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Buffalo Officers Suspended After Shoving 75-Year-Old at Protest; Peaceful Protests Across U.S. After George Floyd Memorial; Two Rookie Cops Blame Senior Officer in George Floyd Death; Investigator: Evidence of 'Racist Attitude' Towards Arbery. Aired 6- 6:30a ET
Aired June 5, 2020 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The three former police officers have made their first court appearance.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The big question is going to be for the prosecutor to show that what Officer Chauvin was doing was so outrageous that these officers were actually obliged to intervene.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Historic national demonstrations in Floyd's name are now well into their tenth day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As this group of protesters moved north on Fifth Avenue, officers just started moving in and making arrests.
PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: That's amazing to me, that he touched so many people's hearts.
REV. AL SHARPTON, FOUNDER, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: It's time for us to stand up in George's name and say get your knee off our necks.
BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Friday, June 5, 6 a.m. here in New York.
And breaking overnight, a shocking incident of police pushing an elderly protester in Buffalo, all caught on video. The official reaction and especially the speed of that reaction is notable and may be a sign of the new times.
We'll lay this all out for you in just moments.
Meanwhile, thousands of Americans on city streets in city after city overnight, hours after a memorial for George Floyd in Minneapolis. The protests largely peaceful, and curfews have been ended in Los Angeles and Washington.
There's new evidence the president feels cornered this morning. He's promising to actively campaign against a Republican senator who has been critical of him, and despite the largely peaceful demonstrations in front of the White House, he's promoting this wacky idea that the protesters are all terrorists.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR; Now to those four police officers arrested in Minneapolis and charged in George Floyd's death. Two of them are rookie cops. One had been on the job just four days. Another was on his third shift ever. They're blaming a senior officer, Derek Chauvin, for George Floyd's death. He's the arresting officer who put his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes.
We also have new and sickening details about the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. So we will speak with the Arbery family attorney later this hour.
But let's begin with CNN's Laura Jarrett with our top story.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Alisyn.
You know, so many disturbing and upsetting videos that we've seen in recent days. And this one is truly shocking.
Two Buffalo police officers have now been suspended without pay after a video shows them shoving a 75-year-old protester to the ground. We need to warn you, this video is disturbing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Move!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is bleeding!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's bleeding out of his ear! He's bleeding out of his ear! He's bleeding out of his ear!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get a medic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) are you doing, walking up with him on the ground?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JARRETT: The mayor of Buffalo says the man has been hospitalized in serious but stable condition. Police originally released a statement saying the man tripped, but the video clearly shows that he was shoved to the ground.
Governor Andrew Cuomo called the incident "wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful."
The two officers have been suspended, as we mentioned, without pay, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK. Laura, we'll have more on this throughout the program. There were large peaceful protests overnight from coast to coast after
a stirring memorial service for George Floyd. CNN's Omar Jimenez is live in Minneapolis for us with more.
So tell us what happened.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, for a tenth straight night, Americans took to the streets, demonstrating in the name of George Floyd.
And this came just hours after his memorial here in Minneapolis. A lot of the world only knows George Floyd through a ten-minute video, the majority of which he was under a police officer's knee.
Yesterday's memorial began the process of learning who he was to the people who loved him and the legacy he now leaves behind.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): A time to mourn, to grieve and to celebrate the life of George Floyd.
RODNEY FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: I want you guys to know that he would stand up for any injustice everywhere.
JIMENEZ: For eight minutes and 46 seconds, the first memorial service for the man killed in the custody of Minneapolis police stood still. in silence as outside in the streets of American cities, thousands protested in honor of Floyd for the tenth straight day.
SHARPTON: It's time for us to stand up in George's name and say, Get your knee off our necks.
JIMENEZ: While people in Minneapolis gathered outside Floyd's service, at the heavily-guarded Hennepin County Courthouse across town, three of the four former officers involved in the incident -- Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao -- made their first courtroom appearance after being charged with aiding and abetting both second- degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
This as the man who was in the car with Floyd during his arrest speaks out, saying he found out that his friend died on social media the next day.
MAURICE LESTER HALL, GEORGE FLOYD'S LONGTIME FRIEND: What I believe the energy was set wrong by the police when they approached him, because they -- they approached with, like, an energy where it startled Mr. Floyd. And he was just trying to defuse the situation as best, as humbly that he could. [06:05:12]
JIMENEZ: In Minneapolis, the Floyd family joined demonstrators at the site of his final moments.
P. FLOYD: The more people out here protesting peacefully, the more that we can have an effect on this world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
P. FLOYD: I love y'all. Y'all my brothers and sisters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justice for George Floyd.
P. FLOYD: Justice for George Floyd.
JIMENEZ: While thousands gathered with Floyd's brother Terrence in New York City at a march demanding change.
TERRENCE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: At the end of the day, my brother's gone. But the Floyd name still lives on.
JIMENEZ: And at the King Center in Atlanta, a community march with the message of solidarity and thanks to protesters there and everywhere.
BERNICE KING, DAUGHTER OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: For not letting up, for not giving up. For your tenacity. For your strength. For your resilience. For your determination. To ensure that we have justice and equity in this nation.
JIMENEZ: And this was the first in what will be a series of goodbyes for George Floyd. There will be another memorial Saturday in North Carolina, where he was born, before all of it ending with his funeral back in his hometown of Houston, Texas, on Tuesday -- John.
BERMAN: All right. Omar Jimenez for us in Minneapolis. Omar, please keep us posted.
You know, an important development in the legal case against the four officers charged with George Floyd's death. There is now a clear split among the officers, with two of the younger officers blaming senior officer Derek Chauvin for the death.
CNN's Josh Campbell was in the court for the hearing yesterday.
And Josh, look, this is interesting, not just for what it means here but maybe what it means for attitudes within police forces in general.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, John. We got our first look at three of the officers that were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder in the death of George Floyd.
And as you mentioned, we're also getting a sense of what that defense strategy might be.
Let me tell you: Being inside this building behind us when that occurred was very surreal. My producer, Aaron Cooper, and I were inside court. And why I say surreal, because if you think about it, the criminal justice system where these officers once worked is now prosecuting them for alleged crimes. Now, there were three separate hearings. The defendants were brought
in wearing orange prison uniforms. There were members of their family in the audience.
And the state's assistant attorney general began by saying that this is a very serious matter involving a very tragic death, and these are very serious charges. Now, he asked for a high bail amount.
Now, the defense counsel, obviously, asking for a lower amount, and the strategy that we saw was the attorney for former Officer Kueng was saying that, Look, he actually said at one point during this encounter with George Floyd, to Derek Chauvin, the senior officer, We can't do this.
The officer for Officer Lane -- the attorney for Officer Lane had a similar strategy, talking about the junior nature of his client. This was only his third shift.
And so I think that's what we're going to continue to see, is that kind of dynamic, blaming the senior officer.
Now, the judge wasn't buying any of it. He agreed to the government's high bail request. Bail was set at $1 million, or $750,000 with conditions. All three defendants still behind us here -- excuse me -- in jail, John and Alisyn.
BERMAN: Josh, I understand you actually caught up with one of the officers' attorneys outside court yesterday. What did he tell you?
CAMPBELL: Yes. Well, as it turns out, defense attorneys sometimes don't like taking tough questions. And what I tried to do is tried to drill down on their defense strategy.
Now, in court, what he said was, what is my client supposed to do but to follow what the training officer said?
So what I tried to ask him was, Look, are you saying that your client was simply following orders? That's an excuse that we know often raises eyebrows. Here's how that exchange went.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAMPBELL: You claim that he was following orders, your client?
EARLY GRAY, THOMAS LANE'S LAWYER: No, 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 bullshit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMPBELL: So profanity aside, obviously, that's going to be their strategy, is to talk about that power dynamic.
Now as far as Officer Derek Chauvin, his first appearance will be here also, next Monday. We'll see what his strategy is, John and Alisyn.
BERMAN: All right, Josh. Great questions. Thanks for being there for us. Keep us posted throughout the morning.
There are new signs this morning that the president feels cornered. He is lashing out at a Republican senator, promising to campaign against her. What does this all mean? That's coming up.
BERMAN: All right. Where are we now in this country after the first memorial for George Floyd? After the four officers have been charged and we've seen some of them appear in court? Where are we as a nation this morning?
Joining us now, CNN political analyst Bakari Sellers. Also with us, CNN national political reporter, Abby Phillip. We should note Bakari has a new book out, which is phenomenal, called, "My Vanishing Country."
Bakari, I want to start with you, because look, you know, things are different in some ways than they were last Friday when we were here, watching Omar get arrested on live TV. Things are just different. You had two officers say, We knew what was happening was wrong. It was this older officer. It was his fault.
Maybe that thin blue line we always talk about is crumbling. Maybe attitudes in general have shifted. Where are we?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think we can be hopeful that attitudes are shifting. I think since last week when we were here, when Omar was getting arrested, the consciousness of a country has been awakened.
And why do I say that? I think that this case is unique. Not only that it was on video, but the length of the inhumanity. We're taking eight minutes and some change whereby a knee was on the neck.
And I think everyone, from liberals to conservatives, black, white, pink, yellow, green, it doesn't matter, can see the inhumanity in that. And so I think that we have that consciousness that's awakening in minutes two through (AUDIO GAP), where people can actually see now when black folks say, My interactions with law enforcement go sideways.
And they say, Well, no, it couldn't go.
But you see somebody handcuffed on the ground with a knee to their neck, maybe it rings more true.
And you start to see people like Taylor Swift. I'm a Swifty. I actually think that "Red" was a better album than "1989." But that's my personal opinion. But you see the fact that she's now speaking up.
And Carson Wentz. I'm a big Gamecock football fan. And the Clemson quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, is coming out and speaking out.
And so you have all of -- you have the collective consciousness of a country that's paying attention. But I always say we get -- we've gotten here before, John and Alisyn.
The question is, can we take the next step to talk about systemic changes? That officer should not be training two or three other people. The system is broken. There's no way he should be training those individuals. There's no way he should be leading them down a path of murder. So now, let's fix the system, since we have everybody is awake.
CAMEROTA: And Abby, that leads us to your wheelhouse. Not Taylor Swift, necessarily, as Bakari said.
SELLERS: You don't know.
CAMEROTA: But I don't know yet.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I will say I'm a fan, too.
CAMEROTA: I'm sure you're about to drop a Taylor Swift reference. But politics.
And in terms of, you know, this kind of impenetrable wall of Republican support that we have seen for three or more years for President Trump.
And a couple things happened this week that were astonishing. And the first is that his former defense secretary, Mattis, came out publicly and said that President Trump is divisive, he's immature, the way he's using the military is dangerous, and it's having this corrosive effect on the country.
Before we get to Lisa Murkowski and her reaction to all this, that I think, obviously, is significant, the -- the president had his lawyer, John Dowd, write a letter, I guess, meant for Mattis, but the writing is akin to a science-fiction novel. And so I just want to read this. This is the letter in response to Mattis.
"The phony protesters near Lafayette Park were not peaceful and are not real. They are terrorists using idle hate-filled students to burn and destroy. They were abusing and disrespecting the police when the police were preparing the area for the curfew."
We have the video, Abby. We have the video of them being peaceful. They were going to exit for the curfew, it appeared. And then the police started with those pepper balls and the batons and hitting them.
PHILLIP: I think this is why you've seen the military really speaking out. And I think this is why the president's actions over the last week have been so alarming and startling to so many people. Because there is a clear attempt by the White House and by the president's allies to lie about what happened, about what everybody saw with their own eyes unfolding.
There were dozens of cameras there, reporters from all over the world on the street, on the ground as that unfolded. And yet, even still, the president, the White House, apparently John Dowd, believes that that was all fake, that the protesters are not real.
The other point I would make is that this is a window into the kind of counsel that President Trump gets. I'm not talking legal counsel. I'm talking the people that he spends time on the phone with, that he talks to about this stuff. They are essentially telling him that all of these people are, essentially, illegitimate. And that -- that the government essentially doesn't need to respect their right to protest peacefully.
And that's why you've seen so many people saying that's a dangerous kind of mindset. In this country, peacefully protesting is a constitutionally-protected right. And -- and this is just one more piece of evidence that the president, despite what he said in the Rose Garden that he's an ally of all peaceful protesters, has not demonstrated that with what he has done and how he has handled what -- what has been going on in Washington.
Despite all of that, though, clearly the protests over the last couple of nights have been far more peaceful, despite the president's efforts to use the military to kind of put them down over the last couple of days.
BERMAN: Yes, if you're calling protesters terrorists, you're not listening to what they're saying.
And this has bothered, Bakari, this growing list of people. Maybe from unlikely arenas, where you've seen so many generals and former military leaders, from Jim Mattis to General Douglas Lute, who we're going to have later on today. Admiral Mullen come out and express their concern over what's happening.
And then to Lisa Murkowski, who all she did yesterday was say that she agreed with what General Mattis said and said she's struggling with whether or not she will vote for Donald Trump.
And the president went ballistic. He says he's going to go to Alaska to campaign against Lisa Murkowski, no matter who is running against her, as long as the person has a pulse. That's an actual quote from President Trump. He will support whoever is campaigning against Lisa Murkowski.
I'm not sure this is a good strategy for Republicans holding the Senate, long-term, Bakari.
SELLERS: Yes. I mean, the chaos in the Republican Party is always tempered. And my level of expectation for people like Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins is not extremely high. They always get to the point where they want to criticize Donald Trump. They get to the ledge, and then that's all they do. Their words usually ring hollow. I mean, what's going to happen is they're going to have a meeting.
Mitch McConnell is going to bring them together. The president will eventually say some kind things about her. She will say some kind things about him.
The biggest problem that the Republican Party has, though, is one of fortitude. While we have all of these generals who are out speaking up and speaking out against the horrors -- and I'm not -- and I'm not saying that you can't -- you don't want a Republican president or you don't want Republican values. But what I am saying is that when you have things that are -- that are the antithesis to American values, it's necessary for people to stand up and say things.
I don't believe in Lisa Murkowski. I don't believe in Susan Collins, and I'm disappointed in both of them. But I'm even more disappointed in white evangelicals and in all of these individuals who coalesced to form this base, who are sitting idly by while the rest of the country is moving forward.
BERMAN: All right. Bakari, Abby, thank you. Taylor Swift, thank you, in absentia, for being with us this morning. The inspiration for the segment.
Disturbing new details this morning about the murder of Ahmaud Arbery as his three accused killers appear in court for the first time. We have a live report, next.
CAMEROTA: Across the country, protesters demanding justice for George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. He's the 25-year-old man who prosecutors say was chased, hunted and gunned down in Georgia.
His accused killers were in court Thursday, where we learned appalling new details about his murder.
CNN's Martin Savidge is live in Brunswick, Georgia, with more. What came out yesterday, Martin.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to you, Alisyn.
As much of the nation is involved in protests and conversation about the issue of racism, overt racism was actually introduced by the prosecution as a potential motivation in this case. There was a lot of new detail we learned yesterday, and most of it was bad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All rise.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): It was a hearing that sounded like a trial. Georgia prosecutors summed up their case against three white men accused of killing a 25-year-old black man running through their neighborhood. JESSE EVANS, COBB COUNTY CHIEF ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: On
February the 23rd of 2020, victim Ahmaud Arbery was chased, hunted down, and ultimately executed at the hands of these men.
SAVIDGE: The three defendants, Gregory McMichael and his son Travis, and William "Roddy" Bryan Jr., appeared via video link from the county jail.
The McMichaels initially told authorities they thought Arbery was a burglary suspect. The prosecution says Arbery had done nothing wrong.
EVANS: The fact of the matter is that there's no evidence that these defendants saw a burglary, saw any crime, had any subjective belief, or even a hunch by these civilians that would authorize their choices that they made to chase after and, ultimately, gun down this unarmed victim in the middle of the street.
SAVIDGE: In fact, Arbery was out jogging the day he died. Friends say it's what he loved to do.
Prosecutors detailed the events leading up to Arbery's death, saying all three men, using two pick-up trucks, became a neighborhood hunting party, blocking and re-directing Arbery as he tried to flee, before they finally cornered him. One of the suspects captured Arbery's final moments on cellphone video.
SAVIDGE: On the witness stand, the lead investigator in the case said 34-year-old Travis McMichael admitted to the first officers on the scene he deliberately shot Arbery three times with a shotgun.
Then, agent Richard Dial shocked the courtroom, recounting what alleged coconspirator William Bryan says Travis McMichael said next.
RICHARD DIAL, GBI ASSISTANT SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: 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 the statement, "(EXPLETIVE DELETED)."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's just a good boy.
SAVIDGE: Arbery's mother and father were both in the courtroom.
Defense attorneys deny Travis McMichael ever made such a slur and say the men, two of whom were armed, merely wanted to talk to Arbery that day when Arbery suddenly turned and confronted them, forcing Travis McMichael to fire in self-defense.
For two months, the investigation of Arbery's death by local authorities went nowhere. But when cellphone footage was leaked publicly, showing Arbery's death, state investigators took over the case, and arrests soon followed.
Thursday, it was revealed there's even more video on the cell phone of William "Roddy" Bryan, one of the accused, showing the deadly pursuit. In the end, the judge ruled there was probable cause to try the three
for Arbery's murder.