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Manhunt for Prisoners; Texas Officer Suspended; Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired June 08, 2015 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:03] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Here we go. Top of the hour. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.

We want to begin now with this international manhunt. Two cold-blooded killers, one who dismembered his boss, the other who killed a sheriff's deputy, now on the run. They just broke out of one of the United States' most inescapable prisons, like something out of the "Shawshank Redemption" or "Escape from Alcatraz." The pair smuggled in power tools, sawed through a cell wall and tunneled their way to freedom, leaving behind makeshift dummies in their beds. Like I said, out of the movies. Oh, and, by the way, this Post-it note as well, just for fun, I suppose, with the words, "have a nice day."

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo calling this escape a, quote, "crisis situation," as he examined the escape holes himself that these two killers left behind.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: But the first order of business is getting them back. These are really dangerous, desperate men. They are literally killers. We have all sorts of personnel deployed. We're offering a $100,000 reward, 1-800-GIVE-TIP, for the arrest or apprehension of both of these gentlemen. And we want them back. Then we'll piece together how they actually accomplished this. But there's no doubt, in my opinion, that they needed equipment that they wouldn't have had and they had to have the assistance of someone.


BALDWIN: Well, we are now learning a little bit more about that possible someone, a source, who's just told CNN a female prisoner worker is now being questioned over her possible role in this entire escape.

So joining me now, "Maino" Jermaine Coleman, rapper and former prisoner at this same prison, the Clinton Correctional Facility. Also with me here in New York, Ted Conover, a former correctional officer at Sing Sing, another New York prison, and he's written all kinds of pieces and books about this, about his time there. His new book called "New Jack: Guarding Sing Sing." And he's also a writer for "New York Times" magazine.

So, gentlemen, thank you so much for coming on and --


BALDWIN: Representing different perspectives here --


BALDWIN: When it comes to prison life.

Maino, I guess to you first. When you spent, what, about a year at Clinton?

COLEMAN: Yes, I spent about a year there in that particular jail, yes.

BALDWIN: I mean was there any kind of vulnerability there as far as security goes that you could see? OK, maybe this is -- you could pull this off?

COLEMAN: Well, well, from my perspective, that's like a Supermax prison, you understand? And escaping is usually a fantasy. So we're talking about something that seems like out of the movies.

BALDWIN: Did -- did you -- were you ever around people who talked about it out loud, the idea of, well, maybe we could do this or get out this way?

COLEMAN: You know like -- you know, like, that's a fantasy. That's -- that's something that we don't usually see. We don't usually encounter stuff like that. We're talking about, you know, out of New York state, over 70 prisons you have -- that's one of the secure.

BALDWIN: Describe the security.

COLEMAN: A big wall, you know, you're never really, you know, alone to be able to move around, to get free.

BALDWIN: You're not?

COLEMAN: I mean, I don't know. I thought it was interesting when I saw the report yesterday that this happened. You know, like I said, the first thing it reminded me of was "Shawshank Redemption."

BALDWIN: Right. That's what we were all saying, "Shawshank Redemption."

COLEMAN: Yes. Yes.

BALDWIN: How do you, Ted, how do you think they pulled it off?

TED CONOVER, FORMER CORRECTIONS OFFICER, SING SING PRISON IN NEW YORK: Well, so the interesting thing is that prisoners are at the least liberty at night, right? You're locked in your cell.

COLEMAN: Indeed.

CONOVER: You can't go anywhere. And --

BALDWIN: Which is when this happened, before they checked the beds at 5:30 the next morning, on Saturday.

CONOVER: That's right. That's right. And according to policy, the officer is to check every cell every couple hours, less to see if somebody's escaped, because that just doesn't happen. It never happened at Clinton.

COLEMAN: Right. It never happens.

CONOVER: But to see if they're alive because sometimes prisoners do injure themselves or --


CONOVER: They'll have a heart attack or something. So you're supposed to check and see if they're breathing --


CONOVER: And then you've done your job. It's a pretty easy shift, the night shift. The hardest thing I think is not going to sleep but somehow, for seven hours, they went undetected.

BALDWIN: And then the next thought would be, you know, when you read about, they cut through steel wall, broke two feet of brick and mortar, cut open metal pipe, out from a manhole. There was even like a lock and chain on the other side of the manhole cover.

COLEMAN: Oh, wow.

BALDWIN: You're thinking of the power tools --

COLEMAN: Indeed.

BALDWIN: Necessary to cut that. Where would you hide that in your cell? That's my question.

COLEMAN: There's no place to hide that. See, this is -- this is where it becomes movie-like and it's like motion picture. You know this is -- this is almost far-fetched because, I mean, if somebody had told me this, I would have never believed it. The fact that I saw this on the news, it was like, what?

BALDWIN: No, but I'm being serious, where would you hide power tools?

COLEMAN: If you couldn't -- you couldn't.

CONOVER: They haven't been specific about what tools they had.

COLEMAN: They haven't.

CONOVER: And those pictures --

BALDWIN: But they said it was a clean cut. Somebody knew what they were doing.

CONOVER: Right. And you see those pictures. They've cut into a pipe. They must have had lengthy extension cords and they must have had some heavy duty hardware. And that's when you think, OK, they couldn't do it by themselves.

[12:05:03] BALDWIN: They had to have had help.


BALDWIN: Here's -- here's what -- what's fascinating to me as well when we're talking about this possible female guard as maybe this accomplice. I'm wondering, did you encounter female guards when you were at Clinton?

COLEMAN: Yes, I encountered female guards, but I never felt like they were --

BALDWIN: Amenable to your advances, perhaps?

COLEMAN: Yes, they -- yes, no, I always felt like maybe they had more of a -- not so much of a pro-inmate kind of attitude, you know.

BALDWIN: Really?


BALDWIN: So not -- from your personal experience, not easily persuadable to do things for you?

COLEMAN: No. You know, and, plus, you know, I was there at a time when I was very young. I was a child. And so I don't think I encountered any female officer or any kind of officer like that that would make me feel like they was -- they were like that. So, I don't -- I don't know.


CONOVER: Yes, so Clinton is especially harsh. Clinton and Atika, they're far from New York City. The officers are known to just not fraternize, but --

BALDWIN: Really?


CONOVER: It is not unusual of that a female officer will get into a relationship with a prisoner. But even so, even at Sing Sing, where I worked --

COLEMAN: Oh, yes, that's -- yes, that's --

CONOVER: That happens, right?

COLEMAN: That happens.

BALDWIN: That happens. But what I was getting at, read between the lines here.

CONOVER: But romance is one thing. Helping a prisoner escape is far, far beyond.


CONOVER: And I -- I haven't heard that this female was an officer. Was she?

BALDWIN: She was a -- she was a -- yes, she was a guard. She was a guard.


BALDWIN: Tell your -- tell your story. You have a story from your time --

COLEMAN: Yes. Are they saying -- are they saying that she (INAUDIBLE).

BALDWIN: Could be an accomplice. Could have been more. We just don't know.

COLEMAN: I've heard of cases where, you know, female officers have gotten into romantic relationships with prisoners. You know, that's heard about. But I've never heard about anything like the accomplice to escape.

CONOVER: And even if that's the case, it can't be the whole story because of how complicated it seems to have been to get out of there.

BALDWIN: There would have had to be more layers to this.

CONOVER: How do you know which big pipe to cut into? How do you know how far you're going to have to go in it.

BALDWIN: So -- and, by the way, I think once they came out of the manhole, wherever geographic, I think it was only like, what, two dozen miles from the Canadian border, right, for them to then --

COLEMAN: Right, because that's where it's at.

BALDWIN: Right. So my next question would be, then who would they be talking to? I mean would you even know -- I don't know how much prison breaks you've covered, but the idea of would you go somewhere familiar? Would you go find family? Would you have clothes stashed somewhere? I mean, I have a gazillion questions.

CONOVER: Yes, me too. Everybody does.

COLEMAN: Yes, I don't know.

CONOVER: I think there's a reason they check places that are familiar to those prisoners, because people do tend to go places they are familiar. On the other hand, an escape at this level requires somebody who knows that and you would think would be smart enough to avoid doing the obvious thing.

BALDWIN: Here's the other part of it. We're talking about possible accomplices and take the female guard out of it. What if others within -- let's say, when you serve time, how often were you with other prisoners?


BALDWIN: Could you communicate through the wall, like your cell wall, to someone else?

COLEMAN: Well -- well, you know, the general population in a prison like that, I mean you can definitely communicate. But like I said, escaping is not something that is usual. And you can tell by this whole situation, this is very well-thought out.

BALDWIN: One of these guys, Richard Matt, he served time in a Mexican prison for killing a guy in a bar fight. He killed a businessman by breaking his neck with his bare hands, slicing up the corpse with a hacksaw, throwing parts of the body in the river and the head into a dumpster. Just -- forgive the visual, but this is the kind of individual we're dealing with. How is that -- how would that person be perceived at Clinton and would others be more amenable to help him in said plan or back away?

COLEMAN: Well, listen, a lot of people with a lot of different crimes, you know, various murder charges, you know, what -- you know, very -- various violent crimes because, like I said, this is a max state prison. So you have mainly violent offenders in that prison. I don't know if they would be treated any different than the average --

BALDWIN: Really?

COLEMAN: Yes. I don't think -- and I don't know if these cases were high-profile. Now, if they were high-profile, then they were made -- they may have been in a different, you know, unit or a different block. So I'm not really sure.

CONOVER: I'd love to ask Zain (ph) a question that I've had, which is, you know, a lot of times when something bad is going down in a prison, an informant gives up the bad guy. It can be the officer bringing in the drugs.


CONOVER: It can be the gang leader selling them. But there will be snitches and that's --

COLEMAN: Snitches.

BALDWIN: Snitching.

CONOVER: That's how administrations stays on top of things.


CONOVER: How could this happen without anyone snitching them out if it's such a big deal?

BALDWIN: Great question.

COLEMAN: Well, this is very thought out. Yes. Maybe they weren't speaking to the wrong people.


COLEMAN: You know, because you know --

CONOVER: The administration, you mean?

COLEMAN: Yes, because there's a saying that, you know, whatever -- whatever the population knows, then, you know, a lot of times the administration does also.

BALDWIN: Uh-huh.

COLEMAN: So, I mean, they could have been working on this for years.

[14:10:00] BALDWIN: Just incredible. Maino and Ted Conover, thank you both so much.

COLEMAN: Thank you.

CONOVER: Thank you.

BALDWIN: We'll continue the conversation and hopefully they'll catch him and we'll be back to talk about how they managed to do that. I really appreciate it.

Make sure you also check out Ted's piece on this fascinating escape. Go to for that.

Coming up next, just in, the father of one of the teenagers involved in that pool party chaos over the weekend there in Texas spoke out about what happened moments before. You will hear that.

Plus, breaking news in the death of Walter Scott, the man there in South Carolina. A grand jury today revealing its decision on the fate of the police officer who shot this unarmed man in his back. We'll discuss.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. This is CNN.


BALDWIN: You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Let's talk about this violent confrontation between teenagers and police sparking outrage in this Dallas suburb of McKinney, Texas. And protests expected in the next couple of hours.

[14:15:08] There's video. And what it shows is an officer throwing a teenage girl, clad (ph) in a bikini, down there on the sidewalk and into the grass, slamming her into the grass. This just moments after he's seen pointing his gun at other teens. Officers had been called to this community pool after reports of unruly teenagers. Watch and listen for yourself.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told you to stay! Get your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) down on the ground!






Keep running your mouth!



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Call my mama! Call my mama! Call my mama! Call my mama! Oh, God (ph).



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me, sir, I don't believe you have to do that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you doing to her? What is he doing?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, are you all right?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), you good (ph) now (ph)?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to tell you one more time, get your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of here.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Across the street, you're going, too. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Adrian.




BALDWIN: The entire video goes on for more than seven minutes. I should point out what happened before and after this piece of video, that's still unclear, but calls for the officer's dismissal were swift. The McKinney Police Department has not identified the officer but has placed him on administrative leave. They call the video troubling and have now launched an investigation.

The father of one of the young woman pushed by the officer spoke at a news conference moments ago.


JAHI ADISA BAKARI, 13-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER STRUCK BY OFFICER: This officer recklessly attacked this young lady who was following his instruction to leave. That wasn't acceptable enough for him. So my daughter, she came in, he just punched her to the side and she videotaped it, also. So we have another -- some more video in case you don't have it. But I would like to point out, I was very disappointed in the city of McKinney's police department. It was a swimming party. They didn't see any female officers out there. There weren't any black officers out there. If you heard that there was a lot of black people. And that's one of the things I'd like for them to have some -- some care to detail.


BALDWIN: Let me turn now to Nick Valencia, he's live there in McKinney, Texas.

And so I know you've been talking to people in the neighborhood. Can you help us understand how this whole thing started? What are people telling you?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, believe it or not, Brooke, many of the residents I've spoke to here are actually siding with the police officer, saying he was even justified when he unholstered his weapon. I've spoken to residents here, both black and white, and they say that this is not about race or racism in this subdivision, about 45 minutes north of Dallas.

But what it is about here to the residents of this community are teenagers who did not listen or pay attention to the rules. They say about 70 teenagers were here at this pool early Friday night and that it was relatively calm. There was a party going on, a deejay was here, people were having a good time. But things started to get out of control when teenagers started jumping the pool fence that you see behind me here. One resident I spoke to said that she was a witness from start to

finish, even before that cell phone camera started rolling. She says she wants the truth out there, but she also says that she's concerned about her safety. She wasn't willing to go on camera because she says residents here, who are siding with police, have received death threats.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want everyone to know that that police officer, along with everyone else, they were completely in the right and protecting everyone. He was not out of line. I completely support him drawing his weapon or a Taser or whatever it was that he did pull because he was being attacked from behind. I believe that if your life is threatened, that you have every right to pull a gun. He probably didn't intend on using it.

[14:20:03] I'm -- I feel horrible for McKinney P.D. and the backlash that they're getting for this. They are here to protect and serve and they were doing their jobs. I

think he deserves a medal for what he did. I really do. I don't believe he was out of line one bit. Those kids were taunting them and cursing them out, have no respect for authority. And as soon as their parents got here, they didn't even care one bit about how they were treating the officers and why they got into that situation.


VALENCIA: Now, of course, not everyone who has seen that video of the officer wrestling that 15-year-old girl to the ground and upholstering his gun, not everyone supports him. I spoke to a group of young black men who were at this pool party and they also tell me, Brooke, that it isn't about race and they didn't feel that they were targeted for being black, but they did say that they do not agree with the officers' actions. They say it was disgusting, unjustified and there's absolutely no reason why he should have done what he did.


BALDWIN: We've got to keep talking about this. Nick Valencia, thank you so much.

More on this when we come back. I'll talk to a former police detective about what he would have done in this situation. We'll also hear from a man who's being called the pastor in chief, working under President Obama. Hear why he is calling these incidents an exercise in trauma management for black children. Do not miss that conversation.

Also, a major development out of North Charleston, South Carolina, in the shooting death of Walter Scott, who was shot in the back during this police chase. You remember this from some months ago? A grand jury has just handed down an indictment in this case. That's straight ahead.


[14:25:42] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Call my mama. Call my mama.


BALDWIN: A lot of people are furious over this one. A lot of parents in particular. This is a scene that unfolded this weekend in a Dallas suburb. An officer trying to control this crowd of teenagers after this fight at a neighborhood pool party. The teens, unarmed. The question -- one of the questions, was the officer's conduct justified?

Joining me to discuss, retired New Jersey police detective, Lieutenant Steve Rogers. He is also a former member of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. Also here with me, Joshua Dubois, former head of President Obama's Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

So, gentlemen, a pleasure to have both of you on.

And, Steve, first to you. I think just from an officer perspective, your gut reaction, I mean was this appropriate of this officer?

STEVE ROGERS, RETIRED DETECTIVE LIEUTENANT, NUTLEY POLICE: gut reaction, he should have never drawn his weapon. There was no excuse to do that. However, saying that, until the investigation is complete, you've got to remember, the police responded to a volatile situation and we don't know the interaction between the young lady and the officer. The kids were told to disperse.

BALDWIN: Does it matter? She is a young woman, in a bikini, clearly unarmed, and the officer thrust his weight on her back. Just asking?

ROGERS: It -- yes, it does. It does matter, all right? It matters to disrespect. When a person, whether they're an adult or a child, are asked to dispersed by the police, there's a reason for that. Obey the order. He did what he thought he had to do to try to diffuse the situation. We don't know if she was -- what she was saying to him.

BALDWIN: No, we don't.


ROGERS: If she was, you know, causing -- causing a bigger problem. But saying that, saying that, you asked me before -- said something before about would there be a better solution? That's when we talk about community policing.

BALDWIN: Joshua, I hear you wanting to jump in. Go ahead, sir.

DUBOIS: Yes. With all due respect to Lieutenant Rogers, I mean this young woman, a girl, really, 14 years old, had on a bikini and was at a pool party. If you -- any person, any well-trained individual, particularly law enforcement, should be able to have a proportionate response. And there's no one with commonsense that can look at the terror in that girl's eyes and also the almost manic nature of his -- of this officer's expression and say that that was proportionate.

It felt almost like an incident of domestic violence more than a proportional police stop. I mean it's just absurd that now we're getting into justifying this officer's actions as opposed to looking into the eyes of that girl and imagining if she was our daughter or our sister or our wife. I have to say, as a father-to-be myself and someone who's married to a wonderful woman, if that happened to my wife, you know, there would be no hesitation in my response. And I don't think America should hesitate either regardless of the race.


ROGERS: Brooke, I'm a father of two daughters, OK? So, look, he's a dad. I could understand his situation. But what does an officer do when you're told to leave the scene of an area? What do you do? We don't know what went on. But let's just say there was resistance there. Does the officer walk away? And if the officer walks away, look at the signal that's sending to everyone else. Remember, there was fighting going on.

BALDWIN: But there were other officers (INAUDIBLE) --

DUBOIS: If I may, she did walk away. It's so clear in the video that she was walking away. What he didn't like was what she said to her. And so what you have is some -- an individual who clearly has unresolved issues with power, maybe with women, maybe racial anxiety that he hasn't processed.

ROGERS: Well, we -- Brooke --

DUBOIS: He went after her.

ROGERS: Sir, with all due respect, we don't know that.

DUBOIS: But he -- we saw the video.

BALDWIN: We don't know a lot of things. We don't know -- we don't -- we don't know how this started. We don't know what happened on the other end of the video. I've listened to this thing several times on loop. I'm still trying to make out what exactly she was saying.

But here's what I did notice, is there were other officers who responding to this, Steve, and I'm wondering, as an officer, you almost see one of the other officer almost put his arm on the officer who drew the gun's shoulder. I mean what's the role of the other officer if your gut is telling you that this officer is overextending, not acting, to use Joshua's word, proportional --

ROGERS: Oh, yes, your obligation is tell that officer, holster that weapon, OK? So they were there to -- and I'm sure that's what they did.

But, Brooke, keep in mind, he's wrong with the gun. There's no question. You don't draw a gun on a bunch of kids, OK -- BALDWIN: Right.

[14:29:53] ROGERS: That were unarmed, especially. But I think this situation, regarding the video with the young lady, certainly the perception is terrible. But we have to get facts. We have to find out what was said. These officers are outnumbered. There's fights going on. Youngsters are not leaving the scene. That's -- it's tough being a cop today.