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THE SITUATION ROOM
Six Officers Charged in Freddie Gray's Death; News Conference by Freddie Gray's Family; Interview with Representative Elijah Cummings. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired May 1, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now:
Murder charge in a stunning announcement. Baltimore's prosecutor says the death of Freddie Gray was a homicide. Six police officers face serious charges, and for one of them, that includes second-degree murder.
We want to welcome viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We are standing by for a news conference. Momentarily, it's expected to begin. This will be the first time Freddie Gray's family and the family attorney will be making a statement reacting to the stunning news today that six police officers in Baltimore, they have been arrested, and are about to be charged with complicity, various aspects in connection with the death of Freddie Gray.
[17:00:07] He's the 25-year-old who died in police custody.
A stunning developments today, the family getting ready for this statement. The attorney as well. They're about to walk in to this news conference. This will be the beginning of their reaction. We see family members and others walking to the microphones right now. We're going to hear what they have to say.
Among those who will be speaking including Freddie Gray's stepfather, Richard Shipley, and Billy Murphy Jr., the attorney for the family.
Let's get ready. Let's listen in. There's the stepfather, Richard Shipley.
BILLY MURPHY, GRAY FAMILY'S ATTORNEY: Good afternoon.
First, we will hear from the representative of the Gray family, who has brief remarks to make. Then, I'll make brief remarks. And then, we'll take a handful of questions.
RICHARD SHIPLEY, FREDDIE GRAY'S STEPFATHER: My name is Richard. I'm one of Freddie's two fathers.
We are satisfied with today's charges. These charges are an important step in getting justice for Freddie.
And we ask that whoever comes to our city, a city that we love, a city that we live in, come in peace. And if you are not coming in peace, please, don't come at all, because this city needs to get back to work. The last thing that Freddie would want is to see the hard- working people of Baltimore lose their jobs and businesses because of his death. You all know that would totally defeat the purpose of what we are trying to work towards.
Remember, without justice, there is no peace. But we -- but let us have peace in the pursuit of justice. Thank you.
MURPHY: Today is a momentous step on the road to justice for Freddie.
In losing Freddie, the Gray family has been put through real hell. One can only imagine the tremendous pain and suffering that this family has endured, for the parents' loss of a son, and the sister's loss of a brother. Freddie was taken too early, and too horrifically. And the worst of the Grays' family days, in the history of this family, have been the last three weeks.
Today has given the Gray family a measure of hope. We thank the state's attorney and her team for their unprecedented courage and their measured and professional response to this crisis. They have our gratitude in their pursuit of justice.
However, we must be mindful that this is a first step, not the last. But while the state's attorney's office continues to do its work, the community, this community, and other communities like it all over the country have much work to do of their own.
The overwhelming number of people who have protested over these many days did not know Freddie personally, but they and the people of Philadelphia, New York, Cincinnati, and numerous other cities, numerous other towns, and numerous rural areas are expressing their outrage that there are too many Freddie Grays. And if Freddie Gray is not to die in vain, we must seize this opportunity to reform police departments throughout this country, so that there are no more days and times like this.
It is now time for every city, including our own, to make all citizens of this country treated with human dignity, unaffected by color, religion, gender, income or of the other irrelevant differences that wrongly exclude them from the human family.
[17:05:08] Let us make this the overarching meaning of justice for Freddie. Freddie's family is gratified that the ministers, elected officials and others have stepped in to the streets to counsel peace, but the family is especially gratified that the young people are America are showing us the way. They are firm, strong and bound together in a mission for change.
Our young people have friends, classmates, relatives, spouses, and co- workers from all races, all colors, all sexual orientations, all religions and all incomes who have enabled them to see with unmistakable and unprecedented clarity that we are all members of one race, the human race. With every ounce of their being, they express this universal desire for one country, one people, and they will fight peacefully until that goal is realized.
But with all of these unprecedented experiences comes enormous responsibility, because most of us have never been in a place like this before. Young people must show us the way thoughtfully, creatively and peacefully, as three of the greatest leaders in recent history, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela have taught us, the only lasting response to evil is love.
Freddie Gray's family thanks you for the love you have shown them. Now let us all show them the fruits of that love, real and lasting progress. The lasting changes we make will be Freddie's legacy.
And the changes we make in Baltimore can set the example for this nation. We can start with body cameras. We can continue with tough and enforceable regulations for the on switch, never to be turned to the off switch inappropriately. We shall demand better hiring, better training, better oversight and a new culture of policing.
Yes, a new culture of policing -- where good policing is rewarded, and bad policing is punished, where bad policemen fear committing misconduct, because good policemen no longer fear preventing it, correcting it, reporting it or prosecuting it. The blue wall of silence which makes policemen wrongfully conspire to conceal evil must come down.
In the days ahead, we will be inviting police experts, community leaders, rank and file officers and other who have seriously studied what must be done to join us in what we hope will be a new Baltimore, to create and implement these reforms so that they will be a model for the nation. We must seize this moment.
Only this kind of lasting progress, a truly lasting progress, a permanent lasting progress, can assure Freddie Gray's family and the rest of us that Freddie's death was not in vain.
Let us pray for Freddie's family, and let us pray that God will guide us to do his will, or her will, in the pursuit of justice, so that this country will surely be and truly be a place where everyone regardless of their color or whatever difference may be superficially apparent, can get liberty and justice for all.
[17:10:22] Thank you very much. And we'll take your questions what is your reaction to the --
MURPHY: Man, you're fast.
REPORTER: What is your reaction to the Order of Police saying that officers are not responsible for (INAUDIBLE).
MURPHY: Well, you know, that's a -- premature statement, obviously. And if they, too, are interested in a full, thorough and fair investigation and to follow the facts where they lead us, they won't say stuff like that. We haven't said stuff like that.
We haven't said we believe these officers are guilty. We haven't said we believe they're innocent. We said that we want justice. And justice means following the true facts as best we can find them wherever they lead, and apply the law correctly and fairly, so that whatever the verdict is of a jury, it will be a just verdict.
REPORTER: Mr. Murphy, the measure of hope are you (INAUDIBLE).
You say this is a measure of hope. How concerned are you about the elapse of time between the charges coming today, going to trial, and the outcome?
MURPHY: There is not going to be a rush to justice in this case, and our state's attorney has taken a thorough look at the facts, and she has made charges. The timetable for prosecuting anyone, whether it be police officer or citizen, is never the same. It adjusts itself to how quickly the investigation can be performed in a fair, prompt, complete and reasonable fashion. Accuracy is the order of the day, and we have to await the result of a trial before we can determine how accurate her formulation and her charges are.
REPORTER: Do you worry about evidence-tampering, the story changing, being compromised (INAUDIBLE)
MURPHY: We always worry about that. We always worry that things can derail the pursuit of justice. And as a former defense lawyer -- well, current defense lawyer and judge, I've seen things happen that shouldn't have happened. But I pray that under this microscope, we will all behave at our highest levels, and I invite these representatives of the police to join us in that pursuit. We should not rush to justice. We should not assume what the result of this prosecution should be or should not be, because we want justice. That's all we want.
REPORTER: -- charged so quickly. What are your thoughts about (INAUDIBLE)
MURPHY: It will all come out in the wash.
REPORTER: What does that mean?
MURPHY: In other words, if -- it came too quickly, the results will show it. If it was a measured, fair and prompt investigation, the results will show that. So we have to wait and see. But I have confidence in this particular group of prosecutors that they handled this investigation properly, and thoroughly.
REPORTER: Can you give us the charges, are you satisfied with each one the way it came through, for each officer?
MURPHY: I don't think satisfied would be the correct approach. From my standpoint, the charges made sense, based on what her recitation of the facts surrounding probable cause were. And she did a thorough job so that all of you know at least the minimum amount of facts upon which these charges are based. There was much new in what she said and much to digest in the days ahead, and we'll participate with you in digesting it.
REPORTER: Mr. Murphy, one quick question. The district court records say that Officer Goodson is an African-American. He's the only one charged with murder in this case. I'm wondering if you could comment on that, what you think about that, how it informs (INAUDIBLE)
MURPHY: The justice doesn't have a race, creed or color, and that's what we're all about here today.
[17:15:01] We don't want it ever to depend on anybody's color, anybody's creed, anybody's sexual orientation, national origin or religion, anybody's income. But the sad reality of American life is that in many places under many circumstances, it still does.
And so, what we pray is that this will be a human drama, not a race drama. That it will be a quest for justice, and for nothing else. That's what we want. That's what this family wants.
Is that what this family wants? Yes. That is what this family wants.
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) indicate exactly when Mr. Gray suffered the fatal injury, at what point during that morning?
MURPHY: I know just as much as you do, and no more. And I'm not willing to speculate about that which we do not yet know.
REPORTER: When did she tell you that the charges would be brought?
MURPHY: You got two in, didn't you? She didn't tell me when charges would be brought. That's none of my business. That's the state's attorney's business.
REPORTER: Do you think there will be a fair in Baltimore? Do you see a change of venue?
MURPHY: Oh, I think that -- I think that after a thorough and fair jury selection, we'll be able to find 12 people in this city who can be fair and just. For all of you who wonder about that, the correct procedure is to see whether a fair and impartial jury can be selected before there should be any consideration of whether the venue should be changed.
We anticipate there will be no irregularities in that pursuit and that there will be arbitrary removal of this case in Baltimore. That truly would be unjust, because the first crack at justice should be in the community where these events took place, and we don't want anybody to rob this community of that.
I have the utmost confidence, the utmost confidence, that justice can be had in Baltimore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last question --
REPORTER: Would you call for a special prosecutor?
MURPHY: As I expressed earlier, I have confidence in this prosecutor. But in the days ahead, we have to determine whether or not there has to be a special prosecutor instead of a regular prosecutor who deals with the police on a daily basis, and like in Long Island, can be overly influenced from seeking justice, even when injustice stared them right in the face, where there was a completely unjustified choking to death of someone.
That's the kind of abuse that took place there. We don't see that happening here. But the overarching solution may be to eliminate that possibility that happened in Long Island, by the use of special prosecutors.
REPORTER: Is there a way in which (INAUDIBLE) just emotionally, when you or even family members felt (INAUDIBLE) encourage, the state's attorney revealed these charges? Was there sense of relief, was there anger, is there a way to characterize how they felt?
MURPHY: You know, the fear that this family and everybody else in this same situation over the last 100 and some years has had is that this will be like so many cases of police brutality have been historically swept under the rug. There was no sweeping, and there was no rug.
Last question coming up.
REPORTER: Can Mr. Shipley answer a question?
MURPHY: No. Mr. Shipley's not taking questions, and the reason for that are is, how many of you are there? He is not going to have his peace and quiet and dignity disturbed by too many people seeking too many questions from this family.
And that reminds me to request from all of you that this family be left to grieve in peace. I know you have jobs to do and I respect those jobs, as do they, but too many of you have too many jobs to do and too many of you are going to seek individual interviews of this family.
So, please, don't follow them around. Don't put microphones in their face. Let them grieve with dignity.
And they've done something that they didn't have to do. They stepped away from themselves, and they appealed to all of us to seek justice. It's a very important distinction.
[17:20:00] This is a very unusual family. Please, respect that in return for their desire to seek peace in this city and simply justice for Freddie, that they'd be left undisturbed.
I'm sure that there will be a time, I don't know how long it will be from now, when they can emerge from an unimaginable grief to come out into the light of day so that they can be themselves again. But that, that has not yet occurred, and I think you all know that. So, please, respect their peace and please let them grieve in the privacy of their own homes and their own lives.
REPORTER: Last question. When did you and the family find out that charges have been filed?
MURPHY: Same time you found out. We were in shock. We -- and it was a good shock. You know what I mean? We went -- darn. We didn't use those words. That justice had been approached in this forthright and courageous manner by this prosecutor.
REPORTER: Were you all together? Were you separate? Played out on television? How did you find out?
MURPHY: We found out after it was announced and the family got together and watched the recording on MSNBC of the full press conference that she gave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you.
MURPHY: Thank you very much. Got to go.
BLITZER: Billy Murphy Jr. is the attorney representing the Freddie Gray family. Earlier we heard from the stepfather of Freddie Gray, Richard Shipley. They're making strong statements. They're talking about the breaking news this hour.
The Gray -- Gray's stepfather calling for peace from demonstrators who are on the streets and outside the city of Baltimore right now, tonight after a week of anger, the protests over Freddie Gray's death have an air of celebration out there.
That's because the truly extraordinary announcement, Baltimore's rookie prosecutor Marilyn Mosby today said that Gray's death was a homicide and that is fatal injury occurred inside that police van. She revealed that all six police officers involved in his arrest now face charges. One of them is accused of second-degree murder. Those officers are now in custody, all six of them.
The police union calls it a rush to judgment and a huge legal battle lies ahead.
Let's go to our Brian Todd on the streets of Baltimore with much more.
Brian, what's going on?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, for more than six hours into a spontaneous street celebration here at the corner of North Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue, this has been, of course, the epicenter of the protest since Freddie Gray's death. Right now, you see people over here chanting, waving signs, they're celebrating with people stopping here in vehicles, a real expression, a collective expression of joy and relief after prosecutor Marilyn Mosby dropped what can certainly be described as a bombshell. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
MARILYN MOSBY, BALTIMORE STATE'S ATTORNEY: We have probable cause to file criminal charges.
CROWD: Yes! Yes!
TODD (voice-over): A stunning announcement today by Baltimore state's attorney Marilyn Mosby.
Caesar Goodson, the officer driving the police van with Freddie Gray inside, was charged with second-degree murder.
MOSBY: Mr. Gray suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside of the BPD wagon.
TODD: The other five police officers involved also facing criminal charges, ranging from false imprisonment and assault to misconduct and manslaughter.
MOSBY: Despite Mr. Gray's seriously deteriorating medical condition, no medical assistance was rendered or summoned for Mr. Gray at that time by any officer.
TODD: The state's attorney said Gray's arrest began on the morning of April 12th, when Gray ran from three officers on bike patrol who made eye contact with him. Gray was found carrying a knife, but Mosby said there was no probable cause for his arrest and no crime had been committed.
MOSBY: The knife was not a switchblade and is lawful.
TODD: The prosecutor says police ignored repeated requests by Freddie Gray for medical help.
MOSBY: By the time Officer Zachary Novak, Sergeant White and an unknown officer attempted to remove Mr. Gray from the wagon, Mr. Gray was no longer breathing at all.
TODD: The Baltimore police officers union says the officers charged aren't responsible for Gray's death.
MICHAEL DAVEY, BALTIMORE POLICE UNION LAWYER: I have never seen such a hurried rush to file criminal charges, which I believe are driven by forces which are separate and apart from the application of law and the facts of this case as we know them.
No one condones police misconduct. These officers did nothing wrong. As all of the facts surrounding this case come out in the appropriate forum, the officers' lack of wrongdoing will be made abundantly clear.
TODD: In a letter to Mosby, the union called for a special prosecutor, but the prosecutor dismissed the criticism that she has any conflict of interest and vowed to listen to the people of Baltimore who have taken to the streets seeking justice to Freddie Gray.
[17:25:00] MOSBY: To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America, I heard your call for "no justice, no peace". Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man.
TODD: We anticipate this protests, the celebration, is going to continue at least until 10:00, five hours from now when the curfew is in affect. As happy as these people are, Wolf, at this turn of events, at this announcement, many said they won't be truly satisfied unless they get some convictions of officers in this case. We may not know that for several months, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brian, thanks very much.
There's an air of celebration there. People are gathering in other parts of Baltimore as well. They're clearly pleased by the state's attorney and what she did today.
Let's get more reaction now. Joining us, the NAACP president Cornell William Brooks.
Cornell, thanks very much for coming. Let's talk -- you just heard the representative, or the lawyer for the family, Freddie Gray's family, the stepfather. Your reaction?
CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, PRESIDENT & CEO, NAACP: My reaction is that this bringing of these charges is a tragic validation affirmation of the fears and apprehensions of this community. The fact of the matter is, people all across Baltimore, the citizenry of Baltimore suspected wrongdoing and that these charges, not a conviction, do represent an apprehension of what they sense was true.
It came as, as a pleasant and stunning surprise, to many people all across the city and certainly within the NAACP. As you know, Freddie Gray died in a community in which Thurgood Marshall, our greatest hero, one of our greatest heroes, lived. And this in the back --
BLITZER: The Supreme Court justice.
BROOKS: That's right, first African-American Supreme Court justice.
And this is in the backdoor of the NAACP.
So, this is an affirmation. Let me clear: when black men are 20 times more likely to lose their lives at the hands of police than their white counter parts, this is not an individual incident, but rather one in a long-standing national narrative. So, we're stunned.
BLITZER: So, when Billy Murphy, attorney for the family, says this is a first step, not the last, there is much work to do -- and you're a lawyer yourself. You went to Yale law school. There's a high hurdle, the prosecutor's going too have to get over in order to convict these six police officers? BROOKS: Absolutely. Convicting a police officer of this kind of
misconduct is very difficult. So we need not conclude that the job has been done. The job is being done. The facts will emerge.
But as we saw over the course of the last 24 hours, people have been waiting. They've been waiting peacefully. They have been protesting peacefully and as this whole process unfolds, we need to do more of that, and as we wait, we need to double down in terms of advocating for the kind of comprehensive systemic reform of policing that this whole tragedy points to, because, Wolf, bear this in mind -- as the state's attorney pointed out, there was no probable cause.
And so, at the ugly heart of this tragedy is racial profiling. In other words, if you run from a police officer, and the police don't have any reason to suspect that you have engaged in any unlawful conduct, particularly in a community where there's a tradition of ugly, an ugly tradition of rough riding and police harassment and racial profiling and misconduct, we need systemic reform.
BLITZER: Because the state's attorney, Marilyn Mosby, she said there was no justifiable cause for the arrest, that it was simply -- and some of these police officers are actually now charged with false arrest of Freddie Gray. The representative, though, for the police, they said this was an egregious rush to judgment and they, the six police officers in their words, have done nothing wrong.
You heard Billy Murphy condemn that kind of statement. Your reaction?
BROOKS: My reaction would be this. Look at the family. The family has declined to rush, to rush to judgment. The family has said, "We're seeking justice. We're not seeking to rush to judgment, to hang these officers. They've exercised restraint."
So I would ask, why can't the police union do the same thing?
The police department has admitted that there's, there was an unauthorized stop here. That Freddie Gray was confined in this van without a seat belt. We know that the interior of the van is not a cushioned SUV. This is a very dangerous place to be, if you're unrestraint -- I should say, if you don't have a seat belt on and you're shackled and handcuffed.
[17:30:02] So by their own admission, there was a breach of all kinds of police protocol here, and so I believe they've rushed to judgment in a way that does not speak well of them.
BLITZER: And you have confidence in this prosecutor?
BROOKS: Based upon what we've seen thus far and her emphasis on the integrity of the process, her emphasis on avoiding leaks, I believe a -- I should say a prosecutor who's fifth generation law enforcement, who has four uncles law enforcement officers, and who's seen, who's seen a loved one die literally on the footsteps of her home, I believe those life experiences, her professional training, and her demeanor thus far suggests that.
BLITZER: Cornell Brooks, thanks very much for coming in.
BROOKS: Thank you.
BLITZER: We're going to continue our analysis of what's going on. We're also watching what's happening on the streets of Baltimore right now. You see some significant crowds already gathering, they're clearly pleased. It's almost an air of celebration right now. We'll have much more on the breaking news right after this.
[17:35:37] BLITZER: Demonstrations tried to the Freddie Gray case are under way right now. Large number, look at this. Large numbers of people, they're moving.
Let's go to CNN's Miguel Marquez, he's on the streets of Baltimore right now.
What's it like there, Miguel?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The city is alive. Everywhere that you look at this city, something is happening. Right now down at the inner harbor you have, I would call them protesters yesterday. Today they're sort of celebrants or demonstrators who are moving throughout the city, going to different locations. There was meant to be a march from here at Penn and North earlier but now this has kind of turned into an impromptu celebration. Food not (INAUDIBLE), and Baltimore City is serving food here all day here.
Where you and I were talking on Monday, Wolf, when that individual went over and punch the holes in the fire hose, right down there, what a difference this week has been and what a difference today is with the announcement of those charges. Just absolute bombshell.
I want to show you -- excuse me, pardon me -- want to show you what's happening here and has been happening all day long here at the corner of Pennsylvania and North. People gathering, stopping traffic. The police are trying to keep sort of the streets open, and here we have the Nation of Islam coming up here, it looks like. It is just turned into a complete celebration with people lining the way here, asking people to honk. It's been nonstop parties with the cars open, the music on. Cars honking. It feels like they've won the Super Bowl -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Miguel. We're going to get back to you. I want to bring in a special guest right now.
Congressman Elijah Cummings, he's the Maryland Democrat. His district includes Baltimore, including some of the areas where these protesters, demonstrators, people are celebrating right now. He's the ranking member also, by the way, of the oversight and government reform committee.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us. I don't know about you but I was pretty surprised by the state's attorney today what she did. What was your reaction? REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Wolf, I was very pleased with
what she did and I was very surprised that this decision came so early, but early this morning at 7:00, I was with Chris Cuomo, on his show, and at that time, Wolf, I said that we needed to leave her alone, let her make her decision, go over all the evidence and I had full confidence that this brilliant, young woman who lives only a few blocks from where I live and a Tuskegee graduate, and just some wonderful lady with high integrity, that she would make the right decision.
And I had no clue that it would come today, but I had -- and at the end of our discussion this morning, Wolf, I said, whatever she decides, because I believe in her integrity, her honesty, her pursuit of excellence, that she would make the right decision and whatever that decision was, I said I would accept it.
BLITZER: And so you're proud of her, what she has done. Some people say, you know, she's relatively young. She's new on the job. As you well know, filing charges is one thing, but getting convictions against six police officers, that's pretty tough. Isn't it?
CUMMINGS: Yes. That's a tough one. But the fact is, that I was very impressed, Wolf, with the way she laid out her case. And explained step by step what she believes is her theory. The theory of the case and how things happened, and I think that's what transparency is all about. Making sure people are clear as to why she did what she did. And, again, this is about pursuing justice. And without a doubt, she finally recognized this young man, Mr. Gray.
You know, I said at his funeral, Wolf, that I wondered if anybody saw him, a young man striving simply to be alive. Simply to be a human being and it seems as if he was invisible, like so many of our youth in my community are today. But I thanked her for seeing him. And recognizing that he had a valuable life, and so we will now -- now that the justice -- the wheels of justice will turn, certainly the wheels of justice turn slowly, but, Wolf, tonight at least they're turning.
BLITZER: And I know for you this is very, very personal, and I ought to give you a lot of credit, Congressman, because you've had the guts to go out there on the front lines the last few nights and make your presence felt, and you've done an impressive job.
[17:40:10] If you can, I have several more questions, I want to get your reaction to other developments in this case. Can you stick around, we'll continue our conversation?
CUMMINGS: I'd be happy to.
BLITZER: All right. We'll take a quick break. Much more with Congressman Elijah Cummings. He's a leader there in Baltimore. We'll take a quick break. You're looking at live pictures coming in.
BLITZER: We're watching new demonstrations in Baltimore right now. Following today's dramatic announcement that six police officers are being charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray. Freddie Gray who died in police custody.
I'm back with Congressman Elijah Cummings, the Maryland Democrat, his district, where all of this occurred.
[17:45:07] What do you say to the police union representatives who said this decision was rushed today. They say that these six police officers did absolute nothing wrong. What's your reaction when you hear talk like that from representatives of the police union?
CUMMINGS: Well, first of all, I would tell them that obviously they don't know our state's attorney, and if they did, they would understand that she is a woman who reaches the highest levels of excellence, and she is a person who believes truly in justice. And an outstanding attorney and she's going to do what is right.
And like I said, I would have felt comfortable with whatever she did, because I knew she was going to do a -- make sure that an investigation was thorough. Make sure she had all the facts available to her, and if, Wolf, if she didn't have all the facts, I knew that she knew that she had the backup of the FBI, the police -- the Baltimore City Police Department, the sheriff's department, forensic scientists from all over the world if she needed them, and I knew that she would then take the law and then size it up with the facts, and make a reasonable, fair and just determination.
So I would say to them that as she said, this is her jurisdiction, this is her job. She didn't want to turn it over to anybody else. She would handle it herself. That's what we elected her to do and she did it. That's what I would say.
BLITZER: Congressman, you and I have known each other for a while. And I know this all hits really close to home for you. And you understandably get emotional when you talk about these kinds of issues. Tell our viewers here in the United States and indeed around the world who are watching right now why this is all so personal for you.
CUMMINGS: First of all, I live in the city, and I live not too far from where this young man died. And I see so many children who feel like they have no hope. Just last night, a 16-year-old boy said to me, Mr. Cummings, I want to hope, but I feel like I'm living in a coffin, clawing, trying to get out. And I tell you, when I think about our young people, I want them to have hope. I want them to believe that they have a destiny, and, Wolf, I said at the funeral of Mr. Gray, I said -- for so long I've said, our children are the living messages we send to a future we will never see.
But then I said, that's changed. Now our children are sending us to a future they will never see. There's something absolutely wrong with that picture, and to all -- let me say this, the only thing that I hope for was that the police and all of those involved in this investigation would pursue the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And I believe that's exactly what has happened. And so now we go to the trial phase and the officers will have an opportunity to defend themselves.
But one thing is for sure. The young people that have come out and peacefully protested, they now understand that justice does work. There is some movement. Before, I mean, many of them told me they were just surprised that there would ever be anything, any kind of charges, because they're not used to that. And so, again, I think we need to wait and see. Let this thing play out, and I -- you know, let justice do what justice does.
BLITZER: Elijah Cummings is the representative in Congress of this district in Baltimore.
Congressman, as I said before, thanks so much for what you're doing down there on the streets of Baltimore. We're all grateful to you.
CUMMINGS: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Our CNN anchor Don Lemon actually had a chance to sit down with Baltimore's state's attorney Marilyn Mosby who announced the charges earlier today. Don is joining us now live.
Don, tell us what she said.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It was a very interesting interview. It was just minutes after she gave that press conference announcing the charges against the officers on the steps there, here in Baltimore. She -- listen, she is a very strong, very determined woman. And I wanted to know, and I think many people did, how did she come to that conclusion so quickly about whether to charge those officers?
Most people think that, you know, it just started just after Freddie Gray's death. She told me it didn't. She had been conducting her own independent parallel investigation all along even before Freddie Gray died. Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARILYN MOSBY, BALTIMORE STATE'S ATTORNEY: From the very beginning, I conducted a thorough investigation of this case. We leveraged the police department's information and investigative information. But I sent my own investigators to the scene at the time that this incident occurred. So this is not after he unfortunately passed away. This is from the very beginning.
[17:50:18] I put together my own investigative team. I worked and collaborated with the Baltimore City Sheriff's Department. So yes, we -- I was briefed on all of the information that the police department had regarding this case. But it didn't take away from the fact that I was conducting my own independent review of those facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So she explained that -- to explain how so quickly because the preliminary report came down a day earlier than everyone had thought. And no one thought on this day, on this Friday, right after the report came out that she would be on, you know, announcing these charges against the officers.
I also talked to her about some people who are concerned about a fair investigation. Whether or not the officers would get a fair trial, so to speak. She assured not only me, but the public of that, not only the people of Baltimore, but people of the United States who are paying close attention to what's happening here in Baltimore. Take a listen.
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MOSBY: The duty of a prosecutor is to seek justice. Not convictions. That was the reason why I became a prosecutor. You know, I looked at the criminal justice system that disproportionately affects so many. And I wrestled with, do I want to be a criminal defense attorney or do I want to be a prosecutor. And I ultimately decided that that awesome amount of discretion that not only affect the victims of crime, but also the defendants.
Your discretion affects people's lives. Your discretion has collateral consequences on our community and the best way to reform a system like that is to become a prosecutor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And, Wolf, you know how she made the decision to become a prosecutor? She had a death in her family. She was 14, her favorite cousin, she said, they were best friends. He got mistaken identity, got shot and killed, mistaken identity as a drug dealer. And he obviously was not the drug dealer. She said that affected her then, that informed her, first her outlook on life. And it inspired her to become a prosecutor.
So she has known very early on that she wanted to be in law enforcement, she wanted to be an attorney and then it turns out she ended up being a prosecutor. But she comes from a law enforcement background. She talked about her grandfather during the press conference and she has uncles, you know, again, her grandfather and other members who have worn the badge. So she knows what it's like at least to be in the world of policing.
BLITZER: And she's only 35 years old, Don. We're showing viewers, by the way, pictures of what's happening on the streets. People are celebrating really her decision. So you got to talk to her a little bit. Give us a little bit more insight into this remarkable young woman.
LEMON: Yes. That crowd that you're talking about, also, Wolf, was just here. They're just leaving here and they're all going through the streets of Baltimore. But we have seen a number of different crowds, not just one, there are a couple that have been going in out here. But I got to know her, I think, in that time that the hour that we spent together today. I got to know Marilyn Mosby a little bit more personally. She talked about her husband, who is a city councilman here.
We talked about whether or not that is a conflict of interest, as some have said. She says not at all. My husband and I, you know, we're together. But this is professional. This is my career and I am sworn, I made an oath to the people of Baltimore, and she said, for not just convictions, but to seek justice and that's what she's going to do. She's going to do that for every district in Baltimore and not just the district that her husband represents.
She said one of the biggest jobs that she's had -- that she has and quite frankly one of the hardest jobs she has is being the mother of two children. She has a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old. And she said when she gets home from work, they're at the door looking at the watch going, mommy, you're five minutes late. Mommy, you know, you're not here on time. And she said, that's what's most important to her.
She got a note from her daughter, she said, that you're an awesome mother and when I grow up, I want to be a mother prosecutor. And she said, that touched her, because her daughter said, mother first, instead of prosecutor, and that let her know that she was doing the right thing as it pertained to her children.
She also said it was a full-time job being a wife as well. So she has her hands full and she's not concerned at all about the spotlight, about the pressure. She's just concerned about getting it right and bringing justice.
BLITZER: And I think we all agree, she was very, very impressive earlier today. I know you're going to have the full interview coming up later tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, on "CNN TONIGHT." A special Friday night edition with Don Lemon. And you're going to be back in our next hour, Don, as well. So don't go too far away.
[17:55:05] The people in Baltimore they are moving right now. We're watching this closely, the prosecutor has made a decision in the Freddie Gray case, ruling that it was in fact a homicide. Six police officers face serious charges. For one of them, that includes second- degree murder. We're going to hear more from the prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby. Stand by for that.
And demonstrators, they are on the streets right now. You can see them. This time, though, there's an air of celebration. Let's hope it stays that way. That it remains peaceful. We're watching.
[18:00:03] BLITZER: Happening now, officers charged. Six members of the Baltimore police force now stand accused of crimes, including second-degree murder in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.