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Governor Calls for Day of Prayer and Peace; Protesters Scuffle with Baltimore Police; Death Toll Rises to 7,000+. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 3, 2015 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:00] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Lack of water, using bread as pillows and that is what one public defender says protesters are dealing with when they are taken to jail.

And listen to this: 18 St. Louis mothers are told their babies died in childbirth. Now, the possibility that those babies might actually be alive.

Can you imagine? We are going to get into that in a bit.

But want to wish you a very good morning on this Sunday. We're so grateful to have you with us. I'm Christi Paul.

Good morning, Victor.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Christi.

I'm Victor Blackwell here in Baltimore.

Today, the governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, is calling today for a day of prayer and peace. This as hundreds of protesters continue to rally over the death of Freddie Gray. Most of them were peaceful, celebratory even.

But overnight, police made several arrests after a small group of demonstrators violated the city's curfew and many are upset this curfew is continuing. They say it's hurting their businesses and impacting jobs here as well. It's creating some very tense moments ago.

CNN's Sara Sidner shows us.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're standing on the corner of West North and Pennsylvania. There have been several arrests overnight here alone and in other parts of the city. The curfew came at 10:00. Some people decided, most people in this area decided to go home. There were a handful of people that decided not to. They were arrested.

A bit of a dramatic scene, though, here earlier -- a man arrested lying on the ground. He was dragged at some point, from one point to the other. It also appeared that he had ingested perhaps some pepper spray and was having difficulties with that and they ended up taking him away after arresting him and putting him into an ambulance and taking him for medical attention. Most of the other protesters who were arrested or those who decided to defy the curfew have been taken in without major incident.

The last person we saw, a young lady who says she was arrested down the street didn't want to get into the van. That went on for a bit of time but now they have taken her in as well.

We now know there are at least a half dozen arrests here and there were arrests in other parts of the city as well.

Back to you guys.


BLACKWELL: All right. Sara, thank you so much.

The protesters arrested during the riots were held in deplorable conditions. That's according to Marci Johnson, assistant public defender here in Baltimore. And her post on Facebook describing those conditions, they went viral and Marci joins us now.

Marci, you said on your Facebook post -- first, good to have you this morning.


BLACKWELL: You said in this post, not only had these women been held for two days and two nights on without any sort of formal booking, but almost none of them had actually been charged with anything. Shocking to you?

JOHNSON: Yes, absolutely. There are a great many of them. I think 101 people, male and female, were released without any charges ever being filed and we don't anticipate most of those people there ever will.

BLACKWELL: Do you expect there will be some civil lawsuits out of that?

JOHNSON: Well, I can't speak to that directly. It's obviously not my area of expertise, so I don't know what people are going to do. I can say that we believe it was illegal for them to be held that long without seeing a commissioner or having a bail or probable cause determination and certainly without charges ever being filed.

BLACKWELL: Let me read a little more of your Facebook post here. You said that some of the women used slices of bread as pillows. I mean --

JOHNSON: Yes. Unfortunately, I've come to learn -- I've heard stories before and I've seen things before. I did go over there quite frequently for work. It was business as usual for central booking except the fact there were a few more people over there. The bread for pillows, sandwich pillows and recently I've her cracker packages for pillows is common occurrence for central booking.

It was more shocking because there were women over there who weren't part of any protests and they weren't doing anything wrong, and they were just rounded up with a bunch of protesters on their way home or in one young lady's instance trying to get back to her dorm room.


So, let's talk about specifically the bails. Many people are calling them exorbitant. The case many people are talking about this. Allen Bullock was seen smashing a police car window. His bail has been set at $5,000 when the officer's bail at most was $350,000.

JOHNSON: Yes, the public defender's office in Baltimore City has been working really hard to try to bring attention to the exorbitant bails in this city. I mean, they tend to be high any way especially for nonviolent property crime and nonviolent drug offenses, and people that have little or no records. In this case, I think it's really highlighted the problem because most of these people that were charged -- I mean, the majority of the people that weren't involved, I suppose, were released on Wednesday night.

[07:05:00] But the people that were actually charged with something, their bails have been in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. That young man's bail was $500,000. I've heard for malicious destruction, disorderly conduct, things of that nature, misdemeanor theft, the bails are $150,000, $250,000, which is not proportion -- excuse me, proportionate to the crimes they are charged with.

So, yes, it is a problem. The public defender's office here in Baltimore is in the process, I believe, of filing habeas motions for all of those folks because the bails are just outrageous.

BLACKWELL: Do you expect they will be in lock-up through the next few days, the next week?

JOHNSON: Well, as of yesterday, I'd heard -- now, I'm not sure because -- I mean, I've been, obviously, involved in talking about the conditions at central booking. I haven't been checking these things. But I've heard from reliable coworkers and sources that as of yesterday, no one had posted any of those bails.


JOHNSON: They were still sitting there. And as everyone knows, the officers were bailed out immediately.

BLACKWELL: So, I'm not an attorney but I say that the detention is illegal. You can't speak to the civil element, but these officers who is arresting them, is there any criminal filing potentially?

JOHNSON: I can't speak to that. I don't believe so. I think the problem was that people were held beyond the time period that they were allowed to be held. And I think that there are, obviously, multiple issues involved. They were -- in Maryland, we have a rule of prompt presentment, which means that you're to be brought before a judicial officer in a prompt manner, usually in a matter of hours, certainly never any longer than 24 hours. The governor did try to extend by executive order that amount of time to 47 hours.


JOHNSON: We believe that, in and of itself, was illegal, and the people that were released on Wednesday night, most of them had been well over 24 hours, some longer than the actual 47 hours.

BLACKWELL: All right. Well, we will continue to stay on top of this. Marci Johnson, thank you so much for helping us understand what is going on inside.

JOHNSON: Thank you so much for having me. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right.

In several hours, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is calling for a statewide day of prayer and peace. Baltimore community leaders say it's time for this curfew to stop because it's hurting businesses, it's hurting jobs. But, for now, officials have not said if they are lifting it because we are expecting this news conference at some point in the day much like we have saw yesterday and previous days in which they will announce if the curfew will go into effect again. It began on Tuesday night.

Let's bring in CNN correspondent Rene Marsh in just a moment. First, listen to this.


COL. WILLIAM PALLOZZI, MARYLAND STATE POLICE: The issue of keeping the curfew in place is just something that was our decision to make that. Keep that way was our policy that we set in place. We continue to support that. You know, we just ask for patience as we move forward.


BLACKWELL: OK. So what's the expectation for today? Any indication?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, the question remains we still don't definitively know if and when they will drop this curfew. You just heard the announcement there. They said that it was still going to be in place 10:00 today.

But there is this pressure to drop the curfew. I mean, not just from protesters but groups like the ACLU saying, look, this is burdening people who live in Baltimore from simply going about their everyday lives. Businesses, they are suffering. The waterfront, it was a beautiful day yesterday and it was empty. And so, speaking to a lot of business owners, they are losing money as well because of this curfew. So there is this pressure to drop it.

However, the mayor just saying yesterday that she still is assessing and I think the bottom line is they want to make sure that we don't see a replay of the violence that we saw earlier last week.

BLACKWELL: You know, there is that unique element, last night alone, the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight and bars and restaurants planned on making big money that night. The fight, I believe, started at 10:00 but people had to be home at that point.

MARSH: Exactly. We saw last night that protesters were pushing back. There were arrests because there were protesters who defied the curfew. They said, we're not leaving, we're not going home. So, there is this sense that they want this to end, not only the curfew, but they also want to see an even more intense drawback of police presence as well within the community.

BLACKWELL: All right. Rene Marsh, thank you so much. You can't see it in this shot, but there are still Baltimore police, state troopers, National Guard here behind us. You can see it in that shot there.

Rene Marsh, thank you so much. We will continue to follow that element as we wait for this announcement if the curfew will go into effect again tonight.

So, what do you do after a week of protests? I'll talk with a Baltimore pastor who is a former officer, about what he wants to see happen in his hometown of Baltimore.


[07:13:47] BLACKWELL: Welcome back. I'm Victor Blackwell live in Baltimore.

This morning, there are new details involving of the task force created by the Baltimore police department to look into the Freddie Gray case.

Here is what we know about the investigation -- according to "The Baltimore Sun" and they got exclusive access to this task force. There were more than 30 members, including staff from the crime lab, the force investigation team, internal affairs, also from the homicide unit, and $250,000 laser imaging equipment that recreates the ride that Gray took in the police van by checking every pothole and crack in the road to determine if indeed this tough ride was contributed to road conditions.

Let's bring in law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes, along with criminal defense attorney and CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos.

And, Tom, I want to talk first about not just the task force, but -- we were talking about this a moment ago, the internal evidence inside of Freddie Gray's body and why his spine was severed. According to the reporting, that's what is found in the autopsy. Once he is handed over to medical officials, they could tamper with that in some way intentionally.

[07:15:01] TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, absolutely, Victor. They are trying to save his life and treat him for a week to continue to try to save his life throughout the medical treatment until he passes away. Well, you know, that means that then, the police, the crime scene investigators, the medical examiner's office are not getting a body exactly as it was at the time of the injury on the street. You know, if you have a gunshot wound or stabbing wound and if that person dies right away, or if they don't, it's a little more clear what happened to them.

But in this case, because this is so difficult to question exactly how did the spine break, when did it break, how does it cause the spinal cord tear that leads to the death, as well as, you know, the talk about the voice box being crushed, all of that, you know, makes it difficult when the surgeons are, you know, doing what they have to do to try to save his life.

BLACKWELL: Danny, we learned earlier in the week from the police commissioner that Gray was not buckled in, that he was not given medical treatment when it was requested as he should have. But according to this "Baltimore Sun" reporting that the camera inside the van was also broken. Does that have a large role in the criminal case or is that more of a civil issue?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It could be both, because the criminal case is not too much different than the civil issue, just that the burdens of proof are higher in a criminal case. What's going to be important in this article that we saw in "The Sun," now the police are going over the route taken by the van ostensibly to check for potholes, and that serves two points. One, to determine whether these injuries could happen because of hitting potholes, but even more, whether or not if any of these officers gave like Garrity statements and said, well, while we were driving there were gigantic potholes. If they locked themselves into that statement, any one of them, and it's determined that there aren't any potholes on the way, this will have a duel purpose. It will show whether or not the injuries occurred, but more, whether or not officers were being entirely truthful.

BLACKWELL: And then there is reporting that the task force found one of the officers said Gray had, quote/unquote, "jailitis", that he was faking an illness because he didn't want to go back to jail. What do you make of that?

CEVALLOS: Well, this is sort of a Hobson's choice in many ways for officers, because on some levels, sometimes, arrestees do claim that they are ill, they can't breathe. It happens very, very frequently. So officers have a difficult job in assessing who has a serious problem and who does not. Now, that being said, there are always some objective criteria of someone who is actually in distress and somebody who is not. In many cases, it's hard to fake.

BLACKWELL: From your experience, do officers typically treat this with a dose of cynicism when arrestees say, I'm hurt, I can't breathe?

FUENTES: Well, it does depend on the circumstances if an injury is not obvious, if it's something that, you know, you need to rely on the person's saying. For instance, I have asthma, I can't breathe. Where is your breather? You know, you have asthma, you took -- anybody I know that has asthma takes their precaution with them all the time. They don't suddenly ask a passer-by on the street, hey, guess what, I can't breathe, do have an inhaler?

So, those kinds of things, it's easy for outsiders to say we will call for medical help. That is a limited resource. If people have legitimate needs, if there's -- you know, people having heart attacks and medical emergencies or something wrong with their children or something, you don't want every ambulance in the county tied up taking prisoners who just make the claim falsely for the heck of it.

So, it's a difficult determination and when you determine and you're wrong, this is what can happen also, you're wrong.

BLACKWELL: I want to you talk about this from two angles. The level of access that "The Baltimore Sun" was given to this task force, do you find any ethical concerns with that? I mean, we talked a bit in the break that it's not that common.

FUENTES: I don't think -- no, I don't have an ethical. I think that the state's attorney's office would have been aware of it from the beginning and know that they have basically embedded reporters. But I think what it shows is that a consideration on the part of the police from the very beginning, the scrutiny that they would be under, they just didn't want any possibility of somebody would say -- well, you should have done that or you did it this way, you did it wrong, how do we know you really did it, how do we know you looked for every pothole, you know?

I think they wanted the documentation by an objective news source as opposed to them saying what they did and why they did.

BLACKWELL: Any legal concerns here?

CEVALLOS: Well, as defense attorneys, we have always complained about the fact that police don't disclose enough information. But, admittedly, it is a balancing test. For every piece of information that police disclose, that could be something that could compromise the integrity of the investigation. So, they have a very difficult choice in deciding what to release and what not to release, especially given the advents of scrutiny that they are other.

BLACKWELL: All right. Danny, Tom, thank you both so much.

[07:20:00] Christi, in just a moment, we'll talk with a pastor who is a former Baltimore police officer. We'll talk about his days on the force and his concerns with the zero tolerance policies of Martin O'Malley who likely will soon run for president. Also, what will tell the congregation today as this community tries to heal?

PAUL: Yes. That will be a good one. All right, Victor. Thank you.

Also, coming up, more than a week now after that magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Nepal, so many people are still in desperate need of help, and now, some are accusing local politicians of pocketing some of the aid that is coming in.

Plus, think about this: 18 St. Louis mothers told their babies died in childbirth. But guess what? Those babies might actually be alive. We have that story in a moment.

Stay close.


PAUL: More than a week after that devastating earthquake in Nepal, the death toll stands at more than 7,000. The hope of finding survivors is so grim at this point but a government spokesman says it's going to be a miracle if anyone is found alive.

In the meantime, some residents already struggling with poverty and corruption. I mean, look at these pictures we're getting in. They say help is not reaching their villages fast enough. Not only that, but they accuse local politicians of pocketing the aid that is coming in.

CNN's Sumnina Udas joining us via phone now from the city of Kathmandu.

[07:25:02] What have you learned there, Sumnina?

SUMNINA UDAS, CNN CORREPONDENT (via telephone): Christi, people are certainly getting very desperate and increasingly frustrated. People are hearing about all of this aid that is coming in, but it's not reaching that need it most and five villages have been flattened and people have been living without food, water and shelter for days and more than a week now. Many of them are badly injured and are having to walk down the mountains to get to the aid. And some areas, we are hearing about some sort of looting of relief materials and how desperate people have become.

And the government is clearly overwhelmed by the challenges, Christi. The mountainous topography making it very difficult to get to the most rural parts of Nepal. Most of the villages are very high up, very spread out. And much of Nepal, the way to get there is by helicopter and only 20 of them going back and forth. And I've been' army base watching this happen. Every two minutes, the helicopters are working with aid and coming back with injured people but it's just simply not enough.

The airport is jam-packed. There is only one international airport and one runway. So much relief coming in, but, you know, it's just -- Nepal's infrastructure is not able it handle all of this. Of course, it's been raining on and off and there have been landslides. So, all of this really making it very difficult to get aid to these places.

And, you know, the thing that people -- a lot of people are now saying, Nepal have always known there would be a massive earthquake at some point, that we are sitting on this fault line and as one expert called it, dynamite. What this has exposed is that Nepal was not adequately prepared even though we've also known that it would happen.

PAUL: All right. Sumnina, thank you so much for bringing us the latest from that area. We appreciate it.

Also, we're going to talk to the mayor of Gary, Indiana, who was just at a conference to help avoid another Freddie Gray incident. What she thinks should be done.