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Arbery's Mother on Disturbing Testimony; FaceBook Employee Quits Over Trump Posts; NBA Plans Restart on July 31st; Hydroxychloroquine Study Retracted. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired June 5, 2020 - 06:30   ET



MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): William Roddie 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.

JOYETTE HOLMES, COBB COUNTY DA: Where the evidence leads us is where we will follow. And that's what we did today.

SAVIDGE: For Ahmaud Arbery's family and supporters, it's the first step on the long road to justice.


SAVIDGE: We should point out that as horrific as the allegations are of what Travis McMichael said regarding a racial slur and the language that he has used in other communication, it may not be used against him or have an impact on his trial. That's because, as you know, the state of Georgia is one of only a handful that does not have a state hate crimes law. That may change this month, but it will still not change in a way that would impact this case.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Martin, it only gets more and more sickening, honestly, the new details that comes out.

Thank you very much for all of that reporting.

How is Ahmaud Arbery's family reacting to these horrifying, new details? His mother joins us next.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You just heard disturbing new details about the alleged murder of Ahmaud Arbery, who prosecutors say was chased, hunted down and gunned down while out for a jog.

Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper, joins me now, along with the family's attorney, S. Lee Merritt.

Wanda, first of all, we're so sorry for the loss of your son. And I'm equally sorry that you had to listen in the courtroom to the details. It's one thing to lose a child. It's got to be incredibly painful. But to have to see it again and hear how it went down, I can't imagine the pain.

How hard was it for you to hear, you know, chased, hunted down and executed?

WANDA COOPER, MOTHER OF AHMAUD ARBERY: It was very heartbreaking. It was very saddening. And most of all, very shocking.

BERMAN: Why shocking after all this time?

COOPER: I had learned that the -- I never saw the video before. But just getting details of what actually happened and then knowing -- knowing what really happened in the final minutes of my son's life was very shocking. Unbelievable.

BERMAN: To hear the words that were allegedly spoken, the racial slur that I'm not going to say on TV, how does that affect how you now think about the final moments of your son's life?

COOPER: It -- it -- that now -- it's a confirmation that Ahmaud was -- was killed because of the color of his skin. It wasn't a crime that he had committed. It was basically because he was of color.

BERMAN: And, Lee, to you, how does this affect the legal ramifications of the case?

S. LEE MERRITT, AHMAUD ARBERY FAMILY ATTORNEY: In cases of civil rights violations, human rights violations really, it is really difficult to prove racial animus. You have to do implicit bias. You have to infer it from behavior. You rarely get a case where there's a smoking gun where a co-defendant will tell you, you know, this person used a racial slur directly after the murder. It's a new level of evil. It's not just, you know, racial implications. It's direct -- it's -- it's a direct, racial motivation for this murder.

BERMAN: But there are no hate crimes laws in Georgia, correct? So will it even matter?

MERRITT: Well -- yes, it will because luckily one of the first people we met with when we got to the courthouse yesterday was Bobby Christine, the southern district attorney -- or U.S. attorney for the region. He's been working on an ongoing investigation with the FBI. Immediately after the trial, we discussed some of the things that we heard during the hearing. And we believe we have a strong case for criminal indictment against the police department, certain officers who were involved in this cover-up and against the district attorney, George Barnhill, who we heard a lot of testimony about yesterday. Jackie Johnson, the original district attorney who hired Gregory McMichael. And so there are still federal hate crime protections.

Now, Georgia needs its own hate crime statute. And as you mentioned, that will be coming to a vote soon. But there is still the federal protections that we're relying on.

BERMAN: Given that all this information was presented yesterday and it was all so new to many of us, even new to Wanda there, Ahmaud's mother, how is it that the investigators and the local departments didn't uncover this, or at least, or maybe ignored it at the beginning?

MERRITT: Right. And, unfortunately, we have to use the word, they covered it up. These were statements available to them on February 23rd, the day Ahmaud Arbery was killed. They could understand and appreciate the racial animus that existed in the neighborhood, where people entered that property but only the black men -- or man who entered that property was criminalized. They understood that on February 11th, weeks before Ahmaud was killed. And so that's why it's so important that we have a comprehensive investigation on a federal level and to south Georgia and the legal apparatus and really how white supremacy has infiltrated the government structure there.

BERMAN: So, Wanda, I'm curious what it has been like for you as a mother these last few weeks in America. Your son was killed months ago now, months ago, yet the last two weeks the focus of America has been on the death, the killing of George Floyd.


What's it been like to relive this pain?

COOPER: It's bearable. I get through with support of everyone. It's really been hard, but I'm getting through.

BERMAN: What do you want now? What do you want to happen in this case and what do you want for Georgia and America?

COOPER: What I want from the state is to prosecute all hands that were involved in the murder of my son. As far as the nation, I would like them to continue to stand with us, not only with my family, with all families that have lost their loved ones to this type of tragedy.

BERMAN: Well, Wanda, we're with you. We are so sorry for your loss. Again, thank you for joining us.

Lee, thank you as well. Please, keep us updated on the progress in the case.

MERRITT: Will do. Thank you.

BERMAN: FaceBook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg under fire for allowing President Trump's incite-filled (ph) posts to stay up on his site. An employee just quit because of this. He tells us his story exclusively, next.



CAMEROTA: FaceBook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is defending his decision to allow posts by President Trump that are false and incendiary. Zuckerberg told staffers that he will not change his mind on it.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan spoke exclusively with a FaceBook software engineer who just quit in protest. And Donie joins us now.

So, what did he tell you?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: Hey, Alisyn, that's right. And, really, in a virtually unprecedented move, FaceBook employees are now speaking out publicly against the company and Mark Zuckerberg. But no employee has gone quite as far as 22-year-old FaceBook software engineer Timothy Aveni. He announced this week in a FaceBook post that he was quitting his job in protest. And in his -- in his first interview since that FaceBook post went viral, Aveni spoke exclusively to CNN and I asked him why he quit.


TIMOTHY AVENI, FORMER FACEBOOK SOFTWARE ENGINEER: I've seen a couple times now that Mark doesn't uphold his principles. Zuck has told us over and over that calls to violence would not be tolerated on the platform, even if they were by the president of the United States. But on Friday, he decided to do nothing in response to the president's post.

O'SULLIVAN: Mark Zuckerberg's position here is that he doesn't want to have the power to basically shut down speech from the president of the United States.

Do you see any merits to that argument?

AVENI: Mark cares a lot about free expression. And so do I. But even the First Amendment doesn't have unlimited protections for free expression. Right now it's really important that we take a stand for what we know is harming the world. And if Mark keeps moving that goalpost, moving his threshold for when someone has crossed the line, especially someone as powerful as the president of the United States, we're in danger.

O'SULLIVAN: Tim, what's -- what is the danger here?

AVENI: So we've seen politicians incite violence in Myanmar and in the Philippines, and many, many people have died. People from these countries know that social media can be dangerous.

I love social media in a lot of ways. I think it can be a great force for good in the world. But I think we have to be really, really careful about how social media is changing the landscape.

O'SULLIVAN: If Mark Zuckerberg is watching this, what is your message to him?

AVENI: Look, Mark, I think you're doing great things for the company and I'm -- for the -- for the world even. I'm really, really proud of what FaceBook is doing, but you need to follow your own principles. You need to be honest with yourself about whether this idealistic notion of free expression that doesn't even show fact checks next to politicians' posts is really what's best for the world, because I don't think principle is valuable if you don't look at what it's doing in the real world and you don't look at that impact.


O'SULLIVAN: Now, FaceBook not responding directly to Aveni, only saying in a statement that they understand their community is hurting and they encourage employees to speak openly when they disagree with leadership.

But, Alisyn, I think the most important point that Aveni touched on there is that FaceBook, in the past, by its own admission, hasn't done enough to stop the promotion of violence on its platforms in places like Myanmar and it has had devastating consequences. And Aveni says he's fearful that FaceBook is running out of time to act here in the United States.


CAMEROTA: Aveni could not have made a more compelling case right there. I mean I think that because he worked there, he is able to see it from all sides. And he just stated exactly what he saw.

Thank you, Donie, for staying on this and bringing us that reporting. We really appreciate it.

Well, the NBA unveiling its plan to restart the season. When will the players be back on the court? The "Bleacher Report," next.



BERMAN: So it looks increasingly like I'm going to be watching an unprecedented amount of sports on TV pretty soon. Basketball could be back by the end of next month. It will look a little different.

Coy Wire with more on the "Bleacher Report."

Hey, Coy.


Can you believe the NBA finals were supposed to start yesterday with, of course, your Boston Celtics being involved. Instead, the league's board of governors approving a plan that would restart the season July 31st. Twenty-two of the 30 teams would compete. The proposal calling for eight regular season games being played before the playoffs to determine who would get in with a new champ being crowned no later than October 12th.

Now, the player's union still needs to approve the plan. And two big questions remain, where to host the games and how to keep everyone safe. The league says it's working on a deal to play the games at the Disney Sports Complex in Florida without fans. Commissioner Adam Silver saying the games will go on even if a player tests positive for Covid-19.

Finally, more than a dozen NFL superstars joined forces to send a powerful message to the league about racial inequality.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many times do we need to ask you to listen to your players?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will it take --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For one of us to be murdered by police brutality?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if I was George Floyd?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I was George Floyd --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if I was George Floyd?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I was George Floyd?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I was George Floyd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I was George Floyd?




WIRE: Now, the players say the NFL must condemn racism and the systemic oppression of black people. The video closing with the players insists they will not be silenced. Earlier in the day, John, the league did release a lengthy post on social media, saying, in part, that it stands with the black community because black lives matter. But for the players, how about a powerful, thoughtful message released yesterday, the same day, John, that a dozen Minnesota Vikings attended George Floyd's memorial.

BERMAN: That was so powerful, Coy. Thanks so much for bringing that to us. Appreciate it.


CAMEROTA: OK, now to an update on coronavirus.

A major study of patients who were taking Hydroxychloroquine has been retracted by a prominent medical journal over concerns about the data used.


CNN's Elizabeth Cohen joins us with details. What happened?


This was the largest study looking at Hydroxychloroquine in hospitalized patients. And it was really quite stunning. I was on your show a couple of weeks ago. It found that not only didn't it work, but it actually increased the chances that people would die. But now "The Lancet," which is a medical journal out of England, they are retracting it. It's because the database that they -- that the study author used, it was an international database, a huge database, is found to have been maybe not reliable. There are questions about its reliability, so they're retracting it.

But to be clear, prior to this one, there were two major studies that looked at Hydroxychloroquine that found that it didn't work. One even found that it increased the chances of cardiac arrest. Those have not been retracted. Those did not use this database. Those still stand.

The NIH and the FDA saying, don't take Hydroxychloroquine if you have Covid unless you're part of a clinical trial.


CAMEROTA: OK. And what about this new study on the use of Pepcid as a potential treatment?

COHEN: Right. So it's the use of Famotidine, which is the active ingredient in Pepcid. And this is sort of intriguing. There's been some thinking that this might help people who have coronavirus. And so this was a very small study. Can't emphasize how small it was. Ten patients.

And these ten patients were at home with Covid. They were not in the hospital. And they started taking Famotidine, again, the active ingredient in Pepcid, and they did feel better. Now, most people at home with Covid do feel better over time. So was it the Famotidine or was it just the natural course of the illness? We don't know.

So the important part about this study, Alisyn, is that it's making doctors say, hmm, maybe we should try this in a randomized clinical trial. Take people who are at home with Covid, give half of them Famotidine, half of them a placebo and see how they do.

There's also a clinical trial going on with Famotidine in hospitalized patients because there's some suggestion it might work for them as well.

CAMEROTA: And also, Elizabeth, doesn't this all stem from the fact that in China what doctors found was that just by coincidence, when they looked at their medical backgrounds, the patients who had already been on Famotidine, i.e. Pepcid, did better. Is that -- was that the origin of all of this?

COHEN: That is one of the two origins, Alisyn. It's really a fascinating story.

A doctor at Harvard was in China treating patients and he noticed that heartburn patients were doing better than the other Covid patients, but only the heartburn patients who were of low income. The richer ones were not doing better. It's because the ones who were of low income were taking Famotidine, which is a very inexpensive drugs -- which is a very inexpensive drug. And he said, hmm, maybe there's something there.

At the same time, doctors in -- or scientists, I should say, in Florida were using a computer model to see, hmm, what's already on our shelves that might help against Covid, just because of the way that the drug works, and Famotidine was near the top of the list.

CAMEROTA: It's just really interesting how everyone is learning as we go and how quickly they're able to develop new information about this that will hopefully be of help.

Elizabeth, thank you very much.

COHEN: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: Another disturbing incident of police using excessive force.

NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The three former police officers made their first court appearance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The big questions will be for the prosecutor to show that what Officer Chauvin was doing was so outrageous that these officers were actually obliged to intervene.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Historic, national demonstrations in Floyd's name are now well into their tenth day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As this group of protesters moves north on Fifth Avenue, officers just started moving in and making arrests.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's amazing to me that he touched so many people's hearts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time for us to stand up in George's name and say, get your knee off our necks.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

And breaking overnight, another incident of apparent excessive force by police. In this one, an officer pushes a 75-year-old protester. This all happened in Buffalo. It was all caught on video. And last night, just hours after this incident, two of the officers were suspended without pay. So we'll break down the details and just what it means on a larger scope.

Meanwhile, thousands of Americans poured into the streets in city after city overnight after an emotional memorial service for George Floyd in Minneapolis. The protests have remained largely peaceful. But President Trump is lashing out, vowing to actively campaign against a Republican senator who has been critical of his response this week. And he's also promoting the idea that the peaceful protesters at the White House earlier this week were, as he has referred to them in a letter, terrorists.

BERMAN: Three of the four fired police officers involved in George Floyd's death appeared in court.


Two of them, it turns out, were rookie cops. One had just been on the job for four days and the other was on his third full shift.