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Michael Brown Autopsy Released; Witness Talks About Exclusive Video of Teen Shooting; Michael Brown's Family Speaks Next Hour; Ferguson Store Owners Guard With Guns
Aired August 18, 2014 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thanks so much. Have a great day. NEWSROOM starts now.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
COSTELLO: And good morning, I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me. We begin with breaking news overnight as National Guard troops are ordered into the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disperse the area immediately.
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COSTELLO: Gunfire, teargas, even Molotov cocktails light up the night sky. Several people hurt. And days of protests plunged the city even closer to chaos. With Ferguson often resembling a combat zone, Missouri's governor has now deployed the National Guard to restore peace. But tensions are only escalating after the family of Michael Brown releases preliminary results of this autopsy.
It shows the unarmed African-American teenager was shot six times, including twice in the head by the white police officer. Brown's family due to speak next hour. And just minutes from now, we'll hear from the woman who witnessed the shooting and captured exclusive video. You're looking at it right now. This morning both police and protesters fear the violence is spiraling out of control.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were walking peacefully down to the mall and a young lady was hit in her face with smoke burns and teargas. And we were peaceful. This is unacceptable and this is not the law. This is unacceptable. Until we get justice, we will not stop.
CAPT. RONALD JOHNSON, MISSOURI STATE HIGHWAY PATROL: There were multiple reports of Molotov cocktails being thrown. Police were shot at. Makeshift barricades were set up to block police. Bottles and rockets were thrown at police. Based on these conditions, I had no alternative but to elevate the level of our response.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: CNN has deployed its vast resources to cover all angles of this rapidly developing story. Our correspondents, guests and experts will join us to break down all the details for you.
But we begin our coverage with Don Lemon who witnessed much of last night's violence unfold. And just about an hour and a half Michael Brown's family will hold a news conference and we do expect them to talk about the autopsy performed on their son by Dr. Michael Baden.
Dr. Baden found Brown was shot six times, all from the front of his body, four times in the right arm, twice in the head. It did not appear any of the shots were fired at close range.
So out to Don Lemon now.
Don, tensions are already high. But this is the kind of information people want. Do you think it will help or hurt?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: We're not sure. It appears so far the information that has been released, if you would draw conclusions, draw lines, it seems that it has hurt because the violence spiraled.
And I just want to make it clear, Carol, I spoke to the attorneys this morning for the Brown family and they're saying at least six shots. They think it might be more. But, yes, it did spiral out of control last night. And this morning. And we were out here when that curfew went into effect. And we saw the violence escalate. We saw the heavy police presence. And you heard Ron Johnson, who is the head of the Missouri Highway Patrol, who's handling all of this, saying there were barricades that were set up for police.
On this corner right here, and this is Camp Hill Drive, this is a street where -- which Michael Brown lived and where he lost his life. Right on this corner there was a makeshift brick wall that was set up late last night and police had to come in and knock it down because they were -- some people were using it to throw Molotov cocktails or to -- they were even firing guns and firing at police.
A little bit further down where you see where that McDonald's is, that is the corner of west Florissant and Ferguson. And that's where the two people were shot and injured and had to be taken to the hospital.
So yes, there was a lot of violence here last night. And you can see the police presence right on the corner here. And there is police presence like this all over. And when that curfew goes into effect, when it goes into effect, there are members of the police department and with protective shields, in combat gear, standing there, with their gear, with their head wraps up.
And if a car comes by, and I thought it was very interesting, Carol. If a car comes by, if it's going too fast, if the lights are off, they get down in a crotched combat position, they put their shields up, they alert each other and then until they think the threat is over, someone will say, OK, threat's up and then they will stand down.
So it was a very interesting thing to witness and it's going to be interesting really to watch the effect, what effect the National Guard has on this city.
COSTELLO: Indeed. We'll get back to you, Don Lemon, reporting live from Ferguson this morning.
Also, we're getting our very first look at cell phone video from a woman who witnessed Michael Brown's shooting.
Piaget Crenshaw lives in an apartment complex right next to where Brown was shot and has given this video exclusively to CNN. We have reached out to the police department for comment, but so far they have not returned any of our calls.
I want to warn you, what you're about to see will be difficult to watch. And while you won't see the actual shooting, you do get a look at the scene immediately after it happened. Officer Darren Wilson, the man who shot Michael Brown, is standing to the right.
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PIAGET CRENSHAW, WITNESSED MICHAEL BROWN SHOOTING: Police shot this boy outside my apartment. They killed him.
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COSTELLO: All right, that's the officer in question, you see him just pacing back and forth. And Michael Brown's body lying in the middle of the street.
Michaela Pereira interviewed Piaget, the woman who took this cell phone video early on "NEW DAY." What did she say, Michaela?
MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR, NEW DAY: Well, Carol, you know, I think what struck me the most was that she woke up that day, a regular day, she was supposed to go to work, her boss was coming to pick her up. They were late, though. If they had been on time, she would not have born witness to what happened to Michael Brown, a boy her age. Take a look at what Piaget had to say to me earlier on "NEW DAY."
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CRENSHAW: And so what we're looking at is Officer Darren Wilson to the right. He's just looking over the body, just looking baffled and bewildered, like trying to explain to the officer what had I just done. And then we get this picture of him pacing, back and forth, just, like, in disbelief. So, like, it is like he -- it is like he understands that he just shot this boy in the face and that this boy was unarmed.
And, to me, this video just seems relative for this time period. Especially including the fact that Chief Jackson said that the reason that this video wasn't even on the media at the time when it should have been was because he wanted to get all the information out the same time, you know, under the freedom of information act, but they could have easily given these videos as well because they confiscated my phone. PEREIRA: So let's go back to that in a second. So they -- so take me
back to the moment when you see it, tussle at the police cruiser. What was going on? What happened?
CRENSHAW: OK, well, from my point of view I could not tell exactly what was going on. But he just looked as if he was trying to pull him, almost, into the car --
PEREIRA: Who pulled? The officer pulled Michael into the car?
CRENSHAW: Michael Brown. It just looked like he was trying to do such and, you know, Brown being a bigger fellow, he -- that didn't seem to be working. So, of course, he got away and it just seemed to have upset the officer.
PEREIRA: And then what happened?
CRENSHAW: Got out his -- just started chasing after the boy. Shots. I'm hearing shots fired. Clearly none of them hit him, but one, I think, did graze him as they said in the autopsy report. And at the end, he just turned around -- after I'm guessing he felt the bullet graze his arm, he turned around and was shot multiple times.
PEREIRA: The autopsy is now showing that he was shot from the front, not the back.
PEREIRA: Does that square with what you saw?
CRENSHAW: Definitely. Because he was running away. So when he turned toward the cop is when he let off the most shots.
PEREIRA: So now let's go to the point where I hear your voice, you sound really upset.
CRENSHAW: I haven't even lived there a month. I had just moved there out of my parents' home. And to see something like this outside of my window, as I'm trying to go to work, it is just -- it is traumatizing.
PEREIRA: You're from Ferguson?
CRENSHAW: Yes, from -- I'm sorry.
PEREIRA: But you just moved to that specific area?
CRENSHAW: Yes. I'm from Jennings but I moved to Ferguson.
PEREIRA: And how has the neighborhood been?
CRENSHAW: Well, actually, it's kind of peaceful. You know, if you walk down the street, somebody will just say hey, how are you doing? You know your neighbors will say something to you every now and then. It's not as hectic as they're appearing it to be.
PEREIRA: And what have you made of the Ferguson Police Department? Have you ever seen them on the streets interacting with any of the officers before but prior to this incident?
CRENSHAW: Yes, at first, I did feel comfortable living in my apartment because there are a police presence around constantly. There were police driving up and down the streets because, you know, the crime is a little more over there. But now, it just -- it doesn't seem that you can trust them.
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PEREIRA: Carol, I had an opportunity to speak with Piaget, Miss Crenshaw, after our interview behind the scenes here on the "NEW DAY" set, and she had mentioned to me, just sort of an offhand way, that just the day before this whole incident she had posted a comment on Facebook, something to the effect, and I'm paraphrasing here, that she was tired of the same old, same old, she wanted life to change.
And now I look at this 19-year-old girl, she witnessed the shooting death of a young man her age, her peer, she is forever changed.
COSTELLO: Oh, yes. I actually met her in the elevator while she was leaving and it did strike me how young she was to have witnessed such a thing. And --
PEREIRA: Only a month out of -- moving out of her parents' home, right? You think about that and think about how vulnerable you are. You're starting your life out and she witnesses this. She also said to me that she feels as though there is this storm cloud hanging over her city and her community and really hopes that a good strong wind will come through, so they can start healing and figure out what happened to Michael Brown so his family and he can have justice.
COSTELLO: Seems unattainable right now, but who knows.
Michaela Pereira, thanks so much for joining me. I appreciate it.
PEREIRA: You're welcome.
COSTELLO: Michael Brown's mother is get some support from State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson who is heading up security at the moment in Ferguson.
Lesley McSpadden spoke to ABC's "Good Morning America" a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESLEY MCSPADDEN, MICHAEL BROWN'S MOTHER: He had a heartfelt message for me. And it was that that could have been his son. And he was sorry. And he -- like everybody else he's supporting and hoping and praying this doesn't happen again.
ROBIN ROBERTS, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA": How can peace be restored, ma'am?
MCSPADDEN: With justice.
ROBERTS: And what is justice to you?
MCSPADDEN: Arresting this man and making him accountable for his actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: We'll hear more from Michael Brown's family at a news conference discussing the autopsy findings. That's due to come your way in just about an hour and a half. A little less than that. Of course we'll bring that to you live.
Still to come in the NEWSROOM, we've been seeing protests in Ferguson. Now supporters of the officer who shot Michael Brown are speaking out, too. They say coverage of the demonstrations is biased. And the demonstrators in Ferguson have no idea how the police operate.
We'll explore that and the autopsy findings just ahead.
COSTELLO: In just over an hour, we're expecting to hear from Michael Brown's family. They'll be talking about the autopsy performed on their son. Of course, we'll bring that to you live as soon as it happens.
Speaking of that autopsy, it was released after another night of violence and tear gas. The officer who shot and killed Brown, Darren Wilson, is still in hiding, but he certainly has his share of supporters. A couple of dozen people rallied in support of Officer Wilson in front of a St. Louis TV station. They say coverage of Brown's shooting has been biased.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think the black community understands the system. There is a process. They're screaming about why isn't he arrested? Why isn't he in jail? Well, without the investigation being done, you can't go apply for warrant. Once the person has been arrested, if you can't get a warrant in 24 hours, they have to be released. That's black letter law.
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COSTELLO: CNN political commentator and host of "Huff Post Live", Marc Lamont Hill joins us from Ferguson. Also joining me, CNN commentator and ESPN senior writer, L.Z. Granderson. And CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Sunny Hostin.
Welcome to all of you.
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good morning, Carol.
L.Z. GRANDERSON, CNN COMMENTATOR: Good morning, Carol.
COSTELLO: Good morning. L.Z., feel free to react to that man's statement. Has the media
coverage been violent? Does the black community not understand the process?
GRANDERSON: The man is ignorant, all right? Either he's ignorant or he's willfully blind or he is, you know, antagonizing for his own enjoyment.
What he isn't doing is listening. He's not listening to the fact that this is not about a single case, but rather the straw that broke the camel's back. That this is a community essentially under siege by this police force for decades, and that what he's watching right now is results of a decades of oppression that that community has felt.
If he thinks it is about an isolated incident, then he's not really paying attention to dynamics that he supposedly is protesting.
COSTELLO: Marc, I see you nodding your head.
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. Everything L.Z. said is exactly correct.
This is less about -- in my estimation, talking to people on the ground here and being near the rally for the officer, it's less about supporting the officer and more a de facto endorsement of the kind of repressive police tactics we have seen for decades.
They're almost applauding and rewarding him for what happened. Some people have taken up a collection for him, not for legal defense, but as they called it a reward. This is a very, very ugly situation and as L.Z. said, this is about decades and decades of police repression that finally is bubbling up right now.
COSTELLO: But in fairness, and, Sunny, I would like to address this, you have to remind people, we have yet to hear the story from the officer's perspective. Should police put out a statement?
HOSTIN: Yes, you know, I think they should. I think really that is one of the significant problems in this case. We are getting the information from the police and sort of this drips and drabs way, the investigation has been less than transparent. And I think a lot of the outrage is also stemming from that.
I'm sure said this all along, everyone is saying, well, this investigation is slow-moving, it's going to be several weeks before we have the entire picture.
Listen, Carol, I prosecuted a lot of cases. This is not a whodunit. This is not a difficult case. You got the officers, you know, sort of explanation of what happened and some other witnesses. And then you take it in front of the grand jury.
So, I think it is also sort of this lack of transparency and the skew of the narrative that has been put forth to the media, to the public, from the police department that has fueled the outrage in the community. COSTELLO: And, again, we have tried to get statements from police.
We haven't heard back. So, I'm going to kind of play that role right now.
So, L.Z., part of the reason that police haven't released all of the information is what's happening on the streets of Ferguson. There must be a sort of fear factor involved there that if they release the wrong kind of information, it will only enflame things further.
GRANDERSON: Well, I guess you can certainly try and couch it that way. But there wasn't a hesitation to release the video of Michael Brown allegedly involved in a strong arm robbery before you released other videos such as the one that was seized by the woman who was a guest on "NEW DAY" earlier today.
It just seems to me that this is the playbook that happens time and time again when an unarmed black person has been shot and killed by either police officer acting as a vigilante. You try to find ways to put the black person on trial.
You tell us about his toxicology report, but don't tell us of the toxicology report of the shooter.
You talk about if they have been expelled from school. Any trace of marijuana, but nothing about the shooter.
And so, when we saw that video being released of Michael Brown strong arming, that is a separate conversation. But it is all part of the playbook to put Michael Brown on trial to make him appear to be just -- to make this murder seem justified, and to take the focus away from the actions of a police officer.
COSTELLO: But, you know, Marc, what is also clouding the issue, I think from a public standpoint are the looters, who are like, destroying the businesses and shooting off guns into the crowd. That's sort of muddying the waters when it comes to thinking about this case objectively.
HILL: Well, it shouldn't. Even if we were to accept that all this looting is happening and I disagree with that, I've been out here for the last few nights, even beyond curfew, and 99 percent of what I saw was people marching, people peacefully assembling.
Someone, in fact, threw -- the one person threw a Molotov cocktail at a restaurant, people ran over to put the fire out. People stood arm and arm to stop people from looting. And again, it was a small group of people who were from outside the area doing that.
For the most part, the antagonism has been from police to community, not from community to police. But even if all this were true, even if there were this huge amount of people who were looting, that doesn't ignore the -- or are have anything to do with the fact this was an extrajudicial killing, someone decided in law enforcement in this case, but often vigilantes, security guards, they're judge, jury and executioner for a young man. Even if he stole something from a store, that's not a capital crime, not worthy of the death penalty. That's what he got. And that's what the problem is here.
So, I don't even -- I think the looting thing is a red herring, it's but not happening to the extent that people think.
COSTELLO: All right. Marc Lamont Hill, L.Z. Granderson, Sunny Hostin -- thanks to all of you. I appreciate it.
Still to come, merchants are guarding their stores, though, with guns now. It's far from business as usual in Ferguson. We'll talk about that, next.
COSTELLO: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me.
Some business owners in Ferguson, Missouri, are taking security into their own hands after they say police ignored their calls. Merchants were seen guarding their stores with guns after looters trashed businesses on Friday night. In some cases, those looters stole in plain sight of police. And law enforcement criticized for overreacting to people protesting the killing of Michael Brown. They're being criticized for under reacting to crimes against local businesses.
So, let's bring in Chris Sommers, he owns Pi Pizzeria with five locations in the St. Louis area, and State Senator Maria Chappelle- Nadal.
Welcome to you both.
STATE SEN. MARIA CHAPPELLE-NADAL (D), MISSOURI: Thank you.
COSTELLO: Thanks for being here.
Chris, I know you're upset about a lack of security for businesses. You have a state senator standing right beside you. What would you like to tell her?
CHRIS SOMMERS, OWNER, PI PIZZERIA: Well, you know, I would like to tell her I feel we're going to come out of this OK. The police are doing a much better job right now. It took a little bit of time.
But we are broken and I do think that we're going to come out this stronger. Just like a fracture in the human body, we will heal, but we need the St. Louis business community to step up. We need the large corporations, Emerson Electric, Express Scripts, right around the corner from here, to open up their wallets and reinvest in this community, invest in education. It could make a rounding error for them, but it could make huge difference in the unaccredited schools of Normandy and the surrounding areas.
COSTELLO: Well, Senator, that's great, but that's a long-term solution. In the short-term, what can be done?
CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Well, let me tell you what my residents are looking for. They want to see the officer that shot Michael Brown to be arrested. And they want him to be charged with what has been going on and they see it as a slap in their face, the fact that this is an officer who is still on paid leave. He's at home, watching TV and Michael Brown has passed away.
And many of the young people who see themselves as Michael Brown, what they're seeing is this could be me. And I would be in jail right now if I killed someone else.
And so, they see this as a double standard right now. So my residents are really, frankly, looking for some kind of justice sooner than later.
I have to tell your audience that the protesting is going to continue to go on. It is going to continue both the peaceful folks who are out on streets, and those who really don't really care about what authority figures are saying and that's unfortunate. As you have seen in the last few days, there is a small group of people who really have an issue with police officers and excessive force.
And I was telling someone earlier today, they don't love themselves right now. And they don't care about their own lives and they're willing to die. Many of them say if I make it to 21 years old, that's fantastic.
But they're willing to die for justice right now and what our job is to be on the ground, at ground zero, and try to urge them to go the right path. And so, while some of us, most of us are peacefully demonstrating, we have to communicate for those few who are creating a ruckus in this community.