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CNN NEWSROOM

Derek Chauvin Taken Into Custody; Live Coverage of Minneapolis Prosecutor Press Conference; Interview with Martin Luther King III. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 29, 2020 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST, NEWSROOM: Where does this go from here?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the next decision will be, what are the actual charges? Being arrested essentially means that you have been brought under the custody of the police, but what charges are you actually looking at? You can't just simply have somebody handcuffed, bring them into a holding cell and not actually state any charges for an extended period of time.

So now the question will be, what will be the underlying charge? It need not be a comprehensive set of charges. They could add some later, they could take some away. But normally you would have one lead charge to present to the judge as to why this person has been arrested, and why they're asking the person to be detained.

And that's the second issue that everyone's going to watch for. if he is in fact held on murder charges or some umbrella -- under umbrella term like a manslaughter or any sort of intentional killing or even unintentional killing, the question will be, will this person be held in jail pending whatever trial may be down the road?

Now, these bond hearings can be very different in the same way that police encounters between white people and people of color can often be treated differently. We've seen that with Sandra Bland, about the ability to be able to access bond. Kalief Browder is a prime example with Rikers Island, a young man who was accused of simply stealing a backpack, and was left to languish. And we know what happened in his life after that, and he has passed away.

We know how important it is, this idea of the presumption of innocence, but also how ingrained in our inequitable system at many times, is of (ph) having to pay for that access to the presumption of innocence.

So the next step will be who or what is he being charged with, whether he'll be held pending trial, whether he'll be released.

Now, if he is released, there are a great number of benefits to a defendant being released. They're able to obviously be around the community, they're able to build a defense by having lengthy conversations with their counsel, being able to elicit testimony and actually aid in their own defense.

They can't appear at a grand jury, they can't have their lawyers go to a grand jury to actually see what allegations are being levied against them in that particular instance or that context, but they're in a much more beneficial position.

So I'll look for two things: whether the Hennepin County attorney is inclined to prosecute based on an intentional killing of Mr. George Floyd, and whether he will ask him to be held until the actual trial takes place. It'll be a clear indication if they are going to pursue charges, about how they will pursue conviction and ultimately, if they are successful, any sentence that would be handed down, if these charges are actually leading to a conviction.

It's very telling (ph) at this very early stage, Brianna, by all of these factors. And of course, a judge will be well aware of the climate. But it will not be the only instructive factor. Certainly, a judge is going to look at the atmosphere in Minnesota right now, and is well aware of the tension that is brewing. And we know full well what happened last night.

But the court will be looking at the history, the criminal history of any defendant, but also about the actual severity of the crime they're charged with. If he is charged with an assault that's less than any of the homicide-related or murder charges, the judge will have a very different approach to holding this particular person. Because although he is no longer a police officer, I suspect he does not have a criminal record that would match a judge's decision that would normally be handed down to actually hold somebody.

However, final point, it's very important to consider the actions of the police department to fire these four individuals, is alerting to and signaling to the judge, this is no longer one of our own, this person has gone rogue, it's not in line with our policies and whatever normal blue wall of silence or fraternization that normally would occur, the judge is on notice, it's not appropriate here.

KEILAR: All right, Laura, thank you so much.

We are just past the top of the hour now, and I want to reset for our viewers who are just joining us, here in the U.S. and around the world as well.

The officer who was taped kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin, has been taken into custody. Floyd, of course, died after these images were taken.

We do not know yet what Chauvin has been charged with, we're waiting to find that out. What we do know is that demonstrators have already said, this is not enough. And we have been looking at some live pictures of a rally, where protestors are continuing to demand charges against all four of the officers.

Activists there saying, obviously, while they welcome this -- that was not their words, certainly this is something they welcome -- it is not enough, they want to see so much more and they want to see what the charges are.

[14:05:09] We're also getting a first look at yet another recording of Floyd's arrest. I do want to warn you here, this is very disturbing. It's so important to watch, it is hard to watch, as so many images from this case have been. This is an angle that appears to show three Minneapolis Police Department officers kneeling on Floyd during the course of this arrest, not just one.

Floyd can be heard saying, "I can't breathe, man, please let me stand."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE FLOYD, MAN PINNED BY OFFICERS: Mama, I love you. Please, I love you. You're my keen (ph) and level (ph).

Oh, oh, I can't breathe (ph) (INAUDIBLE). It's all good, man.

Mama, I love you. Can't do nothing. My face (ph) is gone (ph).

I can't breathe, man, please -- please let me stand. Please, man, I can't breathe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: CNN has reached out to the Minneapolis Police Department for comment, and to verify its authenticity. We have not yet received a response. We have also not yet heard back from Floyd's family attorney, and have not been able to locate the person who took this video here.

The fallout from that brutal arrest has been explosive across the Twin Cities. A police precinct, engulfed in flames; demonstrators, storming buildings and businesses and igniting several fires. More than 500 National Guard troops are headed to Minneapolis and neighboring St. Paul, where police say more than 170 businesses have been damaged or looted.

I want to bring in Miguel Marquez, he's there on the ground in Minneapolis. He's been our eyes and ears.

Do you think that this arrest is going to change the tone of the protests tonight, Miguel?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think there was a lot of energy spent last night. And tonight may not be as bad, but I can tell you that officials here are preparing for it. We are at the 1st Precinct, which is downtown Minneapolis, right in the heart of downtown.

There was a very, very large police presence there last night, there were a few protestors, but there was great concern that protestors were going to move on that precinct or other precincts around the city.

The police --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: Miguel, I'm sorry to cut you off. The prosecutors in this case are beginning to speak as this officer has been taken into custody.

MIKE FREEMAN, HENNEPIN COUNTY ATTORNEY: Good afternoon. I'm Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman. I'm here to announce that former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin is in custody. Former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin has been charged by the Hennepin County Attorney's Office with murder and with manslaughter.

Questions?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, what charge of murder?

FREEMAN: He has been charged with third degree murder. We are in the process of continuing to review the evidence; there may be subsequent charges later.

I failed to share with you, a detailed complaint will be made available to you this afternoon. I didn't want to wait any longer to share the news that he's in custody and has been charged with murder.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the other three officers involved?

FREEMAN: The other -- the investigation is ongoing. We felt it appropriate to focus on the most dangerous perpetrator.

I must say that this case has moved with extraordinary speed. This conduct, this criminal action took place on Monday evening, May 25th, Memorial Day. I am speaking to you at 1:00 on Friday, May 29th. That's less than four days.

That's extraordinary. We have never charged a case in that kind of time frame, and we can only charge a case when we have sufficient admissible evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

As of right now, we have that.

(CROSSTALK)

FREEMAN: Give her a -- give her a follow-up. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many people, including the mayor, have said that any other citizen with the video evidence available would have been arrested and held while waiting charges earlier. Why didn't that happen in this case?

FREEMAN: We have charged this case as quickly as sufficient admissible evidence to charge it has been investigated and presented to us.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike, you were saying yesterday that (INAUDIBLE) on this was going to take time. What's changed since yesterday and this morning -- or this afternoon, now we're seeing murder charges against Chauvin?

FREEMAN: Fair question. We have now been able to put together the evidence that we need. Even as late as yesterday afternoon, we didn't have all that we needed. We have now found it, and we felt a responsibility to (ph) charge (ph) this (ph) as soon as possible.

[14:10:06]

(CROSSTALK)

FREEMAN: Paul?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, hi, what was the final piece? Was --

FREEMAN: Now, I --

(CROSSTALK)

FREEMAN: Folks, I'm not going to talk specifically about this piece of evidence or that piece of evidence. You will see -- and you all are veterans -- I can only talk about what's in the complaint. You will see in the complaint, the evidence and put it all together. We needed to have it all.

Now, let me just quickly say, we have evidence, we have the citizens' cameras, video, that horrible, horrific, terrible thing that we've all seen over and over again. We have the officer's body-worn camera, we have statements from some witnesses, we have a preliminary report from the medical examiner, we have discussions with an expert.

All of that has come together. So we felt, in our professional judgment, it was time to charge. And we have so done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Based on the other officers' role in the video, what criminal statutes could apply to those officers if it's not murder?

FREEMAN: OK, I'm not going to speculate today, the other officers. They are under investigation. I anticipate charges, but I am not going to get into that. Today, we're talking about former officer Chauvin, which we believe has met the standards we charged, and that's what we have done.

(CROSSTALK)

FREEMAN: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How closely did you look at the second degree statutes, either intentional or unintentional, that on the surface seem to fit this -- the videotape evidence we've all seen?

FREEMAN: We have looked very closely at all statutes. This is what we've charged now. Investigation is ongoing, we have more discussions to do with our experts. This is the same charges that we made when we charged former Minneapolis Police officer Mohamed Noor, the exact same third-degree charge, and manslaughter charge. (CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've seen you charge cases faster. I've seen you charge cases faster than four days. Are you saying that you charged -- this is the fastest you've ever charged a police officer?

FREEMAN: This is by far the fastest we've ever charged a police officer, OK? Normally, these cases can take nine months to a year. We have to charge these cases very carefully, because we have a difficult burden of proof.

And let me just say something about that. We entrust our police officers to use certain amounts of force to do their job, to protect us. They commit a criminal act if they use this force unreasonably. We have to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Hennepin County Attorney's Office is one of the few prosecutor offices in this country in the last five years to successfully prosecute a police officer for murder. And we did that on behalf of Justine Damond, OK? That's unusual. We know how to do this. We have a very veteran prosecutor group, aided by a very veteran investigative group at the BCA.

On top of that, we've had great cooperation from the FBI and from United States Attorney Erica MacDonald. And she may have some things to share with you soon, but she does that on her own timetable.

I want to say to you that I'm very pleased about that level of cooperation, which, frankly, I will say to you, doesn't necessarily happen in other jurisdictions, according to my friends in the National Prosecutors.

One last one. Last --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- (inaudible) murder (ph) investigation, though. That took months, close to a year. This takes days. Did public outrage play a role in the speed of this investigation?

FREEMAN: I am not insensitive to what's happened in the streets. My own home has been picketed regularly. My job is to do it only when we have sufficient evidence. We have it today.

Mohamed Noor was a very difficult case. We didn't have the kind of videotape we need. And we didn't -- and there was all sorts of other evidence, took us a long time.

We do our level best to charge each case when we have the evidence to do it. But we cannot -- and I will not -- allow us to charge a case until it's ready.

(CROSSTALK)

FREEMAN: This case is now ready, and we have charged it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike, do you want to make clear that we -- the complaint has not been signed, it's in process --

FREEMAN: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- and when it's done, when it's ready, we'll --

(CROSSTALK)

FREEMAN: Good, thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

FREEMAN: Let me -- let me say, on -- so you have it -- the complaint has been completed and it is being processed now, and the signed copy will be made available to you today.

(CROSSTALK)

FREEMAN: OK, that's

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you given a statement to investigators or the other three?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's all for now. Thank you, everybody.

KEILAR: All right, Laura Coates. I want to bring you in on this because what we've learned about the charges, he's been charged, Derek Chauvin, the man who had his knee on the neck of George Floyd, preceding his death. He's been charged with murder in the third degree and manslaughter.

[14:15:10]

And just looking here at the statute, in Minnesota, it is, "Whoever without intent to effect the death of any person causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind without regard for human life, is guilty of murder in the third degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 25 years."

We were speaking earlier, as we didn't know what the charge was. What is this going to say about intent? And so what this is saying here is that without intent to kill, right? But with no regard for human life. What do you make of murder in the third degree here?

COATES: Well, the actual reading of that statute is so important for people to understand, the state of mind and the intent of the Hennepin County prosecutor.

What we're seeing here is that although we have all seen the intentional act of kneeling on Mr. George Floyd's neck, although we have seen the intentional act of ignoring the bystanders' pleas for him to be able to breathe, and the ignoring of Mr. Floyd in trying to actually have an opportunity to breathe again, while all of those were intentional acts, as was the length of time.

What we're seeing is, the prosecutor did not believe that those actions was an intent to kill. But instead, is finding -- and has decided at this point in time -- and at this point in time, it's important -- at this point in time, that irrespective of the intent to actually cause the death of George Floyd, that he acted in such a way that totally ignored any bounds of decency, and any anticipation that the person would die, he ignored. And that was foreseeable, a foreseeable result of the conduct that was actually there.

You see this supported, of course, by the fact that this was not something that was sanctioned by the police department, the firing of this officer in particular, the idea of the policy and procedure manual only talking about the use of force or restraining in any event, only when there is a lethal risk posed to the officer or the person is currently and actively resisting arrest. That was not the case here.

And so you're seeing the Prosecutor's Office, I think, looking at the fact that this was a police officer -- on the one hand -- and many of the people who look at these cases, see that there is a benefit of the doubt that is extended to police officers, what a reasonable police officer would have done.

But also whether this officer intended to get up this morning or have that interaction with Mr. George Floyd and cause his death. The prosecutor seems to believe that that was not the case, that it was unintentional. But the law still recognizes it as a crime.

But you'll notice, he mentioned the case involving Mohamed Noor, who was a police officer who shot into an alleyway, killing Justine Damond, a white Australian woman who had called 911 to address an alleged assault of someone in her alleyway.

They ended up adding an additional -- adding a charge from second degree, I believe, to third-degree murder -- from third-degree to second-degree murder, which was a higher actual case, a higher charge to give.

And so he did say that there was room perhaps through an investigation to elevate it, but then he also added a manslaughter charge. And the manslaughter charge tracks largely the same language of the murder charge, in that it does not believe that there was an intent to actually kill, but still there was this so-called depraved heart, the idea of acting with complete disregard for human beings' lives.

And you look at that picture we keep showing here on CNN, when he has his knee on this human being's neck. What we also see is this officer's hands in his pocket, at one point in time, indicating to people further that this was not somebody who was standing at the ready to repel any force used against him, or withdraw immediately.

When you have your hands in your pocket, Brianna, you're not ready to spring into action or be able to fend off someone, you are almost on your heels, you're resting on your laurels. And you see that even if there was not the immediate intent to kill, there was certainly a depraved indifference to human life that is not supported by any real reasonable fear that you had to repel a lethal force coming at you. So this is telling us a great deal. One more point, he also raised and talked about this issue, Brianna.

When asked, well, what about the other officers? And has now shown his hand a bit to say, I anticipate --

KEILAR: That's right.

COATES: -- those charges, but I'm not going to get ahead of myself here.

KEILAR: He's -- I anticipate charges. So we're waiting to see what that is, Laura Coates. We're also waiting for this detailed complaint that we're going to see this afternoon. It sure would have been nice to have that before you have a press conference, right? Because there's still going to be a lot of questions about that complaint.

[14:20:03]

Laura Coates, if you can stand by for me, I want to bring in now the eldest son of the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., Martin Luther King III, joining me.

Sir, thank you so much for coming on at this very important moment. And we've also just learned that Derek Chauvin is going to be charged --

MARTIN LUTHER KING III, GLBOAL HUMAN RIGHTS LEADER: thank you.

KEILAR: -- with murder in the third degree. So this is killing without premeditation, without intent, but with disregard for human life, pretty much, is how the law reads. What is your reaction to this, on this day after so much hurt that we saw overnight in Minneapolis?

KING: Well, it certainly is a very good first step. The officer has been charged and arrested. But I really believe that all four officers also -- the remaining three need to be charged as well. And so while this is a good step, this is nowhere near resolution. Obviously, there's got to be a conviction and it takes -- it's a process. But it is certainly a good first step.

KEILAR: I also want to ask you, there was something that reporters were trying to get at there, with the Hennepin County attorney, which was, what changed between yesterday and today. They wanted to know what evidence did you find between yesterday and today that would change how you would approach charging Derek Chauvin.

And it -- the reason they're asking that is because what we saw overnight int he streets in Minneapolis, they're asking if the Attorney's Office, if leaders there are hearing what is going on, if they're seeing this demonstration of -- you know, there are some people who are demonstrating nonviolently, they're not being destructive.

But then of course what's grabbing so much attention is the burning of these buildings, the burning of the police precinct. They're asking if a difference was made in how the response from folks last night played out in Minneapolis. What did you think about that?

KING: Well, first of all, I would never be in a position to condone violence. However, I do understand the great frustration and inhumanity that this community experienced by behavior of officers who took steps that became fatal in the life of a human being.

So I -- and I also understand prosecutors getting all the information before they actually file charges, but I think the whole world was looking at Minneapolis, saying, look, we saw a man murdered. Why is it taking so long to arrest someone?

And so, obviously factual information has been gathered and charges have been pressed. So again, I'd say this is a good first step, but they must go further. They must go much further, in fact, before, you know, total resolution of some level can be acquired.

Although this man's life cannot be brought back. And this is on the heels of many other incidents we all know about that are occurring in this nation, Brianna, (INAUDIBLE) tragically in Kentucky, and of course in our own state of Georgia, Brother Arbery.

So you know, we've got to find a way to operate differently because you're dealing with a powder keg. But this is a good first step, this is a positive first step.

KEILAR: Can I also, sir, get your reaction to the president's tweet, where he was suggesting that looters should be shot, that he referred to protestors as thugs?

TEXT: The White House: "These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won't let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!"

KING: I think that a president, in my judgment, is charged with bringing people together, bringing the nation together and not creating division. And it is appalling, but it is traditional Donald Trump. This is who he is.

At some point, it's not who is Donald Trump, it is who is we as American people that have elected a person who continues to personify language that is destructive. And yes, we do understand that police departments are supposed to provide some degree of law and order. But to call for killing of persons is certainly destructive.

Violence creates violence. My father used to say, Darkness can't put out darkness, only light can do that. Violence cannot put out violence, only love and nonviolence can. And so we've got to begin to operate differently. Our nation has never learned that message. One day, we're going to have to learn that message. Dad used to say, If we don't learn nonviolence, we may one day face nonexistence. That is still something that is perhaps possible.

[14:25:07] But I believe in the humanity of human beings. Even though it doesn't appear humane at this moment, I have to keep believing in the humanity that men and women will rise up and conduct themselves differently.

KEILAR: Sir, we really appreciate your perspective. Martin Luther King III, thank you.

KING: Thank you.

KEILAR: I want to go to the streets in Minneapolis now, where our Miguel Marquez is. Miguel, tell us. Last we spoke, we had not heard from the Hennepin County attorney. Now, we have. Derek Chauvin, the officer who had his knee in the neck of George Floyd, charged now with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

There could be more charges, the attorney ways. We'll get a detailed complaint this afternoon. And when it comes to the other officers, he said, quote, "I anticipate charges," though of course, Miguel, we don't know what those are.

MARQUEZ: Yes. And, look, this news will be welcome here as well, but it is not going to be everything that people want to hear.

I want to bring in Tray Pollard here, who -- you've been trying, the last couple of days -- mightily -- to bring down the level. You played the press conference from the Hennepin County attorney yesterday, where he said they didn't have enough. How much did that contribute to what happened here last night?

TRAY POLLARD, CEO AND FOUNDER, WE PUSH FOR PEACE: Not just here. That -- he struck a match across the country. The fact that he had the audacity to get on a platform yesterday and simply say that he didn't have enough evidence to criminally charge them, was -- I mean, it was astronomically the dumbest thing that anyone could have possibly did.

MARQUEZ: Now that Mr. Chauvin has been charged with two different -- with third-degree murder and with manslaughter, your reaction to that, just that fact?

POLLARD: It's not enough. If you got two African-American males that's in the car, and one of them decides to commit murder and the other one don't call in and say something, we will be incarcerated immediately. And then they'll continue their investigation. It shouldn't be no different when it comes to law enforcement.

So it's not enough. It's a step in the right direction. I commend the County Attorney's Office for doing that much, but you had three individuals that were standing there, that could have saved somebody's life and they chose not to. That's an accessory to murder. You've seen it happen, and then you could have did something about it.

MARQUEZ: The president's called your home, people protesting last night, it was not pleasant to see. He referred to them as thugs. What does the president not understand about what is happening and what has been happening in Minneapolis?

POLLARD: Well --

MARQUEZ: And many other cities.

POLLARD: Well, what I will tell the president is this. The vigilantes that's coming to Minneapolis that's causing all this chaos and confusion, is Caucasian white males. That's what's -- that's who -- that's the ones. So if he's calling these guys thugs, then kudos to him.

Obviously, I know that's not what he was referring to. And one of the things that I was always taught, growing up, is that if you insert (ph) yourself into someone's ignorance, that makes you just as ignorant as the person that's saying it. So I choose not to even indulge in a conversation to that magnitude.

MARQUEZ: You were trying to separate people yesterday, trying to keep the violence down in this city. Now, the stores are -- these are the stores that people got their -- they did their daily shopping, they were able to get food, you're trying to hand out food today. What do you expect?

I saw downtown Minneapolis is being locked down, it's being boarded up. They are expecting more tonight. I was at the 1st Precinct last night, there was concern. I know other precincts are feeling targeted right now. What is your sense about where things are right now?

POLLARD: To be honest with you, when they deployed the National Guard, I had to change my focus at that point. So, you know, the first couple of days, I tried to promote peace within the protests. And now, it's time for me and my organization to do whatever I can to help the community that's suffering.

I've gotten over 300 calls today, just simply asking for water and you know, toiletries, toilet paper, paper towels, things of that magnitude. So that's where my focus is going to be today.

MARQUEZ: But do you think the anger has spent itself?

POLLARD: No, unfortunately. And I just really want the people of Minnesota and Minneapolis to be conscious of the fact that we have to wake up and see the destruction that we are allowing other people to come in this state to cause.

Please be intelligent and not indulge in that stuff. And if you see it happening, stop them. Please, you have to stop them.

[14:29:56]

MARQUEZ: Officials yesterday, making -- at their press conference and then the arrest of our own Omar Jimenez today, the State Patrol saying, oh, we just had to check their IDs even though clearly he showed them -- their IDs.