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CNN NEWSROOM

Possible Charges Soon Against Fired Officer In Brooks Killing; City Council Member, Joyce Sheperd (D), Atlanta, Discusses Possible Charges Against Fired Officer In Brooks Killing & Police Reform; Dr. Julia Strange Discusses Arizona Setting Record For Most New Cases In Single Day; Quaker Oats To Retire "Aunt Jemima" Brand; Attorney General Gurbir Grewal (D-NJ) Discusses Launching New Efforts On Transparency In Police Misconduct. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired June 17, 2020 - 11:30   ET

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


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(11:30:22]

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: The Fulton County district attorney has scheduled a 3:00 press conference this afternoon to discuss possible charges in the killing of Rayshard Brooks. That, of course, happened at the hands of Atlanta police late Friday night in a Wendy's parking lot.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher live for us in Atlanta.

A lot of anticipation about the prosecutor making this decision, Dianne.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. The district attorney said this would be announcing what his decision is. That would mean, A, he's come to a decision and, B, he feels he's gathered the evidence or not been able to find the evidence that he needs to go ahead and make those formal charges public.

Now Paul Howard has talked with us at CNN about what the possible charges could be against those two officers, Officer Garrett Rolfe and Officer Brosnan, saying he is looking at murder, felony murder, and voluntary manslaughter. Of course, this was a discussion beforehand.

Just in case you're unfamiliar with some of those, felony murder is something that Paul Howard said he was looking at because he said it is basically a charge that involves a death that comes as a result as a commission of an underlying felony. And Howard said, in this particular case, the underlying felony would be aggravated assault.

It's completely possible that, A, no charges are presented at all or, B, different charges than the ones that Howard has spoken publicly about are the ones that he had determined are most appropriate here.

The district attorney talked about needing additional evidence to gather as he was coming up with his decision, including ballistics information, interviewing some additional witnesses. And said that he initially struggled to get all of the video from the police department that he had to go through.

At CNN, we obtained quite a bit, and more than an hour's worth, John. A lot to go through. So at 3:00 p.m., we should know.

As you see behind me, people are starting to gather in anticipation for what that decision may be.

KING: Dianne Gallagher, appreciate the live reporting from the scene of that horrific tragedy.

Joining me now to discuss this a little bit more is the Atlanta City Council Member Joyce Sheperd.

Council Member Sheperd, thanks for being with us.

That's your district. That's your Wendy's. What are you expecting to hear? What do you need to hear from the district attorney today? And what do you believe members of your constituent, members of your community need to hear?

JOYCE SHEPERD, (D), ATLANTA CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: Well, in terms of the district attorney, I don't know what he's going to say today.

For me, at this point it's not about one police officer doing something or police officers doing this. This is something for me what's more important other than the D.A. is that as a council member we begin to talk about dramatic changes in the police department. I'm sorry.

And so to that point, I'm not going to go into that with the D.A. and the police officer. We need to reform the police department. The police department needs a complete overhaul.

So what I saw happen in my district last week, this past weekend, was that officers could have used a different tactic in terms of looking at how they handled that situation.

So for me, the police Department, officers are using SOP standards and we did everything we were supposed to do, according to our laws and regulations, but that's not enough. What we need to be doing is looking at how we actually police. And that needs to be completely overhauled.

The police could have let the gentleman go. He was intoxicated. Was he a threat? Was he causing any harm to anybody? He complied. And he got out. He talked about -- and the witnesses there said, look, he said, look, I'm off the street. I live right up the street. Let me walk home.

So there could have been a lot of different things that he could have done that could have changed the whole process. And he didn't have to get locked up.

And we talk about locking up people for things like that. Is that something that we should have folks in jail for? If we determined that a citizen is doing what's right in terms of complying with you and interacting with you?

We need to psychologically talk to our police department about looking at changes in terms of what we could do. If does that mean changing the law and looking at that time from a different perspective? That's what we need to do.

But I believe, until we do, we will have more police officers doing the same thing.

KING: One of the questions is whether Officer Rolfe should have been there in the first place.

I want you to listen to Chris Stewart, an attorney for the Brooks family, saying, in his view, this is a police officer who should have been sidelined a long time ago. Listen.

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[11:35:01]

CHRIS STEWART, BROOKS FAMILY ATTORNEY: We've been flooded with calls from people in the community that have had interactions with him negatively. We will also be looking into why were all of these nine of the 12, I think, dismissed, which is an issue that we see constantly with some police departments, is that internal affairs complaints aren't followed through.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You talk about police reform. Certainly, you want officers on the scene who are trained to de-escalate and not escalate the situation.

Do you believe the reforms need to include revising the policies and increasing the transparency of internal affairs and the disciplinary investigations in the police department?

SHEPERD: Absolutely. Absolutely. We need to make sure that there's a process -- if it's internal, it's not about police officers. We need to at doing something that someone is looking at it from a different perspective and somebody who has no investment in that. And fellow police officers that are looking at the police officers.

So, yes, we need to look at everything. We need to be looking at, if officers have had X amount of offenses in the community, we need to let them go, send them back, retrain them, give them options. And if they can't follow that, they don't need to be there. Yes.

KING: Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd, of the Atlanta City Council, appreciate your time on this very important day, very important moment in your city. We'll keep in touch in the days ahead. Thank you so much.

SHEPERD: Thank you.

KING: Thank you. Up next for us, Arizona setting a record this week, an unwelcome

record.

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[11:41:20]

KING: Arizona is among the states setting unwelcome records this week. And 21 states overall are reporting an upward trend. You see the map there. Three of them, Florida, Texas and Arizona, all reporting record numbers of new cases this week.

Arizona's number yesterday was a new high. The state now averaging more than 1500 per day in the last week alone in a week to week jump of more than 50 percent. Understandably, as the number of cases go up, hospitalizations also go up.

Joining me now is Julia Strange. She is the vice president of one of the hospitals dealing with the rising in cases, Tucson Medical Center.

Julia, thank you so much for being with us.

One of your doctors tweeted on Monday, "Just a single ICU bed available. I'm at Tucson Medical Center. Better contract your governor quickly."

Was that a bad moment in a bad day or are you at a tipping point?

DR. JULIA STRANGE, VICE PRESIDENT, TUCSON MEDICAL CENTER: We have certainly seen, over the course of the last several weeks, that, as cases have gone up, so have hospitalizations.

We've participated on the Arizona surge line, which is a way the state is triaging patients throughout the regions and to the level of patient volume. Last week, we were accepting patients. And this week, we did hit our capacity in our COVID-designated ICU unit. And so we have been participating in that surge line to transfer patients who we believe will need ICU care within 24 hours.

KING: I just want to put up -- this is Tuesday, 23,092 new cases and 25 new deaths in the state. All of America is reopening. Many states are accelerating the pace of that reopening.

And if you read the vice president of the United States in the "Wall Street Journal" today, he says we should be celebrating the success.

But I understand that you think your biggest urgent concern is an issue that you've talked about for months now, that you do not believe that you have access to the kind of testing you need to quickly be able to make a decision. Is this a COVID patient? Is this a non-COVID patient? That would help dramatically with the hospitalization problem that you're talking about.

STRANGE: Correct. When we look -- we've been talking about different kinds of testing over the course of this pandemic. And we've talked about the availability of community testing. And that's greatly improved.

And what we are struggling with is rapid testing and getting that result in two hours rather than two days so we can make the right decision about where to put these patients.

We currently have 60 -- 36 patients in our hospital who are pending the results of the COVID test because we have not been able to get an adequate supply of the rapid test that would allow us to put those patients in a non-COVID room, because a high number of the patients, who are back as COVID negative, and so they don't need those dedicated COVID resources.

And we are really looking to work with our private partners, lab partners to increase the number of rapid tests available to hospitals like Tucson Medical Center.

And also with our government partners to be able to see what we're able to do with them to bring this, because this would help us address those capacity issues if we could rapidly understand if a patient is presenting to us with positive for COVID or if they are here for another situation.

KING: Julia Strange, at the Tucson Medical Center, thank you so much for your insight. Best of luck in the challenging days ahead. We'll keep in touch for us.

[11:44:47]

When we come back, we shift back to the racial reckoning across America and some proof that the protests in the streets are getting attention from corporate America.

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KING: A giant change today from an iconic America brand. Quaker Oats announcing it is retiring the Aunt Jemima brand and the logo after more than a century. The company acknowledges that Jemima's origins were based on a racial stereotype.

CNN's Julia Chatterley has more on what we -- very expanding impact of the racial injustice movement in America?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR, "FIRST MOVE": Absolutely. It's astonishing it took this long for Aunt Jemima. It's a symbolic move by Quaker, to be clear, after years criticism of the name, logo, apparent ties to slavery. This is a vitally and important move, too.

[11:49:59]

Listen to what the company had to say: "As we work to make progress towards racial equality through several initiatives, we must also take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet customers' expectations."

And, John, customers are key for me here. This is a company recognizing, and many are, the cost of doing nothing here will be higher than the cost of taking a stand. Never mind doing what's right. Companies are looking at their hiring practices. They're looking at what their brands represent.

When I saw the move, my next thought was what about Uncle Ben's. They reacted quickly.

Look at their statement today, too. "As we listen to voices of consumers, especially in the black community, and to the voices of our associates worldwide, we recognize that now is the right time to resolve the Uncle Ben's brand, including its visual brand identity, which we will do."

Better late than never.

You know, we don't know what either of these products will look like going forward. But we can be assured they will look very different.

The hope now is, where businesses are leading with symbolic gestures, politicians will follow to make real change. We hope -- John?

KING: Amen. Small, modest steps, but every step counts. And they're coming quickly.

CHATTERLEY: You've got it.

KING: They're coming quickly.

Julia Chatterley, very much appreciate the reporting.

Don't forget, for the latest stock market news and strategies for your portfolio, check out "MARKETS NOW." It streams live, 12:45 p.m. Eastern, only at CNN Business.

Up next, New Jersey's attorney general orders police to start naming officers who have been disciplined. He joins us next.

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[11:56:33]

KING: New Jersey is launching a new effort to bring more transparency about police conduct. States attorney generals now ordering law enforcement agency to publicly identify officers who have been seriously disciplined. The mandate applying to officers fired, demoted or suspended more than five days because of disciplinary violations. The officers names must be made public yearly.

Joining me, is the Attorney General, Gurbir Grewal.

Sir, thank you for being with us today.

Why do you think this is so important? And I see -- I can read a bit of the police union statements. Some unions pushing back in resistance.

The New Jersey State Police Benevolence Association: "The attorney general's major discipline directive does not treat every officer equally. While the term "major discipline "sounds like an officer severely violated public trust, in reality, police officer discipline widely differing from town to town. Major discipline in some places could be handed down for a uniform violation."

Is that a fair pushback?

GURBIR GREWAL, (D), NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, John, thanks for having me.

The important point here is that, for decades in this state, we've kept secret the names of officers fired, who have demoted and who have received major discipline.

What we've asked each department, all 533, to do, is put out a list on a yearly basis that lists the names of officers, gives us a synopsis of the misconduct, and the resolution.

So it does not apply to minor infractions. We're talking excessive use of force, which comes under major discipline or would get you fired. We're talking about driving while intoxicated, domestic violence situations. If it sweeps too broadly at a local level and captures a five-day suspension for a uniform violation, that's made plain in the synopsis provided.

But I don't think that's a fair criticism. What we have to do here is create a culture of accountability.

The one point I do want to make is that our state police is going back 20 years, to do this for 20 years of reporting. And other cities, like Patterson, are following because we need to change the culture.

KING: As you talk about the culture, you're talking about public transparency, which is an absolute right. Citizens pay for the officers through taxes and whatnot.

What is the system right now? Can you get this information if you want to find it or are even you blocked from getting it?

GREWAL: No, I have access to this information.

But we're experiencing a lack confidence and trust in law enforcement. It's my job to take steps so people trust our cops.

What we're talking about here let me give you an example. In the case of state police, we have 3,000 trooper who do their jobs honorably, do them without incident. Every year, we might have 10 to 20 who receive a discipline that falls into this category. That's less than one-half percent.

The time of protecting the few to the detriment of many must come to an end. The public has a right to know.

In my state, I don't have a licensing system and I don't know if an officer has been fired from a particular department, is working somewhere else. We've had departments -- officers move between nine departments and recently get arrested as soon as last week for major misconduct.

We're trying to stop that behavior from continuing. We're trying to promote professionalism, transparency and accountability. It starts by not protecting that half a percent and shining a light on the good work of many.

KING: Gurbir Grewal is the attorney general in the great state of New Jersey.

Appreciate your time and insights today. Best of luck in the days ahead as you push this though.

GREWAL: Thank you, John.

[12:00:03]

KING: Thank you, sir.

Near the top of the hour. Hello, everybody. I'm John King, in Washington. Thanks for sharing your day with us.