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Soon, Fired Police Officer Faces Murder Charge in Court; Majority of Minneapolis City Council Wants Police Defunded; George Floyd Public Viewing in Houston This Afternoon; House & Senate Democrats Unveil Sweeping Police Reform Bill; Dr. Tracie Keesee, Co- Founder & SVP, Center for Policing Equity, Discusses Rebuilding Trust Between Police & Communities. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired June 8, 2020 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, we're watching three major stories and big developments following the death of George Floyd.

This afternoon, fired Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, is appearing in court for the first time. He faces a second-degree murder charge for, of course, kneeling on George Floyd's neck for those eight minutes and 46 seconds.

Also a massive turnout is expected -- you're looking at live pictures from Houston -- in George Floyd's hometown. They are in Texas for his memorial and public viewing. That is starting and around two hours from now. We'll take you there live.

We're also watching the Minneapolis city council. The council's president says a majority of members now support defunding and dismantling the Minneapolis police force, setting up a showdown with the city's mayor who doesn't think the city council should go that far.

Let's go to Minneapolis where CNN's Josh Campbell is standing by.

Josh, first, can you bring everybody up to speed with what we started with off the top, which is what is expected in court today as Derek Chauvin faces a judge.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Kate. This will be the first time we'll see former officer, Derek Chauvin. He'll be by video link behind me to a judge in one of these courtrooms. And this will be one of those appearances.

What we're waiting to see if his lawyers signal what his defense will be. This will be a bail hearing, relatively short, but we could get an indication of what that defense might be.

We do know, when we were in court last week for the other three officers that were charged in this case, two of their attorneys actually pointed the finger at Chauvin and his seniority, saying he was largely responsible for the death of George Floyd. We'll wait to see today whether we give some indication of what Chauvin's defense might be.

There will be some legal experts who have looked to the possibility of George Floyd resisting during that encounter. We know that under the Minneapolis policy, that neck restraints are allowed if a suspect is resisting, at least they were until they were just voted against.

That's the question: When George Floyd was on the ground was he resisting? We remember that dramatic cell phone video, where you see Chauvin's knee on his neck, the medical examiner ruling that incident and George Floyd's death a homicide.

Again, we'll wait to see whether or not we get some signal from the defense attorney what his defense will be as he faces these very serious charges -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

Josh, if you could stand by. More from you in just a second.

But let me bring in Elie Honig, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor for a little bit more on this.

As we know, Elie, you and I have sat through a lot of first appearances together. They can be short and limited on what you learn. What are you looking for today in this first appearance?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, part of what we see today, Kate, will be nuts and bolts. Chauvin will be advised of the charges against him, about his constitutional rights to remain silent and his right to an attorney.

I think the more interesting question is, will we get a peek at what his sentence is, as Josh said. We could get that today.

And I think the only defense he has, and I don't think it's a particularly good one, given the videotape, is intent.

Everyone can see the physical actions right there on the videotape. But the defense argument will be there was no intent to kill or assault. This was a police officer using force that was necessary to get an individual under control and in custody.

That's really hard to square with the eight minutes and 46 seconds, particularly the last couple of minutes when George Floyd is completely unresponsive.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Josh pointed to this as well. Last week, two of the other officers charged are trying to pin blame on Chauvin, saying he was a senior officer and he's responsible for what happened. If you see that starting to come out, what do you think of that?

HONIG: Yes. This will happen any time you have a multi-defendant case here, and here we have four defendants. They will start pointing fingers at one another. Look, that will be the defense that two of these officers were in

their first few days on the job. They'll say they were essentially following the lead of the much more experienced Officer Chauvin.

I think the response to that is, it doesn't matter if you're in the first shift or 1,000th shift, once you put the badge on, you owe a duty to the public. I think that will be the response to that defense.

BOLDUAN: What are the prosecutors -- this is taking a step down the road, but what do prosecutors need to show for what he's facing right now, a second-degree murder conviction?

HONIG: The way this is charged by Attorney General Keith Ellison is very smart. He actually does not need to prove that Chauvin intended to kill George Floyd. All he needs to do is prove that Chauvin intended to assault George Floyd and a death resulted. That's a second-degree murder charge that carries a maximum of 40 years in prison.

And the key question is: Did Chauvin use reasonable force necessary to take George Floyd into custody, or did he cross that line and use unreasonable excessive force?

BOLDUAN: All of this coming down -- will be coming down the road, but today being the very critical first step of a first appearance before the judge to get this ball rolling.

You mentioned the Attorney General Keith Ellison, who is in charge of this case. He has said, Elie, that despite the video that we now know, that everyone has condemned, a conviction isn't going to easy. Why is that?

[11:05:10]

HONIG: He's absolutely right. First of all, no one can ever tell you what a jury will do. Juries are 12 regular men and women, regular civilians. It's hard to get all 12 of them to agree on somebody's guilt. Not just by a reasonable doubt, that is a very high verdict.

Juries are inherently unpredictable. Throw in the fact that this is a police case. We've seen time and again juries are reluctant to convict police officers.

This is a race case. There's a race element here. And the history of racially charged police uses of force is not a good one.

So I think Keith Ellison was wise to manage expectations. And I think he was recognizing a reality, that everything here is going to be important but nothing is going to be easy.

BOLDUAN: Elie, thank you. I really appreciate it.

HONIG: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Let me get back to Josh Campbell. Let me bring him back now because there's another major story happening. Really, a new chapter in the response to George Floyd's death.

The Minneapolis city council is vowing to defund and dismantle the city's police department, Josh. You've talked to the city council president about this. What exactly do they mean by defund and dismantle?

CAMPBELL: Yes. That's a great question, Kate. And as we've been talking about the charges against these four officers, this prosecution is still in its infancy. But the city council is wanting to move ahead immediately with reforms against this police department.

As you mentioned, I spoke yesterday with the president of the city council who says that they want to dismantle the police department and rebuild it with some other public safety model. In her words, the police department here is not effectively serving the public.

Let's listen here to what she told me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LISA BENDER, (D), PRESIDENT, MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL: We committed to dismantling policing as we know it in the city of Minneapolis and to rebuild with our community a new model of public safety that actually keeps our community safe.

What I heard from my colleagues today was a commitment to an acknowledgement that the system is not working and a real commitment to move forward together with our community at the center, to listen, especially to our black leaders, communities of color, for whom policing is not working and to really let the solutions lie in our community.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMPBELL: Now there are a lot of unanswered questions here, Kate, about what happens next. Although, the city council, according to the president there, has nine votes, a veto-proof majority, the purview of the police department is actually under the mayor. So there are questions about whether the city council actually has authority. I think that that would probably be litigated in the courts.

But also we haven't got an indication of what have comes next. I asked the president of the city council if she's talking about abolishing all law enforcement in police and she said, no, that's not the case, certainly not in the short term.

But, again, the question is you're going to continue to have crime. Unfortunately, that won't go away. If you get rid of the police, who will be protecting the public? That's an unanswered question.

Right now, this is an idea, but we haven't yet seen a plan. We've been asking the questions and will continue to do so -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Also, Josh, the mayor has been -- he's been answering questions about it. He says that he does not support wholly abolishing the police department. He does say, he did say again this morning that I believe his terminology was he supports massive structural change and reform though to the police department.

Are they -- are they saying the same thing? Are they more on the same page than they might be saying publicly?

CAMPBELL: Yes. So we haven't gotten the details from the city council so we don't know exactly what they are looking at. But their position does seem a little more extreme than where the mayor is.

Now the mayor was asked outright at a rally over the weekend whether he would defund the police. He said no. He was actually booed by this crowd as he left that event.

Now it's also worth pointing out, Kate, that he's not alone. Just this weekend on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Representative Karen Bass, who we heard from earlier, was asked the question earlier about whether we should abolish the police and she said, no, I'm not in favor of abolishing the police.

But she talked more about reprograming funds away from certain segments of law enforcement and to other areas of the communities where they can provide certain services. I think we're talking about two extremes here. Certainly, the mayor and some members of Congress not talking about getting rid of law enforcement.

But again, it's a new position and markers set down by the Minneapolis city council is the most drastic we've seen, thus far. Still a lot of unanswered questions about what comes next.

BOLDUAN: And real changes and reforms to policing in America is an important conversation that we continue to have this hour, next hour and for the foreseeable future.

Josh is on the ground for us in Minneapolis. Thanks, Josh.

I want to go now to Houston, Texas, where George Floyd will be laid to rest in his hometown tomorrow. And about two hours from now, friends, family and the public will have a chance to say good-bye.

CNN's Sara Sidner is in Houston right now and joins me now.

Sara, what are you seeing there on the ground? What are you hearing from folks?

[11:09:59]

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: About a half an hour ago, we watched as the police escorted the hearse with George Floyd's body in it to what will be his final resting place where the public is going to be able to say goodbye to him.

This is the third memorial for George Floyd. And I can't imagine the heaviness for the family who has had to stand up and help everyone else grieve and get through this.

Their memorial, which will be private, where they are going to be able to say their final good-byes, will be on Tuesday. But they have been in city after city, from Minneapolis to North

Carolina and now to Houston where he's from. They have been standing and being there for the public. Eventually, it will be their turn to finally be able to let all of their grief loose in a private memorial.

We understand that the vice president, Joe Biden, who is the presidential candidate, is meeting privately with the family today. And, you know, what that means to people, they don't want this to be political. They want this to be honoring of George Floyd in the realest possible way.

And so you're going to hear from friends and you're going to hear Al Sharpton do the eulogy here in Houston.

He was a -- he was Houston's boy from the Third Ward. He was a guy who was involved in music and rap, known in that area. There's a lot of people who have a lot of things to say about George Floyd and what he contributed to them.

But right now, this is the public's chance here in Houston where he grew up to say good-bye to him and then later the families.

BOLDUAN: As we've seen the outcry and outpouring of support for his family, for him in the two weeks since this tragedy has happened. Now the public will have its chance to say its final good-bye in Houston starting in just a couple of hours.

Sara, thank you so much.

Coming up still for us, the relationship between the police and the communities they serve. Can that relationship be rebuilt? A 30-year police veteran says, yes, if one rule is followed. He'll will be our guest.

Plus, parts of New York City reopening today. The mayor of New York City says it's a triumphant moment. Is the city ready?

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:16:43]

BOLDUAN: Today, House Democrats are laying out their first move in response to the death of George Floyd in almost two weeks of protest around the country demanding policing reforms.

Just last hour, we saw Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, including the Congressional Black Caucus, come together and unveil the legislation that they are putting out today aimed at ending police brutality, aimed at reforming policing in America. But what exactly does that mean coming from a federal level?

CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill. He was at the press conference. He joins us now.

Manu, what is in this bill and where does Republican support stand on it?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We haven't seen any Republicans come out in support of this. Democrats say they have 200 people who have signed on officially becoming co-sponsors of this legislation. We haven't seen the full list but I can tell you it's very likely to be all Democrats backing this at the moment.

What this essentially does is imposes national standards on policing, dealing with training to try to prevent racial profiling, including a national database to include information about when an officer might do something problematic that would get reported into a database so an officer who goes to a different jurisdiction they would know what that past history of an individual officer is.

But it also increases how officers can be held -- can be sued in civil court if an individual's right is violated, allegedly, their constitutional rights.

Democrats say they want to move through this quickly. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and the Congressional Black Caucus leaders all are having this press conference now, making it very clear they want this to move through the House before the Fourth of July.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Police brutality is a heartbreaking reflection of an entrenched system of racial injustice in America. True justice can only be achieved with full comprehensive action. That's what we are doing today. This is a first step. There is more to come.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Democrats will not let this go away, and we will not rest until we achieve real reforms.

Leader McConnell, let's have the debate, not just on TV and Twitter but on the floor of the United States Senate. A divided nation cannot wait for healing, for solutions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Now, Republicans have said that they don't believe that national standards are the way to go. They think they needs to be done along the local level, which is why there has not been Republican support for this.

But among the other measures included in this big bill is a ban on chokeholds and other uses of force like that. So we'll see how members respond when they start dealing with some of the specifics in this bill.

But at the moment, Kate, a Democratic effort to get to the Democratic House but unlikely to get through the Republican Senate -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Manu, thank you so much.

Our next guest says any new way of policing needs to be built around trust, not fear.

She recently wrote in the "Washington Post" this, in part: "I served as a police officer for almost 30 years in Denver and New York City. I can tell you firsthand that we still have too many officers who subscribe to the belief that specific communities are full of threats to neutralize, not people to serve of and protect. A new way of policing, one based on the consent of the community, can never take root in that poisoned soil."

Joining me right now is Tracie Keesee, a police officer for 30 years, co-founder for the Center for Policing Equity.

[11:20:07]

Thanks so much for being here.

DR. TRACIE KEESEE, CO-FOUNDER & SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF JUSTICE INITIATIVES, CENTER FOR POLICING EQUITY & FORMER POLICE OFFICER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: I said to you in the break, what you wrote in the "Washington Post" in this piece is really thoughtful. I recommend everyone taking a look at it.

But, first and foremost, I wanted to ask you your reaction to what House Democrats are laying out in this first move.

KEESEE: Well, I think what we're going to be seeing, not just with House Democrats but throughout the country, are these initiatives and pushes to get some kind of reform put in place.

You know, for me, I'm absolutely in agreement that there has to be something that certainly cordons all of us together on a certain set of ideals, especially the use of force, how do you report that, how do you analyze it, how do you know that officers who is have been fired are still out there trying to find jobs in other jurisdictions.

So I think what's in this bill is a start. But I think what we also hear is folks are all over the place about what reform should look like. I think we'll have a lot of conversations around it. It's not just happening, you know, federally --

BOLDUAN: Right.

KEESEE: -- but locally as well.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And in your piece you also wrote -- you wrote that you "served with thousands of honorable police officers" and, in your experience, "no one joins the force wanting to take a life."

But the country is now in this moment, Tracie, right? What reforms do you want to see? And is there -- I'm not trying to make this -- I do not want to oversimplify this because this does need to be a big conversation.

KEESEE: Right. BOLDUAN: But in your experience, in all of your experience, in all of your years of experience, is there one thing that seems that needed to be included in the reforms, either on the federal levels or that you would like to see in police departments all across the country that would be a part of the solution?

KEESEE: So, I would say there's lots of things, so I can't pinpoint one. But I can tell you, like I state in the article, there is now or has been and continues to be a reliance on policing to deal with social issues in black communities.

When you have law enforcement that are put out into the community to enforce social distancing, when you have police officers responding to folks who are in mental health crisis, and when you're responding to people who are homeless and have a number of other issues that are underlying that problem, you are, again, not dealing with the issue.

When we talk about and when the conversations around defunding police and, you know, collapsing or ridding communities of police, a lot of this has to do with the lack of investment in the black community.

What we are doing now and what we're hearing and seeing now is a reckoning of that.

And so what has to happen is not only do we need to have community at the center of whatever reforms happen, but I am one that doesn't really tend to the word reform because I've been in it for so long, I see a lot of things happen.

This is beyond programmatic pieces here. What the community is asking for is structural and wholesale process change. And so the chiefs that we work with and the chiefs that I talk to understand it.

But the interesting part about this is that, typically, the folks that are closest to it, officers on the ground and folks that I've worked, they still don't have an understanding about what's happening here,

So while we're also dealing with what's the best way to deliver public safety, you also have to begin to address the concerns of the officers inside, and that means those that are trying to do the right thing every day.

BOLDUAN: Tracie, you mentioned this conversation about defunding or dismantling police departments. Is that oversimplifying it? I believe that most people do not think that -- in hearing that, they don't necessarily mean they want to do away with law enforcement in their community, writ large. Are you concerned that that is where the debate is headed though?

KEESEE: You can tell it's happening on a spectrum right?

BOLDUAN: Yes.

KEESEE: In some communities and some folks who have had ongoing experiences, that's what they mean, at least the folks I've talked to. So you're really running a spectrum with this. A lot of folks are talking about, do we actually, you know, collapse

like Minneapolis is trying to do, or is what we're really talking about is redefining what public safety means as opposed to law and order.

So I think those are a lot of things in this conversation right now. They run the gamut, depending on the city, depending, of course, on how city council and local governments are with that.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

KEESEE: But I think it's going to be different. I think you'll see different forms of fighting public safety on the other side of this.

[11:24:58]

BOLDUAN: I also wonder, what is the role of police unions here, very -- very powerful unions across the country? How do you work with them to get them on board with wholesale structural change in how policing and how policing is conducted? Can you?

KEESEE: Well, I think the one thing we have to keep in mind is the role of unions, especially policing is to protect the right of those officers as well as be collective bargaining unions -- units. The one thing that you cannot do is not do this work without the unions.

One of the concerns I know folks have is that they have thwarted types of efforts in the past to get things moved or to actually do wholesale change. But you have to understand unions represent a broad swath of policing. And this work is not going to go forward without some type of conversation, some type of understanding.

And that goes back, again, to what I'm saying in regard to, do unions really understand what's happening here as well as the folks or the officers that they represent.

BOLDUAN: Your voice is an important one in this.

Tracie, thank you.

KEESEE: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead for us, as New York City begins phase one of its reopening, we're awaiting a live press conference from New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo. We'll take you there when it begins.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)