Return to Transcripts main page


NTSB Reports on Tracy Morgan Crash; Mississippi Couple Facing Terrorism Charges; Ferguson Rallies, Clashes; Trump Passes Walker in New Iowa Poll. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired August 11, 2015 - 12:00   ET


[12:00:00] STEVEN WALLACE, FORMER FAA OFFICIAL: How safe is the system? Am I one in a million chance of getting hurt? No, it's more like one in a billion at the current rate.


WALLACE: And a U.S. airliner has not been in a collision since 1978. So it's working well. But that said, you know, these concerns need to continue to be addressed?

BOLDUAN: Steven Wallace, thank you so much.

WALLACE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: And thank you all very much for joining me "AT THIS HOUR." LEGAL VIEW with Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I'm Ashleigh Banfield. And welcome to LEGAL VIEW.

Our top story, just into CNN, some very chilling new details from the highway crash that almost killed actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and did kill a close friend and fellow passenger 14 months ago in New Jersey. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are just now releasing their findings as we speak. And CNN's Rene Marsh is watching them closely.

And there are some real surprises I did not expect to see, Rene.

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION & GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Well, right, Ashleigh. This meeting is happening still at this point as we speak. They're determining the official probable cause in that deadly collision on the New Jersey Turnpike that happened just last June. It killed one and injured others, including comedian Tracy Morgan.

Now, again, the meeting is ongoing but here's what we've learned so far. We know that Walmart driver, Kevin Roper, was awake for 28 hours prior to crash. He was driving 20 miles per hour over the speed limit. That was a 65 - he was doing 65 in a 45 mile per hour zone. And traffic had slowed to less than 10 miles per hour because of construction.

Now, the NTSB says that this Walmart driver could have prevented the crash had he been driving the speed limit. And when he did strike that Mercedes limo, which was carrying Tracy Morgan, at that point he was traveling at 47 to 53 miles per hour. That was the speed at the moment of impact. And what you're looking at right now is an animation done by the NTSB illustrating how they say this accident occurred.

Now, we do know that seven people total were inside of the limo, but only one was wearing a seat belt. And another startling detail coming out of this meeting, Ashleigh, the NTSB says that emergency crews, they were dispatched in a timely manner, but they had poor execution. Emergency responders, they failed to recognize the number of victims and they didn't have the right amount of resources on the scene. So a combination of confusion and inexperience amongst the emergency responders according to the NTSB that led to poor triage and a delay in the delivery of patients to the trauma center.


BANFIELD: I know it's early, Rene, but, look, we're dealing with someone who died and others who were badly injured. And up until now we have not heard that this kind of criticism was in the hopper. I'm wondering if they're ascribing blame to particular EMTs with particular cases because, again, with a death comes the potential of liability as well, even with the injuries, too.

MARSH: Absolutely. We do know that this is ongoing. I did not hear any specific names mentioned. But at one point the chairman of the NTSB, Chairman Hart, asked the question, you know, how many of these individuals who responded to the scene, how many of them were professionally trained and how many were volunteers? And it was revealed in this meeting that the majority of these responders were, indeed, volunteers.

Just - the way it was described was that there were so many jurisdictions who were responding and there was no clear understanding of who was the leader here, who was supposed to make the decision as to which hospital these individuals would be taken to, which is just very troubling to hear that on such a busy thoroughfare like the New Jersey Turnpike that if there is an accident that you would have a situation where emergency responders are, in the words of the NTSB, inexperienced to handle the situation. Very, very troubling. And, like I said, just moments before they went to recess, they were really drilling down on that particular issue as well.

BANFIELD: I don't - I mean it's astounding to see this, that they failed to recognize the number of victim, didn't have the right resources and that it led to poor triage and a delay in delivering them to the trauma center. God forbid that caused a death and even more serious injury.

Rene, let us know when you hear more about this ongoing meeting and the developments as well. Our Rene Marsh, thank you so much for that.

[12:04:52] We have other breaking news into CNN right now as well. A Mississippi couple now facing charges of attempting to provide material support to ISIS. Again, Mississippi. A man and a woman arrested at the airport there on Sunday night and they have just been denied bond as well. It is serious. The investigators say they were apparently trying to travel overseas to join the terror group ISIS. And according to the arrest documents, their honeymoon was supposed to be their cover story as to why they were making this kind of trip to Europe and then on to Syria.

Joining me now is CNN's Pamela Brown, from Washington, D.C., who's following this story closely.

It reads like a novel, but it is upsetting and unsettling to say the least, and certainly for them as well, Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is upsetting. And this is a young couple, Ashleigh, 20 and 22 years old from Mississippi, former students of Mississippi State. As you mentioned, they were arrested over the weekend and charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS. According to officials we've been speaking with, the man, 22-year-old Muhammad Dakhlalla, and the 20-year-old woman, Jaelyn Young, were arrested at an airport in Mississippi, in Columbus, Mississippi, on Saturday. Authorities said they were going to board a flight to Turkey and then go to Syria.

And we've been looking through the complaint that was just released and it says that the investigation into the couple started this past May. They were on social media talking with undercover FBI agents. And here's what one of the pages says in the complaint, that the man told the undercover FBI employee that he wanted to go to Syria to help with the media group and correct the falsehoods head here. Apparently he says in this complaint, according to authorities, that Muslims are clouded (ph) on their doubts of ISIS because of what U.S. media says and he wants to assure them the U.S. media is all lies. So that is just one reason authorities say they allegedly wanted to join ISIS.

And they say that this couple actually confessed to attempting to join the terrorist group. According to the official we've been speaking with, Dakhlalla is the son of a local imam and Young is the daughter of a Vicksburg, Mississippi, police officer and a recent convert to Islam. We reached out to the Mississippi State University and we have confirmed that they are former students at that school. Dakhlalla graduated in the spring of 2015 with a degree in psychology and Young last enrolled in the spring of 2015 as a sophomore studying chemistry.

Ashleigh, this is a very disturbing story and certainly reflective of the concern in law enforcement that young people in the United States are being lured to join the terrorist group in Syria.

BANFIELD: I'm - I'm getting tired of asking the question over and over as these kinds of stories break domestically, but when you see a sting operation in which this young man wrote to the FBI undercover agent, I want to ask about the military experience there. Would I be with people that speak English or would they put me with everyone at basic training? I'm excited about coming but I feel I won't know what all I will be doing. Answer me this, are there more? Are they able to branch out, the concentric circles, from these two to others who may be with them in this country?

BROWN: You're asking if they have any associates, this young couple?


BROWN: Well, that's - that's something that, you know, law enforcement officials look at through the course of the investigation. It's unclear whether they - these two people have associates. We have seen that in the past where there have been arrests and then later on we just saw that yesterday in New Jersey there was a brother arrested of another person who had allegedly attempted to provide material support to ISIS. This was a group in New Jersey and New York and then, you know, more than a month later, the brother is arrested.

So there could be, Ashleigh. At this point they're not saying that, they're just saying that this investigation was focused on this couple who seemed to feed off of each other, if you will, and be a part of this endeavor together.

BANFIELD: Well, you know, you sometimes have to grab them when you can. And when they're at the airport, you don't have a whole lot more time to continue the investigation, but at least they've got these two alleged - alleged terrorists.

All right, Pamela Brown, thank you for that, and that breaking news. We'll continue to update that at CNN.

We have another very big story today. Protests in Ferguson. We're going to take you there live as that city copes with the anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer there and yet again state of emergency in place two days running.


[12:12:41] BANFIELD: it is day two of a state of emergency in Ferguson, Missouri. A state of uncertainty has been hanging around a whole lot longer, though, with no end in sight there. Just overnight, police made a couple dozen arrests while dodging rocks and frozen water bottles, but no one was shot. No one seriously hurt, unlike the night before. The unrest growing out of peaceful demonstrations and marches commemorating the one year anniversary and death of Michael Brown at the hands of now former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.

A new addition to the clashes last night were some heavily armed white civilians who call themselves, quote, "Oath Keepers," supposedly acting as bodyguards for a reporter from the website Police called their presence unnecessary and inflammatory. And on that the protesters agreed.

I want to get the latest now from my CNN colleague Ryan Young.

So just give me a sense of how things are in this second day of a state of emergency. Oftentimes the day is quieter than the night, but what's happening?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can honestly tell you, we're not even seeing any protesters on the street this afternoon. It's been quiet all morning long since those 22 protesters were arrested. Now, of course, you did mention the fact that some protesters showed up with water bottles that were frozen and started hurling them toward police. And there were some people who were upset at the fact that police did don their riot gear and did have to disperse that crowd.

But being here several times, I can tell you, that crowd is a lot smaller than what we've seen over the past year. And we're talking about less than 200 people. But, obviously, some were there for a confrontation with police. Twenty-two were arrested. Not the same kind of violence we saw the night before on Sunday.

Now, a lot of people are trying to make sure there's a separation between the violence on Sunday, which happened between a group of men, and the protesters who were in the street. And they're talking about the fact that the protesters were trying just to demonstrate and show that they wanted to talk more about Michael Brown.

Now, there were people who did walk into the highway and 63 people were arrested. We did see some drivers try to push through those protesters who actually started kicking at some of the cars. But for the most part it was all calm last night.

And, in fact, Antonio French, he's a council member here in town.

Look, obviously people are still upset about what happened with Michael Brown. We've seen the passion again. Can you just talk about the difference between the two groups in terms of the protests?

[12:15:01] ANTONIO FRENCH, ST. LOUIS ALDERMAN: Yes, there's a very diverse group out there. You have lots of different people with lots of different thoughts and feelings about the situation. Some are angry. But what we also saw the previous night was a small group of people who just were opportunistic, who used the cover of the protests to commit crimes. And so when this state of emergency was declared, what we really hoped is that that would not signal an escalation of the violence. And so we had a night that was confrontational, but no one got hurt. And what people need to understand is that when we're - when we have violence and when we have this - this anger, that's not the space for the kind of healing and the kind of fight for justice and change that we need to get.

YOUNG: And I'm glad you brought that up, because a lot of people were talking about that need for healing.


YOUNG: I mean businesses here need to heal as well. Talk about the community's efforts to try to step forward as a group.

FRENCH: Yes, so, again, this is a very small group that has caused the damage. And it's unfortunate because, you know, thousands of people were out here this weekend in peace and in unity and trying to bring some attention to these important issues and that got overshadowed by the acts of a few fools. So I think most people are unified in that we don't want the violence and we don't want that criminal activity. And so, you know, in that we are all together. YOUNG: There's been a lot of talk about the building that's just

behind us, the Ferguson Police Department. There is a new place chief in place. Do you think that building and those officers can survive and have to be able to patrol the streets here or does that police department need to go away?

FRENCH: Well, you know, that's a conversation that is still going on. You know, this has to do a lot with the structure and the system in place. And right now the structure and the system in place, even though some faces have changed, still depend on a revenue stream that feeds on poor and minorities. And that's going to have to change.

YOUNG: You have a lot of people in this country who are watching this who say, well, why are they in the streets again? Why is this not over yet? Can you give them at home a sense of why people are still so angry and so upset? We see people driving down the streets with their cars covered in signs still to this day.

FRENCH: Yes. Yes. And the reason is that there hasn't been the kind of change that people want. Now, we know that the system has been described in that DOJ report has been in place a long time and it's going to take a while to change the system. But even in the last 367 days now, we should have seen more progress. And that, I think, is what keeps people frustrated.

YOUNG: But is it unfair mark to change an entire system of several years in 367 days? Wouldn't change like that take some time?

FRENCH: It does take time. I don't think you can do the whole thing in 365 days. But the goal was to have a little bit more progress. And so what we've seen is some faces change in those positions. You have an African-American in the position of chief, an African-American in the position of judge, but that system is still in place that preys on poor people and African-Americans.

YOUNG: So you won't stop working?

FRENCH: No, no, we're here for the long haul.

YOUNG: Thank you so much.

FRENCH: Thank you.

YOUNG: Antonio French here.

Obviously, people are waiting to see what happens tonight and whether or not there will be another round of protests.

BANFIELD: All right, our Ryan Young for us, thank you for that. Appreciate it.

By the way, we're just getting some brand new polling out of New Hampshire right now and Iowa. So what do you think happened? Do you think Trump is still on top? And what about all those other guys and lady? We'll tell you about it, next.


[12:21:41] BANFIELD: Just into CNN, a brand new Iowa poll from Suffolk University finding The Donald is now ahead of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. It was not that way before. So big switcheroo.

I want to bring in CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson.

And by the way, Nia-Malika Henderson, that is not the only polling that's out as well. We've got New Hampshire, too, that shows Trump ahead of the pack but has Fiorina jumping into the top five. Can you just put into perspective some of the numbers we're seeing and the significance of them?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, I think the big news is this Iowa poll. You remember that Scott Walker had been leading in Iowa? It's sort of a next door state to him. And he has been putting in some early work down there and Trump famously said that he was surprised that he was coming in second to Scott Walker. He no longer is. This is 17 percent. He's leading the field there. Walker is number two, 12 percent.

Coming out of that debate, everyone was questioning, what would - what would happen with Trump? Would he take a hit? It looks like he's gotten something of a bounce there, at least in Iowa. Walker down to 12 percent.

I think if you move over to New Hampshire, you can kind of see the same thing there. He's doing well over there. You see also Kasich climbing up in the polls there. He's at 12 percent. I believe he was at about 7 percent before, so he clearly did himself some good in that debate. Fiorina coming in, in that New Hampshire poll at 9 percent. She was - pretty much people thought she won that first debate, the sort of happy hour kiddy table debate. So she's got to be happy with these numbers. And Trump has got to be happy, too, that he is now leading, at least in this poll, a snapshot, some of which was taken after this debate. He's got to be happy.

BANFIELD: And I just want to mention as well, in case you didn't already, and I'm just trying to crunch the math here -


BANFIELD: That Carly Fiorina is also in the top five as well for Iowa.

HENDERSON: That's right.

BANFIELD: So it wasn't just New Hampshire.

And let's be super clear, because I think people do very, very quick math when they see all those graphics popping up and say, wow, that wasn't what it looked like last week. The polling is strictly for Iowa caucus voters and the New Hampshire polling is strictly for the primary voters in New Hampshire. But they are significant. And I also noticed what wasn't there. Rick Perry wasn't in those top numbers.

HENDERSON: Right. That's right, Rick Perry wasn't in those top numbers. Also, if you look at Iowa, Mike Huckabee was nowhere in those top numbers. It looks like he's sort of being supplanted by Ben Carson in some ways, as well as Ted Cruz. They're holding on to a lot of that vote there. I think they're something at like 7 percent in Iowa. Mike Huckabee, of course, won the Iowa caucus in 2008. People thought he would be able to come back in and sort of reclaim that. So, you know, again, this was a snapshot. It's just Iowa. It's just New Hampshire. But I think the top line takeaway here is that Trump seems to still be doing well. I'm sure he's going to be touting these poll numbers at some point soon.

BANFIELD: And can I just ask you as well, I'm sort of doing a head shake on this because you've got Trump, who's bombastic and unapologetic and tough talking, tries to push his conservative principles and does very well in both these polls. But then you have Kasich, who in the New Hampshire poll has jumped right into third place and yet during the debate, so widely watched, he was very moderate. I thought that wouldn't go well with primary voters because primary voters typically like a lot of red meat. And saying that I just went to my friend's gay wedding and I admire them, I may not agree with him, I didn't think that would resonate well.

[12:25:07] HENDERSON: Yes, well, New Hampshire is kind of a different state. Remember, John McCain did very well in New Hampshire. He was a bit of a moderate, sort of a maverick, said that he would go against his party on a number of different issues. So it's not really that surprising that he's doing so well there.

Also, he's running a ton of ads in New Hampshire. He has very much staked much of his candidacy in New Hampshire, like a lot of these folks have, like Chris Christie. But it seems to be working well for him. Not only those ads, but that very good debate performance where you saw he rode that hometown crowd, got a lot of cheering there for that comment that you mentioned. I think he is in some ways framing himself as the compassionate conservative. Also, he's got that Iowa - Ohio connection that also makes him much more competitive he would say in a general election because we know how important Ohio is if you want to win the presidency.

BANFIELD: And we gets so excited when these polls come out and they do make for terrific parlor games.


BANFIELD: But, come on, I mean you and I both going to laugh at this interview in about two months.

HENDERSON: That's right. It's so - yes, it's so early. Maybe even a few days, who knows.

BANFIELD: I know. Tomorrow, I'll get you back. All right, Nia-Malika Henderson, thank you. Nice to see you.

HENDERSON: All right. Thanks.

BANFIELD: By the way, in light of these polls coming up next, kind of an odd comment of the day from Donald Trump. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But I am the most fabulous whiner. I do whine because I want to win.


BANFIELD: OK. Well, that's interesting. But can he whine his way to winning the White House? He just gave a few hints on how he plans to do that and he tackled everything from abortion to Jeb Bush in a very candid conversation with CNN's own Chris Cuomo. You'll hear it, next.