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U.K. Intel: Russian Soldiers Low Morale, Refusing To Obey Orders; New Audio: Trooper Admits To Beating Greene With Flashlight; Family Of Ronald Greene Reacts To New Audio In Deadly Beating. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired March 31, 2022 - 11:30   ET



NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN HOST: And so it's very sad. I mean, Bruce Willis has had a storied career. He has been doing this for so many decades. And to know that there was though this protective bubble around him, and people were really trying to keep him, you know, moving forward, but also protecting him and not wanting it to get out, I do commend his family for saying we want to get in front of this, we want his fans to know because they love him.

And we also want to get the word out about this. And we want to start to, you know really start a conversation around this. And so we all just send our best to him. We send prayers out to him, I do think it's really interesting the information that's coming forward about what you know, these last few years have been like in his career and what people were really doing with him on sets and also some of the things that maybe were happening that we didn't understand.

We saw Kevin Smith, a movie director, come out now and say I apologize for what I said back in 2010. I didn't know what was happening and I just would talk about how he was difficult to work with. But he realizes now that it could have been some of this happening where Bruce just wasn't aware of what was going on.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: No, I didn't know that. Well, that's interesting to hear. It's great to see you, Nischelle, thank you.

TURNER: Kate, always. Thank you so much.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

TURNER: And congratulations (INAUDIBLE).

BOLDUAN: Thank you, girl. Oh, you mean -- you're amazing. All right now you got --

TURNER: After work.

BOLDUAN: I'll see you later. Go to work. Go to work. Go to work. Good to see you. As Nischelle was just talking a quick reminder, you can get up to date on the five stories you need to know to start your day. Join me each morning on my new CNN Plus show, 5 Things at 7 a.m. Eastern always available on-demand as well. Sign up at Back to the news. Coming up, new U.S. intelligence says Russian troops

in Ukraine are repositioning, what does that say about the state of the war and what the Russians can be planning? Next.



BOLDUAN: New video from Ukraine showing a burning Russian tank on the streets of the Ukrainian city. You can also see Ukrainian troops who claim they've retaken the city, the area from Russian forces This comes as the U.K. spy chief is revealing a startling assessment of the Russian military right now, low morale, refusing orders, even sabotaging their own equipment.

Joining me now for more on this is CNN Military Analyst, retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. It's good to see you, Cedric, thank you for being here. Let's start with Britain's spy chief on this. There are two things that are interesting about it. We'll put up a quote. What he's saying when he's talking about being short on weapons of morale, refusing to carry out orders, even sabotaging their own equipment, but also what is striking is the fact that he's speaking publicly about it at all. What do you think of this?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, that's very interesting, Kate because back in the day, nobody would talk about, you know, intelligence reports of this type. I still -- I think it's very clear that what the U.S. and the U.K. are both doing is using intelligence information very carefully to try to paint a picture of what's really going on.

And by showing the Russian military in this situation where there's low morale, where there are deliberate attempts to sabotage the operations of their military, into really underlying some of the things that the press has been reporting on and confirms them into a large degree, and that's actually very significant. It's part of the information war that's going on between Russia and the U.S. And in this case, they give the U.S. and Ukraine, you know, by proxy, the upper hand in this situation.

BOLDUAN: So, Colonel, let's now talk about where troops are and where troops are growing. The U.S. is also seeing some signs right now that Russia is repositioning and regrouping some of their units from outside of Kyiv, and some of them going up north into Belarus. Why would they do that?

LEIGHTON: Well, there are several reasons they could be doing this, Kate. One of them is that they're -- Belarus is kind of ideal for a-- you know R & R place like a resting place for the -- for the troops, not so much recreation, I suppose but definitely the resting point. And what they would be doing there is repositioning, making sure that their equipment works, fixing broken equipment, resupplying, making sure that they get enough food rations all set up for a potential further forward movement back toward Kyiv.

So I -- Belarus is a kind of intermediate staging area and the jumping-off point -- a potential jumping-off point for a renewed push against Kyiv if they want to do that.

BOLDUAN: And, you know, the Pentagon is also calling this out. I think the way that they put it is like you wouldn't be sending your troops to your ally north of Ukraine if you were actually working -- trying to de-escalate in a real way. You'd be sending them home if you were. Do you agree?

LEIGHTON: I do. I think the Pentagon point is absolutely spot on in this case because I -- you know if you were really de-escalating something, you would either move them back you know behind the border and a ways behind the border, not just right on the border, and you -- or you would send them all the way home. Now I could see an intermediate staging point to you know, if you're waiting for peace talks to have some type of material gain, you know, for your side, but in this case, the peace talks aren't going anywhere.


LEIGHTON: And it's pretty clear that the Russians are looking to turn their troops back around to do something. Whether they do it in Kyiv is an open question. But they can certainly use Belarus and that part of Russia near there to serve as a staging point for further action.

BOLDUAN: Colonel, thank you very much. Coming up for us. Nearly three years ago, Ronald Greene died after an encounter with Louisiana State Police. And this is just the beginning of what you're seeing here. New audio could shed light on what really happened between a trooper and Greene. I'm going to speak live with Ronald Greene's family next.



BOLDUAN: Major new developments in a deadly police beating that we've been following closely. Ronald Greene, you'll recall was tased, dragged, and beaten after a high-speed chase in Louisiana back in 2019. He died on his way to the hospital. Initially, his family was told that he died from a car crash. But then body camera video was revealed last year showing that was not the case. Here is some of what that police body camera video captured. A warning it's hard to watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands behind your back. Put your hands behind your back. (INAUDIBLE)You better not move.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got it? Are you all right?



BOLDUAN: Now, the Associated Press has obtained audio of that state trooper involved telling investigators it was he who was scared that night portraying himself as the victim in a two-hour interrogation. CNN's Nick Valencia joins me now. Nick, what are you learning from this new audiotape?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, this is haunting audio for the family of Ronald Greene because to them, Trooper Hollingsworth was the principal offender in the beating of Ronald Greene. Hollingsworth died after the incident in a single-car crash in what some suspect to have been a suicide. But before his death, he sat down for two hours with detectives for an interrogation.

And in video and audio exclusively obtained by the Associated Press and edited for brevity, we hear Hollingsworth play the victim. We also hear an incredulous detective skeptical of his characterization of what happened.


CHRIS HOLLINGSWORTH, LOUISIANA MASTER TROOPER: I wouldn't try to use deadly force against him. I only wanted to free my arm. That's all.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you have an object in your hand?



HOLLINGSWORTH: Can we rewind the video and look? Because I'd like to look. I could have had my flashlight in my hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: According to this video, at least according to us, it doesn't appear that you ever gave him a chance to get out of the car. I mean, you pretty much run up to the window, and within a second or two you tased him. How come?

HOLLINGSWORTH: I was in fear that he was going to hurt myself or Trooper DeMoss.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was he doing anything to indicate that he was going to fight you, going to try to punch you? Was --

HOLLINGSWORTH: He was stealing control of the vehicle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand that. Was he -- was he pressing on the gas? Was the car accelerating? Was it --

HOLLINGSWORTH: Not at that point. I didn't mean it to be degrading and I didn't know how serious the injuries were.


VALENCIA: To remind our viewers, Hollingsworth is seen on bodycam footage repeatedly beating Greene over the head with his flashlight. We have reached out to the Louisiana State Police who have been very quiet about this case since handing over evidence to the Department of Justice. But this is what they had to say to us in a statement earlier saying. "All matters related to the Greene investigation remain under federal review. The department would not be able to comment on the investigation or the actions of former employees at this time."

Now, earlier, Kate, I did speak by phone to the governor's office who aren't -- they aren't specifically commenting on this new audio obtained by the Associated Press but they did refer us to comments that Governor John Bel Edwards made during a very testy press conference back in February, in which he said that those officers' actions do not represent the standard to which all law enforcement officers should be handled. He previously said that Mr. Greene was treated in a way that was criminal and he also said that Mr. Greene would have been treated differently if he had been white.

Yesterday, I reached out to the family attorney for the Greene family. They said that they are limited in what they could say because of a gag order on the case but they are concerned that the goalposts on this as they characterize them are continually being moved. And here we are, Kate, approaching almost three years since the death of Ronald Greene and still no indictments. Kate.


BOLDUAN: Yes. Nick, thank you for your continued coverage of this, I really appreciate it. Now --

VALENCIA: You got it.

BOLDUAN: Joining me now are Ronald Greene's mother Mona Hardin and his sister Dinelle Hardin. Dinelle, let me start with you, and let's start with well what a long road this has been and what you now hear in that audio from officer Hollingsworth now, hearing him say that he was the victim? What did you -- what do you hear when you listen to that?

DINELLE HARDIN, RONALD GREENE'S SISTER: It really pisses me off, you know. It pisses me off to know that we have the video of him staying in those words, beating Ron senselessly, no one stepped in to stop him and three years later, no arrests have been made? Do you think if I -- if I did something like that I'd be sitting at home celebrating holidays with my family? No. I will be sitting in jail until they figure out what happened to the victim, to the real victim. So I think it's ridiculous.

BOLDUAN: And, Mona, I think people -- I want to make sure people appreciate just how long this road has been. I mean, we all first spoke almost a year ago. And at that time, you had already been fighting for answers for years. What does this new information do to -- do to your fight for your brother -- for your son?

MONA HARDIN, RONALD GREENE'S MOTHER: You know what, the anger. It ignites my strength even more. The fact that this has shown, I'm so appreciative for everything that comes forward because, without it, my son wouldn't stand a chance. He'd be another buried statistic. But seeing it and to hear Hollingsworth say what he says, it's like part of their training is to say that I'm afraid, my life is in danger, I have to beat the hell out of here. The -- and often expletives that he said, he took joy in it.

You can see from the video. It's like, as we go into our third year, they're still trying to create the narrative to lessen the charges they'll be given. Why do you go this long? And if the governor says, and all of them say, we can't speak on this, we can't act on this, because of the investigation. But yet and still, you've allowed Hollingsworth to be buried at full accolades of a damn hero. They knew what he did at the time he was buried, but yet and still they quietly buried him. He was allowed -- his family was allowed to collect and continue on with their lives. Shame on him.

Shame on all of them who allowed it, who made that ceremony possible. To say that they can't do it, but yet and still, all the top reps are being allowed to retire in the midst of an investigation. Answer that, please, somebody. This is the state of Louisiana, it all speaks for itself. It's a cover-up. It's organized crime.

BOLDUAN: Dinelle, he died -- your brother was killed in 2019. You have faced so many setbacks in getting even answers. Even from the beginning to even understand how he had died and what had happened for so long. Do you fear after all this time, despite how much you're speaking up and fighting for him, do you fear him -- that his death in his life will be overlooked?

DINELLE HARDIN: No, I don't. No. I don't. No. I -- no.

BOLDUAN: You can't allow it?

DINELLE HARDIN: That is my mission every day to make sure that my brother's death does not go overlooked. Regardless of, you know, President Biden and Harris, they have not mentioned not one word about my brother's case. But yet, they can talk about what's going on, in Ukraine. Very disrespectful. My brother was tortured and murdered.

BOLDUAN: You want to hear from the president -- do you want to hear from the president on this?

DINELLE HARDIN: Absolutely. Yes, I do. Yes, he's made not one word to him.

MONA HARDIN: We will wait for them to come. And regarding his administration, he's made way for some of these politicians to go and sit side by side with him. There's so much happening behind the scenes. This is -- this is a big network of a political game on so many levels.


BOLDUAN: And so, Mona, what is --

MONA HARDIN: I'm sorry for interrupting.

BOLDUAN: No, no, it's OK.

(CROSSTALK) BOLDUAN: And these might (INAUDIBLE) is so tough. Mona, what is -- what is justice now? The officer Hollingsworth, he's dead. What is justice?

MONA HARDIN: It doesn't stop it there because what happened to my Ronnie, our Ronnie, it stemmed from him. It didn't start with him because this is way before Ronnie. As we speak, we speak for all the victims of police brutality way before Ronnie. You can't -- you can't cover this ground without speaking of everyone involved.

And that has continued since then. And continue since Ronnie. Shame on Louisiana. And I'm telling you this Hollingsworth, is just a piece of a large puzzle. And he wasn't the main character. The cover-up? It goes even further. If they fix it way back then, gosh, where would we be, you know? But look at where we are now. Because they were -- they were defiant in getting their good old boys off the hook. Because this is how they behave in Louisiana State Troopers.

BOLDUAN: Mona, Dinelle, thank you. Thank you so much for coming on. Thank you so much for speaking up for your son, for your brother, for Ronald Greene.


BOLDUAN: We'll be right back.