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NYT: Simulation Shows Pilots Had 40 Seconds to Avert Disaster; Chicago Officials Speak After Smollett Charges Dropped; Police Superintendent Says Justice Not Served in Smollett Case; Chicago Mayor, Police Rebuke Prosecutors for Dropping Smollett Charges. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 26, 2019 - 13:30   ET



[13:33:15] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Imagine the surprise of some British air passengers who boarded a flight from London to Dusseldorf, Germany, only to discover upon landing that they were in Scotland. One passenger told CNN she knew something was wrong when she saw mountains outside of the plane instead of the, quote, usual German industrial landscape. At one point after landing, the flight attendant asked if everyone was going to Dusseldorf and everyone raised their hands. The airline says an incorrect flight plan was filed leading both the pilot and the cabin crew to believe that the flight was bound for Edenborough, Scotland.

Forty seconds. That's all the time the pilots may have had to override the anti-stall system and avoid a catastrophic dive in the crash of a Boeing MAX 8 jet last year in Indonesia. The "New York Times" says that time line was estimated by two pilots who were working on flight simulators recreating what might have happened before a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane crashed. The plane's automated safety system, known as the MCAS system, is the focus of the investigation into two different crashes in less than six months. "The Times" also explained that a single censor failed in the simulation, and that triggered the safety software, and the pilots had just seconds to turn this system off.

We have Mary Schiavo with us. She is a former inspector general for the Department of Transportation. She's also an attorney who represents families of airline crash victims and has current litigation pending against Boeing.

So even though, Mary, the pilots in this story are estimating the 40 seconds, this is a disturbingly short amount of time to fix this before a catastrophe.

[13:35:00] MARY SCHIAVO, ATTORNEY & FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: A very disturbingly short amount of time. And I've worked prior crashes where they had a runaway trim. This isn't a runaway trim. This was a plane doing this on purpose. But it takes an amount of time, because even the Boeing 6 for this problem says you resort to the manuals, you see what's going on. On one page of the manuals, there's a several-step process to diagnose it. Then you go to another section and it has you turn off a couple switches and then see if that has fixed the problem. So just working through it on the prior crashes I've worked, it takes several minutes to just diagnose it and figure out what's going on. Because remember, at the same time in the cockpit, warnings are going to start going off. You've got the stick shaker, which is an alarming vibration to the pilot, and you've got other warnings going off. Forty seconds is nothing. It's no time.

KEILAR: I'm struck by the fact that, as you described the fix in part of your answer there, it seemed to take almost 40 seconds just to run through it rather quickly.

SCHIAVO: That's right.

KEILAR: So how is it that you could have just a single bad sensor and potentially it creates a cascade of events that may have put one or both of these planes in an unrecoverable nose dive?

SCHIAVO: Well, you can't and have a certified aircraft. That's why I believe there are so many investigations going on. Aircraft and airline safety is built on redundancy. It's redundancy that has given us this margin of safety that has continued to grow over decades of flight. So to have a single point of failure, one thing that can cause this plane to go into what we now know of only 40 seconds an unrecoverable dive, that is a risk not allowed under airworthiness standards. There's going to be a lot of debate. How much dive did the Boeing engineers program into this? Was it .6? Was it 2.5 percent? And how much time did they have? The problem was this was also cumulative. Every time the plane put the nose down and the pilots pulled it up, it did not go back to level, so the pilots were fighting a battle. A single point of failure is not allowed under airworthiness standards. And I think that the instructions for the pilots clearly are not sufficient, and you have an airworthiness problem.

KEILAR: Indeed. Mary Schiavo, thank you very much.

SCHIAVO: Thank you.

KEILAR: Any moment, Chicago officials are going to speak on the case involving actor, Jussie Smollett. Live pictures there as we await this after prosecutors dropped all charges against Smollett.

And we're learning now the superintendent, who was so vociferous in his criticism of Smollett when the charges were announced, is upset over this decision.


KEILAR: We're going to Chicago where officials there are going to speak on the dismissal of charges in the Jussie Smollett case. Let's listen in.


(CROSSTALK) So, listen, I'm sure we all know what occurred this morning. My personal opinion is that you all know where I stand on this. Do I think justice was served? No. What do I think justice is? I think this city is still owed an apology.

And let me digress for a moment. When I came on this job -- I've been a cop now for about 31 years. When I came on this job, I came on with my honor, my integrity and my reputation. If someone accused me of anything that would circumvent that, I would want my day in court, period, to clear my name. I've heard that they wanted their day in court with TV cameras so America could know the truth and know they tried to hide behind secrecy to broker a deal to circumvent the judiciary system. My job as a police officer is to investigate the incident, gather evidence, gather the facts and present them to the states attorney. That's what we did. I stand behind the detectives' investigation.

I'll let Mayor Emanuel comment further.

[13:40:05] RAHM EMANUEL, (D), CHICAGO MAYOR: Don't only do I support the hard work of our police officers and the detective units, but I would like to remind everybody a grand jury indicted this individual based on only by a piece of the evidence that the police had collected in that period of time. So a grand jury actually brought the charges.

I think two things I'd like to -- three things I'd like to say. One, on financial costs, this $10,000 doesn't even come close to what the city spent in resources to actually look over the cameras, gather all the data, gather all the information that brought the indictment by the grand jury on many, many multiple different charges. Second is what I call the ethical costs. And the ethical costs, as a person who was in the House of Representatives when we tried to pass the Shepard legislation of hate crimes being put on the books that President Obama then sighted into law, to then use those very laws and the principles and values behind the Matthew Shepard hate crimes legislation to self- promote your career is a cost that comes to all the individuals. Gay men and women who will come forward and one day say they were the victim of a hate crime and having them doubt it, people of faith, Muslim or any other religious faith, who are a victim of a hate crime, people of all walks of life and background, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, now this casts a shadow over whether they're telling the truth. And he did this all in the name of self-promotion. He used the laws of the hate crime legislation that all of us, selectively over the years have put on the books to stand up to be the values that embody what we believe in. This is a whitewash of justice. A grand jury could not have been clearer.

To then say not only is the cost of $10,000 doesn't come close financially but all the other repercussions of this decision it made, to me, where is the accountability in the system? You cannot have, because of a person's position, one set of rules apply to them and another set of rules apply to everybody else. In another way, you're seeing this play out in universities where people pay extra to get their kids a special position in universities. Now you have a person, because of their position and background, who is getting treated in a way that nobody else would ever -- sorry about that -- don't get near my sermon here -- that would ever get close to this type of treatment.

Our officers did hard work, day in and day out, countless hours, working to unwind what actually happened that night. The city saw its reputation dragged through the mud. Nut I remind everybody, it was not just the officer's work. That work, a piece of that work, was shown to a grand jury and they made a decision based on only a sliver of the evidence. And as I remember correctly, someone wanted to have that evidence until the day, as the superintendent said, their day in court so all evidence could be made public. Because of the judge's decision, none of that evidence will ever be made public. None of it.

This is, without a doubt, a whitewash of justice and sends a clear message that if you're in a position of influence and power, you'll get treated one way. Other people will be treated another way. There's no accountability, then, in the system. It is wrong, full stop.


EMANUEL: What I do want to say is, the way I look at it, I commend the officers and the grand jury for their decision.


JOHNSON: Well, you know, at the end of the day, like I said, our job as police officers is to present them with the evidence. The apology comes from the person that did this. If you want to say you're innocent of a situation, then you take your day in court. I would never, if someone falsely accused me, I would never hide behind a brokered deal and secrecy, period.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) Is it unusual for the state's attorney to drop a case like this without giving you guys a heads-up?

JOHNSON: I don't know what's usual for the states attorney, but we found out when you all did.

EMANUEL: (INAUDIBLE) I want to say one thing. This is not on the level.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: From the states attorney's office.

[13:45:01] EMANUEL: I do, I understand exactly. But I do want to -- it's not on the level. But I also want to say I want to emphasize and underscore what the superintendent just said. At the end of the day, it's Mr. Smollett that committed this false claim upon two individuals, and who also testified, but also on the city. One action, yes, we're looking at the states attorney. It's not on the level from beginning to end. And there needs to be a level of accountability throughout the system. And this sends an ambiguous message that there's no accountability and that is wrong.

(CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Don't you think this was incredible disrespect to the court -- (INAUDIBLE)? Do you not think you should have gotten a phone call saying, this is what's happening?

JOHNSON: Prosecutors have their discretion, of course. We still have to work with the states attorneys' office. I'm sure we'll have some conversation after this. But again, at the end of the day, it's Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax, period. If he wanted to clear his name, the way to do that was in a court of law so everyone could see the evidence. You all know what the bottom profits (ph) said. We all know what it said. I stand by the facts of what we produced. If they want to dispute those facts, then the place to do that is in court, not secrecy.



EMANUEL: I'm sorry, I want to say one other thing. Mr. Smollett is still saying that he is innocent, still running down the Chicago Police Department. How dare him! How dare him! After everybody saw. And I want to remind you, this is not the superintendent's word against his. The grand jury, a sliver of the evidence, and they came to a conclusion. As did the state's attorneys' office. This is not the superintendent and the detectives' department's word against his. And even after this whitewash, there's still no sense of ownership of what he's done. He said, in fact, he is wronged in this case. This is an unbelievable not just whitewash of justice, this is a person now who has been let off scot free with no sense of accountability of the moral and ethical wrong of his actions. From top to bottom, not only besmirching the name of the city, but then I can't stress that at a time when you have people bringing a moral equivalency in Virginia between bigots and those fighting bigotry, and you have people using hate crime laws on the books to protect people who are minorities from violence to then turn around and use those laws to advance your career and your financial reward? Is there no decency in this man?



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- do you think the states attorney was at all politically motivated?


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What's the decision about politically motivated?


EMANUEL: Two things. One, to the states attorney, the question of whether it was politically motivated or not is something we have to ask them because only then can answer their motivation. But I do know what the grand jury says. I keep pointing you back to what the grand jury when they saw just a piece of the date. And I think there's not a person up here wo would love to have all the information made public, let alone, the two individuals who also testified.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you want it made available?

EMANUEL: Wait a second, I did not -- it's not whether I do or not. It's a question only she can answer. I can only get that.

To your question, I wouldn't mind repeating it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: There's an attorney saying he has been vilified (INAUDIBLE)?

EMANUEL: He's the person that brought this forward. I will remind you all that it also goes back to a letter. He brought this case forward. He said he was a victim of a hate crime, both for his orientation and for being black. The evidence came forward. A grand jury saw the evidence, realized it was a hoax, a hoax on the city, a hoax on hate crimes, a hoax on people of good values who actually were empathetic a person would use that evidence for one only reason.




EMANUEL: Listen, I'm going to close on this. We just had one of the largest ceremonies for the police department in the history of the city, 297 men and women, the most diverse class representing all parts of this city. People of all walks of life and backgrounds and faiths who say they want to serve the city and serve the values of the city and help serve others in time of need. They are there to uphold the law. And they have the best training to do that. I draw you in that contract. People of all walks of life, as I said, graduates of our public schools, kids that grew up with police officer parents, veterans of the armed forces, who have a life of service. They were there to not only uphold the laws but the value that inform those laws. And now you have an individual who took those laws, turned them inside out, upside down, for only one thing -- himself. And that, in my view, is an insult and an offense to every one of us who collectively uphold those laws because they reflect who we are as a city, and because of the hate crime legislation that's federal, who we are as a country.

Thank you.


[13:50:59] KEILAR: All right. As charges have been completely dropped against Jussie Smollett, who stood accused of staging a hate crime against himself and filing a false police report, a rebuke there from the mayor of Chicago and the superintendent of Chicago police who were very upset with this prosecutor's decision. We also learned some information about a deal that appears to have been brokered with Jussie Smollett. But he is now free and clear of any charges to do with this incident that captured so much national attention and so many man hours of the Chicago Police Department.

Let's try to get to the bottom of this with our CNN legal analyst, Laura Coates, and Cheryl Dorsey, who is a retired LAPD police sergeant.

They are very upset.


KEILAR: On one side, you have the prosecutor who decided to drop these charges. And what we just learned from -- mostly from Mayor Emanuel was that this was some sort of deal that was reached. He referenced a $10,000 fine, which he said did not even come close to touching the cost of this investigation, let alone, as he put it, the ethical cost of, in his words, "using a hate crime" really in a way for self-promotion. He also talked about this information being sealed. That means we may never learn what happened here, Laura?

COATES: They're outraged, I actually feel, because I think to myself, all the information you learned in the press conference and empaneling a grand jury, and a grand jury independently found that these 16 counts were warranted. The dirty little secret, Brianna, is that people often believe that prosecutors and police are always on the same page. They actually have very different functions and roles. And it's the prosecutor who exercises discretion in whether to charge or decline bringing charges. You're seeing a little bit of the tension playing out here, them not being included as part of it, and them not being happy about the decision, and what it says about them and their own investigation.

Having said that, it's still very surprising the notion that somebody would forfeit that $10,000 bond, what Emanuel was causing a fine. He's saying, I'm just letting it go --

KEILAR: It's a bond.

COATES: -- it's a bond, I'll let it go, don't worry about it. The issue about it being sealed raised a lot of concerns as well. Somebody who is professing their innocence, they are asking all documents to be sealed and the prosecutor agreed to an expungement and there's not even of record of --


KEILAR: I wonder, why would the prosecutor do that?

COATES: My only thought is maybe there was a credibility issue going to trial. The superintendent says no one who is innocent wants to not have a day in court. That's actually not true at all. Many people broker plea agreements, even professing their innocence because the accumulation of evidence may be a cost benefit analysis in their favor to say, I'm going to go ahead and plead guilty to at least one charge, even I'm not to the other ones. He was wrong about that. Maybe it's a matter of the two brothers who, as late as February and March, did not have a plea agreement, did not have an immunity deal --


COATES: -- were not cooperators. They may have recanted, meaning they changed their tune. How do you prove it then? I don't know.

KEILAR: These are two brothers, who allegedly help him stage this fake hate crime.


KEILAR: There's video of them purchasing the goods or the equipment to do this and there were texts between -- they had been extras on "Empire," the show that Jussie --


KEILAR: -- Jussie Smollett's show. And they had testified before the grand jury.

COATES: For two and a half hours.

KEILAR: It's a long time.

COATES: It's a long time.

KEILAR: Cheryl, to you, have you ever -- you were an LAPD police sergeant. Have you ever seen anything like this, something so high profile that clearly the police felt was so cut and dry, and then it just falls apart like this with the prosecutor dismissing all charges?

CHERYL DORSEY, RETIRED SERGEANT, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, I've not seen anything quite like this. This is extraordinary, for sure. But, listen, the prosecutors, they have the final say. And prosecutors want to win. And there's a lot of stuff that's going on behind the scenes that we don't know. But, you know, at the end of the day, now Jussie will have this cloud hanging over him because people in a certain segment of society's always going to wonder, why would you want it sealed.

[13:54:58] And I agree with the superintendent over there that, you know, you would want folks to know this. Bring it out in the open and clear the air if, in fact, nothing was done. Who forfeits $10,000 if you're innocent? Nobody.

Listen, we'll know that this thing that the police are saying is true when Jussie's great, great legal team doesn't sue Chicago P.D. for defamation or slander.

KEILAR: That is a very good point and actually something that I was talking to with Laura about as we watched this all go down, that it was a fine line that the mayor would have to walk.

So, Laura, you heard Mayor Emanuel there and he was calling our Smollett directly. He asked, how dare he stand up and maintain his innocence. Let's listen to those earlier remarks by Smollett.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JUSSIE SMOLLETT, ACTOR: I've been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one. I would not be my mother's son if I was capable of one drop of what I've been accused of. This has been an incredibly difficult time. Honestly, one of the worse of my entire life. But I am a man of faith and I'm a man that has knowledge of my history and I would not bring my family, our lives or the movement through a fire like this. I just wouldn't.

Now I'd like nothing more than to just get back to work and move on with my life. But make no mistakes, I will always continue to fight for the justice equality and betterment of marginalized people everywhere.


KEILAR: To be clear, Laura, he didn't -- he never really explained everything that came out afterwards, the text messages between him and these brothers that he knew these brothers, he just maintained his innocence, right? What did we learn in the wake from Jussie Smollett after the police said, actually, no, he's on the hook for all of these things?

COATES: We didn't. We didn't learn an explanation from any of it. Frankly, to be fair, it's not his job to prove his innocence. It's the burden on the government to actually prove your guilt. That's always been the case. And it should be that way.

Ironically, though, Brianna, both can actually be true. The premise of the charge against him was that he lied or concocted a hoax. He can maintain and say, I was struck by two people who attacked me on the street who said this name calling, who made racial and homophobic slurs, who attacked me and put a rope around my neck. He can say that's actually true if he, in fact, orchestrated the attack because that --


KEILAR: That's semantics.

COATES: That's what he's holding his head on here. Both could actually be true. Now, I'll have to be fair, the prosecutor has said that these charges should be dropped --


KEILAR: But he's saying -- he's saying he didn't do the things he stands accused of.

COATES: He says, I would not be my mother's son if I even did a sliver of what he's accused of. He's right. He's saying it didn't happen. But he's never fully given a full accounting of why these two brothers had receipts, were doing a plan of the attack, why it was delayed to accommodate his flight. I remember the prosecutor laying out at that press conference all of the information from that superintendent. It hasn't been explained. Because it's sealed, it never will. I think the benefit of the doubt really shifts. KEILAR: Laura, thank you so much.

Cheryl, really appreciate it.

We'll have more on this breaking news. We're back in two minutes.