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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Analysis of Police Shooting in North Charleston. Aired 8-9p
Aired April 08, 2015 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:59:50] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
We are live tonight from North Charleston, South Carolina, where as you know, a man by the name of Walter Scott was shot multiple times in the back by a police officer who has now been charged with murder.
Tonight, my conversation with a remarkable woman, Walter Scott's mother, Judy Scott. Her son was just killed by a local policeman who today lost his job and now as, you know, faces murder charges for shooting Walter Scott again and again and again.
Judy Scott is enduring the worst pain a parent can experience. And that, of course, is not surprising. What is surprising and what you're going to hear tonight in the interview is that at the worst moment in her life, she is experiencing incredible sense of faith and incredible strength and even forgiveness. She has forgiven, she says, the man who killed her son. You will hear that from her tonight.
That man is Michael Slager. He was fired today less than 24 hours after being charged with murder. Police chief Eddie Driggers today called it sickening. The victim's mother still has not been able to watch the full video of her son being gunned down. The video was taken four days ago by a bystander. And he took it to show the family after what the police said about this shooting was not true.
The officer firing shot after shot, eight shots in all. That's what the video shows after fleeing Walter Scott whose back was turned the entire time. Take a look.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
COOPER: That obviously is the pivotal sequence, but there are other moments I just want to highlight for you. I want to show you in this video that are vital to telling the entire story. Take a look at this moment. There is the officer, Officer Slager, running back to pick something up. The question is, what was it? Was it the taser that he claimed Walter Scott ran off with?
Then, there's the moment when he drops an object, he walks back to Walter Scott's lifeless body and then he drops an object next to Mr. Scott's body. It appears to be the same object that he picked up closer to where the altercation took place. Was he, in fact, planting evidence?
A short time later, he picks something up from the same side of the body where he dropped that object. Perhaps, the same object, he had dropped moments before. The question is what exactly can be gleans from all of that. We are going to look at tonight. Any and all of it could have a major impact on the case in the next two hours, and we're on for two hours because there's an awful lot of angles to cover on this story and an awful lot of people to talk to. We can get some of the top law enforcement and criminal justice experts weigh in on what we see. But first, Martin Savidge on all the major developments up until now.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One day after releasing this shocking video --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No justice! No peace!
SAVIDGE: North Charleston is now feeling the fallout.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This has been a reality that has been in North Charleston police department for many, many years. It just so happens we have a video.
SAVIDGE: Demonstrators gathered in front of city hall demanding the mayor resign and more officers be arrested as the investigation into the police shooting death of Walter Scott intensifies.
ANTHONY SCOTT, WALTER SCOTT'S BROTHER: Everybody will know the truth.
SAVIDGE: Scott's family said they foresaw the video Sunday horrified by what had showed but grateful for the truth they say it reveals, especially in light of other deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police.
A. SCOTT: I would like cops to be accountable and let them know that if they try this again, somebody may be watching. So maybe think twice before they fire their weapons.
SAVIDGE: The family continues to ask the public for calm and in a gesture of sympathy and solidarity, North Charleston's mayor and police chief paid a visit to the home of Scott's parents to offer condolences and city support.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Black lives matter. Black lives matter.
SAVIDGE: But elsewhere in the community, demonstrators took to the streets complaining it was only after the video surfaced showing what appears to be grossly misconduct did the city and the department finally acknowledge it was the officer who was at fault. After initially blaming the victim, saying he had threatened the officer with a taser.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon.
SAVIDGE: At a news conference, the mayor and police chief announced the accused officer, 33-year-old Michael Slager, had been terminated but benefits for his eight month pregnant wife would continue. MAYOR KEITH SUMMEY, NORTH CHARLESTON, SOUTH CALIFORNIA: We think
that's the humane thing for us to do and we are going to do that.
SAVIDGE: Also asked the community to pray for the grieving Scott family. The city's police chief offered strongest condemnation yet of the police shooting.
DRIGGERS: I have watched the video. And I was sickened by what I saw. And I have not watched it since.
[20:04:57] SAVIDGE: But both men were often interrupted by demonstrators, members of the public who shouted them down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No justice, no peace!
SAVIDGE: Wanting to know why medical aid didn't appear to be given to the wounded Scott by police and why he was handcuffed after he was shot and most all, whether the predominantly white police force was now ready to change.
COOPER: And Martin Savidge joins me now.
You were at the press conference earlier. What else was said?
SAVIDGE: Well, you know, there's a lot of things, a lot of change that is going to come to this police department whether they know it or not at this stage. And you wonder some of that. They announced today that body cameras are coming. This is something the police force continued for a while, thought about at least. And because of this tragedy, they'll expedite it.
COOPER: That's something the family of Walter Scott is also saying they want to see.
SAVIDGE: They do. Because, of course, we know in this case, the video made all the difference. And speaking of Walter Scott, funeral arrangements have been planned to take place on Saturday. Families chose a very large venue ay Summerville. It is going to open for the public. They expect a lot of people. And then the city says it will provide police escort.
COOPER: Mart Savidge, thank you very much.
Just a short time ago, I spoke with Walter Scott's mother. I spent time at their mother's house. Her mother's name is Judy. She was joined by attorney, Chris Stewart.
COOPER: So how are you holding up?
JUDY SCOTT, WALTER SCOTT'S MOTHER: Lord is my strength. He's helping me to all of that.
COOPER: That's what's keeping you going right now?
J. SCOTT: Yes, knowing God as my personal savior.
COOPER: When did you get the news about your son?
J. SCOTT: It was Saturday.
COOPER: What did you hear? What did they tell you?
J. SCOTT: They, really, my elder son is the one that told me. I heard nothing from the police or anyone.
COOPER: And when you were told that the police were saying there had been a scuffle, that your son had fought for the taser, did that sound believable to you?
J. SCOTT: I knew that was not true because he knew how, especially the North Charleston policemen conduct themselves. He would never jeopardize his life.
COOPER: He would not have done something like that.
J. SCOTT: No, he would not have done it.
COOPER: So when did you learn that there was a videotape?
J. SCOTT: It was the next day.
COOPER: So when you finally saw it, I can't imagine what went through your head.
J. SCOTT: I couldn't really watch the whole tape. When I saw my son running, and I saw the policeman behind him, I couldn't take it. I had to turn away. I couldn't handle it.
COOPER: Knowing what you know now, I mean, that not only what happened to your son the way it happened, it was all captured on tape and even what seems to be pictures of the policemen picking up something, maybe the taser, placing it near your son's body, what do you think what happened?
J. SCOTT: That was not right. The policemen are supposed to protect the people, not try to frame them or get out of what they've done wrong. They're supposed to be honest people, protecting us.
COOPER: What do you want people to know about your son?
J. SCOTT: I want them to know that he was a loving son, a loving father. He cared about his family. And I will, no matter what happens, it will not replace my son.
COOPER: Do you believe that the justice will be done?
J. SCOTT: I believe God. With the policemen being arrested, he's got to get convicted. And I believe since god moves so fast, that God I serve is able. I know God will make a way. God will fix it. COOPER: What do you think of the person who came forward with this
J. SCOTT: He was there. God planned that. He's the ram in the Bush. I truly believe that.
COOPER: Some people would have been scared and run away. He not only stayed, he approached the police officers to get a closer video. Have you been able to talk to him?
J. SCOTT: No.
COOPER: What would you want to say to him?
J. SCOTT: I would want to thank him for what he did.
[20:10:00] COOPER: Do you believe something like this has happened before here that nobody knows about it because there's not a videotape?
J. SCOTT: Yes. I do believe that.
COOPER: Is that something you've always felt?
J. SCOTT: There are, I hate to say it, but there are some dirty cops.
COOPER: I know the chief of police, I understand, came by. The clergy, mayor came by as well. What did you feel about their visit?
J. SCOTT: I thanked them for coming. I mean, I'm supposed to be really angry and upset and raging and all of that, but I can't because of the love of God in me. I can't be like that. Bible let me --
COOPER: You don't feel that in your heart.
J. SCOTT: No, I don't. I feel forgiveness in my heart, even for the guy who shot and killed my son.
COOPER: You feel forgiveness.
J. SCOTT: Yes, for him. Yes, I do.
COOPER: Thank you for talking with us. I'm so, sounds so hollow. I'm so sorry for your loss.
J. SCOTT: Thank you.
COOPER: I just want to repeat what Mrs. Scott said there. She said at this point just days after her son was gunned down, shot in the back multiple times, she feels forgiveness in her heart for the man who killed her son. She's an extraordinary woman. You heard how grateful Ms. Scott is that someone was able to get it on tape, on a camera. Up until tonight, he's been anonymous. When we come back, you will hear from about what he saw (INAUDIBLE).
We will also look at the evidence that his video could contain about Officer Slager's actions during the shooting and after and whether answers the questions, did he plant something near the body of Walter Scott?
[20:15:48] COOPER: Look you just saw my interview with Walther Scott's mom, Judy Scott, who says she is grateful that someone was there and held up a camera and most importantly perhaps the courage to record what now fire North Charleston police office did to her son, Walter.
He was anonymous. Tonight, the person who took the video, his name is Feidin Santana who spoke with NBS's Lester Holt.
LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: What made you pick up your phone and start shooting on Saturday?
FEIDIN SANTANA, EYEWITNESS WHO TOOK THE VIDEO: Well, when I saw the scene, I was walking to my job. I was walking to my job and I had seen Mr. Scott. And I saw the police after him, chase him. I was on a phone call and I decide to go over there and see what was going on.
HOLT: Was there a struggle?
SANTANA: There was. They were down on the floor. They were down on the floor before I saw the recording. They were down on the floor. I remember the police had control of the situation. He had control of Scott and Scott was trying to just get away from the taser. The taser, you know, you can hear the sound of the taser.
HOLT: He had been tased at that point.
HOLT: You heard the sound.
SANTANA: Yes, I heard the sound before I started recording. And I believe he just wanted to get away of the taser. But like I said, never used against.
HOLT: Mr. Scott runs away.
SANTANA: Yes, runs away.
HOLT: And then what's the police officer do?
SANTANA: As you can see in the video, the police officer does shoot him in the back and knew had something in my hands.
HOLT: Ultimately, you turned it over to the attorneys for the family of Mr. Scott. SANTANA: Yes, the family.
HOLT: What was their reaction to you?
SANTANA: Well, it was, they were very emotional when it happened, including -- because when I turn, I felt, I thought about his position. Their situation and I say if I would have a family member that would happen, I would like to know the truth.
HOLT: As a result of that video tape, a man, a police officer has been charged with murder. How do you feel about that?
SANTANA: Well, like I say, it's not something that no one can feel happy about. He has his family, Mr. Scott also has his family but I think he made a bad decision and, does you know, you pay for your decisions in this life. And I think, like I say, Mr. Scott didn't deserve that, this. And there were other ways, you know, that can be used to get him arrested and that wasn't the proper way to do that.
COOPER: Feiden Santana, talking to NBS's Lester Holt, giving us our first eyewitness account what happened immediately before what we see on that video.
Now, a closer look at the video itself because it's important to analyze it and the evidence it contains, including for the first time, the picture of the struggle between Officer Slager and Walter Scott.
Our Randi Kaye has that.
RANDY KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When North Charleston police officer Michael Slager called dispatch about the shooting, listen to what he told them.
MICHAEL SLAGER, POLICE KILLED WALTER SCOTT: 236 dispatch. Shots fired. Told to get down. He grabbed my taser.
KAYE: But did Walter Scott really grab the officer's taser? Frank Piazza is an expert in video forensic.
FRANK PIAZZA, VIDEO FORENSIC EXPERT: The officer seems to lunge and seems to have something in his hand at that point. I don't know, maybe he is putting up his arms to shield himself? I don't know, maybe there's a tasing happening at that point.
KAYE: And you also see something seems to fall or come off the officer. So we zoomed in for a better look and slowed the video as the object tumbled off the dirt back.
PIZZA: And if I take it back to that same spot in the video, and we watch it frame by frame, you can see something.
KAYE: Right there. PIZZA: And it also grabs a reflection. You can see it right there.
KAYE: Like a silver or white.
PIZZA: Possibly something metallic.
[20:19:57] KAYE: Enhancing the video also showed us something we hadn't seen before. Some sort of struggle on the ground even before the suspect took off running.
PIZZA: I believe that they're wrestling on the ground. As you continue to watch it frame by frame, you can see there's some movement and somebody stands up.
KAYE: We also wanted to know if this suspect did take the officer's taser, was it ever in his hands on the video?
PIZZA: I don't see anything dangling down. If there is, we sure can't see it. It looks like just a fist.
KAYE: On the video, Officer Slager returns to where the struggle where with the suspect first began. He crouches down but the cell phone video pans off him before we actually see what he picks up or what he does with it.
PIZZA: The positioning.
KAYE: But our expert told us given the officer's positioning, it appears he's making a move to pick up the original object that fell just off the dirt path. Moments later, the enhanced videotape gives us our best image yet of Officer Slager dropping an object to the ground. Curiously close to the victim's body.
PIZZA: You can see something appear right here both above his kneecap and it gets really --
KAYE: It releases.
PIZZA: It releases, his hand goes up higher and there it is. Now, you know, what is that? That's the question, of course.
KAYE: Let's see it again.
PIZZA: So here it is.
KAYE: So that's it. Right there.
PIZZA: I cannot be precise identifying it.
KAYE: Seconds later, we zoom in to see the officer pick up something in the grass. Perhaps the very same object he dropped.
PIZZA: First, let's see if we can see it in the grass.
KAYE: There he goes picking it up. PIZZA: OK. So, let's start with that first. OK. So now, there is
clearly, something reflecting.
KAYE: If that something is a taser, investigators will certainly want to know how it got there.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: We should also point out the object he picked up off the ground closer to the body of Mr. Scott, he seemed to also place on his belt. Now before bringing in the panel, more evidence of just how big a difference this video may have made in all of this.
Monday before it surfaced, the dominant narrative was that of a threatened police officer who acted to save his own life. Here's the lead of the story that ran on Monday in the local paper, the "Posting Courier."
Quote, "a North Charleston police officer felt threatened last weekend when the driver he had stopped for a broken brake light tried to overpower him and take his taser. That's why patrolman first class Michael Thomas, former Coast guard man fatally shot the man, the officer's attorney said Monday." So that's the initial report in the newspaper.
It went on to say authorities publicly identified Slager, an officer with the city since December 2009 and gave his reason for the traffic stop that led to the fatal confrontation. Police documents also revealed that Slager announced within seconds why he had fired.
And so, we are reading that and seeing other some similar coverage might have easily envisioned a totally different scenario, the one that was caught on camera.
With that and with Randi Kaye's reporting in mind, let's bring in our panel, former secret service agent and New York police officer Dan Bongino, also criminal defense attorney and CNN legal analyst Mark Geragos and "New York Times" columnist, Charles Blow.
Mark Geragos, I mean, it is fascinating to hear the initial report as given by police, as reported in the local media and what we then see from the videotape.
MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. You know, the most fascinating thing is this happens hundreds of times, you know, already 300 times this year. And usually, the press will put out the official, quote- unquote "official version" which is complete crap, basically. And that gets bought into by everybody. And it usually becomes, oh my God, here you go. This guy did this. He grabbed for the gun. He did whatever else and it gets swept under the rug.
Obviously, what happened here was, and by the way, you didn't see any city officials doing anything to investigate this, to do anything at all until the video came out. Once the video came out, then what happened is they all realized, uh-oh, we've got a problem. And they fire the officer and do everything else.
To me, this is an epidemic problem. It happens all over the country. I've got at least ten of these cases in the office right now where they have killed, where police have killed people with equally ludicrous stories like this and the public officials just accept it and the local journalists just become the house organs for the police, basically, the propaganda machines for the police. This is an abject lesson for why you cannot believe the BS that comes out of the police departments when there's these kinds of shootings.
COOPER: Dan, when you look at this tape, would an officer have any valid reason for shooting someone multiple times in the back and laying handcuffed on the ground to walk back and pick up something off the ground and then later drop something near the suspect? I mean, isn't the entire thing supposed to be a secure crime scene that's going to be investigated when you actually pick something up?
[20:25:16] DAN BONGINO, FORMER NEW YORK CITY POLICE OFFICER: Well, the only thing I can think about, you're asking me to get in his head for a minute. It is a weapon and he may have thought someone picked it up. I don't know what he was thinking but either way, Anderson, one important point here.
COOPER: But even it is a weapon, even if it is a weapon, this is a crime scene that people are going to investigate and take photographs of. Everything has to be left exactly in its place, no?
BONGINO: Well, not if it's an active crime scene. In other words, when I was a secret service agent and someone attacking the president, you don't say, wait, nobody move, it's a crime scene. It's not a crime scene until the crime is over. I'm just guessing here. I can't get in his head.
But there's an important point here as well. No matter what happened before the video started, even if he did try to take the taser, Mr. Scott, you know, if I try to take your gun and I'm holding you at gunpoint and you're a cop and then I drop the gun and say I surrender, the cop can't pick up the gun and shoot you as you runaway. It seems like what happened before, it was irrelevant. But again, I am just hypothesizing as to why he picked up the taser. I don't know.
COOPER: Charles, I mean, obviously, there is the argument that if this video had not surfaced, the officer would not have been arrested. None of this would have been taken place. And that is the argument that the family makes. And the family's attorney makes, without a doubt. That this has no doubt happened before, but there just wasn't video to prove it.
CHARLES BLOW, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, that is the conundrum here it that we don't know how many times such a situation has unfolded where there is no video, right. And so, if the only thing that can make the wills of justice move this quickly and in this way is this sort of video and we do not have a universal policy of police officers always wearing and always having their camera, body cameras on, and we're depending on individual citizens with individual cell phones to be the reporters and to hold accountable police officers in these cases or to be, you know, the kind of independent resource of information, that is incredibly problematic.
And I think what is most troubling here is the idea that people already have a suspicion and that these source of things only deepen the suspicion around police officers' use of force and communities of color. And that actually hurts police work as well as injuring actual people because when people don't trust the police officer, they're less likely to cooperate. And this has been documented, he idea that people don't want to cooperate because they don't trust the police themselves. That hurts everyone in a civil society.
COOPER: We have to take a short break. There's a lot more to talk about with our panel. We'll continue the conversation when we come back.
And later, a very touching moment when I was invited into the house of Walter Scott's family. The family so strong in their faith standing in song.
COOPER: We are live in North Charleston by city hall. The breaking news here tonight, a local police officer charged with murdering a suspect has been fired. The man who caught the shooting on camera has come forward. We're expecting to see police dash cam video sometime tomorrow. Federal authorities are investigating possible civil rights violations as well. There's a lot to talk about. Back with the panel, Dan Bongino, Mark Geragos, and Charles Blow. Mark, is there anything you can think of that could surface and I'm asking this as a defense attorney, I'm talking about eyewitness accounts, any of the video from before this video ran, anything at all that a defense attorney is going to try to use to try to change the way this incident is being viewed?
MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No. I don't think that there is because I think the biggest problem here, you saw, you had played the top of the package here. The, I think, shots of the local papers. The thing that's even more, I think, horrible in this case is - are the police reports. The police reports in this case are what unfortunately I see all too often, which is the police put out a script, basically, a series of lies that they got or were taught at the academy or police university 101, which is I was afraid for my life, the subject grabbed or wrestled for my gun or my taser or whatever it is. And I shot because of that. And then, and that was the narrative that they had set out which gets set out, by the way, hundreds of times a year when they use excessive force.
And, generally, if he had lived, if Walter Scott had lived, what would have happened is, they would have charged him with resisting arrest or assault on a police officer. He would have been criminally charged, he would have been placed in jail, he would have been demonized. That's what happens and then he wouldn't have had the resources to fight the criminal case that they charged him with and they would have told him, they would have stacked the charges up, he would have faced, you know, tens of years in state prison and he would have taken a plea deal because he wouldn't have wanted to face ten years or eight years in prison. And by pleading guilty, the city and the police department would have insulated themselves from civil liability. This goes on every day across the U.S. And nobody says anything.
And for the people, Anderson, who were tweeting last night. Well, you know, this happens to white people too. Yes, it does, but the reason this happens is because being law enforcement is the third rail in the U.S. You can't touch it. You can't say anything.
GERAGOS: Politicians are chicken. And they don't want to say anything. It's a real epidemic.
COOPER: Yeah, in our next block, we're obviously going to show what an earlier report said versus what we now know from the video. Dan, I've been surprised because I've got a number of tweets from some people, overwhelmingly, I should say white people who had tweeted me saying, well, he shouldn't have run away from a police officer. And, you know, plenty of people say, look, obviously, you shouldn't run away from a police officer, but there is no justification for a police officer waiting a few seconds, watching a man slowly running away, I should point out. It's not as if this guy is a sprinter. And then taking out his gun and just shooting multiple times. Is there? I mean, is there any -
DAN BONGINO, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: No, not that I know of.
COOPER: Possible justification that he thought he was such a danger to the community that he had to be stopped. I mean I just don't get it.
BONGINO: No, the rules are pretty clear on fleeing felons. Unless they present the danger of a serious personal injury or death to someone else, there is no shooting someone trying to escape. You know, Anderson, it doesn't seem to me to be any legal, ethical, or moral reason from looking at that video for those shots to have been fired at all. It should have been a foot pursuit. But, you know, can I just address something that Mark said? Mark is engaging some really dangerous hyperbole here. And this is doing nothing to advance any kind of dialogue between police/community relations. There's no police script. I know a lot of cops. I was one. None of them have called ...
GERAGOS: Here we go. Here's the cop ...
BONGINO: And said anything like ...
GERAGOS: Here's the cop fallback. This is ...
BONGINO: Of course ...
COOPER: Mark, let him finish. Let him finish, Mark.
GERAGOS: It's just hard to ... BONGINO: Mark, you know what ...
COOPER: Mark, mark - let him - Mark, let him ...
GERAGOS: I know what you're going to say, Dan. It's usual ...
BONGINO: Say it then. You know, again.
COOPER: Mark, seriously, let him finish.
GERAGOS: Dan, right.
GERAGOS: It doesn't happen.
COOPER: Please, go ahead and finish.
GERAGOS: This doesn't happen. This doesn't happen. You know, Danny, you and I both know that there is a cop script. It happens every time. This is what - this is what really aggravates you and all the other, the guy that they had on last night ...
BONGINO: Mark, how much money you make off ...
GERAGOS: What aggravates you is when there's video evidence.
BONGINO: No, what aggravates me are people like you that don't let other people even finish their thought.
My point, Mark, here is that - there are a lot of cops there, there are the good people who are doing the right thing and most of the cops I know who you don't know and have never met, have called me, I've spoken today, we think this was a really horrible shooting, but you don't know that because you get really rich of going off TV and saying really ridiculous things.
GERAGOS: No, Danny, you know what?
BONGINO: Don't call me Danny. I don't know you.
GERAGOS: The only time cops like you get upset - the only time cops like you get upset is when there's a video that catches you.
GERAGOS: That's the only time.
COOPER: Charles, please, guys. Guys, no one listens when you talk over each other. I just guarantee you. No one listens. Charles, there's this report by the state newspaper here in South Carolina that I think is very important. Analyzing gunfire by police officers over the last five years. They say that there have been more than 200 discharges of weapons by police officers in the past five years in South Carolina and then not a single one of them has ever been declared to be inappropriate, illegal, no one has ever faced any penalty for any, any of those discharges. You know, obviously some, even most of them could very well have been totally legitimate. But that seems like an awful lot of gun discharges and not any one of them has been declared unjustified.
CHARLES BLOW, NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: Right. It's strange credulity that would be the case, and police policies are written very broadly. If you don't have specific evidence, as in this case, a video that shows that contradicts what police say, you're going to be really hard pressed to fight those, what the police are saying in any particular case. And I think, I do want to back up to what Mark and Dan were talking about before though. Which is, I have been really kind of encouraged to hear, at least some police officers either active or former today say this was, this looks horrible. There seems to me to be no justification for this.
I think that is really a step in the right direction because we actually need other police officers to say this discredits the profession that I am in and you cannot have a situation where people do not step up and say something has happened wrong here. We see a second officer show up on the scene when Mr. Scott is on the ground as the first officer dropped whatever he's dropping next to his body. And if that officer, if that, you know, if there's good officers out there, we need you to say something. We can't wait until a video comes forward for you that be the moment where you say, oh, yes. This happens to be a really bad case.
BLOW: There is another officer on the scene.
COOPER: But let me ask Dan.
BLOW: When that thing ...
COOPER: Let me ask Dan.
BLOW: I think that officer needs to answer what he believes that was dropped on the ground and it - and if it is a plant, and if it is, he also, needs to be charged.
COOPER: Dan, just very briefly. I mean, because we got to go to break and Mark, please don't jump in right on this. Let Dan finish, but I mean is there still that blue wall of silence, everybody knows about that term, everybody knows how - how things have been, with a lot of police forces, you know? Doctors have a wall of silence. Isn't - there's still a blue wall of silence, Dan?
BONGINO: No, listen, when I first got on the police department, of course, there's always that hole off, everybody silo up and protect your friends. I'm not going to deny that happened. But I'll tell you what, Anderson. That's been breaking down slowly over time. It's never going to be gone, but Charles is right. We need the good cops to stand up and say listen, this was a really bad awful shooting. It looks indefensible on the tape. I'm a cop. I have to go out in the community and police these communities the next day and perception is reality. If people think they're under assault in their own community, they are. Perception is reality to them. And we need the good cops to stand up. And the ones I've spoken to and in contrast what Mark thinks, have told me this was a terrible shooting. At least from what that video shows. It doesn't seem to be justified.
COOPER: Yeah, Mark, I'm going to let you.
GERAGOS: This was a design video ....
COOPER: Mark, Mark ...
GERAGOS: Because they got caught. That's the only reason ...
COOPER: I'm going to let you weigh in --
GERAGOS: That's the only reason that anybody is saying that.
COOPER: In just a moment.
BONGINO: I can't deal with - I can't deal with Mark.
COOPER: Mark, I know, I'll let you weigh in more in just a moment.
GERAGOS: I know you can't deal with Mark. Just a reality.
COOPER: Why? It's not that I can't deal with you, I just can't deal with people talking at multiple times, because the audience can't listen. Nobody can hear it. But I appreciate all your being on. It's a good discussion, understandable that emotions run high on this.
Coming up, a stark reminder why the video of a shooting is so important. No doubt about it. Such a crucial piece of evidence, because it shows what happened, but it doesn't seem to match everything in the police report as Mark was talking about and as we've been talking about. We are going to dig into that a lot closer next.
COOPER: We're live tonight from North Charleston, South Carolina, where Michael Slager sits in a jail cell charged with murder and stripped of his police shield. That's how fast things have changed since this video surfaced showing in detail Slager firing eight shots at Walter Scott killing him as he ran from the officer. As we reported, the video tells a much different story than the one that Slager gave in his police report and the official account that was initially given to the public. Our Gary Tuchman walks us through the discrepancies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chief of police ... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm asking ...
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The questions about Officer Michael Slager came hard and fast. Eddie Driggers is the chief of the North Charleston police.
POLICE CHIEF EDDIE DRIGGERS, NORTH CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: To my knowledge, nobody was witness to anything but Slager.
TUCHMAN: Slager handcuffed Walter Scott after he shot him but at least in video did not appear to aid him. Shortly after the shooting, another officer shows up identified by the police department as Sergeant Habersham. In the incident report, Sergeant Habersham declared "I attempted to render aid to the victim by applying pressure to the gunshot wounds, but no mention of CPR or chest compressions. Ultimately, several police officers are seen on video at the site. One of them says in a statement, Habersham did perform CPR despite Habersham not mentioning it. Sergeant Gans (ph) says he helped Habersham stating"I exited my vehicle and assisted Officer Habersham with first aid and CPR. We continued to perform first aid and CPR until EMS arrived on the scene.
Still, another officer identified as Sergeant Webb (ph) declared. "I observed Private First Class Habersham administering chest compression to the defendant." So, after the handcuffs were put on, which the mayo says is standard policy across the country, the question remains.
(on camera): Was CPR ever performed on this man as far as you know?
DRIGGERS: I'm going to be totally honest with you. I am. And give me just a second. The honesty comes from my heart. I have watched the video. And I was sickened by what I saw.
TUCHMAN: Part of what the chief saw was no CPR.
DRIGGERS: And the end of it, what I saw was a, I believe to be a police officer removing the shirt of the individual and performing some type of life-saving, but I'm not sure what took place there.
TUCHMAN: But you don't know if CPR was performed?
DRIGGERS: No. I do not know. I was told that life-saving that they tried to save his life.
TUCHMAN (voice over): The investigation has been handed off to the South Carolina law enforcement division known as SLED, but without elaborating, the North Charleston police department does say there may be more video to examine. So, did any of those other officers give inaccurate statements about the aftermath of the shooting?
Amidst the sadness and tragedy, that's a possibility that will most certainly be examined by the state agency now conducting the investigation.
At the end of the news conference, the North Charleston mayor was asked one more question about CPR. MAYOR KEITH SUMMEY, NORTH CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: Not every officer is CPR certified.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not?
TUCHMAN: And with that, the mayor and police chief left the podium. So many questions still unanswered.
COOPER: And Gary Tuchman joins me now. I mean it is remarkable. And you look at that video, you know, the man is shot. Like the seems not to be moving. The officer handcuffs him and then doesn't check vital signs. Doesn't do anything to aid him. He walks off to retrieve whatever it is he goes back to retrieve. What else stood out to you from this report?
TUCHMAN: I think what's interesting is, there're eight officers who put statements in this incident report. And what's not surprising, what's very notable, is none of the eight throw officer Slager off the bus. They basically say nothing negative about him at all. If he, Slager, mentioned to him why he shot the man or that he didn't perform first aid issue it's not mentioned at all.
TUCHMAN: So, all the statements are very businesslike. There's nothing negative about Slager, nothing negative about any of the officers who were near the scene and nothing extraordinarily negative about the situation overall.
COOPER: The other question that, of course, that raises is, was there some sort of collusion of accounts, you know, because you have multiple officers saying, oh, yeah, I saw the other officer administer CPR. I helped the officer. I mean in the video, at least, we don't see any CPR.
TUCHMAN: Well, two guys, two of the officers of the first officer on the scene after the shooting performed CPR, but that officer doesn't say he'd performed CPR and you saw what the police chief said. We do not know if there was any CPR or any chest compressions.
COOPER: Well, Gary, I appreciate it. Thanks very much. CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin joins me and former police officer Seth Stoughton who's now an assistant law professor at the University of South Carolina.
Seth, these discrepancies about whether CPR or first aid was performed on Mr. Scott. You're a former police officer. Are police in South Carolina expected to require to perform CPR or other first aid in a situation like that?
SETH STOUGHTON, LAW PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA: Not just in South Carolina. Everywhere. After an officer uses force, particularly lethal force, the obligation is to render aid to the extent possible. In a lethal force situation, the officer's first aid might be the only thing that keeps a critically injured suspect alive. So, step one, immediately after secure the scene. That's why the handcuffing is not a surprise. Step two, yes, absolutely, render aid.
COOPER: The other thing I just want to ask you about is we see him handcuffing the, Mr. Scott and then walking back and picking something off from the ground which he seems then later to drop near the body of Mr. Scott. Aren't you supposed to keep everything where it is? I mean I've asked this before but isn't this a crime scene that needs to be investigated and photographed, would you ever go and pick up something unless if it wasn't, you know, a handgun and there were other, you know, people who might run around and pick it up in the neighborhood, but if it's a taser or if it's something else that was involved in the altercation, wouldn't you be supposed to leave it there?
STOUGHTON: Typically, yes. Preserving the scene is very important, so that we can get a good forensic understanding of what happened. With that said, remember, that this is only one officer on scene. The scene is a fairly open field, and the taser, if that's what was dropped, is a weapon. I can understand an officer not wanting to leave an unsecured weapon on a scene like this. You don't want someone to run along and take it, you don't want someone to come along and pick it up without any other officers present. I can't fault the officer for just going to secure the weapon. But dropping it on the ground next to Mr. Scott is a very odd way of securing it. So that I find disturbing.
COOPER: Yeah, to say the least. That's an understatement. I should have pointed out, there were - was, at least, one other officer on the scene at the time. Sunny, I mean, you look at Mr. Scott laying there with his hands cuffed behind his back. It's hard not to wonder if being kept in that position contributed to his death at all or hastened his death or if he was, we don't know if he was already deceased at that point because no one seems to have checked him for several minutes.
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, I think that's right and I think that's one of the cruel things, one of many, that we see on this videotape and that's why I think we're seeing this reaction not just from citizens, not just from lawyers, but also from law enforcement. I do also want to say that I think at the very least we need to give this city some support in the sense that this shooting happened on April 4th. By April 7th, this officer was fired. He has been charged with murder, exposing him to either the death penalty or 30 years to life in prison.
He is also being held without bond, and an independent investigative company - department, rather, is investigating it. So the police department there is not investigating it. An independent agency is investigating it. And so, all of those things seemed to me, Anderson, to be lessons learned from all of these police shootings that we have seen, certainly, must have been a lesson learned from Ferguson. So I think we're seeing a tremendous amount of transparency for perhaps after having this video exposed, but there is something to be said about where we are at this point in terms of these investigations. COOPER: Seth, in terms of how this incident went down and you look at
that videotape, a lot of people look after seeing this videotape, well, let's say, look, it's pretty clear what went on. You know, there's a lot of viewers who are saying, look, it's obvious what happened here. Do you believe it's obvious what happened here or do you believe there's somehow more additional information you need to know before making a judgment?
STOUGHTON: I think the video gives us a lot of information. I don't think it gives us all of the information. The video picks up during a hand-to-hand scuffle over the taser. We don't know what happened before then. The angle of the video doesn't make it clear if there are bystanders around. There are certainly other things including the officer's statements to other officers on scene in the immediate aftermath of the shooting that I would want to know before coming to hard conclusions about the case. With that said, the video is pretty damning. I don't think we can avoid acknowledging that.
HOSTIN: Well, I --
STOUGHTON: But like any video, it has limits. We can't draw 100 percent of our conclusions from it.
HOSTIN: I don't think we can - you know ...
COOPER: Sunny, I want you to weigh in, but I think most people would say this is the great - this is the best video you're going to get of an incident like this. I'm not sure you can get a better video that shows more or that we have ever seen a video that shows more, but Sunny, quick response.
HOSTIN: I think that's true, but I think the bottom line is this appears to be just an unjustified shooting. You cannot shoot under the Supreme Court a fleeing felon in the back, under these circumstances. You cannot do it. So, what we are seeing, certainly, in my view, a crime. And I think it also lends to the position that we need to have body cameras on these officers across the country. Thank goodness for the video that we have ...
COOPER: Sunny --
HOSTIN: That we can analyze.
COOPER: And Walter Scott's mom, of course, the video's blessing even though she hasn't been able to watch the whole thing. You agree to that. Seth, we've got to take a break. Seth Stoughton, thank you, Sunny Hostin as well. Just ahead tonight, and we are all the way through to the 10:00 hour. We are going to dig deeper on Michael Slager's performance as a police officer over the last five years. Has he been in trouble before, were there any red flags, anything that people should know about? Details on that ahead.