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Man Accused Of Hiding On Flight After Using Pic Of Ticket To Board; Last Former Mississippi Police Officers Being Sentenced For Brutal Tortures Of 2 Innocent Black Men; CNN Confronts NC GOP Nominee Who Called For Obama To Be Executed; March Madness Fever Grips The Nation. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 21, 2024 - 14:30   ET



DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: But the fact is this threat, he went all the way through, there had to be multiple failures. He got himself through that first one by having a ticket to a different flight.

But the second layer is when the gate agent checks it. as they check in. You've done it. You can see it. and it gains and says, yes, everything's OK.

But if there's a duplicate ticket that's scanned, that system is designed to make that warning at that point before anybody ever gets down the down the runway into the airplane.

So there's definitely some vulnerabilities in that system, whether it's human failure, whether it's a systemic failure, that is yet to be determined, but it is a serious failure in my mind.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Yes. David, while we have you, we also want to ask about a report regarding federal regulators conducting a privacy review of data policies at Americas top-10 airlines.

What does that review entail? What do you think they might find?

SOUCIE: Well, it has a lot to do -- there's several different tiers of it. But if you think about just the HIPAA regulations, about regulatory information or information about your own personal health.

Now, if there's a HIPAA violation, which there could possibly be here, if they're asking for health information about passengers or even employees of the airline, they can ask that information.

If that information is transferred or moved without the permission of the person that's -- that owns that data, which is you, for your own health care information.

Then that can be moved and it's actually a federal crime and it can be a civil penalty of up to $25,000 to 35,000 dollars per event. So it's a very serious thing as well.

And privacy of information in today's world -- as you know, I had my I.D. stolen from me and I have to use different Social Security numbers and everything else. So it's definitely possible to happen and it does.

But when it happens with your own personal information, that becomes very serious and it needs to be looked at. Again, it's another one of these threats or vulnerabilities that exist in air travel.

SANCHEZ: Yes, better to get out ahead of it now before it becomes a much broader problem.

David Soucie, always appreciate the perspective. Thanks.

SOUCIE: All right. Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Of course.

So it is sentencing day for the last of six former Mississippi sheriff's deputies who pleaded guilty to torturing two black men. Their court appearances capping an emotional week of testimony in a horrific case. We have the latest in just a few minutes.



ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: In Mississippi, the last of the so-called Goon Squad deputies is being sentenced today for torturing two black men.

The gruesome details of these racially motivated beatings, torture, sexual assaults, even a mock execution, have played out in court. All six of the former law enforcement officers pleaded guilty back in August to federal charges.

Attorney General Merrick Garland spoke out against their heinous acts, attacks earlier this week.

This morning, former Rankin County Deputy Brett McAlpin, who you see there on the left, was sentenced to more than 27 years in prison. Now he was the highest-ranking officer on the scene.

And soon, the man on the right, that is former Richland Police Officer Joshua Hartfield, will learn his fate.

CNN senior national correspondent, Ryan Young, joins us from Jackson, Mississippi, where he has been following this case.

But also, you've been in court throughout these proceedings, Ryan. What more did you hear in court today?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, I think some of us are still shocked by some of the new details that were learning. A team of us have been following the story for almost a year now.

And today, when we talk about the racial motivated part of this, what we are also learning is there are plenty of people who are white, who are showing up to now complain about these officers and the role they played. We learned that the fourth-highest-ranking member of the sheriff's

department -- that's Brett McAlpin -- he actually showed up off duty in civilian clothes and watched all this go down.

Eddie Parker really put it -- summed it up really well. He said, "Everyone's begging for mercy now, but that night, while we were being tortured, beaten, waterboarded, tased over and over, shot, we begged for our lives and no one felt for us."

So you can understand the pain that's still going on here. Gets 27 years.

On top of all that, what a lot of people sort of were concerned about or even talking about in the gallery was the fact that McAlpin's attorney was a black man.

Take a listen to some of the defense and some of the reasons why he thought his client should have gotten less time.


AAFRAM SELLERS, ATTORNEY FOR BRETT MCALPIN: I think for Mr. McAlpin to be sentenced to more time than the actual person who -- who shot Mr. Jenkins, I fought -- I fought against that.

But unfortunately, you respect the court's ruling when they make a ruling. But you know, mostly in the work we put into this, you know, even though you're disappointed that you didn't receive the outcome that you wanted, but I do think, again, the court has the final say in this.


YOUNG: I think it's important, as we talked to all sides here, because many of the men who've been accused keep pointing to the top. They say for them to get raises and to get promotions and to become investigators, that they had to continue this pattern of beating people over and over.

For the defense's part, they were trying to say this was not racially motivated.

But you can understand there are so many people, when you talk about some of the things that we've heard in court, about trying to force men into sexual positions, try to get them to shower with each other, they're just not buying that.


One of the other things that stood out to us as they call McAlpin the don of the Goon Squad, and that he was sort of the leader on the inside.

But other people are pointing to the top and saying this all comes from the sheriff. And they're hoping that the FBI or the DOJ steps in to investigate this entire department. Because not only are you talking about a sheriff's department that was out there arresting people, but you have a jail and people are concerned about the safety of the folks who are in that jail on a day- to-day basis.

So this conversation obviously -- obviously, is not over. But so much emotion tied to this, especially when you're here, in 2023, men could be brutalized for over 88 minutes, tased over 30 times, it's something that we all have to continue to talk about and pay attention to.

As this judge is not really giving them any chance by giving almost a maximum sentence every single time.

HILL: Yes, Ryan, it is so important to stay on this. I'm glad you stayed on it for so long and continue to bring us those details. Thank you.

A candidate who wants to run North Carolinas public schools confronted with her controversial and, at times, violent posts online, including a call to execute top Democrats. So what did she say when our own Shimon Prokupecz caught up with her? That's next.


SANCHEZ: So Michele Morrow was not expected to win her Republican primary race for North Carolina's top public school official. Then, in an upset last week, she did. And when she did, her extreme and controversial comments began getting attention.


Last Friday, CNN's "KFILE" reported that she has, for example, tweeted about wanting to see former President Obama put in front of a firing squad on pay-per-view, saying, quote, "We could make some money back from televising his death."

Morrow has made suggestions about executing Obama and other prominent Democrats for treason, including then President-Elect Biden. In the Biden tweet, here's how she answered the question, quote, "Will you follow Joe Biden's advice and wear a mask for 100 days?"

"Never." She replies. Quote, "We need to follow the Constitution's advice and kill all traitors."

Morrow has also promoted various QAnon conspiracy theories.

As part of that "KFILE" report, CNN reached out to her and her campaign multiple times to try to get her side of the story, but they never received a response.

After publication of the "KFILE" story, Morrow tweeted the following, quote, "According to 'KFILE' and 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 through 12 students real history and critical thinking skills." Which doesn't directly address the multiple social media postings we just listed. So we sent CNN senior crime and justice correspondent, Shimon Prokupecz, down to North Carolina to try and speak to her in person.

Shimon, how did that go?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME & JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it took several days and then we finally caught up with her. She was actually attending a Wake County -- this is the county that she lives in. It was a convention there. And she went there to meet with delegates, to meet with other Republicans.

And after a couple of hours, when she came out, we finally got a chance to speak with her.

Take a look at that exchange.


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 --


MORROW: -- 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 --


PROKUPECZ: -- 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.

PROKUPECZ: Well, let me ask you, I've -- I've --

MORROW: Keep your eyes on your own paper.

PROKUPECZ: -- 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.

MORROW: Yes, it --

PROKUPECZ: 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 students?

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 there you see, Boris, there's the continued refusal from her to answer the specific questions, to talk about, you know, what gives her the experience to be the superintendent, which is a hugely important position here.

And hugely consequential. She would be overseeing a public-school education system with 1,500,000 students, a massive budget, and would give her a massive platform, a place to speak on a podium that has huge consequences and such a huge reach.


So understand there's so many people in the state who are so concerned with the things that she has said and are just worried, you know.

The other thing is there's just this lack of empathy from her and understanding that how some of the things she has said could be really hurtful to many of the students and the kids that go to public school here.

SANCHEZ: And just how detached her comments are from reality as well. I bet she's going to start parking a lot closer to the door.

Shimon Prokupecz, appreciate the reporting. Thanks so much.

Still to come, basketball fans love March Madness, sometimes more than they love their jobs. More on our annual distraction and obsession in just moments.


SANCHEZ: I hope you did better than Erica and I --


SANCHEZ: -- who did not make out brackets. I hope yours are ready because March Madness is now in full swing.

And while the NCAA tournament is exciting to watch, it can also be a real distraction that pulls us away from our work.

HILL: Distraction, healthy break, you know, it's all in the framing here.


HILL: CNN's Harry Enten crunching the numbers on just how many of us may be watching the big dance when the boss isn't looking, or some people watch with losses looking, they don't care.


SANCHEZ: The boss is probably looking, too.

HILL: Yes. Good point.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I've -- I've got to be honest with you, I don't care. I have all the games on at my desk right now. And so the fact that I'm trying to walk you guys, I'm trying to watch all the games.

But how many people are actually watching these games? This is Nutter Butter. Watching on an early Thursday. This is a Thursday afternoon. My goodness, gracious.


Last year, 6.7 million was the average across the networks in 2023. That is more than most primetime shows. So not a big surprise that people are getting very distracted from work. Millions, potentially billions being lost in productivity.

Now, it's not just that They're interested, of course, in their brackets. I will tell you that I filled one out, unlike you two, because I am a good company man. (LAUGHTER)

ENTEN: And I am like a lot of other people. Because the people who filled out a bracket on ESPN or, 25 million or more in 2024. I have that latest stat for you. I just got it.

Now of course, I'm also interested in how the nation is picking. Well, most folks -- most folks are like me, guys. Most folks or the plurality of folks picked UConn, 26.1 percent.

Who was the most popular non-number--one pick to win at all? How about Arizona at 6.6 percent? I'll note, earlier on in the week, it was Kentucky. So these numbers have been moving around as more and more folks have been picking in their team, unlike you two.

And how about the biggest first-round upset? Nearly 48 percent picked Oregon to advance. They're an 11 seed. That's the force most upset ever, ever. So we'll see if the Ducks are able to advance.

And then, of course, a bizarre stat. Cinderella in 2020. And 0.3 percent for over 5,000 fans picked all 16 seeds to advance. That's a very bad idea. But I guess some people want to roll the die -- guys?

SANCHEZ: Yes. Why not? Especially if you do multiple brackets.


HILL: Right, you can remember back -- I feel like Harry's trying to give us a hard time about not finishing our brackets.

ENTEN: I am.

SANCHEZ: Yes. I got distracted. I didn't --


ENTEN: What are you doing, Boris? Boris, do I need to come down and --


ENTEN: -- Erica?


HILL: Plus, he's got like two more hours of TV later today. But I'm with you, Harry, five hours of live TV. He is a slacker.

Let me tell you what I've learned.


HILL: When I get back to New York, I will fill you in on all the details, Harry.


ENTEN: I look forward to you dishing with me.


SANCHEZ: Harry Enten. Thanks a lot, Harry.

ENTEN: Bye, guys.

SANCHEZ: So his campaign is low on cash. And officials are making moves to seize his assets. Donald Trump could be on trial for election interference as soon as this summer, too. A storm of developments involving the former president.

We'll be right back.