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Three Other Officers Involved in George Floyd's Death Charged; Interview With NAACP President Derrick Johnson. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired June 3, 2020 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Welcome back. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
It is a big day, and there is a lot of breaking news.
But, first and foremost, I want to go straight to New York to the New York police commissioner and George Floyd's brother Terrence Floyd speaking right now.
REV. KEVIN MCCALL, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: He wanted to call for peace. He wanted to call for justice. He wanted to make sure that you can't get one without the other.
We're hearing that justice is being made and we're moving in a direction of justice. And that's a good thing. But we must continue to keep the conversation going right here in New York City.
And that's what we're doing, is the beginning of conversations, and making sure that the conversations comes with peace, justice, policy and then legislation.
So, we think the NYPD for having this conversation and open dialogue.
The memorial for George Floyd will be tomorrow in Cadman Plaza. Terrence Floyd, with the strength, will be present and other family members will be present.
And we're calling for those individuals that want to loot and those who don't want to disrespect the name of George Floyd, don't do it in the name of George Floyd. You are disrespecting his legacy.
If you want to chat peacefully, you can do so, but don't do it in the name of George Floyd. We have an issue in New York City, which is a good thing in terms of having a relationship and bridging the gap in this hostile environment.
And I'm thankful for now we can have a voice and turn something negative into a conversation that can lead to positive. The Bible says in the book of Isaiah 1 and 17 is to be able to teach the oppressors to be able to be a voice for the voiceless, and to be able to seek justice for the widows. And that's what we're going to continue to do as we go forward in the
fight for justice, and to be able to uphold the legacy of George Floyd.
At this time, you will hear from the commissioner of the New York City Police Department, Dermot Shea.
DERMOT SHEA, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: Reverend, thank you.
So, I'll be brief in my comments. But I came here today with my friend and with my co-worker, First Deputy Commissioner Ben Tucker, two highest-ranking members of the New York City Police Department, to make a statement, first and foremost, on behalf of the entire New York City Police Department, the nation's largest police department, that we stand with the Floyd family.
We condemn what took place in Minneapolis. And I think it's much larger than law enforcement condemning it. Any human being with a conscience that looks at that video, I think, feels the same way.
So, my heart goes out to the entire Floyd family. I think this entire difficult period, it's not the first. And, please, Lord, it's the last, but it should be a wakeup call for this entire country, for justice, to look in the mirror, to work together about what we can do together.
I think there's no better place to have this conversation. I honestly don't remember who reached out to who. It's been a long week. But I spoke to Reverend McCall earlier this week. I think we have a common friend. We sat down earlier this week and begun a discussion, a dialogue, which I hope is one of many which gets us to a place where we want to go.
And here we stand in a holy building, and I don't think there's any better place.
When I walked in here, I saw -- said hello to some of my offices that are outside. And one of them who I did not know, it's her last day, 20 years serving New York City. Is she on the side there? She's not, but I'll embarrass her. And she's a person of faith who's an ordained minister.
And it's just one of the many beautiful stories of this city, of this police department. And we need more of them. And we need more of them together.
That is how I truly believe we will get to where we want to be, I think. The men and women of this police department, I am extremely proud of. We make mistakes, and law enforcement across this country makes mistakes.
We have blood. We bleed. We have biases. But I think all of us need to continue to see each other, continue to hear each other, continue to work together. And I truly hope that this is a beginning of a dialogue that will
bring peace, as much as possible, to the Floyd family, but to New York City in this country as a whole.
And, Reverend, I just want to publicly thank you for extending the branch and having this conversation today.
BALDWIN: All right, so you just heard from the New York police commissioner.
And prior to, that was Reverend Kevin McCall speaking about -- really actually reacting to the news -- and as I'm hearing the singing, these are live pictures in Minneapolis at the scene of George Floyd's -- where he -- where he was killed. Let me just pause for a moment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, look, listen, to all of my white sisters brothers--
BALDWIN: It's beautiful. It's a beautiful thing.
This is -- let me let me quote the reverend there. He just said, in reaction to these -- the elevated charge and maybe incoming charges, that we're moving in a direction of justice, but we must keep the conversation going.
All right, what are we talking about? If you are just joining us, let me back up three steps. So, we're waiting to hear from Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison about additional charges in the wake of the killing of the death of George Floyd.
Officials have finished their initial review of the evidence in the investigation, and they will announce those charges any moment now. So we're standing by for that.
Where we got the news, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar put out a tweet that all four officers involved in Floyd's death will face charges. She wrote that the Minnesota A.G. will be elevating the charge against Derek Chauvin from third-degree to second-degree murder, and that the other three officers, now former officers, will be charged as well.
And this comes after an incredibly emotional moment just even earlier today, George Floyd's son speaking out for the very first time from the exact spot where his father died.
So, in case you missed it, I want you to watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUINCY MASON, SON OF GEORGE FLOYD: Every night with my family, I'm trying to get justice for my father.
And no man and woman should be without their fathers. And we want justice for what's going on right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: And then standing next to Mr. Floyd's son was the family attorney, Ben Crump, passionately pleading for justice and for this moment to be the change that this country so desperately needs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF GEORGE FLOYD: America needed to be listening when George Floyd said, "I can't breathe," because when he couldn't breathe, none of us could breathe.
And so we -- this is a tipping point. This is a tipping point. This moment is a tipping point to change America and see if America truly believes in the words of Thomas Jefferson, that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equally, that they're endowed their creator with certain inalienable rights down, that amongst them are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
Well, America, that means black people too!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: All of this happening as we enter into day nine of these planned protests.
Charges for the other officers was really among the top demands from these peaceful protesters across the country. So, there's that.
I have got two reporters standing by.
First, CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez is live for us in Minneapolis. And Josh Campbell is in St. Paul, where that announcement should come any minute now.
So, Josh, let me just begin with you just on this news. I know you have your own sources. You are hearing from folks about potential charges involving these other former three officers. What do we expect to hear from the A.G.?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, Brooke, just major developments today.
We were reporting just hours ago from our law enforcement sources that there was a decision reached by the attorney general's office regarding the fate of all four officers involved in this incident.
Now, recall one of the officers, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder based on that incident involving George Floyd. It was that dramatic video of Chauvin's neck -- his knee on Floyd's neck, and he was subsequently charged with third-degree murder.
Now, since that time, the case has transferred to the attorney general's office. The A.G.'s office is now in charge. We have been waiting and members of the community certainly have been waiting to hear whether additional charges would be brought against the other three officers that were involved in that incident.
Now, what we're waiting for is official confirmation from the attorney general's office that that is the case. We did see a tweet from Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar indicating that all of the officers will be charged. She indicated that one of the officers, Derek Chauvin, who had been charged with third-degree murder, that charge would be elevated to second-degree murder.
Now, the first indication that we're seeing now officially that that is the case, we have been monitoring the Minnesota court's Web site. And it looks, though, just minutes ago, the charge for Derek Chauvin was listed and elevated to second-degree murder.
So, court records are now appearing to confirm that piece of information--
BALDWIN: How about that?
CAMPBELL: -- that Senator Klobuchar had tweeted out.
What we haven't heard officially from officials is what is going to happen to the other three and what charges those might be, as Senator Klobuchar has indicated, but we expect to hear from the attorney general, Keith Ellison, here shortly.
We're at the state capitol complex in St. Paul, again, to get additional information on what will happen with those officers and what those charges might be.
BALDWIN: Yes, I think we're anticipating, according to sources, that it's aiding and abetting second-degree murder, but we will wait for that confirmation.
Josh Campbell, thank you all.
Omar Jimenez, I was so moved by that singing on the scene. I just wanted to stop and pause and listen to it.
You're surrounded by community members there in Minneapolis. How are folks responding to this major piece of news involving these officers?
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, when the news first came down, there were audible cheers and dancing from people here, here at this site, which has essentially become the ground zero for what happened to George Floyd a little bit over a week ago today.
In fact, the cheers were so loud that we actually thought it was some sort of celebrity that was behind U.S., based on the crowd that had gathered. And when we got there, we realized the crowd was around what appeared to be a dance circle of someone dancing in joy.
This is the step -- as we await confirmation, of course, later this afternoon, this is the step that many people here in this community wanted to see. They did not want to just see Officer Derek Chauvin charged. Of course, he was the officer seen with his knee on George Floyd's neck in that cell phone video, but the other officers as well.
We're also getting reaction from the family of George Floyd that visited this site a little bit earlier today. And the family attorney, Ben Crump, tweeting out that this is a bittersweet moment for the family, obviously, because they would rather have George Floyd in their lives.
But they also feel this is a first step to just this. And Crump applauds Attorney General Keith Ellison for taking this step, as he says, but, again, we are waiting for that official confirmation in a presser expected later this afternoon.
Also today, we had Governor Tim Walz stop by this site as well, saying that he wanted to pay respects it and feel as viscerally as he could some of the pain that the communities here in Minneapolis have been feeling. So he visited, again, this ground zero site for the first time today. And we spoke to him as he came by.
And he told us, basically, we only have one chance really to get this right. And that's in regards to trying to make sure that people in this community and the protesters that have so passionately come out over the course of the past week-and-a-half or so feel they get the justice they deserve in this case, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Omar Jimenez, thank you.
So, gentlemen, I appreciate both of you.
Let's analyze here on all things legal and these charges.
With me now, CNN legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor Elie Honig and CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams.
So, Elie Honig, first to you.
You wrote earlier this week that you thought that third-degree murder charge that Derek Chauvin was facing was too light and that it was second-degree murder, which was more warranted.
What do you make of Keith Ellison elevating the charge?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Brooke, I think a second-degree murder charge here is aggressive. But I also think it's righteous and it's just and it's necessary, as we could just see in Omar's live shot.
Now, here's the difference. A third-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years. You don't have to show that the person intentionally killed. You have to show that he acted with depraved indifference to human life.
A second-degree charge is harder to make. You have to show intention to kill. And my argument would be -- and I expect the attorney general's argument would be -- you get that intentionality in those eight minutes. Eight minutes is an eternity for a grown man to have his entire body weight pinned on the neck of somebody who's handcuffed.
And I would argue to a jury that, yes, in that eight minutes at some point, especially when the man is yelling, "I can't breathe" and "Don't kill me," you cross over that line of intentionality.
And I think a second-degree charge is the right thing here.
BALDWIN: And, also, as I heard Ben Crump, again, lawyer for the family, saying earlier, in terms of intent, when you hear one of the other officers realizing he doesn't have a pulse and says, let's turn him over, and Derek Chauvin says no.
Elliot Williams, what do you make of this move?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER DEPUTY U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, it's tricky, because I think what we want as a hungry public that wants justice and wants peace and wants healing, and what, frankly, prosecutors can successfully demonstrate to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt may be two different things.
And Elie and I were under the legal analyst cone texting this morning about the statute. And my concern is that this language of intent to effect the death of, but without premeditation, that's the language in the Minnesota statute.
It's going to require proving beyond a reasonable doubt that he knew he was killing somebody, but still proceeded and went along with it. Now, again, that eight-and-a-half minutes, it's telling, but, again, it's what can you get 12 people to agree to unanimously? And that will be incredibly challenging.
Intent is hard to prove. It's typically proven through the statements of other people, through the statements, frankly, of the defendant himself. That morning, he woke up and said, I want to kill somebody, or on the scene, he said, I want to kill somebody.
In the absence of that, it may just be tough to prove to a jury. And so, again, we as a public really want healing and really want to see a certain outcome here. But it's just -- it's not even a disagreement with Elie. It's just more caution broadly about what the law will support.
BALDWIN: Sure. Sure. It's not a -- it's not a slam dunk, is what I'm hearing you say.
Elie, back over to you.
Let's put Derek Chauvin to the side for just one minute and focus in now on these three other officers, or now former officers. What charge could they be facing?
HONIG: Yes, so I think we will see an aiding and abetting charge, also called accomplice liability.
This is one of those areas where the law lines up with sort of just basic human logic. The thing you would teach your children is, if somebody is doing something bad, and you help them in some way, you encourage them, you egg them on, you enable them, you are just as guilty. And the law really says the same thing.
So I think we will see aiding and abetting charges against I believe all three of those police officers, based on Senator Klobuchar's tweet.
BALDWIN: Let me just stay with you, Elie, because to the point -- I have Elliot in my head in terms of a high bar in proving intent.
BALDWIN: What kind -- in addition to the video, what conversations will prosecutors have presumably with these other three former officers to also help their case?
So I think the video is going to be the key exhibit. I think you're going to want to hear what was being said by George Floyd, by even the bystanders.
The people who are taking that cell phone video are saying, more or less, you're going to kill him, he can't breathe. All of those things factor in.
And one thing that's really important for our viewers to understand, when you bring a more serious charge, like a second-degree murder charge, lesser included charges, we call them in the law, they're still in play.
So, it's not all or nothing. In other words, this jury could say, we don't find second-degree murder, but we do find third-degree murder. So there is that safety net, even if the top charge is not proved.
BALDWIN: I got you.
And then, Elliot Williams, what do you think -- what is the message that Keith Ellison is sending by elevating this charge from third- to second-degree murder, just the message it's sending to the community
I mean, you heard Omar, who is at the scene in Minneapolis, hearing people jumping and cheering and everything else. Again, I hear your caution. This is just the charge.
But how much do you think that might have factored into the A.G.'s decision?
WILLIAMS: Number one, the very appointment of Keith Ellison and elevating this to the attorney general itself is an act of showing the public how seriously the governor and the authorities in the state take this case and ought to take this case. It's now out of the hands of the prosecutor, number one, so -- and certainly elevating the charges is itself significant as well. And another -- just to add on to what Elie had said a moment ago, something else with this concept of accomplice liability is that those individuals, if charged as accomplices, can be sentenced to the full extent of the statute as if they were the ones who pulled the trigger.
So, in this case, if -- so it's a 25-year maximum on the third-degree murder charge. They can all -- if that's what they're charged with as accomplices, they can all get that 25-year penalty, potentially.
And people sort of don't know that. Like, the guy in the getaway car is just as guilty as the guy who pulls the trigger. That's the case here.
BALDWIN: Yes. Yes.
Gentlemen, let me ask you a favor to stand by.
Let me pivot back to Josh Campbell. He is our correspondent standing by in St. Paul, who's getting a little bit more information on these incoming charges.
Josh, what do you have now?
CAMPBELL: Yes, Brooke, as of this point, the indication we had was from U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar tweeting about charges for the three officers.
I can now tell you that, based on our review of court records that have just posted, all three officers that were seen on that video have now been charged. We're talking about J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao, court records indicate have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
Now, based also on those court documents, we see that the fourth officer who had previously been charged with third-degree murder -- we're talking about Derek Chauvin -- court records indicate that his charge has now been elevated to second-degree murder.
So, we can confirm that, according to court records here from the state of Minnesota, all four officers, Brooke, that were involved in this incident involving the death of George Floyd have been charged by authorities.
BALDWIN: Josh Campbell, thank you so much for that.
And, Elliot and Elie, I want to bring you back in, but let me just sit on that for a second.
George Floyd died, was killed a week ago Monday, and here we are, on a Wednesday, and you now have all four officers, right, they were immediately fired. And people in this country were calling for justice. And they wanted these officers charged. And now you have that lead officer, Derek Chauvin, charged with second-degree murder. And you have the other three officers, as you called it, to both of you, aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
So, Elie Honig, I can't underscore how significant this day is.
HONIG: Yes, Brooke.
And I give a lot of credit to the Minnesota attorney general. I mean, every move that he has made and will make is going to be under an intense microscope, rightly so. And people, I hope, understand, to bring murder charges and aiding abetting charges against four people in a week-and-a-half is good work. That is solid work.
And it sounds like they have -- at least the A.G. really has his facts in order, and better, because the stakes on this trial are going to be through the roof.
WILLIAMS: Elliot, here's my next question, because I can only imagine folks in this country. We talk about swift justice.
And, Elie, I hear you, in that, in just over a week, this is pretty swift. But what's next procedurally? So, all right, all of these officers are now charged. What's next?
WILLIAMS: Well, again, under the Constitution, they're entitled to a speedy trial. And so, presumably, there would be a trial in the very near future.
Now, part of the delay may have been trying to establish whether they could have gotten any of the other officers to cooperate at -- almost as cooperating witnesses against the primary individual who was charged.
So we presumably could get to a trial. We could -- some of them may plead, and we will see.
All this shows, just big picture, to pull the camera back, and almost taking this out of criminal justice for a moment, is the power of the cell phone video. And, frankly, think of how many other George Floyds there might have been across the United States whose cases--
BALDWIN: That there have been.
BALDWIN: That there have been across the United States.
WILLIAMS: Yes. Yes, pardon me, that there have been across the United States, where there were not four officers charged because there wasn't a bystander on -- so, to some extent, this is a testament to the value of body cameras for police.
It's a testament to 2020 and the power of the cell phone video and the ability to record actions, and just the ability and our need to see what happens and how policing takes place.
And so that's -- I think the big takeaway here is the fact that we're even talking about this is itself remarkable, given some of the ills that we -- that plague our nation with respect to how (AUDIO GAP).
BALDWIN: Such a smart point. I really appreciate you making that.
Elliot and Elie, stand by.
Let me bring in another voice, president of the NAACP, Derrick Johnson.
Mr. Johnson, a pleasure, sir.
You have heard us discussing the news, all four of these officers charged, the first of whom, his charge is now elevated to second- degree murder. Your reaction?
DERRICK JOHNSON, NAACP PRESIDENT: I think this is a good day, first for all of the people who had to witness an individual human, a man, be murdered in broad daylight by officers, with individuals standing by pleading with him as he pled for his life.
But it's also a good day, because the community was victimized a second time by a district attorney who refused to bring in charges. It's unfortunate that this district attorney, one person, held not only that city hostage, but held the nation hostage, because of his refusal to bring the charges that was so obvious to everyone who viewed that video.
Eight minutes and 46 seconds, the man lay there, and he pled for his life. And that district attorney could not bring himself to bring the charges that we are now thankful that the state attorney general had the courage to do what is right.
Justice will probably get served now.
BALDWIN: Derrick Johnson, please, sir, do me a favor. Stand by. Forgive me.
But I do have George Floyd's son standing by, along with the family attorney, Ben Crump.
So, our correspondent Sara Sidner is with the two of them.
And, please, Sara, pass along my condolences to Mr. Floyd's son.
And the floor is yours.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, first and foremost, we want to say that we are sorry for all that you have been through in this.
Quincy Mason, Benjamin Crump here, the lead attorney for the Floyd family.
Quincy, I know you want to speak. You just want to say your piece. So I'm going to let you do that right now. A lot of people want to hear from you, because nobody's going to know George Floyd better than his own son.
MASON: I'm here with my family. We demand justice.
My father shouldn't have been killed like this. We want justice.
SIDNER: Plain and simple.
MASON: Plain and simple.
Benjamin, let me ask you about -- and I see you holding Quincy there.
CRUMP: It is very emotional. It is very emotional for Quincy and all of his children and all of his family.
I mean, to have all of this thrust upon you, to witness this tragic killing of his father -- and I don't want to get into the details, because I don't want to put him through any further emotional agony than he's already doing.
But it was a horrific death, on top of losing your father.
SIDNER: I can't imagine.
And, really, we are so deeply troubled and sorry for what you have been through.
Benjamin, there are new details now coming out about the three officers. And Derek Chauvin, the person with his knee down on Mr. Floyd's neck, he is being charged now in court documents with second- degree murder.
And I'm sorry you have to keep hearing that over and over and over again.
He's being charged with second-degree murder. So they have lifted the charge, made it higher. And they have now, as I understand it from our Josh Campbell, charged the other three officers in this case.
Tell me what you are hearing and what you think about the charges that have now been made out on these four officers here.
CRUMP: Well, the family has always maintained that all four of the officers should be arrested for this horrific killing of Quincy's father.
The charges against the officers, we believe, should be an aiding and abetting charge to the murder, or it should be a felony murder of some type, because we know, if you corroborate or participate in the commission of a crime, then you can be held accountable for that crime as well.
They do it to minorities all the time. And so we want equal justice in America. And Officer Chauvin, we believe it should be first-degree murder. We're relieved that they have been upgraded to second-degree murder. But the attorney general has informed the family the investigation is ongoing, and if there is evidence to support a first- degree murder conviction, they will charge it.
And so the family is relieved that attorney General Keith Ellison, who has a track record for championing civil rights, has moved expeditiously in arresting these officers before we memorialize George Floyd tomorrow here in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
SIDNER: When you look at that video, when you stand with the family, when you hear from the family -- and I know you don't want me to ask you a question, so I'm going to ask it to you, Ben.
What did you see when you saw that video over and over again? What did you see in your mind? Is this based on race? Is this based on policing gone wrong? What did you see?
CRUMP: Well, I saw, I believe, what everybody in the world saw, a man being tortured to death while he asked for them to take the knee off the neck because "I can't breathe."
He even called for his momma. And when you think about the natural order of things, mothers are the people protecting you when you first come in this world. And for him to call for her was more than just symbolic. hit was an outward expression of complete, utter desperation from a dying man.
And I'm going to go not further, because I don't want Quincy to have to endure this. But it was torture.
And so the Minnesota governor was right to look at human rights violations by the Minneapolis Police Department for probably other reasons in the last 10 years, but predominantly for that video that we all saw, Sara, that we cannot unsee.
SIDNER: I'm sorry. I'm sorry, sweetie. I'm going to -- I'm going to stop.
But I do want to say this. We know that George Floyd's mother has passed away. So, that was a moment, for him, like you said, just of desperation. And everybody heard it there.