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Florida Man Files Lawsuit Against Police; New Polls in Presidential Race; Rep. Dina Titus is Interviewed about Politics; Morrow Asked about Controversial Statements; U.S. Crime Rate Fell in 2023; Ohtani's Interpreter Fired. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired March 21, 2024 - 08:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A Florida police department is under fire this morning. A homeless man is now suing the city of St. Petersburg after he claims he was paralyzed and needed his legs amputated following an arrest last summer.

CNN's Carlos Suarez following this.

Carlos, what happened here?


So, the details of this encounter, and the videos you're about to see, are disturbing. Let's get you to that first piece of video.

All of this happened back in June of 2023 in St. Petersburg, Florida. You're taking a look at body camera video of an officer talking to Heriberto Alejandro Sanchez-Mayen in a grassy lot near some homes. Now, in the video you can hear him tell an officer that he'd fallen asleep after he's asked what he's doing in the area. Initially it appeared that the whole thing would end with a ticket for trespassing, but the officer changes her mind.

Now you're about to hear a part of that encounter. The video that you're going to see after this sound here, a warning is a bit disturbing.


HERIBERTO ALEJANDRO SANCHEZ-MAYEN: You're going to write me a ticket?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, you're going to take the ride today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've decided that you're going to actually go to jail today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've had far too many problems with you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Absolutely not. We're getting all kinds of complaints. Can't be doing this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think after a certain (INAUDIBLE) this should be a felony (INAUDIBLE).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After a certain amount of any crime, it should be a felony.


SUAREZ: All right, so you're now taking a look at a video inside of the back of a police van were Sanchez-Mayen was placed in without a seat belt and taken to jail. The video captures the moment that the officer comes to a hard stop at a red light and Sanchez-Mayen is thrown forward, striking his head on a metal partition. The lawsuit claims that the officer drove in a reckless manner at an unsafe rate of speed.

Now, the third piece of video takes place at the jail, where all of this came to an end here. That is where the officer is seen trying to wake up Sanchez-Mayen and drags his limp body out of the van, causing him to hit his head on the bumper.

Now, the lawsuit said that the injuries that Sanchez-Mayen suffered left him a quadriplegic and resulted in the amputation of both legs above the knee. The suit accuses the officers of excessive force, intentional battery, and making a false arrest.

John, the St. Petersburg Police Department denied these claims and said that it, quote, "trusts" the judicial process.

BERMAN: Disturbing allegations there.

Carlos, thank you very much for that.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, an NFL player is on the run. Deputies in Florida have been searching for Detroit Lions cornerback Cameron Sutton for nearly two weeks. He's wanted on a domestic violence warrant for alleged strangulation. Deputies say a female victim was left with bruises to the head, neck, and upper body after an incident a few weeks ago. The Lions say they are monitoring the situation.


The Lions say they're monitoring the situation.

A family of six is now safe today after getting stuck in several feet of snow near Mount Hood in Oregon. Rescuers told CNN affiliate - a CNN affiliate that the family was out on a hike when it happened on Tuesday night. They really couldn't get themselves freed clearly from the snow, but then were able to use the SOS feature on an iPhone to call for help. It took nearly 12 hours to reach them and even longer to get them to safety. We're told they're all doing OK.

And John's favorite story for sure. You've still got a chance to win the Powerball jackpot. Nobody won the grand prize in last night's drawing. So now the estimated jackpot is up to $750 million. The next drawing is Saturday. And if 750 is just not enough, the Mega Millions jackpot is currently at $977 million. That next drawing is on Friday. And I know you're buying a ticket, John.

BERMAN: You can lose too big lotteries in just one week.

BOLDUAN: You're so hilariously cynical about it. I love when these stories happen. I will always play. Hope springs eternal.

BERMAN: You are always a winner.

All right, there is a brand-new poll of the presidential race out, and it shows Donald Trump with one of the largest leads he has enjoyed in polling, up seven points. That is including - according to the respected pollster Ann Selzer. So, what's behind those numbers? CNN's senior data reporter Harry Enten is here.

You have a little bit of the why, Harry.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes. The why. Why is Donald Trump ahead in this particular poll? And it really comes down to voters of color. I was digging through the cross tab. And I want you to take a look at Ann Selzer's poll back in March of 2020. One in which Joe Biden was ahead by four points. Obviously now Donald Trump's ahead by seven.

Now, if you look here, March in 2020, among voters of color, look at that, Joe Biden had a 45 point advantage. You look now at this most recent poll that Ann Selzer put out in March of 2024, Biden still leads among voters of color, but that lead has been slashed to just 11 points. There was just a three-point movement among white voters. The reason why Donald Trump is leading now in this Selzer poll as compared to four years ago, is voters of color. This margin dropping by 34 percentage points.

John, I've got to be honest with you, I've never seen anything quite like this from one four-year period to the next.

BERMAN: All right, dig deeper.

ENTEN: Dig deeper. So, what is going on with voters of color? I decided to look at our last two CNN/SSRS polls, and it shows a similar pattern among voters of color overall compared to four years ago. Why is this? Why do we see Biden doing significantly worse among voters of color?

Look at this. Among voters of color age 45 and older, Biden still has a significant lead. A 35-point lead. Look at voters of color under the age of 45. It's just a four-point advantage, John. Just a four-point advantage. Oh, apparently my sleeve caught it a little bit. Just a four-point advantage for Biden here.

So, what's going on in this particular case is, four years ago we did not have this same split among - by this age breakdown. Voters or color basically voted consistently among those older and younger. Now we have a massive split, interesting enough, the reverse split that we have among white voters, where voters of color under the age of 45 are significantly more Republican.

BERMAN: All right, when we say voters of color, that's a pretty broad group.

ENTEN: Yes, it is.

BERMAN: It encompasses many different things.

ENTEN: It does. But - so, I decided to break it down amongst black voters and Hispanic voters. And this is the polling at this point in time.

Take a look in March of 2020 versus March of 2024.


ENTEN: Look, among black voters, Joe Biden had a 72-point advantage four years ago at this point. Look at where it is now. It's 50 points. Still a significant lead, but significantly smaller. And amongst Hispanic voters, it was 21 points at this point four years ago. Now, it's just two points. So, we're seeing it across the board, John.

BERMAN: What's interesting there is statistically that's the exact same drop. It's about a 20 point drop among each group.

ENTEN: That's exactly right.

BERMAN: All right, what about the policies? The policies from President Biden.


BERMAN: How they impact this situation.

ENTEN: You know, going deeper into the why, right? Policies have helped you personally. Among black voters, they - 26 percent say Trump's policies helped them, versus just 17 percent for - say Biden's policies helped them. The same thing amongst Hispanics. More Hispanic voters say that Trump's policies helped them versus Biden's policies helped them. So, the polling kind of just lines up here, John. And it's a big shift. It's something, honestly, I've never seen before.

So, the real question is, are the polls picking up on something new and fresh, or are the polls wrong? I tend to think the polls are right, but this is quite a dramatic thing (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: Well, it certainly gives the Biden campaign a clear target going forward and a sense of what they have to do.



BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.

So, Biden is out west right now trying to reach out to, just as the - as John and Harry were talking about, trying to reach out to Latino voters in part, making it clear how much he needs them this time around.

Here's part of his message.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're the reason why, in large part, I beat Donald Trump.

You know, we - I need you. I need you badly. I need the help.


Kamala and I desperately need your help. Because, look, there's only about six or seven states that are going to determine the outcome of this election. And they're toss-up states. And this is one of them.


BOLDUAN: Biden was speaking in Arizona there. Another one of the states important to Biden's path to re-election is Nevada, where Biden has been this week.

Joining us right now, Democratic congressman from Nevada, Dina Titus.

It's great to see you.

She campaigned with Biden when he was in the state.

REP. DINA TITUS (D-NV): Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks for coming on, Congresswoman.

The way that President Biden put it was that Nevada is really, really, really critical to the November election and his path to victory. Among the critical voters in Nevada and in your district are Latino voters. What do you see in that polling that we just highlighted with my colleagues there, the drop from March 2022 to March 2024 of Biden going from plus being up 21 points with Hispanic voters to now just two points?

TITUS: Well, the polls are all over the map. And we've seen some polls in Nevada that aren't that bad. But there's no question, we got to put that coalition back together. And voters of color play a large part in that. You know, in my district, you've got large immigrant populations from

Asia, the Pacific islands, as well as Hispanics. And so the president is saying straight out, you helped me win before, you rejected Trump twice in Nevada before, and I need you again. And I think people will hear that message. Now you're going to have a contrast between the two candidates and the president is taking it on the road. And I think that's a good thing.

BOLDUAN: And one of those contrasts is on immigration policy and the way that they are talking about migrants. I mean considering the way Donald Trump talks about migrants, starting back in 2016, all the way up to just this week and the comments that we've seen from him, calling migrants animals and not even human, and then you see that he's still gaining ground with Latino voters, not saying that's the only issue that Latino voters would vote on. Do you think there is a problem here though that the Biden campaign needs to address?

TITUS: Well, Congress needs to address it. There's no question the immigration system is broken. We've got a bill out of the Senate that's bipartisan. The House won't take it up because Donald Trump said, don't take it up. We need to make this an issue. But he wants to make it an issue with white suburban voters, not with Hispanic voters.

Hispanic voters in my district care about immigration. In one household you'll have a person with papers, a DACA, a TPS, a person without papers and a person who doesn't know what they are. So that's five problems in one household.

But our Hispanic voters care about what other voters care about. They care about a good job. And Nevada's creating jobs. We're the fastest recovering place in the country. They care about education for their children, care for their seniors. So, we can't just pigeonhole them into immigration. We got to talk about the whole spectrum of issues and the things that Democrats have done under President Biden that have made their lives better.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And I wanted to ask you about one of those issues because one thing that we know all voters, including Hispanic voters, care about is the economy. Their - their economy, their personal economy. And one thing that has been dogging the Biden White House and campaign is that many voters think that Donald Trump will do better with the economy than Biden has. Is that issue what you think the outcome in Nevada in November will turn on?

TITUS: I do. People care about jobs. You've got to remember, we were the hardest hit of any place in the country. We had unemployment at 35 percent. That's now down to 4 percent. And we're the fastest recovering, creating more jobs, creating small businesses. And when people stop and remember with The Strip shut down, nobody working, nobody traveling, and gambling, how much better are they today than they were? The only person who's better today is Donald Trump.

BOLDUAN: You're in a tough re-election battle facing the same Republican challenger that you beat two years ago.

TITUS: Yes. BOLDUAN: Part of the Republican strategy that I've seen, Congresswoman, is - from the NRCC at least is trying to tie you to Biden as much as possible in some of the things that I've seen. Having President Biden at the top of the ticket, does that help you or hurt you in your district this cycle?

TITUS: Well, I've been riding with Biden from the very beginning, so I can't start to deny that now. But he's been to Nevada several times. The vice president has been. Some of the surrogate members of the cabinet. I don't shy away from that. I think we just need to tell our story better. Talk about the investments in infrastructure, the investments in renewable energy, protecting health care and bringing down premiums. So, I'm - I'm proud to campaign with the president.

BOLDUAN: Congresswoman Dina Titus, it's always great to have you on. Thanks for coming in.

TITUS: Thank you. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

So, coming up for us, they are calling it a massive theft. Major League Baseball's wealthiest player claiming his translator stole millions from him for sports betting. What this means now for Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani.


A candidate who wants to run North Carolina's public schools is dodging questions about past social media commentary suggesting executing prominent Democrats for treason.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Barack Obama and that he should be executed, calling for the death of other presidents. Do you stand by that? Do you stand by those -



BOLDUAN: Michele Morrow not expected to win her Republican primary race for North Carolina's top public school official.


Then last week in an upset she did. And when she did, her extreme and controversial comments began getting more attention. Last Friday, CNN's KFile reported on that and that she previously tweeted about wanting to see former President Obama put in front of a firing squad on paper view saying, quote, "we could make some money back from televising his death."

Morrow has also made suggestions about executing Obama and other prominent Democrats for treason, including then President-elect Joe Biden, replying to the question, will you follow Joe Biden's advice and wear a mask for 100 days, she replied, "never. We need to follow the Constitution's advice and kill all traitors."

Morrow has also promoted various QAnon conspiracy theories. CNN has reached out to Morrow - reached out to Morrow and her campaign multiple times but received no responses. After publication of the KFile story, Morrow than tweeted and tweeted the following, "according to KFile, CNN, CNN Politics, Obama's drone attacks on hundreds of innocent Muslims in Yemen are not treasonous. The insanity of the media demonstrates the need to teach K-12 students real history and critical thinking skills," which does not directly addressed the multiple social media postings that we just listed.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is in North Carolina where he tried to speak to Morrow about all of this.

Shimon, what did she say?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, we tried to speak to her about this. We also tried to speak to her about the things that she has said about the public education system. Like the fact that they are indoctrination centers. That she wants public school system, that they should be destroyed.

And we finally caught up with her as she was leaving giving a GOP convention at a local convention site. And when she came out, we finally got a chance to speak to her. Take a look.


PROKUPECZ: Hi, Ms. Morrow, how are you?


PROKUPECZ: All right. How did it go in there?

MORROW: Hey, it went great.


MORROW: It went great.

PROKUPECZ: You feeling good?


Who are you guys with?

PROKUPECZ: I'm Shimon Prokupecz. I'm with CNN.

MORROW: Oh, have you been parked in my neighborhood by any chance?

PROKUPECZ: We've been trying to talk to you, yes.

MORROW: OK. Well, you can - you can go through my campaign. Thanks. PROKUPECZ: So - I understand, but I have you now. So, why don't we talk now?

MORROW: No. No need.


Well, I want to ask you, do you still stand -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because it's - it's late and we're (INAUDIBLE) now.

PROKUPECZ: I'm not talking to you, ma'am.


PROKUPECZ: Do you still stand by your comments about former President Barack Obama and that he should be executed, calling for the death of other presidents, do you stand by that? Do you stand by those comments?


MORROW: Have a good night.

PROKUPECZ: Do you stand by -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have no comment.

MORROW: Thanks.

PROKUPECZ: What you've said about the public education -


PROKUPECZ: System and that it needs to be destroyed?

MORROW: No comment.

PROKUPECZ: Do you stand by that?


MORROW: No comment.

PROKUPECZ: Do you understand the concern that people have with this nomination that you now have?

MORROW: No comment.

Hey, I have a question, do you vote in North Carolina? Then, keep your eyes on your own paper. Keep your eyes on your own paper.

PROKUPECZ: Well, let me ask you, I've - I've - I've read - I've read papers, though, here too.

MORROW: Keep your eyes on your own paper.

PROKUPECZ: And the concerns that people have with your nomination and the things that you have said.

MORROW: People in New York have concern over my nomination in North Carolina?

PROKUPECZ: People all across - people all across the country.

MORROW: All across - really?


MORROW: Why are they concerned about North Carolina? Do you know that education is a problem in this entire country? So maybe they need to focus on what's going on in your state of New York, which, by the way, is where I grew up. Maybe they need to focus on what's going on in California, where children are not getting the education that they need. Maybe they need to focus on what they're doing in Michigan, because right now in North Carolina I'm focused on helping the families of North Carolina, for their children to get quality education, for them to be safe and for us to be sure that our money is going into the classroom rather than bureaucracies.

That's what I've been focusing on. That's what I've been fighting for, for the last five years, going to the general assembly dealing with those issues.

PROKUPECZ: Right, but -

MORROW: So, that is why I'm running. So, you can -

PROKUPECZ: I understand that, but you have said such hurtful things too in terms of the education system -

MORROW: I have to tell you -

PROKUPECZ: About transgender students.

MORROW: Everyone is so done with the gotcha moments.

PROKUPECZ: This is not a gotcha.

MORROW: It is. This is --

PROKUPECZ: This is your own words. Ma'am, these are your own words.

MORROW: This is - this has nothing to do with education.

PROKUPECZ: You have said that the former president -

MORROW: How do you know those are my words?

PROKUPECZ: Because you tweeted.

MORROW: You don't have - PROKUPECZ: Are those not your tweets? Do you deny saying that? You have an opportunity now.

MORROW: I am telling you -

PROKUPECZ: Do you deny saying that?

MORROW: I am telling you -

PROKUPECZ: Are you denying that you said that in those tweets?

MORROW: I am telling you -

PROKUPECZ: Have you -

MORROW: That I am going to discuss education -

PROKUPECZ: Have you talked about the indoctrination of children by teachers?

MORROW: I am telling you -

PROKUPECZ: Have you talked about that? Have you said that about student?

MORROW: Have you seen any of me going to the school board for the last five years, because you will have my answer.


PROKUPECZ: And so, look, it is certainly very concerning for people who live here in North Carolina, what she has said about education system. It's a system which has about 1.5 million students and a massive budget. And if she was to win this election, it would give her a platform, a place, the podium, a place to speak from more freely and more openly. And that is something that is certainly very concerning for people here.


And of course whatever policy she would try and implement. And so it's a very consequential election and very concerning for the folks here in North Carolina.

BOLDUAN: Shimon, thanks for being there. Great to see you. Thank you so much.


BERMAN: All right, wow, that was quite a conversation.

So, this morning, new FBI data is showing violent crime in the United States down 6 percent, down 11 percent in cities with 1 million people or more, property crime is down 4 percent.

CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller is here with us.

Now, I just want to put these numbers in and of themselves in perspective because they've been out there and I think they pass people buy. Historically speaking, how much is crime dropping right now?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: So, crime is dropping precipitously, but this is also in the context of, in 2020 and 2021 we had a perfect storm in this country. We had defund the police. We had departments getting smaller. We had district attorneys changing policy. We had pandemic, which shut down the courts and stopped trials. So, crime went up a lot.

So, are we down to pre-pandemic numbers in terms of crime? No, we're not, but we are headed back towards a normalization, which is a good thing.

BERMAN: Why? Is there a sense of why crime is dropping as much as it is?

MILLER: So, some of those things have been reversed. A number of the places that defunded the police found that they had to refund the police because of citizens concerns about crime. A number of places that changed the laws dramatically have gone to revisit those laws and adjusted them. So you're seeing that.

But also there are the very practical things. The courts are back in business. Trials are being held. But there are still challenges.

BERMAN: There are still challenges. But want I'm trying to figure out is, crime is moving down, yet Americans' concerns about crime are moving up. Like Gallup has its 63 percent saying it's a big deal, which is the highest number ever. So, why that disconnect?

MILLER: So that is really interesting, John, because even in the 1990s, when crime was at an all-time high, you had 24,000 murders. You know, you go up to the mid-2000s, when crime is at all-time lows, and do surveys - there was a Pew Research survey, the Gallup survey. When crime is up, people say crime is up. And when crime is down, people still say crime is up because what they're seeing is not necessarily the violent crime, but take San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, places where you have a severe homeless problem, mental health issues, they see the chaos around them and it makes them feel unsafe.

And then there's us and social media, which is now, with every cell phone, recording everything live. You know, we're showing those crimes from security cameras, social media videos. So, it creates this aura that it's always getting worse. Right now it's getting better.

BERMAN: Right now it is getting better. I mean there are entire cable networks that are devoted to making it seem like crime is going up.

Look, I'm not saying it isn't a concern to people, but the data is showing that it is moving in the right direction.

MILLER: So, we're having the largest decline in homicide, 13 percent down, that we've probably - that's what we're on track to have if - if it continues in this direction that we've seen in - in probably recorded history. But it still doesn't bring us back to where we were before.

So, much work left to be done.

BERMAN: No question about that.

John Miller, thank you very much.


BOLDUAN: So, one thing taken very seriously, especially in baseball, is accusations of gambling and betting. Now, Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani is in a swirl - in the middle of a swirl of accusations related to his longtime interpreter and friend. That interpreter has been fired and, according to reports, he's accused of stealing millions of dollars from Ohtani, using Ohtani's bank account to place bets with a bookie under federal investigation.

CNN's Andy Scholes has much more on this.

Andy, what are you hearing about this?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: I mean, Kate, this is a rather wild story. So, Shohei Ohtani's spokesman originally told ESPN that Ohtani sent money to cover the gambling debts of his longtime interpreter and friend Ippei Mizuhara. But then Ohtani's lawyers on Wednesday said Ohtani was actually the victim of massive theft.

Now, this came to light because federal investigators are looking into an illegal California gambling operation, as first reported by "The Los Angeles Times." Now, according to ESPN, Ohtani sent millions of dollars in wire transfers from his bank account to an alleged bookmaking operation. And Mizuhara originally told ESPN in an interview on Tuesday that the transfers were to cover his losses. And he said Ohtani had, quote, zero involvement in the bedding and none of the bets were on baseball. And Mizuhara told ESPN he didn't know gambling was illegal in California. And Ohtani, he wasn't happy about his debts but decided to pay it off for him.


Well, as ESPN was getting ready to publish their story on Wednesday, Ohtani's lawyers, they sent out this statement saying, "in the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim.