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Police Chief Stepping Down After Deadly Officer-Involved Shooting; Video Captures Deadly Officer-Involved Shooting In Atlanta. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired June 13, 2020 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And they are calling for a system-wide change to how police protect the community.
And so, there -- as you know, Miss Fairley was talking to us just now on the air. She said that, you know, the crowds may have dwindled a little bit more recently in the last couple of weeks, but this is now picking up today this weekend. So it's a little bit back to the size of what we were seeing perhaps a little bit earlier in this movement.
I also have not seen police vehicles as much today in this spot the way that we were seeing in the very beginning when George Floyd was first killed. The streets are blocked by the protesters, but police cars are not blocking the streets necessarily. But we did see police vehicles at the Wendy's location, blocking the streets there.
So this group is energized. They have been listening to the speaker in the middle. They have been saying the names of people who were killed by police and they are demanding change -- Ana.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: OK, Natasha Chen in Atlanta for us. Please do standby. It's the top of the hour, I just want to reset for our viewers again what we are witnessing right now and what happened just within the last hour.
There was an overnight shooting involving police. They shot and killed a man outside a Wendy's there in Atlanta. Now, since that happened, we've learned that that person the man who was killed, 27-year-old, Rayshard Brooks was in a confrontation with police after they were initially called because somebody was sleeping in the drive-thru in their vehicle, and they got into a confrontation.
Police say that according to surveillance video as well, that Rayshard Brooks took the taser of one of those police officers, took off running and then eventually turned and pointed that taser at police, at which point an officer opened fire shooting and killing Mr. Brooks.
Since then now, we have this afternoon the Mayor of Atlanta calling for the officer involved to be fired saying she does not believe lethal force was justified in this incident. And we also just learned the Police Chief in Atlanta is voluntarily stepping down. That is Erica Shields who we are told will stay on with the Department in a different role, which has not yet been determined. With us now, our chief -- former Police Commissioner, Charles Ramsey,
as well as former LAPD Sergeant, Cheryl Dorsey. So, a lot has happened and now we have obviously the reaction there in Atlanta. Let me start with you, Commissioner Dorsey, because -- excuse me, Sergeant Dorsey -- because I know you initially thought that this was not the right call by police officers to open fire. What would you have done differently in this situation?
CHERYL DORSEY, FORMER LAPD SERGEANT: I would have set up a perimeter. I would have given a direction of travel and the suspect description, made my responding units aware that he was in possession of my taser would have started to contain him.
I mean, listen, folks run all the time. It's inherent to police work. And while, you know, listen, with great deference to the Commissioner, you know, he doesn't want to second guess them because he doesn't have all the information. But what police officers do every day requires a split second decision.
They made a split second decision to shoot this young man who was running away from them because he had their taser. So, I'm able to look at this and tell you having worked for over 20 years, having supervised uses of force that you don't shoot somebody because they're running away from you with a taser.
They are not in -- their life was not threatened. There was no one else whose life was threatened. I think this was all about punishment, embarrassment, and listen, I said it before and I'll say it again when a police officer kills you, there's only one version of that story and that's the one that you're going to tell. This was unnecessary.
CABRERA: We have some brand new footage now from social media of this incident. Here it is and a warning to our viewers. It is disturbing.
This is the scuffle in which Brooks appears to take a taser from an officer. Let's watch.
[VIDEO CLIP PLAYS]
CABRERA: OK, now let's take a look at this. This is some surveillance video from that Wendy's, again, warning. This is disturbing. You can see what appears to be Brooks running from police and according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, seemingly pointing the taser back at the officers. Listen to how the GBI Director described it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have now seen full video from the Wendy's restaurant showing this gentleman entering into the video frame running or fleeing from Atlanta police officers. It appears that he has in his hand the taser. You can see that at least to the naked eye, that's what it appears.
He runs a relatively short distance. It looks like it's probably five, six, seven parking spaces distance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And at that point, turns around and appears to the eye that he points the taser at the Atlanta officer. At that point, the Atlanta officer reaches down and retrieves his weapon from his holster. The discharge as it strikes Mr. Brooks there on the parking lot and he goes down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Commissioner Ramsey, what do you see in that new video we were just looking at with your decades of law enforcement experience?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, that first video didn't show anything, but the second one definitely did show and just from looking at that, that one that you're showing now is really kind of useless. This one is the good one here that you're now showing.
I mean, he does turn, it looks like there's some kind of discharge or something or maybe it's a reflection, I don't know, but it didn't hit the officer.
You know? Listen, there could have been other options there. No doubt. I don't disagree with that at all. You know, taking a life is the most serious thing you can possibly do and you have to be in imminent danger-- immediate danger of losing your life or having someone else's life be taken before you resort to deadly force.
And if there's another option, that means running a little further, like in the start when you said, you know, setting up a perimeter or what have you, then that's what you would do.
I don't have a problem, by the way, second guessing that's what we have to do. I've done that my entire career. That's what reviewing the case file is basically doing. It is taking a look at facts and evidence and making a determination. You can call it second guessing if you want. I don't have a problem doing that. But I like to see evidence before I do that and not just prejudge something.
The Mayor obviously has seen this and seen it more than once. Probably slow motion every other way you can look at it. I've been in situations like that and made the determination, hey, you didn't have to shoot and you know, this goes back to the whole issue of deadly force. You can legally be justified. But just because you can doesn't mean you should.
And that's something that you have to look at when you're evaluating these cases. And that is whether, did an officer actually have to use deadly force? That's what's going to be the subject of this investigation and let the cards fall where they may.
I mean, the GBI will be doing it, the District Attorney down there will be taking that kind of look at it as well. But it's -- any life lost is tragic. It is truly tragic.
CABRERA: Obviously, all the evidence is important in this investigation. The video is such a key piece of that evidence, Sergeant Dorsey, what's your reaction to how quickly investigators made this video public?
DORSEY: Well, listen, I mean, you know, we don't want a repeat of what went on over the last 14 to 16 days, and so transparency is important. People want to know, but what's more important, as far as I'm concerned, is accountability and I'm listening to these young people still talking about defending the police.
Now, I've been arguing all week or debating all week that whether or not you remove money from a police department is not going to affect what officers on the streets do day to day.
Those officers that decided to shoot this man because he was running away with a taser are not going to be moved or swayed or defeated because funds have been taken from a police department and so, accountability.
If these officers violated policy, if they used deadly force as a first resort rather than a last resort as they're trained, they need to be held accountable. And any others who look like them, think like them and act like them.
CABRERA: And Sergeant Dorsey, now that we have the video up, when you look at this video, does it change your perspective at all on how you see this incident?
DORSEY: It changes nothing for me. Immediate defense of life. He has a taser, I know it's a taser because it's mine. He just took it. So, I've got two choices. Get some exercise and go get him or let him go and set up a perimeter and bring responding units.
It makes no difference to me that he turned, he pointed it. There's this and this. Backup.
You know as an officer how far your taser will go if it's discharged. So, put yourself in a position of advantage. Deadly force is the last alternative, the last resort after you've tried everything else and you can try everything else very quickly, but you at least need to try.
CABRERA: I want to add to the conversation CNN Law Enforcement Analyst, Cedric Alexander as well.
Cedric, what do you see in this video we've been showing?
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, what I see actually, I guess is what everyone else is seeing, but I think we have to be very cautious here and I would agree with my colleague there, Chuck Ramsay.
This is going to be looked at in its totality in and that's from the beginning and when they first came on the scene as regards to the call for service up until the point we saw part of the wrestling that took place and then we saw the taser getting taken and I myself have not seen much beyond that.
[18:05:10] ALEXANDER: But let me say this, in light of this environment that
we're in at this very moment in this country, it is going to drive all of us to want to seek answers quickly and fairly as possible.
And I think the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has done a dynamic job in terms of their response, in terms of being able to share with the community in this country what they know, up to this point, because that's hugely important.
But as you heard the GBI Director state earlier that this investigation is ongoing. There has to be still further information and I am quite sure for witnesses that are going to be interviewed.
But when we see these types of images, it certainly do make us question the decision of that officer who fired those shots at that time. Because at some point, he is going to have to be able to articulate to that investigative body and to a DA, why he made the decision that he did under those set of circumstances.
But here again, we're in a very, very challenging and difficult time in this country where people want immediate answers, because they are sick and tired of what we have all seen, and people have been experiencing over time.
So the people in that community and across this country, demanding some answers, I certainly do understand, but at the end of all this, GBI that is more than capable, and I've worked with them over the years when I was Public Safety Director in De Kalb, and I had a number of officer-involved shootings.
And I tell you, they do an outstanding job, as we saw in the Arbery case there in South Georgia. So, they're going to respond. They've got great investigators. They've got great leadership. I have a great deal of confidence. They're going to give us the facts and all of that.
And I think the public wants that and they deserve that. And I'm more than confident the GBI is going to deliver it.
CABRERA: And I'm glad you brought up the Arbery case because I mentioned it earlier. I think I mentioned that Atlanta has been in the spotlight from way back then. I've just meant the state has been in the spotlight from the Arbery case, even prior to the George Floyd case out of Minneapolis.
I'm being told we have a clearer video now of the scuffle between Brooks and police. Let's watch.
Okay, so you can see Brooks get a hold of the officer's taser here. You see a clear image of the scuffle. We've got about 10 seconds here. Stay with me, guys.
Okay, now it appears he is down on the ground. Okay, we're going to rerack this video, and as you look at this, again, a different -- a different angle. What is your thought there, Commissioner Ramsey?
RAMSEY: Well, I mean, obviously, they have a pretty significant struggle going on there. But again, you look at these things and like the struggle is one thing and clearly, you know, that's an issue, one officer discharges his taser.
The issue is at the point in time when deadly force was used, was it justified? And so it's not as if whatever you do earlier, means that from that point on, it's okay. Because the answer to that is no, it's not.
So, you have to look at every single second, between the initial contact, the struggle, and when the discharge took place that actually took his life.
But clearly, I mean, there was a struggle, but that doesn't -- that by itself doesn't justify use of deadly force.
So, again, that's going to all be part of the investigation. But let me just real quickly say, this is perfect the way GBI did it. They got the video out right away.
Every jurisdiction in every state is not going to have that happen because my experience has been a lot of district attorneys, once you turn a case over to them, there's evidence and they're reluctant to share it.
I hope that this becomes the norm where either the police department, DA, whomever -- we need to get these videos out as quickly as possible and I don't care if it's one that justifies it and not justify it, get it out there and let people see what it is that took place.
CABRERA: I want to bring back Charles Blow who obviously isn't looking at this video with a law enforcement eye. Charles, what do you see it in this video?
CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Unfortunately, Ana, I can't see the video. I have seen it -- I've seen -- I don't know what you're showing. I've seen the one released by the city online, so I'm assuming you're showing the same one, the surveillance video.
BLOW: Listen, here's my bigger point. The justifiable rationale is problematic in and of itself. Police officers have broad, broad, broad discretion. In many of these cases, you can under the law, as it is written, justify killing me. But you can also not do that. You can also not do that.
There is nothing that this young man is doing in this video that costs -- that is a capital offense. You cannot kill him. But we keep trying to put this under the lens of like, can we justify under the law? Can it be made legal? Can we stand in a courtroom and say, I feared for my life -- which is always the rationale -- I fear my life, and therefore, I did this thing in a split second, and you -- if you were in my shoes, you would do the same thing.
Yes, you can do that. You can also not kill him. You can also not kill him. And you would not be dead, and no one else in that drive-thru will be dead. No one would be dead.
We have to take a deeper look at how we value life, particularly how we value these black lives of both men and women. Are we shooting white people at the same rate for the same reason? And if the answer is no, then there is a problem there because you cannot do it.
CABRERA: Everyone stay with me. I'm thinking about the tweet we saw as well from Stacey Abrams, who has been spoken of as a potential vice presidential contender to join the ticket with Joe Biden and she, I think, you know also touches on what you're talking about there Charles when she wrote, "The killing of Rayshar Brooks in Atlanta last night demands we severely restrict the use of deadly force. Yes, investigations must be called for, but so to too should accountability. Sleeping in a drive-thru must not end in death."
I want to bring in Natasha Chen who is live with protesters in Atlanta.
Natasha, what are you hearing there?
CHEN: Yes, you know, we're seeing that families have brought their children out here because, like we've seen in the last couple of weeks, they want their kids to experience this moment, and I'm meeting some folks here who came out, especially because of what happened last night and I want to turn to Jasmine Lyons first. What do you think of the Chief of Police resigning today?
JASMINE LYONS, PROTESTER: I mean, I think it was kind of crazy that she actually resigned, but I mean, with everything that's going on in the city, the pressure was definitely put on, but guess what? The pressure needs to be put on. Justice needs to be served for our people.
CHEN: And this is Carmello Robinson and you said you came out today specifically because what you what you saw last night? Have you had a chance to look at the video that's been released now by GBI, the surveillance from Wendy's.
CARMELLO ROBINSON, PROTESTER: Yes.
CHEN: And what do you think of what you're seeing?
ROBINSON: What I thought was, first of all, the man is drunk, he's sleeping his car. They call the police. Why did the police get to a point where it was attacking him, him punching the police? This shouldn't have not gotten to a point where he is punching and taking a taser.
If he could take a taser, that means -- that means the police are not having the proper training. With proper training, none of this should have even happened.
If they have proper training, they shouldn't have the taser, to begin with, pulled out. And that's how he is running. Ready to go. Wait. Why shoot him in his back? Three times to kill him. CHEN: Well, and for those who may not have seen the video that we're
talking about yet, GBI has released what seems to be surveillance video showing of Mr. Brooks running away from police with something in his hand, which witnesses have told police is the taser belonging to the officers and at one point, he has stretched his arm and turned back and pointed the taser back at police.
And it's unclear at this point in what we're viewing what took place in those exact seconds, but those -- that's what we can see with the naked eye. And at that point, if somebody has directed the taser back at police, what do you think should have happened instead?
ROBINSON: Instead of shooting, do a taser. I mean, they know when they pull a gun, that's when they intend they're going to kill somebody. If he is pointing a taser at the police officer, they have the bulletproof vest. A taser is not going to hurt them if he shoot it in their chest, just shoot them with a taser, not a gun.
Every time someone is -- you don't all have to pull a gun out on somebody. They have tasers for a reason.
LYONS: You know the difference between a taser and a gun. A taser is yellow and black. If somebody is putting a yellow and black thing at you that you just shot at them, come on, man.
CHEN: And Jasmine, I know that there are a lot of changes being announced today with the Chief resigning and the Mayor is calling for the termination of the officer involved. Do you agree with her saying that this officer should be terminated?
LYONS: I mean, I eally don't know. No comment. That's what I'd say.
CHEN: Well, why don't you tell us about why you brought the kids out here today? What's the message that you want them to hear about the future you'd like to see.
LYONS: So I really brought the case out here because I feel like in the future, this will be a monumental event that has happened really historically that will be talked about among them and their peers. And I feel like they need to experience this because not only are we fighting for our rights, for theirs as well in the future.
It is about them, the youth. We are just here to represent all our black people and let everybody know that our black is beautiful, and we are humans, too. Our lives are as valuable as everybody else's. And that's why I wanted them to be here.
To know that their lives are worth the same amount as everybody else -- black, blue, purple, yellow, gray -- it doesn't matter. Everybody's lives matter.
CHEN: And that is the message that a lot of folks are trying to get across who have actually taken off walking down the street that way. That's why the crowd that was here in the intersection is now gone. There is another crowd on the opposite intersection and another group
that's gathered at the Wendy's location where this incident happened last night. We do know that the family of Rayshard Brooks has a lawyer now and they are planning to address the public on Monday, we believe.
And, you know, I did speak with a cousin of Rayshard Brooks earlier today. This is obviously very emotional for them. He said he has been watching what's been happening across the country. What's happened to George Floyd, and he was in shock, really, that this has now come to his family's doorstep.
He said, this is the worst thing to wake up to, and that they will be demanding answers here. So of course, we're going to be following what he and his family and his lawyer have to say. We're also of course, tracking what GBI is going to be looking for in their investigation that they will then turn over to the Fulton County District Attorney's Office who is by the way, also doing an independent investigation.
And meanwhile, once again, the Atlanta Police Chief has offered her resignation today which the Mayor has accepted, and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is calling for the termination of the officer involved in last night's incident.
CABRERA: OK, Natasha Chen reporting in Atlanta. Thank you. My thanks to all the guests who joined us in this past segment. Quick break. We'll be right back.
CABRERA: We're back with our breaking news and just moments ago, we got video of a deadly officer-involved shooting in Atlanta, shooting that has now led to the resignation of the Police Chief in that city, and I have to warn you, these videos are disturbing.
This video captures the scuffle between police and the man who was killed that's Rayshard Brooks there and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation say the man had taken an officers taser, took off running, then turned that taser on the officer moments before he was shot.
This is surveillance video now from the Wendy's where this shooting occurred. Again, it's disturbing. You can see what appears to be Brooks running from police, and according to GBI seemingly point the taser back at officers.
Back with us is Cheryl Dorsey, Charles Ramsay and Cedric Alexander. And also joining us in the conversation is CNN legal analyst, Elie Hoenig. So, guys we have the moment Brooks appears to point the taser at officers and is then shot.
We have it in real time and we have it in slow motion and the slow motion part is also important. So, watch closely here.
That's where it is slowed down, and obviously when it's in slow motion, it's easier to see that he appears to point the taser, but then appears to turn back around.
Cheryl Dorsey does that does that make a difference if he is running away and has turned back around before they open fire.
DORSEY: So, it doesn't make a difference to me because again, this just is going to be imperative to make a determination as to whether or not he was able to make contact with the officer with that taser.
And so listen, let me just say real quickly, because I know there's a whole lot of folks already talking about, you know, he shouldn't have been fighting and he should have complied and all of that, and I get that that's true.
But it's inherent to police work. That's what folks do when they don't want to go to jail, they run. And so you either have the physical ability to get them in custody and you take them into custody, and once you do, it's over. You don't punish them, or if you can't catch them, and it looks like these two had a hitch in there get along, they need to set up a perimeter because he is running with a taser and there's no exigent circumstance to get him other than direct units into the area, set up a perimeter and try to contain him.
Taking his life is not necessary at that juncture.
CABRERA: Elie, legally does it make a difference if he's running away when he is shot?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It does make a difference. Look, police officers have all different levels of force that they're permitted to use. Of course, the most serious of those levels of force is lethal force or deadly force and police officers are only legally justified in using deadly force if there is no other option, no other alternative.
And as Chief Ramsey and the other officers on the panel I think have laid out, there were other options here. One thing that's really important to notice about these tasers. Tasers do not shoot continuously. They usually have only one or two shots in them and then they need to essentially be reloaded.
So the police officers presumably would have known from being involved in this scuffle how many discharges there had been from that taser and whether it had anything left, but yes, if the person turns and is running, then that is really going to make this an unjustified shooting.
CABRERA: Cedric and Commissioner Ramsey, do you agree?
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, let me tell you what I do agree with is I think Charles Blow and Commissioner Ramsey both said something in your last segment. I think it's hugely important is that something can be lawful, but it can also be awful. That's the term that has come into play over the last several years when we see lawful activity, but it can sometimes could there have been a different decision.
That is not for me to determine and I don't think any of us can make that determination. But here's what we can do, when we look at that video, it certainly do bring up a great deal of question around training in that particular scenario. Was using deadly force essential or important but also to protect themselves or his partner doing that. He's going to have to be able to articulate that threat at that moment with the video that we all are looking at and that's going to be a challenge for him to do.
But I think the most important thing is and Charles Blow brings this up, there's been too many of these incidents that are here to be too much of the same involving oftentimes a police ended up killing someone that appears to be unnecessary. We've seen too many cases of that.
So when American people have that in their mind, it's very difficult for people to imagine anything else that could have happened here other than something very wrong. So this is a real tough place we are in this country now, because at the same time we want police officers to do their job, we also want them to be able to do it correctly.
But I will tell this to everyone who is listening is that this goes back to training. There needs to be more training and there needs to be more learn alternatives that could possibly be employed in situations such as that. But right now at this very moment in this country, it is very difficult for anyone to look at this and not be able to see something else.
Because the images are still very vivid in the minds of people on May 25th. Images are still very vivid in the minds of people what happened in South Georgia a month ago. So it is becoming very hard for the American people any longer to tolerate anything that does not appear to be just.
And at the end of this, I will still say let the GBI and let Fulton County do their investigation. But in the meantime, if people choose to have a voice of something that they don't feel comfortable about, they need to be able to achieve that voice and continue to achieve it in a peaceful manner. But the American people are tired of these images and I think that's what Mr. Blow is saying and I think that's what we're all saying.
But we have to do something to help our police departments do something very different than what they've been doing in the past and that comes to training. We got the train, train --
CABRERA: Right. So let's talk a little bit more about that training piece. Commissioner Ramsey, what are officers trained to do in a situation in which a suspect is running away? At what point can they shoot?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it depends on what he's running away from. If he just committed double homicide or something or are they armed at the time. I mean, each circumstance is different. You don't have that in this case. I mean, there's a struggle and I could comment on the training there
because from a training perspective, they're on the ground and struggling. He's got his taser in his hand, which puts him at a disadvantage, talking about the cop. Because now he's only got to use a one hand as opposed to two hands and try to take him into custody. But that's a training issue. But each case is different.
Now, looking at this video and I've seen it now a few times, there's a very strong argument against it being necessary to shoot. And that's what you look for, you look to see is it necessary, is it reasonable and is it proportional. I mean, he did have a taser in his hand, it's clear. The tasers are either yellow, some are green, but they're vividly colored so that you don't make a mistake.
If you remember the Oakland case years ago in a train station where he had a taser on the same side of the hip as the gun, they're both black, and he pulled the gun instead of the taser. But anyway, there are training issues. Each of these things have to be looked at, now whether it rises to criminal is a totally different question and a totally different issue and that's going to be looked at by a district attorney.
I mean, when you look at that video in slow motion, it looks like he discharged the taser at some point. But as the attorney pointed out, I mean, it's not like it's loaded with six shots or 10 shots or whatever. Once it's discharged, it has to recycle and so forth before it could be used again.
But these things go down in a matter of seconds. But, again, when you look at it, there's a difference between what you can do and what you should do. And so that'll come out in the investigation and I'm sure GBI will do a good job as well as the DA.
CABRERA: OK. My thanks to all of you. We'll be right back.
CABRERA: Updating you on our breaking news, new video just released of a deadly officer-involved shooting in Atlanta and we do want to warn you it is disturbing. Police say the fatal encounter happened after a man took an officer's taser and then took off running.
This is slow motion of that video of what happened. It appears to show the man turn around and point that taser at the office at the officer before the shooting happens.
And joining us now is Michael Signer. He was the Mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 when a man deliberately drove his car into a crowd of people who have been peacefully protesting the unite the right rally. He's also the author of the new book, "Cry Havoc: Charlottesville and American Democracy Under Siege."
Mayor, thank you for joining us. First, I just want to get your reaction to the situation unfolding in Atlanta tonight.
MICHAEL SIGNER, FORMER CHARLOTTESVILLE MAYOR: I sympathize with the protesters. The rage on the streets and the sadness. The anger that you're seeing is not just because of what people have seen happen there. It's because of 400 years of organized oppression of African- Americans in this country.
Today you see white households have 16 times the amount of wealth that black households do. Black people are almost four times as likely to be charged with marijuana offenses. You have the George Floyd murder and has focused a lot of attention on this, but there are systemic injustices throughout our entire country.
So people are seeing, I think, this is one part of a broad movement today about black lives mattering and about the change that that needs to come. There's an investigation that will obviously happen with the Atlanta police, but it is part of a broader cultural moment right now and I think we need to listen to what people are saying.
CABRERA: Even before that investigation takes place, the Mayor is taking action. She's calling for the officer involved to be fired ...
CABRERA: ... and we now know that the police chief is stepping down which she announced as well this afternoon. I want to play you the announcement that came from the Mayor of Atlanta today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D) ATLANTA: Chief Erika Shields has been a solid member of APD for over two decades and has a deep and abiding love for the people of Atlanta. And because of her desire that Atlanta be a model of what meaningful reform should look like across this country, Chief Shields has offered to immediately step aside as Police Chief, so that the city may move forward with urgency in rebuilding the trust so desperately needed throughout our communities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Again, a lot has transpired now in less than 24 hours following the shooting death of this man by a police. How do you think the Mayor's handled this so far?
SIGNER: Well, it looks like she's handling it very well to me. She's taking swift action and focusing on accountability. The reason I wrote this book that you referenced and I think the broader kind of lessons to take from Charlottesville, Charlottesville happened, the event people know, The Unite the Right rally was almost a dozen organized far right paramilitary groups invaded the city using assault rifles and organized like military groups and waving swastika flags and chanting racist slogans after somebody killed, a Neo-Nazi killed a young woman who was in the crowd by weaponizing his car. The details though of what happens at the local government level to
when a city is under fire like that there were two other white nationals events that happened earlier that year. What happens when you need to implement accountability and anti-racist policy and policies oriented around equity, how we sued, for instance, successfully, these paramilitary groups with Georgetown University to prevent them from ever entering the city again using a 200-year-old law that had never been used before that basically made militia groups illegal.
So I wrote the book to try and tell the story of what it's like being in the local government, in a local government seat where change actually has to happen and to justify the intuition I had during this very agonizing set of events that as much pain and suffering has happened that it still could be of some purpose in the country getting a handle on extremism and hate and justifying the higher purposes of our democracy.
You saw a wave election happen the next year in Virginia, where neo- confederate candidates like the people that Donald Trump was saying when he said there are very fine people on both sides were repudiated and Democrats won sweeping landslide elections year after year after year. So there really is a chance for the political system to register the horror of what's happening today at the hand of these hate groups and generate change.
CABRERA: Mayor, Signer, please stand by with me. I need to squeeze in another quick break, but I'd like to continue the conversation. We'll be right back.
CABRERA: Back to our breaking news and we just got a statement from the Atlanta Police Chief who was now resigning after a deadly officer- involved shooting overnight and the statement reads, "For more than two decades I have served alongside some of the finest women and men in the Atlanta Police Department.
Out of a deep and abiding love for this city in this department, I offer to step aside as Police Chief. APD has my full support and Mayor Bottoms has my support on the future direction of this department. I have faith in the Mayor and it is time for the city to move forward and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve."
Let's bring back Cedric Alexander. Cedric, how do you build that trust between police and the community they serve?
ALEXANDER: Well, first of all, let me say this in light of everything that is happening even in this most recent shooting there in Atlanta, one thing we have to remember at this very critical juncture at this point is that we still cannot and please do not people that are out there listening. we cannot marginalize our police officers.
There are hundreds, thousands of police officers out there right now answering calls for service to protect and to serve and they are good offices and they're doing the very best that they can and they still need citizen support. So it's very important that I say (inaudible) relates to the question as when it comes to build trust with community and police, that is going to be an ongoing endeavor, because officers will change and communities, community members may change, there is no end point.
But to continually build those relationships require that we have to work together. And as we talk a lot today about police reform in this country, that reform has to be around with the experts, police officers and leaders I should say who are capable to sit at a table with community and come up with policies and procedures and ideals that are going to benefit the safety of the community and also support the officers who are out there doing that very critical and dangerous job.
But I also would like to say this in regard to the Mayor in Atlanta, I applaud her effort. She has done a dynamic job that we all have seen nationally. And the decision that she and the Chief made today, they made it appears very respectfully, in what was best for that community and for that city at this very moment in history.
So as we move forward and begin to talk about reform, I think it's very important for all of us, whether you're a community or whether you're in the public safety side, we can only do this together. We're going to continue to move through the struggle through this together and I think at the end of it all, we're going to find a means to this end that's going to be beneficial to everybody that's involved.
CABRERA: And leadership obviously is so crucial here. So let me ask you as the former Mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia, Mike Signer, and again, he's the author of the "Cry Havoc: Charlottesville and American Democracy Under Siege."
Mayor, what lessons did you learn about leadership during and after the deadly Charlottesville protests that you can offer to those being called to lead today as this whole nation, again, reckons with its dark, dark history of racism?
SIGNER: Ana, thanks so much for that question. Leadership, especially in this time have so much tumult and so many outrages. And especially when we're all - millions of us are kind of being trolled by President Trump who seems to enjoy throwing fuel on fires and likes distracting from the hard work of local government. Like, it's not really relevant whether there was a wall built, it's just what he's saying about a wall or how COVID is being solved or what's going to happen about police brutality.
So if there's one message that could bring back about leadership and government, it's to ask your leaders, ask the members of the Black Lives Matter movement, ask everybody outraged about what's happening today to commit to the change happening at local government. And I completely agree with Mr. Alexander, I think, it's going to require folks committed to the work of government joining - going to city council meetings, talking to experts and changing policy.
There's an article in The New York Times just today about the work that Minneapolis is going to have to do with their city council to fundamentally reimagine that police department as they've been talking about could take a year at least because of all the ins and outs of that local government and that means don't lose patience, keep focused on the work and the leaders and keep the vision of change and of stopping police brutality and reimagining a police force that meets our best ideals.
It takes a thick skin, it takes a big heart, it takes dedication and resilience. Local government is tough and my book goes into the experience of what it was really like. But it has never been more important than now, because this is where change happens so that's what I would ask folks to concentrate on is committing to government working.
CABRERA: And on this day 19 of protests that are still happening across the country so much we keep hearing is about accountability and a call to action.
CABRERA: I want to bring back in former Federal Prosecutor Elie Honig and just come back to the case that is the very latest in the broader discussion. Elie, what will be the calculus to decide whether criminal charges will be brought against that officer in Atlanta who shot and killed a black man last night?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, Ana, the key legal concept here is justification. Police officers are allowed to use physical force in their jobs unlike a normal civilian, but only the amount necessary to defuse a situation. Here we obviously have a lethal force situation. The police officer fired his weapon and the question is was there an imminent threat to the life or the safety of that officer or somebody else nearby, a lethal threat to that person that was imminent and close by. It's a split second case. It's going to be a really close call whether this officer gets indicted.
CABRERA: Elie Honig, thank you. Cedric Alexander, former Mayor Mike Signer, thank you as well. And that's going to do it for me tonight.
I appreciate you being with me. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. CNN's Wolf Blitzer picks up our breaking news coverage after a quick break. Stay with us.
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WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. This is a Special Edition of THE SITUATION ROOM.
We begin tonight with a nation jolted into reality on two fronts, first, the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd and against police violence now in their 19th day, still going strong.