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George Floyd Protests on Night 18 amid Worldwide Pandemic; Police Misconduct in the Spotlight; Coronavirus in the U.S.; Defiant Trump Stokes Racial Division; Videos Raise Questions about Tennessee In-Custody Death; George Floyd's Death Sparks Change in the U.S. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired June 13, 2020 - 04:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


ALLEN: Ahead this hour, growing fears of a new wave of the coronavirus even as protesters crowd America's streets and beyond.

Also it was 19 days ago that George Floyd died as a police officer kneeled on his neck. Demonstrators have been demanding justice ever since. The movement has found traction in cities around the world.

In London, monuments honoring Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela near Parliament have been boarded up to protect them from vandalism, all of this during a global pandemic. Most European countries seem to have it under control but it is spreading elsewhere. Now there is new guidance from the experts in the United States.


ALLEN: Welcome to our viewers now joining us in the United States.

Our top story: U.S. president Donald Trump has delayed the restart of his re-election campaign rallies by one day. He was planning to hold a rally next day in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but that date, June 19th, is when African Americans celebrate the end of slavery in the U.S., a holiday known as Juneteenth. Mr. Trump now says he will hold his rally on the following day out of respect for the holiday.

The U.S. is entering the third straight weekend of protests following the killing of George Floyd while in police custody last month. Seattle, Washington, is one area Mr. Trump has fixated on.

After protesters took over several city blocks, he tweeted on Friday that the mayor, quote, "must end the Seattle takeover now."

But the mayor says Trump is seeing a problem where one doesn't exist and she says Seattle is fine.

President Trump recently sat down to talk about the protests with FOX News anchor Harris Faulkner. He questioned whether some demonstrators even know why they were marching.


TRUMP: You're protesting also because, you know, they just didn't know. I've watch. I watched very closely. Why are you here? They really weren't able to say.


ALLEN: Most of the people in the streets would probably disagree with that. Here's what one said Friday in Minneapolis, where George Floyd died last month.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not just a fight for justice. This is a demand for justice. The people standing up here (INAUDIBLE).


ALLEN: The president also said he generally opposes police using chokeholds but suggested they might be necessary sometimes.


TRUMP: you get somebody in a chokehold. And what you going to do now? Let go and say, oh, let's start all over again. I'm not allowed to have you in a chokehold. It's a tough situation.


ALLEN: Many American communities don't see it as a tough call at all. Police have been banned from using the technique or soon will be in at least 20 places in the country. They include some of the largest cities in the United States.

Trump also likened himself to former Republican president Abraham Lincoln, which got a little pushback from the FOX journalist interviewing him, who was African American.


TRUMP: I think I've done more for the black community than any other president. And let's take a pass on Abraham Lincoln, because he did good. Although it's always questionable, you know, in other words, the end result.

FAULKNER: Well, we are free, Mr. President. He did pretty well.

TRUMP: You know, I got to take a pass on a Honest Abe, as we call him.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ALLEN: Following George Floyd's death, lawmakers and police agencies are looking closer at videos of deadly encounters between police and African Americans. They are very disturbing. We want to caution viewers, you are about to see some of them. While some are open to interpretation, others vividly demonstrate why so many Americans now say they have seen enough. Here is our Brian Todd with the story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, get on the ground!


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Oklahoma City, police pursue a suspect on foot after getting reports of a man drawing a gun on another man.

Within seconds, Derrick Scott is tackled and cries out a now familiar phrase.



Get your hands behind your back.

TODD: This police body cam video was released this week after protesters demanded it, but the incident occurred more than a year before George Floyd's killing.

Scott repeatedly tells officers --

SCOTT: I can't breathe, please.

TODD: As police pinned him down, at one, Derrick Scott appears unresponsive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay with us, man.

TODD: Scott was taken to a medical center and later died. The medical examiner says Scott died of a collapsed lung, that there was no fatal trauma but physical restraint along with methamphetamine use, asthma, and heart disease were contributing factors. An investigation concluded the officers did not engage in misconduct.

But this case from Austin, Texas, last year is now under investigation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Flat on your stomach.

TODD: Javier Ambler was apprehended after a traffic stop. He was unarmed and told sheriff's deputies he had congestive heart failure. Ambler died in custody, a death which was ruled a homicide. An investigation determined the officers acted in accordance with guidelines.

But these incidents, along with George Floyd's killing, come in years after Ferguson, after the Eric Garner and Freddie Gray cases, have law enforcement concerned about why these encounters keep happening.

CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: The majority of police officers do their job well, but one rotten apple can spoil an entire barrel. And the reality is the few, the fine, the many. And we have to understand that and do everything we can to root corrupt officers, brutal officers, any officers that engage in misconduct or neglect their duties.

TODD: Neglect is what's being investigated in this case. Thirteen Chicago police officers seen in recent days on surveillance footage lounging in the office of Congressman Bobby Rush while heated protests and looting were going on outside.

REP. BOBBY RUSH (D-IL): These individuals need to apologize to the city of Chicago for their cowardice, inaction, for their withdrawal from the front line, for their retreat in the midst of these assaults.

TODD: And in Buffalo, New York, the lawyer for the 75-year-old man who was pushed to the ground by police now says his client's brain is injured.

RAMSEY: Change needs to happen, in some cases radical change in order to really make a difference depending on the particular department. Our profession right now is in crisis and we have to address it.

TODD: Charles Ramsey says there is training on officers on how to handle the incidents, training that never took place 20 years ago. He says it is obviously not enough. Police departments have to vet officers better when hiring and teach about police brutality -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: I'm joined now by Cheryl Dorsey. She is a retired Los Angeles police sergeant and also the author of "Black and Blue."

Welcome. Good to see you.


ALLEN: These videos that we just saw in the report are horrific to see. But they are there and they happened. I would like to start with the former Philadelphia police chief in the reports and get your response.

He said we must do everything to root out corrupt, brutal officers. Any officer that engages in misconduct and have officers applying to be closely vetted.

Are police departments doing that?

DORSEY: Of course they are not doing it. That's why we continue to see what we see.

How do you get a Derek Chauvin with 18 personnel complaints over a 19- year career?

This is not anything new. This goes back many, many years and certainly I experienced this during my time on the Los Angeles Police Department, working with errant officers who were known to have animus to members of the black community yet were allowed to rain down on them with impunity.

I worked with a partner by the name of Douglas Iverson (ph) in 1992, who shot and killed a black man.


Well, just because he was a black man and he could. And nothing happened. And we heard in 2015, Eric Harris say he couldn't breathe. And deputies on the Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sheriff's Department told him, eff your breath.

Can you imagine being a parent and know that the last thing your loved one heard was a police officer standing over them and saying, eff your breath?

ALLEN: I absolutely cannot as a mother and I know you are one, too.

You said you had experience in the Los Angeles Police Department with these kinds of officers.


ALLEN: Why are they permitted to continue?

Is -- they are protected somehow by the police unions?

DORSEY: Well, the unions certainly have a role to play. Listen, understand they are a lobbying arm of the police department. They seemingly have not seen a murder of a black man, woman or child that doesn't excite them and they work feverishly to get officers on those rare instances when they are fired their jobs back.

But I believe police chiefs have a responsibility to the entity and in sheltering and making sure because civil liability often follows when there is a death or great bodily harm, officers benefit.

How do you allow someone to maintain their position as a police officer when obviously they don't have the temperament?

Something happened in the background check. They slipped through the cracks. Police departments are not psychologically evaluating officers periodically to make sure their head is in a good place.

And so you wind up with officers who haven't been deterred by their bad behavior to live to offend again.

ALLEN: Those are certainly examples of where there must be changes. As far as changing the makeup of police departments, that many people around the country are demanding, we would see perhaps first responders other than police making emergency calls, mental health experts or drug experts --- I know you worked in vice -- social workers.

Is that an idea that might work that you could support?

DORSEY: It is certainly helpful. When I was on the Los Angeles Police Department, we had a mental health evaluation unit where we had professionals responding in moments of crises with the police officers.

What about at a traffic stop and they have a mental episode and you don't have the benefit of a mental professional there?

Then you've got to use a little common sense. And of course if sense were common, everyone would have it.

So what do you do in those instances?

And what about folks who are leery of calling someone other than a law enforcement professional to handle that situation?

It is a slippery slope I think.

ALLEN: It is complicated. I also want to get your views on two changes we may be seeing. In Louisville, Kentucky, a new law passed to ban no- knock warrants named after Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police in that situation. Also chokeholds are reevaluated and banned in some cities.

DORSEY: I think the banning of no-knock warrants is an important one. Certainly others have lost their lives. A couple of Houston, Texas, during the service of a no-knock warrant and many others killed or seriously injured because officers coming in with bombs and whatever else they use to blow up the front doors.

With regards to banning chokeholds, we saw Eric Garner die with a prohibited chokehold only to be told by authorities there, the union officials, that that wasn't a chokehold. That was a seatbelt upper body restraint.

What do you do when we see a thing, we know a thing and they say, that's not what we saw?

ALLEN: The egregious stories just seem to go on and on. We always appreciate your input and expertise, Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey. Thank you so much.

DORSEY: Thank you.

ALLEN: We turn now to the coronavirus. Certainly the epidemic is not over in the United States. Ahead, how states are reckoning with a surge of new cases and the pressure to get back to business at the same time.






DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We all want to reopen the country for a number of important reasons but we've got to do it in a way that's careful and prudent.


ALLEN: Dr. Anthony Fauci there of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated advice for preventing the spread of COVID-19. It sounds a lot like what we've already heard. Practice social distancing. Wear a face covering and try not to share objects.

The United States is struggling to contain the epidemic. Johns Hopkins counts more than 2 million cases in the country and still rising; 19 states are seeing big surges in infections and several have broken records. So far, nearly 115,000 people in the U.S. have died from the virus. For more, here's Nick Watt in Los Angeles.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today in Houston, they're prepping to reopen not more businesses, but maybe the field hospital at the Texans NRG Stadium. COVID-19 hospitalization rates in Texas just hit an all-time high.

JUDGE LINA HIDALGO, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS: I'm growing increasingly concerned that we may be approaching the precipice -- the precipice of a disaster.

WATT (voice-over): Oregon and Utah have hit pause on re-opening following upticks these past couple of weeks.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Has the United States stalled in the fight against coronavirus?

FAUCI: I am not so sure we can say it is stalled, but what we are seeing right now is something obviously that's disturbing.


WATT (voice-over): New case counts right now rising in 19 states. Florida's average new case count has about doubled since June 1st. GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): As you're testing more, you're going to find more cases.

WATT (voice-over): But he admits there are new outbreaks in farming communities.

DR. AILEEN MARTY, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY: A small part of it is testing. But it truly is a real increase in cases and part of that is because people are getting too close together without using their masks.

WATT (voice-over): Orange County, California, scene of some crowded sand just ended its mask advisory a couple of days after the health officer behind it quit after receiving threats.

Meanwhile, another new study says masks work that making masks mandatory in New York City on April 17th prevented more than 66,000 infections over the following three weeks alone.

The president doesn't wear one.


WATT (voice-over): And his campaign is now asking everyone attending next week's MAGA rally in Tulsa to sign a waiver saying they won't sue if they catch COVID-19.

FAUCI: Please wear a mask, all the time. Because a mask will give you some protection. The best thing to do is to avoid crowded areas, but if you're not going to do that, please wear a mask.

WATT: Here in Los Angeles, as a Friday, zoos, museums, movie theaters, movie production, is all back. But the mayor says, they will watch the numbers and if in a few weeks, they don't look great, they might ask some questions, are we not doing well enough with the masks or, they may tweak the rules and regulations -- Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.


ALLEN: Professor Mark Jit from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine joins me now live.

Professor, thanks so much for coming on.


ALLEN: Good morning. We heard from Dr. Fauci, who said what we are seeing is something obviously disturbing, new case counts rising in 19 states.

What do you make of it?

JIT: Well, the first thing I would say is case counts on their own are not the most reliable indicator since they only report a proportion of cases. However, if we see big changes in the direction, in the trend in case counts, then that is usually the signal of something happening.

So unless the way the cases are being counted has changed dramatically, there's a huge shift in the amount of testing going on, a big jump in the case counts probably does mean that actually there's more transmission going on.

It will be good also to keep an eye on other indicators, like hospitalizations. But those will only start going up about a week later after the case counts start to go up.

ALLEN: We hear from some people and it depends on whom you ask. They say maybe it's happening because there's more testing. Others are saying it's because states started reopening earlier than health officials advised.

What do you think is behind it?

JIT: It would be good to look at a number of indicators at the same time.

How many tests have been happening at the same time?

Has that suddenly jumped in the last week?

If so, the case counts might jump, too. But if number of tests have been increasing gradually, then we wouldn't expect a big case count jump. This is genuinely a lot of transmission going on.

However, analysts have been keeping an eye on not just case counts but also hospitalizations and also proxies, like mobility data from mobile phones. If all that is going, it is really a danger signal that it's not just a function of testing but the amount of transmission in the community is going up.

ALLEN: People are being told by the CDC, social distance and wear a mask. If you go to a restaurant, call to see if the wait staff is wearing a mask. They're urging people to do that and people are not doing that.

We also just learned that the London police are now ordering a curfew for protesters in the George Floyd Black Lives movement. When they come out, they will have a curfew because of the threat of the spread of coronavirus.

What do you think about that step?

JIT: Well, that's -- on the issue of masks, I would say the evidence behind masks being effective in reducing transmission is increasing. The evidence is still not as robust as we like it to be. But it will never been because we cannot do a clinical trial on mask wearing during a epidemic.

But it's strong enough that many country governments, the WHO, have all started recommending mask wearing in public, some places making it mandatory. The evidence behind masks is really getting as close to as strong as it can get. On the issue of demonstrations and rallies, it is definitely a risk.

There is also a political decision there with the balance of the political factors against public health factors.

ALLEN: We talk about the hospitalizations that we may see and that will be telling, as you said, in the cases that we are seeing going up in 19 states in the U.S. Let's talk about treatment now.

After the horrendous months in March and April when hospitals were overwhelmed, do doctors and nurses have more of a handle on how to treat people now?

Here we are in June.


JIT: Unfortunately there is still no licensed treatment that we have shown works against COVID-19. So in terms of what is a really effective treatment where we haven't progressed that much.

In terms of patient management, we know a bit more. We know the main pressure points will be in the ICU and on ventilators. General ward probably won't be a major pressure point. So we are a bit more prepared for what's going to happen.

We know PPE, personal protective equipment, is crucial to prevent spread of COVID-19 in hospitals, which is very important. We do know a bit more of how to handle this. But on the treatment front, we still don't have that magic bullet yet.

ALLEN: Absolutely. We thank you so much for your input and expertise, Professor Mark Jit. Thank you.

JIT: Thank you.

ALLEN: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. Next, President Trump changes his mind about the timing of a campaign rally.

Will he change his tone about the nationwide protests for social justice?




ALLEN: Welcome back to viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta.

President Trump changed his mind about restarting his campaign rallies on the day of commemorating the ending of slavery in the U.S.

Late Friday he tweeted, "We had previously scheduled our #MAGA Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for June 19th - a big deal. Unfortunately, however, this would fall on the Juneteenth Holiday. [04:30:00]

"Many of my African American friends and supporters have reached out to suggest that we consider changing the date out of respect for this Holiday, and in observance of this important occasion and all that it represents. I have therefore decided to move our rally to Saturday, June 20th, in order to honor their requests."

Mr. Trump was criticized for scheduling the rally on Juneteenth while so many Americans are right now protesting racism. More about this from CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Defending his response to the protests following the death of George Floyd, President Trump is sounding like the divider in chief.

The president is praising his photo-op in Washington, after demonstrators were pummeled near the White House.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it was a beautiful picture.

HARRIS FAULKNER, FOX NEWS HOST: Why do you think that your.

TRUMP: And I'll tell you, Christians think it was a beautiful picture.

ACOSTA: Even as he's dismissing comments from Pentagon officials who now say they regret being a part of it.

TRUMP: No, I don't think so. No, I mean, if that's the way they feel, I think that's fine.

ACOSTA: Reacting to protests in Seattle, the president is threatening more harsh tactics, warning the city's leaders, "These liberal Dems don't have a clue. The terrorists burn and pillage our cities and they think it's just wonderful, even the death. Must end this Seattle takeover."

As for Floyd, the president danced around the question of whether it's appropriate for officers to continue using chokeholds, saying they sometimes work, before adding, they may need to be banned.

TRUMP: I think the concept of chokeholds sounds so innocent, so perfect and then you realize, if it's one-on-one -- now, if it's two- on-one, that's a little bit of a different story.

With that being said, it would be, I think, a very good thing that, generally speaking, it should be ended.

ACOSTA: The president is standing by his campaign's plans for a rally next week in Tulsa, the scene of one of the worst massacres of African Americans in history, on the same day the end of slavery in the U.S. is celebrated.

FAULKNER: Is that on purpose?

TRUMP: No, but I know exactly what you're going to say. Think about it as a celebration. My rally is a celebration.

ACOSTA: Later this summer, the president is set to deliver his speech at the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida, on the anniversary of an infamous attack on African Americans in that city.

The president told FOX he should be mentioned in the same sentence as Abraham Lincoln.

TRUMP: I think I have done more for the black community than any other president. And let's take a pass on Abraham Lincoln, because he did good, although it's always questionable, you know, in other words, the end result.

ACOSTA: But the president is hearing appeals to be a more unifying leader. Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz said during a podcast that his wife, Heidi, urged the president to address racism in the U.S.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): I said, "Mr. President, Heidi is here. You mind if I put you on speaker?"

And so she -- he chatted with Heidi.

And she said, "Mr. President, it is really, really important for you to speak out to the racial injustice in this country and for you to speak for unity."

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump's rival, Joe Biden, just released a new ad insisting the president is incapable of uniting the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Where is Donald Trump?

Too scared to face the people.

ACOSTA: Also blasting the president's leadership, former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who is offering a scathing account of his days at the White House, writing in a new book, "I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn't driven by reelection calculations."

The White House is counting on a recovering economy to bail out Mr. Trump come election time, with top advisers insisting there won't be a second wave of the coronavirus, contrary to what health experts are warning.

KUDLOW: I spoke to our health experts at some length last evening. They are saying there is no second spike. Let me repeat that. There is no second spike.

ACOSTA: The president was laying low at his golf club in New Jersey on Friday with no public events on his schedule, delivering the commencement speech at West Point on Saturday, an event that will include some social distancing, even though the White House has drifted away from those kinds of precautions -- Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.


ALLEN: Let's talk about the story with Natasha Lindstaedt, professor of government at the University of Essex from Colchester, England.

Good morning, Natasha.


ALLEN: Thanks for being here. President Trump is moving his rally from Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the ending of slavery, one day later. He said the reason, respect for the holiday.

What are your thoughts on first choosing the city of Tulsa and the date?

And the city that had the biggest violence in the history of the country against blacks?

LINDSTAEDT: I think the main thing he was trying to do was choose Oklahoma. This would be a state that was going to open up with social distancing early. It was a state he won by a huge margin. He wants to have a huge crowd.

The issue is he doesn't have any understanding or knowledge of U.S. history. So he didn't understand the significance of the date. He didn't understand the significance of Tulsa, the place with one of the largest race massacres in U.S. history.

So he is so out of step with these key historical moments. In a rare change of heart -- he rarely does this -- he decided to change the date because he was under so much pressure, most of it coming from his advisors that were realizing, by playing to the base, he is out of step with the majority of most Americans.


LINDSTAEDT: And in the past, he could get away with this because people weren't very activated. But now we're seeing seismic shifts of how people feel about race in the U.S.

ALLEN: His rallies may be more scrutinized by more Americans now as he restarts them.

Do you expect a different tone from the president, considering what this country's going through?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, I would expect him to back down a little bit. But he always tends to double down on what he wants to say in terms of dividing the public and really trying to cater to the base.

When you think he is going to be more conciliatory, he goes back to the old tactics of playing to the base. We see it in a way that he is pushing for the monuments to not come down and not change the names of the particular forts that were named after Confederate generals.

He is saying he is does this because of history. But as I mentioned, he is out of step of what people think about that period in history, which is a huge stain on U.S. history and also the way Americans think about the police.

We see with the recent poll showing 57 percent of Americans and 49 percent of whites believe the police are more likely to use force against African Americans.

This is a big change from only six years ago, when Eric Garner died in police custody, when it was somewhere around 33 percent of Americans and 26 percent of whites felt that way.

We also see over two-thirds of Americans felt George Floyd's killing was due to real systemic problems with police brutality and not just a few bad apples. So he really has to consider these things moving forward if he wants a chance of winning in 2020.

ALLEN: And some of the president's advisers are telling him, you have to adapt.

Do you see that happening beyond this rally?

Which we will wait and see his tone.

Do you see him engaging with protesters if he is advised by close staff that he needs to consider that?

LINDSTAEDT: I don't see him making a huge change here. At the end of the day, it is all about him and about his base and the satisfaction he gets from his adoring fans. He doesn't want to go against his base too much although he will receive a lot of pressure from his advisers to do so.

We're seeing Democrats trying to offer alternative plans by trying to push through a huge sweeping reform package of banning chokeholds.

He mentioned he might be open to that or this could be a possibility, trying to make lynching a federal crime, trying to make it easier to charge officers who engaged in excessive use of force and trying to deal away with immunity for police for prosecution.

We are seeing reforms for defunding police and starting from scratch or reallocating elsewhere. On some of these more progressive issues, we see him going harsher and saying we need to militarize and have more law and order. But I don't think he realizes that is not in step with the majority of the American public.

ALLEN: You mentioned Democrats. I want to ask you if views on political reforms, especially with defunding the police and in a limited way, will the new litmus test for each party.

Are Republicans across the board likely finding themselves against anything but backing police while Democrats are supporting such measures? LINDSTAEDT: I think we are seeing this more so than ever before. The issues of race and police were never really big issues in elections. Now we're seeing these issues rising to the forefront on part with the economy and health care.

Democrats are trying to set themselves apart by actually engaging with the protesters and engaging with what they feel is the big shift in public opinion. The Republicans are treading carefully. They can see themselves as a law and order party and they don't want to stray away from that.

But even the Republicans are engaging on some subtle reforms and that could have an impact, banning chokeholds, for example. I think for the Democrats, they will need to continue to clarify their message and what they are trying to pursue.

If I were Joe Biden, I would let the Democrats do the talking and he should focus on showing compassion and trying to heal the nation from these huge problems we've had with race relations and toxic polarization.

ALLEN: We appreciate your time and your input.


ALLEN: Professor Lindstaedt for us. Thanks so much.

LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me.

ALLEN: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. Straight ahead, the death of this man during a struggle with police more than a year ago is now getting a second look.

Why did the grand jury never see the video?

We'll show it to you coming up.




ALLEN: Here is another. New disturbing questions are raised about the death of a black man 15 months ago during a violent confrontation with police. It happened in the state of Tennessee. There is clear video of the incident. But a jury that investigated it never saw the tape. Senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin reports.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sterling Higgins appeared high, hallucinating and paranoid last March, when police arrested him for trespassing. It's what happened next to the 37-year old that has resulted in yet another claim a black man was killed in custody as cameras rolled. EDWIN BUDGE, ATTORNEY FOR HIGGINS ESTATE: It shows the officers hands grasping around Mr. Higgins' neck and throat and it shows Mr. Higgins stopping all movement while not officer has his hands in the area Mr. Higgins' throat.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Seattle attorney Edwin Budge is suing Union City, Tennessee, the county and the officers involved on behalf of Higgins' estate, accusing jailers of excessive use of force failing to provide adequate medical care and causing his death The City County and people involved all deny wrongdoing jail house videos show minute by minute Higgins death from a scuffle with officers in which Higgins handcuffed, pulls a jailers hair to a scuffle on the floor where he is kicking feet as jailers struggle on top.


GRIFFIN (voice-over): And here in close up video enhanced by the attorney to Zoom in on one of the jailers, gripping Higgins face and neck.

In a handwritten report, the jailer says Higgins was spitting and he put his hand under his chin.

BUDGE: If in fact, Mr. Higgins was alleged to be spitting and it certainly doesn't explain why an officer would keep his hands around somebody's neck or throat area for fully two additional minutes from the point that the person stops moving.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The video shows to other supplying shackles to his legs and ankles as the hand of the officer holding Higgins' neck stays in place. It is 1:48 a.m. and 50 seconds minutes pass Higgins' body goes limp. And yet the lawsuit alleges the hand on his face and neck remain for two more minutes. At 1:54:27 the officer finally removes his hand. It's been nearly six minutes. The jailers do not call for medical help at this point. Instead, they drag Higgins' limp body onto a restraint chair and wheel him into cell 15.

BUDGE: Why they would strap a lifeless human body into a restraint chair spend minutes doing that and then put him in a cell by himself when all movement had ceased for minutes on end, until medics are called is beyond my comprehension.

GRIFFINS (voice-over): At 2:14a.m., one minute before medical staff arrive, the officers remove his restraints. The EMS team finds no pulse, no breath, apply CPR, but it's too late. Their report says the primary symptom is obvious death. An autopsy report shows a tear in Higgins' neck muscle, the conclusion excited delirium due to methamphetamine toxicity, a controversial term used to describe accidental drug deaths sometimes in the hands of police.

TOMMY THOMAS, DISTRICT ATTORNEY GENERAL, OBION AND WEAKLEY COUNTY: Do I think that the officers handle this situation properly? No, I don't. I do not believe beyond a reasonable doubt that any of those officers were guilty of a crime.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): District Attorney General Tommy Thomas says he understands that some people won't agree with his decision not to charge the officers. Thomas says he presented the case to the grand jury as he always does when law enforcement is involved, but never showed the grand jurors the video.

THOMAS: The bottom line is this, it would have taken a couple hours to show the video to the grand jury. And I'd already decided that this case was not proper case for an agreement (ph).

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The grand jury agreed with the DAs recommendation to not press charges. Thomas says because the burden of proof is lower in civil courts. He advised Higgins family to get a lawyer and sue. Civil attorneys in the case will hire experts to review the autopsy and videotapes. If it goes to a jury, this time show the videotapes to a jury so jurors can see exactly how he died -- Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


ALLEN: Anger over stories like that one have led to a series of changes in just a matter of weeks. Next, a look at how the country is reacting in the wake of police misconduct.





ALLEN: Since the death of George Floyd while in police custody, there has been an uproar in the U.S. to address racial injustices. CNN's Tom Foreman gives us a overview of the many changes rippling throughout the country.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The roiling, relentless wave of protests is finally hitting home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we want change, our generation has to step up right now and demand that change.

FOREMAN (voice-over): State and the city leaders are suddenly moving fast on new rules to fight systemic racism following the horrific death of George Floyd at police hands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We still have black oppression in our society today, just in a different form.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota and California are among many places enacting or discussing changes to police procedures, funding and other measures. And there are desperate demands for federal changes, too.

PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE'S BROTHER: Please listen to the call I'm making to you now, to the calls of our family and the calls ringing out in the streets across the world.

FOREMAN (voice-over): At the start of the year with President Trump's re-election train running hot --

TRUMP: The people can hear the crowd. They know.

FOREMAN (voice-over): -- and less than two weeks ago, when peaceful protesters were forcefully driven back for a presidential photo op, serious reform seemed hopelessly out of reach.

TRUMP: I am your president of law and order.

FOREMAN (voice-over): But Trump's mishandling of the unrest and the coronavirus outbreak has seen his never strong approval rating plummet and presumed Democratic challenger Joe Biden adding another layer to his pledge to take a female running mate.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I promise you, there are multiple African American candidates that are being considered.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The corporate world is also responding, with Nike, Twitter, professional football and other companies recognizing Juneteenth as a company holiday celebrating the end of slavery, all while sales exploding for books about the black experience.

TV shows are under intense pressure to revamp how they portray police and their tactics with the highly rated "Cops" and "Live PD" canceled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will it take for one of us to be heard about police brutality?

FOREMAN (voice-over): After NFL players posted a video and some police started imitating the kneeling protests of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the league commissioner responded.

ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: We at the National Football League admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier.

FOREMAN (voice-over): NASCAR banned the Confederate flag from its events as the military considers renaming some bases named for Confederate leaders, despite the commander in chief's vow to oppose such a move.


FOREMAN (voice-over): And more Confederate statues are falling. Some white people saying taking down these symbols is an attack on their history. Some black people say leaving them up is something worse.

JEH JOHNSON, FORMER SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: It's my great-great grandmother, Julia Branch, born a slave.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Former Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson.

JOHNSON: The Confederate flag to me represents the viewpoint that she should have remained a slave for the rest of her life.

FOREMAN (voice-over): HBO Max, owned by the parent company of CNN, is even pulling the classic film, "Gone with the Wind" from its streaming service for racist depictions until it can return with historic context.


HATTIE MCDANIEL, ACTOR, "MAMMY": Oh, now, Miss Scarlett --

FOREMAN (voice-over): It is a measure of how fraught the debate remains that the movie immediately shot up on Amazon's best seller list.


FOREMAN (voice-over): Still, it is all but enough to spur former president Barack Obama to speak out about it.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The kinds of epic changes and events in our country that are as profound as anything that I have seen in my lifetime.

FOREMAN: In so many ways, this moment does feel different than all the calls before for these types of changes. But it still remains to be seen if that will play out and those changes will really come through -- Tom Foreman, CNN, Bethesda, Maryland.


ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. I invite you to follow me on Twitter or Instagram. I'll be right back with another hour and our latest stories here on CNN NEWSROOM.