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Clinton Responds to Recent Fatal Shootings by Police; Five Officers Killed During Shooting Rampage In Dallas. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired July 8, 2016 - 16:30   ET


VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And so, here she is, she is trying to figure out how do I speak to both of these concerns, but also chart a way forward.

[16:30:03] The more policy prescriptions on the police reform side, so she's a policy wonk, she leans on that. She may have missed some opportunities to express a little bit more pain for the police, but there is just not that much -- the policies are in place to protect police from crazy people if there are ready to do so.

But, anyway, I just think she is struggling. We are all struggling. This has been one of the most difficult weeks in American life.


Buck Sexton, I have the opportunity to speak with the Texas lieutenant governor a short time ago, and he placed some blame -- he criticized voices who are blaming police for shootings of young black men like we have seen earlier this week, for being partly responsible for the shooting of these cops in Dallas. I wonder if you share that criticism.

BUCK SEXTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, yes. It certainly is partially true. What we have seen -- this is now happened in a number of incidents and it should be kept in mind in New York, we had two NYPD officers, Ramos and Lu, who are gunned down and their killer, their assassin said that it was revenge for Eric Garner and it was essentially the Black Lives Matters movement, he believed, inspired him to do this. We've also now seen this in Tennessee as the secretary mentioned, as well as the horrific events in Dallas last night.

The temperature of rhetoric against police officers has been getting raised for many months now. This has been happening the way that, quite honestly, is reckless and we have seen the end results of that with some of these shootings, but also it's just damaging and counterproductive to police relations with minority communities across the board.

This notion -- this is one that really needs to be combated head-on -- that police officers in a broad spectrum way are targeting young African-American men for murder without consequence and without the sympathy of their fellow Americans for the situation is something that inspires this sort of incitement and hateful rhetoric -- it is the rather the hateful rhetoric that I think Secretary Clinton was alluding to there.

And it's time we separate out. If we want to have a conversation about policing, if we want to have a conversation about the sorts of tactics and de-escalation, community policing, all of the things that currently are underway, and actually, there's a lot of bipartisan support for this, there needs to also be willing to say that, no cops are not racist murderers and killers. These are things I've heard at protesters myself, by the way. I've taken photos of placards.

The notion for example in Ferguson, justice was not done. The DOJ report I guess some people believe was still a lie, that Mike Brown was killed by an officer and unjustice (ph) and did nothing about it. These are the things that are very damaging.

I think the country is finally now able to look at these issues for what they are and say, yes, there is a willingness for bipartisan, criminal justice reform, but there also has to be an honesty about the scope and skill of the problem. Less than a hundred unarmed people of any race were killed in 2015. That's according to "The Washington Post", where a country of 320 million people.

SCIUTTO: Buck, let's give Van Jones a chance to respond.

JONES: I would need 20 minutes to respond to all of that! But I will say simply this, it is in fact not the case that the vast majority of people who have been commenting about police misconduct have been saying irresponsible things. It's a very small minority, it's a disturbing minority I agree with you there, Buck, and it has to be combated.

But I'll tell you the pronouncements that incite a lot of this stuff. No indictment, no indictment, no indictment, not guilty, not guilty. That is what has been inflated. There's no excuse for lunatics going and shooting innocent people, innocent police officers. I'm not giving excuses.

But I think what is actually fueling this is not some placard or what somebody said at some rally that nobody even heard, except they got on social media. What is fueling this is a sense that nobody cares and that the official pronouncements of our government show a level of indifference and lack of concern.

I think it's very, very important that we affirm our right to petition our government for redress of our grievances and for that to be the main thing we say and that this minority voices be marginalized. But I am tired of the entire movement being smeared by the extreme words of a few. It's not fair. It's not fair at all.

SCIUTTO: Buck, I want to add something in this because, you have that feeling on the side of the Black Lives Matter movement that, in fact, the whole movement is being smeared by the comments of a few. But I hear frequently from police officers, I'm just going to read a text I got from a Texas cop who was a friend of mine. He's not in Dallas, but he said this -- he said, "We feel like we have no support right now from the very citizens we are sworn to protect. There is so much anger in law enforcement right now. I don't know one police officer not willing to give their lives to save the life of any citizen."

This is a complaint that I hear from police officers in communities across the country. I wonder if you've heard similar?

SEXTON: I absolutely have. And to Van's points about this being a minority within the Black Lives Matter movement, people are saying these sorts of things -- I mean, with my own eyes, I've walked through protests with thousands or at least in the high hundreds of participants who are holding up many of the same signs, referring to racist cops, murdering cops, cops that are out there killing people.

[16:35:11] You've got to stop these killer cops.

And I have to tell you, if other members of Black Lives Matter -- and, Van, we have talked about this before. There are plenty of ways we can reach common ground and should, and you know there is an effort underway right now in this country and gaining steam for quite a while to do criminal justice reform, to look at sentencing, to look at community policing.

But when I go through a rally or I walk through a rally, or I cover a rally and I see people holding up placards, not just one or two, dozens perhaps hundreds of them saying these sort of things that has an impact and effect. If there other people around them and I can't speak -- it's more of an idea than a movement, right? No central command authority for Black Lives Matter, but they need to be willing to say, look, you can't go around saying cops are killers. That's a bad idea. That's counterproductive to some of the very good things you're trying to achieve.

And I do also have to point out that in the cases of the assassinations of police officers, we have three of them now where specifically the rhetoric of the Black Lives Matter movement has been cited as the instigating issue at hand. Yes, they are crazy people and other issues we can get into as well, but let's not pretend there isn't a connection.

SCIUTTO: Let's give Van a chance to respond.

JONES: You say so many things, it's impossible. I don't want to be rude and interrupt here, but listen, we have a problem with crazy people doing crazy things in this country because they can all get guns. Dylann Roof went in there and shot up a whole church of African-Americans and he said he did it because of this racial propaganda that is growing by the so-called alt right. We don't talk about that. Somebody went and shot up a whole Planned Parenthood saying because they are Christian.

We have crazy people doing crazy things but we should not blame -- we should not give them the pass of saying that you're doing this because somebody held up a placard. That is completely not the right way for us to proceed. What we need to be able to do is say crazy people getting guns and doing horrible things is inexcusable and all of our movements religious and political need to stands against violence but I'm tired of the entire movement being smeared by a few. SCIUTTO: Well, this is the thing, if I can say -- Van and Buck, I

appreciate it -- is that both sides have that view. They don't want the entire point of view smeared or defined by, in effect, the voices of an extreme, I suppose.

Listen, we are going to continue this conversation. Thanks for both of you for contributing calmly and respectfully to what is a very difficult conversation.

SEXTON: Thank you both.

SCIUTTO: Van Jones and Buck Sexton.

He was an Army reservist who served in Afghanistan, but what else do we know about the Dallas sniper who gunned down police officers in this deadly massacre? That's right after this break.


[16:41:47] SCIUTTO: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

And our lead remains a horrifying day of violence in Dallas. Of the 12 Dallas area police officers shot in last night's deadly rampage, five are now dead.

Among them is 43-year-old Brent Thompson. He was seven-year police veteran. Thompson is the first Dallas Rapid Transit officer to lose his life in the line of duty. He just recently had married a fellow transit cop. According to his LinkedIn profile, he was motivated by a, quote, "team atmosphere".

Patrick Zamarripa, he was also killed. That's him there. He's the father of a 2-year-old girl, been on the force for five years. He previously served in the U.S. military as well. Zamarripa brother tweeted this Friday, quote, "Love you, brother. Couldn't be prouder. We'll see you again. #prayfordallas."

Our thoughts and prayers certainly with the families of the fallen, the injured, and hoping for them to recover. It's a domestic act of terrorism. It's exactly what this is.

The shooter has now been identified as 25-year-old Micah Xavier Johnson.

CNN justice reporter Evan Perez, he's been digging to his background.

First question here, because there were other arrests last night. There were talk of multiple shooters. They had three suspects.

Do police now believe he acted alone?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes. Jim, the police do believe he acted alone. And we know that Micah Johnson was from Mesquite, Texas. He was in the Army reserves for six years where he trained as a carpentry and masonry specialist. He served a little less than a year in Afghanistan and then got a honorable discharge in April of last year.

Like all soldiers, he would have received basic firearms training but it's unclear whether he received more advanced training. A law enforcement official tells us that Johnson has no criminal record and no known ties to terrorist groups.

SCIUTTO: After terror attacks, we always ask, was the suspect known like Omar Mateen to law enforcement before, this is effectively domestic terrorism. Was he on their radar screen at all?

PEREZ: He was not. No record, no sign that he was connected to ISIS or nobody was watching him, frankly.

SCIUTTO: No criminal record before?

PEREZ: No criminal record.

SCIUTTO: No arrest?

PEREZ: Right.

SCIUTTO: Incredible. Out of nowhere, it seems.

Evan Perez, thanks very much.

We're getting more details about the police shootings as we continue to follow this story. Five cops assassinated. So, how does the attack last night change the landscape for cops across the country? Many of them are reacting. We're hearing from them. That's right after this break.


SCIUTTO: Joining me now is Dan Patrick. He is the Republican lieutenant governor of Texas. Lieutenant Governor Patrick, thank you for joining us at the time of horrible loss for all of Texas.

LT. GOVERNOR DAN PATRICK (R), TEXAS: Yes. For all of Texas, yes. For all of Texas. You know, Jim, it's not just a Dallas or a Texas loss. It's a loss for America and if we don't unite, if we don't come together quickly as a country, our law enforcement will be undermined and our justice system will be undermined.

You know, if there are issues in law enforcement, then they need to be addressed, but we have to separate that as T.D. Jake said today in a prayer meeting today in downtown Dallas, you separate the 1 percent and address that issue if there are wrongs, but you cannot continue to attack the 99 percent of grouping them in with the 1.

I'm afraid, Jim, we won't have any policemen soon. Our ranks are dwindling everywhere in the country. Spouses of police officers are saying find a new career. We have got to unite behind law enforcement.

SCIUTTO: I think we agree we have to unite as a country. Let me ask you just about the investigation. Police arrested three other people at the time of these attacks. Are they still suspects in the shooting?

PATRICK: You know, Jim, to be very candid with you, I don't know. That investigation is still going on. I saw the chief of police about lunch time today. He spoke briefly at this prayer gathering, and he left to go right back to work.

[16:50:06]And so, you know, I came up last night primarily about 3:00 in the morning from Houston to go to the hospital and be with the families and be with the officers and show support. That was my main role here and let the Dallas Police Department do their job and kind of stay on the sidelines.

I tell you what, Jim. I just left a home of one of the -- of one of the officers who was killed and it's just devastating. You know? When they left that home this time yesterday to go on their shift, they never thought they wouldn't see their wife and children again.

You know, one of the children said are we going to lose our home? We forget about these five people. One officer, Brent Thompson, just got married two weeks ago. We forget about these are real people like all of us and the difference is, Jim, these people have a job responsibility that you don't have and I don't have.

And outside of our firemen and military, no one else has and that is every day they go work and part of their duty is give their life up for others. Last night, the irony of ironies, five of them gave their life at protecting people who were actually protesting, which was their right to protest. So think about that.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this because the police chief says that the shooter expressed anger about police shootings of black men and Black Lives Matter during the attack.


SCIUTTO: In an interview earlier today, you called the protesters who marched last night, quote, in your words, "hypocrites," that they this were expecting the police to protect them. Why hypocrites?

PATRICK: Well, yes. What I meant by that -- and maybe it's the wrong choice of words. I've seen a lot of death the last 12 hours and when you stay in the hospital and see four bodies of deceived officers taken out on gurneys and you see the hearts that are broken and the lives that are shaken.

What I meant by that is that if we, as a society, are not going to be supportive of our police, it doesn't mean we hold people accountable when they make a mistake, but if we are not going to be supportive of law enforcement and we are out there protesting and then something happens and then what do we do?

We turn around to the people we were protesting against and we say, here, go and protect us. You know, that is what they did. All those officers who were killed last night, Jim --

SCIUTTO: Were they protesting -- police or were they protesting against the killings? These protests were not against police in general.


SCIUTTO: In fact, you know it was a very peaceful protest. You had protesters taking pictures with policemen last night.

PATRICK: Yes. It was a very peaceful protest, but what with we also know, Jim, is we have seen throughout the last several years, there have been a lot of rhetoric that is geared towards all police officers.

If you go online and look at some of the social media pages, you'll see people celebrating these officers saying I wish more had been shot, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

So I think that within the protests, they have to be sure it's very clear they are not protesting every officer and calling every officer out. But when you talk to the officers, if you listen to Chief Brown today, he said it multiple times, we don't feel like people support us.

We don't feel like that they have our back. We don't feel like we are appreciated and he used words like that all day. I talk to police officers around the state, we are a big state, all the time, Jim. That's how they feel.

So we, as a nation, have to understand these are real people. Just like all of us. And so I just thought the irony last night was there was a protest -- yes, it was a protest against these other two incidents in Minnesota and Louisiana.

But we have seen protests after protests where it's been very general against police in general. And so what happened last night is those police officers turned right around and protected all of those people that were protesting which was their duty and they did their duty and they died doing it.

I think people who are protesting law enforcement officers need to really think through that. Protest if there is an issue, but all police officers aren't bad. Most of them, in fact, the vast majority of them are good and they put their life on the line every day for everyone.

I don't want to lose the focus on these five officers and their families, and those who are wounded -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: That is certainly our focus today. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, thanks very much.

PATRICK: Thank you, Jim. Yes, sir.

SCIUTTO: Appreciate your time.

PATRICK: Yes, sir, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Now to a powerful moment from Dallas. This was last night outside the hospital beyond the barrier there, you see one-by-one, fellow police officers giving a salute, a solemn salute to the five colleagues who lost their lives in that ambush. Their small tribute there.

Today at their police department, two squad cars now parked outside, as you see there, piled with flowers, all left by well-wishers.

I want to bring in my panel, CNN political contributor and former Philadelphia mayor, Michael Nutter and also with me, former NYPD officer, Eugene O'Donnell, and former Orlando police chief, Val Demings.

[16:55:04]Val, if I could begin with you. We heard from the Dallas police chief in his words after this attack saying, that unfortunately, people don't support the police officers in the community and I've heard from others.

I've had friends who are police officers sending me messages saying they feel, in effect, under assault. Do you think that's fair?

VAL DEMINGS, FORMER ORLANDO POLICE CHIEF: Well, you know, let me just say, less than a month ago, we experienced the deadliest mass shootings in Orlando perpetrated by one individual and now we have 12 officers in Dallas shot five murdered, assassinated.

We know we have seen some tragic shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota. But to initiate injustice on totally innocent police officers as the answer is totally inappropriate, and having done the job for 27 years, it's a tough job.

We do know that the overwhelming majority of police officers are good, decent people, who would risk their lives for a stranger. And in times like this, we have to be sure that we are targeting officers, who have done wrong and not painting all law enforcement officers with a broad brush, because our officers deserve to be supported by the communities in which they serve.

SCIUTTO: Mayor Nutter, if I could ask you, because you've dealt with these issues of community policing, a relationship between police and the communities in your job as mayor. We had Secretary Clinton on a short time ago talking with my colleague Wolf Blitzer.

She struck something of a delicate balance in light of the multiple tragedies we have seen this week. Black men killed by cops and cops killed by this domestic terrorist.

She said on the one hand cops need more protection, but police departments have to address a terrible disconnect between them and their communities. Do you believe that that is partly to blame as well for this overall problem?

MICHAEL NUTTER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Jim, we are smart enough to be able to do both. And the fact of the matter is that citizens want and need good professional police officers and police officers want and need citizens who appreciate and respect their service. We are big enough country and smart enough people to be able to do both of those and they are not mutually exclusive. It is a very fine line, but it's a line that we need to be able to walk and have more dialogue, and more understanding and more respect between and among the various groups.

One thing that was said earlier, I think, again, much like Van Jones said earlier today, we need to be very, very careful. An individual took a particular action against these officers and my heart is broken for those who lost their lives and those who were injured.

But the movement is not responsible for that individual. Similarly, two black men were killed earlier this week. That does not mean that all police officers are bad. The vast majority go to work every day to do their job and do it very, very well.

So these are very complicated issues and I want to resist the urge to be simplistic in our explanation or discussion.

SCIUTTO: No question. It is a complicated issue. Donald, you've been on the force in New York, one of the toughest cities to do it. Your thoughts. Do you feel that police officers today feel that they are unfairly under assault, unfairly grouped in with a small number of officers who have carried out unjustified violence?

EUGENE O'DONNELL, FORMER NYPD OFFICER: Well, the mayor knows that this conversation we are having at 30,000 feet is not the conversation you have in the neighborhoods with cops. If you talk to cops and people in the neighborhoods it's a totally different conversation. There is a lot on more common ground.

I have to say partisan politics here should play no role. It's not helpful. What strikes me here is we have heard ridiculous hate speech across the spectrum and those people of goodwill have to hear where it comes to the left, the right, the center.

Stop the hate speech and insanity. We hear people attacking the president claiming he is an Islamic terrorist. This is mainstream crazy talk. We have people making equivalent of a police shooting that may not be legally justified with an assassination.

There has to be a sensible approach. The political system really here is -- it has to stand and deliver. It's failing to do that across the political spectrum.

SCIUTTO: That is exactly the conversation we need. Thanks to the three of you, Michael Nutter, Val Demings, Eugene O'Donnell, for helping have that calm, peaceful conversation on these difficult issues.

That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jim Sciutto. I turn you over to my colleague, Wolf Blitzer, he is in "THE SITUATION ROOM" including with this interview he had with Secretary Clinton. Thanks very much for joining us today.