Return to Transcripts main page
Supreme Court Rules Employees Can't Be Fired for Being Gay or Transgender; March in Georgia Following Police Shooting of Rayshard Brooks; Soon, Family of Rayshard Brooks to Speak; Felicia Moore, Atlanta City Council President, Discusses the Officer Shooting of Rayshard Moore and Police Reform; Trump Claims He's Done More for Black America Than Biden. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired June 15, 2020 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. I'm John King, in Washington. Thank you for sharing this day with us. A very busy day and a very busy hour ahead.
Some major developments this morning across the country. Here in Washington, a landmark Supreme Court ruling gives new protections to the LGBTQ community in the workplace.
New numbers also showing troubling coronavirus trend lines in much of the country. Some health experts now worrying the United States could again be approaching a crisis point.
Also today, a new inflection point in the protests for racial justice because there's sadly now another name added to the list of black men to die at hands of police. We expect to hear any moment now from the family of Rayshard Brooks. You see the pictures there.
Brooks died after nearly half an hour-long interaction with police at an Atlanta Wendy's Friday night. That interaction turning from routine to deadly.
Protesters burning that Wendy's down over the weekend -- you see the pictures there -- and occupied the streets throughout the day on Sunday. Today, there's a march on the Georgia state capitol as lawmakers return to work there.
Brooks' death brought an immediate and dramatic shake-up in the Atlanta Police Department. The officer who shot Brooks fired. The other officer on the scene put on leave. Atlanta's police chief resigned. The big question now is, will the officers face charges for what the evidence very clearly indicates was an entirely avoidable tragedy.
And as we wait to hear from the Brooks family, some giant action here in Washington, D.C., this morning. A court decision with major consequences in the American workplace. The United States Supreme Court with a landmark decision last hour. The high court now says employers cannot fire their workers because that worker is gay or transgender.
CNN's Jessica Schneider joins us now from outside the courthouse.
Jessica, 6-3 landmark ruling. Take us inside.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: John, a landmark ruling, a massive victory for transgender individuals, gay individuals. And this ruling all at the hands of the conservative anchor of this court. The man appointed by the president, Neil Gorsuch. This was a 6-3 opinion.
Not only was it written by Neil Gorsuch, but it was also joined by Chief Justice John Roberts. Two conservatives joining with the liberal wing to say that discrimination against transgender and gay individuals is now against the law.
Believe it or not, before this ruling, it was, in fact, lawful for employers to fire or discriminate their workers on the basis of their sexual orientation or their transgender status.
Neil Gorsuch setting forth a new rule as it pertains to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Putting it this way, saying, "An employer who fires an individual for being gay or transgender defies the law."
This is really remarkable because Neil Gorsuch, a staunch conservative appointed by President Trump.
But it was during oral arguments that Neil Gorsuch indicated he was leaning this way to rule in favor of the gay and transgender community.
Neil Gorsuch is a Textualist. He looks at the actual laws that the Congress has written. And in this law Congress says you cannot discriminate on the basis of sex.
Neil Gorsuch said that you can't differentiate sex from transgender or gay status. He put it this way. He said, "It's impossible to discriminate a person for being homosexual or transgender but the discriminating against the individual based on sex."
It's also notable that Chief Justice Roberts joined this opinion. Chief Justice Roberts was the one in 2015, in that reeling that legalized gay marriage across the country, Justice Roberts read his dissent from the bench. And now Justice Roberts siding with the gay and transgender community.
This is a huge victory. There were three plaintiffs who brought this case. Amy Stevens (ph), I spoke with her back in the fall when oral arguments was being held here. She was a transgender female who told her boss, a funeral director owner, a funeral homeowner, I should say. She told her boss years ago she was transitioning to female. He then fired her. And she's been in legal proceedings for several years.
And unfortunately, John, she passed away one month ago. But this massive victory not being enjoyed by her but being enjoyed by her wife, who has taken over this case.
This is an incredible victory. There's about 8.1 million Americans who identify as transgender or gay, John, and they are now protected from discrimination by their employers under the law -- John?
KING: Jessica Schneider, you can hear the winning parties celebrating on the steps of the court.
Jessica Schneider outside the Supreme Court on this historic day. Interesting, this decision about fairness and justice comes in the middle-of-other conversations about fairness and justice in the United States.
To that point, let's move on to the other big story this hour, the death of Rayshard Brooks in a police encounter Friday night, sparking more national outrage, and adding what you might call kindling to the already combustible debate over policing and racial injustices.
Let's go live to Atlanta. CNN's Natasha Chen is at the site where the family Rayshard Brooks will speak any moment. First Boris Sanchez is in the middle of the march on Georgia.
Boris, take us inside this protest, this march and what you're seeing.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, it started two hours ago at a federal building about half a mile from where we are. The Georgia NAACP setting up about a dozen speakers. The head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, Jeezy (ph), a local rapper who is prominent in the Atlanta community, a number of other speakers, local legislators as well.
And then we marched that half mile over here to the state capitol where there are speeches ongoing. It's an enormous crowd, John, a sea of people out here.
They are protesting not only for better relations between police and African-American community but also the repeal of the Citizens Arrest law in Georgia, a repeal of a Stand Your Ground law in Georgia.
I spoke to her mom who had her entire family here. Her two young daughters were marching with the protesters. And she told me that this is so crucial for the future, for future generations and to feel like change is possible and to bring their voices directly to the lawmakers of this state and to a national audience as well -- John?
KING: Boris Sanchez, at that site for us. Boris, thank you. Keep up the reporting. We'll check back with you.
Now to Natasha Chen.
Natasha, you're waiting to hear from the family of Mr. Brooks whose family believes sadly, just like the family of George Floyd, that this was a murder.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. So we're waiting any minute for this family to come in. We're expecting as many as ten family members to be address the media today. Not sure how many of them will actually be speaking.
But that includes the widow of Rayshard Brooks, Ms. Tomika Miller. She's been speaking to other media outlets. And we also expect to talk with her today.
And she did say that she considers this murder. She wants to see the officers involved put behind bars because she -- as she told CBS, she said, if that were her husband who had shot and killed someone, he would likely be serving a life sentence. And she said she wants to see the officers treated in this same way.
Now, of course, the family is waiting to see what the Fulton County district attorney will do. The D.A. has told CNN over the weekend that he expects to announce possible charges on Wednesday, sometime around Wednesday. And that he's considering charges such as involuntary manslaughter, murder and felony murder.
Now remember, we also saw autopsy results this weekend that shows that Rayshard Brooks was shot twice in the back. That the officer involved in this shooting, Garrett Rolfe, has been terminated from the Atlanta Police Department. And police chief, Erika Shields, offered her resignation less than 24 hours after this incident -- John?
KING: Natasha Chen on scene for us. We'll go back there live as soon as the Brooks family comes out to speak about this horrible tragedy.
Natasha, thank you.
A minute-by-minute watch of the surveillance and police body cam footage shows Rayshard Brooks complied over and over with police instructions before his death. He moved his car, got out of his car, agreed to a pat-down, and submitted to a sobriety test, volunteered to lock up his car and walk to his sister's house.
Officers spent 27 minutes on the scene before handcuffing him. That's when Brooks struggled. He grabbed a taser and he ran. Officers Garrett Rolfe drew his own taser and fired it. Officer Rolfe then drew his handgun and fired it three times. An autopsy, as Natasha just noted, by the Fulton County medical officers confirms what you see on the video. Brooks died of gunshot wounds to the back.
Here with us to share their expertise and insights is former sergeant for LAPD, Cheryl Dorsey, and CNN legal analyst, Joey Jackson.
Cheryl, let me start with you.
I want to get right to the top. There are people who said he grabbed the taser and he resisted and, therefore, it escalated and things happened. If you watch the video -- and the autopsy says he was shot twice in the back -- there was no reason for this to happen, was there?
CHERYL DORSEY, FORMER LAPD POLICE SERGEANT: Absolutely not. Deadly force is to be used as a last resort. That's after you've tried everything. And everything would have included setting up a perimeter, requesting backup, requesting an air unit, a helicopter, describe the suspect and the direction of travel to responding units. Set up a perimeter and contain him within that.
Should he slip the perimeter, you already know who he is. You have his driver's license and vehicle. There are so many other things that the officers could have done. But poor tactics always, always lead to a poor shooting.
And now we know, having heard in the voice of the officers -- and I believe intent can be formed in a minute. The officer was mad because he took his taser. I know police culture. I was around it and did it for 20 years and that was punishment.
KING: That was punishment, you say.
Joey, I just want to read -- this is the Atlanta Police Department reasonable force standard. "Employees are expressly prohibited from the unnecessary or unreasonable use of force against any person or property. Employees will only use that force, which is reasonable and necessary, to effect an arrest, prevent an escape, necessarily restrict the movement of a prisoners, defend an officer from physical assault or accomplish other lawful objectives."
I'm not advocating it, by any means, but could an attorney for the officer say, in the standard, necessary to effect an arrest or to prevent an escape, he was trying to run away?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You could say that, John, but there's a lot more complexities that factor into this.
Let's take you through the analysis. We know about the stop. Certainly have seen the videotapes. And we saw, of course, as you noted that there was repeated compliance until there was not. I think what they are going to analyze as prosecutors there are three separate and independent things.
Item number one, in addition to the very important policy that you just indicated, item number one, was the officer at the time that the critical moment, right, when the shots were fired, was that officer in immediate fear of death or serious physical injury.
What does the videotape show, the turning around of the taser, but then after that, then the movement of Rayshard Brooks to leave? Was that and could that be construed by the officer as immediate fear of death or serious physical injury?
Step number two, John, is this. Was the use of force that was engaged in by the officers proportionate to the threat that was imposed at the time?
And item number three, did the officer act reasonable under those circumstances? Final point, the Supreme Court has weighed in and said officers have
to make split-second decisions. I would suspect that the defense will use that, the split-second decision. At the moment, what would a reasonable officer in that officer's position have done at the time? And that's where the debate will be.
Final, final point, there are two schools of thought. On the one hand, the prosecutor can charge and allow a jury to make that determination. Why? Because reasonable minds can differ.
Shouldn't that be a jury question as to whether the officer acted responsibly, whether he was in immediate fear of death, whether or not the force used was proportionate? Or the D.A. can take it out of a jury's hand and make their own decision.
I would suspect it would be worthwhile for the jury to make that determination moving forward and that would honor the citizens as to whether or not it was proper and appropriate under these circumstances, and that is deadly force.
KING: You spoke about the police culture. And I'm glad you're here today. In any event, they had Mr. Brooks' name and his car and he was running away. He hadn't committed a violent crime, suspected of driving under the influence, charged with running away.
Why can't they let him run? He's probably a little drunk, going to run out of gas up the street. Yes, he has my taser but we are fine. Why wouldn't you do that anyway? Why is the training not built there? And especially in this environment, if you're a police officer knowing the environment the country is in right now, why not just step back, let him run?
DORSEY: Listen, the training is there. And ordinarily, a reasonable person would do that. But these two officers were personally invested. And there's a lot of ribbing and teasing goes on when a suspect, number one, gets away and when a suspect takes off with your taser. They would have been teased unmercifully. I know that. I've witnessed that, seen that.
And the officers said in his own words saying he took my F'ing taser. He took my F'ing taser. He was thinking about all of what would come next, maybe days off for not maintaining your equipment properly.
All of that was playing through the officer's mind and he was determined, they were determined he was not getting away with the taser. They couldn't catch him. Their taser wasn't working. One of the officers fired it and it was ineffective.
They knew the distance between them and him. They knew how far a taser will reach. Certainly, they had other opportunities. And because they couldn't catch him, when they finally fired the fatal shot, the officer who did it, you heard him celebrate saying, I got him.
It was about punishment. It was police culture. It was, you pissed me off and there's a price to pay. Contempt of cop. You made me made. There's a price to pay. An offense gets murders. We've seen it over and over again.
And in the midst of all of what's going on, you would think this would give them pause. But you get tunnel vision as a police officer.
And you also learn about, through all the others who have been able to kill with impunity, that the department will cover you, minimize and mitigate, and that's what's going on right now.
KING: Well, hopefully, that part is changing. As we wait to hear from yet another family who has lost yet another family member at the hands of the police. This one, when you look at the video, I'm sorry, it's inexcusable and unnecessary.
Joey, listen, this is Paul Howard, the district attorney of Fulton County. He has to decide whether to charge Officer Rolfe and the second officer at the scene who did not fire his weapon. Listen to his take.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL HOWARD, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA: Under the Georgia law, when this second officer did not fire a shot, we are then required to show that he had some actual participation in the final act. So that's one of the things that we are weighing now. And as we've seen earlier, we hope to make a decision about that later on this week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Help me with the issues at play for the second officer here. There's no direct comparison. But if you look at the case of George Floyd, those other officers, they say it was the senior officer who had his knee to the neck. They could have tackled him, pushed him or screamed. They did nothing.
What about this case where one officer fires, there's a second officer on the scene as part of the pursuit, is he culpable?
JACKSON: John, the analysis is very different than the incident related to Officer Chauvin as it relates to the prior case, George Floyd case. Here, you'll hear the defense argue as to the other officer's mere presence.
Yes, the officer was involved with respect to the tussle. Yes, the officer was involved with respect to the chase. However, that officer, separate and apart from his partner, did not fire a shot.
That plays in in a couple of ways. The first way it plays in is he didn't think the shot was necessary or appropriate. The second way was that he was not at the same vantage point as the other officer.
Yet, regardless how we analyze this, it comes to this. There's a feeling that force and lethal force should be a last alternative. It shouldn't rise and fall on charges. It should rise and fall on whether or not something else could have been done.
There's a feeling throughout this country and the marches throughout the country, which I hasten to add include people of color and not people of color, white people, you know, Spanish, Asian -- there's so much, right -- people who are marching on the streets. And the issue they are marching for is equal justice. What they are marching for is, why do you have to shoot first and ask questions later.
Getting back to the legal issues here, I do think that the partner is in a separate situation. So you could potentially see, John, charges against the person who fired the shot and no charges as against the partner, you know, in the event that the D.A. decides to move that way.
KING: Joey Jackson, Cheryl Dorsey, very much appreciate your insights and expertise here.
We'll take a quick break. We're waiting for the family of Mr. Rayshard Brooks, who was gunned down by those officers in Atlanta the other night outside that Wendy's. We'll bring you that press conference in just a moment.
KING: Waiting to hear any moment now from the family of Rayshard Brooks. You see the event set up in Atlanta. He was gunned down outside of a Wendy's by an Atlanta police officer on Friday night.
His death now adding urgency to a police reform debate that was already under way in Atlanta. The mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, named a reform task force just last week, three days before Brooks was shot and killed. That task force is on a fast track. It's initial recommendations are due on the mayor's desk by Thursday.
The Atlanta City Council president, Felicia Moore, is with us already.
Madam President, thank you so much for your time today.
First, listen to the voice of Tomika Miller, who today is a widow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOMIKA MILLER, WIDOW OF RAYSHARD BROOKS: It was murder that was not justified.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why was it murderer?
MILLER: Because he was shot, and he wasn't armed, wasn't dangerous.
I never imagined it being at my front door, never imagined it being me. How and I go through and through this and not feel that I felt the pain and now I really feel the pain.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: From what you've seen - I know of your position of authority on the city council, you have to be careful in your words -- do you agree that this was murder?
FELICIA MOORE, (D), PRESIDENT, ATLANTA CITY COUNCIL: Well, I believe that the incident certainly was not justified in terms of the fact that he was running and he was going away from the police officer and not towards them. So I believe we all feel that other choices certainly should have been made.
And I'm not going to call it murder. I'm going to leave it for a court to make that decision. But I do not believe that he needed to be shot and killed.
I send my condolences to her, the family, particularly the children. We all feel the pain here in Atlanta.
KING: The city of Atlanta is now where the city of Minneapolis is in the sense that there's this raw pain, raw anger, raw sadness. And a conversation about what to do about it in terms of structural police reforms.
The mayor has the task force. You have been a strong advocate for reform. So, number one, do you think you're basically on the same page with the mayor? And, number two, what do you think needs to be done and what can be done very quickly? Maybe some of this takes time. What can be done very quickly to get out of the box to prove to people on the streets that you get it and that you're going to change things?
MOORE: Well, we're all collectively supporting each other. The mayor has a task force. The council will be meeting today. Many members have differing pieces of legislation that they are introducing. And we're looking forward to moving those. We're looking at our budget in the police budget to see what we can do to reserve some of those funds and put them towards some police reforms.
I believe that we need to move forward with other initiatives that we have not moved forward with, the Obama's 21st Century Policing, the Can't Wait initiative. We've done two. We need to get the other six.
There's other things we can do immediately and other things we can move forward on as we go about reforming and really transforming the way we do policing in the city and also across the country as well.
KING: If -- I'll choose my words, quickly, and I mean no offense. If there's a moment of opportunity here, it's that we see, in the middle of this conversation, African-American leaders like yourself, mayors, presidents of the city council, stepping forward and saying we're going to get things done.
You know what's happening out on the streets. People are skeptical of all politicians, that it just won't pass.
What do you want to see in terms of a timetable? And, again, some of these things are more difficult and you're negotiating with the police chief over changes and things like that, some of which is legitimate, some of which could become bureaucracy.
How do you want to see this play out so you can start the building blocks of trust?
MOORE: First, we need to listen. I went out yesterday to the location where he was killed and I just listened. I didn't announce myself as a public official. I just listened to the raw anger and some of the things that people were saying need to happen. We need to listen to our constituency and put as many of those things in place as possible.
And, of course, they have concerns about elected officials. And if elected officials are hearing my voice not only in Atlanta but across the country, this is a new day and time, and action is the words that people want to hear. They don't want to hear what we're going to do. They want to see it in action.
So I would just suggest that we do everything that we can every day to move towards transforming the way policing is done in the city and how our citizens feel about our police.
KING: Felicia Moore is the president of the Atlanta City Council.
We'll check back in as we go through this process. Really grateful for your time today.
MOORE: Thank you.
KING: Thank you very much. Best of luck.
President Trump also promising an executive order on policing. In a morning tweet, he said he's doing just fine with African-American voters. Here's what he tweeted: "I've done more in four years than Joe Biden has done in 40 years, including," the president insists, "for on black America."
But as the president prepares for his first campaign rally since the country shut down for the coronavirus, let's take a look at the numbers. Four years ago, according to CNN's exit poll, only 8 percent of black Americans voted for the president. That in the 2016 election.
Fast forward to today, that number really hasn't changed, 8 percent of black voters in CNN's latest poll say they plan to support President Trump in November.
This, as we're seeing an increase in both black and white voters who say the issue of race relations -- you can see the number there -- is very important to those in this election. That number has doubled among black voters between 2015 and now.
CNN's Abby Phillip already in Tulsa ahead of the president's planned rally there this weekend.
Abby, it's a delicate moment for the president on a number of fronts. Number one, there's many who say he's not spoken forcefully enough, especially on race. And, number two, he wants to come to the city where you are today to start rallies today and a lot of people are saying too much too soon.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. I mean, this decision to bring the rally here to Tulsa has really opened up old wounds in this city for its black residents and even for many others who know the dark past of that 1921 massacre in the city.
It's viewed as being, at the very least, callous and insensitive for the president to do it in this place but also at this time, around the time of Juneteenth, a time of intense celebration.
It does seem, however, that the president's decision to push this date back a day is an acknowledgement among his aides, and the president said he spoke to black supporters and members of his cabinet about this issue, that they needed to ease the tension, that they needed to not look like the president was trying to provoke African-Americans at this time.
One of the issues also is that Tulsa is a place, like many places in this country, where black residents feel like their concerns about policing aren't being heard.
Meantime, President Trump is arguing that police need to be tougher. So there's a sense he's not listening to what they are trying to say.
Yes, there is a desire for reconciliation. But first, a lot of people I've spoken to a lot of people in Tulsa say there needs to be a recognition of a problem. There needs to be justice. But those are just two things President Trump has not seen to be particularly interested in talking about.
So as they try to move forward to November and appeal to black voters, there's a problem here.