Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Interview With Houston, Texas, Police Chief Art Acevedo; Unrest In Atlanta; Protests On Its 21st Day As Police Killing Of Black Man In Atlanta Intensifies Demands For Racial Justice; Speaker Pelosi On Battle In Congress Over Police Reform; 911 Call From Rayshard Brooks Killing Just Released; U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 116,000. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 15, 2020 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[18:00:48]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're following breaking news on demands for racial justice after the police killing of yet another African-American man. The Atlanta mayor just ordered immediate reforms on the use of force by police after 27- year-old Rayshard Brooks was fatally shot in the back by a white police officer on Friday night.

Brooks' widow is calling it murder. The family is pleading for criminal charges against the officer, protesters on the march 21 days after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked a national crisis and a serious conversation about race.

Also breaking, President Trump says he will sign an executive order on policing tomorrow. CNN has learned the reforms will be modest and leave the heavy lifting to Congress.

Let's go to our national correspondent, Ryan Young. He's in Atlanta for us.

Ryan, you have some new information, I understand, on the Rayshard Brooks case. What are you learning?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, Wolf.

In the last five minutes or so, we just received new information from the Atlanta Police Department. They have released the new 911 audio from that night, and in it, you can hear someone who works at the Wendy's calling for 911 because they tried to wake a man up inside a car.

They're describing to police what exactly they were trying to do and they were calling for help. Beside that, police have started to release some of the investigatory notes from what they know about these two officers. You can see they have been disciplined before. We're going through

that piece by piece, since we just got that information. All that on top of the fact that the mayor here says they're going to do a top- down/bottom review of all police procedures.

They want to make sure that de-escalation is at the top of the list when officers step into any kind of fray with any sort of suspect or person in the community.

(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.

YOUNG (voice-over): A family grieving, frustrated and angry.

MILLER: 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're 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: Tonight, Atlanta's mayor announcing a series of administrative orders for the police department to immediately adopt and implement, including standard procedures and work rules concerning use of force policies.

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), MAYOR OF ATLANTA, GEORGIA: Officers should use de-escalation techniques to gain voluntary compliance and avoid or minimize the use of physical force and to continuously develop, update, and train officers in de-escalation techniques.

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 capital, demanding justice and an end to systematic racism.

[18:05:09]

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 feel so guilty for leaving.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YOUNG: Such an emotional day here, Wolf.

I can tell you a lot of the protesters were touched by what we heard today from the family. The mayor even said she was heartbroken to hear that pain from the family.

Everyone thinking about that 8-year-old girl who didn't have her father at her birthday. Beyond that, we have been talking to the Atlanta Police Foundation. They tell us, they tell CNN that 19 officers have resigned in the last few days.

Not sure it's all connected to this case, but, obviously, there's an eye on this police department, and everybody wants to see what's next.

BLITZER: So heartbreaking to see all this anguish that this family is going through.

Ryan Young in Atlanta for us. Thank you.

Tonight, President Trump commented on what happened in Atlanta as he prepares to take limited action on police reform.

Let's go to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, what are you learning about this executive order the president's supposed to sign tomorrow?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, President Trump just offered some comments, as you said, on the death of Rayshard Brooks, calling the case disturbing.

The president, as you said, is expected to sign an executive order tomorrow aimed at cleaning up police practices in the U.S. in response to the killing of George Floyd. The White House, though, is leaving much of the heavy lifting on police misconduct to Congress, as the president continues to hammer a law and order message.

Mr. Trump is also gearing up for a rally in Tulsa, where there are worries the event could lead to an outbreak of the coronavirus.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): Facing a growing backlash to his handling of the protests after the death of George Floyd, President Trump told reporters he was disturbed by the police shooting death of Rayshard Brooks that led to a weekend of unrest in Atlanta.

TRUMP: I thought it was a terrible situation, very disturbing.

ACOSTA: On police reform, the president is trying to have it both ways, insisting he will curb officer misconduct while stressing a law and order message.

The overall goal is, we want law and order. It's about justice also. And it's about safety.

ACOSTA: On Tuesday, the president is expected to sign an executive order making incremental changes, like creating a database to track police misconduct, and adding more mental health professionals to law enforcement agencies.

JA'RON SMITH, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF AMERICAN INNOVATION: There's many communities that are violent, and we want to quell those violence, and we also want to allow for safe and peaceful atmosphere, and the only way you can do that is to bring the police and the community together.

ACOSTA: It's unclear whether the president will support a nationwide ban on police choke holds, something his fellow Republicans are pushing.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): There are other aspects that we can be more clear on, like the choke hold. This is a policy whose time has come and gone.

ACOSTA: Two weeks after the administration violently cleared out Lafayette Square for the president's church photo-op, Mr. Trump is still tearing into the protesters, tweeting: "Many Democrats want to defund and abolish police departments. How crazy."

The administration appears to be following the president's lead, taking down a Black Lives Matter and even a pride flag at the U.S. Embassy in South Korea. Democratic leaders say the president is twisting their positions.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): I will simply say as I was always said, nobody is going to defund the police. We can restructure the police forces, restructure, reimagine policing. That is what we're going to do. The fact of the matter is, the police have a role to play.

ACOSTA: The president is eager to get back on the road, looking ahead to his rally this weekend in Oklahoma, firing back at critics who say the event could cause an outbreak of the coronavirus, tweeting: "The media, which had no COVID problem with the rioters and looters destroying Democrat-run cities, is trying to COVID shame us on our big rallies. Won't work."

But Tulsa's "World" newspaper ran an editorial calling on the president to scrap it, adding: "The public health concern would apply whether it were Donald Trump, Joe Biden or anyone else. This is the wrong time."

White House officials say attendees should follow administration guidelines, like wearing masks, even though the president doesn't use them.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: We certainly hope that the people in Oklahoma will adhere to all the reasonable guidelines.

ACOSTA: The president is pushing back on any concerns about his own health after he gingerly walked down a ramp and carefully took a sip of water at the West Point commencement over the weekend, tweeting: "The ramp was very long and steep, had no handrail, and, most importantly, was very slippery."

Mr. Trump has made questions about his health fair game, given his comments about Democrat Joe Biden.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, Joe's not all there. Everybody knows it. And it's sad when you look at it and you see it. You should see it for yourself. He's created his own sanctuary city in the basement of wherever he is, and he doesn't come out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[18:10:15]

ACOSTA: The president is weighing in on the rising number of coronavirus cases, just telling reporters they're all due to increase testing, saying -- quote -- "If we stopped testing right now, we'd have very few cases, if any."

But that's just not true. Administration health experts have told us that the new cases are in part due to more testing, but also because there are spikes in infections due to COVID-19 -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta at the White House, thanks very much.

Joining us now, the Houston Police Chief, Art Acevedo. He's also the president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

Chief, thank you so much for joining us. The shooting of Rayshard Brooks comes after weeks of protests over the

killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, so many others. How important is it for Atlanta right now, Chief, to get the response to this shooting right.

ART ACEVEDO, HOUSTON, TEXAS POLICE CHIEF: I think it's really important.

They have been having a lot of challenges in Atlanta and across the country. But I also think it's important to talk about the issues in its totality, from, we can't just say it's a man that was asleep in a car. It was someone under the influence. We can talk about how it led up to that and then we have to talk about the moment in time when the shooting actually took place, whether or not it was justified. And they have got to get those answers out quickly, sooner, rather than later.

BLITZER: The mayor of Atlanta says she doesn't believe the shooting was -- of Rayshard Brooks was justified use of deadly force.

Based on what you have seen of this incident -- I'm sure you have seen all the video -- do you agree with her or disagree?

ACEVEDO: No, I haven't been able to see -- I couldn't see closely enough because I have been busy myself.

But I think it's challenging when the effective range of a Taser is 21 feet, and you're chasing someone. I think the question is going to come into play how close the officer was. Could he have simply stood further back, not chased him so close? And that's going to be a matter for the jury, the grand jury, to decide.

But there are some tough questions that have to be answered. But we also have to remember that those officers were called there for a drunk -- a person under the influence who was asleep behind the wheel. That -- we can't just ignore the fact that the police was there for a legitimate reason, that a fight actually ensued, that the officer was disarmed, that the individual had a Taser in his hand.

But, again, whether he had a Taser or not, the question will be, was it objectively reasonable at the moment in time that the officer discharged his firearm, based on the totality of the circumstances, facts, and the evidence as they were known to him when it occurred?

BLITZER: The incident started off pretty cordial. At one point, Rayshard Brooks offered to lock up his car, simply walk to his sister's house, which wasn't that far away.

In watching these videos, did you see opportunities for this to end differently?

ACEVEDO: Well, I mean, look, we can't just have a society where law enforcement comes to a scene, that the people at Wendy's know that at these drive-throughs at night, a lot of people that are under the influence, intoxicated, come through. '

The reason that the managers don't want to wake them up themselves is it's too often when you wake somebody up and startle them in the middle of the night that's asleep behind the wheel in a drive-through, they can become violent, so they call the police.

You know, you don't get to understand that -- people don't understand that, when you're in a vehicle and you're in control of a vehicle and you're under the influence, that's the same as drunk driving. And so it's not -- we don't have an option to say, well, you have been committing drunk driving, so just go ahead, walk away.

That's not a viable option for the officer. It's their job to enforce the DWI laws. Having said that, once they get into the fight, and he takes possession of the Taser, what we need to understand is, what were the options in terms of setting up a containment?

We have got to rethink, as a profession, what we do when suspects flee. You know, I think it's a time in our nation's history where the community doesn't want us to be like the Bugs Bunny cartoons when we were kids where the dog chases the rabbit, you know, without a thought.

So, we have to rethink the way that we look at these issues. We have to rethink the fact that maybe we had his license, we had his -- we knew where he lived, and also keeping that distance. A Taser is effective for about 21 feet.

So we need to train our people that, if you're going to chase somebody that's got your Taser, chase them from 40 feet behind. Wait until you get backup there. And so there's a lot of options, but I think at the end of the day, we have to look at the way we're training, because we can't afford to have these kind of incidents. Society's just not going to tolerate it.

BLITZER: Yes, because even if a suspect is running away, that doesn't mean he deserves the death sentence, that you should shoot him in the back twice and kill him. That clearly -- it's awful, inappropriate.

Chief Art Acevedo, thank you so much for joining us.

Just ahead, we're going to break down all the newest information on the police killing of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, as the 911 call from that night has just been released.

[18:15:05]

Also, I will speak live with the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, about her push for police reform legislation and sticking points between Democrats and Republicans.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Protesters on the march in New York City once again, as protesters for racial justice take their outrage to the streets once again. The movement that began with George Floyd's death is focusing on a new

case in Atlanta and a new victim named Rayshard Brooks. The 911 call from Brooks' killing was released just a little while ago.

We're joined now by our senior legal analyst, former federal prosecutor Laura Coates, and CNN political commentator former Obama administration official Van Jones.

[18:20:01]

Van, three weeks into the national and global protests sparked by George Floyd's death, another black man was killed by police in Atlanta.

Where do you think the country stands right now when it comes to police reform?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the time has come. I think the time has come.

We have an opportunity now. There's legislation in the House. There's a motion in the Senate. We hear that the president's going to do something tomorrow.

The problem that we have is just a problem of impunity. When you have a situation where it is so hard to discipline, demote, or fire a police officer, you talk to a police chief, they -- these cops have been bubble-wrapped in so much protective red tape, you can't fire them. You can't sue them.

The Supreme Court said they have qualified immunity, and it's very hard to jail them. Most prosecutors are scared to charge cops. Juries are scared to hand down a guilty verdict against a police officer. If you can't discipline, you can't demote, you can't fire, you can't sue, and you can't jail someone, you're going to have people who abuse their positions or who make mistakes that they wouldn't make if they were thinking to themselves, hey, I might get in trouble for this.

And we have created a culture of impunity now with law enforcement. Listen, you have got 800 police officers -- 800,000 police officers. Most of them do a great job every day against tough odds. But when you have 800,000 people, all of whom know the chances of them being disciplined, demoted, fired, sued or jailed are pretty small, some of them are going to be reckless, and you're going to have then disfavored groups in any country in this situation, disfavored groups like African-Americans bearing the brunt. And it's got to stop.

BLITZER: You know, Laura, we're showing the viewers still the pictures of the protests in New York City.

The mayor of Atlanta has now signed new orders on police use of force. This comes after the officer was fired and the police chief stepped aside. What do you make of all these steps?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's going to be very important for states, at the state level specifically, given the fact of what Van's talking about and given the Supreme Court precedent that really does give a benefit of the doubt to officers because of their split-second decisions they're told to be made or they expect to make on a daily basis.

You have a, what's reasonable to an officer, not to say you and I. And because of that looming precedent, a lot of prosecutors are reluctant to bring cases, jurors are reluctant already to try to prosecute or try to convict police officers.

And so a lot -- again, if you have these sort of use of force orders throughout the states, you do actually embolden the prosecutors, empower them and juries to believe and understand what use of force should be.

And bottom line, Wolf, you can only use lethal force if lethal force is being used against you. It cannot be used because you can't catch up to someone running away from you, unless they pose a very specific threat to the public, and we already know that this man was patted down, did not have a weapon.

The Taser, he was pointing at one point towards the officer, it's going to be a question whether that actually constitutes a threat to the rest of the people there and whether use of force could at all -- was at all justified here.

It looks like, according to what we see so far, it was not.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Van, the lawyers for Rayshard Brooks' family said: "If the officer had been a bit more empathetic and a bit less scared, we probably wouldn't have a dead client."

That's a direct quote.

How much can policies on the books really change that mind-set of having more empathy, for example?

JONES: Well, I think that there's, you know, two things that you have to look at. One, of course, is we don't do a great job in our thousands and thousands of police departments of screening for sociopathy, psychopathy, white supremacist ideas.

We just don't do a great job of screening out people who just may not be -- quote, unquote -- "cut out" for police work. I'm from a law enforcement family. We always say, that guy's not cut out to be a cop. Everybody knows what that means. They may be a little bit too reactive, a little bit too fight or flight.

We have got to do a better job of screening. You got to do a better job of training. But the reality is, if there are no consequences for you if you violate that training, you still are going to have the same problem.

So I think we got to do a better job -- listen, I'm from a law enforcement family. It is a very, very tough job, and people, I think, rightfully want to give them some of the benefit of the doubt. But you can see what happens when you bubble-wrap cops with too many protections.

You start getting these kind of outcomes, and then you got to do something about it. I'm hopeful that, tomorrow, when President Trump comes out with his executive order, that law enforcement will support now all -- the House, the Senate and the White House trying to get something done.

BLITZER: Let's see what happens tomorrow.

You know, Laura, when it comes to the legal issues here, will it be challenging to get justice for Rayshard Brooks?

COATES: It will be, because it comes down to use of force.

And unlike prior cases that we have seen even recently of Breonna Taylor or George Floyd, neither of whom we know can be seen resisting in any way, struggles not ensuing, people have a different perspective when somebody seems to be truly victimized by police officers, and there is no input on them by their own or anything that they are doing, per se, that is requiring them to be treated this way, let alone shot, in Breonna Taylor's case, in her own home.

[18:25:20]

But you have this case is already a little bit more challenging, because you do have a struggle. And you will now have to look at, more than you have in other cases, whether the use of force was justified to repel the force that he was giving.

You have the slowed-down surveillance of Mr. Brooks turning back at some point with his Taser. It's unclear just how close in time or whether the officer was aware that the Taser was no longer a threat to him when he turned away again.

But either way, it's going to come down to this, Wolf. Before that sobriety test, they patted him down. They knew he had no weapons on him. He was not a threat to them lethally at all. And they shot anyway. That's going to be the biggest case here.

BLITZER: Yes, an important point.

Laura Coates, excellent town hall, by the way, last tonight here on CNN. Thanks so much for doing that.

COATES: Thank you.

BLITZER: Van Jones. yes, thanks to you as well.

Just ahead, I will speak with the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, about a potential deal-breaker in her negotiations with Republicans on police reform.

And with more than 116,000 deaths and counting, some parts of the U.S. are seeing record increases in coronavirus infections.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [18:30:00]

BLITZER: We're following new protests for racial justice, live pictures coming in from New York City, where folks are marching now on the 21st day of protests as the anger here in the United States clearly continues.

We're also told the president is preparing to sign an executive order on policing tomorrow. We're told the reforms will be modest and leave the heavy lifting to Congress.

Right now, we're joined by the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Madam Speaker, thank you so much for joining us.

I know you've put forward a police reform bill, but there's a big divide, apparently, between your legislation and the approach that Senate Republicans have right now. How much of an appetite, Madam Speaker, is there on the Democrats' side to compromise?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Well, I'm very proud of the work that Karen Bass, the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, working with the Judiciary Committee, what they have done with Mr. Clyburn, our House Democratic Whip, put together with this legislation.

These are provisions that have been -- bills that have been in the hopper for years with the congressional black caucus, no chokeholds. You know the list. And so this is, I think, a very reasonable proposal that they have made.

They have said they are willing to talk to try to find common ground, but the common ground does not mean we don't do anything. It means that we are bold, that we make change, and that we have justice in policing.

BLITZER: Your bill would get rid of what's called qualified immunity, which would make it easier to sue police officers in civil court. Republicans, however, say this is a poison pill. Is this a red line potentially for you?

PELOSI: Well, I'll leave it up to our negotiators. They have led the way on this. They have -- again, our first bill on police -- justice in policing was something 50 years ago when one of the founders, Mr. Metcalfe, of the congressional black caucus, long before any of us was here, was putting forth.

So they have a reason for why they are going forward. Again, when you're having a negotiation, you don't negotiate on T.V., but, again, they know what we need to do to make a difference in the lives of the American people, especially those who feel that they have been unjustly charged or beaten or, in the case of George Floyd, have been murdered.

BLITZER: I know you don't want to negotiate on T.V., but I got to ask you, would it be a deal breaker if Senate Republicans don't include an outright ban on chokeholds? PELOSI: Well, I think that -- I can't imagine they wouldn't have a ban on chokeholds. Let's get reasonable. Chokehold is a lynching. It's a strangulation and it's a lynching. I think that that is almost like the lowest common denominator.

But, again, I'll leave it up to my negotiators. Because as you know, in a negotiation, it's not what's in or out, it's the sum total of the different impact that the legislation will have in justice and policing.

BLITZER: I ask the question, Madam Speaker, because President Trump's executive order that he's supposed to sign tomorrow, we're told, the executive order on policing isn't expected to include an outright ban on chokeholds. What's your reaction to that?

PELOSI: Well, I thought the president's comments were strange on it, but, again, I would think that, wouldn't I, for most anything he would say. The -- I think that the legislation will -- for my members, from what I have heard them say is, does it have a chokehold ban? That's one of the basic questions that people ask.

Look, look at what we're talking about here. People who have been so, so -- just had such injustice in terms of policing and the lives of so many people in our country.

[18:35:01]

Let's do the best we can, not the minimum that we can in this.

This is about justice. It's about redressing past grievances. It's about, let's see what we can do. I mean, chokeholds? Is there -- am I missing something here? Perhaps I am, because what I heard the president say is sometimes they're okay. No, I don't think so. I don't think so.

So, again, I'm not speaking for my negotiators. I'm just speaking for my members who are -- that the first question they ask. Is there a chokehold ban? Because that is indicative of where you -- what else you have in the bill or don't have in the bill if you don't even meet that low a standard.

BLITZER: Yes, sounds like that could be a deal breaker potentially. Anything else, Madam Speaker?

PELOSI: Oh, I don't think so. I don't think so. I think --

BLITZER: You think the Republicans will come around in the Senate?

All right. Look, let's talk about another sensitive issue. Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar supports dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department. She says there are many places that may also need to disband police forces. She's reimagining a new -- entirely new police safety system here in the United States. Where do you stand on this?

PELOSI: Well, I think that what happens in localities is up to the localities to determine as to how they will spend their resources to promote safety in their communities. I don't know that characterization that you just described of her. I've heard that she's paying attention to her own region. I don't know that she's paying attention to anyone else's. But, again, that's what you're saying.

I think that we have been clear here. We understand that we have to make changes in justice in policing. I keep coming back to that phrase. And that means there are many things that police are called upon to do, whether it's issues that relate to mental health, violence against women, you name it, that can be covered one way or another. But I don't think you'll see too many people saying, defund the police, but they may say, re-juggle the -- how the resources are used so that, again, safety is served. That's the most important thing.

So, I'm not here to answer about any one member, but I think you've heard Karen Bass and you've heard Mr. Clyburn talk about how we can work together to provide safety in the best possible way, recognizing that we do need to have policing, but we also need to have justice in policing.

BLITZER: Before I let you go, Madam Speaker, let me get your thoughts on this landmark ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court today, the 6-3 decision saying the federal civil rights law does protect gay, lesbian, transgender workers. How significant is this?

PELOSI: I think it's very significant. Of course, you know in the Congress, we have the Equality Act, which is, we still want to pass that. We think that would be important to do. But this was a good decision. We were very pleased with it because, why not? I mean, these are people in our country. They should all be protected under the law.

And, again, to make that even stronger, we want to pass the Equality Act, but we were very pleased with the decision that was made by the Supreme Court. It would have been a horrible thing if it had gone the other way. But we did not suspect that that would be the case.

We also are pleased about how it all turned out for the state of California in terms of what they call sanctuary laws, that people have the right -- states have the right to make their judgments about how they protect people in their states. That was actually based on a Scalia decision, believe it or not. So I was very pleased with that.

And there were some other positive decisions coming out of the court today. They didn't take up the -- some of the cases related to gun violence. You could play that either way. But it was considered by the Giffords people and others as a positive decision.

BLITZER: I know you were pleased with these decisions today by the U.S. Supreme Court. The House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi. Madam Speaker, thank you so much for joining us.

PELOSI: My pleasure. Thank you.

BLITZER: All right, just ahead, we're going to get the latest on the coronavirus pandemic as the U.S. death toll now surpasses 116,000 and new cases rising in 18 states.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

BLITZER: We just got one of the 911 calls that came in Friday night when there was that incident involving Rayshard Brooks, the 27-year- old African-American man who eventually was shot and killed by a police officer later that night.

But listen to this. This is a very, very important 911 call, a witness calling 911.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Atlanta 911 operator 7729. What's your location, emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm at 125 University.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay, 125 University Southwest, is that at the Wendy's?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. You need police, fire, ambulance out here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The police.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay, tell me what's going on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a car. I think he's intoxicated. He's in the middle of my drive-through. I tried to wake him up, but he's parked dead in the middle of the drive-thru.

[18:45:01]

DISPATCHER: OK.

CALLER: So I don't know what's wrong with him.

DISPATCHER: Is he breathing, ma'am? Do you know?

CALLER: Yes, he woke up, looked at me and I was like, you got to move out the drive-through because people can't -- they're going around him. I mean, he's in the middle of -- he's right there.

DISPATCHER: All right. Tell me what kind of car he --

(CROSSTALK)

CALLER: But they're trying to go around him.

DISPATCHER: What's the color of it?

CALLER: And I asked him to pull over, you know, if he had so much drink, to pull over and go to sleep. He said (INAUDIBLE)

DISPATCHER: What kind of car is it?

CALLER: It's a white car.

DISPATCHER: Is he black? Is he black?

(CROSSTALK)

CALLER: Yeah. He's black.

DISPATCHER: OK, in a white sedan in the middle of the drive-through?

CALLER: Now, let me see what kind of car it is. It's right here. Yes, he's indeed right here. The cars are going around him.

DISPATCHER: OK. All right. Does he appear to have any weapons, ma'am?

CALLER: Ma'am?

DISPATCHER: Does he appear to have any weapons from where you can see him?

CALLER: No, no, I think he's intoxicated.

DISPATCHER: All right. All right. Give me your name and callback number.

CALLER: All right. (AUDIO DELETED)

DISPATCHER: (AUDIO DELETED) give me your telephone number and callback number.

CALLER: The store number (AUDIO DELETED).

(INAUDIBLE)

CALLER: It's 263.

DISPATCHER: All right. Thank you so much. We'll get someone out there.

CALLER: Yes, ma'am. Thank you.

DISPATCHER: Uh-huh.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. Interesting 911 call Friday night.

Let's bring back Ryan Young. He's in Atlanta for us. He's monitoring all the late breaking developments.

I'm going to get analysis also from Laura Coates.

Ryan, tell us about this 911 call. YOUNG: Absolutely, Wolf. I think first things first. You got to think

about the transparency in this case. Now, several days later, we have the body camera video. We have the eyewitness video. We also have heard from countless numbers of people about exactly what happened, and now, there's this 911 audio, so when you put it all together, the timeline is really starting to form here.

I will tell you, as we were walking with and talking with protesters today, the one thing they kept referring to was the fact that the officers then showed up and had that calm conversation with Mr. Brooks. In fact, everyone seemed sort of surprised that it would take a turn.

And then you heard the mayor talking about the fact that they believe that if de-escalation was used, maybe this wouldn't have had to happen, and that was a big conversation that we kept hearing over and over. Wolf, in the last hour or so, we have received that 911 audio and we have received the information about the two officers and their backgrounds. We are going through that bit by bit.

But once again, as you think about this, not only do we have the dash cam, the body cam, now this new audio and the parts of this investigation. We really see how they're laying this all out to be as transparent as possible. I believe that's being done to make sure that the citizens out there really believe changes are being made.

And so that's part of the situation that's going on right now, Wolf.

BLITZER: That's an important point.

And, Laura Coates, I -- I think they -- the folks in Atlanta deserve a lot of credit for making so much of this information transparent and available to the public right now. The district attorney, presumably, is going to be making some decision by Wednesday, we're told, on whether to file formal charges against this police officer.

COATES: And that's extraordinarily quick and fast given the track record of police-involved shootings, and remember, each of these incidents, we talk about the George Floyds, the Breonna Taylors, there's so many cases to discuss right now.

Now you have Rayshard Brooks, each of which has served as a cautionary tale to the next city and being instructive about what should happen, even in Atlanta where you're still a few towns away, dealing with the citizens arrest based killing of Ahmaud Arbery but still the idea of a D.A.'s office not being transparent in Glenn County, in Brunswick, having a cautionary tale and being instructive to other places.

I will say that 911 call, what is so heartbreaking to hear about it, Wolf, is the idea that the woman who called actually gave what would have been and could have been a potential result here. The idea of saying she wasn't -- didn't believe he had a weapon, was hoping he would go and just drive out of the drive-thru, maybe just park there and sleep it off.

Now, we always know about DUIs, don't want anyone on the road, but the idea that for over 20 minutes, the officers had a similar feeling about this person not being a danger and we see how this ended. It bodes -- it speaks volumes about the idea of de-escalation, about the officers' training and their decision making. And again, this isn't really a split-second encounter that most officers deal with. The struggle may have been unexpected. We're talking about an arc of a conversation that will all be taken into consideration about these officers' decision to use force.

BLITZER: Yeah, certainly did not deserve to be shot in the he certainly did not deserve to be shot in the back and killed --

COATES: Right.

BLITZER: -- even if he made some serious mistakes.

You know, Ryan, you just came to Atlanta from Minneapolis. Describe the difference if you see a real difference between the way it is being handled in Atlanta right now as opposed to the way things were unfolding in Minneapolis.

YOUNG: Well, you know, I think the conversation we're seeing now is how forward thinking the chiefs and the mayors have been so far in terms of trying to talk to the community, in terms of trying to let them know what they are doing ahead of time.

[18:50:03]

You heard the mayor say today that they're going to be working, doing a top-down review of all procedures when it comes to what's going on at the police department, to make sure that if an officer feels like they have to use deadly force, the de-escalation would be something they would go to first.

In fact, I remember when they bought these Tasers at the Atlanta police department. They are equipped with their own body cameras in the front of these Tasers and one reason they rolled them out is to make sure they stop some of the deadly shootings and had officers be able to have something not to go to that level. Where we saw that struggle, you know, you saw that 30-minute conversation, when you watched it you didn't think the two would not be able to control him especially when they had the hands on his wrist.

And that's been the big conversation here. Was there something else that could have been done? We've heard some of the witnesses here in terms of protesters say, why not just let him run and catch up with him a little later? That's been some of the questions they've asked us, but that's why they're going to do this internal review and go through all the policies and that's why the mayor was saying that she wants to see significant changes coming soon.

BLITZER: And, Laura, how important are these 911 calls potentially in terms of the D.A. making some sort of serious decision about charges?

COATES: Well, it can be very important because it gives essentially what information the officer would have had when they arrived on scene about perhaps the state of mind or the threat the person posed to the public. But here, you have somebody who was urgent to get this person out of the drive through line not because it seemed that she was considering this person was a threat to anyone.

And so, if you have that going in, that state of mind, and you know what the officers are having conveyed at some point in time, it then lets you understand perhaps was there any reason for these officers to feel as though they were threatened? And at that early stage, they were not.

BLITZER: All right. Laura, thanks very much. We're following the breaking news with you and Ryan Young. We'll get back to you.

Much more news right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:56:38]

BLITZER: The U.S. death toll in the coronavirus pandemic has now surpassed 116,000 as 18 states are now reporting a rise in new infections.

CNN's Nick Watt is joining us now from Los Angeles with the latest.

Update our viewers, Nick.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the basic picture is this: cases are going up in the West and the South and they are going down in the Northeast. And there is concern everywhere that people just aren't taking this seriously enough.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WATT (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: May 4th, the day Florida began to reopen, they reported 819 new cases. This past Saturday, a new record high, 2,581.

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

WATT: New case counts climbing in 18 states across much of the West. California seeing more than 3,000 new infections a day, also the South.

Multiple Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans players have now tested positive, according to the NFL Network. And a record number of covid- 19 patients are now hospitalized across Texas.

LINA HIDALGO, HARRIS COUNTY, TX JUDGE: Right now, we're seeing that the spread is just too much for us to get a grip on.

DR. UMAIR SHAH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS PUBLIC HEALTH: You have the reopening starting may 1st. In addition, today, you've had events like graduations and people getting together and all sorts of other activities, and so each of those layer on top of another -- Mother's Day, Memorial Day weekend.

WATT: And Saturday night thousands will gather in neighboring Oklahoma to listen to the most famous non-mask wearer in the country, President Donald Trump.

COVID is here in Tulsa, it's transmitting very efficiently says the director of the local health department. I wish we could postpone this.

Confirmed cases in the county just climbed 30 percent in a week blamed by the health department on large, indoor gatherings.

TAPPER: People should be wearing masks at the Trump rally in Tulsa this Saturday.

LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: Well, OK. Probably so.

TAPPER: And will probably be wearing them a while.

I would hope to get back 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATT: Now, remember hydroxychloroquine, that malaria drug much hyped by the president? In fact, the drug he said he was taking for a couple weeks to try and fend off the virus. Well, the FDA just removed its emergency authorization. Doctors can no longer use it on COVID-19 patients. The FDA says studies suggest it was unlikely to be effective. In fact, some studies suggested it might cause serious side effects -- Wolf.

BLITZER: This pandemic is by no means over, not yet.

Nick Watt, reporting for us from Los Angeles, thanks very much.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

[19:00:00]