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Minneapolis City Council to Hold Emergency Meeting Today; Key Witness Describes Moments Before George Floyd's Death; Officers in Buffalo, New York, Suspended After Shoving 75-Year-Old Man; Protesters in the U.S. Have Peaceful Protests Nationwide After First Memorial for George Floyd; Trump Shares Letter Calling Protesters "Terrorists"; Shocking New Details Emerge in Ahmaud Arbery's Killing. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired June 5, 2020 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:00]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Good news, surprising news. New jobs numbers out just in the last few minutes showed the economy added some 2.5 million jobs and with that the unemployment rate actually fell, shattering dire expectations. President Trump tweeting that he will speak on those jobs numbers from the White House just over an hour. We're going to bring you those comments live.

Ten straight nights of protests, however, after the death of George Floyd, and today the Minneapolis City Council is holding an emergency meeting to vote on some initial changes to the police department in response to all this.

We're going to continue to learn more today about the four other officers -- the four officers, one who had his neck -- his knee on the neck and the three others charged in Floyd's death. Our reporters are on the ground in Minneapolis.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We are also following this incredibly disturbing and developing story overnight out of Buffalo, New York. A warning this video is very hard to watch. But here's what happened. Two police officers have been suspended without pay after an unbelievable use of police force. Look at this, OK, the police shove the 75-year-old man to the ground. He hits his head, he starts bleeding from his ear, and laying motionless on the ground and the immediate response from police? To lie and to say that he tripped and fell.

The elderly man, Martin Gugino, is now in a hospital. He's in serious condition. We have those details in just a moment, but, first, let's begin with our Josh Campbell who is on the ground in Minneapolis to talk about what happens today with the city council meeting.

Good morning, Josh.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning to you, Poppy. There are at least three investigations that are under way right now into the actions of those officers and that incident that resulted in the death of George Floyd. We have the criminal investigation here by the state into the officers, we have an FBI civil rights investigation and a Department of Human Rights investigation by Minnesota.

But that's not enough right now for the city council. They don't want to wait to gather information for later reform. They want to see reform right now. We're just learning that there will be an emergency city council meeting called by the mayor that's happening at 12:30 p.m. here local time to discuss a possible temporary restraining order that would institute certain reforms on to the police department.

The city council president tweeting that their goal is to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and create a new transformative, in her words, public safety model. So we'll be watching for that, to determine what steps are going to take.

Now just here yesterday behind me here at this courthouse, there was the first hearing for three of the officers that are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. We were here inside, all three defendants came in, they were in orange jump suits, there were family members in the crowd, and the state's assistant attorney general began the hearing by saying that this is a very serious matter, this was a very tragic death, and these are very serious charges.

Now, the state was asking for high bail in this case. That, of course, countered by the defendant. As the defendant's attorneys began to speak, we started to get some insight into what the strategy for at least two of them is going to be. And that is trying to explain the difference in the experience level of their defendants versus that of the senior officer, Derek Chauvin. That was the officer in that video with his knee on George Floyd's neck.

Now one of the attorneys had pointed out that as that encounter was going on, his client, former officer King actually turned to Chauvin and said we can't do this. That was echoed throughout the hearing. That level of experience.

Now, I caught up with one of the other attorneys for Officer Lane afterwards because I wanted to ask him, are you saying that your client was simply following orders, which as we know is an excuse that often raises eyebrows. That attorney getting very heated in this exchange. Watch here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EARL GRAY, ATTORNEY FOR THOMAS LANE: I'm not claiming he was following orders, I'm claiming that he thought what he was doing was right because he asked the training officer, should we roll him over? Twice. You've got to have criminal intent for second-degree murder. And frankly this is bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMPBELL: Now profanity aside, that is obviously going to be their defense again to try to explain that power dynamic between these younger officers and Derek Chauvin. For his part, he will be here in court on Monday. We'll get a sense of his strategy -- Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Josh Campbell, thanks so much.

Omar Jimenez also on the ground there. We're hearing more now from George Floyd's friend, of course he was in the car at the point where he was arrested and then later killed. What more is he saying as to what he witnessed then?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim and Poppy, we're still learning more about the moments leading up to what we saw play out in that cell phone video. We're hearing from Maurice Hall, who is in the car with George Floyd in the moments just before, and he specifically spoke about the allegation by police that George Floyd was resisting arrest, saying that George was trying to be as peaceful as possible, that he retreated to his knees at one point, saying and pleading with officers that he was hurt and asking why is he being detained with such force.

And, of course, those moments just before what we saw play out in that cell phone video. And we're hearing this of course a day later or hours after the first memorial service for George Floyd that we saw play out here in Minneapolis. One of the most powerful moments of that service came when everyone stood in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds to represent the amount of time that officer or former Officer Derek Chauvin's knee was on George Floyd's neck.

And to feel that silence for that amount of time was incredibly powerful for not just everyone in the room, but those watching as well. The first in a series of good-byes that will culminate with his funeral early next week in Houston -- Jim, Poppy.

HARLOW: Wow. Omar, thanks for that. And Josh, appreciate all that reporting.

This morning, there are two police officers in Buffalo, New York, that have been suspended without pay after they were caught on video shoving a 75-year-old man.

SCIUTTO: What's key here is police initially lied about this. They said that he tripped. You can see very clearly on the video that's not the case.

CNN's Alexandra Field joins us with more. Alex, walk us through this video and how police are explaining it, if they are now.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure, Jim. We've seen so many searing images this week and people are not going to forget these, the latest from Buffalo. Let's take a look at them again. We'll walk right through it. You see a 75-year-old man approaching police, you can see him right there, keep your eyes on this. He gets pushed to the ground. You'll then see the blood coming from his ear.

One officer trying to get down, maybe to help him, the other officer moves that officer along and the rest continue to either stop and look or just walk right on. OK, the explanation from police that this man simply tripped and fell, it's just not true, you can see this video. There are people shouting, they recognize that this man is bleeding from his ear.

You did point out that an investigation is now under way. That's because the mayor has called this incident deeply disturbing. That's the mayor of Buffalo, Byron Brown. He says that the police commissioner echoes his sentiments and launched the investigation immediately, going on to suspend those two officers without pay. That 75-year-old man pushed to the ground there, he is said to be in serious but stable condition -- Poppy, Jim.

HARLOW: It's so hard to watch. Alex, thank you very much.

Let's discuss all of these developments, Laura Coates is with us, former federal prosecutor, CNN senior legal analyst, and former New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Good morning to both of you. I'm so glad we have your voices on this moment, sort of capping off such a remarkably important week for this country.

And Mayor Landrieu, I'd like to begin with you because I think we have some video on top of all of these developments. We've also seen a number of confederate statues come down across the country this week. The plans for it to come down in Richmond, Virginia. You've got what happened in Birmingham, Alabama, right, and it is far beyond time for this, but you wrote so powerfully about this, when you made that decision in New Orleans in 2017.

And I reread that speech last night, you said, we cannot continue to go over, under or around the issue of race. We have to go through it. Is that what this country is finally doing?

MITCH LANDRIEU, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I hope so. We've been trying for a long time, and we have done it unsuccessfully. It's very hard to talk about the issue of race, white people particularly don't know how to do it. They don't have a full appreciation for what the African-American community continues to explain to them as institutional racism. We walk by acts of racism and of violence all the time and don't notice it, and the African-American community recognizes that we don't notice it.

So this is a very important moment for the country. The question is whether or not we are going to step up to the plate and to decide to do something different. Clearly in the clips that you showed with the police, you showed two separate incidences of police officers who were trained the wrong way, not doing the right thing, and then having their peers not step into stop them. That's just a microcosm of a much larger picture relating to all of this stuff.

And the confederate monuments continue to be a symbol and speak to African-Americans and say, you're not welcome here. That's essentially what they are. And so although they're symbolic, they're very, very powerful and of course the moment is poignant and people are beginning to see more clearly that that theory of life is embedded in a lot of our institutions and it's incumbent upon all of us to change it.

SCIUTTO: Laura Coates, big legal developments in the George Floyd case this week. Upgrading the charge against Officer Chauvin, but also now charging the three other officers who stood by. Notable, I wonder, from your view, that it appears you have those officers turning on each other to some degree here. For instance, lawyers for one saying that he said, hey, you should stop that, you know, as Chauvin was kneeling on Floyd.

[09:10:05]

What's the significance of that for the prosecution going forward?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, when you have multiple defendants, often very common that one will try to ensure that they are not seen in the same light either for the prosecution's eyes or the jury's eyes as being equally culpable. That they try to do something. But legally in Minnesota, the way you can kind of avoid accomplice sort of liability is if you were engaged in an act that tried to stop it.

You had to actually do more than simply make a passive statement, had to be a proactive stance and attempt to try to stop what your co- defendant may have been doing. And so it's going to be a lot about whether or not what those officers did was enough in order to stop what Officer Chauvin was doing, or whether they were passive observers of what happened.

But ultimately speaking here, if they engaged in this behavior, they didn't go far enough, their training as a police officer is one thing, they may have been rookies on the job beside for the 19-year veteran Chauvin, but they've been human beings for a lot longer and you're seeing just in that video of Buffalo what it's like when people literally watch a colleague trample on their right to somebody else and then walk right over.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: You know, one thing you pointed out this week, Mayor Landrieu, in your "New York Times" op-ed is that there's not a deficit of ideas in this country. You argue there's a deficit of courage. And you point back to, you know what, 50 years ago with the commission and does nothing really happen? How does that courage need to play out right now and in what form? And not just in terms of police reform. You know, should we be talking much more seriously about reparations in this country?

LANDRIEU: Well, let me say this. I mean, just that one incident in Buffalo shows you a lack of courage. Not only a lack of training, a 2- year-old knows that if someone falls down, you help pick them up. But that police officer, you could see go by somebody else and didn't have the courage to say to him, no, I'm not doing that because that's not right. And that is a symbol for what the rest of the country has to do.

We know what has to be done in order to create equity in this country. I mean, you'd have to be blind to see that what we have right now is not fair for African-Americans in this country and by the way, they've been telling us for a very, very long time. We have a whole plethora of ideas that we have been with us for the past 50 years that would be helpful to move us towards a more equitable society.

But we haven't found the political courage. It requires votes to do this. So from the White House, to Congress, to the governor, to the mayors, and by the way, mayors don't really need consent decrees to change their police departments or to change the way their cities work. And they have to do it based on what their constituents allow them to do. And so it's incumbent upon us in America to clearly understand that unless we're all in this together, we can't be in it. Unless we go forward together, we can't go in it.

And the African-American community is saying very loudly, very clearly, and very simply what needs to be done.

SCIUTTO: Yes. You know, I thought as you said that, Mayor Landrieu, just what the lessons are for our children, right? I mean, the simplest lesson, as you see somebody in need, or you see someone taking part in unacceptable behavior, right, you stand up. And we're not seeing great examples in many of these situations.

Laura Coates, if I could ask you, because the mayor brought up consent degrees -- decrees, rather. The Trump administration ended federal oversight under former attorney general Jeff Sessions of police departments, which often involved consent decrees. What difference would that make in preventing these kinds of things going forward, if that were reinstituted?

COATES: In fact, that was one of the last acts of former attorney general Jeff Sessions to officially sort of roll back these consent decrees, make them subject to a political appointee as opposed to career prosecutors, trying to not vilify the police is what his mindset was. And having a sunset provision, they had to actually lapse at some point in time.

Well, these can go a long way towards changing the patterns and practices and training behaviors of officers and individual jurisdictions, and it's very, very important. However, just like our government was contemplated to be three branches of government, state and local, federal, it's going to take an actual wholistic approach and every single branch of government will have a role to play.

The Supreme Court, judicial branch, about qualified immunity, making sure they're not somehow inoculated essentially from any liability. You have to have it in terms of the idea of trackable police officers who are problematic, nationwide databases. It has to be about prosecutors who were able to bring these cases without the benefit of the doubt that translates into a cart blanche for officers to engage in this behavior.

It takes the executive branch to enforce the laws against all, showing favor to none. There is going to be so many different avenues to pursue here, and a prosecution or an individual consent decree may create a band-aid over one.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

COATES: But we can't have a patch work and be able to thrive in America.

SCIUTTO: Yes, changes take time, right? They don't happen in a day.

LANDRIEU: Well --

SCIUTTO: Time and attention.

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: Apologies, and we're going to bring you back, Mayor, because this is an issue that's subject to discussion on this program for days and week --

LANDRIEU: No doubt. A lot of talking about it.

[09:15:00]

SCIUTTO: We will bring you back. Mayor Andrew, Laura Coates, thanks to both of you. Still to come at this hour, President Trump shares a letter which calls protesters terrorists, as more heavy-duty barricades installed all around the White House.

HARLOW: Plus, an attorney from Ahmaud Arbery's family now says they believe they have a case for criminal indictment against the police department and the D.A., claiming there was an organized cover-up in the wake of Arbery's fatal shooting.

And some really good news this morning for the economy, 2.5 million jobs were added, the unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent. It's still a devastating number, but this shocked just about everyone. The president will speak about it in minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:20:00]

SCIUTTO: Welcome back. A Georgia investigator says that one of the three murder suspects in the killing of an African-American man Ahmaud Arbery made an ugly racist remark just moments after shooting him in February.

HARLOW: Arbery's mother, of course, devastated by testimony about her son's final minutes. Here she was in court yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WANDA COOPER, AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: It was very heart breaking. I often imagine the last minutes of my son's life. I didn't imagine it would be that harsh. But to learn that, that statement was made in the last seconds of his life, it -- again, it was very heart-breaking.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Our Martin Savidge joins us now from Brunswick, Georgia, where this trial will all be taking place. I mean, what do we know about the comments that were made, and how this all ties into a potential cover-up that's being alleged?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, let me explain what this was. This was a preliminary hearing. We're not at trial yet --

HARLOW: Right --

SAVIDGE: But it looked just like a trial with the way that it was conducted. And clearly, yesterday, the prosecution introduced both in evidence and testimony they say they have that at least one of the participants, maybe others, that over racism in their minds may have played a role in the direct murder of Ahmaud Arbery on that day back on February 23rd.

They're referencing Travis McMichael, he is the one who with a shotgun has admitted to authorities that he shot Ahmaud Arbery three times on that day, killing him. That was after a pursuit by three men and two different pickup trucks. But the authorities also testified to the fact that looking at social media for Travis McMichael, they found a number of times that he made what were over racist remarks in conversations with people online.

And then there came this testimony. Let me just sort of set it up for you. So it is on the day that Ahmaud Arbery is killed, his body is laying in the street, Travis McMichael is the one who has just fired the shots that has killed him. One of the co-conspirators, alleged co- conspirators William Roddy Bryan tells authorities he overheard Travis McMichael say a curse word and a racial epithet. Just here's how it was depicted in that moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD DIAL, GBI ASSISTANT SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE OF AHMAUD ARBERY'S CASE: Mr. Bryan said that after the shooting took place, before police arrival, while Mr. Arbery was on the ground, that he heard Travis McMichael make a statement --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIDGE: OK, if you couldn't read the text, it is the F-word and the N-word that is said at that moment. I couldn't be in the courtroom because of health concerns for the pandemic. But in the room, I mean, listening, a gasp went out and you could read the expressions on the faces of Ahmaud Arbery's parents.

And now they hope a federal investigation will lead to hate crime charges because in Georgia, there is no hate crime law. Poppy and Jim.

HARLOW: Wow.

SCIUTTO: Lord help us in the year 2020, in the year 2020. Martin Savidge, thank you for covering this story. We'll be right back after a short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:25:00] SCIUTTO: These pictures are quite jarring when you realize this is

the home of a sitting U.S. President. A wall of fencing is now built between the White House and protesters in the wake of George Floyd's death. That wall staying put until June 10th, comes as President Trump is sharing a letter from his former lawyer John Dowd which refers to protesters as terrorists.

I might remind people that a wall like that didn't go up even after 9/11 when there were real terrorists running around this country. I want to bring in former Defense Secretary William Cohen, he's also a former U.S. senator. Good morning, Secretary Cohen, always good to have you on. What does it mean --

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Good to be with you --

SCIUTTO: For you to hear a sitting president dismissing a whole range of protesters who in fact were largely peaceful around the White House, dismissing a whole range of them as terrorists. What does that mean to you?

COHEN: It means that he has no understanding of what the rule of law really means in this country. He has declared that he wants to be the president of law and order. But that's not what the declaration of this country is. If you go over to the Supreme Court, you'll see cut in stone. It is equal protection or equality under law, equality under law.

So when he says law and order, he's missing something. The word "justice" has to be there. And that is what people of this country expect when they sign a contract with the U.S. government that there will be laws, that there will be justice. And so law and order -- I remember a professor of mine years ago, saying "liberty without order is a mess. But order without liberty is a menace."

And what I see taking place is the White House engaging in very menacing activity and leading us down the trail toward a dictatorship where it is only the law of rule, not the rule of law.

SCIUTTO: You led the Defense Department, of course. Tell us about the significance of a former Defense Secretary James Mattis appointed by President Trump, describing the president as mocking the constitution. But also the sitting Defense Secretary Mark Esper defying the president on his repeated desire to deploy active U.S. military in the U.S. The significance of that public disagreement?

COHEN: Well, first of all, Jim Mattis; an extraordinary soldier, notwithstanding what the president is.