Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

13th Day Of Protests From Big Cities To Small Towns Across U.S.; Tropical Storm Cristobal To Make Landfall in Louisiana; Caravan Of Protesters Travel From Compton To LAPD Headquarters. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 7, 2020 - 18:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:00:00]

ANA CABRERA, CNN NEWSROOM: You are live in the CNN Newsroom. Thanks for staying with me. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York, and from New York to Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles and everywhere in between.

In the United States, we have now seen 13 days of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd and this movement is gaining steam across country and even around the world. Today, more people pouring into the streets demanding an end to systemic racism, in Washington, L.A., New York, Atlanta. House Democrats hoping to convert public momentum into policy action and they will introduce a sweeping police reform bill tomorrow. At the same time, President Trump is set to host a roundtable with law enforcement.

Also on Monday, Derek Chauvin, the now ex-police officer charged with killing George Floyd, due to make his first court appearance on upgraded second-degree murder charges, the very same day Floyd's family will meet privately with Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden as they prepare to lay George Floyd's body to rest in Houston.

Now, even with officers arrested, even with reform happening now, demonstrators around the country are not letting up with demands of accountability and systemic change. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio meeting at least some of those demands, lifting the city's curfew a due early and cutting part of the NYPD budget.

CNN's Bill Weir and Evan McMorris-Santoro are both New York for us. Bill, you're in Brooklyn. And I've heard that is a huge protest. What's the scene like right now?

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's really fascinating what's just happened here. This group started in Prospect Park, worked its way, and we thought they would try to cross the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan yesterday. It's obvious that the NYPD did not want that to happen. So organizers who could have taken a left here and forced a standoff chose not to. They've decided to stay on the Brooklyn side of the East River, which is sort of a fascinating sign of some detente that's gone back and forth. NYPD is letting protesters pretty much move wherever they want. But at the same time, protesters are picking their battles, so to speak, after a few very peaceful days of protests, Mayor de Blasio decided to lift the curfew a day earlier. But now as we talk about it, we look at the line, the thin, blue line of New York's finest, as they're known in better days, now the conversation is about all of the policy changes that these folks are calling for. We'll rejoin this march as we talk.

As we said, Mayor de Blasio, for the first time ever, and this is usually a third rail in politics, is calling to cut police budgets in current days. The police budget in New York City is about $6 billion. It's more than they spend on public health and education and homelessness combined, all of those big social programs. By defunding the police, that's this new rallying cry, they're not saying that cops should be, you know, fired en masse. Many of them are, anyway.

Some want to break up entire police departments, but most reformers still want robust police departments but a lot of those budgets that go into those services that cops really shouldn't be doing should go into social programs, and that's what we're talking about.

But the big question is how these ideas will past police unions, which should become increasingly powerful, increasingly more conservative, especially under President Donald Trump, and they fight accountability measures, they fight having disciplinary records of officers released. That's one of the reforms they're looking for here. And so this is just the beginning of a fascinating political story that will pay off as this action in the streets, as they try to turn it into policy. Ana?

CABRERA: Okay. Bill, Stand by. Let me turn to Evan, because you're across the East River in Manhattan. What is the scene like there, Evan?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Ana. I'm on Eighth Avenue. And for those who don't know New York, we just passed Madison Square Garden, where the New York Knicks play. So that gives you some example, some idea where we are.

This is a great example what these protests are like right now in New York. Several hundred people have been marching down Eighth Avenue. This protest is civil disobedience. This is blocking traffic. But it's peaceful. The police aren't getting involved with it. And as Bill mentioned, the curfew that had been such a controversy among many protesters who say, we're a peaceful movement, we don't need a curfew, has now been lifted maybe 8:00.

So whereas before we had some idea, maybe 8:00 when that curfew fell, that things might start to dissipate, well these protesters can stay out as long as they want now. And they are marching, and as I said, breaking rules but doing it very, very peacefully to make their point. Ana?

CABRERA: Okay. And this is, of course, all happening as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the state's lowest number of new coronavirus cases since March 16th. [18:05:06]

And so now New York City begins its reopening. Tell us what can we expect there, Evan?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, it's a great question and actually it's a perfect place to be asking it, because earlier in this protest, before I came on camera, we marched down the avenue and on either side of us were buses that have been used to move medical personnel around in this city. They've been staying at some hotels, they've been moving around, because this city desperately needed to increase medical capacity are and medical personnel during this pandemic.

Well, the story has dramatically changed as of today. Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing, of course, tomorrow is the first day that New York will have some opening. Governor Cuomo announcing that other parts of the state are able to open further and further, that deaths are down, the infection rate is down, the numbers are going in the right direction. And the most interesting thing is that the governor is saying that some large gatherings, like graduations, can actually start to happen later on this month in a smaller and more social distancing capacity.

So New York is making a change towards opening here while the protests are going on. Ana?

CABRERA: Okay. And I see a lot of people wearing those masks, trying to do the responsible thing. They are choosing to put themselves at risk going out in these large crowds. Thank you very much, Evan McMorris-Santoro, Bill Weir.

And now, let's check in on Washington. CNN's Pete Muntean is joining us there. Pete, another huge crowd there today.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A very big crowd, Ana. And it is a determined group. We just about finished the 1.8-mile walk from the White House where protesters gathered earlier today around 3:00. Now, we are on the steps of the United States Capitol. It has been a very well-organized group, a very peaceful group. The chants we know can be heard from the White House when protesters can gathered out on 16th Street, what is now Black Lives Matter Plaza.

I want to tell you about a bit more of quiet moment. All of those protesters gathered in Du Pont Circle, the heart of Northwest Washington, D.C., marched about eight blocks down to the White House and laid down for eight minutes in honor of George Floyd, put their hands behind their backs and said that I can't breathe. This group is very interesting. It is all shades, all races, all ages.

And I just want to show you the crowd here on the steps of the capitol. I spoke earlier with an 18-year-old, just devoted. His name Daniel, he's from Leesburg, Virginia. He says, November 3rd is especially important to him now that this has happened. He says that his generation will be the ones to lead lasting change when it comes to racism, when it comes to the powers of law enforcement.

We know that the capitol steps are important today. We know the Senate is in session, the House, meeting remotely. Ana?

CABRERA: Okay. Pete Muntean in Washington, thank you.

And we have some breaking news out of Washington. We are learning the White House is seriously considering having President Trump give a speech on race this week.

Let's go straight to CNN's Kristen Holmes at the White House. Kristen, what are you learning?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, we heard this from Ben Carson a little bit today when he was on with Jake Tapper. He alluded to this idea that President Trump may be speaking later on the week and expanding on his response to the killing of George Floyd and the tensions that have sparked across the country.

Now, we have it confirmed by a senior administration official to both me and my colleague, Sarah Westwood, that this is under serious consideration. Now, of course, they offer the one caveat, which is always the caveat in this administration, that things are fluid and ultimately it comes down to President Trump and what he wants to do.

But I have to tell you, Ana, it is night and day talking to people today versus talking to them on Thursday night going into the weekend. I mean, all of these sources close to the White House, part of the administration were viewing this week as really one of the worst of President Trump's tenure. I don't even know where to begin on the long list of what we saw, but it begins with the fumbling of the response to the killing of George Floyd, to these protests, the back and forth between this conservative and compassionate messaging and then what we saw on Twitter that was sparking this tension and possibly even seemingly at times sparking violence, and that goes on and on during the week.

We saw a photo op in front of St. John's Church, where peaceful protesters were cleared out of the way and really wrapping it all up, where the protesters here at the White House that followed a scathing rebuke by several generals who worked in his administration. So all over the place not a good week.

However, the messaging seems to have shifted, and here is why. They believe, and this is according to sources close to the campaign, close to the White House, who say that they believe that they can turn the messaging now, that because of these protests were largely peaceful, they believe that that messaging of law and order is really going to work.

[18:10:05]

And they can double down and say, look, I said that we were going to dominate in the streets, which we know is something President Trump said over and over again, and here is how it turned out, peaceful protests.

The other thing I want to focus on, because I think you're going to hear a lot about this from the White House, is this whole message around defunding the police. You are going to see the White House and President Trump, who is already doing it on Twitter, really cling to this message because they believe that this is going to help them get back some moderate voters as we get closer to November.

CABRERA: Okay. Kristen Holmes at the White House for us, thank you.

We will have much more on the calls for Justice, racial equality and reform. But, first, we want to give you an update on Tropical Storm Cristobal. 12 million Americans under a flood watch right now. We'll have more on that we when come back.

You are live in the CNN Newsroom.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Right now, Tropical Storm Cristobal is taking aim at the Gulf Coast.

[18:15:01]

Millions of people under watches or warnings as it brings high winds, heavy rain, flooding and even possible tornadoes. You can see the storm whipped up this waterspout earlier near Gulf Shores, Alabama. Cristobal is expected to make landfall in Louisiana sometime this afternoon. And a short time ago, President Trump approved an emergency declaration for that state to deal with the storm.

CNN's Derek Van Dam is in New Orleans. And, Derek, we know some people in that area were advised to evacuate their homes. What else can you tell us?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. It was a voluntary evacuation order for the Metropolitan area of New Orleans. But this is an area that is no stranger to tropical storms and hurricanes. They have better on the block, they understand how it goes. But this one is just slightly different, Ana, because this, of course, is playing out under the backdrop of several different national emergencies, namely the COVID-19 pandemic and, of course, that impacts so many things from response times to the ways that we report here at CNN.

Now, what I want our viewers to understand about the City of New Orleans is that this area has a drainage and sewage system that built within the city over 100 years ago. So it is extremely old. They've done a lot of updates to it but it's a progress. It's a work in progress, I should say. So it doesn't take long even though we're in between some of the heavier rain bands now within the city center. We're just outside of the French Quarter. Just because we're in between these rain bands, sometimes when the heavier rain bands move in, we have seen signs that they have overtaken the ability of the drainage system to actually pump out the water.

According to the sewage and drain board from the city of New Orleans, 99 pumps are operational at the moment. They have doubled their staff at some of the pumping stations, of course, exercising social distancing at the same time. Businesses and homes across the French Quarter, at least from walking around this area, have taken precautionary measures. I'm going to show you just over my left shoulder here, you can see one of the businesses just outside of Jackson Square where I'm located, and you can see the boards that are on the buildings there.

Now, this was the site of a Black Lives Matter protest that occurred Friday evening. So it's unclear whether or not those boards are up there to prevent any kind of looting. But I did see that some of the businesses have piled up sandbags right along the base of their doorways to prevent any water that could potentially enter their room.

So the major threats going forward still for the City of New Orleans, before Tropical Storm Cristobal makes landfall within the coming minutes, actually, is the potential for flash flooding. We talked about that a minute ago, but also storm surge. Just 45 minutes to my east, there have been reports on social media. We've seen a lot of videos coming out of this area. The Shell Beach region, Grand Isle, with storm surge that has exceeded five feet in some locations, and that's inundated some of the homes there across the coastal communities.

That's all we have from New Orleans. Ana, we'll send it back to you.

CABRERA: Okay. And even though we're seeing just a little sunshine breaking through the clouds there, we know the folks there in that community are not out of the woods yet. Thank you, Derek.

Let me bring in Meteorologist Tom Sater right now, who is tracking the storm right now. Where is it? What's it going?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, officially now, just minutes ago, Ana, the National Hurricane Center has declared that we have a landfall. Again, this is in between the mouth of the Mississippi and Grand Isle, Louisiana, which, by the way, much of Grand Isle is inundated and underwater all the way over toward Bay St. Louis, Pensacola and Jacksonville, Florida.

The infrared satellite imagery shows it's not a real good core at the center. Do not pay attention to the fact this isn't a hurricane, because in June, these storms dropped unbelievable amounts of rainfall. And as I mentioned an hour ago, I'm sure many communities are shocked at what they're seeing right now.

Now, where Derek is in New Orleans, they're getting some sunshine because the core isn't really filled with cloud cover and New Orleans missed out on the bulk of the rainfall, which is good news. All the way (INAUDIBLE) damage, Lake County, Florida, Southeast Orlando, flood watches continue all the way up in the Missouri Valley, where already in Florida, we've had an excess of ten inches of rain, some three-hour totals have been excessive, six, seven inches of rain in just three hours.

Now, this wind field is so broad, because Cristobal, over a week ago, was named Amanda. It was a storm in the Eastern Pacific. It dropped 35, 45 inches of rain in Central America. So because it's been spinning for a week, its wind profile is so broad and still extend out off the coast a good 200 to 250 miles, it's going to take until tomorrow afternoon to get the circulation well inland. So the bands of rain that you're seeing here, Dauphin Island and Biloxi, those are going to continue.

And as those storms move in, they drag the strongest winds aloft down to the surface. So we are seeing some power outages, over 20,000 in areas.

[18:20:00]

We're going to have, because the root system of these trees inundated with heavy rain and the flooding, it won't take much of a wind to knock them down, so more of that could occur.

Storm surge threat from (INAUDIBLE) are already exceeding the forecast of five feet in some areas. And with that heavy rainfall continuing to form in this area, no doubt we're going to have in the way of flash flood problems, especially if this is going to take another 24 hours.

What's really interesting, records go back to 1850, when you talk about records for the Atlantic hurricane season. This is the earliest we've ever had, three named storms. The forecast calls for an active season and, again, a number of major hurricanes.

But after dropping another ten inches of rain or up to 10, 12 in some areas, this it takes an odd track. I don't think we've ever seen a track where this time of the year you have a system moving up towards Eastern Canada and this far west. So tropical rains are going to be a problem for the entire week all the way up through Missouri, all the way up towards Wisconsin, Minnesota. We were talking about tropical rains with this system in Northern Wisconsin, unprecedented.

So, again, it's not over with. There will most likely be some evacuations and maybe some water rescues. We know major roads are shut down, including Highway 90 and a portion of I-10. So, again, it's not about the winds. It's about the storm surge, Ana, and the heavy rain that will continue from the storm, which was once called Amanda. It's just amazing beginning to the hurricane season here.

CABRERA: Yes. What a powerful storm, as you said. It will be days before it's out of our hair. Thank you so much, Tom Sater. Thanks as well to Derek Van Dam in New Orleans.

So protests continue across the U.S., there is a new accusation of excessive police force against a black man, this time, it's in Fairfax, Virginia. An officer there is now facing three separate charges. We'll show you the body cam footage, next.

You're live in the CNN Newsroom.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:25:00]

CABRERA: Okay. Let's head to the west coast and CNN's Paul Vercammen is at the LAPD headquarters after traveling with a caravan from Compton earlier today. Paul, what's the latest? PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you can look here, Ana, we're just going to show you is getting rather dynamic on several fronts. Over here, we see people are marching to city hall and then some of the cars in the caravan are starting to pour through right now, honking horns and making their statement in front of police headquarters.

So, off in the distance, we'll start to see more of the caravan. It's difficult to keep hundreds of cars together when you're making a en- mile trek, and that's how long it was. But what the organizer told us, Ron Gochez, he felt that this caravan was a great way for someone to protest who couldn't make a ten-mile march, and also he thought it was being very respectful of COVID-19 social distancing rules, because he thought that going ahead and protesting in a car would be safe.

And so here is what Ron told us earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON GOCHEZ, CARAVAN PROTEST ORGANIZER: We have people from South Central, people coming from San Diego, people coming from Riverside. And somebody was saying thank you for organizing this, because there are people who can't participate on the protests, maybe health issues, some people on wheelchairs. Everybody can participate in this.

And we understand and we know that not everyone has a vehicle, but we try have another way for more people to participate in these actions. COVID-19 is real, and we want our people to be careful, that's why this is another that we can show our solidarity with the black community and movement against police terrorism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: So, what we can tell you is we have not seen police and protesters square off in any way. We also are starting to see what seems to be that drawing down of the National Guard in Los Angeles. We have not seen any National Guard troops anywhere in terms of the protests.

We did see from a long way's away what seemed to be a line of National Guard vehicles possibly getting on the freeway. That may have indicated that they're getting out of town and a police source telling us earlier today that they would only be deployed if something happened, and the goal seems to be to have the National Guard leave Los Angeles perhaps within the next 24 hours, Ana.

CABRERA: Okay. Paul Vercammen in Los Angeles for ups, thank you.

And now, before we leave for break, the Before the Bell report, and we've just learned a misclassification error, I should say, in the May jobs report. May placed the real unemployment rate higher than the one touted by President Trump this week. The report released Friday surprised a lot of people when it showed unemployment falling to 13.3 percent in Many, as the economy gained 2.5 million jobs.

However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted its data collectors for the third month in a row misclassified some workers. And because of that, the unemployment rate could have been as high as 19.2 percent in April and 16.1 percent in May, not including seasonal adjustments.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: A police officer in Virginia is facing three counts of assault and battery and up to three years in prison after first tasing and then arresting a black man. This happened on Friday. And we're just getting a look at police bodycam video. The victim appears disoriented and incoherent at times. You can hear officers try to talk him into getting into an ambulance as the man says he wants to detox. Then this happens. And I want to warn you, you may find this hard to watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does he want it?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anthony, relax. Anthony, relax. Anthony. Anthony.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Relax.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Didi, Didi. Help. Help. Help. No, no. No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[18:35:20]

CABRERA: Well, with us now former Boston police commissioner Ed Davis and former police public safety director for Dekalb County, Georgia, and former president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Cedric Alexander.

Cedric, if you were showing this video to a group of cadets, what examples would you give as what not to do?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, FORMER PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT EXECUTIVES: Everything that he just did. That was absolutely horrible, and it was brutal, and he should have been charged and arrested. That was just totally unnecessarily uncalled for, and that's just why at this very moment in the history of this nation people are asking for police reform because the sad part about it is in all of this, Ana, there are officers out there who know how to legitimately, and know when to use their tasers. There was no cause for it here.

This guy was passive in his resistance. And then to put him on the ground and continue to tase him, that is absolutely horrible. Absolutely horrific and it's unfortunate that here again the American public and people around the world have to view this.

CABRERA: Ed, when officers go through the academy, what kind of training do they receive on de-escalation or unconscious bias? And I'm curious how much of what they internalize as behavior they absorb in the field as they're first learning the job?

ED DAVIS, FORMER COMMISSIONER, BOSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: That's actually a very good point. The academy teaches them something called a continuum of force. And that continuum starts with an officer's mere presence in uniform. And it goes all the way up to the use of lethal force and it's predicated upon the actions of the individual you're dealing with. So in this particular case, there was absolutely no need of this -- of this taser.

I really think that there are some officers out there that are simply pulling that thing out as a replacement for -- for talking to people or trying to put hands on them, as you -- as you handcuff them. So the taser issue is an issue that has presented itself. It's like a new tool, and a guy like this I don't know what planet he's from, but to just pull that out and do that to this man is -- it's more than unconscionable. It's dumb.

CABRERA: There are other officers now facing charges in Buffalo, New York. After we all saw that disturbing video shoving them a 75-year- old protester to the ground after police initially claimed he tripped and fell, but they were greeted by cheers at their arraignment yesterday, and we've learned 57 of their fellow officers have now resigned from the same unit in protest of the charges and the disciplinary action against those two officers.

Cedric, what does this say about police culture?

ALEXANDER: Well, you know, let me say this. You know, we're in this era of reform, and I think the American public, people across the United States are beginning to see things that maybe they had not paid very much attention to before as it relates to the culture. There are cultural issues that need to be addressed, and it is unfortunate, but I think what we see in New York and other places is going to play -- is going to play itself out in reform. And reform certainly needs to take place. We just need to determine what that is going to look like and what it means.

CABRERA: Ed, the mayor of Buffalo says he believes the police union pressured these officers to resign as a show of solidarity for those two officers who were charged. Have police unions become too powerful?

DAVIS: I think that there needs to be a hard look taken at their influence internally and also their political influence. You've got to remember, Ana, that terminations of police officers usually involve the political structure. The police chief sometimes makes recommendations to avoid or to a mayor or a city manager. In the police department I first worked in, I couldn't do anything but suspend someone for five days. The city manager had to handle discipline.

So the point is that the unions really do play a role in this. It becomes political. It's got to do with donations for politicians. There really needs to be a hard look taken at this, despite the fact that most unions are full of people that are good cops.

CABRERA: Cedric, we also learned just last hour -- go ahead.

ALEXANDER: Yes. Yes, let me add one thing in terms of what Ed just mentioned.

[18:40:03]

The unions, we have to understand, and certainly Ed understands this as I do, is that they are not there to build relationships in communities. They're there to protect their membership, but more importantly, decisions that are made around officer discipline that are a concern, builds a right, a lot of that is being negotiated by management and unions.

So before Ed, before myself going back years, a lot of these policies were put into place, and have remained there, but you've got to remember, management has given up some of these rights as well, too. Now, trying to get them back is going to be a challenge.

CABRERA: I mean, just seems like those unions should still have the public interest at the heart of their priorities.

Ed, let me turn to this new development out of Minneapolis, because in the last hour as we reported here, the city council, we learned, intends to disband the police department there. What's your reaction to that?

DAVIS: Well, it's very troubling. This is a very difficult time right now and people are really grasping for solutions. And there is a component of this that is, you know, an aim of some groups for a long time, to defund police departments.

Disbanding is an extreme move. It has happened before, though. And I can see in Minneapolis that if there's any one place that there should be a hard look taken at what happened it should be Minneapolis. There should be an after-action report there that delves into each of the 18 complaints against that officer. Why they weren't pursued, why it didn't result in discipline and what political or supervisory failure occurred so that we can learn from that.

CABRERA: And Cedric, I have to get your take because I just think about what it must be like to be a black officer right now, that they must feel so torn?

ALEXANDER: No. They're not torn. Look, it's -- it's like this. They have a job to do. Police officers of color whether they're black or brown. Yes, we have to work with a great number of people from a variety of different backgrounds, but I can tell you, having been a black chief of police, having been a black policeman on the street, we all have a responsibility. I have a responsibility to be sensitive to communities, certainly of people that look like me and people that I grew up around. But more importantly, to black police officers and police officers of

color that are out there, they're only interested in one thing, and that is doing their very best for everyone and they're going to do what's right hopefully all of the time, and continue to set examples for everyone else that's around them. So it really doesn't matter whether you're black and white. We all have a responsibility to serve the community and conserve them constitutionally.

Yes, black officers have struggled. Brown officers have struggled in departments where they have been in the minority. They have to deal with a lot historically. And I remember those days. Many of us remember those days, but we also have evolved. But when you take a department like Minneapolis, if you go back and look at its history from the 1800s, it was established for those of financial wealth to keep those at the bottom down which were primarily immigrant coming into this country and subsequently people of color.

So we all have a unique responsibility to make sure that everybody in this country receives what they're supposed to receive constitutionally, and we're going to make sure, and I'm going to make sure, every day that I get up and make this nation do what it said it's supposed to do for everybody.

CABRERA: Cedric Alexander, Commissioner Ed Davis, great conversation. Thank you very much.

DAVIS: Thank you.

ALEXANDER: Thank you.

CABRERA: This is not a race. This is a marathon. That is what we keep hearing from protesters. The changes they are seeking are not going to happen overnight, but they are intent on ensuring they do happen.

And coming up tonight, unconscious bias. What it is, how it affects us. Join Fredricka Whitfield for a special conversation. "UNCONSCIOUS BIAS: FACING THE REALITIES OF RACISM." That's live tonight at 10:00 Eastern here on CNN.

[18:45:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Tomorrow the ex-officer accused of murdering George Floyd, Derek Chauvin, will appear in court as we get new insight into the legal strategy for some of the other officers involved in Floyd's death. And joining us now is CNN legal analysts Elie Honig and Joey Jackson.

So, Elie, two of the officers charged were extremely new to the job. One had been in his role for just four days. Another was on his third shift with the department, we've learned. Now, those cops are pinning all the blame on Chauvin, the officer who was kneeling on Floyd's neck, because he had 19 years of experience. He was the senior officer.

What do you think of this defense?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, so, it's not unexpected that this is the defense they're going to go with. Look, any trial was unpredictable, any trial was difficult. It's particularly difficult when you're talking about the charges here are aiding and abetting, meaning these officers are not charged with doing the killing with their own hands but with helping former officer Chauvin commit the killing in some way.

[18:50:03]

And I think the best they can do is to argue, we were rookies, we didn't know what we're doing, and it was this guy, it was this more experienced officer. Will it succeed? I doubt it. I mean, they're police officers, they have a duty to stop people from getting hurt. So that will be the defense, I think, for sure.

CABRERA: Joey, I just want to play you what the attorney for one of those rookie officers, Thomas Lane, said when asked if he was going to claim his client was just following orders.

(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 bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Joey, what's your reaction to that?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: A couple of things, Ana. Good to be with you and Elie. The first thins is let's just clarify, you do not have to have criminal intent. What the -- let's be clear. This is a felony murder count with regard to aiding and abetting. That means you're participating, assisting, you're otherwise involved. What that means is, if the -- while you're engaged in the assault, if someone dies, that's it.

You don't have to establish that you intended to kill anybody, just that you were engaging in the assault. I do think, though, to his point, in the event that you had an officer say, should we turn him over, should we turn him over, and the other officer disregards and then ignores it, you can certainly use that to negate any intent that you had to do anything other than assist.

To Elie's point, a very good one, I think there's going to be a lot of finger-pointing in this case, was it me? Chauvin did it. He's the guy who's senior, he's the guy who did everything, he's the person who applied the pressure on the neck. He's the one who should accept the responsibility. I did nothing other than be there. I was inexperienced. I didn't know what I was doing. I was relying upon him. Let's see if that dog hunts. But for sure, you're going to see a lot of finger-pointing as to the main officer and that is Chauvin, Ana. CABRERA: Elie, Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison says it will

be hard to get convictions against these officers. Just in general, how hard is it to convict a police officer?

HONIG: It's very hard, Ana. And Attorney General Ellison is absolutely right to say that. First of all, even in a normal case, and Joe can tell you this. Joe is a defense lawyer, I was a prosecutor. Anyone who tells you that any trial is going to be easy, does not know what they're talking about. A jury is 12 everyday citizens thrown together to make a momentous occasion. Every trial lawyer has stories of being stunned by something that a jury did.

That's particularly the case in police cases like this is. And, look, this is a race case as well. And even if you just look back at the last 30 years of your history, it is littered with examples of white police officers being acquitted for assaulting or killing unarmed black individuals. So there is an extra degree of uncertainty here. I think Attorney General Ellison is sending the exact right message. Justice is the goal, but it is far from assured.

CABRERA: Joey, we are really seeing the power of videotape on display in this case. We have the cell phone video, we have surveillance video, we have so many different angles. Is all that video evidence enough for a case like this?

JACKSON: Hey, you know, without question, it's compelling. As to whether it will be enough is a story for another day. A lot of variables as it relates to a jury. One of which, you know, was just pointed out by Elie with respect to the history here. You could remember, I cannot breathe, I cannot breathe in Staten Island. We saw no indictment in that case. So that didn't get prosecuted. We saw in Minneapolis the issue involving Philando Castile during a car stop, that went to trial, there was an acquittal.

But after you get through all of that, you have the videotape, it's compelling. It's compelling and it will be used and it will admissible and it will be shown to show that Officer Chauvin had his knee on his neck for an unreasonable amount of time. The jury will have to see that. They will be in disgust as many of us will be in disgust. And not only will Officer Chauvin's conduct be on display, right, or lack thereof in terms of this inhumanity, but what the others did during the course of his conduct will be on display.

Where they were, did they hear George Floyd when he said, I want my mom, I can't breathe, you're going to kill me. Where were you and what did you do? What angle did you have? Right? Is it believable that you could not have taken appropriate steps to save his life? So without question, Ana, very good point. That video means everything.

CABRERA: Elie, now that the officers have been charged, how long would you expect the trial process to take?

HONIG: Yes, look, everybody involved in this, if you have an ounce of commonsense, understands that justice delayed is justice denied. They need to get this thing indicted, which is the next step in the grand jury. That's on the prosecutors, and then tried as soon as humanly possible. I don't think we're going to see a trial realistically this summer, but if I was prosecuting this case, I'd be pushing like mad to get this thing tried by the end of 2020, maybe at the latest early 2021. The stakes here are too high. They've got to get this done quick.

CABRERA: All right. Elie Honig, Joey Jackson, good to have both of you with us. Thank you both so much.

JACKSON: Thank you, Ana.

HONIG: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: And that's going to do it for me this evening. But before I turn you over to our Wolf Blitzer, I want to leave you with this image. We just got it in from Raleigh, North Carolina, painted in bright yellow letters on the street there, "End racism now."

[18:55:07]

And that is the message protesters across this country are demanding the nation hear right now. That black lives matter, that systemic racism is real, that the current status quo is deadly. Time will tell who was listening.

Thanks for being here. Good night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)