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Don Lemon Tonight

New Reporting From "The Daily Beast" Appears To Undercut Herschel Walker's Defense That He Didn't Know The Woman's Identity; Trooper Under Investigation Over Response To Uvalde School Massacre Was Hired To Protect City's Children; Justice Jackson Makes Strong Debut On Supreme Court Bench; Black Parents Demand Justice Over Police Killings. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired October 05, 2022 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Okay, so, this is just in tonight, "The Daily Beast" reporting the anonymous woman who says she had an abortion paid for by Herschel Walker is also the mother of one of his children.

"The Daily Beast" originally agreed to withhold personal details about her, but the woman has now told them that she decided to share this after Walker's denial of her original allegation.

The woman told "The Daily Beast" that she wanted to stay anonymous to protect her family's privacy. "The Daily Beast" reported the woman provided proof that she is the mother of one of Walker 's children, but did not say how.

Here with me on set, CNN political commentators Ashley Allison and Alice Stewart. And also joining me, CNN's senior political analyst Ron Brownstein and Governor lieutenant, Governor of Georgia Geoff Duncan. Good evening to one and all.

So, as a lieutenant governor of Georgia, I've got to ask you, Governor Duncan, this is a bombshell. How is it going to land with Georgia voters?

LT. GOV. GEOFF DUNCAN (R-GA): Well, even the most staunched Republicans, I think, are rattled at the continued flow of information. I think every Republican knew that there was baggage out there but the weight of that baggage is starting to feel a little closer to unbearable at this point. I'll give him the benefit of time to get his story out there.

But we should be talking about other things like, you know, Governor Kemp is talking about. You know, he has got a near double digit lead in his race along with other statewide candidates. Instead, we're talking about the past. Some of the stuff could've gotten cleaned up in the primary. If we were given an honest look in an honest primary, that would've looked hard at somebody's leadership skills.

LEMON: Yeah, and at the quality of candidates. So, Alice, Walker was out just today, denying that he even knows who this woman is. Listen.


BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS HOST: Have you figured out who it is?

HERSCHEL WALKER, GEORGIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Not at all. And that's what I hope everyone can see. It's sort of like everyone is anonymous, everyone is leaking, and they want you to confess to something you have no clue about.


LEMON: So, Republicans, including you, said that you would support him. I asked you last night how do you know if he's telling the truth. Do you believe him now and can you still support him?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR SENATOR TED CRUZ: Look, I think what we're seeing right now is a huge, personal mess for Herschel Walker. And he has a lot of explaining to do. But, right now, we're looking at this, he has denied it, he has doubled down on that, and continues to say that he was not responsible for this. That is a personal issue that he has to deal with, what happened in his past.

I look at this through the political lens. He has vowed to continue to focus on issues that are important to the people of Georgia, which is fighting -- working to improve the economy, inflation, and fighting crime. Those are the political issues that he will go to Washington and defend.

And as a Republican, I will take a person with those political leanings much more so over Raphael Warnock, who is there to further the Biden agenda. Look, I'm not alone. A lot of Republicans are still supporting Herschel Walker. I hear what the lieutenant governor is saying in terms of this is getting heavy, this is a huge burden to bear. But Republicans are standing behind Herschel Walker. We're going to have Rick Scott go to Georgia and campaign for him. Lindsey Graham campaigned for him.

LEMON: That's astonishing. I must say that's astonishing.

STEWART: They're all in.


LEMON: Okay, listen, this is what I'm trying to wrap my head around. I said to you last night, you're putting me in an uncomfortable position because I don't want to seem like I'm attacking you, but I'm just -- this is what you said to me over the last, I don't know, seven years we've been covering Trump --


LEMON: -- that abortion was the issue that made you hold your nose to support Trump through all of his antics. So now abortion is no longer important? STEWART: It is very important. It is extremely important to me. When you hear Herschel Walker, his position on abortion, he is against abortion. And I believe --

LEMON: He can't be. He paid for it.

STEWART: I'm talking about, when -- well, if he takes the oath to be a U.S. senator, he has vowed to protect the sanctity of life, and he will vow to continue to fight against abortion. Those are the policies that he will represent as a politician.

LEMON: Roe v. Wade has already been overturned, Alice.

STEWART: Exactly, but I am talking about the emphasis to push for the sanctity of life, and that is an issue that is important to him. I trust that he will do so as a politician --

LEMON: I don't understand. How you can say it's important to him when he allegedly, according to this woman, and we all can believe what we want to believe, right, his son believes that he did, the woman is saying that he did, how can you believe in the sanctity of life if you are encouraging and paying for a woman to have an abortion? Is that not the exact opposite of --

STEWART: I hear exactly what you're saying in terms of what he does personally, what he has done personally in his life, may or may not have done personally in his life, and what he has vowed to the voters of Georgia to do politically from a political standpoint.

Many voters support him. The campaign has raised half a million dollars since the story came out. So, that just goes to show that there's a lot of voters that will continue to put their money behind him because they would rather look at the policies that he will represent as opposed to --

LEMON: I think everyone who is sitting here is, honestly, is shocked that you're saying that, and then everyone in the studio, I think, is shocked, but go on, sorry.

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You continue to say a personal decision. And that's exactly why it should be a personal decision for a woman to decide what she wants to do with her body, and why Herschel Walker should not then pass legislation for a national abortion ban, which he would try to do if elected.

The hypocrisy is disgusting. We are talking about the top leaders in our country. And he's lying. I believe this woman. I believe people. I believe survivors.

And it's not just personal to him. He is now dragging an entire family into this. A woman who he had a child with, that child now knows part of a story that maybe they did not know. And pretty soon, that child will be. What about family values there?

At some point, we don't have to agree on policy, but at some point, right is right and wrong is wrong. And it's just getting to a point where -- like my heart is racing right now. I just feel so hypocritical that we say that this is a personal issue. But then when other people who will support abortion say it's a personal issue, no, no, no.

LEMON: Let me just say, I want to read what the woman said, the reason that she said that she made the decision to come forward to the extent that she did. She said, sure, I was stunned, but I guess it also doesn't shock me, that maybe there are just so many of us that he truly doesn't remember, she said. But then again, if he really forgot about it, that says something, too.

Now, I have to say that CNN has not independently confirmed the woman's allegation about the abortion or that she's a mother of one of the children. And Warnock has not gone after Walker as well.

"The Daily Beast," Ron -- hold on, Alice. I'll get you back. I want to get Ron because he has been sitting by patiently. "The Daily Beast" is reporting that the woman is a Democrat who had a long relationship with Walker even after the abortion, that she wanted to protect her family, but still came forward.

Another quote -- "I have been very civil thus far. I keep my mouth shut. I don't cause any trouble. I stay in the background. But I'm also not going to get run over time and time again," she said. "That's crazy."

So, CNN has reached out to the Walker campaign for comment. He flat out denied the original report.


LEMON: How is this playing in your world? What do you think?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, first of all, I mean, there are, you know, a certain number of voters who have the same perspective that Alice expressed, that view elections as fundamentally parliamentary and they're about which party you want to control of Congress and not so much about individuals anymore, and that clearly is a trend in our politics.

But it's another question about whether there are enough of them who will make that judgment to allow Herschel Walker to remain competitive in this race. You know, there are two different polls out today, including one by Donald Trump's pollster that had Warnock now over 50 and with a double-digit lead. That's not likely to stand up. But this is very uphill, I think, at this point for Herschel Walker.

And look, there's a reason. Republicans have doubled down on supporting Walker not only because of defiance of Rick Scott or Lindsey Graham or Donald Trump or Newt Gingrich, not only because they're defiant and that's the initial instinct whenever there's an accusation against a Republican, particularly involving misconduct towards a woman, there is that kind of rally around, it's not because they're defiant. it's because it's a necessity.

[23:10:08] BROWNSTEIN: I mean, the republican Senate map, Don, has fundamentally collapsed down to two real opportunities. They started the year thinking they could contest as many as six seats held by Democrats. Colorado and Washington have fallen off the board.

Arizona and New Hampshire have become very difficult because of Trump- backed nominees who are facing very high negatives. They're really down to Nevada and Georgia as their only chances. And if they can't win Pennsylvania, they have to win both of those in order to get the majority.

To some extent, they're sticking with Walker because they have no place else to go. But as lieutenant governor said, that may look increasingly problematic in the next couple of days.

LEMON: Lieutenant governor, let's bring you back in here. Walker supports a total ban on abortion, including no exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother. But this is another quote from the report, okay? "He didn't express any regret. He said, relax and recover," the woman recalled, alluding to the message on the "get well" card Walker sent her along with an abortion payment. "He seemed pretty pro-choice to me. He was pro-choice, obviously," she said.

Again, Walker flat out denies all of this. He is saying that it's not true. But do you think that he could possibly recover from this? I mean, as for redemption, maybe apologize, I don't know?

DUNCAN: Certainly, he has the ability to do it. And if that is where his heart is at, then I encourage him to do that. But at the end of the day, I think the most attractive feature of a great leader is being intellectually honest. And if we're being intellectually honest, Herschel Walker won the primary because he scored a bunch of touchdowns back in the 80s and he is Donald Trump's friend.

Now, we move forward several months on the calendar and that's no longer a recipe to win. If we're being intellectually honest also on the other side of the equation, we've got problems running around this country and around the world that are feeling real and heavy. There are these questions about the economy in every square inch. Those are the issues that Americans want to be talking about. Those are the issues that Georgians want to be talking about.

They should be easier for Republicans than it is, and this is, I believe, part of us taking our medicine as to the quality of the candidates moving forward in these important elections.

LEMON: Listen, I know we've got to go here, but I've got to get this in for our producers. So, Alice, I know that you are raising your hand. Let me just ask about the role (INAUDIBLE) played in Walker's life. The anonymous woman who identifies as a Christian herself said, even though Walker often talked about Christianity, he uses it when it works for him, and then went on to say, I don't think there's anywhere in the bible where it says, have four kids with four different women while you're with another woman, or where it praises not being a present parent, or that an abortion is an okay thing to do when it's not the right time for you, but a terrible thing for anyone else to do when you are running for Senate. He picks and chooses where it's convenient for him to use that religious crutch, she said. Is there nothing that will change Republican support?

STEWART: It all boils down to what they do in the next five weeks, truthfully. There are many Republicans in my home state of Georgia that will vote for him regardless of what happens. But there are some that are having a second look at this.

The real question is, what are the independents and the undecided voters of Georgia going to do? Many of them are really having a bad taste in their mouth about this.

But there's overwhelming sentiment by many Republicans, not just me, across the country, the October surprise of this from an unnamed source putting out this type of information. Some call this Brett Kavanaugh 2.0 in terms of the timing of this, and that is why we're seeing a lot of these top name Republicans go to Georgia to help support him in the next several weeks.

ALLISON: To be clear, Dr. Blasey Ford is not an anonymous source. She was a woman who stood in her power and told her story, and still is suffering from the attacks she had. She is not anonymous. She is a brave woman. And it's not the same thing.

Brett Kavanaugh lied in contrast in his confirmation hearing and said precedent was precedent, and then two months ago, he showed his true colors in overturned Roe. That is actually why we have to have this conversation because the consistency of the people who are identifying with your party right now is not holding strong.

LEMON: Ro, I got to go. If you can do it in just a few seconds.

BROWNSTEIN: Just a few seconds. Republicans are also going to Georgia because nominating so many weak Donald Trump-aligned candidates in other states have let them with no other choice --

LEMON: Okay.

BROWNSTEIN: -- if they want to try to get a majority. It's not just that they want to defy the media or the Democrats. It's that they really have no other place to go to try to get the Senate majority. So, they're stuck playing what is a very difficult hand.

LEMON: Thank you, all. I appreciate it. To be continued.


Next, CNN exclusive, a former Texas Department of Public Safety official who resigned while being investigated for her response at the school shooting in Uvalde now has been hired to protect some of the very same children who survived the shooting. That story is next.


LEMON: It has been nearly five months since the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas killed 19 little kids and two of their teachers. Tonight, new CNN exclusive reporting reveals one of the officers under investigation for her role during that massacre has been re-hired to protect some of the very same children who survived the shooting.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz has more now.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): School shooting.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Building.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: In a community reeling from one of the worst school shootings in history --

UNKNOWN (voice-over): I'm behind you. I'm behind you.

PROKUPECZ: -- still begging for answers and accountability.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE).

PROKUPECZ: CNN has learned that one of the Texas state troopers under investigation for her actions at Robb Elementary has a new job as a newly hired school police officer at Uvalde Elementary, trusted with protecting some of the same students who survived the massacre.

Parents of children who were killed at Robb were the first to notice the officer, Crimson Elizondo, on campus, recognizing her from body camera footage of the shooting. Elizondo, a four-year veteran of the Texas Department of Public Safety, was one of the first law enforcement officers on scene on May 24th. She resigned from the DPS over the summer and was hired by the Uvalde School District soon after.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): I actually have some questions for you.

PROKUPECZ: On the playground, outside her new post, Elizondo can be seen here in the dark blue uniform.

(On camera): Officer Elizondo, I'm doing a story about you, your time at DPS. I would like to ask you some questions, if possible.

(Voice-over): Before Elizondo resign from DPS, her actions and the actions of six other DPS officers at the scene of the shooting were referred for further investigation.

In a redacted internal memo to the organization's director obtained by CNN, DPS cited -- quote -- "actions which may be inconsistent with training and department requirements" as the reason for the referral.

Despite early efforts by state officials to blame the local police department in Uvalde for the failed response --

UNKNOWN (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE). PROKUPECZ (voice-over): -- a timeline from body camera footage shows Elizondo arrived on scene just two minutes after the shooting began. The new information now indicates she was among several DPS officers on scene who potentially could have taken an action to stop the gunman.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Subject with an AR.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Footage shows her without a tactical bulletproof vest or long rifle, out of step with active shooter training. She spent most of the 77 minutes before the classroom was breached outside the school.

According to sources familiar with the investigation, Elizondo told investigators that without her gear, she was not comfortable joining the others inside.

Out of nearly 400 law enforcement officers who responded to the shooting, 91 were from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Seven of those officers were referred for further investigation for their conduct that day.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): You shut the windows down (ph).

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Crimson Elizondo is one of them. The other six still work for DPS while the investigation into their actions continues. It is unclear if the Uvalde School District was aware of the investigation at the time of Elizondo's hiring. The district has not responded to emails, calls or direct questions from CNN.

(On camera): Sir, do you know this officer who you have recently hired? Are you aware that she is under investigation for her actions on the day of the shooting? Do you think she is fit to serve here, considering that her actions are under investigation? Mr. Miller, you don't want to respond to that?

(Voice-over): Elizondo's hiring raises further questions about the Department of Public Safety and the lack of transparency around the investigation and the conduct of its troopers. DPD did not comment for this story.

(On camera): I think this is important.

(Voice-over): Speaking to CNN in September, DPS Director Steve McCraw promised he will resign if his agency was shown to have culpability for the botched response.

STEVE MCCRAW, DIRECTOR, DPS: I will be the first to resign. I will gladly resign and turn my resignation if I think there is any culpability in the Department of Public Safety. Okay? But we are going to hold our officers accountable. And nobody gets a pass. Every officer is going to be held accountable.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Good as you can be.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): CNN also learning that Elizondo was recorded on video after delivering medical care to survivors, reflecting on the horrors of what she saw inside. An officer asked if her children attend Robb Elementary. Elizondo's response --

CRIMSON ELIZONDO, FORMER TROOPER UNDER INVESTIGATION: My son is in daycare. He is not old enough. I know. If my son had been in there, I would not have been outside. I promise you that.


PROKUPECZ: And Don, we are getting reaction from family members and representatives from some of the family members who are, as you can imagine, really upset by this news.


What this family representatives tell CNN is that they are disgusted and angry at the school, at the independent school district there. This decision to hire this officer is certainly very concerning. They have questions about what the vetting process is, how they came about to hire this officer.

The other thing that these family members have wanted is for these officers, these officers who are assigned to the school by the school district, who were present the day of the shooting, they are asking, again asking for those officers to be removed from the schools. Don?

LEMON: All right. Shimon, thank you very much.

For more, I want to bring in now CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem. Juliette, good evening to you. This is quite an interesting turn of events. Shimon mentioned it was the parents of the children who were killed at Robb Elementary to first recognize Crimson Elizondo on Uvalde Elementary campus. How much does that further erode trust between parents and the district?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Absolutely erodes it because it gets down to the process of how Uvalde and state officials have been treating the families and the victims for the last few months. It is so cruel. It's like -- it is sort of hard to put words around in terms of the reporting.

And one of the cruelties is this, there are 91 Department of Public Safety officials, these are the state law enforcement officials that are present, only seven of them get under review. One of them then leaves DPS and gets tired.

If there is only seven that are being under review, you sort of have a whole pool of people that you need to choose from if you are desperate for law enforcement.

So, it's the cruelty of the process, the fact that it was the parents that had to identify that it was her on campus. And then I think, you know, is she actually qualified? I mean, you see her commenting about, well, if it was my kids, then I would really care. I mean, we pay police officers to treat all children as if they were their children. So, the whole process is just -- it's just a tragedy upon tragedy for these families at this stage.

LEMON: You say Elizondo's hiring despite her being under investigation highlights the insularity of the police departments. Talk to me about this.

KAYYEM: Well, you saw it from the beginning. I was on with you where you see Governor Abbott sort of circling around the law enforcement saying everything was great. How could you possibly look at 19 dead children and say things were great? And that starts to fell apart. Governor Abbott, you never hear from again on this issue, and then each of the law enforcement agencies goes against each other, right?

So, they are all just protecting themselves. You saw the secretary of public saying, my people did nothing wrong. Well, actually, seven of them are at least being investigated, 91 of them were at the school and did nothing. We've now learned DPS has taken charge when local authorities do not essentially have control of the situation.

So, this is just where everyone is protecting their law enforcement employment. That is all they care about. Are these police officers getting hired, are they getting paid or not, and not what, in fact, happened several months ago, and also what the families are carrying and their surviving children who are now attending the school.

LEMON: Juliette Kayyem, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

KAYYEM: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Residents of Florida in areas devastated by Ian returning to places that are completely unrecognizable, and President Biden there today to survey the destruction himself.




LEMON: President Joe Biden visiting the hurricane zone in Florida today, promising long-term federal aid and the full support of the U.S. government. Listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want the people of Florida to know, you have my commitment and America's commitment, that we're not going to leave, we're going to see you through this entire process, and it's going to take a hell of a long time.


LEMON: The president putting aside his political differences with GOP Governor Ron DeSantis for now, anyway, surveying the damage with him. At least 120 people died in Florida after Ian smashed into the Gulf Coast as a massive Category 4 storm. Rescue teams continue to look for survivors as residents comb through the wreckage in search for temporary housing. More than 300,000 Florida customers remain without power and it could be a month before electricity is restored in the hardest hit communities.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson making her debut on the Supreme Court bench. What do her arguments reveal about the kind of justice she'll be? That's next.




LEMON: Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is getting back to business, the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Justice Jackson made her debut on the court's bench this week, and she's already making headlines for her first court arguments.

For more, I want to bring in now CNN legal analyst Areva Martin. Hello, Areva Martin. How are you?


LEMON: I'm doing very well. Thank you for asking. So, Justice Jackson has showed up and showed out during her first few days, really, on the court's bench. What's your reaction to her debut?

MARTIN: Confidence and the epitome, Don, of Black Girl Magic. She came out swinging. She said during her investiture ceremony that she was going to give a voice to marginalized populations, that she now has a seat at the table, and that she was going to use her voice to represent marginalized people.


And she didn't just talk the talk, Don, she is walking the top. And in her hearing, that first hearing regarding that very important Alabama voting rights case, she was asking questions and she was schooling the litigants and her fellow justices on the importance of race as it relates to the 14th Amendment and 15th Amendment. So, I have nothing but the highest praise for Ketanji Brown Jackson.

LEMON: One of her first cases, Areva, is Merrill versus Milligan. It deals with whether Alabama's congressional redistricting map violates the Voting Rights Act. Justice Jackson pushed back on state officials emphasizing -- state officials' emphasis on racial neutrality in redistricting highlighting the 14th Amendment. Listen to this.


KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES (voice-over): I looked at the report that was submitted by the Joint Committee on Reconstruction, which drafted the 14th Amendment, and that report says that the entire point of the amendment was to secure rights of the freed former slaves.

The legislator who introduced that amendment said that -- quote -- "unless the Constitution should restrain them, those states will all, I fear, keep up this discrimination and crush to death the hated freedmen. That's not -- that's not a race-neutral or race-blind idea in terms of the remedy.

And even more than that, I don't think that the historical record establishes that the founders believed that race neutrality or race blindness was required, right? They drafted the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which specifically stated that citizens would have the same civil rights as enjoyed by white citizens. That's the point of that Act, to make sure that the other citizens, the black citizens, would have the same as the white citizens.


LEMON: How important was this argument coming from Justice Jackson?

MARTIN: Incredibly important, Don, and I think it foreshadows what we can expect to hear and see from Justice Jackson. She is going to be a champion for marginalized populations, for minority populations. She is going to fight for the rights of minorities.

And this was like a classic, Don, history lesson on the importance of the 14th Amendment and 15th Amendment, and it debunks any notion that we had a color-blind society, that the framers thought that this society was color blind.

She gave the litigants and her fellow justices what can only be called the epitome of a lesson about how this country has had to deal with issues of systemic racism, even dating back to those framers of our Constitution who realized that the formerly freed slaves needed to have protection by the Constitution in order to be recognized and to even the playing field with respect to white citizens and those who sought to oppress former slaves.

So, the praise for Justice Jackson has been, you know, just enormous across legal communities. People have been praising her, have been applauding her. She didn't just sit there like a typical -- like you'd expect to see from a freshman justice.

She came out swinging, and she demonstrated that her brilliance and her commitment to civil rights, her lived experiences as a Black woman, are going to inform the decisions that she makes on the Supreme Court.

LEMON: She certainly did in that case. She made it known that she is not afraid to ask questions in a very blunt way. Listen to this.


JACKSON (voice-over): So, I'm sorry, can I just help? I don't understand. Are you saying that the Gingles preconditions as we ordinarily understand them were not satisfied in this case?

EDMUND LACOUR, ALABAMA SOLICITOR GENERAL (voice-over): Yes, your Honor. I think that LULAC says --

JACKSON (voice-over): And how so? How so?

LACOUR: LULAC says quite clearly account for traditional districting principles, such as maintaining communities of interest and traditional boundaries. There is an undisputed traditional -- rather undisputed community of interest in the Gulf, the district court found that Gulf community is a community of interest, and it's not maintained. So, I think it's open and shut under LULAC.

JACKSON (voice-over): No, I'm sorry. So, you're saying Step 1 was not satisfied in this case because the ordinary redistricting principles -- I thought this was about a race blind algorithm, so now I'm confused. So, what -- what is the problem?



LEMON: Sorry.

MARTIN: You better do your homework, Don, if you are going to make an argument before Ketanji Brown Jackson because she knows her facts, and she is not afraid to question, to challenge the litigants.


And juxtapose her, Don, with Clarence Thomas, who is traditionally has been very quiet as oral arguments take place before the Supreme Court. So, you have this freshman justice who is just going for it, who is challenging these lawyers, and who is unapologetic in her statements about race in this country and the framing of the Constitution and these amendments.

So, I could not be more elated as a Black woman, as a Black lawyer, to have Justice Jackson on the court at this critical moment in our history.

LEMON: Yeah. Thank you, Areva. I appreciate it. We'll see you soon.

MARTIN: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: A group of Black parents in Georgia demanding justice and accountability for their children who were killed by police officers. What they want to see happen, next.




LEMON: In Georgia, a group of Black parents gather to protest every week, demanding justice and accountability for their children who were killed by police officers. The parents claim that prosecutors are ignoring their calls to take an action and believe that race is a factor. We get the story tonight from CNN's Nick Valencia.


JIMMY HILL, FATHER OF MAN KILLED BY POLICE: (INAUDIBLE) about my son. He was murdered by police. (INAUDIBLE).

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For more than three years, this has been what Jimmy Hill does every week.


VALENCIA (voice-over): Walking the same downtown Atlanta Street, spreading the word about his son's death. In 2019, Hill's son, Jimmy Atchison, was shot and killed by an Atlanta police officer.

(On camera): That's the dedication to be there on the corner every week and sometimes multiple times a week.

UNKNOWN: I know they wanted (INAUDIBLE) on the road.

VALENCIA (voice-over): He is talking about Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who Hill believes is chasing notoriety over addressing cases like his son's death.

HILL: But what about police brutality? What about wrong is wrong, murder is murder, crime as crime, no matter who's doing it?

VALENCIA (on camera): Is that why you stand on the corner right there?

HILL: I stand right here to make sure she sees me every day.

VALENCIA (voice-over): The D.A.'s office under Willis's predecessor conducted investigation into the deadly shooting and recommended the officer be charged with felony murder. CNN reached out to Willis's office for an interview four times, but we never heard back.

UNKNOWN: What we want?

CROWD: Justice!

UNKNOWN: When do we want it?


VALENCIA (voice-over): Hill's pursuit of justice may not be getting the attention he wants from the D.A. but it has inspired others. In the last two years, Hill has been joined in his weekly demonstrations by other Black families who have also lost their children at the hands of police, parents like Anthony Boykins, whose 12-year-old was killed in a crash following a pit maneuver by a Georgia state trooper. This year, the trooper involved returned to work and the incident is pending litigation.

ANTHONY BOYKINS, FATHER OF BOY KILLED IN TROOPER-INVOLVED CRASH: It's heartache to have to even come out here and ask for justice. You know what I mean? Because if I would've flipped the car with that officer's kids in it, I would be under the jail right now.

VALENCIA (voice-over): Venithia Cook shows up every week, too. Her 17-year-old son, Vincent Truitt, was shot twice in the back by a Cobb County police officer in 2020. That officer was cleared of wrongdoing.

VENITHIA COOK, MOTHER OF TEENAGER KILLED BY POLICE: They may have cleared the officer for now, but justice for Vincent Truitt.

HILL: Family found I can barely hold on to the sanity. People need to understand what police brutality does to the family and the community. It challenges your mental health.

VALENCIA (on camera): Yeah. You told me that you do not think that people like Fani Willis or others are taking this issue seriously enough?

HILL: Nobody is taking it seriously. People have become so selfish to the point that when it comes to lower-income Black people, they just don't give a damn.

VALENCIA (voice-over): Reading the findings from the previews Fulton County D.A.'s investigation of Hill's son shooting, which was found to be unjustified, NAACP Georgia President Gerald Griggs says there should be no reason Hill should be waiting this long to see the officer who shot and killed his son indicted.

GERALD GRIGGS, GEORGIA NAACP PRESIDENT: Our concern is that if you are going to prosecute without fear of favor, you need to go after law enforcement who violate the public trust with the same ferocity that you are going after artists, rappers, and potentially former president of the United States.

VALENCIA (voice-over): In an April letter to Griggs, Willis indicated there was a backlog of 11,000 cases when she took office, with an additional 50,000 cases, she claimed, that were not properly closed by the previous administration.

Griggs says there are dozens of Black families in Atlanta just like Hill who have not yet have their cases addressed by the D.A.'s office.

HILL: What about my son? (Ph).

VALENCIA (voice-over): As his son's case continues to languish, Hill says that he will keep showing up here outside of the Fulton County courthouse every week, hoping that today will be the day that Willis cares enough to help.


LEMON: Nick Valencia joins me now. Nick, thanks for joining us. These families rightfully demanding answers, heartbreaking to hear from, and their anger is understandable, but how much can they really blame Fani Willis with that kind of case backlog?

VALENCIA: It's not just the backlog, Don, it is also the resources. She has asked for funding to hire more attorneys to be able to go through these thousands of cases that, she says, that she has inherited from a previous administration.

But for the families, it is how she is spending her energy. They see their case, in the case of Jimmy Atchison, who we profiled in the piece, you know, the previous administration has already ruled that the officer was unjustified in his use of force. So, they see it as a no-brainer to take this to the grand jury.

Meanwhile, they see her investigating the former president, Donald Trump.


They see her going after what they believe is rappers for rap lyrics while their case is more than three years old at this point and they still do not have answers.

LEMON: They are framing this as D.A Willis is willing to go after Black young men who commit crimes, but not the police. And these families are wanting -- waiting for justice now. But is it fair to frame it that way?

VALENCIA: I don't think so. You know, I think the D.A.'s office would think that shortsighted. They think that they are going after violent criminals, and they would also probably point to the investigation of the former president and those in his orbit. Those who have gotten target criminal letters are white and white collar.

But for the family, their point is, you know, look, go after the police with the same energy that you are using to go after others and other communities. Don?

LEMON: Nick Valencia, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

VALENCIA: You got it.

LEMON: And thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.