partners, to the national guard, everyone that's come into the city to help us as we move through these days. Those resources have enabled us to be able to have a presence throughout the city, to be able to respond to situations and emergencies.
We're also dealing with normal calls for service, normal things that we see in the city, those are being investigated by our detectives, those are being handled in the same way that we would handle any other crimes that occur in the city.