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House Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on Police Practices, Accountability; Minneapolis Police Chief Holds News Conference. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired June 10, 2020 - 11:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:00:14]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining us here for the next couple of hours.

We are keeping an eye on Capitol Hill this hour. That's where lawmakers just heard from George Floyd's brother. This hearing going right now on Capitol Hill. The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on police practices and accountability.

George Floyd's death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer has very clearly and very obviously and in a concrete way called for reforms to stop police brutality.

Some cities are already moving to make some changes like that, like banning the use of choke holds, but no consensus on what to do on a national scale and they're talking about that today.

Let's start on Capitol Hill. Manu Raju is standing by.

Manu, there was a powerful statement that just happened from George Floyd's brother. What have you heard so far today?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Emotional testimony about exactly what Philonise Floyd witnessed when he saw the video of the death of his brother who was knelt on by a Minneapolis police officer. And emotion, choking up at times and delivering a statement.

But he also demanded change from Congress and saying that he hoped his brother didn't die in vain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: I'm tired. I'm tired of pain. Pain you feel when you watch something like that. When you watch your big brother, who you looked up to for your whole life, die, die begging for his mom?

I'm here to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain. Stop us from being tired. George called for help, and he was ignored. Please listen to the call I'm making to you now. Make the necessary changes that make law enforcement the solution and

not the problem. Hold them accountable when they do something wrong. Teach them what it means to treat people with empathy and respect. Teach them what necessary force is. Teach them that deadly force should be used rarely and only when life is at risk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: This kicks off what will be a pretty fast-moving process in the House to try to push forward on legislation to deal with the issue of police violence, to change what is happening in police departments across the country.

There's a difference in opinion about exactly what is happening, although, from when we heard from Republicans and Democrats, some of the Republicans who have kicked off the hearing, Jim Jordan and Mike Johnson talked about their concerns about what happened to George Floyd. But also said according to the words of Mike Johnson, there were a, quote, "few bad apples" in police departments nationwide, whereas, Democrats see more systemic --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Manu, sorry, but I have to jump in.

We have to jump over to Minneapolis and the police chief there holding a press conference. Let's listen.

MEDARIA ARRADONDO, CHIEF, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: -- team members who have expressed to me for the past two weeks that they are not that former officer who I refuse to mention his name in this space.

I want to say thank you for your continued professional service as public servants during some of most challenging and dynamic situations that our city has experienced.

To our city's residents and business owners, I want to say they am deeply sorry for what you've had to endure as well these past several weeks. I wish that I could carry those burdens on my shoulders alone so that you did not have to. But I will tell you that I am committed to making sure that moving forward we will get better.

As chief I took an oath of office in ensuring the public safety of this city's residents, businesses and visitors, and I am here to tell you, you will not be abandoned.

Over the past several days, I've heard from families and individuals who were concerned that if they were in need of a police response that they would not get one, and I am here to also tell you that we will be here for you.

To our Minneapolis community members, faith leaders, social justice advocates, civic and youth leaders. along with the esteemed leadership of our local Urban league and NAACP and community elders, I want to say thank you for our continued, ongoing dialogue and solutions- focused conversations.

But what our city needs now more than ever is a pathway and a plan that provides hope, reassurance and actionable measures of reform because I work for and serve the people. This work must be transformational, but I must do it right.

[11:05:17]

Now this will not be accomplished overnight. It will take time. But I am confident that by being both vulnerable and shaping a new paradigm of peacekeeping and courageous and identifying and tearing down those barriers that have crippled relationships with our communities and that have eroded trust, we will have a police department that our communities view as legitimate, trusting, and working with their best interests at heart.

Now today, I will highlight just a few of these key areas in my plan and I will be scheduling additional media briefings and press statement over the course of the next several days and weeks.

Beginning today, as chief, I am immediately withdrawing from the contract negotiations with the Minneapolis Police Federation. I plan to bring in subject-matter-experience and advisors to conduct a thorough review of how the contract can be restructured to provide greater community transparency and more flexibility for true reform.

Now this is not about employees benefit, wages or salary. But this is further examining those significant matters that touch on such things as critical incident protocol, our use of force, the significant role that supervisors play in this department, and also the discipline process to include both grievances and arbitration.

I believe I speak for my chief peers here in the state of Minnesota as well as across our country that there's nothing more debilitating to a chief, from an employment matter perspective, than when you have grounds to terminate an officer for misconduct and you are dealing with a third-party mechanism that allows for that employee to not only be back on your department, but to be patrolling in your communities.

A second key measure of my plan of reform is to integrate new systems that use research on police behavior to connect officer performance data so department leaders can identify early warning signs of misconduct and provide proven strategies to intervene.

Now why hasn't reform in this area worked in the past? The academic experts who study this have revealed that supervisory action alone to remove problematic officers is very rare and significantly absent in larger departments.

So for the first time in the history of policing we here in Minneapolis will have an opportunity to use real-time data and automation to intervene with officers who engage in problematic behavior.

I'm also very excited about the generous funding and research assistance by our own Minneapolis Foundation. As I close my comments before your questions, I also want to end by

saying this. Race is inextricably a part of the American policing system. We will never evolve in this profession if we do not address it head-on.

Communities of color have paid the heaviest of costs and that is with their lives. And our children must be safeguarded from ever having to contribute to the horrific and shameful chapter of this country's history.

My plan will focus on imperative and respected community collaboration with an emphasis on the science of justice.

I was born and raised in Minneapolis. And as a child growing up in this city I did not see many peace officers that looked like me. And for the ones that I did, they were my true sheroes and heroes.

Since I joined the ranks of this department I have dedicated my service to not only helping, but healing, and I will continue to do that.

Now I also recognize that parts of this department were broken, and I brought attention to that several years ago. But I did not abandon this department then, and I will not abandon this department now.

History is being written now, and I am determined to make sure that we are on the right side of history.

Thank you.

[11:10:02]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As far as questions go, we'll spend the first five or so minutes taking questions from our local media first and then we'll turn it over to the rest of the group. So if you have questions, raise your hand and we'll call on you.

So, questions from the local media to start.

Eric?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yes, sir. Chief, you have nine city council members who are saying defund police. Do you think your response today is enough to flush those calls? What do you say about the defund police movement in the city?

ARRADONDO: As chief, I am obligated to ensuring the public safety of our 400,000 plus residents. I will not abandon that. Our elected officials certainly can engage in those conversations, but until there's a robust plan that reassures the safety of our residents, I will not leave them. I will not leave them behind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul, go ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

ARRADONDO: Yes, sir? Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Nice to see you this morning.

ARRADONDO: Nice to see you.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I know you spoke about withdrawing from union negotiations, and putting you on the spot here, do you think the union president, Bob Kroll (ph), needs to step aside? Could that help you reach a labor deal that you would be happy with and the city would be satisfied with?

ARRADONDO: I've had and continue to have very intentional conversations with Lieutenant Kroll (ph), and what I believe is the best pathway to move forward for the city, for this department.

And while I won't go into the details, I believe he knows that from my position these are very serious conversations and there will have to be some decisions made moving forward.

And so I will just say that I've been engaged in those conversations with him. I believe he clearly knows my position, and I will continue to have those conversations with him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Susie?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you believe that Bob Kroll (ph) is willing to change and willing to be a part of the solution?

ARRADONDO: I care deeply about this city, and I care deeply about the men and women that are sworn in and civilians of this department. We have to look into our hearts and what's in our best interests and so I hope that he will do the same.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, you said you're not going to abandon the people of Minneapolis. I've heard from some rank-and-file officers who are very disappointed here. What assurance do you have that there isn't going to be a slowdown or people aren't going to have their calls answered in response to the Minneapolis city council or to your own efforts at reform?

ARRADONDO: There's no doubt that what our city has experienced over the past two weeks has been traumatic for not only our resident, but certainly our men and women in this department. That is very -- it is. It's the reality.

So I have to make sure that they have spaces to heal, as well. But I will tell you, if I have conversations over the past couple of weeks and through all of these challenging dynamics they continue to show up.

And I've said before that hope is here, and I've seen it played out in our cities and I've seen it play out with neighbors banning together to clean out around their shop areas, to look out for one another.

But I've seen it with the spirit and the character of the men and women on this department who continue to keep showing up. What they're experiencing is real. Absolutely. But I believe that we will continue to move forward and we'll move forward in collaboration with our community.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, you talked about racism and how we have to attack it head-on in order to deal with a lot of the problems that exist within MPD. Can you talk about your personal battles of racism inside the department and what you've had to deal with coming up the ranks of the MPD?

ARRADONDO: Yes. This is a 152-year-old department. It has its culture. Some of that culture is good and some of that culture is grounded in our American experience, and race is connected to that, undoubtedly.

My experience was bringing attention to some of those systemic issues that race can have barriers in terms of promotion, hiring, retention and just the environment for all people within this organization to feel that they can succeed and be supported.

And so I have a lens, a very different and unique from others. And so I will lean on that lens to make sure that I'm doing everything I can so that we can eradicate some of the same barriers that I've had to experience over several years ago and, by the way, that people of color in this department and women are experiencing.

[11:15:07]

And so I will be -- continue to lean in and use that lens that I have to seek the changes that are needed.

But also I want to just make this very clear. American policing in this nation, we have to address the race issue head-on. We are the visible, most first face of government in our communities, and our communities are crying out. And they've been doing it certainly with Mr. Floyd's death, but decades before that. We must do better. We have to do better.

And so we have an opportunity not only to change the way that we do business in terms of officers in Minneapolis, but across this nation and I've been talking over the course of several weeks with major city chiefs believe that the will is there both from a legislative standpoint.

But also all of our chiefs across the country, we know that the time is now, and it would be the greatest disservice in policing if we did not use the will and the energy and the inspiration to make some significant changes nationwide as it relates to race and policing.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, in your remarks you used the real-time data to intervene with problematic officers or interactions. Can you go more into detail of what that means and what the community would expect that to mean when these problems arise out in the public?

ARRADONDO: Yes. So what I can tell you is weave' been very fortunate to bring on Benchmark Analytics, which is a national company that expertise and specializes in this. For decades, the traditional model has been that a supervisor would

stay on top of a problematic employee and look at areas of concern in terms of performance. But we know that employees can change assignments during their careers and we know that supervisors can change assignments.

And if we don't have a systematic, robust way through data of tracking, no matter where the trajectory of that employee goes with that supervisor -- and we're going to have problems and I know that there are questions raised when an incident occurs, well, Chief Arradondo, how come you didn't know about this person's number of complaints and what have you.

We need to re-evaluate that. We need to do it through real-time data. We, as an organization, need to evolve and use technology to our advantage. And it doesn't have to wait for every 30 days for an employee review or every year. We'll be able to do this now with real- time data. So I am very excited about that being introduced to our organization.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll open it up now to the whole group.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, you had previously said that, in your view, the three other officers besides Chauvin that were involved in this case were complicit in George Floyd's death. Attorneys for at least two of the other officers have said that they were rookie cops and that they were following Chauvin's lead. What's your response to that?

ARRADONDO: The policies that I put out for our department, those policies are not guided in years of service. I don't put policies out to say that you should only react or respond if you're a two-year member or a five-year member or a 10-year member.

And if policies or subculture get in the way, then I expect and I demand one's humanity to rise above that. And so that is my answer for that.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: About those rookie cops, they were just a few shifts into the job. The only thing they really had to rely on is their training. Does it show that the training here is failing?

ARRADONDO: What I observed, and I want to be just mindful that obviously this case is under investigation, but what I observed was not training that I ever participated in, none that I observed. Other officers participating in.

And so again, I will go back to when I helped craft the duty to intervene and the duty to report back in 2016, it does not signify if you have two days on or 20 years on. We expect you to -- whether it's verbally or physically, to call out for help and to intervene. Mr. Floyd at the very least, was expecting that.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is being -- to follow up on that, is being a rookie cop an excuse for what happened here? That's what they're saying, and number two do you think these two changes will be enough to make the sweeping changes at the department that people are looking for?

ARRADONDO: When our members put on this badge our communities should not expect any service or treatment different because you are two days on or 20 years on.

[11:20:04]

We expect you to serve in a manner that is providing our communities with respect, dignity, giving them voice, and having neutral engagements. That's -- that's universal. And so our community should expect us to respond.

I don't believe that during Mr. Floyd's encounter with the officers that he knew of the years of service those officer his on, but he was expecting humanity that day, and it was not.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: To make the sweeping reform that people are looking for right now, the two changes you announce today?

ARRADONDO: There will be many more. These are just two that I'm highlighting today. But we will really be doing a deep dive.

But I also just want to say this again. Over the past couple of weeks, I've been approached, personally, e-mails and phone calls, from wide- ranging members of our police department, both support and civilian. And they've unequivocally said, chief, that is not us and that is not who we are.

And they are committed to making sure they go back out there and they're in the communities. And they're trying to rebuild that trust. And so it's going to be a heavy lift and there will be some hard work. But I'm determined that we'll be on the right side of history.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Quick question, I just wanted to follow up before we got too far away from that. A family of David Smith spoke out from 10 years ago, and from a local YMCA and he was opinioned to the ground and ended up dying and the city paid out $3 million. The family as part of this lawsuit was promised some changes at least in terms of training.

Do you see a parallel between the two cases and are these officers being trained on how to restrain a suspect?

ARRADONDO: Yes. Thank you for that question. Again, the current incident involving Mr. Floyd, that is being under thorough review from both a state and federal level. And we certainly do an examination of that.

But, again, our training is key in this. And there was nothing in that training that should have resulted, in my opinion, that occurred with Mr. Floyd.

But in terms of Mr. Smith's family, we will obviously look at that training and continue to look at it and you mentioned the as fixial position and what have you. Yes. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, you say you've got internal support for

this, but we saw on Facebook some potentially inflammatory comments. Society seems to have turned a corner on this. Is MPD doing it? It doesn't look like at least some of the people are getting the message.

ARRADONDO: And I'm familiar with what you're referencing. When I came into my role in 2017, in our vision statement, I specifically talked about social media.

You do not get a pass as a Minneapolis police employee being able to put this uniform on Monday and then Tuesday going home in the privacy of your home and putting out on social media things that you would not stand and do publicly in this uniform. I won't tolerate that. I won't tolerate that.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What does it say? Do people have reason to doubt the sincerity of this department when things like that are showing up online?

ARRADONDO: Absolutely. We are going to be judged by every singular action. Absolutely.

And so that is why it is even more indicative and more paramount that we understand that -- and, by the way, not only are we going to be judged by a singular incident that occurs with our organization but we have the enormous responsibility of accountability to the other police agencies across this country who will be impacted by an officer's actions.

So absolutely, our community has every right to question our other employees getting the message. And it's up to me to make sure that they're getting that message loud and clear of what we will and will not tolerate.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, now that they've had a couple of weeks to look at the incidents that happened in the wake of what happened to Mr. Floyd, do you have a better sense of who were the real troublemakers? There's been a lot of conversations about people coming in from out of town. Do you think that what occurred here was organic or do you think it was manipulated?

ARRADONDO: That's a good question. So I know that, early on, there was information that potentially there were other outside influencers that had arrived in our city during the protests and the riots and what have you.

I believe some of that could still be true in terms of the percentage or the amount of how many were from out of state. They're still looking at that.

But I will just say this here. We had never experienced what we experienced two weeks ago in the city. Never. I believe that Governor Walz indicated that it was the largest callout of the National Guard in our state's history. There were many things that occurred.

[11:25:09] And, again, I'm a product of Minneapolis. And when I drive down Lake Street or Broadway Avenue, my heart hurts. We have never seen that ever before.

And so regardless if those individuals from out of state were here, people were in pain. We also harmed our community, as well. And I have to make sure that we never go down that road again. So.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief?

ARRADONDO: Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you quickly take us through that night, bouncing off of him, it quite frankly, was a mess down there --

ARRADONDO: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- outside the Third Precinct.

And I think people would like to hear from your perspective, not politicians, not any journalists, and not anyone else, but your decision, the things that were going through your mind when you say the Third Precinct goes. We are not going to surround that and engage. We're not going to do that. Many people have asked was that the right decision.

Can you tell us from a chief's perspective, how did you arrive at that decision? Who else influenced you in making that or it was you and do you still stand by it?

ARRADONDO: That's a good question. I'd probably require a lot more time today to go into all those details. But I will tell all of you that the night that you're talking about that was something that we had not seen -- I had never seen in the course of my 30-plus years with this organization.

We had multiple -- we had multiple high-risk civil unrest incidents occurring in our entire city all at once.

The Third Precinct had some protesters who had breached the gates. At the same time, we had local businesses, Target, for one, that was overrun by looters. We had liquor stores adjacent from the precinct that was overrun by looters and Molotov cocktails were being made. And we had an AutoZone tire store that was being looted, burning. And we had multiple calls of shots being fired in the area.

When the fires started, fire needed police escorts to get in. And I had men and women within that building who, for practical sense, they were surrounded.

And if individuals had got inside and they were outnumbered, individuals that the officers in there would have been outnumbered there's only a couple of ways that scenario would have ended and none of them would have been good. None of them would have been good.

I did not want to see community members severely injured or worse. And I certainly didn't want to see the men and women who wear this uniform injured or worse.

So I obviously had been communicating real time the dynamics on the ground that evening with the mayor. And that at one point in time, he gave me the directive that we were going to evacuate. And then I made the call for our teams to get the transport vehicles in there and get our folks out of there as fast as they could.

My goal at that point -- you asked me, as chief, my goal was to preserve life, to preserve the life of the men and women officers and for the community.

There will be reflection. I will continue to reflect on that. And there will be after-action reports on that.

These decisions, you don't always have the comfort of time to look at all of the different options and variables. But the one thing that I did have was that we had people who ran the risk of potentially being killed that evening, and so -- I hope that helps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lou?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, we heard a lot about the power of the police union can't prevent the chiefs -- that people think can be made and you removed yourself from the negotiations. Can you paint the picture for people of the obstacle that is there and how these changes can help break down that obstacle?

ARRADONDO: So contracts have been in place. And I want to say that I absolutely support the work of unions in terms of what they're designed to do to do better work environments and better workplaces for employees.

But policing is very significant. We are obviously one of the few occupations -- they have arrest powers and can legally and justifiably take life. So our communities are absolutely concerned about how those contracts are designed and the impacts that they have on them.

[11:30:07]

As a chief, as I mentioned earlier, it's important for me to make sure that everyone is adhering to the policies.