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Minnesota Attorney General to Make Significant Announcement on Additional Charges Made in George Floyd's Case. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired June 3, 2020 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST (via telephone): Demanding that as part of justice for this crime you have -- you have the additional charges to the three men. So again, it is worth remembering also that anything that is announced today, those charges could change, there could be additional charges. So both regarding George Chauvin and these three, the legal process is still at an early stage. So we are very far from a trial, very far from any sort of plea bargaining, and far from a resolution of the legal side of the story.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Our CNN commentator and a veteran activist Van Jones joins us as well. Van, it has been nine days since George Floyd was killed, and the video of officer Chauvin leaves very little to interpret there.
You could see the cruelty of that act. The question has been, you know, will the other three officers be charged. This has been a critical demand, not only of the Floyd family, not only of the people we see every day at that make-shift memorial in Minneapolis. But of the overwhelming majority of the protesters who have been peaceful as they have marched around the country. Your thoughts at this moment?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, I think word to people -- some people only heard about the video, they've seen a clip of the video. If you watch that video, and I don't encourage you to do this, because you're going to need therapy. But if you watch this -- that video, the whole eight, nine minutes, the idea that there were police officers there who did nothing.
That a man was completely not resisting, that he was calling for his mother, that he was urinating on himself, he went limp two minutes before, and the police officers there did nothing. It doesn't matter that two of those officers were rookie officers who had only been on the force for a short period of time.
Any police officer who fails to act in that situation needs to explain himself to a judge and a jury. And the only standard that the Attorney General has to meet is a probable cause standard. Is it probable that these officers violated the law by doing nothing? And there were also two who were, you know, physically on the guy. So it's -- you have to understand the way this usually works. If we're not talking about police, you charge everybody with everything. In situations like that, all four of you guys in the same gang, all
four of you guys in the same set, this just went down, we're arresting all of you, as many as we can find, and we're going to charge all of you with everything. And then from there, you begin to plead down. And the situation with the local prosecutor, he charges a minimum number of people, one, with the minimum thing he could come up with, third degree murder, which is why the protests took off after the charging.
Because in the black community, we're pretty sophisticated about this stuff. And if you charge one person something small, they're going to get off. That's why the protests went forward. Keith Ellison is a beloved figure in Minnesota, and he's certainly a beloved figure in the black community because he's so fair. He's Muslim, he's incredibly, you know, kind of an ethics junky.
And so people -- I think, on all sides can accept his judgment. They can accept that he will do what is right. I think what is right in this case is to charge everybody involved, if not as accessories or aiding and abetting, certainly with a failure to render aid, and let's move forward. I think that takes a log off the fire here. Doesn't mean the protests end because just charging, you still have to go through the whole process of the trial.
This thing is going to take two years, but I think that the idea that people are sleeping in their beds who have watched that happen and did nothing. Every human being who watched it -- I don't know, billions of people who watched it, all said my God, why don't they do something? My God, if I were there, would I have tackled the cop? People have had the incredible discussions about witnessing a lynching. Watching a man losing his life and feeling helpless to do nothing, and yet the police are there.
You can't call the cops. The cops are there. And so the word has to go forward. You have to have justice in the case for these individual officers, but the word has to go forward to police everywhere, not only will you get fired -- and these guys were fired immediately, you will face a judge and a jury if you do not stand up to police abuse. You are only a good cop if you stand up to bad cops.
You are only for law and order if you impose law and order on your peers, on your colleagues, and yes, even on your supervisors. That the standards for in America today is that you cannot stand by and let your fellow officers take the life of someone unjustly and go eat a sandwich.
That is not how this is going to work going forward. And so I think today determines whether we're going to finally start applying the law to law enforcement or whether the lawlessness in law enforcement, which has opened the door to lawlessness in the streets, will continue.
KING: Van, stand by. I want to get back to our correspondent who broke this news, Josh Campbell. And Josh, as Van goes through the history there, Mr. Ellison; the Attorney General who has looked this over, he's well aware of it, too, that's why he asked for time, he asked for patience of the people in the streets because he is aware the Castile case right there in that community, countless other cases across the country where police are charged, but then you can't get a conviction.
He said he wanted a little time to make sure this was air tight, and yet he moved pretty quickly here based on your reporting that a decision has been made about the other -- reassess the situation. So, we'll see if it also involves officer Chauvin who has been charged, but a decision has been made about those other three officers at the scene as well.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, John. And you have to remember that this case was inherited from the county prosecutors. Now, the case was already well under way in the immediate aftermath of this incident, involving George Floyd. We know that the county prosecutors launched an investigation. We know that the U.S. Department of Justice also launched an investigation shortly thereafter, looking into potential civil rights violations.
So there has been a lot of effort under way by law enforcement, trying to gather all available evidence. Now, much of that was handed over to the Attorney General's Office just recently after they assumed leadership in this investigation. But I've been told as talking to law enforcement sources that they wanted to take it slowly, methodically. They wanted to get it right.
One official here telling me that they won't get a second shot on this. They have to do it correctly because all of this evidence, as far as Derek -- officer Derek Chauvin and then the others if there were additional charges, will have to be presented in court if this actually goes to prosecution. So there is zero margin for error by law enforcement and prosecutors as they gather the evidence. However, we're told that, that initial review of the evidence is now complete, they have rendered a decision.
We're waiting for them to announce what that decision is later this afternoon with the Attorney General. But we're also told -- and this is important, that the investigation continues. That they want to hear from additional witnesses, anyone who may have additional video from that scene that may help in the case that continues, John. So, we're at that next milestone where they have rendered that decision obviously a major development in this investigation.
We're waiting to see what that is, and then obviously, what happens next with Derek Chauvin and any other potential defendants, John.
KING: Thank you, Josh, stand by, we'll come back to you in just a few minutes as we continue the conversation. Jeffrey Toobin, I wanted to get your perspective on this. Your experiences on the federal side of this. But Ben Crump, who is the civil rights attorney who is now representing the Floyd family has been saying for the last 24 hours that he was confident he would have new charges before the memorial service scheduled for tomorrow.
You know, he's not saying how he's getting that information, but is it commonplace or is it just because this is so sensitive, or is Ben Crump maybe just trying to put -- connect some dots that he doesn't have the information on. Would prosecutors be talking to Mr. Crump as they go through these incredibly sensitive, highly-charged decisions?
TOOBIN: Certainly, they would be talking to him. There is -- there is nothing wrong with talking to the victim's family and the attorney for the victim's family. The job of the prosecutor is to get as much information as possible. And the victim's family is clearly a source of important information, including, for example, issues like the health of the victim. I mean, this is important.
John, I'd like to just disagree a little bit with one thing Van said. You know, I don't think it's the job of prosecutors to indict anyone they can just find probable cause on. You know, the ethics of prosecution is you don't bring a case unless you believe you can find proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Yes, it's true that you can get a charge for probable cause, but I think honest and good prosecutors only bring cases where they feel they can bring -- find proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Now, in these circumstances based on the evidence I've seen, there is ample evidence to charge the three additional police officers with crimes relating to this horrible -- this horrible death. But I really think the only time prosecutors should bring charges is when they feel like they can make it stick before a jury.
I believe that's likely to happen here, but it shouldn't be just probable cause. It should be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
JONES: Hey, listen, I was -- you should send a memo to prosecutors across the United States. I agree with that, I'm an attorney, that is the standard. That's a standard that's violated every single day. If you're poor and you're black, and you say something like that to a poor black person or anybody who has any knowledge of what's going on at the hall of justice every day at 8:30 in the morning, they're going to pee on themselves laughing because that's not how it happens.
Unfortunately, in this country right now, the prosecutors have all the power. The judges have very little discretion because of all of the mandatory minimums, and this kind of stuff. The defense attorneys, unless you can find one that you can pay, the public defenders are under paid and overwhelmed. And so the reality is that the prosecutors really drive our system.
It's not what we were taught when we were growing up where you have a judge and jury. Most of these trials never get to a jury because the prosecutors stack up so many charges that even if you're innocent, you are going to plead to something because you're terrified to go in front of a jury with all those charges.
So, I'm not saying that it's right, but I'm saying if that's going to be the standard for everybody else, that the prosecutors come in with a -- you know, a bazooka worth of charges, and we all live with that every single day, all day long. You cannot go to any hall of justice and not see it happening. To then suddenly have this, you know, this standard -- and listen, the problem is Keith Ellison is an ethics junky.
So he is much more on Reuben's side -- on Toobin's side than I am. Unfortunately from my point of view, you know, Keith Ellison is an ethics junky. So he's going to do this exactly the way that Jeffrey Toobin is describing. But I'm just wanting to point out the hypocrisy in the system that when it's a police officer, we suddenly remember all of these ethical standards. We suddenly remember how it's all supposed to be.
But right now, there's somebody that's going to get hit with 15, 20 charges when honestly there's no way you could prove up, you know, 19 of them. And so, I agree with you, and unfortunately, Keith Ellison agrees with you, too. But I just want to point out -- I want to speak to the vast majority of people who have a very different experience with our prosecutors right now.
KING: Well, I don't have that personal experience, but to the point you made earlier, Van, about the video, if you watch the video, it is an inhumane act. I'm not a lawyer, I can't describe -- I'm not going to assign a criminal conduct to it. But if you watch the video, it is an inhumane act, and you know that three other law enforcement officers who took an oath were standing by and did nothing. So that will be the question. I want to go back to Omar Jimenez on the scene.
Omar, as we wait, and Josh Campbell reporting for those viewers just joining us who may not have heard the information that the Attorney General Keith Ellison, who was named special prosecutor in this case has made a decision about additional charges -- possible additional charges. He's made a decision, we don't know what the decision is, as he's been reviewing whether to bring additional charges against the officers at the scene.
Officer Chauvin has already been charged, that could be revised. Three other officers who the protesters have been demanding face charges -- when I say protesters, Omar, you are at what has become a shrine and a memorial, has also become a very important point. We were just showing video moments ago of one of Mr. Floyd's brothers, Terrance Floyd, there the other day. A very emotional moment.
You have been there as key visitors have come, as just average Americans, the average people from the community have come to pay tribute. Describe what that site has been like and now knowing that the decision has been made and that the Floyd family is going to be there in a matter of minutes. What are you expecting?
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, it's been over a week since George Floyd's final moments played out, as we saw in that cellphone video in the intersection behind me. And in that week, we have seen the pain in this community come through in physical ways, through protests and even in some cases fires across the entire city of Minneapolis and beyond. But then also, on an emotional level. As you speak to some of these
family members that still hold the weight of what happened with them, not just in the past week, but the fact that it mirrors what many people in these communities have seen over the course of decades. And I actually spoke to the governor of Minnesota here a few moments ago, and one of the things we talked about was about how high the stakes are right now in this moment.
And his words, he says we don't get another chance to get this right. And when you look, again, at what has happened over the course of the past week, there are eyes from across the country looking at this as a potential symbol for how law enforcement may be treated and what is tolerable and what isn't under the current society that we're in.
As you mentioned, the family of George Floyd is set to be here just within a matter of minutes to pay their respects again at this location that has become in some ways a holy site over the course of the past week or so here in Minneapolis.
We have seen his brothers here where he kneeled, he prayed, he cried. People around here gave him strength and support. This is something that has taken such a toll on the community here. And this decision that has been made, people here obviously maybe more than others across this country are waiting on pins and needles to see which way the charges or no charges will go here for the other three officers in this.
And let's be clear, based on every community member, every protester that I have spoken to, it's not just about getting these officers charged. It's about getting through the charges, through to trials and through to a conviction as well, only then will they feel like justice has been served in the memory of George Floyd, John.
KING: Omar, I want you to stand by, other guests as well. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back with additional reporting and new information. Again, if you're just following us, the breaking news, the Attorney General of Minnesota, a named special prosecutor in the George Floyd case, has made a decision about potential other charges about officers at the scene. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROXIE WASHINGTON, MOTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD'S DAUGHTER: Gianna does not have a father. He will never see her grow up, graduate. He will never walk her down the aisle. If there's a problem she's having and she needs her dad, she does not have that anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Emotional scene there. This is outside -- that's outside the White House right now in Washington D.C., protesters as well. I want to bring you up to speed as we watch these demonstrations, that's the breaking news. The prosecutor in Minneapolis Keith Ellison; the Attorney General has made a decision about possible additional charges in the case.
We'll go back to Minneapolis, more details on that in a moment. But we want to show you these protests because one of the demands that the protests around the country have been, that additional charges be filed and the police reforms be considered not just in Minneapolis, but around the country. You see CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju outside the Capitol, you see a crowd outside the White House. And Manu, a crowd behind you as well.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. Well, roughly about a 1,000 people here are demonstrating peacefully, they've been here for over an hour chanting. At one point, they all lied down for about 10 minutes or so in silence to observe the police -- the killings of George Floyd and others around the country.
Right now, the speakers are discussing their concerns about what's happening around the country, what's happening, demands for changes. At one point, one speaker came up here and made everybody look at the Capitol behind me and said that was made by black hands.
People came here, black people made that building unless change from that building behind me. But John, I'll step aside so you can see exactly what is behind me, this crowd of, as I said, roughly about a 1,000 people, holding signs, chanting, listening to the speakers here.
We do expect this to go for several more hours here. At the moment, the Capitol police watching along as well. There have not been any confrontations at all with the police. Police here in the Capitol are very used to these kind of large-scale demonstrations. And that's what we're seeing right now. The Capitol has not been the scene of ground zero of these protests.
As you know, most of these have happened in Lafayette Park, just by the White House, but this is a first one that we are seeing outside the Capitol and right behind me, too. Senators are in session right now. The senators are not coming out here. They're walking as they usually do underneath the Capitol to their offices nearby, not coming near these protesters at the moment.
But we'll see if there's any of them do eventually come out. But at the moment, this group known as the freedom fighters making their case to their -- all they hear, demonstrators that they want change, they want change immediately. And we'll see how they react to the news about potential new charges against those other Minneapolis police officers. John?
KING: It would serve those senators well to at least listen. Manu Raju, very vocal display of democracy outside the United States Capitol. Manu, thanks so much. Let's go back to the streets of Minneapolis right now and CNN's Omar Jimenez. And if you're just joining us, the breaking news this hour is that the Attorney General Keith Ellison, who's named special prosecutor in this case, has made the decisions about potential other charges of the other officers involved at the scene.
Now, Omar, we were talking about this little bit earlier, and I want you to help understand our viewers. Mr. Ellison took this case over. He said he needed a little bit of time to gather all the evidence. You're standing at the crime scene, and obviously, they interviewed eyewitnesses, obviously, they tried to interview as many other officers who might cooperate, maybe they would not in this case because of the potential charges and the like.
But we also know that a great deal of video was taken from the shops around that square. So, help our viewers understand if you're assembling sort of evidence at the crime scene, where you are and what might have been available to investigators.
JIMENEZ: So, where I'm standing right now is the intersection where George Floyd's final moments played out. Now, I want to show you just briefly from where I am right here. It's hard to see where -- because of the amount of people there, but basically, where the largest collection of the crowd is, that's where we're expecting the family of George Floyd to come, literally within a matter of minutes at this point to pay their respects there.
And right around where they are gathered was literally where Floyd's body was laying. And it's been outlined by an artistic painting right now. Now, you notice the cup foods up over to the right. That was where the entire dispute of this actually began. That's where the 911 call for a counterfeit bill originated from, and what brought the police out to the scene in the first place.
So, then when they arrived, we understand that the police said there was some sort of a resistance to arrest going on. And so, what we saw was then surveillance video playing from across the street at a restaurant that you can't see.
It's off in that direction. And then the other piece of evidence that we are keying in on, which we still haven't seen at this portion is, we know that all of these officers' body cameras were rolling throughout this. And so, that would give us some more key insight into the moments that led up to, of course, what we saw play out on that cellphone camera, John.
KING: It's manic moments coming ahead. Omar Jimenez, appreciate it. We'll come back to this breaking news in just a moment. First though, a quick break.