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THE SITUATION ROOM
Atlanta Police Shoot And Kill Rayshard Brooks; Interview With Mayor Kate Gallego (D), Phoenix, AZ; At Least 2,071,782 U.S. COVID-19 Cases, 115,000 Deaths; Fauci: Attending Rallies Or Protests "Is Risky"; Man Fatally Shot By Police At Fast Food Drive-Thru In Atlanta; Protests Grow In Atlanta Over Police Shooting. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired June 13, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to 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.
Let's begin in Atlanta. Like many cities across the United States, it's been the sight of 19 days of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd. But, today, a fresh round of demonstrations and new frustrations after a black man was shot and killed by police at a Wendy's drive through restaurant Friday night. It began when police responded to calls about a man simply asleep in his car. Authorities say that man, 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks, failed a field sobriety test before getting into a struggle with the police officers.
CNN has obtained eyewitness video of that struggle. And a warning to our viewers, this video is disturbing. The footage appears to show police grappling with Brooks. Georgia officials say, during that scuffle, Brooks grabbed one of the officer's tasers before breaking free.
And, in this video, you can see the police chase after him. Georgia officials released surveillance footage of the incident. And I want to warn you, this video is also disturbing. Here, you can see Brooks running from police and he seems to point the taser in the direction of the police officers before being fatally shot. Here's the Atlanta mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, reacting earlier this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GEORGIA: I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer.
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)
BLITZER: CNN's Natasha Chen is on the scene for us in Atlanta right now. Natasha, what can you tell us about this fatal shooting? NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is a very tricky
situation with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation handling the case. They're going to be gathering all of the facts of the case and then handing it over to the Fulton County district attorney's office, who, by the way, is also doing their own independent investigation.
Now, since we last spoke with you, we've moved locations to the place where this happened last night. You can see the Wendy's there, and now you can see this large crowd that's gathered in the intersection. Police have blocked off the roads. Earlier, we were seeing everybody raise their arms in solidarity. And they are holding signs that say Rayshard Brooks' name, as well as the names of other people of color who have been killed by police.
And I'm actually standing with one protester here, Marquavian Odom, an Atlanta resident.
MARQUAVIAN ODOM, PROTESTER: How are you doing?
CHEN: And I understand you have seen the surveillance video released by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. What do you make of those few seconds where all of this happened?
ODOM: I was very disturbed by what happened. This is something that keeps happening over and over again. So, we've been protesting about the George Floyd and hopefully -- I thought that it was going to be a change. But, however, it wasn't a change. It was still the same old thing. And I thought the message was clear, but obviously, not. We're still not heard.
CHEN: And I know there are lot of people are watching this video very carefully, seeing, in this case, that it seems as if Mr. Brooks had turned around and pointed a taser back at police. Does this case differ to you, in your mind at all, from what happened to George Floyd or others?
ODOM: Yes, ma'am. I would say it's because he was fighting back. He was scared for his life. The first thing to do is when people are fighting you, you would try to fight back. Even though it's authority. But he did try to run. He tried to run away from the situation. They were still tasing him. They were still trying to cause him harm and try to kill him. So, the first natural thing would be to run.
CHEN: And when you find someone pointing a taser back at police or firing it potentially, I'm sure experts will figure that part out, what would you think police should have done instead of shooting him?
ODOM: Well, these are trained officers. I'm pretty sure they know plenty of ways to be able to deescalate the situation. But., however, taking a gun out which should have -- should have been the last, last excuse, unless he had a gun.
ODOM: But he didn't have a gun. He only had a taser.
CHEN: And what do you think of the Atlanta police chief resigning today and the mayor calling for the termination of this officer?
ODOM: I think it's a beautiful thing. I think it's great. I think it's fantastic. I think that he should have did it a long time ago, years ago.
CHEN: OK, thank you so much.
ODOM: Thank you.
CHEN: And that's Mark Odom, one of the protesters here. One of the many people who have gathered peacefully this this intersection to continue the movement that started a couple of weeks ago. And now, at the location where last night, once again, a 27 year old was shot and killed in the driveway of the Wendy's when police were called there for the report of someone sleeping in his vehicle. JBI says, again, that he failed a field sobriety test. That there was then a struggle over the police taser that witnesses saw Mr. Brooks with the police taser. He took control of that and was running away in the surveillance video with that taser.
And, at one point in the video, is seen turning back around, pointing the taser at police. Of course, all of this happening in seconds right before police shot him. And you can see in the video, very disturbing, that he falls in that spot. So, Wolf, there are a lot of people here very upset about that, very emotional, as you can imagine.
BLITZER: I can imagine, of course. Natasha, we'll get back to you. Natasha Chen on the scene for us in Atlanta.
Let's bring in our CNN Legal Analyst, the criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson, is with us. And also with us, Brian Higgins, the former police chief in Bergen County, New Jersey. He's now professor at the John J. College of Criminal Justice.
Joey, we've been showing our viewers two newly released videos of this deadly confrontation at the Wendy's restaurant last night. I also want to play a slow-motion version. Watch this because we can see Brooks running, then turning his head back toward the police officers to raise the tasered gun. We can see the flare of the taser being fired. So, what stands out to you, from the incident, that has now played out?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, a number of things stand out, Wolf. And let's talk about the human side and then transition to the legal side. From a human perspective, people are wondering, what is the situation? What's the story, whereas officers are using forces and escalating to such an aggressive posture to deadly force right away? Is the suspect that they're reviewing, is he seen as a brother in the community, an uncle? Is he somebody's, you know, father? What is it that's forcing police to use this force?
And so, from a human perspective, it really gnaws at you to understand why go from zero to 100 in an instant. And I think that human element is what's leading to so many protests across the country. Why are people of color seen as less than? Why are people of color shot disproportionately? Why do people of color have to die? Transitioning from that, Wolf, to the legal element, you're going to look at three things. Number one, the immediate use of force. Was it necessary under the circumstances? Was there an immediate threat of death or serious physical injury that was represented to the officer?
Number two, was the force by the officer used proportionate to any threat posed and did the officer act reasonably under the circumstances? We could debate those questions day or night. But, at the end of the day, someone's dead and the community is asking, why and did it have to happen? And that's the issue before us now.
BLITZER: Brian, looking at the videos. You've seen the videos now. We've all seen the videos. Do you believe the police officer had other options at any point to deescalate the situation and not reach for his gun?
So, this situation actually had begun much before we see the video where the officer is using deadly force. So, there is an escalation of force. Officers are using physical force without any use of equipment, and the individual is resisting. And he goes beyond resisting. He's actually assaulting police officers. He's able to overpower two police officers.
And then, there's this foot chase, if you will. And then, a sudden split-second decision of the police officer. That's the key. In that moment, what did the police officer see, think, and feel that caused him to use deadly force?
So, it is, literally, a time for us to not rush to judgment, and let this follow out closely to the -- to the letter of the law and include all the facts. And I don't know that all the facts are here just yet.
BLITZER: I want you to listen, Joey, to what the GBI, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's, director Vick Reynolds said about this video. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VIC REYNOLDS, DIRECTOR, GEORGIA BUREAU OF INVESTIGTATION: We have now seen full Wendy's 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 could see that, at least to the naked eye, that's what it appears.
REYNOLDS: He runs a relatively short distance. It looks like it's probably five, six, seven parking spaces' distance. 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, discharges it, strikes Mr. Brooks there on the parking lot and he goes down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Joey, want the police officer who killed Rayshard Brooks fired. Is that an appropriate response or is it a rush to judgment?
JACKSON: I think the mayor is certainly concerned about the escalation of force. Why is it happening and what specifically can be done to lessen it? I think that's a concern. I mean, obviously, the facts will play out, and we'll determine what specifically happened.
No, you can't condone someone pointing a taser at an officer. But the critical inquiry then is does that justify actual deadly force? Are there other reasonable alternatives that could be employed such that the person could still be alive? And that's the question.
And so, apparently, in the mayor's view, that's not the case. And so, she, I think, is concerned about the community. Concerned about why this is repeatedly occurring. Concerned about why people of color are dying disproportionately. And concerned about the escalation and the rush to kill, as opposed to doing something else. And so, that's the mayor's call to make.
BLITZER: Well, what do you think, Brian, because, you know, there's been a bunch of incidents in Atlanta. As you know, Atlanta's police force has been facing lots of criticism for weeks after that violent approach taken towards two college students, simply sitting inside a car during a George Floyd protest.
There was another incident where an officer body slammed a woman. Do you believe it's appropriate for the police chief to step down right now and for the police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks to be fired?
BRIAN HIGGINS, PROFESSOR, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: I think the firing part was probably a little bit too quick. Because if it was not done appropriately, and even if a court of law finds out this officer did not use the appropriate use of force, there still could be some issues with employment. And that will actually make it even worse.
I agree with Joey that nerves and feelings are raw. There is tension, not just in Atlanta, but the United States. There are issues that have been looked at and are being looked at in Atlanta right now. It's fair for the mayor to be very concerned and to take action. I'm a little concerned about the swiftness at which this officer was fired without any due process, and what that could do in the long run in getting any justice.
BLITZER: Brian Higgins and Joey Jackson, both of you guys are going to stand by because the story is not going away. But, right now, thank you to both of you for joining us.
We're going to continue to monitor the protests unfolding on the streets of Atlanta this hour. We've got live pictures from the scene of the deadly encounter outside that Wendy's restaurant. Much more of our special coverage coming up. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: All right, these are live pictures coming in from Atlanta,
Georgia, right now, where protesters are gathering outside the location, where 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was shot by police after a confrontation with police officers. The mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, announced today that the police chief has stepped down following the incident.
The president of the Georgia NAACP, the Reverend James Woodall, is joining us here right now. Reverend, thanks so much for joining us. I know earlier today, you called for the Atlanta police chief, Erika Shields, to be immediately terminated. And, just a few hours ago, she voluntarily stepped down, according to the mayor. But she will remain in the police department. Is that good enough for you?
REV. JAMES WOODALL, PRESIDENT, GEORGIA NAACP: Thank you, Wolf, for having me on tonight. And, quite frankly, no. It's appalling and it's disrespectful. We are hearing that rumor and we need to -- we need to know by Mayor Bottoms what exactly is happening. You know, we demand that Shields' resignation be a complete and entire separation from the city. We would not tolerate any measure to hire her in the city government like the predecessor. All trust has been irreparably broken.
And this is not isolated incident. This is a culture that has been continued through the silence and the inaction of our leadership. We know Deandre Phillips. We know Alexia Christian. We know killing of (ph) Rogers, Darian Atkinson, Mr. Brooks. It's just the long -- the latest name in a long list of history within this city.
BLITZER: We've all seen the footage now that has been released, Reverend Woodall. Do you think the police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks should actually be charged?
WOODALL: I believe that every single officer should be held accountable. If they took off, we received reports that they turned off and snatched off their body camera. If that is to be the case, we want them all to be terminated as well. That is obstruction of justice. And so, you know, it's just unacceptable that we continue to have these kind of things happening in our country.
BLITZER: So, what structural reforms would you like to see in Atlanta and, in fact, a whole bunch of other cities around the country to prevent these same things from happening as they are right now? We've got the video to show it over and over and over again.
WOODALL: So, there are two things. One, in the next days, it's going to be critical to pay attention to a very important woman by the name of Tiffany Robert who is the City of Atlanta's Use of Force Advisory Council co-chair, and a Community Engagement and Movement Building Council for the Southern Center for Human Rights. She is a trusted community leader, and she will work with APD in the city of Atlanta to do right.
WOODALL: Not only by conducting a national search for the police chief's replacement, but also making sure that the community is linked in so that all part of the process. Secondly, we would call on both the mayor and the governor to ensure that those who are protesting and using their constitutional ability and right to assembly, that they do not call the National Guard and have the kind of barricades and tear gas that we've seen, you know, over the past several weeks.
BLITZER: As you know, Reverend, this is all happening as the nation now sees its 19th straight day of protests around the country, calling for an end to police brutality and racism. Are you hopeful, are you optimistic about this movement? Is it going to result, do you believe, in real change?
WOODALL: I believe that the power of the people is what keeps us going. That the people that are out in the streets, the people that will show up on Monday at the March on Georgia, that we demand that the general assembly, that every legislative body in both the city, county, and state and even Congress to respond immediately and use the very uprising that we're seeing to actually address these problems.
We will not compromise. We will not allow these moments to continue on and have the kind of piecemeal solutions, like simply allowing the police chief to go into a smaller role. It's unacceptable and we will not stop nor (INAUDIBLE.)
BLITZER: The Reverend James Woodall is the president of the Georgia NAACP. Reverend Woodall, thank you so much for joining us.
WOODALL: Thank you.
BLITZER: Of course, Atlanta is far from the only city here in the United States seeing protests around the country. Phoenix is another city. Phoenix, Arizona. The mayor, Kate Gallego, is joining us right now.
Mayor, I want to talk about what's going on in your city, but you know the tough decisions that a mayor must make. What's your immediate reaction to what you're seeing unfold in Atlanta? The mayor there deciding to replace her police chief and to fire that police officer.
MAYOR KATE GALLEGO (D), PHOENIX, ARIZONA: My heart goes out to the family of Rayshard Brooks and the entire community of Atlanta. We know there is so much suffering going on throughout our country.
But I also feel like we're in a moment of unique change, where cities all across the country are coming together. And we are going to do better. I know that Mayor Lance Bottoms is committed to doing what is right for her community. She's a passionate advocate for the people she represents.
BLITZER: She certainly is. Let's talk a little bit about what's going on in Phoenix right now. I spoke yesterday with the infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. And I asked him his thoughts about what's happening in the United States right now. But listen to what he immediately said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: But if you look at just the data, which is the thing that drives it all, if you look at what's going on, for example, in California, if you look at what's going on in North Carolina, in Arizona, in Texas, in places like that, you've got to carefully look at what the result is.
Remember, I've said, and I'll be consistent with it, that when you do start moving towards opening up, you are going to see blips of infections. It's the capability that you have and that you've built to be able to very effectively do isolation, identification, and contact tracing. Otherwise, you're going to see a little blip turn into something that's more than that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So, Mayor, Arizona is, as you obviously know, one of 14 U.S. states with a record number of new cases. Is your beautiful city of Phoenix equipped to do what Dr. Fauci is talking about to fight this virus?
GALLEGO: I believe that our governor reopened Arizona before we were ready. We did not meet the White House aiding criteria for 14 days of declining cases. And, since then, we've really seen troubling trends. This week, our county reported 27 percent of the cases we've seen the entire time we've been tracking COVID.
We've had a 50 percent increase in hospitalizations since we reopened. We reopened quite quickly. We went straight to packed nightclubs. And we're not seeing the amount of masking I would like to see. So, I am very concerned.
BLITZER: Because your governor, Governor Ducey, approved dine-in services resuming on May 11th, but several Phoenix area bars and restaurants unfortunately had to close, once again, because of so many positive cases. Are you considering actually another wide round of shutdowns in Phoenix if the numbers continue to go up, hospitalizations go up at the same time?
GALLEGO: Mayors really led the effort in Arizona. There were several mayors who did safety protections, such as moving restaurants to takeout by executive order. The governor then followed suit and, in doing so, preempted mayors from doing so. So, I don't have the ability to do so. But if I did, I would follow the Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
BLITZER: What do you expect to see, Mayor, over the next few weeks? In the wake of the Memorial Day activities, a lot of people out on the streets. In the wake of the George Floyd protests, we saw lots of people out on the streets as well. Many of them not wearing masks and pretty close together.
GALLEGO: We've actually had peaceful protests in Phoenix, where pretty much everyone is following masking protocols. What we're seeing throughout Arizona is increases in every county, including counties that have not had protests. I'm concerned we sent a message to our residents that we had defeated COVID-19.
We have a lot of elected officials going out without masks and acting like we are back to normal. We are not. We need to have those safety precautions, including masking and distancing that Dr. Fauci recommended on The Situation Room for quite a while. Unfortunately, people have gotten the message that we're OK and we're through this.
Many people will tell me, well, the flu goes away in the summer, so COVID-19 will. I hope that we can send a message, as elected officials and all leaders in Arizona, that COVID-19 is spreading. It is concerning. And we should continue the great work we did last month in slowing the spread.
BLITZER: We're showing our viewers, by the way, Mayor, live pictures out of Los Angeles right now. The protests there clearly continuing. You see a huge, huge crowd that is walking down on the streets of L.A. right now. Mayor Kate Gallego, good luck in Phoenix. Good luck to all the folks there. We'll stay in close touch with you. Thanks so much for joining us.
GALLEGO: Thanks for having me.
BLITZER: So, as we see protesters gathering this hour -- you're looking at Los Angeles right now. But in Atlanta, we're also waiting to hear from the attorneys representing the family of Rayshard Brooks, the 27-year-old who was shot and killed by police at that Wendy's restaurant. Much more of our special coverage coming up.
BLITZER: We're waiting now, by the way, for a news conference from the attorneys L. Chris Stewart and Justin Miller. They're now representing the family of Rayshard Brooks, the 27-year-old Atlanta man who was shot and killed by a police officer from the Atlanta Police Department last night in a Wendy's parking lot. We'll update you on that, that's coming up soon. We're also keeping a very close eye on new developments as the protests continue to grow in Atlanta.
Meanwhile, no end in sight for the pandemic here in the United States. More than 2,066,000 cases, confirmed cases and more than 115,000 confirmed deaths amid all of the very, very troubling trends.
Let's discuss with Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency room physician for Lifespan Hospital at Brown University. And CNN medical analyst, Dr. James Phillips. He's a physician, Assistant Professor at the George Washington University here in D.C.
Dr. Ranney after a bit of a dip in COVID fatalities, the last few days have seen the numbers go up, 800 a day, 900 a day, 900 Americans -- almost a thousand Americans dying each day. How do you react when you hear those numbers?
DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, LIFESPAN/BROWN UNIVERSITY: Wolf, this was so predictable. This is what many of us in the public health and medical world were warning about. Back in mid-May and around Memorial Day, when states started reopening, people stopped wearing masks, people stopped following physical distancing rules. This is exactly what we said would happen.
Two to four weeks after that, too early reopening, we would see a surge in cases, in hospitalizations, and then in deaths. It is so disappointing. I hope that the rest of the country can watch these new hotspots, take it as a warning and start following good public health procedures so that the rest of the country doesn't get re-engulfed by this virus.
BLITZER: And we know, you know, Dr. Phillips, hospitalizations are clearly up in at least 20 states. I want you to listen to what Dr. Anthony Fauci told me last night here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: When you start seeing more hospitalizations, that's a surefire sign that you're in a situation where you're going in the wrong direction. When you see more percentage of the tests that are positive and more hospitalizations, that's something that should get you to pause and say, wait a minute, let's rethink this and see where we're going. Maybe we need to slow down a little, maybe we need to intensify our capabilities to identify isolated contact trace. We don't want it to get out of hand again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So, Dr. Phillips, should we be scaling back on the reopening rather than scaling up?
DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, some place they should. The map that you showed earlier is quite disturbing, showing up big swaths of red, where we're looking at states who've had significant increases in the number of diagnosed cases.
And when you look at a state like Arizona, where they're starting to run short on ICU beds, that's a great concern. And that should be the ultimate signal to surrounding states, including Nevada and some of the other more heavily hit states right now that it's coming.
And remember, importantly, that this virus, it takes, you know, 10 to 12 days for people to get sick from the time of their first symptoms to the time that they're sick enough to require the hospital. And so what we're seeing is two weeks back in time, and I'm afraid with the protests that we've had, with the impending political rallies that are being planned, we're going to continue to see a steep increase in even more states.
[20:35:07] BLITZER: We're showing our viewers by the way, Dr. Ranney, these live pictures coming in from Atlanta, these are protesters. Clearly, a lot of folks are very upset about Rayshard Brooks, the 27-year-old, who was killed by a police last night at a Wendy's drive-thru at, a Wendy's restaurant.
As you know, Dr. Ranney, the President, he's very eager to get back to his big rallies. He'll be holding one in Tulsa on June 20th. But if you sign up to attend, you have to agree not to hold the Trump campaign responsible if you get the coronavirus. From your perspective, Dr. Ranney, what kind of message is that sending out there?
RANNEY: I think it's irresponsible to hold large inside events at this point in our country. We have been telling Americans for the past three to four months to stay home, to practice physical distancing, to wear masks, and to now bring a large masses of people together in inside spaces where there's no wind, there's no dissemination of this virus, where if there's one person who's sick, many people are going to sick -- get sick. It's frankly, Wolf, irresponsible.
BLITZER: All right. Dr. Ranney, thank you. Dr. Phillips, thanks to you as well.
Once again, I just want our viewers to see these live pictures in Atlanta, what's going on. CNN's Natasha Chen is right there on the scene for us. So, update our viewers, Natasha. What are you seeing?
I don't know if Natasha can hear me, but you can see the -- there was a police car and police officers trying to get that car out of this area. A lot of protesters were stopped trying to stop that police car from even moving. You see the police officers now backing away from that scene. This is right outside that Wendy's restaurant.
And some of the folks are actually throwing a bottle of water or whatever towards those police officers, but you can see them backtracking. Right now, this is a very worrisome disturbing development that's unfolding. Right now, we're watching this very, very closely. You see those police officers, they're restraint as they back up, they're trying to get out of the scene. It's a very, very tense scene that we're seeing in the aftermath of the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks, an African-American man, 27 years old.
He had been in his car -- he apparently fell asleep at the drive thru, and other cars were going around the drive thru and eventually the police showed up. He was inside. They took a sobriety test and he didn't pass that sobriety test and then all of a sudden things began to deteriorate quickly when they sought to apprehend him. And watch what was going on.
But this is a clearly a tense moment in Atlanta right now. The mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, she announced that the police chief, Erika Shields, was being reassigned. She was dropping out as the police chief, and that there would be an interim police chief, Rodney Bryant. I want to bring in Marc Morial right now. He's the president of the National Urban League, former mayor of New Orleans. Marc, thanks so much for joining us. It's a tense situation right now. It looks like there's smoke coming up, maybe some tear gas has just been launched. Now, the folks that are not very happy with the situation, what's your thought?
MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Well, Wolf, what I've learned in the last few hours is that this is the third incident in about 10 days. The questionable incident between African-Americans in the Atlanta police department.
There was the incident that you covered, where the two college students were yanked from their car. There was another incident where a woman was thrown to the ground and broke her clavicle, and now this incident. So there's been an accumulation of community frustration.
Now from what I saw of the incident on tape, there's a big discussion as to what could have been done to deescalate the situation. And, Wolf, I'll go back to the immediate interaction between the officers and the man who was sleeping in the vehicle and who apparently had been drinking. At that point, there was an option that the police department had or the police officers --
BLITZER: Hey, Marc, I want to interrupt for a moment. Marc, I want you to stay with us.
The lawyers representing Rayshard Brooks are now speaking L. Chris Stewart and Justin Miller. I want to listen to in briefly.
L. CHRIS STEWART, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF RAYSHARD BROOKS: Then I could go on and on about the Deaundre Phillips, another murder down here, which involved APD which still hasn't been decided or resolved yet. I can talk about Desmond Marrow which still has not been resolved here in Georgia. I could go on Alton Sterling which we also represent, which years later still has not been resolved, and all of the other cases.
And what it boils down to black, white, Hispanic, whatever you are, are you not tired of seeing cases like this happen? We see from the protesters; we see from the people in the streets of all races now that people are sick of watching black men murdered.
And before we even get into what happened last night, the one thing that nobody can disagree with is that it shouldn't have happened. But it did because the value of African-American male's lives in the inner city or wherever, doesn't mean too much to officers nowadays. And it's sad, because we look at things not just for the emotional effect of how horrible it is, but legally.
In Georgia, a taser is not a deadly weapon. That's the law. That's what the cops are trained to do. It's not a deadly weapon. I've had cases where officers have used tasers on victims and they argue with us in court that tasers aren't deadly, that tasers aren't harmful. That's the case law here that tasers are not deadly weapons. So before we even hear from their lawyers who are going to say the same old thing they always say, you cannot have it both ways.
You can't say he ran off with a weapon that could kill somebody when you say it's not deadly. You can't say you don't have other options. What -- where was he going to go? He was barely jogging away. You could have boxed him in, support came in, and I think two minutes. He would have been boxed in and trapped. Why did you have to kill him? Was the officer embarrassed that he got his taser taken? Well, let your pride linger. Don't pull your gun quickly.
Was he upset that he lost a little scuffle and out of spite and shot? We don't know yet. But the one thing we do know is that he had other options than shooting the man in the back. And we don't want to hear anything about, oh, he even pointed it backwards because it's not a deadly weapon according to police officers and case law. He wasn't close enough to harm you with it. You could have run him down, but instead, he got bullets in the back.
A man that earlier that day was celebrating his daughter's eighth birthday at the arcade, who has three little girls who are eight, two, and one, and a stepson 13, who we sit with today and watch them play and laugh and be oblivious to the fact that their dad was murdered on camera. A scene that we keep repeating, as we watched Gianna Floyd play in Houston, oblivious to that her dad was knelt on and murdered.
How many more examples will we need? The cameras aren't doing it, you're filming it isn't doing it, covering it isn't doing it, people protesting isn't doing it. What is it going to take? How many more examples are we going to get? I actually thought that we were going to get over all this. I thought this was finally going to start ending with all these changes.
We saw the police chief resigned today. We don't have the exact reasons why. But I can theorize that maybe it's because she even realized what more can I do training less? They know they shouldn't have done that. Do we need to start over and rehire all the officers to retrain them? What other options do we have?
The problem is that they've been given leeway to use lethal force for all too often and too long. And this is what we're left with. And as we are just getting this case, the details are just getting more horrific because there were multiple witnesses out there. We talked to some witnesses today who said that the officers went and put on plastic gloves and picked up their shell casings after they killed him, before rendering aid. We counted two minutes and 16 seconds before they even checked his pulse.
Some people wonder why everyone's mad. Just watch the video if he lays there dying, the officer also stand around one kicks him and flips him over. And then the witnesses tell us that which we can't see on camera, but they filmed it, they went and picked up the shell cases.
I wonder why, so that all of you can't know how far away he was when they shot, so that you can't find their positions when they use that weapon? But they appear to be caring more about covering their tracks than providing aid. Aid that could have saved his life if allegedly, he was taken to the hospital and died in surgery, but they didn't give that to him.
So we agree with the mayor saying that the officer that fire should be -- I mean, the officer that fired his weapon should be terminated and he should also be prosecuted. The family met with Paul Howard and they've opened their investigation, and I can't even say we want justice, but I don't -- I don't even care anymore, I don't even know what that is.
And I've been doing this for 15 years. I don't know what justice is anymore. Is it getting them arrested? Is it getting somebody fired? Is it the chief stepping down? I know that this isn't justice, what's happening in society right now.
You know, it's just not much more we can say or do as a society. So people that are refusing change and not understanding why the time is now for complete, systematic change, take a look. And then compare it to all the videos online where it was a white individual that had a deadly weapon that wasn't killed, which we've also been looking at today, trying to understand why didn't they get shot. And did Rayshard after when he's running, and that is, sir, I don't have that. Other than that, it's just tiring.
And I'm sure everybody's tired of seeing it. You know, we're so concerned about trying to find a vaccine for the coronavirus. The world is pitching in, we're pitching in millions and millions and millions of dollars, scientists from around the world are trying to help find a vaccine, but nobody's trying to find a vaccine for civil rights abuses. It's something that we're told to wait for, it'll come.
Nobody's trying to find a vaccine for why officers pulled the trigger so quick on African-Americans. There's no flood of money or scientists or the top experts, or our leadership in this country trying to end that epidemic. But I guess that is because it doesn't hit close to home to the people that care.
So once again, and I'll say it as the million times as you'll see me fight one of these cases, we'll fight for justice. We'll try and get the cop arrested or whatever it may be, sue the city in, and see if they'll settle. I don't know, but we're just tired. And if you don't understand that, because you may be a different color, you may be a different gender, you may not be from Georgia, then you may be the problem.
JUSTIN MILLER, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF RAYSHARD BROOKS: I think the word that encapsulates everything that Chris just said to you is empathy. This is all that all of these families are asking for, and that we're asking for as representatives of these families, just a little empathy.
If this officer today had been a little more empathetic, and a bit less scared, then we probably wouldn't have a dead client, and we wouldn't be here talking to you like we are right now. There are a lot of things, systemic things wrong with policing in this country. And I think that over the past few weeks, we've talked about a lot of them. You've seen a lot of them on tape.
And like Chris said, we're tired. I mean, we will keep doing this as long as there's a need, but we don't want there to be a need to do this anymore. The first failing that I saw when I saw this tape was training. Because just as Chris said, if a taser isn't a deadly weapon, then it's not a deadly weapon. When I have it, it's not a deadly weapon, when an officer has it, it's not a deadly weapon when anyone else has it. When our client has the taser, they're going to say it's a deadly weapon, and it's not. There were two officers, and one of him and they're training (INAUDIBLE). That's number one.
Number two, leadership failed them. And I don't want to see anyone lose their job. But maybe the police chief needed to resign, because whatever they're doing from the top, it's not reaching the bottom. And if they are doing it correctly from the top, and that's what they're trying to get across to their officers, then it's not working and it needs to change immediately, because this can't happen again.
Policing in this country, in this city needs to change to something more empathetic, something more community based, police are necessary, but the way that they are policing our communities is wrong. It's causing death, and we're not going to stand for it anymore. Obviously, you see that the people are not going to stand for it anymore.
I think a lot of things and a lot of these minor changes are happening because people are scared, and they're scared for their things, they're scared for a building or a store. They're scared for a restaurant. But the lives of these people, of our people, of Americans of black people, of human beings, in my opinion are more important than any store restaurant that is in Buckhead or Bankhead or anywhere else. That's number two.
And then the third thing I will say is fear. Listen, I don't know those two officers personally, right? But just from watching the tape, I could tell that they were scared and it's understandable that is a hard profession policing. But if you have fear, you don't need to be a police officer. If you do not understand the community that you're policing it, you do not need to be a police officer.
If you are not comfortable with black people, white people, brown, yellow, whatever, people, you don't need to be a police officer, a police officer is as much of a counselor as they are anything else. And I believe that if we go back to the leadership and the training that I spoke of earlier, you'll see that these officers aren't taught that. They're taught to crack heads. And when they can't crack heads, they're taught to shoot, and that's resulting in death, and we can't have that anymore, and we won't have that anymore.
So I don't think this is going to end anytime soon. And frankly, I want everyone watching and everybody here, you know, to understand, we're not asking for protesters not to go out and protest. We need to keep pushing. We need to let everyone know that this is unacceptable. And we're not going to just move on to the next tragedy. This probably won't be the last tragedy and that's a sad thing.
But we're going to treat every single one like it shouldn't have happened. We're going to go as hard as we can for this one, like we're going for George Floyd and his daughter. And like we're going for Ahmaud Arbery and his mother, and like we're going for Alton Sterling, and every other single case, a single person that should be here today is not here with us.
Because at the end of the day, and this is what we get back to -- I mean, if you look around and you see our firm, we are white, black, Asian, brown, yellow, green, whatever, it doesn't matter. We're all people. And so if we can see that, we don't understand why the police can't see that. And there are some people who have now opened their eyes and woken up and they see that and we think that's great, but we want you to put pressure on the police, put pressure on the mayor, put pressure on your governors, put pressure on everyone to let them know, you will not take this anymore, you're going to stand up.
And this is not just black people because we've been dealing with this our entire lives. This is for everyone else who hasn't been dealing with this, who's dealing with it now, stand up with us, push with us, fight with us. When you see us in Minnesota, fight with us.
And when you see us here in Atlanta and in Brunswick, fight with us, because our fight is your fight. This is this is the United States of America. We're coming up on July 4th, and this is going to be a very weird July 4th for a lot of people, very different.
Because people are coming to the realization that America doesn't mean America for all Americans, and that's a problem. So keep pushing, fight with us, and hopefully we'll get some change and this will be the last time we have to have a press conference about a dead black man killed by the police for no reason. Thank you.
STEWART: Another thing, you know, that some of the witnesses said is they didn't do a sobriety test. There was no count to a hundred or whatever it is and walk this line. They said that they were just talking. And it seemed to be a decent conversation. And then all of a sudden, one of the officers grabbed him and told him he's under arrest.
So this started from nothing. This wasn't a bank robbery in progress or anything violent. They just told him he was under arrest. And now I see that they're reporting, oh, it was a suspected DUI or he was fell asleep blocking the line. He wasn't blocking the line. And they didn't even do a sobriety test from what the witnesses, right there, said. So why was he even under arrest?
You want to know how this could have been avoided and all of the protests that are going to happen and all of this? Talk to him. Talk. Hey, buddy, you fell asleep in line. You're OK? Why don't you pull your car over there and call an Uber and then you walk over and you leave? Why is that so hard for police officers? A conversation. He wasn't doing anything crazy or violent or harming
anyone. Hey, buddy, I think you've had something to drink, maybe but I guess they didn't feel like doing a sobriety test, pull over there, call an Uber. I guarantee you that happens hundreds of times a night in college towns with young white kids or other places in America.
But we don't get that benefit of the doubt. So not only do officers like that destroy the image of policing, which I have always held in a high standard, even though I'm always going against the officers. But you're even starting to break me'. And most you all know that I'll get up here and I say I have respect for officers and, you know, policing, but he's -- like even I'm starting to lose hope, and that's hard.
But if got any questions, it's not much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First, the resignation of the police chief. How does that sit with the team? Is that a step in the right direction?
STEWART: I don't care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So Chris, earlier today, GBI released the video of the surveillance video from Wendy's. And one of the things they pointed out was which you mentioned the taser and Mr. Brooks hand (INAUDIBLE) and pointing. Why do you think he got released that video and he was going to tell why we think that a taser is exactly well?
STEWART: I mean, I think they were just releasing the full surveillance video of, you know, the parking lot. I'm sure there's more video. Like I said, witnesses have video of some of these horrific actions. In that video, that GBI released, you also can sit there and count how long they let that body lay on the ground before touching them, or even trying to assist him. So, you know, the video is helpful for us.
It's also helpful to show that they were far apart when he's running and, you know, pointing backwards. But the case law in Georgia that tasers not a deadly weapon. So they can't say it's not like he was running off with a gun. It's not a deadly weapon.
I lose cases against officers who use it on my clients, because it's not a deadly weapon. And I'm saying that, you know, they shouldn't have done it, but you just can't have it both ways in this. If it's not a deadly weapon, his life was not in immediate harm when he fired that shot, just was not, it wasn't.
And I've watched one of the most conservative police chiefs commentating today and even he said that there were other options he could have done, and that a taser isn't a deadly weapon. As taser is a taser deadly weapon, I promise you, they're going to say no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chris, what you said and when you find out (INAUDIBLE) what are some examples --
STEWART: Well, there's just so many witnesses that saw it. You know, we didn't know that they picked up their shell casings. Before GBI got there to investigate the scene, before -- I don't know. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry, Chris. I haven't seen the video. Is there concrete audio of any of the conversation between law enforcements and Mr. Brooks?
STEWART: We're not -- we haven't gotten all of the audio yet. I think the district attorney's office is also talking to all these witnesses, so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he did run, Mr. Brooks, can you speak to me why (INAUDIBLE)
MILLER: There could be a thousand reasons for someone running from the police, right? So just imagine that if you're sleeping in your car because you're trying to drink something off and you get officers knocking on your window hard, right?