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At This Hour

Closing Arguments Underway in Kim Potter Trial; Kentucky State Police Warn Tornado Victims About Scams; Surge in COVID Cases. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired December 20, 2021 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: At this hour, closing arguments are underway in the trial of former police officer Kim Potter. Potter fatally shot Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man after saying she mistook her gun for her taser. An emotional testimony on Friday, Potter took the stand in her own defense and faced a tough cross examination from the prosecution.


ERIN ELDRIDGE, HENNEPIN COUNTY ASSISTANCE ATTORNEY GENERAL: You didn't make sure any officers knew what you had just done, right?


ELDRIDGE: You didn't run down the street and try to save Daunte Wrights' life, did you?


ELDRIDGE: You're focused on what you had done, because you had just killed somebody.

POTTER: I'm sorry it happened. I'm so sorry.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Adrienne Broaddus has more from Minneapolis.

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, good morning. Court began promptly with the judge reading jury instructions following those instructions, closing arguments starting with the prosecution, who has to bear the burden of proof. Prosecutors focusing in on Potter's training, for example, specifically the training with a taser. She became certified to use the taser back in 2002. And in order to continue carrying that taser, she had to be recertified every year, in some cases, scoring perfect scores on her training. By contrast, the defense maintains, this was a mistake. Potter did not intend to pull her gun that day, she was reaching or thought she had pulled her taser, pointing back again to the body camera video or Potter shouts taser, taser, taser, Potter, as you all know, took the stand in her own defense on Friday. She sobbed on the stand under cross examination by the prosecution saying she was sorry. At that moment Daunte Wright's mother who was inside of the courtroom also wept. Potter while on the stand said she did not mean to hurt anyone. Now, later today, this case will be in the hands of the jury. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Adrienne, thank you so much for that. We'll stay on top of that for you.

Coming up for us, still at this hour, five days until Christmas but survivors of those deadly tornadoes in Kentucky, they're just trying to get through today. I'm going to talk to Kentucky's governor about what the people there need now, and we'll need in the weeks and months ahead.



BOLDUAN: New today, Kentucky State Police are warning tornado victims to be on alert for scammers now after multiple reports of attempted fraud by individuals posing as disaster relief workers. While those signs -- well, those are signs of course of the worst of humanity.

There are also signs of the best playing out in Kentucky. More than 70,000 toys, games and other items have been donated to the state's toy drive organized last week by Kentucky's First Lady. These gift offering children at least a little holiday cheer is 1000s have been left with utter devastation following the deadly tornado outbreak there.

Joining me right now for an update on where things are and will be, the Governor of Kentucky Andy Beshear. Governor, thank you for being here.

These fraudsters so callous taking advantage of people who've lost it thing, how big of an issue is this right now?


GOV. ANDY BESHEAR, (D) KENTUCKY: Well, if there is one person out there trying to scam somebody that has lost everything, may have lost their family, doesn't have a single possession, then it's too many. We have seen an amazing outpouring of love from across this country. And we're grateful. But sadly, there are people out there that would take advantage of you at your lowest moment. So, we're working. We're trying to work with each and every impacted family to let them know what FEMA, what the Red Cross, what the state looks like. And to ensure that folks that have lost it all, don't lose even more.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. I mean, in the good news, like the best of humanity front, you announced this weekend, the relief fund that has been organized has raised $19 million in one week. And the first payments you announced are going to be going to help families pay for funerals. There is clearly a real need for help here. Why is this area where you want relief funds to go first?

BESHEAR: Well, the first thing we've got to do is grieve together, you know, we are one people. And when we lose one of our neighbors, we all come together and try to share a little bit of that sorrow. I want to make sure that no family that doesn't have a house, their bank is probably destroyed, you know, isn't struggling to make sure that they can give their last relative the very best.

The next thing we're going to do is we're going to help uninsured homeowners, you know, there is a limit to what FEMA can provide. And we want to help on top of that. You know, I was down yesterday, we're housing these individuals in our state park, and so many of them from the town that my dad grew up in, you know, couldn't afford, couldn't afford to ensure their homes on the spot that they lived in Dawson is just where this tornado wipes everything, everything out. So, our goal with this fund is to be there for these families in the long haul.

You know, I've told him that we are knocked down, we are hurting, but we are not broken. And my commitment to them is we're going to rebuild every single brick, every single structure and every single life. That's our commitment for the years to come.

BOLDUAN: You mentioned Dawson, you know, one of the many towns that the country's learning more about in Kentucky because of just the devastation and Mayfield, we're seeing, you know, images from last week from Mayfield and what it looks like now, how long have you been able to assess, how long you think it will be to rebuild these towns?

BESHEAR: But some of them, it's going to be years, I mean, Mayfield, the downtown is just destroyed. I don't know how many buildings, were going to be able to sell that you stand in the middle of it. And you almost don't know where you are because the landmarks aren't there. And Dawson springs over 75% of all the homes are gone. This is a town of 3000 people where bad things don't happen. You know, it's where my granddad put me on his tractor and drove me around pretty big deal for a kid, while their house is standing, I don't think the church he preached at is going to make it. Though, I did get some good news on that yesterday. And I could certainly hope. It's going to take years. It's going to take years to rebuild both Mayfield and Dawson Springs. It's going to take years to rebuild the houses and the lives of the families and in Bremen, and in Taylor County. But now we feel the love from the country. And we greatly appreciate it, and it's going to help us. It's going to help us make sure we can get these families and these communities, you know back on their feet and rebuilt. And what I try to do stand in the midst of a place I used to recognize and can't is close my eyes and envision a couple years from now with people in new good homes, rebuilding their lives right there.

BOLDUAN: Christmas is this week, Governor, one survivor in Mayfield told CNN this. There is no Christmas, not this year. It's just a day. We're just thankful that we're actually still here. We can celebrate it. Maybe in February. What do you think of that, Governor? What's your hope for Christmas? If there is one for these communities is here?

BESHEAR: First, I want to recognize their pain, right? These are my people. I want to give that person a hug and tell them that we're going to be there for them. But we're also going to throw some Christmas celebrations to try to do everything we can just bring a good moment. And what has been a difficult week plus. We're going to be in our state parks with more toys raised from my wife, the First Lady's toy drive than we could have ever imagined. I think there's over -- there's hundreds of 1000s of them now. We're going to be an open storefront where these families can walk in and shop for what they want to give their kids at absolutely no cost to them. We're going to bring in some entertainment and again, we're going to be there with them, right? Let them know that they are not alone at this most difficult moment, and they don't have to walk one step of this recovery process by themselves. I hope that's the takeaway from Christmas. And, you know, that seems to be what Christmas is supposed to be about, loving one another, be in there for one another, living out our faith and values.


BOLDUAN: The real reason, the real spirit of Christmas, the real meaning behind it all. Governor, thank you very much.

BESHEAR: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it.

Now, if you would like to help the victims of these tornadoes, we have a list of vetted organizations that are on the ground and ready to give assistance. You can find a much more detail on all of this, how you can help in this moment of need,

Coming up still for us, a global surge of coronavirus cases is now triggering new restrictions around the world including the U.K. where health officials are planning virtual hospital wards to prevent overcrowding. But first, as 2021 comes to a close, we are all searching for a way to live healthier. Of course, Dr. Sanjay Gupta tells us how a little nudge can make a big difference in today's chasing life.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta, host of CNN's Chasing Life podcast. Think about all the decisions you make every day, what to eat, what to wear. But you may not realize this, but there are invisible forces guiding those decisions. It's something called nudge theory. And these nudges, they're just about everywhere. Just think about the Netflix Auto Play option. Before you know it, you watched five episodes. That's nudge theory. But cognitive scientist Maya Shankar says, we can also use nudges to our advantage. One way is the power of defaults. That may be as simple as putting fresh fruit on the counter for a snack, while keeping the chips out of sight. The healthy snack becomes your default. You can also try something called Temptation Bundling, that means you pair something you love with something maybe less fun, getting ice cream, yes, but going on a long walk to be able to get some instead of keeping it in the house, that's temptation bundling. And finally, give yourself an emergency reserve. Let's say your goal is to work out every day for a month but you miss a day that might make you feel like you failed, and you give up. Instead, say you're allowed to miss some days, maybe even five days. Basically, figure out a way to cut yourself some slack. You can hear more about how to optimize your health and chase life wherever you get your podcasts.




BOLDUAN: At this hour, experts in Germany are warning new COVID cases could double by the end of the week and that may push that nation's hospitals to the breaking point. This warning comes as the country added the -- just added the U.K. to its travel ban list Sunday, meaning only German citizens will be allowed to enter the country from the U.K.

Germany far from the only nation wrestling with, how would you handle the latest round with this crisis. For more of these international headlines? Let's check in with our correspondents around the world.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Scott McLean in London where British health authorities are bracing for a tidal wave of Omicron infections. The head of the health service in England expects that one in five health staff in London could be out sick with COVID on Christmas day because of the surge. Government advisors say that without further restrictions, new hospital admissions will peak at near record levels and so to deal with the huge influx of patients and short staffing, the health services already planning to send about 15% of patients home with a monitor so that their oxygen levels can be checked remotely by hospital staff to free up bed space. So far, Boris Johnson's government is in wait and see mode waiting to see more data on Omicron particularly how severe an illness it really causes before deciding how and if they will act. The good news is that booster shots have been going into arms at a record pace but with Omicron infections growing exponentially, it will be impossible to keep up.



CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Cyril Vanier in Paris, it's going to be a lockdown Christmas in the Netherlands to curb the spread of the Omicron variant. Scenes that European leaders had hoped were behind them are playing out once again on the continent, empty streets, shuttered shops, schools closed, sports competitions, suspended, most of these measures in the Netherlands in place until mid-January to prevent the health system from being overwhelmed.

In Denmark, the cultural sector has been closed, that means cinemas, theaters, museums, also zoos and amusement parks. Infections in the country are at their highest level since the beginning of the pandemic, Denmark just one of several European countries reporting record or near record high infections recently, countries with the highest vaccination rates hope to get by with slightly less restrictive measures. For instance, an 8pm curfew on the hospitality sector in Ireland, and here in France, a less drastic but highly visible move. There will be no fireworks at the Eiffel Tower on New Year's Eve canceled due to COVID




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm (inaudible) in Jerusalem where Israel is adding 10 more countries including the U.S. and Canada to its red no fly list as it braces for the full force of a fifth COVID wave. From 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, these countries will be off limits for Israelis unless they get special permission. travelers arriving from them will have to self-isolate for seven days, first in a designated quarantine hotel, and then once they get a negative PCR test results at home so long as they agree to have their movements tracked.

Israel has been steadily adding countries like the U.K, Italy and much of Africa to its red list. To reduce the spread of the Omicron variant. Most of Israel's 175 confirmed cases and 390 suspected ones recently returned from overseas.

On Sunday evening, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held a televised news conference imploring Israelis to take the new wave seriously and encouraging those employed in the private sector to work from home. Public sector workers are expected to follow next week. He also sought to reinvigorate Israel's stalling vaccination campaign, especially among children where take up has been especially weak. The time we bought is running out said, Bennett, with God's help we will safely overcome this wave.


BOLDUAN: Thank you all so much for that. More of at this hour is still ahead, the surge in COVID cases in New York is straining resources and forcing the city to make a tough call on New Year's Eve celebrations. We're live from Time Square after a quick break.