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CNN This Morning

Eagles, Chiefs Advance to Super Bowl LVII; Memphis PD 'SCORPION' Unit Disbanded after Beating Death; Soon: Murdaugh Trial Resumes after Videos Shown in Court; World Leaders Urge Calm after Shooting at Israel Synagogue. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired January 30, 2023 - 06:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" is No. 2, and No. 3 --




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's your name?

HANKS: Otto.





ROMANS: That is Tom Hanks in "A Man Called Otto."

All right. Thanks for joining me this Monday morning. Hope you have great rest of your day. I'm Christine Romans. CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not done yet. It is now! It's over. It is over. And the Kansas City Chiefs have won it.

TRAVIS KELCE, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS TIGHT END: Burrow (ph), my ass! Woo! It's Mahomes hour (ph)!


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: OK. So I was really torn about this one. You know why, right? I love Mahomes. And Joe Burrow.

KAITLAN COLLINS, NN ANCHOR: Joe Burrow is your guy. LEMON: And Joe Burrow. I like both of these guys. So I was really torn, and I just kept rewatching it and rewatching it. It's like, we're not talking about the Vikings.


Are you a mind reader this morning?

LEMON: Poppy, how long have I known you?

COLLINS: The fact that Patrick Mahomes did that on one good ankle is incredible.

LEMON: Did you see him, like, the whole time he was, like, hopping around. Like, is he going to make it? Is he going to make it?

COLLINS: He had that high ankle sprain eight days ago. It's amazing that he played that well.

LEMON: Everybody is like, wait, we're on TV right now.

HARLOW: Good morning.

LEMON: Right. Good morning, everyone. For the first time in Super Bowl history, two black quarterbacks will lead their teams in the big game. So who's the favorite and who's the underdog? We're going to have much more on this historic match-up. We're going to have that in just a moment.

HARLOW: Also, taking a turn here, new questions this morning in Memphis. Will the death of Tyre Nichols lead to actual federal nationwide police reform? That is a huge question this week.

This as Memphis shuts down its SCORPION street crimes unit. Also this --


ALEX MURDAUGH, ON TRIAL FOR MURDER: And I ran over to Maggie -- actually, I think I tried to turn Paul over first.


COLLINS: It's remarkable video as we are now hearing what Alex Murdoch told detectives on the night that he allegedly, according to prosecutors, murdered his own wife and son. Something in particular that investigators noticed that raised their suspicions.

LEMON: Just in case you were wondering what we were talking about, come on. You know. It's official. The Super Bowl LVII matchup is set. It's Eagles versus Chiefs, Philadelphia versus Kansas City. And Jalen Hurts versus Patrick Mahomes.

This is the first time in Super Bowl history there will be two black starting quarterbacks. The Empire state building lit up to congratulate both teams. But that

was a problem for some fans we need to tell you about. People were a little bit upset about that in New York. We're going to ask Mayor Adams about that a little bit later.

Meanwhile, overjoyed Eagles fans filing [SIC] the streets of Philadelphia and filling the streets of Philadelphia as well, celebrating their victory. Some were even spotted climbing poles, which the city had greased up ahead of time. Yes, that has to happen in Philadelphia. I used to live there.

Coy Wire joining us this morning. You can attest to that.

Good morning to you, Coy. This is going to be very interesting. We have two black starting quarterbacks. Brothers facing off for the first time in history. This is going to be an interesting matchup.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR/CORRESPONDENT: Incredible story lines. Hurts and Mahomes, Don, quintessential leaders. Both mental fortitude and physical toughness. Their "we, not me" mentality.

And then butters. It's the -- all it the Kelce Bowl. Travis Kelce for the Chiefs facing Jason Kelce for the Eagles. First brothers to ever face off in the Super Bowl.

It will all play out in 13 days' time in Glendale, Arizona. Eagles versus Chiefs.


WIRE (voice-over): With a trip to the Super Bowl on the line --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Placement is down. Butker's kick up is. The spinning kick high. Falling in the air. And it is good! Good! Good!

WIRE (voice-over): A nail biter in the AFC championship. The Chiefs, who beat the Bengals in a revenge rematch of last season's overtime AFC title game, during a frigid night at Arrowhead Stadium, the bad blood between these two teams boiling over till the very end.

Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes scrambling for field position on an injured ankle in the final seconds took a late hit out of bounds by the Bengals. Flags fly, with the penalty putting the Chiefs in range for Harrison Butker's game-winning field goal.

Kansas City heads to the Super Bowl for the third time in four years and threw a little shade at the Bengals during the postgame celebrations.

KELCE: Burrow, my (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Woo! It's Mahomes hour (ph).

PATRICK MAHOMES, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS QUARTERBACK: I don't think we have any cigars. But we'll be ready to go at the Super Bowl.

WIRE (voice-over): Representing the NFC, it's a Philly thing. A phrase coined by star quarterback Jalen Hurts. The Eagles annihilating the 49ers. who were riding a 12-game win streak.

San Francisco's third-string quarterback and rookie sensation Brock Purdy getting injured early. Then fourth-stringer Josh Johnson leaving with injury, too. They didn't stand a chance.

Second-year Philadelphia head coach Nick Sirianni was effusive in his praise of his team's dominating performance.

NICK SIRIANNI, PHILADELPHIA HEAD COACH: This is something we all dream about. And we get to do it, because you know, we did it better than anybody else in the NFC this year. So that is pretty special. Fans were awesome. Atmosphere was unbelievable.

WIRE (voice-over): Meanwhile, Jalen Hurts has gone from being benched at Alabama in the 2018 college football national championship game to transferring to Oklahoma. He says he uses the pain to strengthen him. He's now a pro bowler in his third NFL season, leading his team to the Super Bowl.

JALEN HURTS, QUARTERBACK, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: You know, I've been through a lot personally. But I want -- I want to steer it from the direction of how -- how good this team has been and playing together to have this opportunity in front of us. You know, I want to take advantage of it.

The atmosphere tonight was amazing. The fans showed up. The energy, all of it. So we need to bring that to AZ.


WIRE (on camera): Don, the Eagles first won five years ago, the Chiefs just three. Now they're going to go toe-to-toe.

We'll have Rihanna doing the halftime show. Chris Stapleton will be singing the national anthem. We're going to be there for you all week, bringing all the sights and sounds of Super Bowl week.

But who do you cheer for if you're mom and dad for the Kelce brothers?

LEMON: When you said "brothers," I was like, wait, is talking about Jalen Hurts and Mahomes?

HOLMES: No, the other brothers.

LEMON: Brothers versus brothers.

WIRE: That's right.

COLLINS: Can I say about Jalen Hurts, though, like for him to have this moment. And he was so selfless. He was onstage last night. He said this is not about me. This is about the city. And it was such a lovely moment, Coy.

WIRE: Yes. You know, being from --

LEMON: Sorry, go on. o on. WIRE: I was going to say, you know, Kaitlan being from Alabama, she knows how selfless he is. I mean, he essentially lost his starting job to Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama. He transfers to Oklahoma. He's always been a team-first person. An incredible leader. Someone we can all really learn from.

LEMON: As a former resident of Philadelphia, I was a little bit nervous. Because you know, when the Sixers won and lost, it gets, you know. And the Eagles, you know, batteries.

HARLOW: Who do you want? Are you Eagles now?

LEMON: No. I'm for Mahomes. Patrick Mahomes.

HARLOW: I want him for Jake (ph). OK.

LEMON: I'm a Homie.

COLLINS: Jalen Hurts, obviously.

LEMON: Thanks, Coy. Appreciate it.

WIRE: You got it.

HARLOW: All right. Coy, thank you very much.

Let's turn now to Memphis, where change is already happening after the savage and deadly police beating of Tyre Nichols.

America has now seen the video. We've heard Tyre crying out for his mother as those officers pummeled him and kicked him the head.

And now the Memphis Police Department is permanently shutting down its SCORPION street crime unit. The five police officers charged with murdering Tyre Nichols were all members of that unit. It was designed and created just a few years ago to crack down on high-crime neighborhoods.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tyre Nichols! Tyre Nichols! Tyre Nichols! Tyre Nichols! Tyre Nichols! Tyre Nichols!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tyre Nichols! Tyre Nichols! Tyre Nichols! Tyre Nichols! Tyre Nichols! Tyre Nichols!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tyre Nichols! Tyre Nichols! Tyre Nichols! Tyre Nichols! Tyre Nichols! Tyre Nichols!









HARLOW: Those are growing calls for police reform, not just in Memphis but true nationwide federal changes.

Sara Sidner has been in Memphis. You were there with Don throughout this, covering it, covering this from the start.

Not only is that unit disbanded and questions, obviously, about how those -- like, the whole picture of that. But also, Memphis Police coming under scrutiny for how they put out that initial statement of what happened on January 7 versus what they said this weekend.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And that SCORPION unit is the Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods unit.

And it was created, actually, by the chief, who now has disbanded it.


SIDNER: It's only been around a year and change. And it was because crime was rising, and they wanted to do something holistic.

But when you look at the report that the public got initially, it was very different than what we all saw on video.


SIDNER: We have seen this time and time and time again. These cameras are starting to -- the cameras are capturing the truth. And we're not getting the truth often when you see those initial reports.


SIDNER (voice-over): Police body camera and surveillance video are bringing into question the initial statement made by the Memphis Police Department regarding the brutal arrest and death of Tyre Nichols.

The initial statement writes that officers "attempted to make a traffic stop for reckless driving," further writing, "As officers approached the driver of the vehicle, a confrontation occurred."

As seen in the police body-camera video, Nichols was actually pulled out of the car and thrown to the ground, tased and beaten.

The Memphis Police Department statement said that Nichols "fled the scene on foot and officers pursued the suspect and again attempted to take the suspect into custody. While attempting to take the suspect into custody, another confrontation occurred."

That second confrontation includes officers spraying him with pepper spray and punching and kicking him repeatedly.

ANTONIO ROMANUCCI, TYRE NICHOLS FAMILY ATTORNEY: I have more and more doubts that there was any issue of reckless driving whatsoever. I think it was a narrative. I think it was a justification for the stop.

Just as they pleaded on some of the video that you saw in the second encounter that they were saying, Did you see him reach for my gun? That never happened. Those are all excuses. Those are all lame defenses. And just a reason for what they did, which is now, as we know, has no basis at all.

SIDNER (voice-over): According to the Memphis Police, "the suspect complained of having shortness of breath, at which time an ambulance was called."

Video shows Nichols propped up against a police car, clearly in distress, while the officers stand around chatting with each other. Medics arrive, but it is not until 25 minutes after Nichols is subdued that an ambulance arrives on the scene.

This is certainly not the first time that videos and evidence contradict initial police accounts that favor the officers involved.

In the case of George Floyd, the Minneapolis Police said Floyd appeared to be suffering medical distress, when in reality, video evidence showed Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck.

In the case of Breonna Taylor, the initial statement from Louisville Police said she had no injuries, even though six shots struck her when police entered her home using a battery round to execute a search report. The report also says there was no forced entry.


SIDNER: So you see that time and again. And it makes you -- and these are the big cases that the nation has learned about.

The problem is you see those inconsistencies, and you wonder about all the other times when there have been -- there have been cases that perhaps got some attention, or those that got no attention. What was the truth?

It has always been assumed on the public's part that the police were telling the truth. And now we have proof that they haven't been initially, in some of their statements.

LEMON: Look, when we were covering George Floyd.

SIDNER: That's right.

LEMON: If you look at the initial statement and you would say, wait, are we talking about --

SIDNER: The same thing.

LEMON: -- the same thing?


LEMON: And --

SIDNER: And we weren't.

LEMON: We weren't.

SIDNER: And what that speaks to a little bit is something that I think attorneys would say would be consciousness of guilt. If you're putting -- if the officers themselves are giving this information, and it is so different from what actually happened, you have to wonder if they're trying to suppress the true information, knowing that something was wrong.

LEMON: Sara, you mentioned in the beginning when we were watching the videotape. You listen to the officers at the scene, on the scene there. They were sort of making it up as they go along. Hey, man, did you see what he did? He did this and he tried to -- they were coming up with a scenario.

HARLOW: As a potential pretext.

LEMON: And they put it in their report. Right, Poppy?

SIDNER: I think part of it wasn't just the report. Sometimes when, you know, you get a whole bunch of people together, they start making excuses --


SIDNER: -- for why they are treating a human being like this. Dehumanizing seemed to have happened.

If you listen to the audio on that, it was blaming him for every single thing that happened. And, so you know, it's disturbing; and I don't think it will ever leave anyone's mind, anyone who's watched that video.

COLLINS: No. I definitely won't, Sara. Great reporting. Thank you for that.

Also coming up this morning, Alex Murdaugh sobbing and breaking down the night that his wife and son were murdered. We'll tell you what he told investigators that actually made them suspicious.



HARLOW: Welcome back to CNN THIS MORNING. Week two of the Alex Murdaugh double murder trial is under way. It

gets started again today in just a few hours.

On Friday, Murdaugh appeared to be overcome with emotion while listening to an interview that he gave police on the night that his wife and son were murdered. The video has never seen -- been seem before by the public. Listen to this. This is Murdaugh describing the crime scene that night.


MURDAUGH: I know it was really bad. My -- my boy over there. I could see it was --


MURDAUGH: And I could see his brain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Had y'all been having any problems out here? Trespassers?

MURDAUGH: What comes to my mind is my son, Paul, was in a boat wreck a couple years ago. There's been a lot of negative publicity about that. And there's been a lot of people online, just really vile stuff.


HARLOW: Joining us now is criminal defense attorney, also formerly a prosecutor, Mark O'Mara. Great to have you. Good morning.


HARLOW: The boat wreck he's talking about is where his son Paul allegedly drove that boat drunk, and in that crash -- and crashed it and killed, it was a 19-year-old friend of his, Mallory Beach.

Can you explain why prosecution would present this video, and as a defense attorney, what you make of it?

O'MARA: Well, you know, I would be concerned if I looked at that as my client. It just comes across to me as a bit pretense. He does break down, although you don't see any tears.


O'MARA: Not to suggest can't grieve their own way.

But all of a sudden, what I noticed was he breaks down, talking about his son and then immediately is very rational. He's very explanatory. Well, here's an idea. Here's a way it might be. And it's a number of things that are concerning to me.

HARLOW: So what would you do if you're his lead defense counsel, Dick Harpootlian? What do you do?

O'MARA: Well, his lawyer was in the car with him. I'm not sure that I would have allowed that video to happen. But that's too late.

So now all that you can do is say, Look, people grieve the way they grieve. He was trying to give everything he could. He gave a statement. He didn't have to.

And he tried to give up any explanation he could in response to the officer's questions and try and minimize what most people will think was a more appropriate reaction to a man just having witnessed the murder of his son and his wife, which would seem to devastate people much more than he seemed to be.

HARLOW: I wonder if you were struck by something that I was struck by, which is that, again, lead defense counsel Harpootlian basically got the sheriff's deputies on the stand at the end of last week to admit that the crime scene may have been inadvertently tampered with by driving over certain tracks, by not sort of fencing them off right away with crime scene tape. Listen to this exchange with one of them on the stand.


DICK HARPOOTLIAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: So if somebody had come in and left, who committed the murders, whatever tire tracks on the left were obliterated by your men? Is that right?



HARLOW: "It's possible." And when you're talking about murder, it's beyond a reasonable doubt. Was that a successful line of questioning?

O'MARA: I think it was very successful. And it is fairly standard. You know, talking, there is no perfect crime scene. I could rip apart whatever any officer does.

So the idea of doing just that. You didn't wear booties. You drove over it. You didn't put a drone up in the sky immediately. You didn't canvas the whole neighborhood within the first five minutes. All of that can be seen to be reasonable doubt.

But the real question is whether or not a jury has this feel that the defense is almost trying too hard. Yet to be seen. We have a long way to go. But yes, Harpootlian's doing a good job of showing it is not perfect.

HARLOW: Really significant week ahead. Mark O'Mara, thank you.

O'MARA: Great to be here. Great seeing you again.


LEMON: Tensions boiling over in the Mideast after a deadly shooting at a synagogue in Jerusalem. We're going to take you there live.

COLLINS: Plus, new arrests have been made in the plot to kill journalist and critic of the Iranian government Masih Alinejad. She's going to join us here live on set next.



COLLINS: The White House there as Secretary of State Antony Blinken is going to arrive in Tel Aviv this morning as deadly violence is soaring in the Middle East.

At a West Bank refugee camp Wednesday, where nine Palestinians were fatally shot and in a Jerusalem synagogue, where seven Israelis were killed on Friday.

Moments ago, Secretary Blinken had this message amid the spike in violence that has put the whole region on edge.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: There is no question that this is a very difficult moment. As you heard, very clearly, condemnation from the United States of the terrorist attacks, the president, the vice president, myself. And we deplore overall the loss of innocent civilian life.


COLLINS: CNN's Nic Robertson, meanwhile, is live in Jerusalem. Nic, obviously, this is a big trip for Blinken coming at a really sensitive time in the area.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. And there's a real hope he might be able to tamp down the tensions. But there are underlying political issues that have put these -- put the Israelis and the Palestinians in this position.

And it's not clear that he'll be able to address that. The past year has been one of the deadliest for Palestinians and Israelis for more than a decade. The past -- the past month, the deadliest -- the deadliest for a long time, more than 30 Palestinians and Israelis killed. It will be a very challenging time for the secretary here.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): In recent days, bloodshed and killings of both Israelis and Palestinians spiking tensions between the two, rising.

NOUR ODEH, PALESTINIAN ACTIVIST: What we see right now, in terms of confrontation, of escalation, will look like kids' play compared with what could happen next.

REUVEN HAZAN, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, HEB REW UNIVERSITY: We don't know if this is the beginning of a cycle. And, in this part of the world, cycles begin and end without you knowing it.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): A familiar cycle and a problem for U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, arriving during his Mid-East trip this week. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and his far- right coalition, have already responded to the Palestinian violence.

Having the home of a Palestinian gunman who murdered seven Israelis Friday, sealed; also with collective punishment: threatening to revoke residency rights of attackers' families.

And, strengthening settlements. Itself, already a condition of Netanyahu's far-right political partners.

Blinken's message to Netanyahu, will also face its strongest Israeli opposition to many of his coalition policies will be to de-escalate tensions with the Palestinians.

HAZAN: Whatever he gets as a promise from Netanyahu, I don't know if Netanyahu be able to deliver domestically.


HAZAN: Because this government isn't interested in it. They're not interested in calming things down. They were elected on a platform of we will have an iron fist, a strong response to violence to terrorism.

ROBERTSON: By the time Secretary Blinken gets here, to the West Bank, he'll have had several meetings with Israeli leaders. His likely message for Palestinian officials will be re-start security cooperation with Israel, suspended during the recent spike in violence.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): After years of feeling neglected by the White House, hopes here of de-escalation are at a low and. The Palestinian Authority losing control of the streets.

ODEH: This security coordination is both humiliating and ineffective. You can't -- you know, the P.A. right now is losing, not just losing control but losing faith.

ROBERTSON: If you have the issue with containment, only going to produce a backlash, then that plays into.