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Unrest in Atlanta; 18 States are Currently Seeing a Rise in New Coronavirus Cases. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired June 15, 2020 - 16:00   ET


KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), MAYOR OF ATLANTA, GEORGIA: And it's for that reason I am also signing an additional executive order that will hopefully allow us, as we continue to grieve and show our frustration and anger as a nation, that will create the framework that will allow us to move to action.


And in an effort for us to develop a succinct appeal for human rights, I am signing an administrative order that will convene a body to begin to succinctly articulate our grievances and what we see as our solutions.

We hope that this will be a framework in Atlanta and possibly the nation.

The actions that I am taking today are a continuation of the criminal justice reform efforts that I began at the beginning of my administration as mayor, which have included the elimination of cash bail bonds in our city, meaning, if you get stopped for a traffic ticket, and you don't have $200 to pay, you don't stay in jail simply because you are poor.

It's also meant that we have asked our city council to reallocate a significant portion of our corrections budget towards community-based programming, because, after we closed our detention center to ICE, it gave us an opportunity, along with the elimination of cash bail bonds, to begin to reimagine and to begin the work to transform our city jail into a center of equity, health, and wellness.

And I believe that it is more important than ever that we continue that work in earnest.

As we continue to work with our advisory council on the use of force, we expect our first recommendations by June 24, with final recommendations by July 24. And it is my assurance to you that we will continue to do the work that we need to do to make sure that all of our communities, each and every person in our community, is treated with dignity and respect.

We saw the worst happen on Friday night with Mr. Brooks. It angered me and it saddened me beyond words. But I know that it is my responsibility as mayor of this great city for us to continue to work to put that anger and that sadness into action. And so this is the first of a series of actions and steps that we will

take. And I continue -- I look forward to continuing to work with all of our community stakeholders, so that we can begin to heal as a nation and as a city.

But as someone who has experienced a sudden death of a loved one, I know that there are no words and no actions that will ever bring them back and will ever fill that void.

But I do hope that the public and all of our community partners know that there is a deep and abiding commitment on behalf of this administration to make sure that we're doing all that we can do, so that another child does not miss the opportunity to have her father present on her birthday.

So, with that, I will take any questions that you have, and I will also turn it over to Chief Bryant and to Captain Price.


BOTTOMS: So, let me just say, based on what we saw happen on Friday, it became abundantly clear very quickly that there is a need for us to take an immediate look at our training policies.

So, some of these policies, in my opinion, while we are speaking these policies, they are not necessarily integrated into our training. I'm going to let Chief Bryant speak in more detail on the difference on what our current standard operating procedures are and what the difference will be given this administrative order.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And you have been listening to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms expressing condolences publicly for the police killing of Rayshard Brooks on Friday and calling for police officers to be guardians, not warriors, in the city of Atlanta.

The mayor announced she will sign a city of administrative orders to address policing in Atlanta, specifically the use of force by police and requiring de-escalation tactics by police.


Twenty-seven-year-old Rayshard Brooks was shot by a police officer as he ran away following a scuffle with the officers. The video shows that Brooks gained control of one of the officers' nonlethal Tasers and fired it at the police, before turning to flee.

Brooks died from two gunshot wounds to his back, according to the Fulton County medical examiner, to his back. The mayor said the use of deadly force was not justified.

And the officer was fired, as CNN's Ryan Young reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TOMIKA MILLER, WIDOW OF RAYSHARD BROOKS: This is going to be a long time before I heal. It's going to be a long time before this family heals.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A family grieving frustrated and angry.

MILLER: There is no justice that can ever make me feel happy about what has been done. I can never get my husband back. I can never get my best friend. I can never tell my daughter, oh, he's coming to take you skating or swimming lessons.

YOUNG: The widow of Rayshard Brooks and her family today saying they are just trying to process the tragic death of her husband, who was killed Friday night by Atlanta police.

It started when an officer responded to a call about a man sleeping in a car in the drive-through at Wendy's. The officer's body camera and dash cam video show them talking to Brooks for more than 20 minutes. After authorities say Brooks failed a sobriety test, one of the officers tried to arrest him, and things escalated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you have had too much to drink to be driving. Will you put your hands behind your back for me?

YOUNG: The footage shows a struggle between the officers and Brooks. Brooks breaks away, taking one of the officers' Tasers. He points the Taser at one of the cops as he runs away. That's when officer Garrett Rolfe opens fire.

Two shots hit Brooks, killing him. An autopsy says he died from organ damage and blood loss from his wounds. The official manner of death is listed as homicide. Since the incident, officer Rolfe has been fired, the other officer, Devin Brosnan, reassigned. And the chief of police, Erika Shields, stepped down.

So far, no charges have been filed. The Fulton County district attorney today telling CNN he expects a decision this week.

PAUL HOWARD, FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: There were two firearms involved in the incident. One of them was not fired. So we are waiting to confirm the ballistics before we make some final decision in this matter.

YOUNG: One day after Brooks was killed, protesters gathered outside the same Wendy's, which was later in flames.

Today, a more peaceful scene. Protesters filled the streets of downtown Atlanta marching from the federal courthouse to the state capitol, demanding justice and an end to systematic racism.

CHASSIDY EVANS, NIECE OF RAYSHARD BROOKS: No one walking this green earth expects to be shot and killed like trash in the street for falling asleep in a drive-through.

YOUNG: In an interview with CNN, Brooks' window says she regrets leaving her husband by himself after spending a long day with the family.

MILLER: I wish I could just apologize for going home. I wish I could apologize for not staying with him. I wish I would have never left. I feel so guilty for leaving.


YOUNG: As you can imagine, the pain in this community can be felt almost on every street corner.

They are saying they are going to continue marching throughout the day. And, of course, they wanted to hear from the mayor on what she was going to do next. They want to see policy change within the next 30 days -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Ryan Young in Atlanta, thank you so much.

Joining us now to discuss this, former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Errin Haines, editor at large at The 19th, which is a nonprofit news site on gender and politics and much more.

First, Errin, let me start with you. I want to get your reaction to the mayor of Atlanta, who just announced a series of administrative orders that will look into the way that police use force in Atlanta.


The mayor of my hometown, Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, moving swiftly, as she has done, I think, throughout this national reckoning around policing and the need for reform in policing with regard to African-Americans, but now that conversation (AUDIO GAP) Atlanta, a city that is known for black leadership, a city with the reputation as being the city too busy to hate.

And yet this city is not immune to the systemic racism that is, you know, present in police departments around this country, including the Atlanta Police Department.

She is taking swift action, as mentioned in Ryan's report. The police chief who, you know, just a few weeks ago was among the first to condemn George Floyd's killing, now stepping aside, you know, within hours of Rayshard Brooks' killing.

The officer who shot Mr. Brooks fired. Promising action within the next month on a lot of these issues related to policing with the Atlanta police department. And she doing what she can as mayor. Just in a few days, there could be charges for these officers in under a week.


The speed with which this city is responding, I think, is something that's new in this environment. We also saw a similar swiftness out of Minneapolis after George Floyd's killing. And I think that that speaks to a climate that we are in where

accountability and action is what is being demanded for the folks that are calling for change around policing and black Americans.

TAPPER: And, then, Chief Ramsey, let me just ask you.

I know that use of force guidelines are different city by city, state by state. In the video, you see the officers shoot Rayshard Brooks after Brooks grabbed the officers Taser, fired at them. It's nonlethal, a Taser.

Is there any school of policing that says, oh, he fired a Taser at you, therefore, you can shoot him with bullets in the back?


I mean, a Taser is a dangerous weapon, not a deadly weapon. And earlier in that video, when Mr. Brooks first steps out of the car, he's asked if he has any weapons. He asked if he can -- I mean, the officer asked if it's OK if he pats him down. He agreed.

So, you already knew he didn't have a gun or any other deadly weapon on him. Even if he turned and he fired that Taser, once you fire it, it has to recycle. You would have to really know what you're doing. It's pretty much useless after that until you do rearm it.

So, no, there was no justification in that particular instance. In my opinion, the force used, deadly force, was not justified.

TAPPER: And, Errin, according to a study by Reuters, black Americans disproportionately die in police Taser confrontations. Is the issue the training, you think, here?

HAINES: Well, I think what we see in this instance and in some other instances, I mean, we talk about this being a split-second decision, but, in fact, this was a 22-minute exchange with Rayshard Brooks and these officers.

There were so many minutes to make a different decision here. You know, prior to 2016, I would say -- or I would say, during the Obama administration, when there was a conversation around police reforms, a lot of that conversation was about de-escalation and how police could be trained to de-escalate and actually kind of rewarding and promoting de-escalation as a best practice, and highlighting departments that were incorporating those tactics into their training and into how they were responding to people, so that just really making de-escalation more part of the conversation around public safety, so that these encounters did not end up being deadly.

Because, to Chief Ramsey's point, a Taser, that does not imply lethal force. And, in fact, the thing that I think is so egregious for so many people watching this video, I mean, you see a picture of Brooks, not only with a Taser, which is not a lethal -- not necessarily a lethal device, but is running away.

And that evokes memory of the Walter Scott video, which was so egregious for so many people. And so someone running away with a Taser, it seems like that the use of force, it's not surprising that people would see that as being excessive, because he did not seem to be posing an imminent threat to those officers.

TAPPER: And, Chief Ramsey, within 48 hours of the deadly shooting, the Atlanta officer who shot Brooks was fired. The city police chief stepped down, as Errin mentioned.

How do you think the city is doing when it comes to the handling of this?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, the mayor's taking immediate action, which is a good thing.

And now the district attorney apparently is taking immediate action too, which, quite frankly, is very unusual. Now, I don't know about Atlanta, Fulton County, because I don't have a lot of experience there.

But my experience with district attorneys where I have worked -- and even the U.S. attorney when I was chief in D.C., I have had to wait a year, two years for a decision to be made around an officer-involved shooting and get a letter of declination or, in some cases, of course, moving forward with some kind of prosecution, which, again, is rare.

But this is moving along very swiftly. So ,maybe a new standard is being set. I think it's important because confidence on the part of the public is essential. And when you wait a year, two years, or six months, whatever it might be, that's just far too long.

So, officers are entitled to due process. You don't want it to be so fast that you're taking action without knowing all the facts. But, in some cases -- Minnesota is one may, Minneapolis, and certainly here -- you have video evidence to go along with other evidence that you may have at your disposal.

You don't have to wait as long.


TAPPER: All right, Charles Ramsey and Errin Haines, thanks so much to both of you. Really appreciate it.

Could there be a return to more coronavirus restrictions? The threats from some officials as crowds gather, plus, a new report of multiple NFL players infected.

Also ahead, a landmark Supreme Court ruling today protecting gay, lesbian, and transgender employees. A ruling written by one of the court's most conservative justices.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: We're going to come back to the policing story later in this show. But for now we want to turn to striking reminders today that the coronavirus remains a serious global threat including in the United States. China is racing to contain a brand new outbreak linked to a seafood market where hundreds of thousands of people may have been exposed.

Cases of the virus are still rising in 18 states in the U.S., and in some, the number of hospitalizations and the number of deaths are also increasing.


Scenes such as these have the governors of New York and New Jersey threatening to shut down businesses again as CNN's Nick Watt reports.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's a lot of unmasked merriment in St. Mark's Place, Manhattan, over the weekend. The governor re-tweeted this video with the warning: don't make me come down there.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): If we don't enforce compliance, you will see the numbers start to go up. And if the numbers start to go up, you're going to have to see that area take a step back.

WATT: Mayors down in the Sunshine State also worried about scoff laws in our newfangled normal.

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI, FL: That could mean a potential restriction. That could mean reversing some of the things that we've done.

WATT: Sunday in Miami, some NASCAR fans were back in the stands, most but not all wore masks.

The surgeon general tweeted: Some feel the mask coverings infringe on their freedom of choice. But if more wear them, we'll have more freedom to go out.

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FL: We may require people to wear masks all the time and not just inside.

WATT: May 4th, the day Florida began to reopen, they reported 819 new cases. This past Saturday, a new record high, 2,581. In South Carolina, the average new case count near tripled these past 11 days.

CUOMO: You are seeing all across the nation, the virus actually increasing.

WATT: U.K.'s counts climbing in 18 states across the South, and also much of the West. California seeing more than 3,000 new infections a day, but the numbers are falling now in the Northeast.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): We were the second hardest hit state in America.

WATT: Today on the Jersey Shore and across the Garden State, you can once again dine outdoors and shop indoors.

MURPHY: This is a big day.

WATT: But it ain't the old normal. I would hope to get to some degree of real normality within a year or so, Dr. Anthony Fauci just told a British newspaper. But I don't think it's this winter or fall.


WATT: Now, we have also heard today that a number of players on the Houston Texans and the Dallas Cowboys have tested positive for COVID- 19. This according to sources who spoke with the NFL network. Apparently, the teams were following protocols.

No comment from the Cowboys to us. They, quite brightly, cited privacy laws.

We've also heard today that Ohio state football players signed risk waivers before they returned to practice -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Nick Watt in Los Angeles, thank you so much.

How much worse could this get?

I want to bring in Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, who is noting that with 800 to 900 Americans dying every day, the U.S. will likely hit 200,000 dead in September.

Dr. Jha, is there any way the U.S. can take steps to reopen our country while also doing so in a smart way so we avoid hitting 200,000 deaths by September?

DR. ASHISH JHA, PROFESSOR, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Jake, thanks for having me on. Absolutely. Like, we are not fated to that number. It's also worth remembering that the pandemic won't be over by September. We have many, many, months to go.

So if we don't want to end up with many hundreds of thousands of Americans dead and if we don't want to end up with a wrecked economy, there's a lot we can do. But we got to get going. And we know what those things are, right? Modest amount of social distancing, face mask, and then a really rigorous testing and tracing infrastructure. It just feels like we've kind of lost our will to do it, and I think that's unacceptable.

TAPPER: Where -- is anyone doing the kind of -- we've been talking about this for months, the kind of testing and tracing infrastructure where somebody has the virus and you figure out everywhere they've been. You reach out to them. You're able to -- societies and other countries have been able to isolate the virus and thus reduce the number of people who get it and who are hospitalized and dying.

Is any part of the United States doing this the way that people like experts like you have been calling for?

JHA: Yes. So there are a few states that are trying. The one big problem is that states are hitting testing capacity limits because we don't have the federal government helping them. And so, states are all competing against each other for testing supplies. And so, it's going to be very hard.

Can -- will some states pull it off? I think eventually yes. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, some of the other states in New England are making progress. There are other states like Michigan and California that are making some progress.

But it's going to be very hard and it's very patchwork. Whereas there are lots of countries in Europe and in East Asia that have been able to do this. Their economies are open, and they have far fewer deaths and they're just in much better shape than we are.

TAPPER: We've seen these videos of massive crowds at bars and restaurants in New York. Clearly, people not wearing masks or social distance. And this is the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak.


When you see this, what's your first reaction?

JHA: Yes. You know, I think they're just a bunch of folks who are done with the pandemic. The problem is the pandemic is not done with us.

And so, I get people's desire to put it all behind us and get back to life. But I look at that and especially in New York City, given how hard hit it was, as you said, Jake, and I worry a lot that it's going to lead to more outbreaks in the city and more people getting sick and dying.

TAPPER: Why do you think there isn't the push on the federal level by the president or whomever to do the testing and tracing that health officials are pretty unanimous in saying this is the way we reduce the number of deaths and we contain the virus? Why is there no will for this?

JHA: I mean, even today, the president was tweeting that, you know, he basically is bemoaning that we have too many tests and too much testing means you can find cases. There is sort of almost a mental block there that worries that if we test a lot of people, we'll find a lot of cases. I think that's a good thing. We want to find all the cases so we can isolate them so when you're out at a coffee shop or a bar, you're not worried whether or not the guy next to you has got infection or not.

The president is worried that if we do a lot of testing, we'll find those people and our numbers will look bad. It's a mentality I don't understand. But I think it's permeating the entire federal response. And when I talk to federal folks on the White House task force, they all agree the science on this is pretty clear and there just seems to be no political will to actually turn around and actually do something about this.

TAPPER: It's just crazy. And in terms of the numbers we should worry about, the United States is like 4.5 percent of the world's population and like 30 percent of the world's deaths on this. And it's just -- it just doesn't make any sense.

Dr. Ashish Jha, thank you so much. Thanks for your leadership on this. We appreciate it.

JHA: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: The arena will be packed. That's what the Trump campaign is saying as they claim more than 1 million people have requested tickets. The Trump's rally in Tulsa at the end of the week. The health concerns about that, that's next.