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Interview With Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison; Police Shooting; Minnesota Governor Asking Justice Department to Investigate Shooting. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired July 7, 2016 - 16:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jim Sciutto, in again for Jake Tapper.

We begin with breaking news. What you see on your screen there the left, that is outside the governor's mansion there in Minnesota, on the right side, inside, where any minute now, we expect to hear from the Minnesota governor, this after another police officer shot and killed a black man under questionable circumstances.

This time, it happened in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, less than 48 hours after another deadly police shooting, that one in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Right now, there is a lot of emotion being expressed in front of the governor's mansion, angry protesters, a familiar scene, really, all too familiar, sadly familiar scene, protesters demanding answers and justice.

Very soon, as I said, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton expected to address the shooting, first time taking questions as well, as well as video of the aftermath, which we are about to show you. And I want to warn you. I have watched this a number of times. These images are particularly graphic, the victim's fiance live-streaming as her fiance appeared to bleed to death at her side after being shot by this officer.

Please have a look.


DIAMOND REYNOLDS, GIRLFRIEND: He just shot his arm off. We got pulled over on Larpenteur.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told him not to reach for it! I told him to get his hand off it!

REYNOLDS: He had -- you told him to get his I.D., sir, his driver's license. Oh, my God, please don't tell me he's dead.

Please don't tell me my boyfriend just went like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCIUTTO: Incredible video. You see the cop, the policeman there reacting as well, seemingly in panic. I want to add this detail as well.

The woman's young daughter, she was in the backseat witnessing this all as it happened. You can hear her trying to console her mother.

I want to begin now with CNN correspondent Rosa Flores. She's in St. Paul, Minnesota, outside the governor's mansion, where protesters are rallying against police.

Rosa, the victim, Philando Castile, he died as we saw in that video in front of his fiance, but also with a young child witnessing this?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, hearts are very heavy here, Jim. You can see people behind me. This crowd has been growing all morning, all day, people asking for justice for Philando Castile.


REYNOLDS: Stay with me.

We got pulled over for a busted taillight in the back.

FLORES (voice-over): How do you begin to explain this scene?

REYNOLDS: He killed my boyfriend.

FLORES: The blood, the police officer, the gun.

REYNOLDS: He is licensed to carry. He was trying to get out his I.D. and his wallet out his pocket.

FLORES: Diamond Reynolds did her best to tell the story moments after a Minnesota police officer shot her fiance during a traffic stop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told him not to reach for it! I told him to get his hand off it!

REYNOLDS: He had -- you told him to get his I.D., sir, his driver's license.

FLORES: Reynolds live-streamed the event to Facebook as her 4-year- old daughter sat in the back seat.

REYNOLDS: Please don't tell me my boyfriend went like that.

FLORES: Philando Castile died from his wounds.

Reynolds reeling this morning.

REYNOLDS: I did it so that the world knows that these police are not here to protect and serve us. They are here to assassinate us. They are here to kill us because we are black.

FLORES: She says police initially sent her to the wrong hospital. REYNOLDS: They sent me in the whole wrong direction, so I never got

to see him before they did whatever they did. I never got to say my last words to that man.

FLORES: Saint Anthony's Police Department says state law enforcement is investigating the shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The officer involved in this incident has been put on standard paid administrative leave.

FLORES: Castile is the second black man filmed during a fatal police shooting in just two days.

This scene again shows 37-year-old Alton Sterling, who was shot by police Tuesday morning in Louisiana. CNN has learned officers approached Sterling after a homeless man called 911, claiming that Sterling brandished a gun and refused to give the man money.

The paint was barely dry on his in memorial in Baton Rouge today as Minnesota's governor made a predictable promise.

GOV. MARK DAYTON (D), MINNESOTA: Justice will be served in Minnesota.

FLORES: But for so many Americans trying to come to terms with these scenes, promises are denied.

L. CHRIS STEWART, STERLING FAMILY ATTORNEY: If you are getting desensitized to seeing this so many times, there is something wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn't black anger. This is black grief.

FLORES: The U.S. Department of Justice has taken up Sterling's death as civil rights investigation and is assessing the situation on Castile's.

Protests are erupting in both states, echoing the outrage of past shootings across the nation. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted this morning: "America woke up to yet another tragedy of a life cut down too soon. Black Lives Matter."


President Obama taking to Facebook writing, "All Americans should be deeply troubled."

Castile's family tells CNN it feels like open season on African- American.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are being hunted every day. It's a silent war against African-American people as a whole.


FLORES: And as we take another live look outside the governor's mansion, you can see that the number of people here protesting, demonstrating keeps on growing as we go through the day. I can tell you that people have been embracing. They have been

telling their stories, their testimony of their experiences in this community. And, Jim, just to let you know what is going on regarding the investigation in this particular case, it's at the hands of a state agency.

We know that the governor now is asking for U.S. DOJ to get involved -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Rosa, thank you. We can see that the crowd there, we should note, black and white. This is combined emotion being expressed there.

I want to bring in Brynn Gingras. She is inside the governor's mansion there, where any second now, we're told, Governor Mark Dayton is going to come to the podium.

Brynn, what are you hearing there?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, what we are hearing that he is going to be here, like you said, any minute now and this will be an opportunity for him to take some questions on possibly the process that now goes on with Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, as well as his request to get the DOJ involved in an independent investigation, as you heard with Rosa's piece.

This is the second time, as you saw, that he has spoken today. The first time was right outside the governor's mansion and that was to the crowd of protesters. And really that was a time where he just made some remarks about how awful this situation was and again that request from the DOJ.

And now this time, when he comes here today, is a chance to ask all those questions that we, the press, have at this point -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Thanks, Brynn. You are inside that room there. We will look for the governor when he comes to that podium.

Again, reminding our viewers, that is any minute now.

Rosa, outside there looking at that protest, certainly emotional, but calm, peaceful. We have seen with other police shootings like this that that hasn't been the case. Do you have a sense there of this taking a turn for the worse?

Rosa Flores, can you hear Jim there outside the governor's mansion?

We have lost Rosa Flores there outside the governor's mansion.

Again, a reminder to our viewers that we are waiting for the governor, the Democratic governor of Minnesota, to come and speak. He is Mark Dayton. We will go right to his comments when he starts.

But to get a closer look first, I want to bring in Congressman Keith Ellison. He represents the Fifth District of Minnesota.

Congressman Ellison, thanks so much for joining me today.

Some words from the fiance earlier today struck me. She said: "Police are not here to protect and serve us. They are here to assassinate us."

That is a feeling we have heard in other communities after shootings like this. What does that tell you?

REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: Well, sadly, she is reflecting the feeling of far too many people.

I know a lot of police officers who are on the force to do the right thing to protect people. But how can you deny this pattern, this disturbing pattern, Alton Sterling, Mr. Castile in my own community, Philando Castile, but then Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland?

It is North, South, East, West, Midwest. It is young people like Tamir Rice. It's people a little bit older like Walter Scott and Eric Garner. It is men, it's women. It is really sort of disturbing. And people are simply sharing how it feels to live inside of their skin.

And I think that we need to pay close attention, because police -- officer-involved shootings of African-Americans on a systematic basis is not some sort of cost-free endeavor. It's very costly and damaging to society, not to mention loss of life, broken trust, not to mention massive police payouts and civil damages. I can go on. We need to address this national crisis. We have an epidemic and a serious problem.

SCIUTTO: Again, I want to remind viewers the governor of Minnesota expected to make comments on this shooting any minute now.

Meanwhile, speaking to Congressman Keith Ellison. He also represents Fifth District of the state of Minnesota.

You and I have talked about this phenomenon before, sadly. Americans have talked about this before, sadly, many times. And the hope is that as more attention is paid to it, it might get better.


But we just noticed that fatal shootings by officers increased to -- from 465 in the first six months of 2015 to 491. Same period 2016, blacks continue to be shot at two-and-a-half times the rate of whites. Do those numbers show you that there is no improvement? And why is that?

ELLISON: Yes, they show me that there is no improvement. And I think the core problem is one of impunity. If you are an officer involved in an officer-involved shooting...

SCIUTTO: Keith Ellison, I'm going to interrupt you there.

ELLISON: You bet.

SCIUTTO: Apologies. Please stand by. Here is the governor, Mark Dayton, of Minnesota.

DAYTON: A terrible tragedy has befallen the people of Minnesota, especially the family and friends of Philando Castile.

And I express, on behalf of all decent-minded Minnesotans, which is just about everyone, our deepest condolences, our shock and our horror at what transpired last night.

All the facts are not known. But from the evidence that's been presented, the video that was taken, nobody should be shot and killed in Minnesota for a traffic taillight being out of function. Nobody should be shot and killed while they're seated still in their car, without a very, very different kind of response.

So, I'm heartbroken for Minnesota because, you know, I have heard in the last few hours from very distinguished African-American men and women who have recounted to me how they have been pulled over, singled out, and treated very differently because of their race from how white Minnesotans except to be covered.

Would this have happened if those, the passengers, the driver, the passenger were white? I don't think it would have. I am forced to confront and I think all of us in Minnesota are forced to confront that this kind of racism exists, and that it's incumbent upon all of us to vow that we're going to do whatever we can to see that it doesn't happen and doesn't continue to happen.

I have met with the -- I talked with the White House chief of staff, Denis McDonough. I just finished talking about Special Assistant Valerie Jarrett, who called to express the president's personal concern and see what they could do to help. I talked with the assistant U.S. -- Assistant attorney general, U.S. Attorney General Vanita Gupta on three occasions, and talked about their involvement.

Their role is not to be the primary conductor of the investigation. That will be residing with the BCA, but they will be closely monitoring and providing whatever assistance is desired and necessary.

The BCA, under Commissioner Dohman, is following through with the greatest sense of urgency, time urgency to pursue this and conduct a complete and thorough investigation, and turn that investigation over to the Ramsey County Attorney, who will make his decisions accordingly.

I talked with Senator Franken, Senator Klobuchar, Representative McCollum, Representative Ellison, the five of us, the lieutenant governor, who had a conference call a short while ago for drafting a letter that we will sign jointly that will go to the attorney general, U.S. attorney general, asking for this investigation, or participation on behalf of the Department of Justice and the federal government in this matter.

I can't say how seriously I take this. I can't say how shocked I am and how deeply, deeply offended that this would occur in Minnesota to somebody who got pulled over for a taillight being out of order, and how totally unacceptable it is, by all the standards and values that I hold dear and that I treasure about this state, that such a terrible incident could occur and did occur, and this life is irrevocably taken away.

So, I met with some of the people who are gathered outside the governor's residence earlier today who said that they wanted justice. And I will vow that they will receive justice, and I don't know what course that takes. That will depend upon all the facts and circumstances, but that justice will be served.

Justice must be served in this instance if we're going to have a chance to repair the terrible damage that's been done to the relationships we all have with men and women of other races and creeds.

[16:15:14] And I will do everything I can to see that come about.

Let's go on to questions.

REPORTER: Your statement today seems much stronger than it was during Jamar Clark. Can you outline (INAUDIBLE) framework of what we see in the video? What is so outraged today that we did not hear in terms of Jamar Clark? Today, you are saying that you believe there's a racial component to this. I did not hear you say that with Jamar Clark.

What makes this case different? Is it just the video?

DAYTON: I'm not going to go -- I'm not going to go back into that. But I'll just say what I saw on the video, the video was -- I told Diamond just how extraordinary I thought her poise and presence was to both make that recording the way she responded to the police in that situation. I mean, that presented a very -- it didn't show obviously the incident itself occurring, the shooting of the weapon but it showed immediate aftermath of that.

And then, she recounted in the presser that we have this morning in front of the residence that, you know, Philando was not given first aid. Nobody attended to his condition as they were attending to the condition of the police officer who did the shooting. She was handcuffed, taken to station, police station with her 4-year-old daughter. Just stark treatment just I find absolutely appalling at all levels.

REPORTER: Governor, do agree with President Obama releasing a statement today saying that he believes this is not an isolated act, part of it systemic problem (INAUDIBLE)? (INAUDIBLE) whether you agree that there are some problems here in Minnesota?

DAYTON: I think these incidents prove that these problems do exist in Minnesota. The vast majority of our law enforcement officers of all colors, races, creeds, religions are dedicated and they confront difficult situations every day and every night. And they conduct themselves lawfully and honorably. You know, one terrible misjudgment or failure of proper action, whatever it turned out to be could not be allowed to cast dispersions on every other law enforcement officer in Minnesota. But in this instance, again, I don't have all the facts and evidence,

not passing final judgment, but there's every indication this case that the police response was way in excess of what the situation called for. Certainly being pulled over with a traffic light defect and not having even the vehicle much less taken any action could be seen or construed as being an act by the victim of aggression against the police officer to be shot in the car with four or five bullets is just beyond the pale. It is so far beyond the pale.


DAYTON: I think it's more than isolated incidents. That's why I said before, there are others who shared with me this even today.

So one of the ways in which we can try to -- we can't ever remedy the situation but try to move forward with it would be to look at the training, and the community policing, President Obama in his statement referenced task force he established on community policing a couple of years and their recommendations I asked for a copy to review those recommendations and look seriously at convening similar task force to look at the issues in behalf of Minnesota.

But that's premature. That's not why I'm here today. We don't have solutions today. We have recognition of a serious problem and a terrible, terrible tragedy and resolve that I want everyone to know that we are going to pursue this matter all the way to conclusion.

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) what has been done so far? (INAUDIBLE)

DAYTON: I will let Commissioner Dohman who's in charge of BCA.

MONA DOHMAN, MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: For the record, I'm Mona Dohman, the commissioner of public safety. I oversee the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

[16:20:00] Last night, Saint Anthony police chief contacted the BCA and requested that the BCA conduct this independent investigation of this officer-involved shooting.

Agents were sent out to the scene to begin the investigation and they have been working through the night and through the day to collect all of the evidence, to do a thorough and expedited investigation. I talked with the superintendent several times today and we have had discussions with lieutenant governor and with the governor regarding need for expediency and thoroughness collecting evidence and putting evidence together and then presenting that to the county attorney for review.

REPORTER: Can you elaborate (INAUDIBLE)

DOHMAN: Because it is an ongoing and active investigation that is not public information and I can't disclose that at this time. I don't have all the facts. I have not been to the scene. I have not reviewed evidence.

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) whether he did have a permit to carry? But then you can't confirm it because it's part of ongoing investigation. Can you explain because a lot of that information is not public for various reasons, but when the officer on their MDT, on their mobile display terminal, would they have known whether the driver of that vehicle, whether he had a permit to carry?

DOHMAN: What I can say is that the information that the sheriff's offices hold across the state of men because they issue the permits to carry and then we have that information at the BCA, that information is not public information under the data privacy laws and it is part of the investigation. I do not know what the officers knew when they -- when he stopped the vehicle. I don't know what he knew at that time and also would depend on who the vehicle registered to it who the driver was. So, I don't --

REPORTER: Have the officers on scene there last night at least preliminary interviewed at this point?

DOHMAN: It is my understanding that the agents were working on doing that this afternoon. I don't know if that interview or those interviews have been conducted at this point in time.

REPORTER: Commissioner, what's been done since the Clark shooting or that situation like this? And do you have plans in place to more education or whatever you might do? Can you go into that a little bit?

DOHMAN: I can say that from speaking with police chiefs and sheriffs across the state of Minnesota that they all take the situations very seriously and training in their agencies is a priority for them. I can't speak specifically to what each individual agency has done or not, but there probably isn't chief law enforcement officer in the state that isn't paying attention and considering policy or writing policy, drafting policy to make sure that their officers are properly trained and properly responding and properly building relationships and solidifying relationships in the communities that they serve.

REPORTER: Are you aware that gun was recovered on the scene, where is the gun that was found?

DOHMAN: That is all part of the active investigation. I cannot --

REPORTER: How this being broadcast live, how that serves the investigation and your reaction to that (INAUDIBLE)

DOHMAN: Well, I think public opinion is different because the public has seen that video. And I would say that it is part of the investigation and part of the evidence that will be collected by the bureau. And the agents will review all of the information that they have, document it all and then it will be presented to the County Attorney John Choi's office for review without recommendation from the BCA. So, our job is to collect the evidence and present it for review by the prosecuting attorney.

REPORTER: Can you confirm what the original purpose of the traffic stop was? Obviously, she's broken (ph) and said in that video that four busted taillights. Is that the case? DOHMAN: I cannot confirm.

REPORTER: Governor, this video obviously does not show the moment that Mr. Castile is reaching for his wallet or anything that happens before the shooting. We obviously don't know that. I can hear the police, you said there was no known act of aggression by Mr. Castile. That was your comment minutes ago. I can hear the police union in the back of my back in my head saying, well, how did he know that?

I ask you, are you prejudging this based on the aftermath that you see in the video? And do you believe that unfairly is establishing the framework with which we go forward in the public discussion of this?

DAYTON: Well, I said at the outset, I don't know if there's any footage, I haven't scene that relates to the incident before the video began. I'm expressing a view based on that information I have at this point.

[16:25:01] That's why, as Commissioner Dohman, said, a thorough and complete investigation is underway and needs to be completed and all facts need to be brought to light.

I am responding just 16 hours or 18 hours after this terrible tragedy occurred. It is a terrible tragedy and my feelings about it and my sense of outrage for what occurred is very real. And that needs to be modified based on further information I will modify it. Point this is how I assess it and what I believe.

REPORTER: Governor, (INAUDIBLE) people want to know, what direct action are you prepared to take? And also, you mention that this the moment (INAUDIBLE) of the stop. What actions are you prepared to take to reduce number of traffic stops when it comes to people of color?

DAYTON: Well, in this instance, in very short period of time, we contacted the White House chief of staff, special assistant at the White House, assistant U.S. attorney general. Spoke with her three times, spoke with Senator Franken, Senator Klobuchar, Representative Ellison, Representative McCollum, we drafted a letter signing the four of them sending to the attorney general asking for further involvement.

And we will continue to pursue that which I think is most immediate first step that can be and must be taken to assure that this gets maximum scrutiny possible from, I know will occur from the BCA because the commissioner has given you that assurance, but also the federal government and that all federal and state investigative capabilities are brought to bear on this situation.

I don't have an answer for it beyond, I think the training -- and I don't know what training that occurs now (ph), but that is certainly part of it, because it's still going to be a face, a human face interaction that's going to occur out there on the street or in the car or whatever.

And so, better training and better understanding of those dynamics are some things that I will -- I tend to pursue. REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE)

DAYTON: I will have more information. I had more information. I can't -- you are asking me to compare what I said before, have to play it back for me.

REPORTER: Information that we don't have?

DAYTON: Just the chance I had to hear what was said and process the information and have a chance to think about it, have a chance to piece it together.

REPORTER: DOJ kind of secondary role (INAUDIBLE) do you think the officer should be in jail today?

DAYTON: I'm not going to comment on the second. I think that's -- what is important that justice be served. It's going to take a little time to do that. We are not vigilantes in this day and age. We don't just corral people and deny them due process and put them in prison or worse. You know, this is a lawful society and even though instances like this, it's incumbent upon all of us and especially those of us in positions of public responsibility to conduct ourselves in accordance with the law, state of law, as the commissioner said, respecting rights to privacy.

So I am not in position to say regarding that. What was the first part?

REPORTER: About the DOJ?

DAYTON: Yes, this I'm told assistant U.S. attorney general emphasizes this is their usual role. There's -- and I'm not going to get into Louisiana because I'm not familiar enough. There are circumstances there that cause them -- I'm told, I read concern about the ability to conduct thorough and impartial investigation that they felt they had to step in immediately.

Minnesota's (INAUDIBLE), they don't believe that's the case here. They kept words in their mount. I mean, BCA is a proper investigative agency. And again, the Department of Justice and we talk to U.S. attorney and Mr. Lugar and make sure that they are following very closely. If they think that there are lapses or if they think there are gaps, (INAUDIBLE) to work to fill us in.

REPORTER: Governor, you talked about the BCA now, there are critics out there who say the BCA is advised (ph) from the administration, it shouldn't be leading this investigation, would like to see the same (INAUDIBLE)

What's your reaction to that and is that even possible?

DAYTON: You have to consult to the attorney general. I don't know what qualifications her office has. I don't mean that pejoratively. I just don't know that they have this kind of investigative capability.