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At This Hour

Dangerous Ice Storm Snarls Travel Across Southern U.S.; Tyre Nichols' Brother States Officers "Deserve The Death Penalty"; U.S. Secretary Of State Antony Blinken Expresses Sorrow For "Innocent" Palestinians Killed; Rep. George Santos To Recuse Himself From Committees And Ethics Issues. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired January 31, 2023 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, AT THIS HOUR, a dangerous ice storm is setting in across the South. A slippery mess is in store for millions unfortunately.

Plus, more Memphis police officers are being disciplined now. And EMTs fired after the beating death of Tyre Nichols. What his brother says he wants to see happen to those responsible.

And prosecutors could file charges today against Alec Baldwin and the "Rust" film armorer.

This is what we are watching AT THIS HOUR.


BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for being here. I'm Kate Bolduan. Let's start with the major winter storm that is impacting millions of people in the South today.

Check out this -- oh, geez -- check out that video out of Dallas. Freezing rain is doing what freezing rain does, sending cars sliding across the roads and making it a total mess, a dangerous mess.

Dozens of accidents so far. And the governor of Arkansas is activating the National Guard in preparation for the triple threat they are getting with ice, sleet and snow.

More than 40 million Americans stretching from Texas to West Virginia are under winter weather alerts. And with that is coming more flight troubles. More than 1,000 flights have been canceled and over 1,500 delayed. We are just getting this day underway.

And Ed Lavandera is in Dallas.

It looks much different than when I was watching you earlier.

What has happened? ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has changed dramatically in the last 1.5 hours, where the sleet and rain covered the roadways for most of the morning.

And this is I-75, the central expressway here in the Dallas area. And you can see where it is normally one of the busiest highways in the city and not a lot of traffic out there.

And the offices and many school districts are closed. That is why there is light traffic out there. But it is treacherous no matter where you are. And we have spoken to a couple by the name of Amber and Jason Kelly (ph). They started to drive last night at 9 o'clock from Wichita Falls, trying to get to Ft. Worth to bring three steers the livestock rodeo show there.

It took them 12 hours. They spent much of the night stranded on Highway 287 about 40 miles outside of Ft. Worth and it was a long night for the couple.


JASON KELLY (PH), LIVESTOCK OWNER: We decided to leave last night about 9:30, which would be a normal hour and 45 or two-hour ride has been already eight hours, I guess. I am sure we have at least three to four more hours.

AMBER KELLY (PH), LIVESTOCK OWNER: I think we came to a standstill about 11:00 pm and we did not move, not one inch for seven hours or something. I mean, hours. We did not move one inch.


LAVANDERA: And so, Kate, they spent the night in their car and loaded up on $100 worth of food at a convenience store and they got stuck. They just moments ago made it to Ft. Worth. But these are the conditions that we'll continue to see throughout the day today and it's expected to last until tomorrow.

An hour 45 turning into 12, man, that's horrible. Thank you, Ed, so much.



BOLDUAN: Now we will turn to the growing fallout from the beating death of Tyre Nichols. Two additional Memphis police officers, including the one we will show you here, are now on leave and under investigation in connection to the brutal beating.

The city's fire department has now fired two EMTs and a lieutenant following an internal investigation. Ryan Young has the latest from Memphis.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground. Right now.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New fallout from a video that has shaken the country. Three members of the Memphis Fire Department have been fired and two more police officers have been relieved of duty following the deadly police beating of Tyre Nichols.

Memphis police said Monday that those two officers are still subjects of an internal investigation. The five initial officers, all of whom are Black, were ultimately fired on January 20th after being placed on leave and then indicted last week on second-degree murder and other charges.

In the release, the Memphis Fire Department said the two EMTs and a fire lieutenant failed to conduct an adequate patient assessment of Nichols after he was pepper sprayed.

One of the latest police officers to be placed on leave is wearing this body camera. He's identified by Memphis police as Officer Preston Hemphill.

Hemphill, who is white, can be seen firing his Taser at Nichols following this initial traffic stop January 7th after Nichols takes off running, other officers chasing him, Hemphill is heard on his body cam.

PRESTON HEMPHILL, FORMER MPD OFFICER: I hope they stomp his ass.

YOUNG (voice-over): A source confirms to CNN, Hemphill is also a member of the now disbanded SCORPION unit. He is seen here receiving a certificate for skilled training for the Memphis Crisis Intervention Team.

Hemphill has not been charged; his lawyer says his client never went to the second scene, where the beating occurred and that he is cooperating with the investigation.

Attorneys for the Nichols family released a statement, saying in part, "The news Monday from Memphis officials that officer Preston Hemphill was reportedly relieved of duty weeks ago but not yet terminated or charged is extremely disappointing.

"Why is his identity and his role he played in Tyre's death just now coming to light?"

Memphis police has not released the name of the seventh officer. Meanwhile, according to a spokesman for the Shelby County district attorney's office, all officers and first responders who were at the scene of the Nichols arrest are being looked at for possible charges.


STEVE MULROY, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SHELBY COUNTY, TENNESSEE: We were extraordinarily quick, within less than three weeks. We went from the incident to filing charges against the five officers who are primarily responsible for the death of Tyre Nichols and who were on that scene.

Aas to everybody else, it is going to take some time as we do that investigation. But I assure you the investigation is ongoing.


BOLDUAN: Ryan Young there for us from Memphis.

Joining us me now for more is David Aronberg, the state attorney for Palm Beach County, Florida, and Joe Ested. He's a police officer from Richmond, Virginia.

Thanks for being here.

Dave, I want to start with the officers that have been charged so far, the original five I will call them.

Tyre's brother was on "CNN THIS MORNING" and he was clear about what he would like to see happen.


JAMAL DUPREE, TYRE NICHOLS' BROTHER: I hope they meet the same fate as my brother. That's just how I feel. I mean, I don't know what the laws is in Tennessee or whatnot but for me, I believe they deserve the death penalty.


BOLDUAN: The current charge facing all of them is second-degree murder. That 's not eligible for the death penalty in Tennessee.

What do you think of the second degree murder charge, Dave, and how challenging is this to prove in court?

DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: Kate, good to be with you and Joe. It is always tough to prosecute police for on- duty conduct. But here you have very powerful body cam videos and I think that means the prosecution has a really strong case.

And because people and witnesses could like but video does not. And when it comes to these videos, I think it is enough to sustain a second degree murder charge.


ARONBERG: The fact that they are not charging first degree murder means that the death penalty is off of the table. But it also makes it more likely they'll get a conviction on these charges.

The bigger question is, will anyone else be charged, the EMTs or officer Hemphill?

But for these five officers, all are being charged as principals and charged with the same thing and I think the prosecutors will have a good chance at a conviction and may want to look to see which of the officers was least culpable and try to get that officer to turn on the others to make it more easier to get a conviction for the people who are most culpable of all.

BOLDUAN: I wanted to ask you about the other officers in a second, Dave.

But Joe, you do now have additional officers relieved of duty and only one of the two police officers has been identified. And that stuck out to me at this kind of -- at this point, only one of them being identified by the department.

What do you think that's about?

JOE ESTED, AUTHOR AND FORMER POLICE OFFICER: I think that there is an ongoing investigation. And I think that department knows a lot more than what they are releasing now. So I don't think that it is just one. I think that they are just giving us piece by piece.

Good to see you, Dave.

Kate, thanks for inviting me.

BOLDUAN: Oh, thanks for coming on, Joe.

This new officer, we have one picture up, Dave, Preston Hemphill. What we do know is that he fired the Taser at Nichols and he's heard on the body camera saying that -- what he said "I hope they stomp his ass."

He is not seen on the video as being part of the second scene where Nichols was brutally beaten.

What does that mean for his culpability in relation to the other officers?

And why he is not facing charges, Dave?

ARONBERG: The key is his words, "I hope they stomp his ass," is what he said. If the other officers heard that and that encouraged him to engage in the beating, then he could be charged, just like the other officers, because you have to do something affirmative.

Encouragement is enough to be charged with aiding and abetting a second degree murder and if you are charged with that, you're a principal. But it looks like he said it to himself.

He was hoping this would happen and if nobody else heard that, it'll be tough for the prosecutors to charge him and almost impossible to get a conviction. And so that is why you haven't seen charges yet but the investigation continues.

Even if he is not charged here, I don't think he'll work as a police officer anywhere else ever again.

BOLDUAN: Joe, there's also now new reporting that the initial police report with what happened with Tyre Nichols is being contradicted by the videos released. No mention in the initial report of the officers punching and kicking him, obviously clearly seen on video. And the initial police report also claiming that Nichols started to fight with officers, that is not seen. And the report also lists Nichols as a suspect in an aggravated assault and lists one of the five officers now charges as one of the victims of the assault.

What do you make of the discrepancies, Joe?

ESTED: Well, it shows me that they are liars. We're looking at, guys, criminals, gang members in uniform, posing as law enforcement officers.

People are asking why is the actions not consistent with the video?

Look at how they responded.

Was the traffic stop legit?

These guys did not have PC. These guys chased Tyre down and they beat him to death. So that does not surprise me at all.

BOLDUAN: Unfortunately, Dave, this is not the first time or the first instance that video evidence is showing a starkly different account from what officers report after a violent police encounter. George Floyd comes to mind.

How big is this problem?

ARONBERG: It is a crime. It's official misconduct. It's a felony. It is not just putting the wrong information in a police report but also omitting things. When you have an omission, it is just as bad as if you lie.

So whoever wrote that report lied and will be charged with a felony. It's important.

We see all the body cams out there and it was seen as a solution to this problem. But after this video, you can see that the body cams are not enough; you need more. You need a ban on choke holds and a database nationally to identify bad officers for other departments to know when they apply to their local departments.

So a lot more needs to be done and hopefully this is the beginning of a new conversation.

BOLDUAN: Dave, it is good to see you.

And Joe, thank you for coming on. Appreciate it.

And coming up for us, President Biden moments ago spoke about Ukraine's latest request to send fighter jets. We will tell you what the president said -- next.





BOLDUAN: Secretary of state Tony Blinken is wrapping up a critical visit in a time of crisis for Israel and the West Bank. Blinken met with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas after meeting with Israel's president Benjamin Netanyahu. Hadas Gold is there.

Blinken's mission is trying to bring down the tension.

What are you hearing?

HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Secretary Blinken, in the last half hour or so, wrapped up a press conference, the first time that the press has been able to ask him any questions since he started the tour here in Israel and then in the West Bank. Essentially he reiterated the U.S.' support to a two-state solution.


GOLD: And acknowledging the most important thing is to try to bring down the tension before they can look at a longer term situation. But he did not make any major announcement about major agreements. There were hopes he could convince the Palestinian Authority to reinstate security coordination with Israel, seen by the U.S. as vital to help keep some sense of communication, of calm between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, especially between the security services.

But he did ask senior members of the staff to stay here, to continue with the dialogue and that hopefully, in the next few days, we may hear some actual announcements about something that will be happening.

But secretary Blinken said that he knows the tension is not going to be diffused overnight.

BOLDUAN: Hadas Gold, thank you.

House speaker Kevin McCarthy is meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah on Capitol Hill, the first time he has met with a foreign leader as speaker. The two are expected to discuss the recent rise in violence between Israel and Palestine. We are seeing some video of their first initial meeting moments ago.

President Biden is facing new questions today about the latest request from Ukraine for fighter jets. Listen to this.


QUESTION: Have you spoken to Zelenskyy recently and what are you going to tell him about his further requests?



BOLDUAN: That was moments ago. And it is coming after the president yesterday flatly said very clearly no when he was asked about sending fighter jets, saying that he would not send fighter jets to the fight. Alex Marquardt joins us.

What are you hearing from the Biden administration about this?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: When you listen to President Biden, it sounds like a flat rejection of the request for fighter jets, specifically F-16s to Ukraine.

The U.S. said they will send what they believe Ukraine needs currently. But moments ago we heard the foreign minister of Ukraine say that, at the top of the wish list for weapons from the West, are fighter jets and long-range rockets that are capable of hitting targets some 200 miles away.

The U.S. is focused on the fight right now as it stands. the priorities that it believes Ukraine should have and that is air defense systems and the armored vehicles that have been committed earlier in the month as well as long range rockets.

And there is a difference of opinion over what the range of the rockets should be sent to Ukraine but take a listen to White House's John Kirby talking about the capabilities that the U.S. wants to focus on.


ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: There's a lot of capability that is being sent and will be sent in coming weeks and months. And the kinds of capabilities that we know will be critical to helping the Ukrainians again the fighting now, in the wintertime, as well as the fighting they will be doing in the spring.


MARQUARDT: And Kate, the question of whether or not to send F-16s is not, we understand, about the fear of escalating and Russia seeing this as a propagation but rather that they are so complicated and extremely sophisticated systems that take a long time to train pilots on.

And as a spokesman for the British prime minister just said, it is not practical.

BOLDUAN: And that is interesting, because former Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, who was on yesterday, even if it is a while before we send F-16s, we need to train the Ukrainian pilots now, because he thinks they will need them in the end.

It's very good to see you, Alex.

Republican Congress man George Santos just told the House Republicans that he wants to remove himself from his committees. Why? That is next.





BOLDUAN: You can definitely call it another twist in the drama surrounding George Santos. A Republican lawmaker is telling CNN that the Republican congressman just told his colleagues in a meeting that he will not be serving on committees until his issues are resolved. Manu Raju has this for us.

What is going on here?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is the first sign of a crack in the wall of defiance from George Santos since he fabricated major portions of his life stories.

Questions of his campaign finances and investigations that he is facing. He has indicated that he will not resign but he is going to plow ahead as a normal member of Congress. He has two committee assignments, one on the Science Committee and one on the Small Business Committee.

That came from Kevin McCarthy and his allies. But this morning Santos said he is planning to step aside from those two key committees and allow these issues to get resolved. And at that point, then he will continue to serve. He indicated that he told McCarthy about this in a meeting last night.


REP. ROGER WILLIAMS (R-TX): The bottom line he is chose to be off of the committees until his situation gets handled at a level that he's comfortable with -- and the speaker.