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Man Accused of Killing Seven in Half Moon Bay to Appear in Court; U.S. Attorney Speaks About Tyre Nichols Investigation; Georgia D.A. Says Decisions Imminent on Bringing Charges; Some Schools Now Banning Artificial Intelligence Tool. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired January 25, 2023 - 10:30   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: He actually lived in one of those locations.

ERIC HILL, CNN ANCHOR: CNN has obtained records about Zhao's past revealing details of violent incident.

CNN correspondent Veronica Miracle joins us this morning with more. So what more did we learn about those particular incidents, Veronica?

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim and Erica, it appears due to court records that this is not the first time there has been violence in Zhao's past. Apparently according to a temporary restraining order, he tried to suffocate and threatened to murder another former co-worker at another job.

Now this all happened in 2013. Zhao was subjected to a temporary restraining order after a former co-worker and a former roommate accused him of attacking him and threatening him, and that restraining order actually at the time forbid him from not only being near that roommate, that he apparently threatened to murder, but also it banned him and barred him from owning or being able to buy a gun. But that temporary restraining order went away in July of 2013.

Zhao here expected in court at 1:30 Pacific Time. It will be his first court appearance since being accused of murdering seven people and critically injuring another person at two separate locations in Half Moon Bay, one of those locations where he lived and worked, the Mountain Mushroom Farm in Half Moon Bay.

Yesterday Governor Gavin Newsom spent time in the community meeting with victims, meeting with the community members who've been deeply impacted by this. And to be quite honest with you, Jim and Erica, he was tired, exhausted, and incredibly emotional from my conversation with him, but --

SCIUTTO: All right, stand by, we are going to go live to Memphis, Tennessee, where the U.S. attorney is now speaking about the investigation into the death of Tyre Nichols who died shortly after an encounter with police. Let's listen in.

KEVIN G. RITZ, U.S. ATTORNEY, WESTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE: Last week, we announced that the United States had opened a federal civil rights investigation into the circumstances leading to the tragic death of Tyre Nichols. Earlier this week, I had the privilege of meeting with Mr. Nichols' mother, father, grandmother and aunt. I had the privilege of hearing from them about Tyre, a man who enjoyed skateboarding, Starbucks, and sunsets at Shelby parks.

I would like to share what I told Mr. Nichols' family. What I said was that the Department of Justice cares deeply about potential violations of constitutional rights here in Memphis and throughout America. I said we have opened a criminal civil rights investigation. I told them this federal civil rights investigation will be thorough, it will be methodical, and it will continue until we gather all the relevant facts. As with any other federal investigation, we will go where those facts take us.

I delivered that message to them. And I want this community to hear that message as well. As I told Mr. Nichols' family, our federal investigation may take some time. These things often do. But we will be diligent and we will make decisions based on the facts and the law. My office is working hand in hand with the Civil Rights Division in Washington, as well as the FBI and other law enforcement partners.

Our team includes very experienced federal prosecutors from our office here in Memphis. It includes very experienced FBI agents from the FBI Memphis field office, and it includes a very experienced attorney from the Civil Rights Division. We have been in constant, very constructive communication with the Shelby County district attorney as well as state and local law enforcement agencies about this case. I'm thankful for that, and I expect that will continue.

Finally, I know there is significant public interest in the release of the video that was shown to Mr. Nichols' family. The state and local authorities have responsibility for determining when to release video from this incident to the public, but I will say on behalf of the federal authorities is we want people to express their right to be heard, but we want them to do so in a peaceful and nonviolent way.


I'll close by saying that I grew up in this city. And I care deeply about this city. I want this city to be a place where justice is done. The United States is committed to following the facts and the law, guided by principles of justice every step of the way.

Thank you for your time this morning.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Sir, just one question. Not on the investigation. Just on why was this important for you to do today? Can you just answer just one question?


HILL: I just heard --

SCIUTTO: Go ahead, Erica.

HILL: I was just going to say, Jim, very happy to have you here, Areva Martin, civil rights attorney.

Areva Martin, we just heard our colleague Shimon Prokupecz at the end there asking, Areva, asking the U.S. attorney Kevin Ritz why it was important to make this announcement, why it was important to come out today. He did not answer the question. What is your sense, though, of why it was important to make this statement?

AREVA MARTIN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: My sense, Erica, after talking to people actually who live in Memphis is that that city is on edge, and that citizens of that city have been demanding the release of the videotape from the body cam, from these officers, and they've been demanding justice. They want to see these five officers indicted. They want to see them held accountable.

We have not been able to look at the video camera, although we know that the lawyers representing the family have said that what's on those body cams is horrific. They say it's worse than what we saw in the 1992 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers. So I think the U.S. attorney felt a need to say something to this community because there has been so much attention paid to this case by folks on the ground who want answers.

SCIUTTO: Areva Martin, does the race of the officers involved matter in an investigation like this?

MARTIN: I don't think it's the race of the officers, Jim. It's the race of the victim. It is the fact that the victim in this case is African-American, and we know all too often African-American men in particular, unarmed, die from routine police stops. And this is what this appears to be, some kind of routine traffic stop that happened very close to Mr. Nichols' home where apparently he tried to run from police and his family said he had a good reason for running, and five officers.

That's the big question, Jim. Why five officers? Why did this man end up lying in a bed with a bloody face and a swollen eye after what should have been a routine encounter with police officers. So I think we have to stay focused on the fact that young, black, unarmed men often find themselves either brutalized or murdered by simple encounters with police officers.

HILL: And Shimon, we heard very clearly from Tyre Nichols' father, stepfather, saying look, he was not running because he had anything to hide in that moment. He was running because he was scared. That was after they had seen that video, Shimon. Any further update at this hour about when that video could be released?

PROKUPECZ: I mean, it's any day now really, Erica. We think it could be tomorrow, it could be Friday. You know, it definitely does feel it. I've only been here on the ground since last night. But you could definitely sense that things are developing here pretty rapidly. I mean, to have the U.S. attorney come out and make a statement like this is pretty significant. And it tells you also how concerned they are, officials in Washington, D.C., local officials, the police here, are concerned over what might happen once the video is released. And when you listen to the U.S. attorney's statement, he said that. He

said that they are talking to the community here, that he loves this city, he grew up in this city, and also telling them, look, we're going to keep pushing here, we're going to keep investigating. We're here, we're investigating this. This is going to be thorough. They realize they have a difficult situation on their hands and that this video at some point is going to be made public.

And there's a lot of concern over how the community and the public is going to react to what, by all accounts, is really just horrific, horrific video, showing a senseless beating of a man at the hands of police. That is going to be very significant. And it seems that things here are developing rapidly, and that perhaps we will have word on this in the next two days.

The other thing that I think is certainly significant is that we really haven't heard a lot of details from officials on what exactly happened that day. We know five officers were fired in the police department, Memphis Police Department, moving quickly, swiftly to fire these officers. So that's certainly very significant based on what they saw.


But really the nuance, some of the important detail of what went on here, the police have refused to answer some of the most basic questions. So there's still a lot obviously that we don't know, but I have to tell you, listening to the U.S. attorney come out like this, you can tell that there was concern. They don't do this. Look, last week they issued a statement, it was a paper statement, saying that they were launching this federal criminal civil rights investigation, but the fact that the U.S. attorney came before the cameras to speak to this community is certainly significant.

SCIUTTO: CNN's Nick Valencia just spoke with the family attorney, representing the family, that is Ben Crump. I wonder what his response was to you?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what the U.S. attorney just said here, Kevin Ritz, reiterated basically what he had told the family earlier this week when they met alongside the D.A. And I asked Mr. Crump, you know, if the family -- you know, what's their focus right now, and he said their focus is justice, but they also are really adamant that they want this video released within the next two weeks.

They were told and assured by the district attorney that this video would be released, and they believe that this will have a significant impact on the community there in Memphis. I did ask him, you know, it sounds like the U.S. attorney and other officials are bracing for this to be a really, you know, awful video. They're worried, it seems like, of the reaction of the public. Mr. Crump did not want to speak to that, he just did say, though, that the family, the Nichols family's focus is getting justice for Tyre Nichols.

They've characterized this video as violent, as savaged, and we heard the family attorney say that he was used as a human pinata for these three minutes that they say they saw officers beat him. In fact they said, you know, they don't want to release too many details about what they say in this video because of the active investigation. But they did say at some point you could hear Nichols say, what did I do? So again, you know, the family is really focused on trying to get justice for Nichols, but they are adamant again, Jim and Erica, that they want this video released within the next two weeks.

We are, you know, leaning on the district attorney's office and asking them what's the holdup here, guys? You know, the family has seen the video. We're waiting for it to be released, so as Shimon said, this could be any day now, but we don't have a specific time when will it be released.


PROKUPECZ: I just want to make, if I can, one point here. It seems that the D.A. is waiting on the decision about charges, whether or not these officers are going to face charges before he releases this video. And I think part of that is because they want to show, before they release this video, that they have taken some kind of significant action.

There is a lot of concern, and I've covered several of these stories, but I have not seen concern like this over how a community will react in quite some time. And it seems that everything that the authorities are doing, they're trying to tell the community, we are taking action, we are doing things, so just be prepared and know that we are going to take action. And I think that's what we're waiting for here, is for the D.A. to certainly make that decision.

In listening to Ben Crump talk and the family talk, they certainly expect charges that Crump met with the D.A. just a few days ago, so all of this points to some significant action perhaps here from the D.A. in the coming days.

HILL: We'll be watching for that. Shimon Prokupecz, Nick Valencia, Areva Martin, thank you all.

Just ahead here, the Fulton County D.A. in Georgia says decisions are imminent when it comes to possible charges in former President Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election in that state. So what could be on the table? We'll take a look.



SCIUTTO: The Atlanta area district attorney investigating former President Trump and his allies' efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia says her decision on possible charges is imminent. Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis suggested in court on Tuesday that the special grand jury has recommended, in fact, multiple indictments.

With me now, former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin. And Michael Zeldin, I wonder, that is not the special grand jury's

decision on indictments. Willis will then have to, as I understand it, go to a regularly impaneled grand jury before any indictment decision. What is the timeline for such a decision?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Whatever Fani Willis wants it to be. However, generally speaking, they issue the report. The prosecutors have been working with the grand jury on this report, probably are drafting indictments if not already drafted the indictments, and then they will go I would think quickly to the regular grand jury, present the evidence and the indictments and the defendants that they want to indict, and then I think, Jim, we'll get an answer to that question very quickly.

SCIUTTO: Now, you have noted that more than one person could face indictments from this, ranging from the former President Trump himself, but also to his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, fake electors, et cetera. Are there -- is there anyone among that group that you, based on what you've seen, think is most likely to be indicted?

ZELDIN: It's a agrees question. And it depends really on Fani Willis' evidence. We know that the false electors scheme is pretty clear and so all the false electors and anyone who is involved in the establishment of that false electors scheme, I think, are in the crosshairs here.


Whether they go up higher to Eastman, Giuliani, Trump himself, really depends on her appetite for taking on a case that has all sorts of complications, attorney-client, representation of your client, First Amendment rights, and we could end up sort of disappointed, if you will, in just a low-level indictment or indictment of low-level people, or we could be, you know, interested to see that she takes this all the way up to Eastman, and perhaps even Trump.

SCIUTTO: Now, of course, there's the pending decision as to whether the judge releases the report from the special grand jury. I should note news organizations are arguing there's public interest in knowing this. You, as a lawyer, argue could damage the case. Tell us why.

ZELDIN: Well, in a case like this, you really want to keep pretrial publicity as limited as you can because it affects things like venue, where will the trial take place, if there's too much publicity in Fulton County, then the lawyers will try to move it to a more rural county. You don't want unindicted co-conspirators to be smeared by the report. If they're named in the report, but not indicted, they have no way of protecting their reputation.

And we just want to make sure that this case proceeds without any possibility of interference by the early release of a report when there's really no need, Jim. I understand that CNN and news media organizations want it, but I just don't see the imminent need for the release.

SCIUTTO: Michael Zeldin, always good to hear your point of view. Thanks so much for joining me.

ZELDIN: Thanks, Jim.

HILL: The tech tool raising major red flags at schools across the nation. ChatGPT now forcing professors to rethink the way they teach their classes. We'll speak with one of them, next.



SCIUTTO: A new artificial intelligence technology is racing concerns among other things about cheating in the classroom. The tool, you may have heard of it, it's called ChatGPT, allows users to type in anything they need. For example, this morning we tried a 2,000-word essay on climate change.

HILL: And the Web site spit out this, a 2,000-word essay on climate change. Schools have started to ban it. Our next guest, though, has already seen it come across his desk as a university professor.

Antony Aumann teaches philosophy at Northern Michigan University.

It's great to have you with us. I have to say what shocked me is that this has only been out for a couple of months now. So the fact that it's this new and it's already shown up in one of your classes, what was the giveaway for you that this was not written -- the paper was not written by a student?

ANTONY AUMANN, PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY, NORTHERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY: Yes, it showed up even at the end of last semester so right away when it came out. The giveaway for me was that the essay was just a little bit too good. The grammar was perfect, the structure was impeccable, and the ideas were really insightful. It was kind of better than what I expect from most of my students.

SCIUTTO: So I have to ask you, I mean, you made a smart judgment call there, but is there any way to reliably spot this, I mean, to know for sure it wasn't a kid who wrote it, it was ChatGPT?

AUMANN: So I'll tell you what I did, and then why that's not going to work going forward. So what I did is I took the student's essay and I actually submitted it to ChatGPT myself, and I said, hey, did you write this? And it came to me and said there's a 99.9 percent chance that I did write this.

SCIUTTO: Wow. It was on your side.

AUMANN: But I don't --


AUMANN: Yes. But I'm worried that that's not going to work going forward because it's -- although there are a bunch of chat AI detectors, it's easy to circumvent them. All you have to do is insert a couple of grammatical errors, and I hate to say that because I'm telling students how to cheat, but that's how you circumvent it.


HILL: It is fascinating. We've already seen public school systems here in New York City, they're banning it on devices that are on the school wi-fi, but the reality is, of course, you're not always on the school wi-fi, at some point, you're going home. So to your point about being able to spot it, do you see any real tangible effort that can be made by school districts, by universities to get ahead of this?

AUMANN: Yes. So there's three big things that at least at the university or college level people are trying to do. The first thing is just to shift to oral exams, where students can't use their phones or computers.


AUMANN: The -- yes. The problem with that, although it sounds appealing, is that it won't work in huge classes.


AUMANN: The second thing that people are doing is going medieval and having students go back to pencil and paper. The problem with that is that it doesn't make sense in a generation where we haven't trained students how to write by hands so most of them can only write by hand in a messy and slow way. The third thing is to use recent material. The chat is only chained on stuff up to 2021 so it doesn't have a lot to say on stuff that's been written since then, but good luck trying to do that in a class on Plato and Aristotle.

SCIUTTO: Yes, no question. Well, listen, that in-person thing works until they send in the robot form themselves, and then, you know, that'll be so realistic you won't be able to spot. I don't mean to be flip because this raises serious questions, I'm sure, for you. Let's keep up this conversation because I'm sure you and we are going to face this again.

Antony Aumann, thanks so much.

AUMANN: Thank you for having me.

HILL: Also, I love my children dearly, I would not wish their handwriting on anyone. I still don't know how their teachers read it. So good luck with that.

Thanks to all of you for joining us today.