Return to Transcripts main page


Lawyer for Fired Rookie Cop: Bystanders Didn't Help Floyd Either; Confusion over WHO Message on Asymptomatic Spread of Coronavirus; Soon, Funeral Service for George Floyd in Houston; Ebony Morgan, of CAHOOTS, Discusses Alternative Models of Policing. Aired 11:30a-12p ET.

Aired June 9, 2020 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: The attorney for one of the former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd is offering up a shocking possible defense. If what was happening to George Floyd was so wrong and so bad, why didn't the bystanders who were recording it step in? Listen for yourself.


EARL GRAY, ATTORNEY FOR FORMER OFFICER THOMAS LANE: The public is watching this. My client is on his feet. He doesn't have a real good view of Mr. Floyd -- excuse me, of what Chauvin is doing.

But if all of these people say, why didn't my client intercede, well, if the public is there and -- and they are in an uproar about this, they didn't intercede either.


KEILAR: Videos that captured Floyd's last moments were regarded by bystanders, and multiple people can be heard talking to the officers throughout.

Thomas Lane and the two other officers who assisted Derek Chauvin in the arrest are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Joining us now is CNN legal analyst, Joey Jackson.

Joey, what's your reaction to an attorney for someone facing real charges and real prison time leveling this defense strategy?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's somewhat preposterous, Kate. Good morning to you.

Now, listen, defense attorneys have to make very difficult arguments. And let's be clear, in that courtroom, there's a battle of the narratives. Everyone who is there with respect to the officers will have to account for what they did, if they didn't do anything, why not, and if they did do something was it enough.

But to suggest that the public would get involved and seek to render aid and assistance and, I guess, what, tackle Officer Chauvin as he's engaged in that, seems to me to be preposterous at best.

The public was very concerned there. The public continually pleaded with the officer to stop. The public suggested that something very amiss was going to happen.

But to suggest that they now just rush in and pull him off, I think, is even a stretch, you know, for the defense attorney.

So I think arguments need to be made as to what specifically their conduct was and what specifically they did. We can argue that day, night and in between, but to get the public involved, I think, is somewhat ridiculous, if I can say.

KEILAR: And can we also be clear. As an attorney, as a human being, would you ever advise a client, friend or anyone to intervene in a police arrest? Especially when -- and we can show the video, I hope we have it teed up -- Derek Chauvin grabs at his belt as bystanders are talking to him very aggressively at one point as he's staring them down.

JACKSON: So, Kate, the bottom line is, with everyone that I preach to -- you know, people that I have occasion to speak to, young people, people who are seeking advice and information, comply now and grieve later.

Certainly, there's an understanding oftentimes when you believe that you're aggrieved by officers on the street, during a traffic stop or someplace else, but you don't take it into your hands at that time.

Similarly members of the public, I think, did a very good service with respect to saying, hey, look, they did appeal to reason. Look, officer, you're hurting him. Officer, you can kill him. Officer, this is inappropriate, it's not cool. Look, I'm paraphrasing.

The bottom line was the public was very concerned. But at no time would I advise the public to override an officer and just unilaterally jump in and attempt to do something.

Had that happened, Kate, I think we can all believe, right, that it would have been much worse than having one death here. And so I think, again, to blame members of the public, it's just -- it's not really appropriate.

KEILAR: Joey, he said this to CNN, right? He didn't say this before a judge. Do you think this is -- he's actually testing out a defense strategy, or is he testing out a P.R. strategy, or is he trying to gaslight humanity?

JACKSON: I can't tell either. I can't get into his mind. I think the defense has to be predicated upon the individual conduct. If you look at Officer Chauvin, that's the toughest defense of all.

It's inhumane. I mean, forgetting about training as an officer, what about being a decent human being and how your parents raised you, and your overall humanity. He has the worst.

But all the others have to answer for their conduct. It's going to be a tough case moving forward.

KEILAR: Good to see you, Joey. Thanks, man.


JACKSON: Thanks, Kate.

KEILAR: Coming up for us, new confusion over who can spread the coronavirus after a statement and an attempt to clarify that statement from the World Health Organization all over asymptomatic spread. We'll bring that to you.

And also, next hour, George Floyd will be laid to rest. His family and friends are gathering at the Fountain of Praise Church in Houston right now for the funeral service. You can see inside, really a beautiful, beautiful church there in Houston. We're going to head back down to Texas in a moment.

We'll be right back.



KEILAR: The World Health Organization is trying to offer some clarity this morning after a confusing statement, if you will, a confusing statement that was made by a World Health Organization official yesterday on the coronavirus.

That statement was this. That the asymptomatic spread was, quote, "still seems to be rare." Now the group says there's a lot that is still unknown. That's the clarification.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now with, hopefully, more clarification.

I have to say, Sanjay, even with the clarification about asymptomatic spread, I am still confused.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think the clarification may have added even a little bit more confusion here. And I think the World Health Organization is understanding the impact of their confusing guidance that they put out there. It is confusing.

Let me state it like this it. The back and forth have been people who don't have symptoms, can they spread this virus, and it's really important distinction because, you know, how do they curb the spread. People wear masks who don't have symptoMs. People who don't have symptoms should stay home. Here's how I would think about it, Kate. I don't think the guidance

changes at all. I think, partly, this is an issue of semantics, how you define this.

What we know is that people who don't have symptoms can spread the virus. The question is do those people then go on to develop symptoMs. In that case, they are considered pre-symptomatic versus people who never develop symptoms. That's sort of the point of confusion there.

But what is clear is that people who don't have symptoms, may develop symptoms later on, can spread the virus. They might even be more contagious at that point before they develop symptoms, which is why, you know, we've always said, you know, for the last several months, everybody has to behave like they have the virus.

If you're going out in public and feel fine, still have to think you're harboring the virus, maintain your distance and everything we've been saying.

KEILAR: What we've been hearing from the World Health Organization on this, should these statements change anyone's behavior now?

GUPTA: I don't think so. I really think, first of all, the clarification they put out today is that there's still a lot that's unknown. And that's a fair statement.

I think what we were trying to do is look at people who were truly asymptomatic, never developed any symptoms. And we're talking about didn't develop loss of smell, COVID toes, whatever it may be, just not just the classic respiratory symptoMs. And say, did they have secondary contacts that developed the infection.

That's what they are still trying to figure out. You really need good contact tracing to figure that out for certain.

But what we know is, for the most part, people have been staying home the last few months, up until recently, up until we started reopening, and despite that, case numbers still continue to go up.

Why was that? Because there were people out there who didn't think they had any symptoms, may not have had any symptoms yet, and were still spreading the virus. I think that is clear.

The CDC takes it even a step further last month where they say, you know, 40 percent of the spread may be coming from people who don't have symptoMs.

Now, again, maybe those people who spread it eventually did develop symptoms, but they didn't have symptoms at the time.

KEILAR: Thank god you're here, Sanjay, because I now get it.

GUPTA: Hopefully, that helps it a little bit.

KEILAR: Symptom, pre-symptom, asymptomatic. Still, folks --

GUPTA: I know.

KEILAR: -- social distancing is what matters.

Great to see you, Sanjay. Thank you.

GUPTA: You've got it, Kate.


KEILAR: In just a few minutes, we'll be heading back to Houston. The funeral services for George Floyd begin shortly. Hundreds coming together to pay tribute and also to escort him to his final resting place. He'll be buried beside his mother. And we're going to take you there for George Floyd's funeral, just ahead.


KEILAR: Let's head back to Houston, Texas, right now, where the city but also the nation is preparing for the final good-bye to George Floyd. You see pictures as the camera from inside the church right now. The funeral service for Floyd is set to get under way in just a few minutes.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is in Houston. He's been standing by for us.

Omar, what are we going to be seeing during this service and also through this afternoon?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, we've began from Minnesota to North Carolina, his birthplace and, of course, now here in Houston, Texas, where, in over 10 minutes, the funeral service for George Floyd is set to begin. You saw people already beginning to file in and making their way to their seats.

Now over the course ever this service, it is going to be a private ceremony and just for family and invited guests as well. Guests that really span from the political world in regard to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who, of course, is here in Texas. And the mayor, Sylvester Turner, even all the way to boxers like Floyd Mayweather and the family itself.

It will be limited to about 500 guests or so. Then after these proceedings are over, George Floyd's body will be transported by the Houston Police Department to the final resting place in Pearland, Texas.


The final mile of that procession will be led by horse-drawn carriage and people can line the streets and give their final sendoffs as he makes the way towards his final burial spot, as we understand, next to his mother, the very same mother he cried out for in his final moment that we saw play out under the knee of a police officer a little over two weeks ago to the day.

While the family, the city and more continue to mourn the death of George Floyd, the movement that his death sparked, created is as alive as ever and plays out in policy debates and movements and protests across this country -- Kate?

KEILAR: Omar is on the ground in Houston for us. We'll be getting into that as soon as the service begins in just a few minutes.

Omar, thank you.

So George Floyd's death and the massive protests that have followed have put a sharp spotlight on racial injustice and police brutality in the country. It's also reignited the debate over what the job of police should be and shouldn't be.

Here is what a police chief of Sacramento told us here yesterday.


DANIEL HAHN, CHIEF, SACRAMENTO POLICE CHIEF: There's a lot of mental health calls that police officers don't need to be there. But nobody knows how who to call other than us. There's no other resources that can come and deal with the situation, so the fallback is police officers.

I think one of the ways we can get a lot better is that we get the people that are best suited to respond to some of these things to go there as opposed to police officers.


KEILAR: Chief Hahn there echoing a sentiment that seems to be shared by police activists and politicians, aside. We heard Rashad Robinson talk about this at the top of the show.

One alternative model that's now getting new attention now is based in Eugene, Oregon. The city has a different way to handle noncriminal calls with an organization known as CAHOOTS, which stands for Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets. It dispatches teams specially trained and specialized in mental health as first responders.

Joining me is Ebony Morgan, a crisis intervention worker with CAHOOTS.

Ebony, thank you for being here.

For folks, and myself, explain a little bit more about what you all do.


Right out of the gate, I just want to send my condolences and from the team of CAHOOTS to George Floyd's family. As someone whose father died in a police encounter, I want to be sincere about that.

CAHOOTS, as a team, has been around for about 30 years. We are made up of a medic and a crisis worker. We are dispatched through the city but through the dispatchers and we respond to noncriminal calls. We did 20 percent of the calls in the area last year, 24,000 calls. We

can do welfare checks, death notifications, transport people to necessary services.

A great thing about it is that, out of the 24,000 calls, only 150 of them did we wind up needing to ask for police to assist us. So we can show up on the scene and assess the need and the appropriate interventions that will genuinely help our clientele.

KEILAR: Ebony, why -- why does this system work? I have read that you all handle almost like 20 percent of the entire like public safety call volume for your area. Why does this work? What is it?

MORGAN: I think our greatest tool is the trust of our community. And then we are as strong as our community resources so from our perspective prevention and humanistic approaches are what really is effective.

When people see us coming, they know we're there to help. That's the whole goal. We lead with the question: How can I support you today and figure out what the root of the issue is? How did you get here? What do you need to get to a place where you can thrive?

And what if someone is in a crisis just addressing it to a degree to feel seen and heard to de-escalate by itself.

KEILAR: So I find it fascinating and important to point out as you mentioned you do call in police if that situation is required so there's work with the police in your community when need be.

But looking at the model, Ebony, CAHOOTS, from what we all know, would not have been called to respond to the situation that led to George Floyd's death.

So I say that to point out this isn't a cure-all for all the problems and longstanding and systemic issues discussing here. Why is this though -- could this be a part of the solution of reforming policing in America?

KEILAR: Absolutely. I think that since it's a systemic issue, the response and the resolution will also have to be systemic and need community supports and more unarmed mediation and decriminalization and a sense of restorative justice and truly mental health care nationwide to get to a place where we need less of that response.


And then also in that system, as it's reformed I think there's a place for trained crisis personnel to respond and assess the scene and figure out the appropriate response. If it's outside of the scope we can call for an ambulance, call for backup police.

But those initial eyes and objectivity, we have a lens that is not coming from -- we are not armed. We carry the tools to assist. So we approach with a really -- as objective as we could be of a lens to make sure that we use the right tools to help the person that we're visiting.

KEILAR: Ebony, thank you for what you do. This is around for 30 years and looks like it could be an important thing for folks and around the country to look at, the work you do, the care you give, and the trust you have with your community.

Thank you, Ebony.

MORGAN: Thank you.

KEILAR: Stay with us, everyone. CNN special coverage of George Floyd's funeral will pick back up with Brianna Keilar and Victor Blackwell right after this break.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I'm Brianna Keilar. And we welcome viewers here in the United States and around the world.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: I'm Victor Blackwell. This is CNN special live coverage for the funeral service of George Floyd.

You see on your screen mourners, many dressed in white, streaming into the Fountain of Praise Church there in Houston.

The man whose last moments, George Floyd, his last words, "I can't breathe," has become a rallying cry across this country and around across this world against racial injustice and police brutality. And today, hundreds of people will say goodbye in his hometown.


The speakers we expect to hear from today are the family's attorney and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Now, after the service, George Floyd will travel his last mile in a horse-drawn carriage. He'll be buried next to his mother. And you will remember he cried out for her during his final moments.