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Don Lemon Tonight

Netherlands Mourns Flight 17 Victims; Brooklyn Bridge Mystery; Putin's Role in Ukraine Unrest; Allegations of Excessive Force in Death While in Custody

Aired July 23, 2014 - 22:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon, 10:00 p.m. On the East Coast, and just before daybreak in the Ukraine in the Middle East, where CNN is live with the very latest on the two big stories.

The White House is looking at tougher sanctions on Russia, as two more planes, this time military jets, are shot down over Ukraine.

And, meanwhile, the remains of victims of Flight 17 are returning to the Netherlands to be identified. And the plane's black boxes are being examined in the U.K. Are we on the verge of finding out who is to blame?

We want to want what you think about all this. Make sure you tweet us using #AskDon. We have an expert team standing to answer all of your questions.

Meanwhile, in the Middle East, if we ban flights to Tel Aviv, does Hamas win? Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg seems to think so. You will hear from him.

And 10 years after the original 9/11 Commission report, what is the state of our security? Are we as safe as we think we are?

But let's begin with the very latest from Ukraine now.

CNN's Ivan Watson live for us in Donetsk.

Ivan, hello to you. A funeral procession miles long, the Netherlands' first national day of mourning since 1962. Yet only 40 coffins were returned to their home country today. When will the remains of the other passengers be returned?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're expecting more flights from Ukraine carrying the bodies of more passengers arriving in the coming day.

And a big question remains is that the Dutch investigators say that they have received basically 200 bodies from the crash site. That leaves 98 more people pretty much unaccounted for. A big question, what's -- where are they? The Malaysian prime minister has said publicly, we must not forget those who remain unaccounted for. We urge the search to continue for those who are still missing. We went out to the crash site Wednesday evening as the sun was

starting to set, as the procession was still taking place in the Netherlands for the 40 people who were brought back there. And we saw no search effort, no investigation expert at the crash site looking for bodies or information about how the crash happened, no guards to speak of either.

It was a bit strange to see that the focus of so much attention over the past six days felt very much abandoned -- Don.

LEMON: And less than a week after the tragedy of Flight MH17, Ivan, today Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down out of the sky. What do we know about this incident?

WATSON: That's right. The pro-Russian separatists here, they claimed responsibility for this. They posted a pretty convincing video online that they shot down these two Ukrainian fighter planes.

We tried to get close to that area, which is only about a half-hour's drive from where MH17 was shot down. The Ukrainian government has confirmed that this did take place. The rebels say they shot the planes down, the fighter jets, with shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missiles. If you do the math, within the last two weeks, the separatists have shot down no less than four Ukrainian warplanes.

The rebels claim they did not have the capability to shoot down Malaysian Air Flight 17, though the U.S. government, the Ukrainian government, a number of other governments have directly accused them of that.

So also very strange just six days after these 298 people died to see more planes being shot down just a short distance away, and to hear the sound of fighter planes, their distinctive engines flying very high overhead over the crash site.

LEMON: Ivan Watson, Ivan, thank you very much.

I want to turn now to the showdown between Israel and Hamas. With rocket attacks still going on, the ban on U.S. flights into Ben Gurion Airport remains in effect.

But former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is in Israel, and he flew to Tel Aviv overnight to protest that ban.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer has more now -- Wolf.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Don, earlier today here in Jerusalem, I had a chance to speak with the former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the current mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, both of whom are very upset about the FAA's decision to ban flights to and from Israel for one day, now a second day.

They think the FAA made a mistake. And Michael Bloomberg explained in rather detailed points why he thought that the FAA is wrong, that Israel is safe, Ben Gurion Airport is safe. And he told me this:

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: I just wanted to do something personally to show my support for standing up for what's right.

I think Israel is doing that. Hamas is trying to kill the Palestinians and kill the Israelis, and somebody has got to say that they have got to stop this. And then along comes the FAA, which I think made a mistake. I hope they will rectify it soon, but they said they didn't want American planes flying into the world's most secure airport.

And so I decided I would take a trip over here on the world's most secure airline going to the world's most secure airport.

BLITZER: In fact, Bloomberg also disagreed with the State Department's travel advisory earlier in the week that said Americans should avoid all but essential travel to Israel, nonessential travel, the State Department says, not a good idea for Israel or the West Bank right now, any travel to Gaza, for that matter.

BLOOMBERG: If you don't feel safe here, I don't know where you would feel safe. And I think the State Department is just overreacting in typical bureaucratic fashion.

BLITZER: Political reasons for that?

BLOOMBERG: That's -- why would you think that, Wolf?

BLITZER: Do you think it -- I'm asking you.

BLOOMBERG: Don't be ridiculous. Why would you think that?

It's an outrage for you to accuse one of our agencies...

BLITZER: I'm not accusing any -- I'm just asking.

BLOOMBERG: By asking the question, you're implying that our government does things for political reasons. And maybe every once in a while, they do. But it's your job to prove it.

Just the allegation against our government, I personally take as an offense.


BLITZER: No, I'm just asking you if you thought that there was some political motive behind the travel advisory or the FAA decision.

BLOOMBERG: Number one, I wouldn't know.

BLITZER: Because a lot of people in Israel do, you know.

BLOOMBERG: I don't know. You don't know. And the other people don't know.

But just the -- the tone of the question of trying to create dissension, it is insulting to America.


LEMON: Quite a combative interview there with Wolf Blitzer and the former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg.

I want to turn now to more profoundly moving pictures from the Netherlands, thousands of people paying tribute to the victims of Flight 17, some applauding, some tossing flowers, as a long line of hearses makes its way to a Dutch military base.

I turn now to Harun Calehr, whose nephews were on board Flight 17. He joins us now by phone from Amsterdam.

Thank you for joining us again. You're from Houston?


LEMON: But you have joined your sister in Amsterdam as she deals with the loss of her two young sons. What is the atmosphere like there?

CALEHR: The atmosphere in Netherlands or with my sister?

LEMON: The atmosphere in -- with your sister?

CALEHR: Yes, of course, she is extremely devastated, as is my mother and myself.

And so, on the one hand, we keep reminiscing about the boys and about the fun things that they used to do and the jokes they used to make with her. And we, you know, think about certain smells and words they used to say. On the other hand, we're just so happy that they have touched our lives in the past.

LEMON: And what about the atmosphere in Amsterdam, or in the Netherlands overall?

CALEHR: Yes, it's just unbelievable. I mean, the outpouring of collective grief and respect, respect that was not accorded to the remains of these poor souls has been so overwhelming.

And as saddened as we are about their loss, you know, the celebration of respect and carrying this and just this collective respect for what happened has been overwhelming.

LEMON: Yes, you're talking about the collective respect. We were looking at the pictures there. And there was just really an outpouring of emotion and grief going on.

You can see it on the faces of the people who waited as the procession passed. And I'm sure your family, that offers some comfort and support for your family and your sister, I'm sure.

CALEHR: Yes, especially for what happened in the Ukraine, how, you know, these poor bodies were treated so disrespectfully, from what we have heard from CNN crew that were on the ground about what they saw, the horrors that they saw, the callousness of the people on the ground towards the remains.

So, obviously, it doesn't bring them back. And nothing can, although we wish something would. But at least it does give us some comfort, yes, just the closing of the airport, of the airspace all over the Netherlands for 13 minutes, a day of mourning to last 50 days is just unprecedented.

LEMON: Harun, has your family received the remains or any of the boys' belongings back?

CALEHR: No, nothing, absolutely nothing yet.

And we were warned about the fact that that could either never happen or it could take painstaking work for weeks to months on end to receive anything back.

LEMON: Your 16-year-old nephew, Mika, was also supposed to join his brothers on that flight, but was bumped since it was overbooked. How is he coping with that?

CALEHR: Well, we're trying to be there for him to comfort him as a security net, to try to talk to him about it, because he is very stoic.

And so we're concerned that he is just swallowing everything, instead of, you know, discussing it. But they were his best friends, his two brothers. And so he has fond memories of them. And instead of being, you know, very emotional about their loss, he actually is celebrating their memory by laughing and talking about the fun things they used to do.

Of course, there are moments when he just breaks down and can't take the emotional challenges that he has been facing for the last week. But, overall, he has been coping. And then we just hope that, by us discussing, you know, the good things about their lives, it's therapeutic for him as well.

LEMON: Your mother had this to say about the emotional support that she has been receiving. Listen.


YASMINE CALEHR, GRANDMOTHER OF PASSENGERS: It's not just us. It is people crying every minute for the same reasons we are crying. I don't know where humanity is going, but when I see you and everybody and the flowers, there is always hope.

And we have to move on. I don't know how, but we have to, because they were incredible kids.


LEMON: One has to wonder where you all draw the strength.

CALEHR: Especially her. The oldest grandson was her favorite, although she is just a wonderful

grandmother and mother. And, yes, and she was so eloquent. I have been talking to you and the rest of the media for a few days now, and she just summed everything up in such a few sentences, but she was extremely eloquent. And that's why she is my mother. But the amazing strength that she has, I don't know where she draws it from.

LEMON: Harun Calehr, thank you. Thank you very much for telling your story. And, again, if we can ever do anything for you, make sure you get in touch with us, OK? Appreciate it.

CALEHR: Thank you so much, Don. I appreciate it.

LEMON: All right.

When we come right back here on CNN, is the ban on flights to Ben Gurion about security or is it about politics? We're going to debate that.

And we're answering your questions tonight on Flight 17. Make sure you tweet us using #AskDon. We will be right back.


LEMON: Welcome back, everyone.

Here in New York City, police still don't know who replaced the American flags on the Brooklyn Bridge with two white flags, but one thing we do know. Security at one of America's most famous landmarks is not what it should be.

CNN's Pamela Brown has more.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's one of the most heavily guarded landmarks in all of New York City, yet somehow someone snuck on to the Brooklyn Bridge and replaced two American flags with all-white versions.

JOHN MILLER, NYPD DEPUTY COMMISSIONER: We don't take these things lightly or as a joke or as art.

BROWN: That's because they know how easily those perpetrators could have planted bombs on the bridge, instead of flags. It's the latest reminder of how vulnerable America still is to terrorist attacks, highlighted in this just-released 9/11 Commission report laying out a growing range of diverse threats, from homegrown terrorists to overseas attacks on American computer systems.

TIMOTHY ROEMER, FORMER 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: This is a new, dangerous phase that the United States of America is entering in to.

BROWN: The 9/11 Commission warned a decade ago, if Iraq falls, terrorists will fill the vacuum. And as the commission's new report says, that nightmare scenario may now be coming to pass. The terrorist group ISIS is taking over sections of Iraq and Syria and

ramping up recruiting efforts, convincing Europeans and Americans to come train with them in the Middle East. U.S. authorities worry they could come back to launch attacks.

ROEMER: People starting to come back from these training grounds into the United States, al Qaeda now -- pre-9/11, they were in a few countries. Now they're in 16 countries around the world.

BROWN: And al Qaeda is still pushing to hurt Americans, its Yemeni arm recently laying out in an English-language terrorist magazine, "Inspire," a list of the most coveted American targets, such as this summer's U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York.

Counterterrorism officials are concerned this will serve to encourage lone wolf terrorists flying under the radar. One of the biggest threats right now didn't even register when the 9/11 Commission wrote its original report, computer attacks that could wipe out key parts of the infrastructure, like the power grid or banks.

So, as the threats grow on every front, homeland security experts say the mission today is clear.

ROEMER: To understand, to be proactive, and to be smart about the changes taking place in the world before we are attacked again is one of the most important lessons in our report.

BROWN: A lesson with a bold reminder right in the face of New York.

Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.


LEMON: All right, appreciate that, Pamela.

So with threats around the world and here at home, what is the state of our security really?

So, joining me now, Bob Baer, CNN national security analyst, and Ambassador James Woolsey, former director of the central intelligence.

Good evening to you, gentlemen. Appreciate you joining me tonight.

It's time of a huge uncertainty, in large part because of what's happening Ukraine and also in Israel. And I want to ask you about what former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Senator Ted Cruz have said about the FAA ban on flying to Ben Gurion Airport.

First, I want to -- let's talk about Senator Ted Cruz. Here is his statement. He says: "The facts suggest that President Obama has just used a federal regulatory agency to launch an economic boycott on Israel in order to try to force our ally to comply with his foreign policy demands."

Bob Baer, would the White House use a government agency that way?

BOB BAER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think any administration would, yes.

But the point is that Ben Gurion Airport is under threat. There is already one mortar has landed close to it. There are tunnels that come from Egypt into Gaza. And we know that a couple of months ago, an Egyptian helicopter was shot down by an Igla missile.

So is a potential threat in Tel Aviv? Absolutely. Can you get inside these groups to figure out when it is? You can't get inside all of them. So I think in spite of -- you know, it's overcautious on this. There is a threat to Tel Aviv airport. They probably had good reason to close it down.

LEMON: So you're not buying into this as a political argument?

BAER: No, I don't buy it. I don't.

This administration, I see it pulling back all over. It's very -- it's much too isolationist for my liking. But it's not looking for conflicts either in the Ukraine or Iraq or even Afghanistan. So I don't see they're trying to hype the threat. They're just hoping it's going to go away.

I think frankly they're putting their head in the sand, because the fact is, ISIS is here in this country. When they're going to strike, I don't know. But they're here. And with the conflict getting worse in Iraq, we're under threat.

LEMON: I want to bring in Ambassador Woolsey.

Before you respond to a similar question, I want to play with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf Blitzer's interview, what he asked Michael Bloomberg today. Here it is.


BLOOMBERG: It's an outrage for you to accuse one of our agencies...

BLITZER: I'm not accusing any -- I'm just asking.

BLOOMBERG: By asking the question, you're implying that our government does things for political reasons. And maybe every once in a while, they do. But it's your job to prove it.

Just the allegation against our government, I personally take as an offense.


BLITZER: No, I'm just asking you if you thought that there was some political motive behind the travel advisory or the FAA decision.

BLOOMBERG: Number one, I wouldn't know.

BLITZER: Because a lot of people in Israel do, you know.

BLOOMBERG: I don't know. You don't know. And the other people don't know.

But just the -- the tone of the question of trying to create dissension, it is insulting to America.


LEMON: He is clearly outraged. Ambassador, do you share his outrage?

JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: No, I think that's a bit overdone.

But I think it's unlikely for the administration to use the FAA this way. I don't downplay their propensity for politics at all. But there is I think a reasonable concern about safety at Ben Gurion. They might have done this by going through special procedures and letting -- having each individual choose whether or not to waive the protection that he gets.

There's just ways they probably could have compromised with it. But I imagine it was a decision that was encouraged really by the risks at the airport.

LEMON: I want to really get into the meat of this, of why we're having this conversation. And it's about our safety. Are we really as safe as we think we are, especially since 9/11?

So let's move on now and discuss those flags on the Brooklyn Bridge. The deputy police commissioner, John Miller, made it clear that this incident is probably not terrorism, but does it reveal any vulnerabilities in terms of how open our national monuments and our infrastructures are, Bob?

BAER: I think John Miller is right. This is probably a prank. I don't think we should take it very seriously.

But, on the other hand, you're absolutely right, Don. There is a threat to infrastructure. We're not doing a good job protecting it. Don't forget, there was a plot a couple of years ago to take down a bridge in New York with acetylene torches. It came very close to succeeding. This was not a fake plot.

I mean, if you get up there and put a flag, you can get up there and take an acetylene torch to one of these cables. And you relieve the pressure and half the bridge will come down or the whole bridge.


BAER: Aspirational threat now, but it is one, yes.

LEMON: But, Ambassador, isn't intelligence and investigating -- and investigation the best way to prevent that? Because isn't that also, you know, part of the tradeoff for having a free society? Anyone could drive over the bridge any day and do whatever they might want to the bridge? There are no checks going on to most of the bridges in this country.

WOOLSEY: Well, yes, we can't build barriers around everything that is important in the country.

But I think what it indicates is a certain sloppiness that is likely to manifest itself in far more tragic circumstances. We have gotten into a mode post-9/11, I think, of believing that, well, that's over and done with. The president keeps announcing we have killed bin Laden, we are getting out of the war, this is all over.

I think -- I think that's really a very bad impression to leave. we need to be extremely alert in these days and times, with groups like ISIS and so forth around. And also, we have made compromises in order to make sure that we don't get too much metadata from the NSA and so forth.

We have biased things in a direction to make absolutely sure we don't intrude on anybody's privacy. And when you balance things that way, you create situations in which sometimes it's easier to conduct a terrorist act or something very much like a terrorist act than anyone would hope.

LEMON: And, quickly, Bob, before we go, the 9/11 Commission released a 10th anniversary report. And the bottom line is that the world has become more dangerous over the last few years and the struggle against terrorism is far from over. Do you share that view?

BAER: Oh, absolutely.

I think things you look at from Nigeria to Morocco to Tunisia to Syria to Iraq, it's -- we're much worse. And what I don't think we should do is politicize this and blame it on the current administration. But the facts are the facts on the ground, and, yes, we are more dangerous -- it's a more dangerous situation than even before 9/11, absolutely.

LEMON: All right.

Bob Baer, Ambassador Woolsey, thank you very much. Appreciate you joining me this evening.

The tragedy of Flight 17 does not appear to have changed Vladimir Putin's strategy in Eastern Ukraine or his relations with the West. Two experts go head to head on that, one of them a former KGB general. And the other has known Putin since 1978.


LEMON: Tonight U.S. officials say up to 15,000 Russian troops are positioned on its border with Ukraine, and they say Russia is still moving weapons into eastern Ukraine while the rest of the world's attention is focused on the Flight 17 tragedy.

So let's talk about Vladimir Putin here. I'm joined by Oleg Kalugin. He is a former KGB general and former chief of KGB foreign intelligence. And then Jonathan Sanders is an associate professor at Stony Brook University school of journalism.

Good evening, gentlemen.


LEMON: Today reports from the Ukrainians that two more jets were shot down while the bodies from MH-17 were making their way back to the Netherlands. Is this situation really more out of control than we first thought?

SANDERS: Well, those Sukhoi-25 planes, and I've been chased by those, they're very scary. They're planes that were designed to support troops in the field. They did a devastating job in Afghanistan. They did a devastating job for the Kremlin in Chechnya. They don't fly too high, and they could be shot down pretty easily if you have shoulder- fired missiles. And the Ukrainians don't have too many of them, and they're not going to be able to fly a whole lot of air support right now.

But if you were a fighter in the field, and you had these Sukhoi-25s coming over you what, would you do, if you had the weapons? Would you just sit there and say, "We're supposed to behave because some of our comrades just shot down a Malaysian plane by mistake and these guys might kill us? But we're going refrain"? Or are you going to shoot the thing down?

Their commanders in the field want to protect their soldiers. Their soldiers may be thugs and mercenaries and a bloodthirsty bunch, but they want to live, so they shot them down.

LEMON: OK. Oleg, you know, in your view, let's talk about Vladimir Putin here, because reports are saying now there's no direct link between him and this plane being shot down, but they believe he created the situation for to it happen. Let's talk about Putin. Does he have any control over what these pro-Russian rebels are doing?

OLEG KALUGIN, FORMER KGB GENERAL: Well, not really. Well, there are so many Russians across the world. In Ukraine, which used to be part of the Soviet Union and well friendly country actually. That's where Russia was born, Kiev's Rus. That's the name of the first sort of state on these European partisanship parts of former USSR.

Well, anyway, so Ukrainian events have really disturbed Russia, because they would love to have the western parts of Russia safe. Unfortunately...

LEMON: But Mr. Kalugin, just to -- to keep you focused here, the question is, does Vladimir Putin, does he really have control over these pro-Russian separatists that's believed to be responsible for shooting down this plane?

KALUGIN: No, I don't believe so. Putin actually does not have control. The separatists, whether it's in Ukraine or whatever, they act on their own. They are driven by other reasons or motivations. So Putin has control over the Kremlin and some parts of Russia. But Ukraine is technically is an independent state. And whatever happened in the skies over Ukraine has no, I mean, relation to Russia.

LEMON: But would they be responsive to his demands?

KALUGIN: You mean Putin's demand?


KALUGIN: Which demand are you talking about? So many.

LEMON: Whatever he were to tell them to do: to back off or to move. Would they be responsive to his wishes, whatever they are, whatever they might be?

KALUGIN: Well, Putin will try to do his best. So disconnect Russia or any pro-Russian forces wherever they are from the tragic events with this, you know, air flight.

LEMON: OK. All right. So Jonathan, you first...

SANDERS: Putin doesn't like to leave fingerprints.

LEMON: Go ahead. Talk to me more about that.

SANDERS: Putin doesn't like to leave fingerprints.

LEMON: Yes. You met him in 1978, so continue to talk about him. Your first impressions and why he doesn't like to leave fingerprints.

SANDERS: Well...

KALUGIN: It's his professional training.

LEMON: That question is -- that question is for Jonathan.

KALUGIN: Oh, I'm sorry.

LEMON: Yes. Talk to us about...

SANDERS: The other thing that's really important to understand, Don, is Putin -- Mr. Kalugin is absolutely right. He has influence. He does not give direct orders.

And the people that are out in the field in eastern Ukraine, even the ones that are surrounded by perhaps direct agents who are getting some kind of payment out of Moscow, imagine trying to control Rambos -- Rambo-type people who also are intermixed with people of the Ku Klux Klan. Those guys respond to certain kinds of persuasion, but it's not like they're army officers who salute and say, "Yes, sir." It's not that simple.

LEMON: Yes. Again, I want to go back to my question. You've known him for quite a long time. It has been said that he does not blink. Will he blink on this particular situation?

SANDERS: Mr. Putin does what's in his country's national security interests. He is a very loyal person. And if he believes that his guys in the field are exposed and in danger, he will continue to support them.

And so far this entire episode, except for the shooting down of this Malaysian flight, this entire episode with Ukraine going back to seizing Crimea has raised his popularity enormously. And every time the American white house makes a threat or makes a gesture, his support outside of Moscow goes up. And it's worked wonderfully for him.

LEMON: Yes. What do you think, Mr. Kalugin? What's Vladimir Putin's next move?

KALUGIN: Well, he will try to do his best to stay where he is today and stay for as much -- as long as he can.

For the time being, the people of Russia support Mr. Putin, according to all sort of public reports. Some may be exaggerated, as always happened in the former USSR and current Russia. And yet, he is popular with the Russian people. And his staff is positioned personal and public on several issues are well supported. So it's he is not a guy who is just a slight difference from. He's -- there is no one understands that supports, they support him.

LEMON: We'll have to leave it there. Thank you very much, Oleg Kalugin and Jonathan Sanders.

Coming up next, reports that some police officers nationwide are using excessive force when arresting suspects, with tragic results. How do we stop this?


LEMON: Welcome back. Tonight a funeral was held for a New York City man who died in police custody. An officers is accused of allegedly using a chokehold. Well, some call this case an example of excessive use of force by police, but it's not limited to New York.

Susan Candiotti has more, and I must warn you, some of what you're about to see and hear very disturbing.






SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As friends of Eric Garner prepare to bury him, there is no letup in a search for answers. Could his death during an apparent chokehold by police have been avoided?

Numerous videos like this one of Garner's takedown, alleging excessive force, are showing up time and again. Moore, Oklahoma. A man pepper- sprayed in the mouth, nose and eyes after police say he refuses to show an I.D. and gets combative. Five officers pile on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he OK? He doesn't move; he doesn't move! You kill him! You kill him!

CANDIOTTI: The man dies. The suspended officers are back on duty. Prosecutors called the use of force justified.

Albuquerque, New Mexico. An unarmed homeless man is shot in the back and dies. It's on police video. As CNN's Drew Griffin reports, 26 officer-involved shootings since 2010 in that city, and not a single prosecution.

The Justice Department is finalizing a consent decree, putting the department under federal supervision.

Back in New York, another new amateur video going viral. It appears to show an officer applying a chokehold around a man's neck who didn't pay for the subway. He is punched repeatedly in the head. He is charged with trespass and resisting arrest. Internal affairs is investigating the incident.

(on camera): You see the officer gripping this person who is face down. Now he appears to be punching him in the side of the head. These are always difficult to watch.

What do you think when you look at this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's sad, very sad.

CANDIOTTI: Someone sent Reverend Rodriguez that subway video, and it got over a million hits on his Facebook page.

KELMY RODRIGUEZ, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: The officer had no choice but to arrest him. The gentleman did not want to be handcuffed. However, I think the dynamics changed when the officer threw the punch, it's a chokehold.

CANDIOTTI: If that's a chokehold, but yes, he puts his arm and his neck.

RODRIGUEZ: And from there anything is possible.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Could the simple answer be better police training, not only in New York, but everywhere?

RODRIGUEZ: At the same time I think us people have to be trained, too.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): In what way?

RODRIGUEZ: Being civil. That the anger, the frustration, the hostility and wanting to create chaos and wanting to fight is not going to resolve anything.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): And what about vetting? Who gets to wear a badge?

EUGENE O'DONNELL, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Just about every department has somebody who's dangerous, you know, in its employment. And, you know, is a menace to the good cops, is a menace to the community, and they need to do a better job making sure those people don't get hired.

CANDIOTTI: Seven months into the job, New York's police commissioner promises change following Garner's tragic death.

WILLIAM BRATTON, NYC POLICE COMMISSIONER: I would anticipate that coming out of this effort that there will be a retraining of every member of the New York City Police Department in the weeks, months, and potential years ahead.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): When people say to you, "Reverend, things are out of control. The police are out to get us. We can't get a fair shake. They're beating us up every chance they get," what do you say?

RODRIGUEZ: I tell them simple. The actions of a handful does not justify a penalizing or condemning the majority.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): He believes things can and must get better.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, New York.


LEMON: Interesting. Thank you, Susan.

When we come right back, more on the death of Eric Garner. Will this be a turning point for police tactics? And might they, as one of my next guests says, stop doing their jobs for fear of being sued or going to jail themselves?


LEMON: Welcome back. In the wake of the death of a New York City man in police custody, allegedly in a chokehold, there are questions around the country about excessive force by police. Let's discuss now with Mark O'Mara. He's a CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney. And then Brett Klein is a civil rights attorney who represented two men, who's won lawsuits against the office in this most recent case. And Lou Palumbo, director of Elite Intelligence and Protection and a retired law enforcement agent.

It's good to see all of you, and it's good to have you back here, Lou. You were so passionate about this last night. I'm going to talk to you in a moment. But I want to start with Mark. Because we have all seen the disturbing video you saw. Susan Candiotti played it out for us.

Do you think that Eric Garner looks like a suspect who needs to be subdued?

MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Not in the way it was initially done. You know, cops are trained. And I've always said I would not want to be a cop on the streets of New York or any other town, risking life.

But cops are trained on a spectrum of force. They are allowed to respond to resistance with increasing force. But it has to be in response to the force. And Mr. Garner, while he did not want to be arrested, it seemed, had not raised to it a level where anything like a chokehold, I think, should have been used. The cops have to take control of the situation. But they have to do it in as calm a way as they can without accelerating it.

LEMON: All right. So Brett, you know, you have won a previous -- some previous cases against Officer Pantaleo. He's the officer in this case. So tell me about the specifics of that case. And were you surprised when you saw the headlines this past weekend involving him and a chokehold?

BRETT KLEIN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Thanks, Don. Pleasure to be here. My clients, two men in their 40s, African-American men in Staten Island, were subjected to an illegal car stop by Officer Pantaleo and his team of plainclothes officers.

They were pulled out of their car, and they were subjected to a strip search in daylight time. It was about 10 in the morning in the Staten Island in the same precinct where Mr. Garner was killed. And they were strip searched where their pants were pulled down to their ankles, and Officer Pantaleo engaged in a public strip search, touching their genitals and other private parts in public view. He then arrested them without any reason and falsified the basis for the arrest, and ultimately the charges were dismissed.

LEMON: And then $30,000 was paid out. And that was taxpayer money that was paid out. And there is also another lawsuit pending on this particular officer that they won't discuss, because it is still going through the system.

So you know, again, my question was you weren't surprised, then that -- were you surprised that he was still on the force or that he was involved in another incident?

KLEIN: Unfortunately, sadly, I wasn't surprised, because this is what we see day in and day out.


KLEIN: This is all I do. And in this type of situation where the officer did something that's not allowed, engaging in a public strip search, unfortunately the department doesn't respond to that.

LEMON: All right. Lou Palumbo, before you respond to this, I want to play you what -- tell you what the president of the Patrolman's Benevolent Association is calling this punishment of Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

It says, "A completely unwarranted knee-jerk reaction for political reasons." He also says that the punishment effectively prejudges this case and denies the officer the very benefit of doubt -- of a doubt that has long been part of the social contract that allows police officers to face the risks of this difficult and complex job.

So we had our discussion last night. You know how many people feel about it. You heard what Mark said. Your concern is that so many -- that police officers are under so much scrutiny and being criticized so much that they just may take their hands off and say, "Listen, I'm not going to -- I don't want to go to jail. I don't want to be sued. I'm not going to do anything."

LOU PALUMBO, RETIRED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: That's correct, Don. Basically, what we're going to do is rob these police officers of their motivation to enforce the law. Because of the scrutiny.

And the fact of the matter is we make mistakes every day. Clearly, this is an isolated instance, as the one was in Arizona. The second issue in New York City appeared to be in a subway.

But the simple fact of the matter is the public is in a complete disconnect with the responsibility and the spontaneity of these incidents that drop into their laps.

And I want to say one thing to you about this incident with Mr. Garner. Had Mr. Garner complied with the arrest, we wouldn't be speaking right now, No. 1.

No. 2, I do realize that this thing escalated and the officer ended up choking him. But they were trying to gain control of an individual 6'3" and 350 pounds. Until you walk in these streets and you face what these cops face, I would ask you not to be too judgmental. Don't intellectualize this and don't pontificate and armchair quarterback everything every cop does, because you're going strip them of their motivation.

LEMON: Let me talk. I don't think people are armchair quarterbacking everything every cop does. This isn't about every cop. Most police officers are good police officers. These are the ones that make the rest of the police department and the police officers look bad. This isn't about the good cops. This is about the bad cops.

O'MARA: Don -- Don, I will...

PALUMBO: That's correct, Don. I mean, I believe that there might be a problem with this officer, and ultimately it falls on the administration to have managed him prior to this.


PALUMBO: But the bottom line is there's a tendency or a trend that's in vogue right now that is undermining the police officers and the way that they do their jobs. Starting with Stop and Frisk, and how it translates to how we take you into custody.

LEMON: OK, Mark O'Mara, what were you going to say?

O'MARA: Yes. One thing is I think that people need to understand that when someone says to you "You're under arrest," the argument is over. At that point, you have to acknowledge the authority of the police officer. The court system will take care of whether or not it was a proper arrest. But what's happening with cases like this is that people are learning

to disrespect police, and that's putting us all in much greater danger and cops. When they say you're under arrest, the argument has to be over. You to comply with that lawful order. Let it get reviewed later, not on the street.

LEMON: And Brett, as a community activist said in Susan Candiotti's story, he said us people -- these are his words -- have to be retrained, too. We have to learn not to create chaos, anger. That doesn't solve anything. Do you agree?

KLEIN: I'm not so sure about that, frankly, Don. The issue here is police officers are only allowed to use only the amount of force necessary to overcome someone who's resisting. Anything more than that endangers the public. And it's not about the public. It's about the department and how they implement training and what -- how these officers are equipped to deal with people who may not react that the way that everyone would want them to.

LEMON: We'll have to leave there it. Thank you, gentlemen. We'll be right back.