Return to Transcripts main page

Breaking News

Grand Jury Decides Not To Indict Officer Wilson

Aired November 24, 2014 - 23:00   ET


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's definitely smoking up here. It is mayhem out here. We saw a good number of police officers leave the scene, take off in their cruisers. Right after they left we watched a beauty -- a wireless store just looted.

I watched 20 people or so break in there. Then one young man threatened me for recording it. Right after that then I saw two young women come over and say this is our -- she's Mexican. She's like this is our stuff you're doing this too.

Why are you doing this? Some of them stopped and everyone ran out of the store. But just people running back and forth, back and forth all over the street from where the Ferguson market, breaking in there, targeting different locations here.

And it is mayhem. There's a car backing down the street right in the middle of the street. It's mayhem out here. From where I'm standing I don't see one police officer. It's completely just mayhem. People running around and trying to break into these different stores and going in and out.

It's unbelievable how it looks out here right now. And the fact that you have young people going up to other people telling them to stop, to respect their own community, it is an unbelievable scene out here tonight.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Stephanie Elam, where are you exactly right now?

ELAM: Right now, I'm actually -- right now I'm standing outside the McDonald's and people are throwing stuff at me right now. People are throwing stuff at me right now. It's that kind of scene out here right now.

TAPPER: Stephanie, get to safety, please.

ELAM: I feel safe, actually. Believe it or not, right now. She's just having fun. It's just a young girl smiling and kicking stuff at us right now.


ELAM: But the energy out here is actually how far they can get away with some of the things going on out here. But there's no one outside regulating. Other than some people from the community coming out and telling people don't do this right now, let's not do this. And other people saying don't shoot this. Don't record this, all

of this while the beauty supply store is clearly on fire. We're going to --

TAPPER: Stephanie, there's no police there? OK.


TAPPER: That's a good idea, for you to get to another location.

ELAM: I've got to go.

TAPPER: It seems unusual that there wouldn't be any police there. OK. That's a good idea. We're still here outside the Ferguson Police Department with state troopers and police. Don Lemon, where are you exactly?

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jake. I'm glad you can hear me. We're back in front of the Ferguson Police Department. Yes, can you hear me, Jake? Back in front of the Ferguson Police Department --

TAPPER: Yes, yes, go ahead.

LEMON: We are here with Chris Cuomo and I'm also here with Van Jones. Before I walk to these guys, I just want to show you, this is what's happening up close and personal with the Ferguson Police Department. They're out in riot gear and tactical gear.

You see a lot of people with cameras, many of them bloggers and what have you, live streamers, confronting police here. We have been hit several times by tear gas. We've had to go into our safe area and then come back out when we deem that it is safe to do so.

I want to talk to CNN's Chris Cuomo because Chris, you've been out here as well. You can still see the smoke in the air and you can feel it. And sadly, this is not what the Brown family wanted and the president asked for just before --

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Listen, nobody wants this. For whatever discontent there is about there being no indictment, this is the opposite of that outrage, which is showing that there's no respect for the rule of law. So nobody wanted it.

But the reporting is important especially in its accuracy about certain matters here. Any communications that they're using smoke canisters, that may be true, but they are also using tear gas. What happened to us does not happen from a usual smoke canister or from a flash bang.

They're using various different modes to help with crowd control at different points. But they're definitely using tear gas and a lot of it. And the main thrust of what happened here is this street was thought to be a place for public assembly.

The police officers were saying no, it isn't, move off. That created tension and then that's when the police cars got attacked. What you have now is a reorganizing of the protesters and they are actively antagonizing the police to not be here and for their tactics.

LEMON: It's not a very big crowd. It was a large crowd earlier. The crowd is now smaller.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think people should understand that what's going on now is you have really boiled this thing down to a very small number of hardcore protesters and then social media video bloggers, who are now kind of in a standoff with a very large number of law enforcement.

I think one of the things I thought was most disturbing was there was an attempt to get a woman who had succumbed and they carried her on their shoulders, screaming medic, medic, medic.

But as they came toward the police the police opened fire with flash bangs and tear gas. Communication has completely broken down now here.

LEMON: Look behind us. These are the police in their tactical gear here right in front of the Ferguson Police Department. We saw a big number of people earlier, and again, as Van Jones pointed out, as Chris Cuomo pointed out, a much smaller crowd now.

And many of them are bloggers, live streamers who are really sort of in a standoff, a confrontation with police, a reorganization of protesters, and as Chris said, a reorganization of police as well.

CUOMO: They're moving because they needed to get fire equipment out because you have at least one police cruiser on fire and there was a storm front on fire at the opposite end of the street at the fire station right now.

So they need to reconfigure just to allow out the emergency vehicles. And you know, one of the problems here is they were supposed to have different rings of control here tonight. They had police ready here in front of the police, the municipal building, and the fire department.

They also had National Guard and support troops in an outer perimeter to help control as people fell back if there were trouble. It didn't seem to work though obviously.

LEMON: How surreal is this? I'm not sure if you can -- can you get this? I see two cars. I see two different --

CUOMO: They're police cruisers.

LEMON: Yes, two different police cruisers.

CUOMO: Right under a "Season's Greetings" sign. One of the odd paradoxes here is the police are getting ready for Christmas. You just zoomed in past where it says "Season's Greetings" and underneath there are two police cruisers on fire right now.

LEMON: And it's really unbelievable that, you know, we're witnessing this. We thought we had seen the worst of it back in August when we all were out here and we all got overcome with tear gas. But nothing like what happened this evening to a point where I could barely stand up. I'm not sure if you were in the safe room --

CUOMO: We were very close to it, and there's a price you pay for that. But it was important just so that you get a feel of what the balance is of control and power. The good news is some burning eyes and a rough throat is a controllable thing, but there was very little gunfire. We have to wait for reports about whether or not there were arrests made or anyone hurt from them.

LEMON: We did hear gunfire.

CUOMO: Absolutely. There were several different volleys of gunfire. One of the most dangerous moments here were when the people that Van were talking about came down with the woman in distress. As police opened the circle there was a volley of gunfire from up on the hill here directly toward us and toward the officers. That created the retaliation. But right now it does seem to have calmed.

LEMON: I want to get to -- hang on one second because I need to get to my colleague, Anderson Cooper. Anderson, I believe you're out in the crowd. What are you seeing where you are, Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we picked this location. We're at the command center where we've seen really over the last hour or so large numbers of vehicles. This is the staging ground for a lot of the law enforcement authorities. They've been trying to stay out of sight as much as possible.

Obviously, the situation has changed dramatically over the last hour or hour and a half. But I do think it's important to put this into some context. What we're talking about, what you're seeing, the images are from a relatively isolated and limited location.

We're talking about a several-block area. It is not as if I was just driving around in Ferguson, driving around in St. Louis. Elsewhere things are calm. People are at their homes. Many people are just watching this on television.

So just to keep in perspective of the scale of this and in our coverage I want to try to give you a sense of scale right now. With each of the reporters that we go to, just to give you a sense of location.

And a sense of how many people may be actually involved in the kind of violence, the kind of demonstrations we've been seeing. If we can go to our Jason Carroll, Jason, if you can hear me, where are you now and what are you seeing?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm just south of the Ferguson Police Department. Right up here you can see what is left of a vehicle here that is on fire, Anderson. Just down the street a little bit more from where I'm standing. There is another vehicle that's on fire as well.

And then just up the street there are still a number of police officers who are here in riot gear trying to move down the line very, very slowly down the street, trying to keep people off the street, trying to keep some of these agitators who are out here, who have caused all this damage off the street.

But you can see it's absolutely heartbreaking for all of those over the past several days, who did not want to see scenes like this happening out here. Vehicles on fire, one, two, another vehicle they've tried to set on fire out here as well.

Police still using tear gas, still moving through the area. Again, Anderson, it's heartbreaking, the Brown family, the governor, the president, all speaking about non-violence and about peace.

Even earlier in the night when we were out here when there were hundreds of people out here, there were those demonstrators, who were trying to police themselves.

Trying to get the agitators to stop throwing bricks, to stop throwing bottles, stop putting lighter fluid on the cars, to try and stop all of this, and yet this is what we're seeing right now.

COOPER: So Jason, just briefly, how far from the police station are you because I want to try to get a sense of the scale of all this.

CARROLL: Absolutely. Anderson is asking how far we are from the police station from where we are. I would say 200 meters at best. Not that far at all. It's difficult to see because I'm keeping my cameraman just behind a building here --

COOPER: And in terms of --

CARROLL: -- where some of the building -- some of the windows have been smashed.

COOPER: OK, Jason, in terms of the people you're seeing, the demonstrators, how many are there still out on the streets where you are and how many police would you say roughly?

CARROLL: Well, in terms of the people that we've seen out here, and they're moving me away because they're hearing there might be live ammunition on the cars. So now I'm going to move away from there quickly.

But in terms of the number of people we've seen -- we are moving, sir. We're moving. But in terms of the number of people that we've seen out on the street, in terms of demonstrators, I've seen pockets. I'd say about 100. But they're spread out, ten people here, ten people there, another five people over here.

In terms of the number of police officers that we've seen out here, it varies. The line of officers that we saw just moving down the street here in front of where this burned-out car was, I'd say about a dozen.

COOPER: OK. And Don Lemon, I want to go back to you. Don, where were you in relation to where Jason is? Do you know? LEMON: We're not far from Jason. Maybe about a quarter of a mile, Chris, do you think? We're from Jason. The reason I want to jump in is because when Jason was running away from that car, I wanted to tell him and you that we're being told by police that there may be live ammunition, live rounds in those police cars.

And they're not sure if they're going to -- that it can ignite or go off, so they want everyone in that area to get out of the way. As Chris and I were standing here, I think where Anderson is, there are different locations this is happening. So the scale is different. Here there were hundreds of people if not thousands of people in this particular crowd.

CUOMO: Right. And Anderson's right to provide context on this. It's not as though there are marauding hordes of rioters flying through this see right now. Even though you see a very dramatic picture, it is a very isolated situation.

However, there are different situations depending on where you were. There were certainly well over 1,000 people here. The number of agitators had to be much smaller than that, of course. But once the tear gas comes out, once there's gunfire, everybody gets caught up in the melee.

And that's where these situations get so dangerous. So it's not really just about counting the numbers of who's involved, it's what actually happens. That's why we're still out here.

LEMON: I think it's interesting this time because last time the protesters were saying, listen, the police egged us on. They came out in their tactical gear. They were shooting tear gas at us. But from our vantage point, we clearly saw people throwing bottles at police and really just intimidating police officers.

JONES: And I think that this is so tragic because it's exactly what the parents of Mike Brown said they did not want. They were clear about this. They said if there was violence tonight it would mar the memory of their child.

And we have to be clear, this is about Mike Brown. It's not about all the stuff that's going on here. Also, you have to remember, the organizers listened to the media. They did dozens of training on non-violent civil disobedience.

They really put in the work. The police also put in work to try to get their tactics better. And to see it break down like that tonight is tragic. It takes the issue away from Mike Brown and the bigger issue --

LEMON: But the people who probably need to hear that are not watching us. They're out here. Take a look. If you can look at the police officers, look right here. The police officers are in their gear. You can see them holding rifles right behind us.

Really holding the line between this side of the street, of South Florissant, and then the other side of where the police department is really trying to keep people from the other side of the street and going into the police department. You're witnessing up close now live and personal what police officers are dealing with and also what --

CUOMO: Their weapons, one of the weapons is a machine gun that they have and the other one is actually used to shoot those bean bags. So they're trying to use minimal force when appropriate. The question is what happens in this situation? Hopefully, we've seen the worst of it, but we'll have to see.

LEMON: Anderson, I'm wondering since you're over at the command center if anyone, any official has come out and spoken to you about the situation at all.

COOPER: They have not. The police are trying to make the point. They keep saying it's not tear gas that's been used, that it's smoke. Obviously, I know from your reporting, from the reporting of a number of people on the ground and security personnel as well, they're saying they believe that there is without a doubt tear gas in there as well.

But that is the word we're getting from the police department as well. Sara Sidner is also standing by. She's not too far from where Jason Carroll was. Sara, explain your location and what you're seeing.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What's happening right now, Anderson, is that we're standing right outside the "I love Ferguson" office that tried to get something together to make people love this community as much as the residents do.

But what you're seeing behind me are two cars, one certainly a police car that is on fire showing you those pictures. What has happened just a few moments ago is that the car keeps -- it sounds like exploding in different parts.

And then what you're also seeing is the police basically telling people to back up or they're going to start spraying the tear gas again. Let me show you something over here.

Officers are coming from many different directions. You see to my right there some officers. If we cross the street, Anderson, you will see some of the damage, some of the vandalism that has happened here.

El Palanque Mexican restaurant where a lot of people go to have lunch and dinner has been broken into. Just next to it a business broken into, I'm going to look now at Cathy's Kitchen, which is a very extremely popular place here.

The owner is a coach for a lot of the children here. His place is broken in. I know he's an African-American gentleman who has talked to us many times about the situation here in Ferguson.

There's a lot of frustration because some of the protesters have told us look, this is completely ruining the message that they wanted to send to the world. They wanted things to be peaceful especially the residents here. We did talk to one gentleman who was standing outside of a wig

shop here, and he would not let anyone inside that shop. It had been broken to pieces. He said no one is coming in here, we are not going to do looting, I am not with that, we're going to stand out here and we're going to protect this business.

But again, let me show you what's happening because right now we've got movement from the police department here, the St. Louis County Police Department coming out. More people coming every minute out here.

And it's probably mostly because there are two cars that are now on fire. They've already threatened to -- and now you're hearing people scream "no justice, no peace." But they are threatening with tear gas if people do not disperse -- Anderson.

COOPER: OK, Sara. On the right side of your screen for our viewers, you're looking at a view of I-44. Those are protesters on I-44, one of the main roads going into St. Louis. They've actually blocked the road and shut down the road. Our Stephanie Elam I believe is joining us now. Stephanie, can you explain where you are and what you're seeing?

ELAM: Sure, Anderson. I'm on West Florissant. There's the McDonald's and we are just coming down from this area. You can see now that police are now in their riot gear. They're coming down here. They're announcing that this is no longer a peaceful protest.

And as you can see, they're lined up the entire length of the street and they're making people turn around. I've got to tell you, though, this street cleared out pretty quickly. In a matter of 20 minutes we saw three different stores broken into and looted and then there were gunshots and people dispersed.

Now as you can see law enforcement is here and they are coming through. They are pushing people out and telling people to get out of here. If you see the smoke, that's because a beauty supply store across the street from me is on fire on the inside. The fire department is now there handling that.

But they are looking around. They are using their lights to see if anyone is up on top of these buildings here and they are in full-on riot gear now. It looks almost like a different country. It does not look like the United States of America right now.

COOPER: Stephanie, let me ask you, about how far are you from the Ferguson police department where Jason Carroll and Sara Sidner were?

ELAM: They are up on South Florissant. I actually walked there one time before. I'd say it's probably about a mile away or so. But it's up in that direction. So this part where I am now is on the same street that connects to where Mike Brown was shot.

COOPER: So you're a few blocks away from where Mike Brown was shot, is that correct?

ELAM: Yes, that's correct, Anderson.

COOPER: OK. So you're at the site where during the summer we saw so many of the protests, so much of the flash points, of the confrontations between police. It looks like from your vantage point, though, that the number of protesters on the street is very small.

It seems like there is a large police presence that is moving down the street. But I don't see a lot of protesters. Is that correct?

ELAM: Not now. But when I first got here, there were no police officers. The police officers took off. We saw them leave. They got in their cars and left. And in that 15-minute window it was mayhem out here.

The McDonald's -- the window was broken into again. We saw a couple other stores broken into and looted. And the police have now shown up or the law enforcement has shown up back in riot gear and is pushing everyone down. The one thing that really cleared it out, though, were those gunshots.

Gunshots went off and the agitators who were out here dispersed. They disappeared. Mike, if you could just turn around, I'm talking to my talented camera guy here, you can see this is where the protesters are in the other direction, pushing down.

There are people in the streets and they're now turning cars around to head back in the other direction towards Canfield, which is where Mike Brown died. So the people are more this way and they're slowly pushing everyone out of the way -- Anderson.

COOPER: OK. So the locations that we're really looking at, just for our viewers just to try to give you a sense of context, we're really looking at two major locations or I should say three. We just saw the view on I-44 where protesters have blocked the road.

It looked like maybe several hundred there. There's a building on South Florissant, which you're looking at right now. Obviously, that has been set ablaze as well. There's a location outside the Ferguson Police Department headquarters, and there's a location where Stephanie is not far from where Mike Brown was originally shot.

So we're looking right now at four main areas in and around Ferguson that have been the flashpoints of the violence that we have seen thus far. While all of this is happening, I should also point out that we have people who are going over all the documents that have now been released by the county prosecutor, Robert McCullough.

All the witness testimony, all the photographs, the evidence that was presented to the grand jury, that led to the grand jury deciding not to indict Officer Darren Wilson. And I want to put on the screen some photographs we are now seeing for the first time of Officer Darren Wilson, said to be after the altercation with Mike Brown.

And I'm looking at them as you are seeing them for the first time. These photographs were part of the evidence that was presented to the grand jury. Darren Wilson had, according to the Ferguson police chief early on, said that he'd been hit on the side of the face, that he had been taken to the hospital.

It looks like these photos may have been taken at the hospital. Possibly they were taken in the police station. Clearly there had been some erroneous reports early on of serious damage to his eye or an eye socket. Some media outlets had reported that months ago.

But it clearly looks like perhaps there is discoloration of the cheek there, perhaps some bruising of the cheek. And again, we want to find out more of the evidence of what Darren Wilson actually said happened to him in that police cruiser between him and Mike Brown.

But there you're seeing the pictures that we are seeing. You can judge for yourself what you think of what you're seeing. I'll leave that up to our viewers.

Our Jason Carroll is also still standing by, near the police headquarters. Mark O'Mara, an attorney. As you watch these, I know, Mark, you've been looking at some of the documents that have now been released, and there's a lot of information to go through.

It's going to take our teams, and we have teams of people on this right now looking into it. But Mark O'Mara, I'm wondering what stands out to you and what about these pictures of Darren Wilson? What do you see in them?

MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Here's what we're doing, Anderson. We of course are getting all this information in right now. So what we figured we would do, it makes the most sense, is we're going to use Darren Wilson's statement itself and get some context, what he talked to the grand jury about, what he talked to law enforcement officers about.

We're going to use that sort of as a foundation, and then we'll look at the other witness statements to see if they compare, contrast, or agree with it. What I will tell you is looking at Wilson's statement to date there are some things that we didn't know about.

And of course we knew very little about the event because we hadn't heard anything from Wilson. As an example, Wilson testified in front of the grand jury that Mike Brown had tried to get in the car on three separate occasions and that there was a back and forth trying to get out of the car, Mike Brown pushing him in the car.

Also, Wilson testified that he was hit approximately ten times by Brown while in the car and that he had his hand on the gun, and that was noted because when Wilson said that when he finally took the gun away after the shooting later on there was blood on the gun.

And particularly on the handle of the gun by the hammer evidencing the thought at least at that point it was Mike Brown's weapon -- I'm sorry, Mike Brown's blood on the weapon.

So as we're going through Wilson's statement, again, trying to corroborate what he said in that statement with all the other witness statements, we're working as fast as we can. We have a great team up here doing the work with us.

Lisa's here helping me out as well. We'll just get back with you as we go through it to try to give you more insight into what we're finding out.

COOPER: You're looking at two different vantage points. A view on the right-hand side of your screen is a little Caesars Pizza Restaurant, which has been set ablaze. Not exactly clear what's on the left side of your screen, but obviously smoke coming out of a building.

Our Jake Tapper is standing by. Jake, explain where you are and what you're seeing?

TAPPER: All right. So I'm outside the police headquarters, and all night the police have been pushing towards the police headquarters from down on South Florissant. And as you can see, they fired some tear gas and they're just clearing the road.

There was one of those big tents outside like a used car salesman type place, and the tent, I didn't see what happened exactly, but all of a sudden the tent was in the road and the police started firing tear gas.

You can still see the two police cruisers that were set on fire that Jason Carroll was reporting from nearby and Sara Sidner. They're still down there. You can basically get an idea of the geography. There are two Florissants. There's West Florissant and South Florissant.

This is South Florissant. This is where the police headquarters are. And as you can see, the state patrol is here. St. Louis County police are here. St. Louis City Police are here. Ferguson police are here. Right now, they're just trying to clear the roads -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jake, do you still have large numbers of protesters there confronting police or interacting with police?

TAPPER: There are definitely people confronting police. The numbers are relatively small, especially compared to what we saw earlier tonight. There have also been some shots that we heard, but they were actually I think rounds in the police car that were set on fire and exploding in the police car.

So some of the rounds that we heard came from that, from the police cars being lit on fire and the ammunition going off inside, But much of the crowd has dispersed. There are still quite a few people out here but much smaller.

COOPER: I just want to tell our viewers, we're at the command center. We're now seeing dozens of police cruisers arriving here. Some have had their lights on, but they're moving at a pretty good rate of speed. It looks like they're state troopers.

Yes, most of these vehicles are state troopers. I'm not exactly sure what location they are coming from. But they are now arriving here back at the command center and it looks like they've just about completed coming here.

We're not sure if those are new personnel who are arriving or if they were stationed here before, went off to respond to something, and are now stationing back here. Earlier, police had made great efforts to try to basically stay outside as much as possible.

Try to wear regular uniforms. Obviously, that situation has changed. We're now seeing police in riot gears obviously responding. In some scenes not pointed directly at protesters, pointed down. Police say they're using smoke.

Also want to show you pictures of New York's Times Square. This is a demonstration, a gathering in -- protesters gathering in New York City. It's not clear if this was organized ahead of time or if this was something announced through social media just in reaction to the lack of an indictment.

Protesters are gathering and walking through the streets in New York City. We've also seen pictures in Oakland, California and elsewhere of somewhat impromptu protests. These are pictures from WABC, giving us this feed. It's very rare to see this large number of protesters moving through the streets of New York City.

Usually you have to have a permit for this kind of thing. I would imagine in this case the police are just allowing this to -- allowing this to happen. I want to see if we can get some more reports from on the ground in New York City and see what sort of protests -- the nature of those protests there.

But again, the situation here is fluid to say the least. It is a fast-moving situation. Our Don Lemon is on the ground with Chris Cuomo and Van Jones. Don, what's going on where you are now?

LEMON: We are witnessing here on South Florissant, which is right across from the police department, what you were seeing earlier. There was a large white tent that was being pushed down the street by protesters, and then you had members of the police department in tactical gear moving them out of the way.

What you're seeing behind you, Anderson, all the police cars that you saw, that was a regrouping of police. They've been working 12- hour shifts. What they're doing is a shift change where they're going back and other officers will be going out.

We don't know what's going to happen. We apologize for that. What you're seeing now, this is a little Caesars in Ferguson that is on fire now. A Walgreen's just down the street about a half mile from here that my producers and I went to earlier to grab water and other supplies. That is being actively looted now.

We're being told, by officials and having lived here in St. Louis for a while, you have two parallel highways that run along the side of the city. One is Highway 40. The other one is Highway 44. It comes from East St. Louis and continues all the way out into the suburbs.

Highway 44, that's the highway that has those protesters on it. One is south, one is north. You're seeing Highway 40 and Highway 44. Highway 40 is the one that's being blocked off now. Again, it is a chaotic scene we are seeing out here. A lot of the protesters are obviously upset.

CUOMO: They are. But this is an emergent situation here right now. We're starting to get a concentration of protesters out here in front of the fire and police departments. We're hearing from law enforcement sources. What they wanted to do was rebase.

We saw large numbers of officers coming back to the police department, literally just to go back inside. We're being told they can't, though, because they don't want to leave the situation unstable in front of these municipal buildings and elsewhere in the city.

And there's a little bit of a balancing act going on where authorities want to pull back, but they feel the situation is not stable enough to and yet the protesters are seeming to be agitated by their presence.

We're also told that the perimeter has widened, that people who were organized here in front of the buildings have moved into other streets and that's where the policing is going on now.

LEMON: I want to bring in CNN's Van Jones now, who's been standing here with me. Is this part of the problem because we were wondering -- we were on the air earlier wondering why it took them -- why they waited until the cover of darkness, so to speak, to make the announcement when they could have done it earlier, people would not have had the chance possibly to group and organize.

JONES: Well, absolutely. I think this was handled very, very badly. First of all, the way that McCullough was tonight was very, very provocative. I thought he had an opportunity to really come out, to be the peacemaker and say listen, we don't agree with you, but we understand. He missed that opportunity.

And you saw the crowd react to McCullough's tone, and then because we waited so late, you had boiled this thing down a little bit already. I think they made a big mistake by waiting so late. I think McCullough missed a huge leadership opportunity to be a uniter tonight. I think McCullough's tone was very divisive tonight. And here we are.

LEMON: And we're witnessing now just so you know a standoff with the protesters and with police and as you heard, some profanities there. And many of those profanities are being shouted at members of the media and also at police departments here.

But again, you're looking now, very sadly, at a building that is on fire, and it seems to be a complete loss, an utter loss, if you look at it. And we're told by our producers and by authorities that this is a Little Caesars. It appears to be in the middle of a shopping mall. Police are on --

CUOMO: This is the same warning that came before.

LEMON: A warning now.

CUOMO: Which is you're not allowed to be in the street, it's not a place for lawful assembly right now. You have to leave. That was the same warning that they issued before the last volley of smoke canisters and tear gas. So hopefully people here take heed and get out of the street as they're being told to do.

LEMON: That's usually what we hear before the tear gas is being thrown, sadly, Anderson. So we're hoping this time that they will heed the warning and none of us including the protesters will have to be at least the victims of tear gas.

COOPER: Don, do you have a sense of -- how many protesters are there still around you guys?

LEMON: I would say -- what do you say? About 100 in this particular area and then further down the street there are probably more protesters. Of course, the police cruisers are still burning down the street. So you have clumps, patches of protesters.

And of course where the cameras are they appear to have gathered. But I don't think folks have gathered in this particular area just because of the cameras. It's because of that building over there which houses the Ferguson Police Department, which is really where the bulk of the animosity is being hurled at the police department.

Obviously because of the non-indictment, or the no bill, the protesters are very upset and very concerned about that. So that's why you're hearing what you're hearing and seeing what you're seeing. So again, you can hear the --

COOPER: Don, I want to go to --

LEMON: Go ahead, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, I want to go -- as we see that Little Caesars there burning and firefighters able to respond at least, which is certainly good seeing that they are able to respond.

I want to go to our Sara Sidner, who's not too far from Don's location. Sara, there was a vehicle burning behind you a short time ago. Police have been warning -- and obviously, there it is. It's still burning. I understand there were some explosions from it?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There was some sort of explosion. This is the second vehicle, Anderson. Let me give you a look. That's one police cruiser that's fully engulfed right now. And if you just turn to your right, our photographer Spike Demoss is going to give you the other cruiser. That one finished burning.

That's the one you saw earlier in the day. We're on South Florissant. And I want to give you a little bit of a look at what you're seeing. Basically, police have cleared -- you can see up the street that Season's Greetings sign, that red -- the red lights there.

That's where the police department is. That gives you an idea of how far the police department is from this, very, very close. Now, they're going to start asking us to disperse again. We are now on the sidewalk so that we are out of the road.

Because they're telling people if you don't disperse we're going to move people out. But let me give you another look here. If you look just to my left, those are businesses there. There is a wine bar, for example, called Cork there.

These businesses we've been talking to for weeks now, Anderson, and they have said that they were really worried about what was going to happen. We now know that some of these businesses have been vandalized, they've been broken into.

There are people who have been looting. The majority of people have moved out of this area because the police have basically moved everybody back using tear gas to do so. It is very quiet.

I mean, if you listen, you don't hear much because most of the protesters have moved away. The police are blocking just near the police department and just behind us, Anderson.

COOPER: Sara, I want to just go back to Don because I believe there's some activity where he is. Don, what's going on where you are?

LEMON: Anderson, right there there's some activity. The protesters are starting to chant now, just a second ago. Right now, just so you know. I'll let you hear.

"Hands up, don't shoot" and "no justice, no peace," and just about a minute ago, we heard police on loudspeaker saying "get out of the street now."

CUOMO: It's a good sign. They have moved onto the sidewalks. They're allowed to lawfully assemble there, obviously. There is some confrontation with the officers. Just words being exchanged mostly from the protesters.

But as long as they're out of the street there shouldn't be any retaliatory action like we saw earlier. Right now they do seem to be on the sidewalk.

LEMON: Well, the interesting thing is when we hear the loudspeakers and officers saying get out of the street, that's usually when the tear -- listen, Anderson.

ANNOUNCER: You may not do in the street. You must stay on the sidewalk. You need to be on the sidewalk. You may not be in the street. This is for your safety.

LEMON: So the officer is on the loudspeaker saying stay out of the street, get on the sidewalk, you're allowed to be on the sidewalk, this is for your safety. And of course, the protesters are yelling back. They believe it's their right to protest in the street and be where they are.

CUOMO: As long as it stays like this, this is going to be an exercise of the right to assemble.

LEMON: Anderson.

COOPER: Don and Chris, we should also point out that this is the site, the site where you're at is really where there have been protests every night more or less for the last several months. By and large overwhelmingly they have been peaceful. Usually, it's when people block the street. It's when police have moved in.

LEMON: Yes, you're absolutely right, Anderson. Usually, as we have been here off and on, I've been here off and on since August, since the initial unrest. So there would be, you know, 60 people -- excuse me. There would 60 people on a good night.

CUOMO: Are you all right?

LEMON: Yes, I'm fine -- and 30 people on a -- sometimes there are arrests. Last night there were no arrests, the night before there were two arrests, the night before that there were five or six arrests.

CUOMO: They start shining their lights. They're going to start shining their lights this way because when there's movement in the crowd they want to isolate it and identify it. There was gunfire just over the hill from where we are on several different occasions. And that really ramped up the response of the officers here. So what's going on right now again is this negotiation --

COOPER: Chris.

CUOMO: Yes, Anderson.

COOPER: It's hard for our viewers just to kind of get a logistical sense or tactical sense of the layout. Can you just kind of describe where the police are, where the protesters are?

CUOMO: Sure. Let me step out of the way so Frank Bavona can show you what's going on. You have the police department here on your right, the fire station here. This is the phalanx of officers in front. They have their heavy-duty vehicles here.

All the officers here are armed. They were armed with orange- coated rifles that have bean bag suppressants, as a less dangerous means of dealing with the crowds. Along the sidewalk you have all the protesters.

If you were to continue down the street, that's where the cruisers are that were on fire with the explosions. The other way is where the storefronts were on fire and broken into. And that's how it is here right now, in two major groupings of officers.

But there are different configurations, depending on where you are in the city. And again, Anderson, what we're being told is that the continuing threat is that a few streets off of this main drag is where the officers are getting gunfire and there's more action there. LEMON: And we saw more tear gas canisters being thrown further into the neighborhoods rather than just here on South Florissant. And that's because people were moving further into the neighborhoods and police officers are trying to get them to disperse from there.

Someone just walked up behind me and pulled my earpiece out. Sorry about that if you were watching on the air. But again, Anderson, as you can hear and see, the protesters here they're telling them to get out of the streets.

That's really to your initial question that you asked me, that's really been the issue. Police really haven't had a problem with the protesters as long as they are on the sidewalk and not blocking traffic in the middle of the street.

So the issue comes when people are trying to get home from work or people are trying to get wherever they are going to and there are protesters in the middle of the street blocking the street.

Those are the people who have been getting arrested, really not violent or looting or any of that. That's something that we've only witnessed tonight and then during the initial unrest back in August.

CUOMO: Also in waves, as a function, Anderson, of recuperation. They get hit by this tear gas, it takes you a while -- you know this, Anderson, and you too, Don, unfortunately, from experience, that it takes you a while to get over it.

And then they come back out and buy Maalox. Maybe that's why they went near the Walgreen's. They were saying they were going to run around trying to get the supplies to deal with it.

Again another warning, stay out of the street, the protesters are starting to move back into the street around the vehicles. They're being told stay out of the street.

LEMON: Let's listen.

COOPER: We also should point out, Don and Chris, on the right-hand side of your screen you're seeing a large crowd of people. That's the crowd of people that's on I-44 that we've been showing you throughout the last several minutes or 20 minutes or so.

At one point they seem to have had the road shut down, I-44 shut down. It looks like it still is shut down. Whether that's because of the -- it looks like the combination of police and protesters. Looks like those are lines of police, it looks like, from where I'm standing.

My monitor's somewhat small and it looks as if the protesters seem to have kind of moved on. But honestly, that is a -- as Don, you were saying, that is one of the major roads into St. Louis, correct?

LEMON: It is. It's a major road. Again, having lived here, people -- because of the accident people call it -- it's Highway 40 and 44. And people call it Highway 40 and 44 because that's sort of the St. Louis accent.

And again those are the two major thoroughfares that run down the center of the city. Always busy and always -- there's always heavy traffic on those two roadways. They will take you to St. Louis and they will take you further out to the suburbs.

You have to get onto another highway to go either past the airport into other areas. But those pictures that you were showing, our monitor's a little bigger here, Anderson, and those were some protesters out on Highway 44.

And also the police blocking them sort of in the same way that they're doing here, trying to corral them into sections to get them off of that highway. It's probably not as big a deal right now because it's late into the evening that Highway 44 is shut down.

But come tomorrow when people are trying to make their way either to work or to do their Thanksgiving shopping, that's really going to provide a problem if that is indeed still happening, Anderson.

COOPER: Is there a -- for Chris and Don, is there any way to know at this point how much of this is people from outside the community, people who have come here specifically because of the attention, because of the focus --

LEMON: I've got an answer for you.

COOPER: -- on this announcement tonight. Go ahead.

LEMON: I've got an answer for you. I can't tell you how many people in this particular crowd because we haven't checked. And usually you don't find out that information until someone is arrested and you get their address from their driver's license or identification.

But if you look back over the past several months, every once in a while you'll see someone that has a Ferguson address. Many times it's a Wisconsin address or an Illinois address or maybe even a St. Louis address or from some neighboring town or even from states that are further away.

Very rarely is it a person who is from Ferguson, Missouri. I saw one I think the other night and maybe one earlier in the week. But for the most part if you listen to the residents here, the people who live in Ferguson, yes, they will acknowledge that there's an issue when it comes to the interaction, or the relationship between police and the community, and they want that to be worked out.

But they also want peace in their neighborhoods. They don't want their fellow residents, the people who own stores here, to be looted, as we witnessed earlier. It is an embarrassment to them, for most of the people, when that happens.

Now, obviously, some of the people that you saw here this evening looting that liquor store, that convenience store, some of those people sadly are going to be from Ferguson, Missouri. But I have to tell you that's not the bulk of the residents of Ferguson, Missouri. It's a sad statement to look at that. But again -- and there you

are witnessing it. You see on the side of your screen people looting. And I can't exactly see the name of it. But it looks like a convenience store, an auto parts store.

Anderson, I don't know if you can make it out from your monitor. But I can't make out the name on that store. It's O'Reilly auto parts. O'Reilly auto parts and we saw that again from the Ferguson market earlier this evening. It's really awful to witness this -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Obviously, a scene no one wants to see repeated. And we have seen it now several times, several times tonight. Starting just a short time after the initial --

LEMON: We're smelling tear gas as well, Anderson.

COOPER: Tear gas floating from there. I also want to check in with Stephanie Elam. I think -- sorry, Don, go ahead.

LEMON: Yes, we're beginning to smell tear gas again. Not sure if it's being thrown into the crowd, but again --

CUOMO: The wind is shifting and they've had a lot of it in the air here. So it's probably just a residual effect of that. We haven't heard any canisters being shot. But it is important to note, you have different groups here.

There's no question about it. Because here you have a dialogue going on with police and one set of protesters but behind us there are much more forceful agitators saying we're not going to be peaceful and there's much more of a provocative tone coming from them.

You have different aspects to this depending on where you are. And as you said, Anderson, it's very fluid. The question is how do they control the number of different episodes as they continue to expand? It's going to be a challenge here throughout the night.

LEMON: Are you sure that's wind shift because it picks up, it gets stronger, and then it subsides.

CUOMO: Well, we were just seeing it waft over here because they've been shooting it in. I haven't seen any new canisters.

LEMON: Yes. So again, that's what we're witnessing here. The same thing over and over, the same thing over and over here, they're telling people to get off the streets, to stay on the sidewalks.

COOPER: Don, I've got to go to Stephanie Elam. Stephanie, what's going on?

ELAM: Anderson, there are just a bunch of gunshots. The police were even backing off here. I'm still on West Florissant where I'm standing right now. And we just kind of ran to take cover because there were a lot of gunshots and they were coming closer to where we are. We're going to edge back out just a little bit here to show you

what we can see. And as you can see, there are three buildings on fire. This beauty salon over here, looks like beauty shop, looks like it is still smoldering. But they kind of knocked it mostly down.

And then if you go down the street a little bit further, two more buildings are on fire down that way. We actually got pushed back behind this police line that you can see there. Law enforcement lining up across the street in riot gear.

And they were telling people to get out of the street, back out of the way, even the media they wanted us out of the way. That's why you're seeing a lot of media now back behind them but in front of that line. That's where the gunfire was coming from.

And we saw people scattering, going in both directions. And then it seemed to be coming toward us, in this direction. Now I don't hear anything. But it was a lot of gunfire, actually, for a bit.

And where we're standing I don't see anybody else here except for pretty much media and everyone else is back on the other side of that. As you can see, that building over there I think it's an office --

COOPER: Stephanie.

ELAM: Yes.

COOPER: Let me just ask you a couple questions. You talked about gunfire. Do you know if it was handgun? Could you tell if it was a rifle? Let's listen.

ELAM: It sounds like a handgun, what I just heard right now.

COOPER: OK. Approximately how far away --

ELAM: Yes, I would say a handgun. It stopped again.

COOPER: OK. Approximately how far away from you is it, do you think?

ELAM: I would say it was probably -- it was probably about maybe 300, 400 feet away. It was not far. It was really close, it sounded like. It was really close. And it sounded like it was coming this way. But I did see there was also a helicopter overhead for a bit that had its light that was shining going around the neighborhood of where I am.

But for the most part out here on this side of the street it's deserted and then we did see law enforcement regroup, and they're now lined back up again. There are some over there in that little shopping center area standing there as well.

So whatever -- whoever it was, it seems to have been quelled. For a minute there even law enforcement seemed to be a little uneasy.

COOPER: You need to be careful and make sure you have an area that you can hide behind if it comes to that, an area where you can see cover for you and your crew. While you regroup I do want to check back in with Mark O'Mara,

who has been going through the large amount of documents, eyewitness statements, testimony that was given to the grand jury.

And Mark, I know you have a lot of help in this as well. What stands out to you so far? We talked a little bit before about some of the things you're looking at.

O'MARA: Well, a couple things. Lisa's going to talk to you in a moment about the situation at the car and the altercation and how it escalated. One of the things I was forecasting on particularly moving forward in time was Wilson's testimony concerning when Mike Brown stopped and then came back or turned back towards Wilson.

According to Wilson's testimony, and we're going to see if it's corroborated either by other witnesses or by the forensic evidence, that Mike Brown came back at him. He told him to stop, he didn't. He came down in a barreling motion, fired a couple of shots.

According to Wilson, which is not exactly accurate to what we heard on the audiotape, but according to Wilson, he had shot three separate bursts, telling Mike Brown to stop in between.

And the last burst his testimony was that Mike Brown was only about 20 -- I'm sorry, 8 to 10 feet away. And that's when he shot the top of his head, he shot the last time and Mike Brown fell down.

COOPER: So Mike Brown, when he finally fell, you're saying according to Wilson's testimony, was from 8 to 10 feet away from Officer Wilson?

O'MARA: Yes. The last volley of shots Wilson said he saw him coming. Thought he was going to run right through him or tackle him. He looked down at his sights and shot. And when he looked down and shot, he actually saw Mike Brown's top of the head and that's when he shot at. And that of course we now know was the fatal shot that put Mike Brown down literally about eight or ten feet away from where Darren Wilson was.

COOPER: So according to Officer Wilson there, was no -- do we know exactly what occurred at the vehicle? Again, when I say we know what occurred, according to Officer Wilson.

O'MARA: I think Lisa Wayne who's here was sort of studying that part of this. We can turn to her. She's right next to me.

COOPER: Yes, Lisa, what have you read?

LISA WAYNE: I think what's interesting, Anderson, is that when Darren Wilson testifies he sets himself immediately up to make sure the grand jury knows he was not the initial aggressor. He says immediately, he tells the grand jury, that when this confrontation takes place.

It's interesting because the two, their communication escalates because Wilson is telling him -- telling Mike Brown you've got to get off the sidewalk, he wants them to go in a certain direction, and he's trying to control them and then this confrontation takes place and it escalates between the two of them.

It's interesting to me to read the transcript because Wilson places himself in the place of he's actually coming back at Mike Brown and there's this -- they're cussing at each other.

So it comes down to this point of suddenly Brown reaches for him and he goes into the car and Wilson says he feels afraid of himself and he tells the grand jury, he says to them, you know, when I grabbed at him I felt like I was a 5-year-old holding on to Hulk Hogan.

And he says he was so big and I felt so small. And that's interesting that he set that context up pretty quickly with the grand jury to let them know I'm not the initial aggressor, I felt in fear of my life, and this guy was in the car.

He was grabbing at me, and those two pictures that you showed us earlier, he indicates that at one point mike Brown reaches in and he tries to slap Wilson and Wilson's actually able to stop the slap.

And that's that abrasion on his face. And that's that small arbitration because he's able to stop it. But the second time he says Brown reaches in and is actually allowed to get around his neck and that would be consistent with that second abrasion and the back of the neck. So he's indicating to the grand jury according to him he's being very aggressive.

COOPER: And Lisa, what's interesting about that is that testimony stands in stark contrast to what Dorian Johnson, who was Mike Brown's friend, had originally said, at least to the media. I have not seen the documents. So I don't know what Mr. Johnson actually testified to, if in fact he testified to the grand jury.

But he had initially claimed just from -- and I'm saying this just from my memory. That it was Officer Wilson who basically grabbed at Mike Brown and that's what started whatever the altercation was. That's clearly not what Officer Wilson said happened.

WAYNE: Absolutely. And that's what's interesting here because I think what's going to happen as we comb through all these documents here is that the grand jury's going to do just what all jurors do, and that is the forensic evidence, does it sync up, is it consistent with what other witnesses are saying?

And it's clear Wilson had the forensic evidence to sync up with his testimony. He showed it to him. They're showing contemporaneous exhibits of his neck, of his injuries. And he's testifying about that.

And these other witnesses, was it either inconsistent and did it sync up with the other forensic evidence? And that -- you know, the prosecutor came out tonight, and he said that was key, that doesn't lie. That doesn't have a bias to one side or the other. And you can tell they rode that very hard during this grand jury testimony.

COOPER: And Lisa, we are just watching a storage unit there, storage facility obviously engulfed in flames. It doesn't look like there's emergency responders on scene. Again, I'm basing this on the picture that you are seeing.

I don't see any water heading -- being pumped into that building at this point. That is obviously -- you know, again, that's a local business. That's the last thing people in the community of Ferguson want to see.

It is the people of Ferguson who are going to have to rebuild this community in the days and the weekends and the months and maybe even years ahead. No one of course in this community wants to see local businesses rising up in flames like this.

Lisa, I'm wondering your thoughts and also Mark O'Mara, your thoughts. There had been criticism of the prosecutor for delaying this announcement until 8:00 local time, until darkness had fallen.

I'm wondering if you think it would have made a difference in terms of some of the violence we've seen, in terms of what we've witnessed over the last several hours since the announcement was made, if the announcement had been made during daylight hours.

WAYNE: You know, it's hard to know, Anderson. I mean, it's speculation, but it seems foolhardy to wait until the evening hours, when it's dark and it doesn't make sense. And frankly, I think it's really not very sensitive to the family.

And that's really the focus here, is the family. And they knew that this was -- the emotions were running high in Ferguson. They knew that young people would be out on the streets. And I just think this is a lot of stuff that could have been avoided.

Again, we're speculating. But it doesn't really make sense and it doesn't seem to really be moving toward healing if that's what they really want to do.

COOPER: Mark O'Mara, in a situation like this was it -- did it have to be left up to the prosecutor? The governor had basically said look, it's up to the prosecutor when the announcement is going to be made.

O'MARA: It really is his call. I mean, he's the one, again, who's sort of in charge of the grand jury and when that decision is made. But if you and I asked a question about this before it happened and we wanted to pick the worst time to release a grand jury no true bill, which of course, McCullough knew, we might have picked 8:00 or 9:00 or 10:00 at night.

That's just the worst time to do it. Do it when it first came out because we now know that the decision had been made maybe 2:00 in the afternoon, that they had the decision. Do it quickly. It's not as though law enforcement was ill prepared. They'd been planning for this for now weeks.

Or even if you had to, wait until tomorrow morning at 8:00 in the morning. If you want to make a decision like that, you know you're going to have potential blowback, which obviously we're having now. At least be somewhat sensitive to the reality of it. And if for no other reason be sensitive to what law enforcement

has to deal with because now law enforcement is trying to deal with these type of understandable reactions in the dead of night.

COOPER: It is just at the top of the hour, midnight on the east coast of the United States, 11:00 here in Ferguson. And I just want to reset, give you if you're just joining us now, the top of the hour, as oftentimes many people do, or if you've been continuing to watch us now for many hours, as many have, I just want to explain some of what you're seeing.

We are seeing a number of locations in and around Ferguson. Most notably by the Ferguson police headquarters which has been the site of protests now for several months, since the shooting of Mike Brown, since the killing of Mike Brown.

But tonight we have seen a very quick escalation after that announcement was made, more people coming outside that police station and some agitators in the crowd starting to throw objects at the police.