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Florida Nonprofit Coordinating Rescue Flights from Haiti; More Former Mississippi Officers Sentences in Torture of 2 Black Men; U.K. Watchdog Investigating Alleged Breach of Princess Kate's Medical Records. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 20, 2024 - 15:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The chaos and gang violence gripping Haiti is now prompting multiple efforts to get Americans out. Moments ago, the State Department announced 15 U.S. citizens were evacuated from the Caribbean nation via helicopter. A spokesperson estimating that more than 30 Americans will be able to leave each day on chartered flights.

In the meantime, officials in Florida are awaiting the arrival of a plane set to bring a number of Americans to the state, and nonprofit groups are getting involved, too, including my next guest, Bryan Stern, who is the founder and CEO of Project Dynamo, which is a Florida- based organization actively helping U.S. citizens get out of Haiti. And, Bryan, I mean, we meet again here. I saw you last in Ukraine as you united an American couple with their baby who had been born by surrogate there.

You also assisted Afghans during the U.S. withdrawal in 2021. Tell us what you're trying to do in Haiti.

BRYAN STERN, PROJECT DYNAMO FOUNDER AND CEO: Don't forget Sudan, Ian, Maui, Israel and Gaza.

We're here conducting operations. We just completed our 610th mission, which turns into just about 7,000 people globally. We've been in Haiti.

We've been here in the region. We've been in Dominican Republic and Haiti for eight days now, conducting -- trying to get trying to get Americans out of the whole country. From the austere environments all over the place to Port-au-Prince.

KEILAR: And tell us what you're hearing from the Americans who are trying to leave about the situation they're facing and also the challenges that you're facing trying to get them out.

STERN: We're hearing lots of lots of cries for desperation. People -- people want to go and they need to go in the urban areas. It's incredibly violent. And in the more desolate areas, they're just cut off where it's -- it's the gangs aren't really there, but they also have no way to get out. So there's -- there's lots of lots and lots and lots of Americans

saying, help me, help me. Our efforts have been -- it's been very frustrating here, to be frank. The -- lots of governments, lots of different equities, lots of different politics, lots of different issues.

And of course, funding. We're donor funded. So we're limited on our resources, too.

So we won't be able to rescue everybody, but we're doing our best.

KEILAR: The State Department, as I mentioned, is now getting people out by a helicopter. It's pretty limited, though. They're saying they can get about 30 people out a day. What do you think about that capacity?


STERN: I think, I think that's great. I mean, the, you know, U.S. got you between state and D.O.D. We don't have a capacity problem where, you know, Gitmo is not too far away. We're a two and a half hour flight from Florida.

So, you know, we're not in the middle of nowhere where we're in the right hemisphere. We're even in the same time zone. So, you know, the idea that they're doing things is excellent.

That's what they that's what they should do. Once that capacity kind of increases and that throughput kind of increases, we'll be able to fold up our tents and get out of here, which is which is what we hope. We operate with the U.S. government is not.

So now that they're kind of doing things a little bit, it makes life a little bit easier for us.

KEILAR: So tell us, as you mentioned, I mentioned some, you mentioned some of the evacuations and places that Project Dynamo has been. How does this compare to some of the other places? What is unique about this?

STERN: Things here are different. Number one, the embassy is open. We usually work in places where the embassy is closed. So this is having challenges, but, but they exist.

They're functioning to the greatest extent that they can. And there is a U.S. embassy presence. So, you know, when we started in Afghanistan, the evacuation -- the embassy was evacuated. Ukraine was the same way. Sudan was the same way. Gaza, there is no embassy.

So this is a this is our first, you know, quote unquote, war zone deployment, where the U.S. embassy, it's not open for services. But, but, you know, there's a lot of there's a couple of hundred Marines there that the American flag is flying. So that's a different dynamic, too.

KEILAR: Bryan, it is great to see you again. I never see you under good circumstances, I will say. But best of luck in your efforts as you're trying to get people out of Haiti. And thanks for being with us.

STERN: Thanks so much. Project is our website. Please donate.

KEILAR: All right. Thank you, Bryan.

Still ahead, a fourth former Mississippi law enforcement officer convicted of torturing two black men is about to learn how much time he's going to spend in federal prison. We're live from Jackson.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Happening right now, two more former Mississippi Sheriff's deputies are being sentenced today for torturing two black men. The white ex-officers were self-proclaimed members of the so-called Goon Squad, who prosecutors say were willing to use excessive force and not report it.

The hearing for Christian Dedmon, who you've seen on the left now, is underway. Daniel Opdyke on the right was sentenced to 17 and a half years in prison earlier today. The testimony so far has been graphic. We do want to warn you, some of what you're about to hear is disturbing.

Let's go to CNN senior national correspondent Ryan Young, who's been following this story very closely. He's in Jackson, Mississippi, for us. Ryan, obviously another emotional day in court.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Another emotional day, and, Boris, to take a step back. We ran down here while court still ongoing, and I can tell you, even the folks who guard this building are concerned about the emotion getting out of hand and this proceeding with Dedmon.

The courtroom is full of extra marshals. They have extra security in place. There's two large groups of family members.

But what we've been hearing in court is quite graphic. And to tell our viewers what they described is the deputies found a sex toy inside the home, and they took that sex toy and they placed it in the mouths of both men. And then at one point, they tried to place the sex toy in Michael Jenkins.

And the only reason why it did not go in Michael Jenkins is because he started to defecate. Then they forced both men to take a shower together so they could try to clean up the evidence.

Look, there's been a lot of talk about the corruption in Rankin County. There's been talk about maybe trying to make sure the sheriff is no longer the sheriff.

I want to show you Daniel Opdyke's lawyer after court today because he spoke about the corruption and how far it possibly goes. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF REYNOLDS, DANIEL OPDYKE'S ATTORNEY: Well, I said everything in court that I want to say about that. I don't want to -- I was advocating for my client.

YOUNG: Yes, sir.

REYNOLDS: And doing the best I could for him. And of course, we're disappointed in the sentence that he didn't get a break on the maximum. But we did all we could.


YOUNG (on camera): Yes, the other sound bite that we also wanted to share with you from that same lawyer was just talking about the idea that he believes there's no way that the upper management inside the sheriff's department couldn't have known about this culture. So we know that this lasted for some 88 minutes in terms of this torture.

And in fact, Eddie Parker, for the first time, one of the men took the stand and he was talking today about seeing the devil. He said he knew the devil came to visit him that night. The men continually laughed at him, tried to take his manhood, slapped them around and continue to torture him over and over.

Members of the court started crying while he was talking. The father for Michael Jenkins also stood up and said, who could teach such young men hate?

There's also been talk about the challenge coin that was passed around.


At one point, the challenge coin had a confederate flag and a noose on one side.

All this emotion just being stirred up. I was watching the other family, Dedmon's family. There were members of his family that actually said BS to some of the things. And Dedmon actually tried to deny some of the sexual assault.

There's a third victim that has nothing to do with this particular case that says that Dedmon pulled out his private parts and slapped him in the face with it over and over again and tried to force it in his mouth. And then at some point they pulled those private parts man's pants down and grabbed him by the genitals and shook it around and said, my, you have a big one while they started dry humping him on the side of the road because it's a missing lawn equipment.

So people believe this is a culture that's ongoing inside the Rankin County Sheriff's Department. This courtroom was pretty much silent at the point of some of these allegations coming out. The government is asking for 41 years for Dedmon. And as you can understand, there are a lot of people who are asking

for the maximum sentence here. But again, to here's some of these allegations and to know what these men had to endure as chocolate syrup was being poured on them. When the deputies left, they stole the hard drive with the video surveillance.

They peed in the closet and they put food all around the house. So when the men got back, it would be rotten. They tried to plant drugs and a drop gun on the two men who had never done anything.

The association was because one of them knew a white woman that this was going to be a problem and they were the only black people in that street and they wanted them gone. Boris, these details are beyond disturbing. No, they're absolutely.

SANCHEZ: They are absolutely abhorrent. Ryan Young, thank you so much for bringing us that story. Stay with CNN NEW CENTRAL. We're back in just moments.



KEILAR: A major investigation is unfolding in the U.K. after reports that a London hospital staff member allegedly tried to access Princess Kate's medical records. The U.K. Health Minister says staffers could face prosecution here.

You may recall the Princess of Wales had abdominal surgery at the London clinic in January and she has not resumed official duties since that operation leading to rampant rumors and speculation about her condition.

CNN's Anna Stewart is joining us live from London. Anna, what can you tell us about this investigation? This is pretty serious.

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: It's really serious and it comes amidst something of a vacuum of royal news. The King, of course, is working from home battling cancer. The Princess of Wales has been recovering from surgery, off work for weeks at this stage, and all this has been perhaps exacerbated by that Photoshopping incident.

But this report, if true, takes it to a whole different level. This was a report from the "Daily Mirror" today and it investigated a potential data breach at the London clinic, the private hospital where the Princess of Wales was seen back in January.

Now it alleges that at least one member of staff tried to access the private medical records of the Princess of Wales. Not only is that wrong, not only is that serious, it's potentially criminal and it's certainly illegal. So this is something that authorities are taking very, very seriously. The ICO, which is the data regulator here in the U.K., have launched an investigation.

The London clinic, which is the hospital, the CEO came out. He was a bit ambiguous, actually, about the report itself, but he did say there is no place at the hospital for anyone who intentionally breaches the trust of patients or colleagues. What is clear is if this breach really did happen, then a line has been crossed -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Couldn't they protect her medical records better and is there a way, do we know, for them to track how they are accessed? Because that is often the situation here in the States. We'd expect it to be the same there in Britain.

STEWART: They say that all the right sort of infrastructure is in place to protect medical records for patients and to ensure that there are systems in place. So one would imagine that it should be easy to track someone down if they accessed illegally the wrong records or it should be impossible for them to do so. So I think this will all be part of the investigation and I really hope that we have a little bit more information about that in the coming hours or days.

KEILAR: And Anna, are we expecting to be seeing Princess Kate anytime soon? She's obviously been, you know, she's been recovering from this abdominal surgery and she's been out of sight. But it seemed that we're coming up on a time when we were supposed to be seeing her again.

STEWART: I think there was the understanding from the palace that she would be off duties till at least around Easter weekend, so we're still a few days away from there, a few weeks really, and then perhaps she will come back into royal duties. Perhaps it'll be a tapered return, though. You would imagine having recovered from surgery.

But at this stage, no news from the palace on that. They were very clear right from the get-go that the princess was undergoing surgery. We weren't going to be told a great amount of detail about that. She would be having a recovery and they weren't going to give us a sort of running commentary, I suppose, of her recovery and her return to work. But the pressure from the public, from the media, is clearly mounting every single day.

KEILAR: Yes, well, we wish her the best, certainly health-wise. You know, obviously there's a lot of questions, but we do hope that she's doing well. Anna, thank you so much.

The most expensive baseball player in history, making his regular season debut for the Dodgers today, Shohei Ohtani and Los Angeles taking on the San Diego Padres in their MLB opener in Seoul, South Korea. And we're going to tell you how it went next.



SANCHEZ: Breaking news just into CNN. Another one of those former Mississippi Sheriff's deputies, one of the so-called Goon Squad, was just sentenced moments ago.

KEILAR: CNN's Ryan Young is here with us. Tell us the sentence here, Ryan. YOUNG: Absolutely. We were talking about Christian Dedmon about seven

minutes ago. We just learned that he was sentenced to 40 years. That's the most time that anyone has gotten so far out of this Goon Squad.

I described to you before some of the sick acts that happened with that sex toy that they pled guilty to.


But right now, we do know that Christian Dedmon will face 40 years in prison after the Goon Squad terrorized Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker for some 88 minutes. The government says he is the one who actually established the checks chain on WhatsApp to put this whole thing into motion, even saying where cameras could be, and initiated the cover-up after this was all done.

So all this happening in the last few seconds, 40 years, guys, a serious sentence.

SANCHEZ: Ryan Young, thank you so much for that update. Still plenty of unanswered questions about how more senior officials in that department didn't know about what was going on.

We will leave you now to "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper. Thanks for joining us.