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At This Hour
TX Report Finds "Systemic Failure" In Police Response To Shooting; Police Body Cam Video Captures Chaos, Delays To Confront Killer. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired July 18, 2022 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone. AT THIS HOUR, a damning report spotlights systemic failures across agencies and the police response to the Uvalde School massacre. And Ukraine's President removed several top officials amid allegations of treason. And did health officials miss the chance to control the monkeypox outbreak? Dr. Anthony Fauci joins us live. This is what we're watching AT THIS HOUR.
Thank you for being here, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Another American city has been rocked by gun violence. A gunman armed with a rifle open fire inside a shopping mall in Indiana. Police say the man walked into the mall's food court and began shooting shoppers. Officials say that -- officials also say he killed three people before a bystander who was legally carrying a firearm of his own shot and killed the gunman.
There are also major developments in the investigation into the Uvalde School massacre in Texas. The interim report from the Texas Investigative Committee is finally -- has finally been released and outlines a series of failures by law enforcement. The 77-page report criticizes a quote, lackadaisical approach by the nearly 400 officers who ended up at the scene of the school shooting. For the first time we are also seeing hours of body cam video. It captures chaos, confusion, and excruciating delays as critical minutes were ticking by and no law enforcement charged into that room.
We're going to have much more on that in a moment. But let's begin with CNN's Athena Jones on the deadly mall shooting in Indiana. Athena, what are you learning?
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is remarkable. This took place in a mall's food court at about 6:00 p.m. on Sunday night. Three people were killed by this shooter who came armed with a long gun. And authorities still don't know what led to it whether these people were targeted. They were looking into that. They're looking at surveillance video and further investigating it.
But in this case, the police chief of Greenwood that's a suburb of Indianapolis, appointed to what he called a Good Samaritan, a 22-year- old from a nearby county who was in the mall that day saw what was happening in the food court. And as the police chief put it was the real hero. Take a listen to Chief James Ison.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF JAMES ISON, GREENWOOD, INDIANA POLICE: The real hero of the day is the citizen that was lawfully carrying a firearm in that food court and was able to stop the shooter almost as soon as he began.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: And so in this case, this is the sort of the good guy with a gun, the heroic symbol of the gun rights movement. People who support gun rights say that all you need to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Well, in this case, that did work out. Three people lost their lives. But that shooter was able to stop the shooting. Of course, we know it doesn't always work out that way. We'll learn more at the press conference this afternoon.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely, much more to learn. Athena, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
All right, let's turn now to that report on the failed law enforcement response to the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. The investigation commissioned by the Texas State House outlines quote, systemic failures and egregiously poor decision making, 19 students, two teachers were murdered on that day now almost two months ago. In a moment, I'm going to speak live with one of the authors of this report.
But first, let's get to CNN's Rosa Flores. She's live in Uvalde. And has more on what is what's in this report and the reaction from the families. Hi, Rosa.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kate, there's so much rage here in this community because of the findings, because they finally know that there are multiple law enforcement agencies and a lot of blame to go around. I want to set the scene for you because I'm actually at the school.
If you look closely behind me, you see that some of the windows are still boarded up. And I want to show you this growing memorial because this is the symbol for this community. This is where they come to pay their respects. You can see the crosses of all of the individuals who died, 19 students and two teachers, they come here.
We see people walk here every day to pay their respects. You can see the flowers you can see the teddy bears. And as we get more information and as more information is being released, like this Texas House investigative report, there are questions about will they actually get to the truth. Will the family members of these individuals get to the truth? And we talked to one of them who says, they don't think that they will actually ever really know what happened. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VINCENT SALAZAR, FAMILY MEMBER OF LAYLA SALAZAR: We're not going to get the truth. Because there is cover up, everybody is throwing everybody under the bus. The only ones that ain't under the bus is because they're six feet in the ground now and that's our children and the two teachers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FLORES: And as you take another -- and as you take another live look here you can see that that was the family member of Layla Salazar. You're taking a look at her photo. And as we pan out, you'll see the photos of the other victims in this growing memorial.
And Kate, I've got to say there's a lot of criticism about accountability because this community hasn't seen accountability. Now the city for the first time took some action yesterday in suspending the acting police chief for the city that was acting on that day as a police chief. But Kate, I've got to say, like you mentioned, it's almost going to be eight weeks. And the city is finally taking some action and also deciding to release body camera video. The big question is, why did they wait? Why was this accountability not coming sooner? Why did they wait to release this video when they had it all along? Kate?
BOLDUAN: Rosa, thank you so much for that. I really appreciate it.
Joining me now for more on this, on this report is Eva Guzman. She's a member of the Texas House of Representatives Investigative Committee, which authored and released this Uvalde report. She's also a former justice on the Texas Supreme Court. Justice Guzman, thank you very much for being here. What is your biggest takeaway from everything that you heard, you learned, and you put in this report?
JUSTICE EVA GUZMAN, MEMBER, TEXAS HOUSE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Good morning. The -- our thoughts and our prayers continue with the families in Uvalde. The report that we put together, outlines multiple systemic failures. And it outlines all of the ways that systems failed, these innocence that are now in their graves. And the focus has been on the communication and on the law enforcement response. And we've taken a look at those responses and at that communication in this report.
BOLDUAN: Is there one thing that sticks out to you most that is most striking in the 77 pages that that when you put it in it was critically important to you?
GUZMAN: It's that. It's the multiple failures. It's law enforcement response. It's the children that were in those classrooms. And it's also the mental health component. This was the shooter had had some issues throughout his life. And there wasn't ever one place where someone identified him and got him some help.
BOLDUAN: A big question now is accountability. Rosa Flores was just talking about this. You said in the press conference yesterday that it is now -- it's now up to the agencies, onto the agencies. And the way you put it is, to dive into the actions of law enforcement and hold them accountable. What does accountability look like for you? Do people need to lose their jobs? GUZMAN: So that's a decision that, you know, the local agencies will make. But accountability is looking into, there were 376 officers on the scene. There were officers in the hallway. There were some officers, you'll see in the report, who claimed they didn't know there were children in those classrooms. Accountability is going to be taking an forensic examination, who knew what, when? And what were their actions that day? And what that'll mean, you know, law enforcement agencies and municipalities?
There are a number of ways to hold actors accountable, state actors. And I think that's something they're going to decide, but it's something that the people of Uvalde deserve. And that's someone to take a look at who knew what, when, and why they took the actions that they did that day. And I think you saw that the acting chief of police has been placed on administrative leave.
BOLDUAN: So here's the thing, we have seen before in various circumstances that when systemic failures are to blame, no one is eventually held accountable. When everyone is at fault, no one is to blame. We have seen this before in other circumstances, and that you can tell is the truth -- is the fear amongst the families here. Is that going to happen here?
GUZMAN: It's my belief that the leadership in Uvalde whether that's their state representative, their mayor, is committed to holding folks accountable. If you, as I said yesterday, if you showed up that day, and you weren't ready to prioritize the lives of those children over your own, this is not the profession for you. And I'm married to a retired police officer. I've been around law enforcement my entire life since I was in my 20s. If you're not ready to give up your life for the people you serve this is not your profession. It's that simple.
BOLDUAN: I think one of the most gut wrenching conclusions in your report is that and it's a conclusion with -- it's a conclusion -- it's a statement, it's not a conclusion because you say that there is no way to know. But I do think this is one of the gut -- most gut wrenching portions of this report, and I'm going to read it is that it is plausible that some victims could have survived if they had not had to wait 73 additional minutes for rescue. And State Senator Gutierrez, who was actually on CNN this morning, and he spoke to this, I want to play this for you. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D-TX): We have two babies that we know that had single gunshot wounds, they likely bled out 5, 10, 15 minutes earlier, who is to say, who could have survived and who couldn't have?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Is that what this all comes down to?
GUZMAN: And we understand that the autopsies have been completed, and we will have a clearer picture of who could have survived. But the evidence did show there were 911 calls coming out of that classroom. Officer Ruiz, his wife, the teacher, Eva Mireles, texted him and asked for help. So we also know that during the first two and a half minutes, 100 rounds were fired. We will have more evidence available to speak to whether the children could have survived and maybe even the teacher.
BOLDUAN: When will you be releasing -- when will you be releasing all of the documents and interviews that you gathered to make this report?
GUZMAN: So a lot of that has been released through other agencies, our process will follow and I'm not in the House of Representatives, I'm back in private practice. I'm practicing law. I served as a public member. But the House has a specific process for releasing documents and I think that's something you'll see coming from that side of it.
BOLDUAN: But you are confident that it will be released?
GUZMAN: I am confident that the House will follow its usual process for that. The videos out, a lot of the statements are out. DPS has put out some information. So there is a lot out there already.
BOLDUAN: Justice Guzman, thank you for coming on.
GUZMAN: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Coming up for us. The dramatic body camera video from inside Robb Elementary School during the massacre, we're going to show you, you will see the chaos among the officers. The confusion and the delays to confront the killer that were just speaking about with the justice. That's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry, push, push.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Now the video first on CNN, it is extensive police body camera video capturing the chaos, the confusion, and the delays among the law enforcement responding to the Uvalde shooting, showing clearly what officers did and did not do as that gunman gunned down two classrooms full of children and teachers. Here's CNN's Shimon Prokupecz.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired. Get inside. Go, go, go.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER (voice-over): New body cam video released by the Uvalde mayor shows the frantic first moments police arrived on scene at Robb Elementary. This video taken by Uvalde Police Sergeant Daniel Coronado as he made his way inside the building, but within moments, more gunshots.
DANIEL CORONADO, UVALDE POLICE SERGEANT: Shots fired inside the building, Uvalde.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which building?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's in here. It's in here. I can't break. Something can break.
CORONADO: Careful, guys. Shots fired.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't break in here. Can somebody break?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's in the classroom right here on the right.
CORONADO: Take cover, guys.
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): After taking cover outside, Sergeant Coronado gives his first update on this situation to responding officers.
CORONADO: OK, guys. He's on inside this building. We have him contained. He's going to be on the building on the west side of the property. Careful with the windows facing east, right there.
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Minutes later Coronado tells dispatch what he believes is happening, that the gunman is in one of the school's offices, not a classroom.
CORONADO: Male subject is in the school on the west side of the building. He's contained. We've got multiple officers inside the building at this time. We believe he's barricaded in one of the -- one of the offices. I messed up. He's still shooting.
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): But as the minutes continue to tick by, the urgency first seen by the initial response fades away. Instead, Uvalde police officers are seen hunkering down, waiting for more backup.
Critical moments pass by at a time children were still alive in the classroom. At one point, you can hear Sergeant Coronado asking for permission to open a door into the hallway where armed officers are already inside.
CORONADO: Officers inside the building. Am I clear to open the door here on the south side of the building?
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): It's after this moment that we learn that Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo is inside the building, as other officers crowd around, looking for guidance.
Arredondo has been a central figure in the state's investigation of the shooting. DPS Director Steve McCraw calling his actions on the day of the massacre a, quote, abject failure.
As more officers arrive and more inaction, you can hear police begin to seek direction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are we doing here?
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): We also have video from Officer Justin Mendoza (ph), who also arrived on the scene at 11:58 local time. Police helped the first students and teachers from a nearby classroom escape the building.
At the same time, Sergeant Coronado can be seen helping children escape from a window outside.
At this point, it had been nearly 25 minutes since police first entered the building.
More than 12 minutes later we get our first glimpse of Chief Arredondo in the hallway of Robb Elementary. You can hear him pleading with the gunman to give up but seemingly unaware that children may still be inside the classroom.
CHIEF PETE ARREDONDO, UVALDE CONSOLIDATED INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT POLICE: Let me know if there are any kids in there or anything. This could be peaceful. Could you tell me your name, anything I can know, please?
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Moments later a critical piece of the puzzle from the camera of Officer Mendoza (ph). 911 dispatch gives a chilling account from a student still in the classroom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a child on the line.
OFFICER JUSTIN MENDOZA (ph): What was that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's going to be Room 12 (UNINTELLIGIBLE). He is in the room full of victims, full of victims at this moment.
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): And yet, even with that information, six minutes go by without any sort of response.
Then we see Arredondo with a set of keys, trying and failing to make entry into a classroom near where the gunman is barricaded, eventually handing the keys off to another officer, who does make entry.
More heavily armored officers arrive, but no one gives the order to give in. Then suddenly, a new round of gunfire. But after those gunshots Arredondo, again, tries to talk with the shooter.
ARREDONDO: Can you hear me, sir?
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): And again, minutes later.
ARREDONDO: Sir, if you can hear me, please put your firearm down, sir. We don't want anybody else hurt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know, I know.
ARREDONDO: That's what we're doing. We're trying to get them out. PROKUPECZ (voice-over): After no response, police still stand around without much urgency.
Over the course of the next nearly 30 minutes, we see more officers arrive. The video obtained by CNN cuts out moments before police breach the classroom and kill the shooter at 12:51 local time. By then many young, innocent children and their two teachers were dead.
BOLDUAN: Shimon, thank you so much for that. Joining me now for more on this is CNN senior law enforcement analyst, former Deputy Director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe and retired Los Angeles police sergeant Cheryl Dorsey. Andy, what does the body camera footage show you?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Kate, what surprises me is not what I see on the body camera footage. It's what I don't see that surprised me. So what you see on the footage is confusion, chaos, literally the fog of war that accompanies any sort of critical incident, certainly one in which shots are fired. This is very typical people are amped up, they're filled with adrenaline, they're out of breath. It's hard to understand kind of what's happening as they get themselves organized that you would see on body camera footage in any situation like this.
But it's what you don't see that shocking. You don't see anyone taking charge. You don't see anyone exhibiting any sort of leadership, organizing, figuring out what resources people and equipment you have, and deploying those resources to save lives. None of that happens over the course of an hour and 17 minutes. And it is just a tragic and shocking realization as you watch this, all of this footage really.
BOLDUAN: Yes, absolutely. I'm going to talk more about the lack of leadership in just a second with you, Andy. But first, Cheryl, another -- one thing you do see in this body cam footage is how Pete Arredondo tried to speak to and talk down the shooter at various points more than once, let me play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know. I know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cover, cover.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is that? What's that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's communicate.
ARREDONDO: Can you hear me, sir? Sir, if you can hear me please put your firearm down, sir. We don't want anybody else hurt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got kids in there. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know, I know.
ARREDONDO: That's what we're doing. We're trying to get them out.
BOLDUAN: Cheryl, the fact that he tried to speak to the shooter multiple times that reveals what about this response?
CHERYL DORSEY, RETIRED LAPD POLICE SERGEANT: That he doesn't know what he's doing. I mean, a lack of leadership is fully on display here. And part of the problem, why he doesn't know what he's doing is because by his own admission, he went into an active shooter scene without his radio.
Why? Because he didn't want to be slowed down and we can look at him and tell he's not built for speed or distance. So I don't know how holding a radio would slow him down. He also admitted that his radios don't work in his own school district. And so everything about this is problematic. The more this man talks, the more offensive his words are.
And who in their right mind whether you're sworn or civilian, would try to talk down an active shooter in the midst of massacring babies. All of it is offensive. It's embarrassing as a law enforcement official. And I think what happens when you see officers standing around, they have a man in their midst with stars on his collar, and they don't want to over step their limitations, if you will, and do something contrary to what it is he's having them do right now which is stand down.
BOLDUAN: And Andy talk to me about that as well, because according to the report, Pete Arredondo, told the Texas Committee, he thought he was not in command at the scene. The way he said it to the Committee, according to the report is I know our policy states, you're the incident commander, my approach and thought was responding as a police officer. And so I didn't title myself. Do you -- do you believe that?
MCCABE: I mean, I mean, it's hard to read, it's almost impossible to believe reading. But you know, if that's what he said, I guess I take that as word. It's just such a colossal failure, Kate.
I mean, you are the leader, you are the guy with the rank, it is your jurisdiction, you know, the policy according to what he said right there that every indicator in existence is pointing to him as making the decisions. All the reasons why he should have been outside in the parking lot, setting up incident command, dispatching other people to do things like trying sets of keys on door locks that they didn't even really need to get into.
But the fact is, when you are the leader and you are physically present in the tactical scene there, everyone defers to you, that is like law enforcement, you know, that's kind of beaten into you for your first day at the academy following the chain of command. So to be in that position, basically, in, you know, communicating that you're in charge of making all the decisions and then to not make any of those decisions and take charge, it's just the worst leadership failure I think I've ever seen in my years doing this.
BOLDUAN: Well, and I think what will now remain to be seen looking forward is what accountability is there and what changes are made. One of them -- we just had one of the authors of this interim report on talking about these systemic failures. And is true and worth repeating and I think you both can agree, if everyone is to -- if everyone is at fault, we have seen before that it ends up being no one is to blame, but we will see what accountability looks like as this -- as each agency now goes through their review. It's good to see you both. Thank you.
Coming up for us, Ukraine's President removes to top officials in the biggest shake up in his government since Russia's war began, details on the allegations of treason next.