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Pressure Grows for Police Reform Amid Nationwide Protests; President Trump Expected to Sign Executive Order on Police Reform Today; NYPD Reassign 600 Plain Clothes Anti-Crime Officers. Aired 9- 9:30a ET

Aired June 16, 2020 - 09:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good Tuesday morning, everyone. Glad you're with us. I'm Poppy Harlow. We are following several fast-moving headlines this morning.

We could see a decision very soon on charges for both officers involved in the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. The Fulton County district attorney says he's hoping to make a decision on that by tomorrow.

We're also getting a first look at the disciplinary records of the now ex-Atlanta officer Garrett Rolfe, the man who shot Brooks. He was reprimanded just a few years ago in 2017 for a use of force involving a firearm. We'll take you live to Atlanta for an update on that.

And in Minneapolis, chilling recordings and transcripts just released show a 911 dispatcher raise concerns about the use of force by police in the middle of kneeling on George Floyd's neck. Two other eyewitnesses, one of them a first responder himself, urgently called 911 as they witnessed it. We'll take you live to Minnesota for the latest on that.

And at the White House, the president is set to sign today an executive order on policing as pressure grows across the country for a complete overhaul. We'll take you live to the Rose Garden to hear from the president.

But first, let's get to Dianne Gallagher. She joins us for the latest on the investigation of the killing of Rayshard Brooks.

Good morning, Dianne.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. The Atlanta Police Department did release a disciplinary record of those two officers who were involved in the shooting here at this Wendy's on Friday night. Officer Garrett Rolfe, the officer who -- that is said shot and killed Rayshard Brooks on Friday night, does have a history of disciplinary issues on his record, going back to 2016 with a use of force complaint involving a firearm.

Now that resulted in a written reprimand the following year. And his record also includes several citizens' complaints. There were notes, though, that no action was actually taken on those particular complaints. He had another incident with a firearm in 2015. There's no conclusion listed in his record there so we're not sure what action or what sort of disciplinary measures may have been taken if any, or if it's still open at this point.

Now Officer Devin Brosnan doesn't have any disciplinary action whatsoever on his record, but he does have two firearm discharges both of them as of this month, Poppy. One of those presumably of course because of the date on their dealing with the death of Mr. Brooks. Now, I did just get off the phone with the International Brotherhood of Police Union representative for the Atlanta Police Department officers who will be representing them.

He tells me that they're not going to make any comment right now on the case itself. Besides the fact that it's tragic any time someone loses their life. However, he said that they do believe that they have rushed to judgment in firing the officers. They believe that it is political in nature and also feels the same way about the potential for charges that the district attorney may announce as soon as tomorrow -- Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. Dianne, thank you for that. Before you go, what are we learning from the just released 911 call in this?

GALLAGHER: So it adds some context to what the situation was like beforehand and what the people who actually were here at the Wendy's before the officers arrived saw happening. I want you to take a listen.


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


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

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. He woke up, looked at me and I was like, you've got to move out of the drive-thru because people can't -- they're going around and he's in the middle of the drive-thru, just right there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. What kind of car?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trying to go around him.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I asked him to pull over. You know, if he had too much to drink to pull over and go to sleep.


GALLAGHER: And that's it right there. And that's the same thing of course that the attorney has said, Poppy. They don't understand why they couldn't have just gotten him a ride home or asked him to sleep it off.

HARLOW: OK. Dianne, thank you so much for that.

Let's go to Minneapolis now where just released calls and transcripts show a dispatcher, a 911 dispatcher, and two bystanders voicing significant concerns over the use of extreme force on George Floyd. Our Josh Campbell is there with more.

So walk us through how -- let's begin with the dispatcher we'd be able to see via video camera, surveillance camera what was happening in real time as the officer's knee was on Floyd's neck?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Poppy. In this modern era, there is technology at police department that allows dispatchers to actually get a real-time view into what officers are doing.


Now, a dispatcher can see body camera footage, cameras inside patrol vehicles, cameras on light posts. The goal being if there's a crisis incident they want to be able to see that in real time. And what we're learning is that on the day that George Floyd died at the hands of police, a dispatcher was concerned about what she saw on that video and she actually placed a call to a supervisor wanting to make them aware. Let's listen here to that call.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know, you can call me a snitch if you want to, but we have the cameras up for 320s call. Did they already put them in the (INAUDIBLE). And 320 over at Cup Foods.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know if they had to use force or not. They got something out of the back of the squad and all of them sat on this man. So I don't know if they needed you or not, but they haven't said anything to me yet.


CAMPBELL: They sat on this man as you can hear her saying there. And from that audio what appears to have happened is that the officers did not call for a supervisor as that was taking place. But again, this dispatcher concerned enough that she wanted to bring that to the attention of the supervisor so they knew what was going on.

Of course this new audio, just one in a series of new chilling tapes that we're hearing about that incident. We also heard a 911 call from an off-duty firefighter who called in to report what he said, saying that he was looking at police officers. They're sitting on George Floyd and they were not checking his pulse, saying that this man was dying in front of him, and yet another call we're hearing from a bystander who said that George Floyd was not resisting and again reporting that what he thought was happening before him was police abuse.

Again, we're getting new insight into what was happening that chilling day here in Minneapolis -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Everyone around, including via, you know, video camera dispatch shocked to see what was happening in that moment.

Thanks a lot, Josh, from Minneapolis for us this morning.

Amid growing calls for significant reform a major change right here in New York City. Overnight, the NYPD said that it is re-assigning 600 plainclothes officers. The police commissioner calls this a seismic shift in the culture of the department. Our Brynn Gingras has the story. She joins us now.

So this is a total change. This is basically the elimination of plainclothes officers in that anti-crimes unit.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a big change especially, Poppy, since we're talking about the biggest police department in the country. The question now is, are there other departments going to follow the suit here? So we'll see about that. But let me get further into exactly what this means. About 600 plainclothes officers are now going to be transferred to other units within the NYPD. We're talking about detectives units, neighborhood policing.

And essentially those anti-crime units, again our plainclothes officers, these are the men and women who don't respond to 911 calls. Their mission really is to go out there and make felony arrests, to find the violent criminals, sometimes respond to violent crimes as they're actually happening. Now you can imagine there comes aggressive tactics with that kind of work and that as you can also imagine not necessarily always great for the communities that they're serving.

And this is what the police commissioner says he wants to get away, get away from sort of this forceful nature of policing and come back to relying on intelligence gathering, data, using technology that they have at their hands in order to do policing, and that's why he says this is 21st century policing.

Now as you can also imagine, the PBA, the union, for the police officers of the NYPD, not happy about it. They referenced the uptick we're seeing in gun violence in this city in a statement in response to what the commissioner has done. I want to read part of it to you from the PBA president. He says, "Shooting and murders are both climbing steadily upward but our city leaders have clearly decided that proactive policing isn't a priority anymore. They chose this strategy. They will have to reckon with the consequences."

And of course, the commissioner is saying that he knows there is a risk involved with this major decision. He says that risk is on his shoulders, but again he says it's important to build community trust with the community -- Poppy.

HARLOW: They made a similar move in 2002, disbanding their plainclothes street crimes unit. We'll see what the outcome is this time around.

Brynn, thanks a lot.

In just a few hours the president is set to sign an executive order on police reform. Let's go to our John Harwood at the White House with more.

What's in it and I think notably also, John, what is not in this?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, it is action but it's modest action that the president's going to be signing today. Three main components that we understand from this executive order. The first is there's going to be some certification procedures for police departments that include discouraging, though not altogether banning, chokeholds which have become such a focus of controversy.

Secondly, there's the encouragement for police departments to do more data collection on misbehavior by officers so that one department to the next can track if someone, say, leaves a departments, wants to go to a different one, and they've had a bunch of use of force complaints, that information would be transmitted so it's more transparency in the records of those police.


The third thing is more assistance for police in handling things for which they may not have expertise. For example, encouragement for mental health experts to accompany officers on calls that might require some mental health expertise.

Now, these things are not mandated. They're encouraged. They're leveraging federal funds to get police officers to do these things. But the heavy lifting on police reform is still going to come from Congress. Negotiations ought to accelerate this week. Once the Senate Republicans lay out their proposal. Not clear whether there's going to be a deal and the executive order would provide something in case there isn't legislative action.

And one other news development I need to note this morning. Vice President Pence in an interview on FOX a few moments ago has said the administration -- or the White House is open to the idea of now moving the rally in Tulsa scheduled for Saturday outside rather than inside. This is something that would be a significant step toward what public health authorities have called for.

We know that the Tulsa public health authorities have said please don't hold this large indoor rally where you're not requiring masks on Saturday. Mike Pence is saying we're considering looking at the outside which public health authorities think is safer.

HARLOW: OK. John Harwood, thank you very much for that update as well.

We have a lot ahead. Restrictions have loosened up, speaking of COVID. Now cases of coronavirus are increasing. A new model this morning predicting more than 200,000 U.S. deaths by October.

And it has been four years since quarterback Colin Kaepernick first faced backlash from many for kneeling during the national anthem to protest inequality. Now NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says he encourages teams to sign Kaepernick but why is he finally only saying this now? Reaction ahead.



HARLOW: As anger is growing across the country over police brutality, some police departments are seeing their officers walk off the job. Eight Atlanta police officers have resigned since June 1st. In Minneapolis, at least seven officers have resigned since George Floyd was killed. We're told more are in the process of leaving that department.

Let's talk about all that has happened, Detroit Police Chief James Craig is with me, St. Paul, Minnesota Police Chief Todd Axtell joins me as well. Gentlemen, thank you very much for being here. Let me begin with you --


HARLOW: Chief Craig if we could. We're waiting for the president to sign this executive order on policing in America. As we understand it, it's not going to include a federal ban on choke-holds. But you heard house Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday say, look, police choke-hold is a lynching, and she's confident she's going to get Republicans in the Senate on board to ban it through legislation federally. You don't think that's a good idea. Why?

CRAIG: Well, here's what I -- first of all, the city of Detroit does not have choke-holds as part of our force. I think in a deadly encounter and a clear deadly encounter, officers have to use whatever they can to protect their life and that of another. However, we have abolished choke-holds. I was in a department years ago in Los Angeles where we used choke-holds.

It's a deadly force option, but again, in Detroit it's abolished. And given that the issues across America right now I think is critically important that we listen and certainly come to the table with our communities because there's different concerns that are out there today, but I don't think I've ever said that it's a bad idea, they said, in a deadly encounter, that might be the exception.

HARLOW: Yes, I was reading a previous interview where you said, look, if it is a deadly encounter, I will never tell one of my officers if it's a life or death situation. You know, you need to use whatever force is necessary to save lives. What about you, Chief Axtell, when it comes to the change we saw here in New York overnight, the fact that the NYPD is disbanding the 600-person plain clothes anti-crimes unit.

You've talked about, look, crisis intervention training for all of your officers in St. Paul. Social workers embedded with a number of your teams and mental health will be part of what the president signs today in his executive order. Is this move by the NYPD something that will help?

TODD AXTELL, POLICE CHIEF, ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA: You know, it's very important wherever you are throughout the country, police chiefs and community members working together, talking about what are the community expectations that our communities deserve? We're very proud of the fact that in St. Paul, nearly three years ago, we had a total rewrite of our use of force policy in cooperation and collaboration with our community, hosting three community forums with Mayor Carter in St. Paul here.

We had over 100 suggestions from community members, and we're actually able to adopt over three dozen of those suggestions and recommendations into our new policy. So collaborating with our community, making sure that we have the trust and connections, building trust throughout our departments and operating under the foundation of the bank of trust, making sure we have regular deposits into that bank of trust are so important today more than ever.

HARLOW: Well, yes, I mean, you've seen it in your sister city of Minneapolis when you have no trust in the police department, you have nothing. And I wonder where you stand this morning on the calls and the veto-approved majority vote in the city council to defund and dismantle your sister police department as it stands. Is that a move you are supportive of? Does it need to be completely changed?


AXTELL: You know, I can only speak to the city of St. Paul and, you know, we've had a couple of council members who have called for this disbanding of our police department. But a majority at the council and certainly a super majority of our community supports the great work of the women and men of the St. Paul Police Department who go out there every day and under challenging circumstances. What we need to continue to talk about victims of crime.

It can't be just a one size fits all approach to policing throughout the country. Our victims of crimes specifically violent crimes need to be supported and dismantling police departments can't be the answer to that.

HARLOW: Chief Craig, in Seattle, we're seeing something very new and fascinating, and I wonder what you think about the fact that the police and the mayor has essentially said, OK, this -- you know, few block zone called CHAZ at this point, this autonomous zone, we're out. We're not going to try to take the Police Department back at this point, we're just going to listen to these folks.

CRAIG: You know, it's -- HARLOW: What do you make of that?

CRAIG: Poppy, it's deeply concerning. Certainly when you give up police facility and relent and begin negotiations, I think it's critically important as Chief Axtell pointed out, that we should engage our community in meaningful conversations. But when we talk about defunding, what does that really look like? Are we talking about leaving a police facility, and now the police are not welcome to provide protective services to community members that live there, that's a problem.

And so, yes, negotiations are good. I will tell you the relationship that we have here in Detroit with our community, one, our community wouldn't stand for, and those who made efforts to try to do what is going on in Seattle would be a problem to the vast majority of Detroiters. So, you know, I worked for the community here, I listen and I'm obligated and committed to making sure that we're continuing to give police services across this city, and not a small group are going to take over six square blocks and say, you're no longer welcome here. We've made a decision. Now, that's a problem. A deep problem.

HARLOW: I'd like you both very briefly if you could weigh in on the killing of Rayshard Brooks, and we've talked so much about community policing and what that really is, and Chief Axtell, this was an encounter that began very calmly. They questioned him, he got out of the car, he was willing to take a breathalyzer, and then he took the taser and now he's dead.

What could have changed that outcome for you? And was that appropriate use of force?

AXTELL: Yes, Poppy, it would be incredibly inappropriate for me at this point to speak to the incident in Atlanta. I don't have all of the facts right now. I do know, however, that we have to continue to have these courageous conversations throughout our country, with our community members and our police alike to talk about uses of force. The fact of the matter is in St. Paul, we have over 300,000 calls for service each and every year.

And when I look at the statistics, for how many times we use force, it's less than two-tenths of 1 percent, and much of that is very low levels of force. So uses of force, specifically deadly uses of force are very rare in the city of St. Paul. But again, it's incredibly tragic any time there's a loss of life, and I know it takes a toll. A huge toll on the community.

HARLOW: Yes --

AXTELL: Specifically to communities of color who have these --

HARLOW: Yes --

AXTELL: Deep historic issues, and we have to address those as well.

HARLOW: Chief Craig, 30 seconds, your thoughts on that. CRAIG: You know, I've got to say, you know, I look at it similar to

Chief Axtell, and you know, there's a lot I don't know. I can tell you just based on my professional judgment, you know, looking at this fatal force was used with someone who was armed with a -- a less than lethal taser. And so it's very difficult to justify that and clearly, the officer had a partner, he wasn't alone.

I've been in a similar -- a similar situation in my career in the video, and fatal force was not used during that encounter. So --


CRAIG: I struggle with that use of deadly force in this instance, but I don't know all the facts.

HARLOW: We appreciate you both being here very much, come back soon, Chief James Craig of Detroit, Chief Todd Axtell of St. Paul, thank you both.

AXTELL: Thank you.

CRAIG: Thank you.

AXTELL: Thank you --

CRAIG: Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: On the COVID crisis, a new model out this morning and that one cited by the White House now shows 80,000 more Americans could die from COVID-19 by October. We'll have the latest on that. And take a look at Wall Street right now, just before the opening bell, Dow futures way up this morning, up almost 900 points.

This is because of a much stronger-than-expected report on retail sales. Stay with us.



HARLOW: Well, as more states are moving to reopen this key model used by the White House now predicts the U.S. could see more than 200,000 deaths from COVID-19 by October. Let's go to our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen with more. This is a prediction, but it's obviously based on what's happening in real-time around the country. How likely is it that we actually hit those numbers?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, no one can tell for sure whether we're going to hit any particular number, Poppy, but these estimates are -- they are -- and we've been calling them educated guesses. They put all sorts of data into them to see what's going to happen. I think one thing is clear, that in areas where there is more mobility, where people are getting together, where they --