Return to Transcripts main page


Decision On Charges In Brooks' Killing Could Come By Tomorrow; Trump To Sign Executive Order On Police Reform Today. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired June 16, 2020 - 10:00   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. Glad you're with us. I'm Poppy Harlow.

And this morning, we are watching as a decision on charges could come any time for both officers involved in the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks. The district attorney in Atlanta says the decision could be made by Wednesday.

We're learning more about Officer Garrett Rolfe. He is the one who fired the shots after Brooks. Disciplinary record showed that he was reprimanded just in 2017 for use of force involving a firearm, and he had several citizens' complaints against him. His file shows no department action was taken on those. We'll have more on that in a moment.

In Minneapolis just released calls showed a 911 dispatcher warned her supervisor something was wrong as she watched George Floyd's killing in real-time. Two other eyewitnesses, one a first responder himself, urgently called 911 to report what they were witnessing in this moment. We'll take you live to Minnesota for an update on that.

And at the White House in just a few hours, the president will sign an executive order on policing. We'll take you live to the rose garden when that happens.

Let's go first to Dianne Gallagher in Atlanta this morning. What is the latest in the investigation into the killing of Rayshard Brooks?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And, Poppy, the district attorney said we may hear something if there will be charges presented as early as tomorrow.

I want to get into those disciplinary records though that you referenced just a few moments ago. Officer Garrett Rolfe, the one that police say fired the shots that killed Rayshard Brooks, he has a disciplinary action record. And we're talking about this use of force complaint from 2016 involving a firearm. He resulted in a written reprimand the following year in 2017. There's also almost a dozen different complaints taken against him, no action taken on those. However, another incident that involved the discharge of a firearm in 2015, there's no resolution on his record. So we're not sure if there's no action, if it's still under investigation, what happened there. It's not included in the paperwork. And Atlanta Police didn't include details on that incident in 2016 either.

Officer Devin Brosnan has two firearm discharges, both of them this month. One of them was, it appears to be, from this might here at the Wendy's in Atlanta that killed Rayshard Brooks.

HARLOW: And before you go, Dianne, the newly released 911 call that happened before Rayshard Brooks was killed, can you tell us more about that? I guess, what led police to come?

GALLAGHER: Yes. And I want you to take a listen to a bit from that 911 call right now to hear what the situation was that police were being called out to.


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 (INAUDIBLE). 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 and looked at me and I was like you've got to move out of the drive through because people are going around him. He's in the middle of it, just right there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What kind of a car?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They tried to go around him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the color of it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I happened to pull over. If he had too much to drink and had to pulled over to go to sleep.


GALLAGHER: And you can see now that drive-through lane is lined with candles, cones, mementos, and people are showing up to their respects here at the Wendy's, Poppy. It's been decorated with graffiti, rest in peace to Rayshard, and people saying that they are going to get justice and change in his name.

They have been out here at all hours of the night and morning just coming to pay their respects at this Wendy's.

HARLOW: Dianne, thank you for those important updates.

Let's go to Minneapolis now where just released calls and transcripts show a dispatcher and two bystanders voicing concerns in real-time as they are witnessing the killing of George Floyd. Our Josh Campbell is in Minneapolis with more. Good morning, Josh.

How -- explain to people how this dispatcher at a different location was able to watch the killing of George Floyd in real-time.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy. we've heard a lot of eyewitness accounts about what transpired that day here in Minneapolis, but this is the first official sense that we're getting, as you mentioned, from a dispatcher. We're hearing that audio. And technology these days allows dispatchers to actually see in real-time what officers are seeing. They can tap into body camera footage. They can look at footage inside patrol cars, on light post, in and around the city.

And what this officer saw that day troubled her enough that she wanted to make sure a supervisor was aware.


She saw these officers, in her words, sitting on George Floyd. And any type of incident where officers are using force, they will called a supervisor. Certainly, in an incident that requires deadly force, the dispatcher in this audio is saying that she wasn't aware that a supervisor had been called. She wanted to make sure that the bosses were aware. Of course, that's one part of a chilling new audio that we're hearing.

We're also hearing from an off-duty firefighter who called 911 to say that he saw these officers on George Floyd and they were not rendering aid. He said that he didn't see them checking for a pulse about this man who lay on the ground here in Minneapolis.

One other eyewitness audio that we're hearing also from another bystander saying that this person saw the officers on George Floyd and that Floyd was not resisting. So, again, the question comes, well, what was the public doing? Were they concerned? Obviously, they were concerned. We saw it on that eyewitness cell phone video footage.

Now, we're getting a sense of people who were so concerned about what they were seeing, including a police official, that they made sure that the bosses at the police department were aware by calling 911. Poppy?

HARLOW: Josh, thank you for that update.

Let's talk to Elliot Williams about this, former federal prosecutor and CNN Legal Analyst. Good morning, Elliot. Thanks for being here.


HARLOW: So we're going to get charges or no charges tomorrow from the D.A. in the killing of Rayshard Brooks. And, you know, you make a few interesting points on this. You say, look, you can't kill someone just because you can't catch up to them, right? Police know that a taser is not a deadly weapon.

At the same time, you do not think that this is clear-cut. Explain why.

WILLIAMS: It's not as clear cut as the case in Minneapolis, and just to be clear. So, look, any defense that Officer Rolfe can provide would be, look, there was a scuffle. He was armed with a taser. On its face, you know, we watched the video, you watched the video, I watched the video, it's pretty clear someone is fleeing, it's not great. But the officer's defense isn't frivolous, right?

Now, the questions that I know the D.A. is weighing right now are, number one, were those shots fired to save someone's life, to save the officer's life? Did he think that a felony was being committed and that he was firing shots in order to prevent that?

Now, based on what we saw in that tape, based on the fact that we know that the officer reached for his firearm even before Mr. Brooks took out the taser, it's just clear, and if not clear, close to clear that the officer was not (INAUDIBLE) here.

But, again, I use that legal word, frivolous. The officer has an argument here even if it's not a winner.

HARLOW: So let's roll this video. I wanted to pull this up because I wonder if you think how much of a factor you think it will be in whether charges come down and what they might be. This is video camera of him being -- of Rayshard Brooks being patted down.


RAYSHARD BROOKS: That's my wallet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's all that?

BROOKS: Just money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much money do you have in your pocket?


HARLOW: You hear the officer asking what's in his pocket. He's patted down. So then after this point, they know he's not armed, Elliot.

WILLIAMS: Right. And, look, it goes on for 20 minutes.

Look, let me just be blunt for a second. If every time someone was stopped for a DUI in East Hampton, New York or Greenwich, Connecticut, the cities would cease to function. And the notion that the mere fact that this individual might have been inebriated behind the wheel of his car suddenly needs to escalate into him getting killed is foolish and tied to all of these questions we're having nationwide about race and policing right now.

They knew he wasn't armed. They did 20 minutes of field sobriety tests. And, frankly, tasers, the whole point behind tasers is that they are non-lethal. So the officer couldn't have thought his life was in danger if he was shooting at someone who was holding a taser. So it just pokes holes in all the arguments that the officers might want to present.

HARLOW: Elliot, when it comes to Officer Rolfe, who fired those shots, we now know from our reporting that there were several citizens' complaints against him. One, use of force complaint in 2017, and that really no action was taken outside in 2016, a written reprimand. Is that normal?

WILLIAMS: Well, okay, I mean, there're two questions here. It's what is the culture of policing and what do we allow police to do and what can come into court. The mere fact that he might be a rotten guy who had a disciplinary or the lack of a disciplinary record before, I think, is going to be tough to get into court to establish that this case happened.

As a bigger sort of macro question about what we allow police to get away with in the United States and how we think of policing, yes, that's absolutely relevant and troubling. And that's why in Atlanta, I know that the mayor and the police chief have just implemented a number of reforms to crack down on that lack of accountability for police officers on the beat.

HARLOW: Elliot, thank you. We'll see what happens from the D.A. tomorrow.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

HARLOW: Major changes overnight right here in New York City for the nation's biggest police force. The commissioner calls this a seismic shift in the culture of the department. Brynn Gingras is here with more. So what happened?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy, it is an enormous shift in the police department, in fact, changes the entire way the NYPD is going to police.


Remember, the NYPD is the largest police department in the entire country.

Essentially, the commissioner, Dermot Shea, disbanding the anti-crimes unit. That's about 600 officers who are now going to not be in plainclothes but rather now in uniform or in the detectives unit, neighborhood policing, other units within the NYPD.

And to break it down even more, the anti-crime units across this department, there were 77 in all because they were in each precinct of New York City. they would go after the violent offenders, the violent crime acts that were going on in progress. Their mission was to disarm people.

And can you see how that would have an effect on the communities they were serving, of course, causing a lot of tension and hence the reform that we've been hearing, the calls for reform. And so that's why the commissioner said, that's it, no more, essentially saying we need to change the way we're policing, calling it this now 21st century policing.

And, essentially, he's saying we need to have more, you know, knowledge-based intelligence. We need to rely on data, and that's the way we should be policing instead of using force, like they were seeing with these plainclothes officers.

So that's the major change that we're seeing that we haven't seen in the city in decades. Of course, the police union having some serious issues with this, referencing a recent uptick in gun violence we're seeing in New York City and the president of the PBA really releasing a fiery statement. I want to read in part to it.

It 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 the commissioner is essentially saying he knows there's a risk involved to this. He says he carries that risk. But he says this is important because it's going back to trying to build those relationships between police and the communities they serve. Poppy?

HARLOW: Brynn, before you go, can you explain how this move is different than 2002? I mean, they disbanded the NYPD plainclothes street crimes unit. Is this really different?

GINGRAS: It is different. Because in 2002, essentially, the street crimes unit was going to hot spots, crime areas all across the city. Like I said, anti-crimes was in each precinct, so they were serving only their particular precinct. When that was disbanded in 2002, Poppy, many of those officers actually went into street crime.

So you still had those plainclothes officers doing about the similar mission as what they were doing in the street crimes unit. So now, Shea essentially has disbanded that street crimes aggressive tactic policing that we have had, again, in this city for several decades. So this is a big change.

HARLOW: Brynn, thank you. We appreciate it this morning.

Coming up, this is not the prediction that anyone wants to see in the fight against coronavirus. A new model says the U.S. could surpass 200,000 deaths by October.

Also today, the president set to sign an executive order on policing. What will it include and what will it not include?



HARLOW: In just a few hours, the president is set to sign an executive order on police reform. The administration says to an official, the goal is to bring police closer together with communities. The changes though at this point, our reporting is they're pretty modest. Critics obviously saying they wanted to see more. Let's go to John Harwood at the White House. Good morning, John.

Can you give us a sense of what's in it and also notably what is not?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, you described it right. It's an attempt to bring police departments along without mandates from the federal government. What we see is in the realm of best practices, guidelines, information-sharing. Let's get more specific.

First of all, there's a certification process that this executive order envisions that would put a seal of approval on departments that say, limit the use of chokeholds, not ban them outright, limit the use of chokeholds except where officers believe they are facing deadly force.

The second is amassing information and sharing it among departments about officers who have use of force complaints against them, so tracking bad officers, what the president calls bad apples, making sure one department knows what has happened at another department if someone comes looking for a job.

And then on the best practices, trying to have the appropriate expertise go with police officers. One of the issues that's arisen is that police have to handle a wide range of calls that may be beyond their expertise. So if mental health expertise is called for, for example, have mental health responders join the police on those calls.

Now, nobody thinks that this is going to be the last word on police reform. The heavy duty action is going to take place in the Congress, where you've got Democrats much more aggressively looking to ban chokeholds, ban no-knock warrants. The Senate Republicans are going to lay out their bill. It doesn't go nearly as far. We'll see if they can get together.

But if there is not going to be legislation that passes the Congress this year, that's certainly a possibility, the administration will be able to point to the executive orders them having done something on this issue.

HARLOW: Right. Okay, we'll see what the appetite is in Congress to move on how much and how fast, right? John, thanks a lot. We appreciate it.

Let's talk about this with Gerald Griggs, defense attorney and first Vice President of the Atlanta Chapter of the NAACP, and former Police Lieutenant Charles Wilson, he serves as the National Chairman of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers. Thank you both for being here. It's a really important day and so many developments.

If I could just begin with you, Lieutenant.


Your reaction to what we just heard in terms of what is included in the president's executive order on policing coming, and what's not, for example, there's not a federal ban included on chokeholds. Does it go far enough?

CHARLES P. WILSON, NATIONAL CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS: It doesn't sound as if it will. It needs to put a specific limitation on the use of both chokeholds. We know that it needs to address no-knock warrants. It as well needs to address the overall systemic issues with law enforcement.

Now, what the president and his supporters apparently do not wish for anybody to talk about is the actual foundational issues of law enforcement. The institution of policing is inherently biased against people of color and low income, and it was designed to be that way. So we have to accept that as the overall founding of American law enforcement.

Now, having said that, what needs to transpire if you're going to talk police reform, you have to look at who and how you hire, what and how you train, who and how supervisors, the personnel on the street, what policies and procedures do you put in place to guide everything else?

Now, if you're not properly enforcing your policies, the policy doesn't make any sense. It doesn't do you any good. As a point, in fact, Minneapolis had, in fact, a policy for duty to intervene. The policy apparently was not enforced. That's why you had three officers who stood there and watched George Floyd die.

HARLOW: So, Gerald, from a legal perspective, given that you are a defense attorney, we're waiting to see if charges come from the D.A. against both officers in the killing of Rayshard Brooks. What is your read on what played out there?

GERALD GRIGGS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: My read is that it was an unlawful killing that took place here in Atlanta and I fully expect murder charges to be filed against both officers by District Attorney Paul Howard.

And I think that with regard to the president's executive order, it doesn't go far enough. We need to implement the Obama 21st century police initiative, which is a solution. It had 94 recommendations and we need an executive order to empower those 94 recommendations.

I think it's time for swift police reform in this country. We've seen killing after killing after killing and enough is enough. So with all due respect, it's time for legislation and laws to change, not just policy.

HARLOW: All right. So you think murder charges are warranted here. Just one second. I just want to follow up with Gerald on that.

Let me ask you to get some reaction from Burke County Sheriff Alfonso Williams, who I should note is also African-American. Here is what he writes.

Quote, in this case, Brooks has fought with an officer, he has committed a felony of an obstruction of an officers, he removed a weapon from the officer's belt and he turned toward the officer, fired the taser. An officer is not expected to wait to see if he gets hit or not or injured when he returns. The moment he turned toward the officer and pointed what appeared to be a weapon, whether it was a taser or an actual handgun, the officer will be justified in using deadly force.

Tell me, Gerald, why you think that's wrong.

WILSON: We teach police officers that if somebody turns and points anything at you, shoot them, shoot them. So it was a foregone conclusion that as soon as Mr. Brooks turned around, he was going to get shot, no questions asked, no arguments taken.

We have to get away from the concept of training officers to be warriors instead of being guardians. And it goes back to that concept that I referred to earlier, how you train, what you train.

HARLOW: Well, look, we lost Gerald. We're trying to get him back. This is what happens in technology at this point.


Okay. So can you retrain police forces as they exist now, right? The debate in Minneapolis namely where the city council has said, no, you cannot retrain these folks, we need to take it away and completely rebuild from the ground up. We need to completely defund and dismantle the police department, is that the solution?

WILSON: I would say no. The only place in the entire country that I've ever heard of that engaged on that path was Camden, New Jersey.

HARLOW: Yes, but it worked, right?

WILSON: And it took them seven years to get to where they were to where they are now.

Now, admittedly under their current process, crime levels have gone down. It's reported that they have a better relationship with the community. They have a better managing control over the officers on the department. But, again, that's the only place in the entire country that I've ever heard of that has taken those type of steps.

HARLOW: Charles, it's very nice to have you. Lieutenant Wilson, Gerald Griggs, I'm sorry the technology cut out. We'll have him back. Thanks so much for the time this morning.

Researchers are now predicting the number of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. could jump by more than 80,000 by October, this as we learn who may or may not be more susceptible to the virus. We'll have those details ahead.