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Fired Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin Taken into Custody; Biden Speaks on George Floyd's Death; Nightclub Owner Gives Details about Officer Arrested. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired May 29, 2020 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Why? Because It is going to be about whether the person acted intentionally in a premeditated faction, and whether it was a disregard for human life or whether it is unintentional or intentional killing, whatever charges they come with will be telling. It will alert us to the state of mind of Hennepin County prosecutors of how they intend to litigate this case.
Remember, most people, Brianna, have the impression when it comes to first-degree murder, they think of the quintessential example of hiring a hit man, premeditated for a lengthy period of time. But in reality, you can form the intent to kill in a much short amount of time. In fact, it doesn't require a lengthy duration at all.
And so we know here, unlike most of the officer-involved police brutality cases involving unarmed black men and brown women as well in this country, normally, it is about giving the benefit of the doubt to an officer because of their split-second decisions they are required to make. There's the idea they could not react or withdraw from a conflict in time, to have that 20/20 hindsight that we all have looking at this.
Well, the length of that video, the nine minute-plus, talking about the amount of time he had to contemplate and withdraw and knowing that community members were standing and shouting and echoing the sentiment of Mr. George Floyd on the ground no longer resisting arrest, if he had ever been resisting arrest.
Now you have a decision of what the Hennepin County prosecutor will decide to lead with.
Whatever they decide to do right now to the charges, Brianna, is not the not the end of the calculus. As the investigation continues, you could continue the investigation. You could elevate the charges or have a lesser charge or a lower charge included.
But this will be the first indication of the mindset of the prosecution with respect to these officers.
One more point. It will tell us about the liability potentially of the three other officers who also have been fired. If somebody is involved in felonious behavior, if some is involved in an underlying crime, those who act in concert with or participate of fail to act in a way that shows their duty to protect and serve, they could have form of accomplice liability.
This is going to tell us a great deal. Right now, we appear to be in step two of the call for justice. First, the firing, now the arrests. The charge is important.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I want to ask you about the intent that you said. If the intent of whether the officer intended to kill George Floyd verses whether a reasonable person should have known that was they are in the process of doing, how much does it matter?
COATES: There are different degrees of the umbrella of murder. It goes from intent to unintentional. However, you look at the unlawful killing of somebody, intent plays but one aspect of the calculations.
One role to consider, the Minnesota's code, the criminal code recognizes even unintentional killings. They recognize if somebody has a disregard for a human's life. If they're acting in a way where they should be able to foresee that the natural consequences of their action will be the end of life. All of that is taken into consideration. But intent is one aspect to look at.
But also here, following the shooting of Jamal Clark, you have written into police code of the Minneapolis Police Department about a duty to intervene. The idea that you have a duty, an obligation that, if you see a colleague engaging in a behavior that's excessive and does not meet the current threat posed, they may have to intervene. We see it all played out, intent or not.
KEILAR: Laura, thank you so much. If you could stand by for me.
I want to go to Minneapolis.
Omar Jimenez, you're on the ground there. I wonder if people around you are receiving this news yet. Have you gotten any reaction from people around there?
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have not seen visible reaction just yet. We know there's a crowd over there standing together as they have been in front of Minnesota State Patrol here.
But this is big news for a lot of protesters and even the family as well who have been looking for something to happen with these officers that the very least one being taken into custody. The one taken into custody, Derek Chauvin, the officer's knee on the neck of George Floyd.
We know, given his history, he had 18 prior complaints filed against him. The internal affairs of the police department would not go into further details of what those were.
This is someone who has been a central figure, for better or worse, in the story here. To have him be taken into custody, you wonder what sort of effect it will have on the passion of protesting that we may or may not see into the evening. The governor spoke about how what we saw over the past 48 hours won't
happen today. You combine some of the added resources that have been deployed, again, with this news of at least one of the four officers being taken into custody, again, that places into we may see things a little calmer than what we have seen, but at this point, only time will tell -- Brianna?
KEILAR: Omar, standby for me.
I want to head to Miguel Marquez on the ground in Minneapolis as well.
Miguel, give me a sense of the scene where you are. I don't know if there's any people who have congregated if you are getting any reaction at this point. We heard from the activists this is not enough. One officer isn't enough. They feel the other three were complicit in this.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is not enough. This is the time where the state of Minnesota and Minneapolis needs credibility to the people on the street. They've blown it over the last 24 hours.
That press conference yesterday was the same where the county attorney say we can't bring charges yet because we have to see whether or not there is other exculpatory information and evidence for this officer.
That was met on the streets with absolute shock and dismay. Last night, was, in part, probably the response to that.
Then you had the arrest of our own Omar Jimenez this morning.
To be honest, a lot of the activists I spoke to, they were frustrated to see an African American arrested on live television after identifying himself as a person with the press.
Then to turn around and the state police here are saying that they have to sort out who they were and they did identify them.
The state and the city needs to build trust with the people. Over the last 24 hours, they have done anything but.
While this one arrest will be welcomed. It is certainly not going to quench the anger people are feeling in this town right now and that sense that justice is being denied -- Brianna?
KEILAR: Miguel, thank you so much.
Let's bring in Josh Campbell. He's also there in Minneapolis.
Josh, we are hearing these developments that Derek Chauvin, the officer who had his knee on George Floyd's neck as Floyd said he could not breathe and died a short time later, he's been taken into custody. We're still waiting for details.
Give us a sense of what you want to know, what your reaction to this, with your FBI background. JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: This is a major
development. We heard from state officials earlier saying justice would be swift and fair. We've been here covering this story. So many members of the community said they just want to see justice done quickly. Justice delayed, justice denied. A major development with this officer taken into custody.
We heard state officials describe these 48 hours of anarchy, as they described it. We have been showing pictures here of protests and buildings being burned. People are unhappy and outraged.
We can't forget what the catalyst of that was. It was the cell phone video of a black man dying in police custody, setting off outrage around the community.
A lot of the protesters here that were peaceful were telling us they don't want to be associated with the violent protesters, the looters, but they do want justice.
Now a major development here. I will say this is just one step. It is yet to be determined whether or not this person is prosecuted or convicted or pleas out to something.
But a major development with him now taken into custody by police. It tells us that investigation is moving forward. And again, as the governor said, swift but fair. I am getting a sense of some of the smoke in the air. Swift but fair.
We'll wait to see whether or not the prosecution or a jury of the officer's peers will move it to the next level -- Brianna?
KEILAR: Josh, stay with us, standby.
I want to bring in Michael Eric Dyson back in.
Michael, we listened to the activists and they heard this news. Clearly this is something they welcome. They do not think this is enough. There's so much ahead of us. We don't know what the charges are and we don't know what's happening with the other officers.
Tell us your reaction of this news of Derek Chauvin who is now taken into custody.
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: It is tragic of all of this to make a gesture legally, much more morally that other people can take for granted.
When we mention officers and the Muslim man who mistakenly shot a white woman in the dark was immediately arrested and then dispatch within the legal system. Black people have to fight as hard as they can to get what other people can take for granted.
We are meant to view this as a ceiling, and it is nothing but a floor. We should congratulate for it? No. This is the first step of a majestic sweep of justice that will clear the cobweb of inequality that existed in the culture there in Minneapolis. This is at least the first step.
We have to fight so hard to get him arrested. Why does a city have to go up in flames? The grief of black people. Vicious consequences and racial injustice in that city. Why does it take the flames of a city to light the path for a district attorney or whoever it is who makes the decision to do what they did today?
On top of it, when we have the president of the United States of America disregarding the country, with outlandish inappropriateness, suggesting, "When the looting starts the shooting starts." The shooting of the kneeling to death of a black man is what started what happened with this rebellion.
And so cause and effect are confused. And the president of the United States of America is a major perpetrator of that.
Luckily, on the scene, African American people and their allies. Let's not forget, Minnesota and Minneapolis is a huge melange of races and classes. It is a melting pot, ethnically speaking.
Those people who were out there last night are a rainbow coalition of agony and anger and resentment against the viciousness of antiblack directness of those people.
Thank god people are coming together. Maybe we can do it non-violently so we can adjudicate these claims of injustice against Mr. Floyd and we can prevent them from occurring in the future.
KEILAR: Michael, thank you so much. Your words are so important during this moment as they cut through for people to understand what's going on.
If you can standby for me because I want to see what you have to say about what we're going to look at next.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is speaking on the death of George Floyd.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know just had an opportunity to speak with the Floyd's family. Honorable family, loving one another.
Once again, we have words, heard words, "I can't breathe." An act of brutality so elemental that did more than deny one more black man of America of his civil rights, denied him of his humanity. It denied it of his life. Depriving George Floyd, as it deprived Eric Garner, one the things that every human being must be able to do, breathe. So simple, so basic, so brutal.
The same thing happens with Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. We spoke their names and with suffering hearts of the endless list. It is a list that dates back for 400 years, black men, black women and black children. The original sin of this country still stains our nation today.
Sometimes we manage to overlook it. We just push forward with a thousand other tasks of our daily lives and it is always there. We see it plainly and we are a country of an open wound.
None of this can be turned away. None of this can we hear the words "I can't breathe" and do nothing. We can't fail victims like what Martin Luther King called the silence of good, appalling silence of good people.
We wonder who would be next. Imagine every time your husband or son or wife our daughter left the house, you fear for their safety from bad actors and bad police.
Imagine if you had to have that talk with your child about not asserting your rights, taking the abuse handed out to them. So, just so they can make it home.
Imagine having police called on you just for sitting at Starbucks or renting an Airbnb or watching birds.
This is a norm black people in this country deal with. You don't have to imagine it. The anger and frustration and the exhaustion is undeniable.
That's not America. This is no time for tweets and no time to encourage violence. It is a national crisis. We need leadership now. Leadership that'll bring everyone to the table so we can take measure.
It is time for us to take a look at the uncomfortable truth. It is time for us to face that deep, open wound we have this this nation.
We need justice for George Floyd. We need real police reform and hold bad cops to a higher standard that so many actually meet, that holds bad cops accountable and repairs the relationships between law enforcement and the community that they're sworn to protect.
We need to stand up as a nation with the black community. We need to come together as one America. That's the job we face. It is going to require those of us who sit in some position of influence to deal with the abuse of power. The pain is too immense.
I believe it's the duty of every American to grapple with. Grapple with it now. With our silence, we are complicit. Nothing about this is easy and comfortable. If we allow this wound to scab over once more, without treating the underlying injury, it will never truly heal.
The very soul of America is at stake. We must commit as a nation to pursue justice. In every ounce of our being, we have to pursue it with real urgencies. We got to make it real. We promise America. We never fully grasped that all men and women are equal, not only in creation but throughout their lives.
Again, to George's family, thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I promise you that we'll do everything in our power to seek through it that justice is had and yours. I love you all.
Folks, we got to stand up and we got to move and change.
KEILAR: All right, Joe Biden with a message about George Floyd and about the broader situation.
I want to bring in Michael Eric Dyson to talk about this.
He's discussing this as a wound in the soul of America. He quoted Martin Luther King Jr talking about the appalling silence of good people. It is the duty of every American to grapple with the issues that are being raised by this moment.
Michael, what did you think?
DYSON: This is leadership. Searing eloquence, Identifying the insight and deepening empathy. Look how he began. I just spoke to the Floyd's family. Has the president of the United States of America reached out to that family in emotional terms to embrace them with his empathy or sympathy for the loss of their beloved family?
This is American leadership. A promise to not only address this specific incident of justice but draw back and look at the broader sweep of America's history and to assign work and value to black people who have been dehumanized in this culture and then to redoubled our efforts to address the injustices that prevail so that they will no longer cloud our democratic possibility.
This is America. This is not a black-versus-white issue. This is a right-versus-wrong issue.
In all Americans of conscience must be galvanized by the recent events in Minneapolis but more broadly, what happened in Georgia, what happened in Kentucky, and the loss of black life becomes the kind of pornography of black death.
The repetition of a cycle of black loss, seeing black people breathe their last minutes on earth beneath the knee of a man, who we are told, according to the vice chair of the council in Minneapolis, worked with Mr. Floyd as a bouncer at an establishment. This makes it even more heinous, the disregard for a fellow citizen, a fellow worker.
We must come to a point in this nation where we are no longer afraid of black people, not skeptical of their humanity, rejecting the possibility of their essential worthiness as human beings. And until we address that issue, these are smoke clouds.
And look, let's be certain, I can't breathe. Isn't it interesting that the unprecedented pandemic is symbolized in, I can't breathe? And now the pandemic of racism that has been equally and powerfully appropriate in this country, not being able to breathe. The oxygen of freedom not available for us, not because of the
capacity but the air is polluted by the refusal to recognize our humanity.
That's what must be addressed. And Joe Biden has begun the process, as a political leader of tremendous worth, and sensitivity to address it.
KEILAR: Michael Eric Dyson, thank you so much.
I want to head to Minneapolis now where our Miguel Marquez is there on the ground. He's been covering this story there.
And, Miguel, tell me, I understand you have someone with you.
MARQUEZ: I spoke to an activist earlier today about this. And the simple fact is, Mr. Floyd, with that knee to his neck days ago, if evidence, one hundredth of a percent of that sort was found on anybody who lived in this neighborhood, found on me, was found on you, Brianna, we would be arrested and held almost immediately, based on probable cause, they say.
That is not the sort of treatment that people in this city get, several days, an investigation, we have to see both sides.
That press conference yesterday, if they meant to quell concerns and bring the level of anger down, the only thing it did was drive home just how unequal the system is here, people on the ground say.
And then to see our own Omar Jimenez arrested, activists here, people here, they saw a black man arrested on television because he was black. After showing his I.D., after indicating that he was a reporter.
And then afterwards, the state police say, oh, we were just making sure who they were, we didn't know. We had to check their I.D.s. The whole world saw it. And I think people here got that message entirely.
It will be welcome news that Mr. Chauvin is arrested but they're expecting that the bar is a hell of a lot higher today -- Brianna?
KEILAR: I think, Miguel, you're speaking to a frustration with how many folks we've spoken with who are being told to be satisfied with incremental change, right?
I spoke earlier this week with Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, and she was happy to see the officers fired so quickly because it was five years before the officer who put her son in a choke hold, killing him, that he was fired.
But at the same time, she said, while she was happy things had moved more quickly, it was so frustrating how things move so slowly. That after all these years, she's grasping at some sort of improvement, but it's such a small one. It is not the sea change that folks you've been talking to there on the ground in Minneapolis want to see.
And, Miguel, if you can stand by for just a moment. Want to bring in Josh Campbell on the ground in Minneapolis as well -- Josh?
CAMPBELL: Yes, Brianna. We've been learning more about this officer who we've just reported was taken into custody. This is the officer who was seen on that cell phone video footage with his knee on the neck of George Floyd.
Now, I want to talk here with, this is Maya Santamaria that owns a nightclub behind us as well as other businesses.
And you knew this officer. You worked with him. What was his role there?
MAYA SANTAMARIA, OWNER, EL NUEVO RODEO: He was our off-duty police officer for the better part of two decades.
CAMPBELL: What was your interaction or experience with him? Obviously, worked in security, you were saying, what was he like?
SANTAMARIA: He was off duty officer. He was kind of a calm gentleman. I never would have expected anything like this from him at all.
But I did notice that he got very anxious when there was an urban night with a lot of African American people and other officers. He was certainly not the only one.
CAMPBELL: You saw a different tone or different posture from him when you had African American patrons versus other races, is that what you're saying?
SANTAMARIA: Yes, ours is a predominantly Latino nightclub. With the Latino staff, people behaved in one manner. And then when we had a predominantly African American clientele, the way in which the entire event was treated was completely different.
CAMPBELL: Give me details, just for our viewers. What are you talking about when you say he treated them differently? What did he do? How did he act?
SANTAMARIA: It's systemic, because it started all the way from licensing and went through the Third Precinct, and then was an expression of also how the officers reacted when they were there.
I would just kind of characterize it as skittish. So they would get very nervous very quickly and went to pull out the pepper spray with any little thing that might happen.
And they certainly acted very kind of group mentality. They always had to call backup if a little tiny thing happened. It was different than what we saw with the Latin nights.
CAMPBELL: Your club employed the victim here, George Floyd. Tell me about him and his role. SANTAMARIA: George was called in to do extra security as a support on
our urban nights, which were usually Tuesdays or Sundays. And he was just a really nice guy. Everybody liked him. That's why he got called in by some of my guys.
They call, come and help us out, we need some help. And he was very well liked in the community, both the Latino and the African American community.
CAMPBELL: Going back to Officer Chauvin, did it surprise you when you saw him in this video? Did they know each other based on your experience? They both worked for you at the club.
SANTAMARIA: I don't suspect they recognized each other. Even though they may have crossed paths working with me and my team, I don't think they recognized each other.
I just like to think that had Chauvin realized that was one of my boys, he would have treated him with more humanity. But either way, he should have been treated with more humanity and given mercy when he was begging for his life.
And so it's really something that I can't explain. I can't believe that Derek Chauvin did this.
CAMPBELL: I want to go back to something you just said, because I think it's important. And this is your view of the officer. And we're welcome to hear from him and his attorney. We want to know his side.
But one thing you said is how he treated African-Americans, saying that he would -- the posture was different, they were skittish. You said they would call police as backup. What did you mean by that?
SANTAMARIA: One little thing would happen. Maybe a fight would break out and then go downstairs and five or six on-duty patrols were there. And that is not what I was used to seeing with my regular Latin nights. And I thought it was a little bit unjustified.
And just always having to resort to spraying mace everywhere and hitting women and people that had nothing to do with the altercations.
It was just unfortunate that it was a very different vibe when we were doing our urban nights on behalf of the police and licensing as well.
CAMPBELL: Thank you, Maya, so much, for giving us your perspective. Appreciate it.
Obviously, Brianna, we continue to talk to people here in the community, people who knew both the officer and the victim to get a sense of what they were like. These are important aspects we're learning about them.
And obviously, once this moves into the prosecution phase, if it gets that far, we'll learn more about what officers are doing.
But until they are transparent with their investigation, we'll continue to keep digging in regard to people that actually knew them to get a better sense of who the victim was and who this officer was -- Brianna?
KEILAR: Josh, you really gave us a sense of that with that interview with Maya Santamaria.
Thank you so much for that.
I want to bring Laura Coates in here.
Laura, let's talk about next steps here. Derek Chauvin, the officer who had his knee on the neck of George Floyd, now in custody. Where does it go from here?