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L.A. Hospital Facing Civil Rights Lawsuit Over Death Of A Black Mother; Home Buyers Struggle; Lawyer: Dave Chappelle Wants Stage Attacker Charged With Felony; Country Singer Mickey Gilley Dies At 86; Ukraine: Russia Bombed School with 90 Civilians Inside; WAPO: CIA Teaching Russians How to Share Secrets with Agency; Jill Biden Spending Mother's Day in Slovakia, Next to Ukraine; North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile in Second Launch This Week; New Images of Patrol Car Used in Alabama Prisoner Escape. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired May 07, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are fears of a high number of casualties after the Ukrainians accused the Russians of bombing a school.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST (voice-over): Dr. Biden visited a school where Ukrainian children have been absorbed by the Ukrainian system in Romania.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JILL BIDEN, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: It's nice that you're all working together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: New video of wanted corrections officer, Vicky White, helping authorities piece together what happened before she allegedly helped inmate Casey White escape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SINGLETON, SHERIFF, LAUDERDALE COUNTY, AL, SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: The vehicle we were looking for has been located in Williamson County, Tennessee. We know what direction they went. But right now, we're trying to canvass the area for any witnesses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: The White House now warning a COVID wave this fall and winter could affect as many as 100 million Americans. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, we are doing everything we can to prepare for that if that search were to come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sandals Resort confirm that three of their guests died while they were at their Emerald Bay Resort. There's no foul play suspected.
BROWN (on camera): I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Saturday.
And there are growing fears tonight that much of a village's population has been killed, as defenseless civilians took shelter in a school.
Ukrainian officials say a Russian war plane bombed the school in the Luhansk region near the Russian border. Some 90 people were believed inside.
The area is only about seven miles from the front lines. We're going to have more on this in just a moment.
We also to want to update you on this. The last of the trapped women, children, and elderly civilians have been evacuated from a steel complex in Mariupol. That's according to Ukraine's government.
They had spent weeks huddling in ruins, enduring relentless shelling, and facing desperate shortages of food, water, and medicine.
Ukraine's president says he is working to evacuate the military medics and wounded up next.
And he says he would like a diplomatic option to get all of his military out of there.
Let's go to Scott McLean with the latest on that strike on a school shelter.
MCLEAN: There are fears of a high casualty count after Ukrainians accused the Russians of dropping a bomb on a school in a small village in eastern Ukraine.
The head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration said the Russians were fighting with unarmed civilians when they dropped that bomb on the school in the village about seven miles west of the front lines.
And 90 people were thought to have been taking shelter there at the time. The official says that 30 people have been pulled out of the rubble. Though judging by the pictures, it is incredible that anyone could have possibly survived. Now, that official said that almost the entire village had been taking
shelter there because it was one of the few places that were even left to shelter in.
This village is not too far from Donetsk, with heavy fighting has been taking place, recently, as the Russians try to push through the front lines.
That strike will try to bring back memories of a bombing of a theater in Mariupol, where hundreds of women and children were taking shelter. Some 300 people or more were thought to have been killed there.
They even spelled out the Russian word for children, in hopes of being spared by the Russian bombs.
This village, it has been taking Russian shelling for weeks now. Officials managed a successful evacuation operation in late April, where they got out 49 people, including eight children, by train to western Ukraine.
But clearly, Pam, not everyone had left.
BROWN: Scott, thanks so much.
And I want to bring in Phil Mudd now. He was an FBI senior intelligence adviser and CIA counterterrorism official.
Phil, earlier today, we heard from CIA director, Bill Burns, earlier today. He says Putin's unprovoked attack on Ukraine was years in the making. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL BURNS, CIA DIRECTOR: I have dealt with and watched President Putin over many years. And what I've seen, especially over the last decade, is him, in a way, stewing in a very combustible combination of grievance and inhibition and insecurity all kind of wrapped together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So, there you heard. He said Putin has been stewing with ambition and insecurity, a combustible mix. That paints a rather dark picture, doesn't it?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think it does. Look, Bill Burns -- I joined the CIA in 1985. He's one of the best CIA directors of my generation going back 30-plus years.
Let me give you a different perspective on this that supports what he says. If you're Vladimir Putin, of his age group, you grew up thinking that the Berlin Wall fell, the Soviet Union fell, that you would be a peer with the United States. That's 1992. That's 30 years ago. You look to the decline of the Soviet Union and the decline of the
Soviet empire, and the fact that the Russians now are viewed as a second tier, maybe a third-tier country, this is about redemption.
This is about Putin saying, we will get back on the stage. This is about Putin saying, we will restore the empire.
I think what bill burns, the CIA director, said is accurate. The Russians said they would be back. They are not. And Putin's out to make that happen.
BROWN: I want to ask you about "The Washington Post" reporting that the CIA published instructions on how Russians can share secrets with the spy agency.
What is the CIA hoping for, and what do you think it will actually get?
MUDD: This is a really interesting story. Let me give you a perspective on this that might differ from what you would see in a Hollywood movie.
You would see a CIA agent, a CIA officer, somebody I work with, going up to somebody in a hotel or a bar recruiting them.
A lot of what I saw in terms of the best recruits, the best people we ever had from foreign countries, were volunteers, whether it's al Qaeda or Russia.
People walk into an embassy. People walk in and say, I don't believe in what my group is doing. I want to support you. They walk in and volunteer.
I think this is about the CIA doing what it's done for many years, and that is one of the secret successes of intelligence.
Telling people who want to volunteer, you don't have to go to the embassy. You don't have to meet us in a bar. You can sign up on the Internet and be an informant for the CIA.
I think it's a terrific operation. But it reflects a lot of what intelligence has been. Not people you recruit, people you volunteer, Pam. It's really important.
BROWN: Before we let you go, as you have seen this past week, there has been reports about the U.S. sharing intelligence with Ukrainians who have then used that intelligence to sink a Russian ship and to take down generals, Russian generals, to assassinate them.
As you heard, the Pentagon was very defensive about this, understandably, given the implications of how Russia could view this and said everything it did was lawful.
But I'm wondering, in your view, where should the line be when it comes to intelligence sharing in a war like this?
MUDD: I don't really understand the defensiveness. I mean, I sort of do.
But let me give you a very simple perspective. There's a war on. Americans aren't experiencing conventional war. That is, the Americans versus the Russians, the Americans versus, back in the day the USSR.
The Americans in the past 20 years-plus are experienced with wars against terrorist groups where the rules are different.
Bottom line. There's a war on. If you have information about a command post, you pass it to the Ukrainians. If you have information about a ship, you pass it to the Ukrainians.
There are ethics to how you pass intelligence. You're not about to pass intelligence that allows for the assassination of a general.
But that said, these questions about the Americans passing intelligence that's then used to kill Russians, I don't get it, Pam. It's a war --
BROWN: I mean, don't you see how the other side where --
BROWN: I'm just curious, do you see the other side of this where the concern is Russia is a nuclear power, the U.S. has been trying to walk that tricky, you know, the delicate dance, right, of helping Ukraine but not overdoing it where Russia would then retaliate against the U.S.
And given the fact it's a nuclear power, does it change -- can you see how it could change the calculation and where that fear might come from?
MUDD: We decided that we will encourage Europeans to give weapons to Ukraine. We, ourselves, have chosen to accelerate the delivery of weapons to Ukraine.
We have gone to Congress to say we want billions of dollars to Ukraine. And you're going to go to the intel guys and say, don't give the Ukrainians anything that could kill a Russian?
This is a media conversation. As an intel guy, I don't get it. The order is, don't do anything that violates the laws of war but give them intel. If it kills Russians, that's OK.
BROWN: All right, Phil Mudd, thank you.
MUDD: Thank you. BROWN: It's now Mother's Day in Slovakia, which borders Ukraine. First
lady, Jill Biden, is there offering comfort to Ukrainian refugees in that country.
They are just a fraction of the more than 5.5 million people who have fled the war.
Kate Bennett is traveling with the first lady -- Kate?
KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. First lady, Jill Biden, spending most of the day in Bucharest, Romania, where she wanted to see firsthand what the toll of Putin's war is doing on the mothers and the children of Ukraine, many of whom by the thousands have fled to Romania.
Now, today, she visited with children who were trying to acclimate as best they can into a new school, new friends, new home, new teachers, suffering a trauma of having to leave their known homes in Ukraine and end up here.
And although the Romanians have welcomed them with open arms, it is difficult.
One of the girls today telling the first lady that she just wanted to go home and see her father, who was back in Kyiv. Another little girl saying she wished she could go back to Odessa and just go home.
Later, the first lady told the media she was moved by this exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: So, how did you guys feel? I mean, wasn't that pretty amazing? It was so emotional, right? But I think that really Ukrainians know that we are standing with them.
You can see it. Those children really have suffered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BENNETT: Now, of course, Dr. Biden is going to be here during Mother's Day. She will spend it by Slovakia by the border with Ukraine.
But earlier today, she heard stories from the mothers who packed everything, took their children, and fled as quickly as they could and happened to find homes in Romania with people who were willing to open their doors to them.
It was an emotional moment. She heard from three young mothers with young children. It was clear the first lady was visibly moved by these stories of having to flee, of not knowing where they're going to end up.
Having to tell their children that they're going to be OK when they didn't know those answers themselves. It was clearly a day of emotion for the first lady in Romania, as she
continues her European trip.
Back to you, Pam.
BROWN: Our thanks to Kate Bennett in Slovakia.
North Korea has fired a second ballistic missile in less than a week. And it is the 14th projectile North Korea has fired just this year.
Let's get to CNN senior international correspondent, Will Ripley. He's in nearby Taiwan.
So, Will, what's the reaction there to North Korea ramping up its missile testing this year?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Pam. There's been strong condemnation, whether it be from South Korea or from Japan, even the United States.
All of these countries very concerned about this launch of what is believed to be a submarine launched ballistic missile fired from just off a coastal city of North Korea in the direction of Japan.
What makes this kind of submarine launched ballistic missile concerning, Pam, is that, unlike an ICBM, which is up for quite a long time, the submarine launched ballistic missiles are fired without almost any warning from a submarine that could sneak up pretty quietly.
Even though North Korea has diesel subs. They're easier to detect than U.S. nuclear submarines. But still, this travelled almost 400 miles.
That would make it very difficult, if not impossible for missile defense systems to shoot down, making South Korea vulnerable, where there's a significant U.S. troops presence and Japan as well where there's more than 50,000 U.S. troops stationed there -- Pam?
BROWN: South Korea is just days away from a presidential transition. Could Kim Jong-Un's timing here be deliberate?
RIPLEY: Absolutely. There's going to be a new presidential administration in the matter of days.
President Moon Jae-in, for the second time in a week, has had to convene his National Security Council because, remember, it was Wednesday that North Korea was believed to have launched another ballistic missile.
President Moon has spent the last five years of his term trying to make peace with North Korea. He had meetings with Kim Jong-Un. He facilitated meetings with Kim and the former U.S. President Donald Trump. Now he is in the final two days of his presidency and North Korea has
launched more missiles, 14 so far this year, than all of 2020 and 2021 combined.
And there's concern in Japan and the United States that an even provocation, Pam, could be on the horizon.
Satellite imagery shows work is speeding up at North Korea's testing site. North Korea told us almost five years when we went to visit it, it was destroyed.
Well, it's now being rebuilt. And a nuclear test, the United States says, could happen as soon as this month -- Pam?
BROWN: Will Ripley in Taiwan. Thanks so much, Will.
Up next, how a major discovery in the search for an Alabama officer and inmate sparked a flurry of new questions.
Also tonight, I speak to a widower who says racism at an L.A. hospital cost his wife her life.
And transgender comedian, Fillet Monroe (ph), joins me live to discuss controversial comedy after a man stormed the stage during Dave Chappelle's show.
You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
BROWN: Day nine of a manhunt for a missing Alabama prisoner and the corrections officer believed to have helped him escape.
Tonight, new images of the squad car Vicky White was driving when she left the Lauderdale County jail more than a week ago, along with accused murderer, Casey White. They were supposedly headed to a mental health evaluation but haven't been seen since.
CNN Nadia Romero is following the latest.
Nadia, how far and wide is the search for these two tonight?
NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're seeing that search really nationwide now, Pamela, because investigators have been really honest with us, saying they have no idea where these two could be.
Let's start with here, where I'm at, the Lauderdale County courthouse. This is where inmate Casey White and Vicky White left. They said they were going to come to this courthouse. And we all know that that wasn't true.
Instead, they got into a patrol car, and they abandoned it in a shopping mall not far from the courthouse, about four miles or so from the courthouse.
We have pictures inside that patrol car. Investigators found her jail keys, handcuffs, her radio. Leaving her corrections officer life behind in the car and then fleeing, presumably getting into another getaway car, a bright orange Ford Edge.
Well, that Ford Edge was discovered in Williamson, Tennessee, abandoned in the middle of the road.
And inside, investigators didn't find anything. Quite the opposite of the patrol car. Not a trace of ether one of them. But they do believe that was the car they got in.
Pamela, this has been such an interesting story, as we follow it. Every single day, we learn more one piece to the puzzle.
And we talk so much about these two who are on the run. But there are real people who are being impacted, including the family of Connie Ridgeway.
Connie Ridgeway was murdered in her apartment in 2015. And inmate Casey White who's on the run, well, he said he was the one who killed her. That's what brought him back to the Lauderdale Detention Center.
We spoke with Connie Ridgeway's son, Austin. He said they're just hoping they turn themselves in so he can go to trial for his mother's murder -- Pamela?
BROWN: All right, Nadia, thank you so much.
There's new information tonight in the mysterious deaths of three Americans staying at a Bahamas resort. A fourth American tourist was airlifted to a hospital in Nassau. Police say there's no indication of foul play.
The body of a man was found Friday in one villa. And the bodies of a man and woman, a couple, were found at a second villa. This was at the Sandals Resort.
Preliminary reports say the couples complained of illness -- one of the couples complained of illness Thursday night but went back to the resort after being treated.
The names of the dead and the woman hospitalized have not been released as authorities work to contact their families.
Well, new orders from the Taliban announced today in Afghanistan are drawing response from the U.S. State Department.
Officials releasing a statement tonight saying they are dismayed and deeply concerned with expanding restrictions imposed on women and girls.
Afghan women were told now that they must now completely cover their faces in public, ideally, meaning a traditional burqa, like the one seen here in blue. If a woman does not follow this rule, her male guardian will be
visited, advised, and could be eventually jailed. Also, women who work in government offices were told today to follow the new decree or be fired.
You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Tonight, he is known as the man who pioneered the urban cowboy style. Tonight, we honor country music singer, Mickey Gilley.
Plus, a California man blames his wife's death on what he says was the inferior care she received because of the color of her skin. Well, he's now suing the hospital for a second time. Charles Johnson joins me next.
BROWN: In 2016, Kira Johnson went in for a scheduled C section. Here's the moment right before the procedure. She kisses her first son good- bye just minutes before she was set to welcome her second child into the world.
Twelve hours later, she passed away. Her procedure was rushed, only lasting 17 minutes. In the following hours, there were signs she had internal bleeding.
But when her husband sounded the alarm, one nurse allegedly told him his wife, quote, wasn't a priority.
Kira's husband, Charles Johnson, joins me now.
He has filed a wrongful death lawsuit and claims a culture of racism at the hospital led to his wife's death.
Charles, I'm so sorry you lost your wife on what is supposed to be such a joyous day, welcoming your new child into the world.
You believe, though, if your wife was white, she would still be alive today. What have you learned about the difference in care based on race at this hospital?
CHARLES JOHNSON, FOUNDER, 4KIRA4MOMS: Yes, absolutely. First of all, thank you so much for having me.
And so this has been a long journey for us. But immediately after Kira passed, as I began to just kind of reconstruct what happened, I was thinking something wasn't right.
In my heart, I believed that the treatment we received was attributed to the color of our skin. And that's a heavy burden to carry. And that was a feeling.
But what we've learned through the discovery process is that's not -- that's no longer a thought. That's a fact. We have former employees and current employees from Cedars Sinai that
are on record speaking directly to the culture of racism at this hospital and how it contributed to Kira's death.
That afternoon, that day, for 12 hours we advocate for Kira, I felt the feeling many African-Americans feel, and that's feeling invisible, particularly at a time you're so vulnerable.
And we have heard from so many not only employees speaking directly to Kira's case, but employees and patients coming out of the woodwork.
And so, when we couple that with what's going on, on a broader scale nationwide, we know that the CDC's data shows us that African-American women are six times more likely to die in childbirth than our Caucasian counterparts, right?
When we bring all these things together, we understand that Kira was not only in good health but she was in exceptional health.
But the greatest risk factor that she faced was racism. And so my hope is that by filing this lawsuit, and exposing this culture of racism, and pushing for accountability, that this will protect other families from the nightmare that we've been through.
BROWN: That's just heartbreaking seeing that video of her smiling just before her C-section. If you would take us back to the extent that you can and can feel comfortable to when you notice something wasn't right. And just that sort of desperate search for help, like my wife could be dying.
JOHNSON: Yes. So when Kira was done with the procedure that took us back to recovery, and we went influenza delivery around two o'clock in the afternoon, and she's there, resting and relaxing, and that's when things took a turn for the worse that she's resting. I looked down, I began to see blood coming from the Foley catheter at her bedside. And this is around four o'clock in the afternoon. I bring it to the attention of the doctors and the nurses. And they came in, they examined her physically, they ordered blood work and they ordered a CT scan, it was supposed to perform stat.
And by my stat, I thought that that meant immediately, right? That's what I was concerned, but I'm thinking my wife is healthy, my baby is healthy. And we were at Cedars-Sinai and this was supposed to be the best of the best. And what took place and what would -- over the next 10 hours is extremely difficult for me to wrap my mind around.
We begged and pleaded and advocated for her consistently. And those pleas literally fell on deaf ears, we were ignored. We were given the runaround, we were dismissed, we were disrespected. And the sad truth is that as painful as this is, Kira is not an anomaly in this country. This is a pattern at, not only Cedars-Sinai, but institutions throughout our country that African-Americans or minorities are not receiving equitable care. And it's really time this must change. We must take a strong definitive stance against racism, health care, because it's having catastrophic consequences.
BROWN: And you're not just trying to collect damages. You also want the hospital to make specific changes. Walk us through that.
JOHNSON: Absolutely. So for me, that's one of the most difficult things about this, is that for me for the past six years, I've been consistent about asking for two things. And, for me, they're quite simple. One is transparency. And the other one is accountability. Transparency about what is it that happened to Kira? How is it that you let a woman that wasn't in his good health -- she was in exceptional health walk into your hospital, we trust you. I trusted Cedars-Sinai with the most precious thing in my life, and not walk out to raise her voice, right?
Transparency about what it is that you're doing as an institution to make sure that this doesn't happen to other mothers. And they refused to answer either those questions. But then accountability for every single person that was involved in curious care, right? And it would be wonderful, and would go a long way if they would simply accept responsibility, because I think this is a moment for them to really take a stand and have an opportunity to make a difference.
Because somewhere right now, as we approach Mother's Day, there's a family just like mine, that is preparing to trust this place the same way that I did. And for me, it's an uneasy feeling, knowing what I know about Cedars-Sinai, and the true culture of what's going on there.
BROWN: Charles Johnson, thank you so much for coming on and sharing just this heartbreaking story.
JOHNSON: Thank you. And just really quickly, Happy Mother's Day to you. And I want to send Happy Mother's Day wishes to all the mothers out there, particularly sending love to the families that are celebrating Mother's Day without their mothers. Thank you so much.
BROWN: Absolutely. We're sending that love as well. Thank you, Charles. I'm glad that you noted that. And we do also want to note that Cedars-Sinai Medical Center released a statement. And in that statement, it says, Cedars-Sinai was founded on the principles of diversity, inclusion and quality health care for all. We reject any mischaracterization of our culture and values. While disparities exist throughout our society, we are actively working to eradicate unconscious bias and healthcare and advanced equity and healthcare more broadly.
We commend Mr. Johnson for the attention he has brought to the important issue of racial disparities and maternal outcomes while federal privacy laws prevent us from responding directly about any patient's care. We have a long-standing commitment to making any changes to ensure we provide patients with the highest level of care.
You were in the CNN NEWSROOM. Up next on this Saturday, it might be easier to climb Mount Everest than to buy a home right now. Home prices are up, mortgage rates keep rising. We're going to hear from a Southern California couple struggling to find a place to call their own.
BROWN: Well, the economy's wild ride shows a little sign of slowing down cutting into the new week. Friday saw the worst start for the stock market in more than 80 years. Yet, new job growth data came in stronger than expected, but we are still dealing with the highest inflation in more than 40 years and the Feds response to that is the largest single interest rate hike in 20 plus years.
Americans have their lowest public view of the nation's economy in more than a decade. CNN's Camila Bernal is in Los Angeles. Would be homebuyers are really feeling the pain there, Camila? What are you seeing?
CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They really are feeling the pain because a lot of the people, Pam, who are trying to buy their first home or any home in general, are having to have a bigger budget than they originally planned or seeing a lot less options because of these higher interest rates.
And the reality is that it's just now more expensive to borrow. Everyone is going to see the high interest rates because they're going to see their credit cards, their car loans, their student loans. But really the most tangible way of looking at all of this is your mortgage rates. And it's crazy and impossible to essentially look at the difference when you're talking about the last week of April, the average was 5.1 percent on a 30-year fixed rate. And you compare it to say last November when it was below three percent. That makes a huge difference for a lot of people it translates to a lot of money, especially when you're buying your first home.
I talk to Alexa Jensen, a first time homebuyer, she's about to get married, she wants to start a family. Her and her partner had been looking for more than a year. They put in 16 offers with no luck. So, of course, now with higher interest rates, it makes her whole situation even harder. Here's what she told us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXA JENSEN, FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYER: With the new interest rate hikes, we don't really know what our bottom line is anymore, and it's a moving target.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERNAL: And experts are telling us, look, this is difficult and stressful and frustrating, not just for the buyer, but also for the seller. And for the real estate agent. We talked to someone with more than 20 years of experience and this was his perspective on those higher interest rates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPHIR ADAR, MANAGER, COMPASS BEVERLY HILLS AND HOLLYWOOD: It means that the affordability index goes down. And that means they can afford less in a property, right? So, we're literally having buyers right now who will have to adjust what they're looking for if they want to get into the market right now.
BERNAL: They no longer can afford.
ADAR: They cannot afford what they used to be able to afford.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERNAL: Now, keep in mind that home prices increased by 16.9% in 2021, that was a huge spike in prices. So you're having homes that are extremely expensive. You add in the higher interest rates, and that's what's making it so difficult. Pam.
BROWN: All right. Camila Bernal, thank you.
Well, you're in the CNN NEWSROOM on a Saturday. An L.A. man remains behind bars after he is accused of jumping on stage and attacking comedian, Dave Chappelle. Do comics need to be worried about being a target on stage? I'm going to ask comedian, Flame Monroe, that question, up next.
Plus, join Carlton McCoy on an epic cross-country road trip and explore the vast food and drink culture of South Korea. An all new- episode of nomad with Carlton McCoy airs tomorrow night at 10:00 here on CNN.
BROWN: Dave Chappelle is unhappy with the decision not to file felony charges against the man who attacked him on stage this week. The comedian's lawyer tells Rollingstone, the DA made a mistake filing only misdemeanor charges. Authority say Isaiah Lee barged onto the Hollywood Bowl stage with a fake gun that had a switchblade inside. Lee has pleaded not guilty.
Joining me now to talk about it comedian, Flame Monroe. Hi, Flame. Welcome back to the show. So Chappelle's lawyer says, this isn't just about his client, but that entertainers need to know they'll be protected from physical violence on stage. Do you agree with that?
FLAME MONROE, COMEDIAN: I absolutely agree with that. And I'm so sad to hear that the DA did not press any charges. Because that could have went a whole another way, Pam. They could have died. They -- that person could have sliced his throat or anything, because you didn't see him running up there. And when you're on stage as a comedian doing your job, you're not here to teach somebody well. You try to do your job and making people laugh and entertain.
So it's very scary. I don't like the message that the DA sent out because now it looks like, oh, maybe I can do this and get away with it. Because that's what it looks like.
BROWN: Well, I know you're friends with Dave, you've talked to him. Have you spoken to him since this? And if you have what is he said?
MONROE: No, I haven't spoken with any, Pam, since any of this went down. But I hate that now as a comedian, we have to be on high alert. Because what has happened is we always say things that push the envelope. And now is scary because you don't know what kind of day somebody is having or you don't know what kind of week somebody has had. And they come to a comedy club to supposedly to laugh and have a good time. But they bring all their frustrations with them. And then look what happens. Somebody explodes.
It's also the responsibility of a comedian, Pam. So you have to know your audience. So if I want to do 20 Trump jokes for a room for the people that don't care for Trump, then I can't but if I do the same 20 Trump jokes for a roomful of Trump, the people who support Trump, I have to reword it to make it well it's not offensive, but it's still funny. So it also follows on responsibility of the comedy.
That person was just crazy and it has really opened up a plethora of scariness because I don't know what I would do in that situation because you don't even see it coming. I don't want nobody attacking me. I'm a girl. Don't attack me. I'm a girl.
BROWN: I mean, yes, I do wonder though, like, what goes through your mind now if you're up on stage giving a performance and light of seeing this like -- and Howie Mandel was on Extra this week, he was talking about it. He said that 40 years ago, his biggest fear as a comedian was not to get a laugh, right, from the crowd. But now if someone doesn't like your joke or you overstep cancel culture, you know, they're going to come get you, they're going to come after you.
And then, obviously, there was the Chris Rock slap at the Oscars, the Chappelle incident. You know, what goes through your mind now?
MONROE: Well, I don't live my life in fear, Pam. So I look -- I just look at it like I'm always protected by God. I'm hoping that nothing like this ever happens to me. I'm not going to stop living my life. I'm not going to stop doing stand-up. I'm not going to stop going to any club that hires me that wants to have me there because I'm not going to think like that.
I do hope that the comedy clubs or the arenas step up the security for comics on stage, because I don't even think at the time when Isaiah Lee attacked David Davis saying anything inappropriate about anyone at that time. Because I looked at his page, I say these pages he identifies as non-binary.
So when he attacked, they came right back and said, I think it was a trans-man. I thought that was so funny.
BROWN: Well, I was going to ask him for that (INAUDIBLE) a lot of criticism for that. MONROE: Yes, but -- you know what, you will get criticism for everything. Everything is being criticized. We have been cooped up for two years, people are on edge. A lot of people have to realize depression is real, because a lot of people can't live with themselves, Pam. And they found out that the hard way during the pandemic.
I love my company. I love being alone in my house by myself. I got three kids. So I'm never alone in my house by myself, but I love being by myself. A lot of people do that. And mental illness exploded during the pandemic, because people had to realize that they had to deal with themselves.
BROWN: Well, that is a serious issue that the mental health -- illness pandemic as well. But really quickly though, you said, you're going to live your life, you're not going to let this hold you back. But I do wonder if you're worried that maybe subconsciously for yourself and other comedians, that maybe when they're coming up with their routine or their jokes, they might be holding back a little more than they perhaps otherwise would.
MONROE: I'm sure some comic -- some comedians are. But like I said earlier, it's the responsibility of the comedian to know your audience. And I'm not going to hold back. What the problem is with some comedians or some comics, I should say, is that they don't go up there with an hour set. It takes thousands of hours to get a one hour -- a successful one hour set.
So if you don't want half the time, when you go up there, and you're not doing so well, you may get a heckler out the audience. So you heckle that person. And that's the biggest laugh you get all night. But -- so some comedians stay on that, as opposed to let me get back to my set. Let me get back to my say set material.
And you don't know what kind of day a person has had if they lost their job, if they -- you don't know what people going through. So it's the responsibility of the comedians. But as far as us being attacked on stage, I don't know about that. I hate that this is happening, Pam, comedians -- and honestly, on a comedy stage, that's supposed to be the safest place that we're supposed to be.
And I love that they've had so many security and so many people there to keep him safe, because they -- that guy, actually, physically knocked him to the ground. And Dave is a tall man. He's a big guy. So you don't know. I'm telling you. You just don't know. You just have to be on high alert as a comedian. And you really need to try not to offend one person in the audience. You can offend the group and make it funny, but offending one person, you see what could happen.
And I don't think that nothing would transpire from this now, until something bad happens. And I hate to say that something bad may happen to a comedian on stage, and then they got to get a little more serious about the law, but it shouldn't take that issue.
BROWN: Well, we hope that doesn't happen. Yes, it certainly should not. Flame Monroe, thank you so much. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BROWN: We have some sad news to share with you tonight. The country singer songwriter, Mickey Gilley, has died at age 86.
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Gilley had a remarkable 17 number one records and his career got a huge crossover boost with the 1980 film, Urban Cowboy. The movie made his massive Texas bar and its mechanical bull world famous. In a statement from Gilley Enterprises, we're told, quote, Gilley was 86 and had just come off of hit the road. His favorite place, having played 10 shows in April. He passed peacefully with his family and close friends by his side. Mickey Gilley is survived by among others, his cousin, the legendary rock pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis.
Well, thank you so much for joining me this evening. I'm Pamela Brown. I'll see you again tomorrow night starting at 6:00 Eastern. Stanley Tucci Searching for Italy starts now.