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THE SITUATION ROOM
D.C. Murders; Battle Against ISIS; Plane Threats. Aired 18- 19:00p ET
Aired May 25, 2015 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: flights threatened. We're getting new information about why U.S. fighter jets scrambled to escort a plane heading to New York. Are airline passengers at risk on this holiday?
ISIS blame game. Who's responsible for the fall of a key Iraqi city? Defense Secretary Ashton Carter makes a powerful accusation in an exclusive CNN interview, and he unleashes a firestorm.
Murder mystery. Police are scrambling to find possible accomplices in the gruesome slaughter inside a Washington, D.C., mansion. Tonight, growing questions about the family's assistant.
And swept away -- cars, homes, lives lost in record-setting rains and devastating flooding. Are crews giving up the search for missing, with more dangerous weather on the way?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
There are escalating terror fears on this long holiday weekend, hours after a bomb scare near a crowded concert at the U.S. Capitol. F-15 fighter jets scrambled in response to a threat directed at an Air France flight headed to New York's JFK Airport.
CNN has learned that law enforcement officials have been investigating 10 threats against airliners.
Also breaking, Iraqi forces say they're standing by for zero hour to go into Ramadi and fight ISIS terrorists who have seized and ravaged the city. CNN has powerful new video of Ramadi's fall as the war of words plays out over who is to blame for the defeat.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter telling CNN in an exclusive interview that the Iraqis -- quote -- "showed no will to fight."
Our correspondents and analysts are standing by. They are covering all of this breaking news now.
First, we go to CNN's Tom Foreman. He has more on the security threats -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brianna.
Two Air Force F-15s raced out over the Atlantic to intercept this international flight today, making sure it stayed under their guard right up until it touched down in New York amid a good many jitters on this busy, busy holiday weekend.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Air France Flight 22 from Paris was escorted in by U.S. fighter jets after authorities say an anonymous caller threatened the plane. Port Authority police radioed the pilot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have anyone ill or sick on the aircraft?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, nobody sick.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you haven't -- you haven't had anybody ill or sick during the flight, correct?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct.
FOREMAN: At New York's JFK Airport, passengers were held for two hours as FBI agents searched the plane and found nothing, issuing a statement saying, "The plane has been cleared."
This passenger said for the longest time he had no idea there was a problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just when we landed and when they stopped us, that this is when we know that something is wrong.
FOREMAN: There were other scares in the air, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: United 63.
FOREMAN: This was another threatened flight coming into Newark from Spain. Authorities say they received threats against multiple flights and security scrambled to deal with some planes coming from Europe and the Middle East, landing in numerous American cities, including New York, New Jersey, Buffalo, and Atlanta.
Yet searches have so far turned up nothing. Still, it was enough to rattle nerves, with more than 37 million Americans traveling over this holiday weekend, a 10-year record, according to AAA. In Washington, D.C., amid huge crowds, police grew worried over the weekend about a suspicious car parked near the Capitol. They said it smelled of gasoline and contained a propane tank and pressure cooker.
But once the bomb squad destroyed the cooker, investigators determined it was never intended to do any harm.
FOREMAN: Authorities don't really know for sure, but they're investigating the possibility that all of these threats to the planes may have come from a single person , maybe more than one, but possibly one person, possibly upsetting travel for so many millions of people, Brianna.
KEILAR: Oh, so inconvenient on a day like today.
Tom Foreman, thank you so much.
Now to the war against ISIS and tough new comments by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter saying that Iraqi forces showed no will to fight, to hold on to the key city of Ramadi.
Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, conducted that exclusive interview. She joins us now.
Strong reaction to this all around the world, right?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It is getting a lot of attention, Brianna. And, suddenly, one of Ash Carter's big allies in all of this is a deputy prime minister in Iraq who is a Sunni, obviously a member of the opposition, coming out today saying that he thought the army did not perform very well in Ramadi.
Whatever did or did not happen in Ramadi, all of this setting off global controversy.
STARR (voice-over): A chaotic firefight just before Ramadi fell filmed on a cell phone by an Iraqi soldier, the strategic city now in the hands of ISIS, and the U.S. defense secretary not mincing words in an exclusive interview with CNN.
ASHTON CARTER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight. They withdrew from the site.
STARR: A comment that set off its own firestorm.
Vice President Joe Biden called Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al- Abadi Monday, pledging more training and equipment, countering the defense secretary, in a White House statement saying, "The vice president recognized the enormous sacrifice and bravery of Iraqi forces over the past 18 months in Ramadi and elsewhere."
Abadi hit back at Carter in a BBC interview.
HAIDER AL-ABADI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER: I'm surprised why he said that. He was very supportive of Iraq. I'm sure is, he was fed -- he was fed with the wrong information.
STARR: And ahead of Iran's elite Quds Force saying it is the U.S. that -- quote -- "has no will to fight ISIS." Iraqi forces, along with Sunni tribal fighters and Shia militias,
many backed by Iran, launched a counteroffensive east of Ramadi. Blame game aside, the situation remains dire. Nearly 55,000 people have fled Ramadi since ISIS captured it. And in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, ISIS militants have executed more than 200 people in the last 10 days, according to a human rights group.
U.S. airstrikes inside Syria and Iraq will continue, but will never be enough, Carter told CNN.
CARTER: Airstrikes are effective, but neither they nor really anything we do can substitute for the Iraqi forces' will to fight. They're the ones who have to beat ISIL and then keep them beaten.
STARR: Now, look, Carter chose his words very carefully. Top commanders here at the Pentagon and the secretary have all received classified briefings about what did happen in Ramadi. They're well aware of the assessment on the ground there.
But there is more to it than that. Why did this happen? Why did the Iraqi forces not fight? Some of the factors involved, they hadn't been paid in a long time, they hadn't been home to see their familiar possibly in weeks, some of them exhausted, running out of ammunition.
And one of the big problems that's emerging, in the view of the U.S., is the Iraqi military leadership, that they simply are not up to par, that these Iraqi military leaders, in the view of many at the Pentagon, need to do a much better job taking care of their rank and file -- Brianna.
KEILAR: And the soldiers telling our Arwa Damon there in Iraq that they feel the exact same way.
Barbara Starr, thank you so much for that report. Great interview.
And, tonight, the federal government is just one week away from losing significant weapons in the war against terrorism. That is what some supporters say of the controversial spying program under the Patriot Act, which is due to expire. There's been a dramatic new move in the Senate to block the measures from being extended.
And our White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, is following that story for us.
Michelle, what's going on?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brianna.
Well, at the heart of this is a real battle now over national security in the face of today's threats vs. personal freedom from large-scale surveillance. And especially Republicans now are saying more than ever, we need the Patriot Act to continue intact, allow the government to collect this data that most of the time isn't even ever accessed.
But, yes, there is politics at play here, I mean, to see Rand Paul stunningly thwart his own party from extending that authority even for a day.
KOSINSKI (voice-over): On this Memorial Day, the president honoring those fallen in battle, while overseas ISIS gains ground, here in Washington, new questions about how to keep America safe with just six days before parts of the Patriot Act are set to expire.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: This is a high- threat period, and we know what's going on overseas. We know what's been tried here at home. My colleagues, do we really want this law to expire?
KOSINSKI: Many Senate Republicans arguing through the night this weekend that specifically the bulk collection of Americans' phone data that started secretly after September 11 is still necessary, should continue.
But in a move that shocked even had his own party, here is Republican presidential contender Rand Paul fighting its renewal in every attempt and refusing to budge.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: This is a debate about whether or not a warrant with a single name of a single company can be used to collect all the records, all of the phone records of all of the people in our country with a single warrant. Our forefathers would be aghast.
KOSINSKI: That opinion met with an eye roll from his Senate colleague and soon-to-be-Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham. Opponents of bulk phone data collection contend it's not even necessary, that the government can and should just get a warrant for specific information when they need it.
The White House agrees. But it's not only the phone data issue that will expire June 1. The government also won't be able to as easily gather business records, conduct roving wiretaps when a person keeps switching cell phones or keep close tabs on potential lone wolves, who are not necessarily linked to an identified terror group.
KOSINSKI: So, to prevent these things from expiring, the Senate has to vote. What they could do is just pass this thing called the USA Freedom Act that did already pass in the House with big bipartisan support. And that bill would take the data collection out of the hands of the government.
They would need warrants to access it. The White House supports it. But so far, the Senate hasn't brought it up for a vote. So what they are going to do is come back on Sunday and try to tackle this issue. But that's one day before these elements of the Patriot Act expire -- Brianna.
KEILAR: They sure do like to cut it close.
KOSINSKI: Down to the wire.
KEILAR: Michelle Kosinski, they sure do that a lot.
KOSINSKI: Surprise, surprise.
KEILAR: All right, at the White House, thanks, Michelle.
I want to bring in now CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen. We have CNN military analyst retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. And we have CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd.
Phil, I want to ask you first about the threats that we have heard about these airplanes. On these airplanes today, turned out ultimately to not really be anything. Of course, it diverted a lot of resources, including a couple fighter jets that were scrambled.
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Yes.
KEILAR: I heard from Congressman Peter King, and he said, about a week ago, there was chatter coming from ISIS that said, you know, hoaxes in some cases are as bad actual attacks. Does this have any hallmarks of ISIS or ISIS sympathizers?
MUDD: No, not to me.
MUDD: I can imagine a scenario where somebody says, hey, I'm an ISIS sympathizer, I would like to do that.
To have an centrally controlled or ISIS-managed operation where they say, we want to start running hoaxes in the United States and elsewhere, to me, would be a bit surprising, because you have got to remember the group is not just about shutting down airlines. It's about showing potential recruits, potential fund-raisers that it is the big player in the world after al Qaeda. And running hoaxes doesn't get you where you need to be with that kind of recruiting pool.
KEILAR: All right, General Hertling, let's talk about Iraq. We heard from the defense secretary, Ash Carter. He told Barbara Starr that the Iraqis showed no will to fight in Ramadi. This set off a firestorm.
How do you get people to have the will to fight, or is it just a matter of, at this point, Iraqi forces not protecting Sunni areas?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: No, I would like to interpret, I think, in my view, what Mr. Carter said. He was talking about the government of Iraq, the will to go after
this in a consolidated and a coordinated way. I will tell you, Brianna, I have had the opportunity to fight with and to train with Iraqi soldiers. They are extremely brave. They will do the things their leaders tell them to do.
And I think that what we always saw problems with when I was there was the fact that, sometimes, the connection between the commanders on the ground and their government and their military leaders in Baghdad wasn't always existing. And that caused a problem. And that's part of developing the will, the trust between a unit fighting for the country, soldiers fighting for each other and fighting for a cause vs. what they perceive as a government that's not behind them. That causes problems.
KEILAR: Peter, we were just looking at video that was filmed by an Iraqi soldier during the fall of Ramadi. It was fascinating. This was right before they pulled back. He said that they were there. They were trying to fight and then there was no more ammunition. They were surrounded on all sides.
They were supposed to be supported from the rear by another unit, and then they turned out not to be there. He came out of the fight, talked to our Arwa Damon and said the leadership is bad, that they're not having a good go of it.
When you look at the problem here, and it seems boiled down because of what the defense secretary said. It's very complex, right, the different things going on here?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, I mean, I would add to that the cost of staying around when ISIS takes over the area you're in, we know what they are. They just killed 200 civilians in Palmyra. They have gone house to house in other cities that they have taken looking for people who work with the government, who are associated with the army.
So, when you have a failure of leadership and also the cost of remaining behind on the battleground are basically almost a certain death -- you will recall the 1,500 soldiers who were executed early in the ISIS campaign.
BERGEN: That is the kind of fate that awaits you. That's a pretty bad combination.
KEILAR: So ISIS is winning the psychological war; is that right?
BERGEN: I would say so. I mean, just the proof is in the pudding. They haven't -- they have lost some. They lost Tikrit. But they got Ramadi, which is a much bigger deal.
KEILAR: And they were so outnumbered. ISIS was. We're not talking about the Iraqi forces. They have the resources, right? They have been trained.
KEILAR: Is the training good enough? Are the resources good enough? Because we also hear the defense secretary saying we're going to expedite sending more resources.
MUDD: It depends on how you look at the dimension of time.
The way we typically have looked at time, since the ISIS advance last summer, is through the lens of days or weeks. If you look at time in classic insurgencies, you're looking at a decade or more. So, for example, we're talking about the fall of Ramadi last week. Now we're talking about militias going back and potentially retaking it over the course of the next few weeks.
I think, over the past six, eight months, ISIS made early advances. I think the government was surprised. The military was surprised. They pushed back a little. As Peter said, they retook Tikrit. So come back to me in about 2020, and maybe we will have a better answer. But looking at fighting over the course of days doesn't tell me yet that ISIS is going to win this one.
KEILAR: I think we will still be talking in 2020 about this.
KEILAR: So, I will take you up on that, Phil.
MUDD: All right.
KEILAR: Thank you. Peter, thanks so much. General Hertling, thanks for being with us.
HERTLING: Thank you.
KEILAR: And just ahead, one suspect is charged with murder, but who else might be accused of playing a role in the brutal killings of a prominent Washington, D.C., family? We're actually learning some new details about that investigation.
And the national focus on police violence shifts to Cleveland now after the acquittal of an officer that has unleashed new protests and arrests. Is this another Ferguson or perhaps Baltimore?
KEILAR: Tonight, police here in Washington are on the hunt for more suspects in the mysterious quadruple murder and arson at a prominent family's mansion.
And we're learning more now about the investigation and also possible accomplices after the prime suspect was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, is digging on this story
What are you finding, Pam?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, witness interviews by police are raising even more suspicion that the suspect, Daron Wint, was not acting alone. And they're raising new questions about the family's assistant.
BROWN (voice-over): Today, D.C. police are hunting for more suspects who allegedly helped Daron Wint pull off the brutal slayings of the Savopoulos family and their housekeeper, questions about who was in this video fleeing the scene after the family's stolen Porsche was torched, police saying in a court affidavit that a witness saw the Porsche being driven erratically out of Washington by someone with short well-groomed hair, a very different description from Wint, who appeared in court Friday with medium-length dreadlocks.
WALTER BANSLEY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's a little difficult for me to believe that one person could be responsible for that carnage.
BROWN: Deepening the mystery, court documents show Savopoulos's assistant changed his story several times when questioned by police, altering details about how he dropped off the $40,000 at the mansion just hours before the house was torched.
DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Police are trained to notice inconsistencies in a story. And at this early stage, when a very important witness has some inconsistencies even in his initial interviews, you better believe that police are going to take a harder look at that person.
BROWN: According to police, the assistant changed his story about when his boss contacted him to pick up the money, revised details about the car he left the money in at the mansion and admitted he lied by not initially telling police the cash was in a red bag. Police say the assistant texted an unidentified person a picture of that red bag with money inside.
Just four hours later, the family's home went up in flames.
BROWN: And as for the five people who the U.S. Marshals say were arrested with Wint, were -- were taken into custody with Wint last Friday, including his brother, we are told by police they're no longer in custody, but that does not mean they're off the hook.
Brianna, we're told the investigation into anyone who has been around Wint recently is still very active -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Pam Brown, thank you so much for that update. And joining me now to talk more about this, we have CNN law
enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, and Cedric Alexander. We have former ATF -- former ATF agent, I should say, Matthew Horace.
Thanks so much for being with us.
So, right now, the forensics team is still looking for clues, right? What are they looking for?
MATTHEW HORACE, FORMER ATF AGENT: They're looking for any and everything that will link other suspects and the principal suspect to this crime.
It started with the fire. You have a number of predicate offenses here. You have murder, you have arson, you have assault, and they're going to run down these clues until we identify, who was the co-conspirator to Mr. Wint?
KEILAR: So, all of these things would be, what, in the house, in the Porsche, maybe in the vehicles -- the vehicle that Wint was in and the accompanying vehicle when he was pulled over? Is that what we are expecting?
HORACE: Well, all of that and more.
You have the arson of the vehicle. You have the theft of the vehicle. You have the physical evidence at the scene of the crime. And then, then you have the analysis of phone tolls, records. Who did Wint call before, during, and after the crime? And they're running those leads down.
HORACE: The ATF, with the arson, the very best arson investigators in the world. The U.S. Marshals, the fugitive hunt is on, and Washington Metropolitan Police Department is shaking those leads to get information to find out who was involved.
KEILAR: Yes. And who wasn't he calling? Because maybe he was with them. Right? That might be a question as well.
Now there seems to be, Tom, this focus on this assistant. He's changed his story when it comes to, did he get the money in a manila envelope, did he get it in a red bag? Where did he leave the money? What time was the money, what day was the money requested of him? Was it the Wednesday night before the murders or was it the Thursday morning before the murders?
When you see those inconsistencies, do you think that there's something fishy?
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, absolutely, Brianna.
And in this case, he's not just saying that, well, I was confused in the excitement or the trauma of this. I misremembered things about a thing. He's saying he lied. Well, why? Why would he lie? Why would he lie to the police about anything from the very beginning of this thing all the way through to the end? So, of course, it's highly suspicious on that.
KEILAR: OK, but, Cedric, let me ask you this, because this assistant has not been charged. This assistant has not been arrested. Is this also the possibility of putting out some sort of trial balloon to see if it turns something up?
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think one thing we have to keep in mind, Brianna, is that this is still early in this investigation.
This is a very complex case, very convoluted, involving not only Mr. Wint, but potentially others as well, too. But I think what we're going to determine in the days and weeks ahead, those that are involved and those that had any knowledge of this event prior to it taking place.
So I just think it's just a matter of time, as these investigators continue to dwell into this case. And as Matthew very well articulated, you have got some of the best people in the country involved in this case, from ATF to local D.C. police there.
KEILAR: What are police asking Wint, Tom, as they try to figure out who else he was working with, and what sort of reasoning does he have to comply with their questions?
FUENTES: He doesn't have to answer any questions.
KEILAR: Might he want to? Is there any way to compel him to?
FUENTES: No, there isn't.
KEILAR: There's no -- nothing in his interest for him?
FUENTES: Oh, I'm not saying that. I'm just saying his attorney is probably going to tell him there's nothing in his interest really to start talking at this point and create a record of information that he can be cross-examined later on. So, he's not going to talk.
KEILAR: Cedric, you look at just the brutality of this murder, what does that tell you about whether this was personally motivated? We know that Wint had a connection to Savvas Savopoulos because of the company that he was the CEO of. That's where Wint had worked.
ALEXANDER: It will be interesting to know more about that relationship, both past and present, but, clearly, something very brutal went on here, I mean, extremely brutal.
And it's just not humane to treat people that way. And you're talking about a 10-year-old child that was brutalized before his death, and same with his parents and with the housekeeper as well, too. So, we're talking about an individual in -- who just had no regard for human life whatsoever.
KEILAR: And that's very much the case.
When you look at this, do you think, Matthew, that this is someone with a personal motivation who has committed this crime, or are they just sick, or both? But is it possible they're just sick and there might not really even be a motive?
HORACE: This very well could have been a crime of opportunity, with him having worked for the deceased and the victims, thinking that they had money to offer to his -- to his plea.
But it wasn't even a good plan. It was a horrible plan. It was a horrible crime. And police are on his case and they're on the others' case. We would hope and expect to see law enforcement nail this down and identify more suspects very quickly. But we're a long way from being over, as Tom said.
KEILAR: Yes, but it -- you shudder to think of this crime. And I think it's why so many people want to see what the resolution is here.
Thank you so much, Matthew, Cedric, Tom. Thanks to all of you.
And we will be right back after a quick break.
KEILAR: We have our law enforcement analysts standing by. But first some protesters were back on the streets of Cleveland, Ohio, today after a weekend of angry demonstrations. Dozens of arrests there.
[18:33:12] The tensions are rising after the acquittal of a police officer accused of shooting two unarmed African-Americans. Is the situation easing or will the city erupt? Our Brian Todd is following the story for us -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, tonight the Justice Department and the FBI are reviewing evidence and testimony in this case, looking at options moving forward.
There are serious concerns tonight that after Ferguson, Baltimore, South Carolina and other high-profile cases of police violence, all over just the past nine months, that Cleveland is the next flash point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is legally excused from liability for those crimes.
[18:35:05] TODD (voice-over): With those words a Cleveland judge acquits Police Officer Michael Brelo, touches off a round of protests where 71 people are arrested, and sparks concerns over what may happen next.
RON HOSKO, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: My concern is that there is a spike in violence. That there is a group that steals the discussion, and it bends into violence and not a civil discussion about effective and proper engagement between the police and the community.
TODD: Brelo was found not guilty in the deaths of Timothy Russell and Melissa Williams, two unarmed African-Americans. About a dozen police officers fired 137 shots into their vehicle in about eight seconds. Authorities said Brelo himself stood on the hood of the car and blasted 15 shots through the windshield. None of the other officers were even charged with manslaughter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The essential element of causation was not proved for both counts.
TODD: The judge said he acquitted Brelo because after a 22-mile car chase prompted by the couple speeding away from a traffic stop, Brelo and the other officers had reason to believe they were at risk, that even after all the shots, the police couldn't be sure the threat was over, and that it couldn't be proven Brelo's shots were the ones that killed Russell and Williams.
Cleveland can't exhale just yet. A decision will likely be made soon in the case of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. He was shot and killed by Cleveland police in November while holding a pellet gun. The investigation is almost finished in the Rice case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was concerned about that.
TODD: And protest leaders are looking for accountability.
DERAY MCKESSON, FERGUSON PROTESTOR: Remember, the unrest is already there. America is already experiencing unrest because the police are killing us, and it is that simple.
TODD: The Justice Department had already found in a two-year probe that Cleveland police had used unnecessary and unreasonable force at a significant rate. Ron Hosko, whose group helped fund Officer Brelo's defense, acknowledges the Cleveland police are under enormous pressure going forward.
HOSKO: Without question each and every future case that comes from Cleveland, particularly where you have a difference in the race of the person who is encountered and the police, these situations can reasonably be expected to flare up again and bring more and more protests.
TODD: And the Cleveland police are still not out of the woods in that Brelo case. The Cuyahoga County prosecutor says he is still pursuing justice for Timothy Russell and Melissa Williams. He says five Cleveland police supervisors have been charged by dereliction of duty by a grand jury, that they'll be charged by his office for failing to control that dangerous car chase -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Brian, thanks so much.
I want to bring back our law enforcement analysts: Tom Fuentes and Cedric Alexander. And we also have former ATF agent Matthew Horace.
So most people look at this, Tom, and they say it was over 100 shots. And then you have Officer Brelo standing on the hood of the car. Why was he standing on the hood of the car shooting into the car?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, if that car was still posing a threat to the officers, which is what the testimony was in court, that they rammed a couple of squads during the chase, they led them on 100-plus-mile-an-hour chase for 23 miles. It then at the time that car turned down that small street, it was still trying to maneuver around.
So that's why the shots are being fired, to try to stop that car from continuing to be a threat to everyone. And the purpose for jumping on the hood of that car is that officers are trained not to shoot at a windshield. Safety glass, the shatterproof coatings on windshields make it very hard. So that if you fire at that angle, the bullet's going to ricochet off, like a billiard ball on a pool table.
The idea of getting up high is to shoot directly into the windshield at a 90-degree angle, and then the bullets will penetrate for sure and not ricochet.
KEILAR: Now in court Officer Brelo said he was worried that he was being shot at. He believed the couple was shooting at him. There had been a backfire on the car as the couple drove off. It was initially mistaken for gunfire. It turned out later there were no weapons in the car.
But he wasn't worried about the car moving. It seems like you wouldn't have been -- you wouldn't jump on a car that was moving all that much. Right? On the hood. Is this -- is this the way that it should have gone down in court, do you think?
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I don't know if it's the way it should have gone down, but it's the way that it did go down. And when situations get that intense, there are likely to be a number of things that could happen that could cause you to think a backfire of a car, another loud noise. You've got to think, the state of mind of the person that's pulling the trigger.
You know, in law enforcement, we use that Graham vs. Connor, the idea of objective reasonableness and how we exact physical force or deadly force. And in this case, you know, this is what the officer felt. How we feel about it really is inconsequential. The judge laid out in clear detail on Saturday how he viewed everything that happened during that day.
FUENTES: Just -- if I could interrupt, just because a gun wasn't found when this was concluded, don't forget this went on for 100-mile- an-hour chase through the city. There could have been shots fired, and they could have tossed the guns out the window. Just because at the time the chase is over, there's no firearms in that car, it doesn't mean that there weren't shots fired.
KEILAR: Later -- but later, they determined it was a backfire.
FUENTES: Well, they're guessing, because they're not finding the guns in the car, and you have civilian witnesses also corroborate the noise. It sounded like gunfire. You've you had a noise that sounded like gunfire as the car was driving down the streets. So that's not something the police made up.
Other witnesses confirm that there was the sound of gunfire. When they find no guns they think, well, it must have been a backfire.
KEILAR: Cedric, I want to ask you about Baltimore because over the weekend from the county numbers there, 28 shootings, seven deaths. What do you make of these numbers? These are so high.
ALEXANDER: Well, first of all, let me be clear about something. In terms of the work that's being here by -- being done by Commissioner Batts, his folks, is good work. I mean, Brianna, they're doing a lot of good work that is not being mentioned whatsoever.
Everything falls back on the police. They've got other problems there that is really not police issues. For an example, you've got a poor educational system. You have a great deal of poverty. You have broken families, broken homes. You've got a lot of social ills that could use a lot of social wraparound services to help that community move forward.
It is not the police department's fault, because you have the number of shootings that are in there. They are doing all that they can, and they have done some great things there in Baltimore, from police explore programs, getting rid of bad cops, bringing in world- class trainers for their police department.
But you've got to remember, the bigger social issues in a lot of these communities is not at the fault of the police. We need to hold our police accountable. That is very true. But there are some good things that are going on here with that leadership and that community. If I could just have one -- another second just to talk about Cleveland.
KEILAR: You have about -- you have about ten seconds. That's it.
ALEXANDER: All right. All right. Thank you. Without all of the speculation and suppositions of that case, the problem that Cleveland is having is that they have had a past history and practice of being abusive in that community...
KEILAR: That's right.
ALEXANDER: ... regardless of what happened, right or wrong, regardless of what had happened, right or wrong. The judge has made a decision, we're going to respect that. But they've got a history of problems which they're going to have to deal with.
KEILAR: Very, very good point. And we'll leave that as the final word. Cedric, thank you so much.
ALEXANDER: Thank you.
KEILAR: Tom, Matthew, thanks to both of you.
Just ahead, a new flash flood emergency. This was just issued. We're going to tell who is at risk from the severe weather that's unfolding as we speak.
[18:47:09] KEILAR: Breaking news tonight: a weather disaster that's unfolding right now. What you're looking at now is live pictures out of Austin, Texas.
You can see the skyline in the back and motorists are being rescued in these flash floods that are caused by the storms. In fact, that car on the right, there was just rescuers plucking a couple people from that car to safety in the midst of all of this rushing water.
And you have a flash flood emergency that was just issued for self-central Texas. This is an area already soaked by record setting rains. At least three people have died. There are a dozen still missing.
And CNN's Ed Lavandera is at the scene with the latest on the search.
Have they been able to make any progress, Ed?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they have not. They have suspended the search for those 12 people believed to have been swept away.
This is the Blanco River that you see behind me and you see this area we're at right now was completely under water. We would have been submerged by water here. You can see the Blanco River there, even though it's dropped dramatically it is still a quick moving river which is what many officials and emergency officials around central Texas are worried about tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God! Stop, stop, stop. He needs to get out.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): One person was killed here in Central Texas, and nearly 400 homes washed away. The floodwaters cut a winding, destructive path through the town of Wimberley and San Marcos, Texas. Twelve people are believed to be missing. They were part of a
family gathering for Memorial Day weekend at a river house. Search and rescue teams are pushing through the debris along the river banks looking for the families which also include small children.
JUDGE BERT COBB, HAYS COUNTY, TEXAS: Never it we in our wildest imagination think about the wall of water that would come down and do the destruction. It came down rather quickly. And despite our efforts to inform the public and to warn people to evacuate and take precautions, many people do not have time to do that.
LAVANDERA: David Marmolejo and his daughter Mary Jane are cleaning up the damage left by that wall of water. They know they're lucky to be alive. They woke up to ankle deep floodwaters rushing into their home. By the time they woke everyone up and got out of the house, it was already knee deep.
MARY JANE MARMOLEJO, FLOOD SURVIVOR: Animals went running everywhere. It was the scariest thing I've ever seen. I've never seen it so high, the water. But within a matter of like two to three minutes, the water was from ankles to your knees.
LAVANDERA: They didn't have time to grab their dog Oreo. But when they came back to the house after floodwaters receded, they found Oreo stuck in this tree but alive.
COBB: We've taken care of each other, helping each other out.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: To anyone who is in harm's way over the entire state of Texas over the coming days as we see ongoing rain, and that is the relentless tsunami type power that this wave of water can pose for people.
[18:50:10] LAVANDERA: And the force of this floodwater as everything rages downstream, you can see here, Brianna, this is one of the homes swept away off of its foundation essentially. This is one of the bridges heavily damaged by the floodwaters as well. Some of them were wiped out. But you can see these massive large trees just in the force, everything slamming downstream. That's what causes so much of the damage.
And really, officials here as the rain continues to fall throughout parts of central Texas. It's the quick rising waters. National Weather Service officials warning people to react quickly. Many of the people we spoke with say it was just a matter of minutes as we heard in our piece where the water went from ankle-high to knee- high. You have to get out of those situations -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Ed Lavandera, watching this for us in Texas. Thank you so much.
Just ahead, a show of togetherness for Bill and Hillary Clinton. But are they in lockstep as she pushes forward with her presidential campaign? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[18:55:45] KEILAR: Hillary and Bill Clinton side by side today, marching in the Memorial Day parade in their adopted hometown of Chappaqua, New York. The first time they have been together, that we have seen them together since she declared.
Let's bring in CNN politics reporter Sara Murray, and we have CNN political commentator Ryan Lizza. He's also a Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker".
So, guys, they're together. How much do you think we're going see this happening, Sara?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, this is the first time. I think she wants to make sure that she is the spotlight of her own presidential campaign and not Bill Clinton. And I think he has been clear that he doesn't want to try to steal the limelight from her. That said, I mean, do you think that she can really campaign without Bill Clinton?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know. I think they're pretty burned in 2008. A lot of people blame Bill Clinton for damaging the campaign in 2008 and, you know, the rule is he has to play this sort of avuncular background figure, not be out front, not talk strategy, not talking to the press.
KEILAR: He still messes up sometimes, like he said we had to pay the bills. So it wasn't as if he really contributed in that way this the last few weeks here.
But I want to talk to you about Republicans. You have Rick Santorum trying to convince voters that he is the guy for Republicans. George Pataki, getting back into this.
So, I guess my question is are any of these guys really going to make a tangible impact on the race, or are we going to see them maybe running campaign headquarters out of like the local Starbucks?
LIZZA: I mean, I think there is two different situations here. Pataki hasn't been in office since 2007. He is governor of New York way back when. People don't remember who he is. He is a moderate Republican. There is not much of a case for him this time.
Santorum, you know, he was the last guy standing against Mitt Romney in 2012. Very often in Republican politics, that person has a future the next time around. He has been kind of squeezed out of the race by a lot of other social conservatives. So he is at a tough spot. But certainly more of a credible case than Pataki.
KEILAR: Is it too many choices you think for Republicans? They talk about how being overwhelmed by choice, Sara, isn't always a good thing. That it actually makes people -- it makes them not really feel that great about their choice or their process in it.
MURRAY: You know, it's really interesting because when I talk to voters in Iowa, they are so overwhelmed by the options that it's like they have picked little buckets of candidates. So they have a top three set of candidates already. And they're like, look, I'm going to choose, for instance, between Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, or whatever.
So I think people are already sort of self-selecting the universe down. They're not necessarily looking at 25 potential candidates and saying look at all these option I have.
KEILAR: Yes, exactly. All right. Sara Murray, thank you so much -- CNN politics reporter.
And Ryan Lizza --
LIZZA: Thanks, Bri.
KEILAR: -- CNN contributor. Really appreciate you guys being with us.
And on this Memorial Day, many Americans are putting the politics of war aside to honor the men and women who have given their lives to defend this country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On this day, we honor the sacrifice of the thousands of American service members, men and women, who gave their lives since 9/11, including more than 2,200 American patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan.
GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Tomorrow, when you resume life's daily routines, take a moment to think of the families who will return home and leave their loved ones here in this sacred place, and what of next week and next month. What should we do then? Remember.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: And thank you so much for joining us for this tribute on this very important day. We do wish you well on this Memorial Day.
I'm Brianna Keilar in THE SITUATION ROOM. Wolf Blitzer will be back tomorrow.
"ANTHONY BOURDAIN: PARTS UNKNOWN" starts right now.