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GA Woman Accused Of Chasing, Killing Suspected Hit And Run Suspect; TSA To Send Hundreds Of Officials To Help Secure Southern Border; Immigrant Children Forced To Sleep Outside At Overcrowded Shelters; Former DHS Secretary Proposed Immigrants Take Zumba Dance Classes; Helicopter Crashes Into Hudson River. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 15, 2019 - 14:30   ET



[14:31:57] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: A Georgia woman who police say took the law into her own hands has been charged with killing another driver following a traffic altercation.

Police in Clayton County just outside of Atlanta say Hannah Payne claims she saw the victim, Kenneth Herring, commit a hit-and-run so what did she do? She chased after him. Blocked in his truck with her Jeep to keep him from driving away. What happened next ended with Payne pulling out her gun and shooting the other driver. But prosecutors say her story isn't adding up.

CNN's Nick Valencia is in Atlanta.

And, Nick, the woman is in jail without bond. What is her defense?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to her defense attorney, Brooke, she was simply a good Samaritan trying to do the right thing. But that is not how police see it, which is why, today, Hannah Payne is sitting in an Atlanta area jail facing a murder charge.


UNIDENTIFIED WIFE OF KENNETH HANNAH: I think she needs to go to jail. You committed murder. You need to go to jail.

VALENCIA: Angry words from the wife of a man killed after a hit-and- run accident. A 21-year-old Atlanta area woman who witnessed the incident is accused of taking matters into her own hands and is charged with his murder.

Police in Clayton County, Georgia, said, on May 7th, Hannah Payne followed Kenneth Herring for one mile after she said he tried to leave the scene of an accident.

Police says Payne wanted to try to get Herring to return to the accident scene. Payne approached Herring's vehicle, authorities say, and cut him off, forcing him to stop. And then a struggle ensued and a weapon was discharged and Herring was left with a fatal wound to his abdomen. MAJOR ANTHONY THUMAN, CLAYTON COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: Based on

the facts and circumstances in the investigation, they warranted the murder charge.

VALENCIA: Major Anthony Thuman, of the Criminal Investigations Division, said Payne called 911 before the shooting. And authorities haven't given more details about that 911 call and aren't releasing the audio because of the ongoing investigation.

But they say Payne is licensed to carry a weapon and approached Herring's car carrying her gun.

THUMAN: We recommend that people stay in the car. And that they let the officers responding handle the situation.

VALENCIA: Payne's lawyer said she was trying to do the right thing.

MATT TUCKER, ATTORNEY FOR HANNAH PAYNE: It seems like it is an unfortunate situation of a person trying to stop a hit-and-run.

VALENCIA: Herring's wife said she could have taken a picture of the license plate instead of pursuing him. She said Herring he didn't deserve to be killed in the street.


VALENCIA: According to local affiliate, WSB, Payne ordered Herring out of the car before the scuffle ensued, Brooke, and that is when Payne said the gun went off.

So is she a concerned or citizen or somebody who took the law into their own hands? And a jury will decide this. Payne has a preliminary hearing set for May 18th. It's a crazy story.


And then I read about these racist robo-calls. Tell me about that.

VALENCIA: It is as disgusting as it sounds. It was reportedly paid for by a white supremacist group out of Idaho. I don't want to get into the details of what was said, but the spirit of is saying the victim in this case, who is African-American, isn't fully human because he's black. The call goes on to defend Payne.

A lot of people very clearly upset about this. If you could believe it, the local chapter president of the NAACP got the call.

The district attorney is saying that, even if it is just supporters for Payne, this isn't going to do her any favors.

And the defense attorney for Payne said she had nothing to do with the group and is not connected to the calls in any way -- Brooke?

[14:35:15] BALDWIN: Nick, thank you.

VALENCIA: You've got it.

BALDWIN: More on our breaking news, major escalation in the president's war with Congress as the White House will not comply with demands. A top Democrat on the House Judicial Committee says people held in contempt will start to be fined.

Plus, Senator Kamala Harris taking new shots at Joe Biden and his record on crime.


[14:40:10] BALDWIN: First U.S. soldiers, then the National Guard, and now the people who run the security at our nation's airports will be deployed to the U.S./Mexico border.

The Transportation Administration, or TSA, is planning to send hundreds of officials, and including federal air marshals, to the border to bolster security, according to an email obtained by CNN. A senior TSA official said the deployments involve up to 175 law enforcement officials and as many as, quote, "400 people from security ops."

The move comes as the number of illegal border crossings is spiking now at a 10-year high. Just this week, CNN obtained images of children being forced to sleep outside, some on gravel because a number of the facilities is quite simply running out of beds.

Sarah Sherman-Stokes is the associate director of the Immigrant Rights and Human Trafficking Program at Boston University School of Law.

And so welcome to you.

You spend your time volunteering your legal representation and advice to asylum-seekers at the border. And we keep hearing that personnel and staffing is a massive issue to handle the influx of migrants. So TSA, is this a step in the right direction?


First of all, what we need at the border is humanitarian support and not additional law enforcement. These are people who are fleeing for their lives in many cases. They're refugees and asylum-seekers.

Among the many tasks that TSA is going to be asked to perform is the legal screening of potential asylum-seekers. To think that TSA agents can be quickly trained on the legal technicalities of immigration law is both irresponsible and dangerous. It will put people's lives at risk.

And I also would say that taking TSA agents away from the airport, by TSA own admission, poses a potential risk to the safety of our air travel.

BALDWIN: So questions about training. I had also read about you during your volunteer work. I read that you

would sometimes have to use a Sharpie to write identifying information on the skin of migrant children in hopes that they would not be separated from their parents.

So this new DHS chief said the family separations are now extremely rare. Have you seen evidence of that? Are you confident that family separations won't happen on a large scale as we've seen in the past?

SHERMAN-STOKES: I'm not confident that they won't return on a large scale. We know that, under this administration, Nielsen and others have systematically lied about the family separation policy and denied such a policy existed. Even when memos were released that confirmed its existence.

I, myself, in our program here at the university, we represented families impacted. You can't dispute those facts. And so no, I'm not confident this administration won't continue to separate children and families.

And I think what we have to ask ourselves is what is more important to us? Is it more important that we continue to have the ability to cage children and families at the southern border and direct our resources or do we want to keep TSA agents at airports to ensure that we're safe when we are flying? I think that is an easy answer to that.

BALDWIN: Let me add to this because CNN has new reporting, during the White House talks to improve the facilities, Kirstjen Nielsen, the former Homeland Security secretary, proposed Zumba classes to make them to feel more at home. And it is like this dance-based class -- exercise class.

And so when you look at these pictures of children sleeping on the ground, is Zumba the solution?

SHERMAN-STOKES: Absolutely not. I think it's tone deaf at best and, frankly, cruel to suggest that what migrant families and children and refugees people fleeing human right abuses and domestic and gang violence and political violence and survivors of torture that what they need is Zumba. It is laughable and insulting.

These are families and children who need to have their legal rights protected and need to be able to apply for asylum, as the law allows them to do. But this administration is preventing them from doing that.

And if Nielsen or others think that Zumba classes will make family separation and zero-tolerance policy and remain-in-Mexico policies, if they think that Zumba will make these things more poll -- palatable, they're wrong.

BALDWIN: Tone deaf and cruel.

Sharon Sherman-Stokes, thank you.

SHERMAN-STOKES: Thank you. BALDWIN: I want to remind you about a special report. CNN special report airing this week. And Erin Burnett investigates how does President Trump and his family do business. That is Friday night, at 9:00, here on CNN.

The White House refuses to join the Christchurch call, and international agreement to combat online extremism after the massacre at the mosque in New Zealand. Twenty-six countries and multiple tech companies are signing up. Why is America opting out?

And we're getting word of a helicopter crash in New York City. Stand by for details. Live pictures of the Hudson River there.

[14:45:20] We'll be right back.


BALDWIN: California Senator and Democratic presidential candidate, Kamala Harris, for the first time openly criticizing her Democratic rival, Joe Biden, over his recent comments that the 1994 federal crime bill did not boost mass incarceration. And she said he is flat-out wrong.

Kyung Lah is our CNN senior national correspondent.

And so what exactly did she say, Kyung?

[14:50:12] KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's set a little context for the stage here. It was 1994 and then Senator Joe Biden helped write this 1994 crime bill, Brooke. And in that lens, through today's lens, and we look at what the federal bill did.

It is seen as disproportionally affecting communities of color, especially black and brown men who were mass incarcerated but when former bide was asked about this, he said that massive incarceration is at the state level.

So as to today, about her response to what the vice president said, here is Kamala Harris and what she said.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Well I have a great deal of respect for Vice President Joe Biden. But I disagree with him. That crime bill -- that 1994 crime bill, it did contribute to mass incarceration in our country. It encouraged, and the first we had a federal three strikes law. It funded the building of more prisons in the states. And so I disagree, sadly.


LAH: So as nicely as she can muster, Brooke, what she is saying to the former vice president is you are flat-out wrong, that there was a larger implication of that federal policy as far as incentivizing state action. BALDWIN: What about also, we've been talking this last week about

Congressional Black Caucus, who had -- or this notion floated that the Kamala Harris could be on Biden's ticket and she was asked about that too, right?

LAH: Yes. It is the dream ticket. Is that -- the question was -- and I'm paraphrasing -- it is a reporter question asking her, does it annoy you that you're constantly being talked about as the perfect running mate, right?


LAH: And this really sort of cuts to something that irritates the campaign. Because when you ask the campaign is she thinking about vice president, they say she's running for president. And that is something that is very, very clearly stated.

This really speaks to the undertones of electability. It is something that the Harris campaign has been talking about that is not just white men who can be elected. And black women and women in politics don't have to play second fiddle to a white male -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Kyung Lah, thank you very much.

We are getting word of a helicopter crash in New York City along the Hudson River. Live pictures here as some of the fire and rescue boats heading out on to the water on this sunny Wednesday afternoon. We will be right back with the details.


[14:57:16] BALDWIN: Breaking news. In New York City, the New York Fire Department telling CNN that a helicopter has crashed into the Hudson River. At least one person has been pulled out of the water.

Jason Carroll is live for me on the scene.

Jason, what happened?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've just got down here at scene. You could see the Hudson River behind me. Right now, emergency crews here at the scene attempting to pull that helicopter out of the Hudson River.

Let me sort of piece together what happened out here. Based on the eyewitness reports that we've gathered in the past few moments, apparently, the helicopter was on its way to pick up passengers here at VIP heliport here on the Hudson River, according to the senior vice president here at the Hudson River Park. And for reasons yet to be determined, the helicopter suddenly dropped and hit right into the Hudson River.

I spoke to two tourists in from Holland, who tell me that, once the helicopter fell into the Hudson River, it flipped over, and that is the last thing they saw. Officials here at the scene tell me there was one passenger on board.

That passenger, who was also the pilot, was actually extracted. He is said to be in good condition.

I want to tell you -- bring this person, Ashton Byrd. He who shot some of the video of what happened.

Ashton, you were out here on the Hudson Parkway and all of a sudden and you look up and see a helicopter in distress. What happened.

ASHTON BYRD, SHOT VIDEO OF CRASH: So it took off normal from the helipad over here and then he just -- he just hovered over and had everything under control and went up and then we looked back and heard the wind of the motor and spinning and it looked a little iffy. And then the helicopter got sideways on him and then it started going down into the water.

CARROLL: Obviously, that must have been quite a shock for you being out here witnessing all of this going on. What were some of the thoughts you had as you were seeing this happen in front of you?

BYRD: It was one of the wildest things. Me and my best friend were walking down the street going down to the Hudson Park and -- yes, we decided to watch it and I was on Snapchat and then he got sideways. It was the craziest things I've seen.

CARROLL: I believe what we're doing is showing some of the video that you are able to shoot.

BALDWIN: We are.

CARROLL: After you saw that happening -- you are look at this video. After you saw what had happened, what happened next? I'm sure you saw a number of the emergency crews coming in, the ones that we're seeing now.

BYRD : It was a scattered crowd of confusion. Everybody is coming over to check out what happened. We were seeing -- I thought maybe it was a stunt or a controlled crash but then to see the crews jump out of the building and everybody started running and I knew it was serious.

CARROLL: Thank you very much. Ashton, I want to thank you very much.


CARROLL: Thank you very much.

Once again, Brooke, from what we're being told here from officials, there was one person on board.