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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Family Calls For Justice After Shooting on Camera; 8,400 Troops to Stay in Afghanistan Until 2017; Interview with Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook; Fox Ex-Host Suing Chairman Roger Ailes; Hunt Underway For Missing Former Gitmo Detainee. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired July 6, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:30:00] QUINYETTA MCMILLAN, MOTHER OF STERLING'S SON: I for one will not rest or not allow him to be swept in the dirt.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If precedent has taught us anything about shootings like this, it's that in the immediate aftermath of shootings, we know an incredible amount about the person that was shot, but very little about the police officers. It's the same in this shooting.
We know that Alton Sterling did have a criminal history for things like marijuana possession, as well as carnal knowledge of a juvenile. As far as those two officers involved, just seven years combined experience between them. One of those officers, Howie Lake, had been involved in another officer involved shooting in December of 2014. He was cleared of any wrong doing in that case -- Jim.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Nick Valencia, many hard questions still to be answered.
I want to bring in two former police officers, Eugene O'Donnell. He's a former NYPD officer. He's also a lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Also, Redditt Hudson, who was a St. Louis officer. He's cofounder of the National Coalition of Law Enforcement Officers for Justice Reform and accountability.
Gentleman, I have watched this video several times. Again, difficult to watch, raises a lot of questions.
Reddit, if I could begin with you. I want to listen to the tone and the words of the officers as they kneel on top of Sterling, this is just seconds before he was shot, let's have a quick look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POLICE OFFICER: If you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) move, I swear to God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: So, two officers, guns drawn, the suspect pinned to the grown, Redditt, to you first, why was that threat justifying the use of deadly force?
REDDITT HUDSON, FORMER ST. LOUIS POLICE OFFICER: I don't think it was. I didn't see what you just show, but I have seen the tape and the officer who initially appears to draw his weapon and point it at Mr. Sterling's chest appears to have Mr. Sterling's arm pinned underneath him. So, I can't imagine what threat he perceived at that point, and with the witness testimony being the store owner saying that he didn't see him produce a weapon that was related to Mr. Sterling until after he was shot, I don't think there was a legitimate threat there at all to justify that use of force. What I saw on tape looks like a murder.
SCIUTTO: Eugene, I have to ask your view. Do you agree?
EUGENE O'DONNELL, FORMER NYPD POLICE OFFICER: Well, no sane American thinks that the police should be administering deadly force for punishment purposes. So, you know, there shouldn't be any division about that.
The context here is going to matter as usual. The facts will catch up with the visceral video, and we'll see when we add this all up, obviously, what the police think was going on is not depicted on the video and there could with a very big difference between what you see on a video, and what people, police or non-police people, actually are perceiving. This could be a bungled situation that cops could have overreacted, someone throwing the idea that there was a gun, there was a 911 dispatch about a gun.
So, very important to hear what the police have to say for themselves as to what they believed at the time that this shooting took place.
SCIUTTO: No question here and they deserve a hearing.
SCIUTTO: Redditt, go ahead.
HUDSON: It's important to note that Louisiana is an open carry state, whether he had a gun or not is irrelevant.
SCIUTTO: Just give me a moment, because I want to ask both of you, because this gets to the specifics here. And I think it's important for people at home to understand what leeway cops have. But the store owner says that he saw an officer pull out a gun from Sterling's pocket after the shooting.
In terms of police rules of engagement and the law, does the gun need be drawn or in the hand of a suspect for it to be considered a deadly threat?
Eugene, to you first.
O'DONNELL: I mean, the police are really making this up in real time. This is the truth. They got a call from a civilian. And this can often be the scenes of tragedies also, because they are not verifying, you don't know. But somebody called and said, this man who they identified threatened them with a gun.
That's what the call (ph) to police here, and that's why the whole context and the whole picture has to be assembled before you can make holistic judgments.
HUDSON: Let me answer your question, Jim. For the gun to be still in his pocket means that he was not a threat to those officers at the time that they shot him.
SCIUTTO: OK, fair opinion.
And to both of you, and you know well enough it is early in the investigation, but I'm just trying to get at what the rules are for the police, because we have seen this so many times. It's typical for all of us to process. Let me ask a bigger picture question here, because this was caught on video of a civilian who happened to be nearby -- police say that their body cameras for both the officers fell off during the confrontation.
I'll ask you both, do you find that credible?
O'DONNELL: Well, supposedly there is still video captured anyway. So, we'll see. Video in this close encounter where people are wrestling around, it is not very valuable any way, but it is not like the video went off, apparently they captured some video nonetheless.
HUDSON: It's possible, Jim, that their cameras off, but we do have at least one videotaped account of this event.
[16:35:04] And what I see on that tape begs the question, again, if black people have any rights, constitutionally, human rights, civil rights, when it comes to their encounters with the police using deadly force.
This man was laying on his back with two police officers on top of him. One of whom had his arm pinned underneath him, and a gun drawn at his chest. The first shot was fired on the videotape while he's still in that position.
SCIUTTO: Eugene, listening to Reddit's point there, you look at that video, the cops are on top of him. They got their guns out. He's restrained. Is it the officer's responsibility to take every effort to deescalate if there's an opportunity? And I know there may have been circumstances before this that put him in a certain frame of mind.
But I'm just asking, what is -- what is the responsibility of the officers to try to diffuse rather than to fire, to take the gun out in these circumstances?
O'DONNELL: It's never to punish. So, if that's the narrative here, they administer punishment, that's definitionally unlawful.
But you have to have the context. I believe there was a published report that says there was taser used before they went to the firearm. You've got this claim that there's a gun. The gun is recovered. So, it's not like that's made up out of whole cloth.
But again, I hope this is not a divisive issue. Every American should imagine being on the receiving end of a call where a loved one has been killed, you would want to know what happened. Every reasonable person want to know what happened. And local government officials, it's incumbent on them to get the information out quickly, accurately, and they have a lot of explaining to in this case.
SCIUTTO: Redditt, I want to give you a chance to comment because Baton Rouge is another community where a majority of the police are white in a community that has mostly black community. Is that an issue? And I don't want to impugn -- and to be clear as I ask this question, I don't want to impugn the officers based on their race, because we have a lot of evidence that raises questions. But this is an issue that we have seen in other communities and going back to St. Louis last year.
Is that an issue in your view?
HUDSON: Jim, I don't think it is up for legitimate debate at this point whether or not race comes into play during encounters with police and people who are black and live in the black community. I think it's been well-established that there is a different response to us than there are for our white counterparts. I can't name a single black officer for example in St. Louis City where I was a police office who was ever fired on an unarmed white person. I can't think of a single one in the 50-year history of blacks being hired by this department.
But we have seen repeatedly a response from white officers in black communities to perceived threats, nonexistent threats, the use of deadly force, in their response. And in this case, I think I'm comfortable with the Justice Department coming in immediately, because who has any confidence at this point in local authorities and local departments investigating themselves, or local prosecutors who have long running relationships with the officers on these departments, valuing the black people who have been killed at their hands enough to do a legitimate investigation, I don't.
SCIUTTO: Eugene? A chance to respond.
O'DONNELL: Well, I mean, there's nothing to disagree with in terms the long history of mistreatment of African-Americans in the country. That's very well-established. But we really got to watch the hit-and- run approach to this where the news cycle hits piecemeal information put out. The media goes off this story and then the facts eventually catch up.
We'll see what happens here, but as I've said, there is a lot of explaining to do. And a human life has been lost, that is a monumentally important thing, and it's really important that local officials treat it like it's an important thing, that people don't -- the community don't feel like they have to go to the street to get a transparent, factual accounting about what happened. It is hard to do that, with a compressed time period. You run the risk
that you get things wrong. But there can't be business as usual foot dragging approach when a life is lost.
SCIUTTO: Eugene, Redditt, thanks very much to you both.
The most powerful man at FOX News accused of sexually harassing one of his top female anchors. That is the allegation in a new lawsuit. We'll go line by line through the legal claim in minutes.
[16:43:40] SCIUTTO: Welcome back.
In our world lead, more U.S. troops will stay in Afghanistan longer than originally planned. President Obama whose campaign pledge was to end America's longest war, announcing today it will in fact last beyond his presidency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm announcing an additional adjustment to our posture. Instead of going down to 5,500 troops by the end of this year, the United States will maintain approximately 8,400 troops in Afghanistan into next year, through the end of my administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Currently, there are some 9,800 troops supporting the Afghan government in its fight against the Taliban. The reason for the change, the president said the current security situation in Afghanistan remains, quote, "precarious". The Taliban controlling more territory now than at any time since the start of the war some 15 years ago. In the last year and a half, 38 American soldiers and civilians lost their lives there.
I want to bring in Pentagon press secretary, Peter Cook.
Peter, thanks for joining us today.
PETER COOK, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Jim, good to be with you.
SCIUTTO: So, it has now been 15 years by our count, $700 billion, more than 2,200 American lives lost in total. Why does Afghanistan still need U.S. military help?
COOK: Well, Jim, for a variety of reasons. But first and foremost, because the security situation in Afghanistan is still a national security concern for the United States and for the American people.
[16:45:01] We have two missions in Afghanistan, and the president's decision today will allow us to move forward with both of missions.
One is to continue to train, advice and assist mission for Afghan forces to further support those forces so they ultimately, Jim, can take care and secure the country on their own. That's the goal we're all shooting for working with our allies and partners.
And the second critical mission that still ongoing is to deal with the terrorism threat coming from Afghanistan, the remnants of al Qaeda. Of course, we have seen the rise of ISIL in Afghanistan and other extremist groups that wish to do harm to the United States.
We are going to continue that counterterrorism mission. This decision from the president will enable us to move that forward into next year.
SCIUTTO: OK, let's dig down a bit more on that mission because you mentioned counter terror. You mentioned train and assist, but weeks ago, the president granted additional authority to U.S. commanders in the field to give what the administration is calling combat enabling support. It's a step forward. Can you define exactly what kind of support U.S. troops can give now that they weren't giving before?
COOK: Yes, those authorities and again it was after consultation with his commanders and of course, with Secretary Carter, who recommended this as well. Those authorities will enable U.S. forces to better enable Afghanistan forces, to make them more successful in the field in a support role.
And Jim, it is not just troops, we're also talking about the potential for airstrikes, for example, to achieve strategic effects of individual situations where the commander, General Nicholson and his team feel that it's appropriate for U.S. forces to provide that additional support for Afghan forces --
SCIUTTO: But let me ask you because --
COOK: -- Afghan forces in the lead, but that additional support is going to help those conventional forces achieve strategic effects.
SCIUTTO: But we're talking about additional support in combat situations, are we not? Because we have seen over the course of the last year U.S. forces killed in very much like combat, engaging in fire with the enemy, whether that's their primary mission, they end up in the line of fire.
COOK: Well, Jim, we have had situations in which U.S. forces have found themselves in combat in Afghanistan, but as the president reiterated today, as the secretary has reiterated, it is Afghans in the lead in securing this country.
We are providing along with allies and partners and there are a number of other countries, 41 other countries who are involved, again, providing support to those Afghan forces. They have made tremendous strides. They have sacrificed tremendously over the last few years.
You know that and you have covered the story and they are not yet in the position to be able to secure the country on their own, but they made great strides and with General Nicholson and the commanders on the ground believe is that these additional authorities, this additional support at the this moment in time for the Afghan Security Forces will make a tangible difference.
And the addition of these remaining U.S. forcer will make a difference as well as we head into next year.
SCIUTTO: Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook, thanks very much.
COOK: You bet.
SCIUTTO: He is one of the most powerful men in the entire media, but now the head of Fox News is being sued by a former female anchor. She claims she was fired for denying his sexual advances. The shocking allegations, next.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Our Money Lead today, long time Fox News anchor, Gretchen Carlson, is suing her former boss and chairman of the network, Roger Ailes, alleging a pattern of sexual harassment. Carlson who had been with Fox since 2005 claims that she was terminated last month after rejecting Ailes own repeated sexual propositions.
Let's get right to CNN's senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter. Brian, I mean, really an alarming series of allegations contained in this lawsuit. Can you walk us through what she said happened?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, in this lawsuit by Gretchen Carlson, who was the 2:00 p.m. host until just a few days ago when she disappeared from the air waves, she says that overtime, there was a pattern of sexual advances and sexual innuendo from Roger Ailes, the top boss of Fox News, really the man in charge of the network ever since it launched 20 years ago.
Here is one of the quotes from the lawsuit, it quotes Ailes as saying to Carlson allegedly, quote, "I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you'd be good and better and I'd be good and better."
He went on to say according to the suit, "Sometimes problems are easier to solve when there is a sexual relationship like that." She said those comments, which were allegedly made last September, were the final straw, so to speak.
There were comments over a course of years and that she was retaliated against because she would not have sex with him or not engage in this kind of behavior with him. Her contract expired on June 23rd and that's when she was terminated. She said she was let go because she avoided his sexual advances.
SCIUTTO: Now has Ailes responded to this yet?
STELTER: He has not. It's been -- it's about six hours, five hours that is, Fox has been uncharacteristically silently today. Ailes himself has not commented and the network is not covering this news, of course, coming very close to home. This is a story that could have big ramifications for Fox News because Ailes has been in charge ever since its launch. You could say he rules the network with an iron fist. He has beloved by a lot of staffers there, but he is not known for being politically correct.
And I do wonder if in the days and weeks to come we'll hear from other women that might corroborate Carlson's story. In fact I just spoke with one of the attorneys involved in Carlson's suit, they say that ten women have called the law firm today wanting to speak with the law firm because they say they also have stories to share about treatment by Roger Ailes.
I want to be careful of that, though, because that doesn't mean they are alleging anything, any wrong doing and they are not suing. Right now, it is only Carlson who is suing.
SCIUTTO: Long time Fox News' employee, Carlson. Brian Stelter, thanks very much. He was a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, but now no one knows where he is. There are concerns he could be heading to Brazil for the Summer Olympics.
TAPPER: Welcome back. An international manhunt is now underway for a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who was previously accused of working for al Qaeda. This man, Abu Wail Diyab (ph) was held in Gitmo for more than a decade. He was release back in December 2014 to Uruguay after being granted asylum.
Senior U.S. officials say Diyab has been off of the radar though now for several weeks. He was last spotted in Venezuela. (Inaudible) that he may try to use a fake passport to enter Brazil ahead of the Rio Summer Olympic Games that is just next month.
It was supposed to be one of the hottest toy of the year, but now yours may explode and catch fire. Safety officials are warning people to stop riding that hover board. A major recall out today coming after nearly 100 reports of burns and injuries across the country.
Safety officials blamed the lithium batteries inside the toy for the problem. The recall involves products made by ten companies sold between 2015 and 2016.
That is it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jim Sciutto in for Jake Tapper. Turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."