Return to Transcripts main page

At This Hour

Video Shows Troopers Tase, Kick, Drag Black Man before His Death; Rockets Fired Between Israel and Hamas, But Ceasefire Could be Imminent; Coronavirus Cases and Hospitalizations Decline as America Reopens. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired May 20, 2021 - 11:30   ET



RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Terrifying police from Ronald Greene after a high-speed chase led to a deadly confrontation with Louisiana State Police just outside the city of Monroe in May of 2019.

In body cam video obtained by the Associated Press, troopers can be seen repeatedly punching Greene after dragging him out of his vehicle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taser, taser, taser.

YOUNG: Troopers tased Greene multiple times while he's face down on the ground as they attempt to handcuff him. Another trooper can be seen kicking Greene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got blood all over me. I hope this guy ain't got (BLEEP) AIDS.

YOUNG: The Associated Press released three segments of the original video, which it says is 46 minutes long. Only two of the video clips have audio. CNN has neither reviewed or obtained the original video and it's unclear what occurred before or in between the video clips. The video is being seen by the public for the first time but the incident took place two years ago.

The body cam footage is shocking considering the way the encounter was described in the Louisiana State Police initial report in 2019, which says, troopers attempted to pull Greene over for an unspecified traffic violation that ended when Greene crashed his vehicle. The report also says, quote, Greene was taken into custody after resisting arrest and has struggled with troopers. Greene died on the way to the hospital, the report says.

At no time can troopers be seen trying to render any medical aid to Greene, who, according to the Associated Press, was face down and moaning for more than nine minutes.

CNN has reached out to the attorneys for the officers for comment. Lee Merritt is an attorney for the Greene family and spoke to CNN.


seeing with the sounds that go with it. You can hear him screaming and writhing in pain, as he says, I'm your brother, please top. I'm sorry, I was just scared.

YOUNG: The Department of Justice is investigating the incident and in a statement to CNN, the Louisiana State Police says, the premature public release of investigative files and video evidence in this case is not authorized and was not obtained through official sources. LSP is confident in the judicial system and fair review of this incident and continues to offer our full fuel cooperation.

Unauthorized release of evidence undermines the investigative process and compromised a fair and impartial outcome for the Greene family, LSP employees and the community. We are unable to provide any further information at this time.

Greene's mother tells NBC she think the Louisiana State Police murdered her son.

MONA HARDIN, RONALD GREENE'S MOTHER: They beat him with the purpose of letting him just die.


YOUNG (on camera): Kate, when you think about this, again, this video was released to the A.P. It's not like we've been able to see the 46 minutes of this video before. We would love to ask some questions to the officials involved in this but there's been no news conference to address all of this. And the family attorney, Lee Merritt, actually says, one of the officers, at least one of them, is still actively patrolling at this point.

So there are still so many questions about this case. And still, we're not able to ask the officials about transparency or what took place that night, just yet.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Thanks so much, Ryan, for putting that together and highlighting it. Thank you very much.

Joining me right now is CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Charles Ramsey, former Philadelphia Police Commissioner and the former Police Chief in Washington, D.C., of course.

Chief, just, first, your reaction to the video.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it's highly problematic. It shows some excessive force being used. They left the individual in a prone position with his hands behind his back for an extended period of time. And even though you don't have anyone on his back, clearly, it hampers breathing, when he did try to turn over. One of the officers, or troopers, rather, actually put his foot on his lower back to keep him from turning over and then drag him by his feet.

So, I mean, it's a bad video. It's not consistent with the written report. Two years have passed. You know, the people of Louisiana really are not in touch with the criminal environment. Now, you cannot sit on these tapes. You have to be transparent, and that means whether it shows that the officers acted properly or not. And in this case, in my opinion, they did not act properly.

BOLDUAN: And, Chief, you hit on something that I think is super disturbing about this, that it looks like the police lied about why he died in that initial report. I mean, according to the A.P., the A.P. saw a medical report from an E.R. doctor who treated Greene when they brought him in. And the doctor documented in that report that the officer's story, according to the Associated Press, quote/unquote, does not add up. He had taser prongs in his back. That's what the doctor said and saw, obviously.

And I'm sitting here thinking how often does that happen?


RAMSEY: Well, I mean --

BOLDUAN: They're like lying on -- yes, like lying on these reports.

RAMSEY: Yes. But what's so stupid about that is you got camera video. I mean, so the video's got to line up with the written report. So, you know, the shame of it is that majority of officers don't do that sort of thing. But because that's what we watch and that's what we hear, these are the examples of why people don't trust police. And it's very unfortunate because it puts a stain on police across the country. And that's just the troopers in Louisiana. It's just bad all the way around, it's just bad. And they need to step forward.

And this stuff about complaining that it was leaked improperly and so forth, I mean, give me a break. Thank God it's out there. And they should have had it out two years ago.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, look, two years later, this video comes out. One officer involved is actually dead now because he died in a single car crash hours after learning that he was going to be fired because of his role in this arrest. Another officer has been arrested in connection to another police pursuit with allegations of excessive use of force involved there.

And I'm sitting there thinking that all happened in the two years since this encounter happened. And what could have taken place and then corrected in terms of personnel and training that you and I have talked so much about, it's just really disheartening.

RAMSEY: Well, it is disheartening. And, you know, training can't solve every problem. If a person has the wrong attitude as a police officer, all the training in the world is simply not going to change that. And it's just so unfortunate because the few define the many. But we have to deal with the reality. We've got people in policing that have no business wearing a badge or carrying a gun, period. They just don't.

And this is an example of it. George Floyd was an example it. Unfortunately, we keep seeing these things over and over again, and it just overshadows the great work is done by the majority of our officers. I have seen it, I have experienced it my entire 47-year career, and it's just a shame.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Chief, thanks for coming on.

RAMSEY: That's okay.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, for us more rockets fired by Israel and Hamas, yet signs of a ceasefire could be imminent. We're going to live to the Israel/Gaza border, next.



BOLDUAN: At this hour, rocket attacks continuing between Israel and Hamas. And the Israeli security cabinet is about to meet to discuss a possible ceasefire. Is that a sign of things to come? The conflict, we now know, has spilled into its 11th day.

This morning, CNN has learned President Biden is becoming increasingly impatient with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after what sources describe as a blunt phone call between the two leaders.

Let's get the very latest from the ground. CNN's Nic Robertson is joining me near the Israeli border.

Nic, what's the latest on the ground that you can see today?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Sure. I think the very latest we hear is from Benny Gantz, the minister of defense, who said Israel can expand and continue this operation. He said that they're taking Hamas back in time. That's a very clear signal from the leader of the military here. They're ready to continue, they can continue.

And that gives Prime Minister Netanyahu the space to say, yes, we can go for a ceasefire, yes, we can continue if we want. It's not clear if that will be explicitly discussed within this Security Council cabinet coming up in the next 15 minutes, 15 or 20 minutes but this has to be the absolute number one topic.

And I think everyone here is waiting to see which way this will go, which way will the prime minister lean. There was this sort of lull overnight, Hamas rockets eight hours, they weren't firing. Israel continued with its airstrike against Hamas tunnels, rocket launchers, some of the Hamas commanders.

But by morning, Hamas fired a rocket at a bus used by Israeli soldiers, damaged the bus. No soldier -- one soldier was lightly wounded, fired rockets on other Israeli citizens in the south of the country. And the interchange of more rockets coming out and intercepts overhead here this afternoon has just been continually going on.

So, you get the sense that, you know, neither side is sort of really, in real terms, backing down. So whatever decision that comes out of the security cabinet, you really feel at the moment it could go either way, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And when we hear from the American side that this call between Biden and Netanyahu was direct, frank and candid, I'm wondering if you see any signs that the pressure from Biden, the new outward pressure from Biden is having any sway on Netanyahu.

ROBERTSON: You know, we understood from a Hamas official last night that within about 24 hours, we could be getting into a ceasefire scenario.


That window is sort of running out a bit, maybe until tomorrow. There was a sense perhaps in some of the Israeli media reporting that there could be a cease-fire tomorrow. So, it's in the air.

So, I think you have to say that pressure is there. It is being felt. It is being understood for what it is. But, really, there needs to be from the prime minister's perspective, a political calculation, as well as a military calculation about what he does.

An opinion poll today by one of the main Israeli news channels here indicated there's a 72 percent support for the prime minister to continue military operations. It's not clear how accurate that polling is, however, the prime minister will have seen that. And that's going to form part of his judgment.

And if it's remotely correct, it will indicate he has support to do what the defense minister is saying, they can do, which is continue to degrade Hamas.

BOLDUAN: Into day 11. Nic, thanks for being there still. I really appreciate it.

Coming up for us still, America is opening up once again. The numbers tell the story and it is good news. COVID cases are plummeting, but it is not the same story ever everywhere else. And experts are warning against international travel.



BOLDUAN: At this hour, real and great signs of progress for the United States in the fight against the pandemic all pointing to the effectiveness of the vaccines. As of this morning, the weekly average number of new cases is down 25 percent from last week and it's at the lowest point since June of last year. To put it another way, yesterday ended a 329-day streak of average new cases being above 30,000, crazy. And the number of people who are sick enough that they need hospital care, that number is also plummeting. That's down 12 percent from last week.

So this is some of the remarkable news here in the United States. But that is tempered by what is happening around the world. Lockdowns are in place in some countries. Vaccine rollouts nowhere near what we have here in the United States and fresh warnings from health experts that this is far from over.

Joining me right now is Dr. Carlos del Rio. He's Executive Associate Dean at the Emory University School of Medicine. It's good to see you, Doctor. Thank you for being here.

So, let's start with this good news, great signs. America is opening up but it is not the same story around the world. And in this moment, I am wondering can our progress in the U.S. continue if the vaccine rollout overseas doesn't catch up?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Well, I think there are two things that are happening. Number one, we have had a very successful rollout in our country and we need to be very proud of that. And the reality is we still need to continue vaccinating because the power of these vaccines is pretty clear, right? The drop in cases, the drop in deaths, the drop in hospitalizations is a result of how effective these vaccines are. So we've got to continue vaccinating. The more we can vaccinate people, the better it's going to be.

But at the same time, we need to also vaccinate the world, because we are seeing right now this very paradoxical situation in which the U.S. is doing better than ever yet the world is doing worse than ever. You think about the situation India, you think what's going on in Latin America. So the reality is we cannot stop by simply vaccinating the U.S. We have to vaccinate the world.

BOLDUAN: The E.U. is paving the way kind of to reopen for fully vaccinated travelers to be coming in from outside the E.U., yet a WHO official just said that people should still avoid international travel because of the continued threat. The way this official put it is that the vaccines may be a light at the end of the tunnel but we cannot be blinded by that light. What do you think? Travel overseas or not yet?

DEL RIO: Well, I think this a bit complicated. I think, as a fully vaccinated individual, I am traveling, I have traveled internationally, but I am still very cautious. If you read the CDC recommendations, it is very clear what you need to do in order to travel. You need to look at what the local epidemiology is, you need to still wear a mask, you still need to be very careful, you still need to -- when you return to the U.S., you're going to be tested before you get on the plane. And it is recommended that after you get back to the U.S., three to five days later, you get tested again. In other words, there is a risk. So you need to consider those risks before you travel.

Europe obviously wants to open because they need the income. They need the economy. They need the tourism. The summer season is very important. But I still think it may be a little premature to just -- if you're going to be traveling, you're going to be going to restaurants, you're going to be doing many other things. So it is a little bit of a balancing act.

BOLDUAN: It sure is. Great to see you, Doctor. Thank you very much.

So, in just a few hours, President Biden, he will be signing the anti- Asian hate crime bill into law. It passed overwhelmingly in both the House and the Senate and is hailed as a critical response to the rise of hate and violent acts towards the Asian-American community.

Here is what the bill's House sponsor told CNN this morning.


REP. GRACE MENG (D-NY): We really feel like we've been screaming out into the darkness.

Contrary to what Leader McCarthy previously said, people around the kitchen tables in America are talking about this, Asian-Americans and non-Asian Americans. And we also so appreciate the solidarity that has been demonstrated by so many people beyond the Asian-American community.



BOLDUAN: But not everyone supported the bill. 62 House Republicans actually voted against the measure. Here is the scroll across your screen of who they are. These are 62 House Republicans that voted against enhancing and expanding federal efforts to review and address these crimes. I mean, simply put it, 62 House Republicans, they seem to be saying that this rise in hate that cannot be denied, that we have seen, does not warrant an elevated serious response from the government.

But despite these 62 Republicans, President Biden will sign this bill into law today.

Coming up for us, a bipartisan commission into the Capitol insurrection, it appears doomed, though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she still holds out hope. Will there be enough Republican senators? Who will they be to actually get it over the finish line in the Senate, if they want to get it there? We're going to take you back live to Capitol Hill.