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CNN Tonight

Memphis Releases Video Of Deadly Police Beating Of Tyre Nichols; Tyre Nichols's Mom And Stepdad Speak Out; CNN Reports On Deadly Jerusalem Synagogue Attack. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired January 27, 2023 - 23:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Look, I don't want to get ahead of ourselves and I'm sure you don't want, either.


LEMON: There were -- you know, everyone was worried that there was going to be violence and --

TERRY: Uh-hmm.

LEMON: -- you know, rioting and that sort of thing.

TERRY: Uh-hmm.

LEMON: We've seen people protest.

TERRY: Yeah.

LEMON: And that's okay. You encourage peaceful protest.

TERRY: Uh-hmm.

LEMON: How are you feeling about that tonight? I think we're in a good place so far.

TERRY: I think so, too. I did an interview over off of (INAUDIBLE) and the protest, this is where they started. And when I drove up, I mean, they were very peaceful. They were walking around and they were getting ready to walk over to the bridge, and they were very peaceful. So that made me feel good. I didn't feel like I was at harm's way.

LEMON: I said earlier that Memphis has a rich history --

TERRY: Uh-hmm.

LEMON: -- when it comes to the civil rights movement.

TERRY: Uh-hmm.

LEMON: It would be incredible for Memphis to have a rich history when it comes to police reform.

TERRY: Yes. You know, I think --

LEMON: Which is a continuum, on the continuum for the civil rights movement.

TERRY: Right. And I think today, I heard Attorney Crump say that this should be the blueprint. I think he said that to you this morning about Memphis being the blueprint for the country, of what happened, you know, as far as the officers being fired and being charged, you know, within 20 days of what happened. So, I think this is it. Memphis will be the blueprint for the country.

LEMON: Thank you, Vickie Terry.

TERRY: Thank you.

LEMON: I appreciate you.

TERRY: I appreciate it.

LEMON: Thank you. I really appreciate you.

TERRRY: Thank you.

LEMON: We've got much more reporting and reaction coming up straight ahead, including an in-depth look at the life of Tyre Nichols. We are back in a moment.




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This is special CNN TONIGHT live coverage as Memphis and as we all come to grips with what we have seen done to a young man, on video, by five police officers who are now charged with murder.

LEMON: That's right, John. Tomorrow, it will be three weeks to the day since police pulled over Tyre Nichols in a traffic stop that we see on video escalate out of all proportion. We then see Nichols run off, only to be stopped at a second location and be given a fatal beating.

Before we show you just a portion of it, I just want to take a moment and just reaffirm that Tyre Nichols, about his personhood, to show you a little about who this man was. Our Sara Sidner has that story for us.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Memphis, candles burn for a life snuffed out, the life of 29- year-old Tyre Nichols, being remembered where friends say he felt the most free -- a skate park. Twelve years ago, Nichols is seen here doing what he loved. Twelve years later, he ended up dead, officials say, beaten by five men sworn to protect and serve.

Nichols family wants people to know more about Tyre Nichols than how he died.

ROWVAUGHN WELLS, MOTHER OF TYRE NICHOLS: Nobody is perfect, okay? Nobody.

UNKNOWN: Uh-hmm.

WELLS: But he was damn near. My son was a beautiful soul. And he touched everyone.

SIDNER (voice-over): Nichols had his mama's name tattooed on his arm. He wasn't just her beautiful boy, he was also a father who loved having fun. His friend who knew him in Sacramento told a local newspaper he had such a free spirit and skating gave him his wings.

He worked at FedEx but had other dreams -- photography. In his own words, he posted, people have a story to tell, why not capture it instead of doing the norm and writing it down and speaking it. It turns out, what led to his death was captured on camera.


LEMON: And that was CNN's Sara Sidner. And that video was made public earlier tonight. Before bringing in CNN's Shimon Prokupecz with details on the spreading fallout within law enforcement, first, though, a brief moment of what a police bodycam saw. And as we have been doing throughout the night, a warning for you, it's not easy to watch. Here it is.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Get on the ground!


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Taser, taser!

NICHOLS: All right, I'm on the ground.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Right now. Right now.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Tase him. Tase him.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): I'll tase you. Get on the ground. Now. I'll tase you.

NICHOLS: All right. Okay. All right. Okay.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Turn the folk around. UNKNOWN (voice-over): Put your hands back up.

NICHOLS: Okay. You guys are really doing a lot right now.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Yeah, right now.

NICHOLS: I'm just trying to go home.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Man, if you don't lay down --

NICHOLS: I am on the ground.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): On your stomach!

NICHOLS: Mom! Mom!

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Give me your hands. Give me your hands.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Watch out, watch out!



LEMON: It's -- words can't really explain how the feeling of watching that video. And I would imagine the people who knew him, family members, of course, even tougher for them. Because of that video, Shimon Prokupecz is here, there is more fallout within law enforcement.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yeah, shockingly, we now learned that two sheriff's deputies from this county, from this area, were there on scene.


And it was only discovered tonight because of the release of these videos. And as a result of that, the sheriff here has placed those two deputies on leave.

The question, of course, is why was the sheriff, a leading law enforcement official in this town, just finding out about this tonight. So that raises all kinds of questions. So, we are seeing more fallout. And I think we're going to see more fallout.

You know, the district attorney I spoke to earlier tonight, he said they are continuing their investigation and just because they have announced these charges doesn't mean more aren't coming.

Look, the D.A., you can tell, needed to do something. He needed to charge someone quickly. And perhaps seeing this video, seeing everything, it was very clear to him that these were the sound charges, these were the easiest, perhaps maybe the most charges that he could bring at this point while they conduct their investigation further.

Because when you look at that video, Don, there are several more officers on scene. We don't know anything about them. We know other officers are being investigated internally.

And the other thing, of course, is the EMTs. For me, I have found this among many things, but this in particular is distressing because they are there to give him care, to save, to try to save his life.

LEMON: That's specifically what their jobs are, to do that, right?

PROKUPECZ: Right. And for minutes and minutes and minutes, they're standing around doing nothing.

LEMON: Yeah. We have to remember, under the purview of the Memphis Police Department, those five officers. And there could be more. They say there's a possibility that there could be more. I'm not saying definitely that will happen, but they're under the purview of the Memphis Police Department. The EMTs are under the purview of the Fire Department, I would imagine.


LEMON: The Fire Department personnel. And then also, the sheriff's deputies, they are under the purview of the Shelby County Sheriff's Department. So, you have people dealing with people who are within their jurisdiction. Shimon Prokupecz, thank you very much.

John, listen, when you heard from the district attorney that there could be more charges for the officers who were involved, the charges could be amended, and there could be other people involved, this is the beginning of it. The videotape is just now coming out, and we will see in the coming days where this goes.

BERMAN: We certainly will. And as we've been speaking to some of our experts and analysts, they point out even if there aren't more legal charges, criminal charges filed, there will almost certainly be administrative measures taken on people beyond those five former officers now charged with murder. But we will see. They now have the video. I am sure they are going through it second by second.

We'll get back to you in a second, Don.

As you and Shimon alluded to, what we saw on the video tonight was the deadliest possible combination of what was done to Tyre Nichols, and then what was not done for him that really jumped out at Shimon right there.

Joining us to talk about it, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, back with us tonight. Sanjay, let's take that in two parts. First, what was done to Tyre Nichols?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, there were so many different mechanisms of injury there. I watched that. I've got to tell you, John, I've watched this a few times now, it's just increasingly hard to watch. I mean, it just gets worse each time because you see how defenseless he is and how many different types of assaults he has.

He's standing at one point and there are these punches to the head and to the face while he's on the ground. There are kicks to the face. But he's also a very thin guy, and he's got these blows to the torso and to the abdomen. I mean, he can get significant bleeding.

One thing I will say, John, is that he was in the hospital for a few days after he was ultimately taken there and that means that they have more of an idea of exactly what the consequences of all those various blows in that beating was. They probably did scans of his brain and scans of his body. They may have had some idea. But we know within a short time, he was unconscious, he was unable to breathe on his own.

So, you know, even though he was still sort of talking a little bit, moving around a bit, I think, you know, after when he's leaning up against the car, it deteriorated pretty quickly, it sounds like, once he got to the hospital.

But there is that time period, John, that you have alluded to, Shimon has alluded to. I looked at the timestamps on the video and it's around 8:33 when the beating finally stops and he's leaned up against this car, handcuffed.

And it is a good eight minutes after that before the EMTs and fire arrive, but they don't really do any kind of assessment for a good nine minutes after that. It isn't until about 9:02, which is roughly half an hour, John, after this, that they actually start bringing out a gurney and things.

BERMAN: Uh-hmm.

GUPTA: You hear various commentary during that, like it's going to take a while for the ambulance to get here and things, but no one was attending to him.


That, I think, just as a dock, that was the most shocking part. I talked about it before, I don't know how much of a difference it would've made, but he should've been in the hospital.

BERMAN: Let's put that up. Let's put that video up so people can see what you're talking about here. Just talk to us over this, what we are seeing and not seeing here.

GUPTA: So, you're seeing somebody who is essentially, as we know now, he is dying, but he is certainly in critical condition, lying up against that car. I think that they must've known. First, I thought to myself, did they not recognize the gravity of his injuries? They must have known because they just inflicted this upon him.

So, he was essentially, you know, he's dying, John. I mean, there's no other way to really say it. He's critically injured and there is nobody really doing anything there. They sit him up a couple of times. He slumps back over. I do see him sort of move his legs once on his own. He seems to be in a state of what we call agonal breathing, which is typically a sort of breathing pattern when somebody is just in near respiratory distress.

And even when the -- I think the paramedics or the EMT, I couldn't quite figure out who first got to him, again, about a half an hour later, they are the first people to sort of bring out a bag and start assessing him, doing things like looking in his eyes to see if, in fact, he has evidence of brain swelling, something you can do by looking at the pupils, assessing his breathing. You start to see some of that. But it's pretty far along. There is just no sense of urgency given how critically injured he obviously is.

BERMAN: Brain swelling. Why do you jump to that, Sanjay, as something that might've happened?

GUPTA: You know, I think that certainly -- you know, I'm a trauma neurosurgeon, so I think that's part of what I always think about. But the thing about the brain, John, is that you see all those blows to the head --

BERMAN: Uh-hmm.

GUPTA: -- and what you imagine is this brain, which is essentially a fluid medium, it's basically mostly water, you imagine it's starting to swell. And when it starts to swell like that, the brain, unlike any other organ in the body, has no place to really go because it's encased by the skull. So, what happens ultimately is that it goes downward and that's called herniation. And that is something that can lead to brain death, which is, you know, a real consideration here.

Again, I'm sure the hospital, St. Francis, I believe, where he was taken, probably assessed him. They have the answers to some of these questions. Did he have that sort of brain swelling? Did he have bleeding in other parts of his body? Did he have obstruction of his airway when he was essentially being knelt upon, you know, face down? They probably have the answer to those questions.

But brain swelling and that sort of pattern that we saw where he was lapsing in and out of consciousness, that sort of fits. The injuries, the swelling, and then that sort of loss of consciousness that we saw.

BERMAN: And again, as Don and Shimon were pointing out, Sara Sidner, this was all done to a human being. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much for being with us.

GUPTA: Thank you.

BERMAN: Next, our legal and law enforcement team back with us with some thoughts. And later, Don's interview with Tyre Nichols's parents.




BERMAN: As wrenching as it is to watch the video of a young man's life being beaten out of him, it does seem to be accompanied by the sight of justice moving swiftly. Five cops fired and now charged with murder and more investigations underway already.

John Miller and Joey Jackson back here with me. Andrew McCabe is also back. Joining us now, CNN law enforcement analyst Michael Fanone, who nearly lost his life defending the Capitol on January 6th, and CNN legal analyst Elliot Williams, former deputy assistant attorney general.

Elliot, I do want to start with you, first off, you are new to this discussion here, and I think everyone who has seen this video has had the same visceral, human reaction. That is one thing. There is no legal case that will need to be made in a court of law with the charges that have now been filed against these former officers, which do include second-degree murder.

Based on what you have now seen on this video and as someone who has prosecuted cases before, will that be easy to prove in court?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Oh, what a wonderful question, John. Thank you for asking that. So, look, starting with the visceral, you know, it bears mentioning and I have to say it, you know, hearing someone calling for his mother, which is 80 yards away or 100 yards away, and actually with the volume, it's as if he thought he could get her there, I don't think I'll ever unhear that. So, at its core, this is a human issue.

But, look, like you touched on, at the end of the day, someone is going to have to try this case. Now, second-degree murder in Tennessee, in order to prove that, prosecutors have to establish a knowing killing, that they reasonably were assured or knew or could have known that their actions would have led to somebody's death.

So, you're going to have to unpack a number of things. Number one, you know, there will be an expert testifying at that trial along the lines of what you were just talking with Sanjay about, about what kinds of blows might lead reasonably to someone's death, right? Then, someone else is going to have to unpack what went on in those 22 minutes when they were not rendering aid or care to Mr. Nichols at the time he was there.

Now, what the defense would say and a smart defense attorney would say was that, you know, this was in the heat of battle, a scuffle, and this was -- none of this contact was of the sort that these defendants would've thought would have led to somebody's death.

Now, convictions are hard. Getting to that reasonable doubt standard, you just got to get in one juror's head. And there's not an implausible defense here. But if at the end of the day you do have those, I believe it's five punches, two kicks and two hits with the baton over an extended period of time, that will certainly be powerful and resonate with the jury.


That of the five charges, I'll be candid, will be the toughest, I think, to get. But, you know, there are two official misconduct charges that I think will be far easier. And then you have the kidnapping and certainly aggravated assault, which is probably the clearest of all of them.

BERMAN: Joey Jackson, let's bring you in here, a defense attorney. What on this video do you see as a defense attorney? And again, I know we all feel the same way viscerally and as human beings, but as a defense attorney, what on this video would you use to defend these officers?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, there's a lot that concerns me, and that's the first place I start, because in dissecting a case, I have to look at and analyze what I can do to proffer the best defense. And in looking at this, you know, I'm hard-pressed to see.

Now, here's the point. The point of the matter is -- Elliot, you know, very good point that he makes with respect to, look, cases are very difficult. But if you want to talk about second-degree murder, what you are looking and talking about that as a knowing killing is, do you mean to tell me, in the event that you literally kick someone in the head multiple times -- the person happens to be 140 pounds, right? -- you all are burly gentlemen who -- I use the word gentlemen loosely -- who are actually out here doing this job?

Not only do you kick him in his head multiple times, but you are sucker punching him multiple times as well. You are hitting him with the ass (ph) multiple times. You mean to tell me that a reasonable juror cannot conclude that those are actions and activities that would lead to death, that you don't know and appreciate the nature of your conduct such that it may have that result?

And so, I think, you know, all cases are hard, but I think a skilled prosecutor can make that case in this particular situation. So, I think what happened, John, last point, and that's this, you know, you could talk about and relate it to Rodney King but here is the difference. When you had Rodney King, what they were doing is looking at what strikes and movements, et cetera, that Rodney King was making so that they, that is the officers, could put it in context with an expert witness.

You tell me, and looking at the videotape of a defenseless Mr. Nichols on the ground, what sort of movements he was making that would justify the conduct. No immediacy of danger, such a gross disproportionality of force being used, completely unreasonable conduct, and a failure to act. I think you could certainly secure a conviction under the right set of circumstances.

BERMAN: It is interesting. Elliott just brought up heat of the battle and struggle. I mean, one could look at the video and say, what battle? What struggle? Tyre Nichols, in the video that we saw, didn't appear to be putting up almost any resistance.

And Michael Fanone, I want to put that to you there. Just the force that these officers used, at least nine blows, it really felt like, watching the video, came out of nowhere there, leaving one to say, what are they thinking? What could they be thinking with a human being? What did you see?

MICHAEL FANONE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, FORMER D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER: I'll tell you what I saw, John. At the outset of that video, I saw an intense, chaotic situation. I saw police officers trying to gain control of Mr. Nichols. I believe that those officers' actions clearly escalated that situation.

And by the end of the video, I saw police officers who got caught up in the emotion of that pursuit and lost control of themselves and lost control of the situation.

BERMAN: John Miller, a plausible explanation from Michael Fanone there. Do you think that is what you saw there? And then take that a step further, what did you see when he was on the ground not getting the treatment that Sanjay was just saying before he obviously needed?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, first, dealing with the police officers, there's a lot of screaming and yelling, but there doesn't seem to be much tactical planning. On the case of Mr. Nichols, you know, they keep saying, give us your hands, give us your hands. Clearly, he doesn't want to be handcuffed. Clearly, he doesn't understand what he did or why he's being arrested. And that's an issue.

But the second piece is there are a number of tactical ways to go with that. One is you could handcuff one wrist and have an officer maintained that arm, get the other wrist, put another handcuff on that arm, bring the handcuffs together. There are arrest tactics. But this just seemed to spiral out of control with a large number of officers on the scene trying to get control of one person.

When you get to the medical situation, though, and having been through the EMT training at the NYPD, all EMTs are trained exactly the same way. Assess scene safety. Is it safe for me to render aid? Okay, he's handcuffed, there's a lot of cops there, it's safe. Determine the number of patients. Looks like we have just one here. Determine the mechanism of injury. What is the injury? How did it occur? Or the nature of the illness.


Number three is where everything seemed to go in slow motion. You would ask why, how. There are two possibilities there. One is that the police officer said, we had a terrible fight with this guy and we hit him numerous times in the head. And then you have to go back through the tapes and see if that conversation ever happened and talk to those EMTs.

The other is that they may have said to the EMTs or the medical personnel exactly what they were saying to each other, which we heard on the video, which is, we think this guy is high on something, he's out of it, and it took a lot of trouble to get him handcuffed, which may have lessened their sense of urgency. But from a medical standpoint, they didn't go through the steps that they are trained to.

BERMAN: Yeah, we certainly did not hear them say, at least, what we listened to so far, he's been hit in the head a number of times which may have affected how they treated him.

Much more in a second, including with Andrew McCabe, former deputy director of the FBI, right after a quick break.


BERMAN: Back now with our panel in the wake of all we saw tonight and all we could see as the five ex-cops charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of Tyre Nichols go to trial, as other investigations pan out, and as Memphis and the country come to grips with all of it.


Andrew McCabe, I do want to start on the investigation. Talk to me about that because there is an investigation ongoing. I'm sure the video will be the key piece of evidence in all of it. What else is happening behind the scenes?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Yes, absolutely John. Certainly, on the local side, with the charges that we are aware of, that investigation will continue. I think first and foremost, to identify other people who might need to be caught up in the investigation as well. We've heard about the two sheriff's deputies who have now been suspended, pending investigation. Of course, we don't know what's happening with the EMTs.

But there is also a parallel federal investigation that's looking at this through the lens of determining whether these officers unlawfully denied or impinged upon Tyre Nichols's constitutional rights. And there's all sorts of constitutional rights that appear to have been violated by the pretty obvious, you know, horrendous acts they inflicted upon him in that beating.

I should also say, John, I think one of the things that will characterize those investigations as they go forward and ultimately the perceptions of jurors or people who sit in judgment of the officers is that second interaction, the beating in the second interaction, it is replete with a -- with a -- there's a vindictiveness to it. Right?

There is -- it almost feels like a retaliation, from the way they beat him, the things they said while they were doing it, the threats, the taunting.

You know, they -- it comes off as if these men are getting back at Tyre Nichols for embarrassing them, for resisting their authority, for making them chase him, and it's so over-the- top that it appears on its face to be unreasonable. It is that unreasonable standard that will work against them in both prosecutions.

BERMAN: And there are definitely questions about why, what caused that specifically within those four minutes.

Michael Fanone, back to you. Again, looking at the video, I wonder what you make of the apparent -- I don't know if it was difficulty they seemed to have in getting him in handcuffs, if that's what they wanted to do, at least at first. What did you see them trying to do and maybe an explanation for why they couldn't make it happen? FANONE: John, I spent nearly my entire career, which spanned 20

years, working in units like this, proactive police units charged with pursuing violent criminals, narcotic traffickers, and people that commit crimes with firearms.

When you place a person under arrest, trying to gain custody or control over them and they don't want you to gain control over them, it doesn't matter whether they are on some type of narcotics or just sober. It is very difficult if they don't want you to gain control of them. It can take multiple officers.

So, to me, clearly, there were tactical missteps here. At one point, it seemed like the officers were working against one another and were caught up in the chaos of the moment. There were clearly decisions that were made that escalated this situation to a point where Mr. Nichols lost his life and did not deserve that. Yes.

BERMAN: And just finally, Michael, what does this do to morale in a department?

FANONE: It's horrible for morale. You know, number one, you have 800 -- 800,000 law enforcement officers in this country that are watching this and are going, here we go. You know, this is going to cause more contentious incidents with members of the community. Any trust that we may have built since the last time this happened is gone. And not only that, it causes a lot of distrust amongst law enforcement officers themselves.

BERMAN: Michael Fanone, I do appreciate that perspective, hearing from someone who has been there. Thank you. And thank you all for helping us understand this. You all come from different parts of the community.

Coming up, Don Lemon's conversation with the mother and stepfather of Tyre Nichols.



LEMON: Earlier tonight, I was fortunate enough to speak with the parents of Tyre Nichols along with their attorney, Benjamin Crump, who was on with us earlier, by the way. She told us about the moment that police came to her door, the story they told her about what have happened, the moment that she went to the hospital to see her son.


LEMON: So, I am joined now by Rowvaughn and Rodney Wells, the parents of Mr. Nichols here and of Tyre Nichols, and also Benjamin Crump, the family attorney. Twenty days since this happened.


LEMON: Without your baby.

WELLS: Yes. Yes, this is hard. No, I don't have my baby. I will never have my baby again.


But I do know that he was a good person and that all this -- all the good in Tyre will come out.

LEMON: Ma'am, when did you first learn about this? How did you hear?

WELLS: The Memphis Police Department banged on our door approximately around -- between 8:30 and 9:00, asking if I knew Tyre Nichols. And we say, yes, what's going on? He's been arrested. Arrested for what? DUI. DUI? My son don't drink like that. What do you mean DUI? Well, we had to pepper spray him and tase him. So, he is being attended to by the paramedics. And we'll send him to the hospital. And then after that, he'll go to booking.

Around 4:00 in the morning, the doctors called from St. Francis and said, Mrs. Wells, do you know your son is in the hospital? And I said, yes, I was advised by the police officers. He said, why aren't you here? And I said, the police officer said that I couldn't come because he was under arrest.

The doctor proceeded to tell me that my son had went into cardiac arrest and that his kidneys were failing. When my husband and I got to the hospital, and I saw my son, he was already gone. They had beat him to a pulp. He had bruises all over him. His head was swollen like a watermelon. His neck was busting because of the swelling. They broke his neck. My son's nose looked like an S. They actually just beat the crap out of him.

LEMON: She didn't see the video. You saw the video.


LEMON: What are we going to see, Rodney?

RODNEY WELLS: I didn't want her to see the video or hear the video. It was our attorney's request that she stay in there as long as she could. She heard one word and had to leave out of the room. And I was -- when they initially were pulling him out of the car, he said, what did I do?

WELLS: That's what he said.

RODNEY WELLS: He said, what did I do? Why are you all doing this to me? What did I do? And they proceeded to just snatch him out of the car and was trying to wrestle with him to the ground. I saw officers hitting on him. I saw officers kicking him. One officer kicked him like he was kicking a football a couple of times.

And -- but the most telling thing about the video to me was there maybe 10 officers on the scene and nobody tried to stop it or even after they beat him and popped him up against the car, no one rendered aid to him whatsoever. They walked around, smoking cigarettes like it was all calm and like, you know, bragging about what happened.


LEMON: RowVaughn and Rodney Wells along with the family attorney there, Benjamin Crump, in a very emotional interview. There's other major news to report to you tonight, a deadly attack at a synagogue in Jerusalem on Holocaust Remembrance Day. The latest from Israel plus reaction from the White House, that's next.




BERMAN: There was a massacre at a synagogue in Jerusalem today on Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is being described as a heinous terror attack by the White House, which extended U.S. full support to Israel earlier. At least seven are dead along with the Palestinian gunman.

CNN's Hadas Gold has the latest from Jerusalem.


HADAS GOLD, CNN MEDIA AND GLOBAL BUSINESS REPORTER: John, Israeli police say this attack started around 8:15 here in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood of northeast Jerusalem. They say the attacker came up to a synagogue. It is Friday night, shabbat, Synagogue was likely full of worshipers there for services. The attacker began shooting people as they were exiting the synagogue.

As of right now, five men and two women were killed. At least three others were injured. Among them, a 15-year-old boy who is still in hospital.

The attacker then got back into his car and started driving down the street behind me. I want to actually step to the side because you can see this white sedan that he was driving because that is the place where he ultimately encountered Israeli police who are responding to the situation and where he was ultimately shot and killed.

Now, Israeli police are identifying the attacker as a 21-year-old Palestinian, a resident of east Jerusalem. They are calling this a terrorist attack. In fact, one of the worsts, they say, that they have seen in recent memory.

This attack is coming not in a vacuum. It has been a very violent two days in this region. Thursday was the deadliest day for Palestinians in the West Bank in over a year. There was an Israeli military raid in Jenin, the occupied West Bank. The Israeli military say that they were targeting Islamic Jihad militants. At least nine were killed in the attack. We know at least one of them was a civilian bystander, a woman in her 60s.


Another Palestinian was killed later in the day in further clashes elsewhere. And then later that evening, rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. Israel responded with airstrikes.

So, already, the tensions were sky-high here. Officials were already concerned about things spiraling out of control. And then this attack tonight, seven killed, at least three injured.

This is a big test for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who actually just recently came back into power. Take a listen to what he had to say tonight.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translator): There is a need to act with determination and composure. I call on the people not to take the law into their own hands. For that purpose, we have an army, police, and security forces.

GOLD: This will be a major test for this new moment. Benjamin Netanyahu is now the new prime minister, but his government is the most right-wing in Israeli history. Some members of his cabinet, his ministers, are considered far-right politicians. It will be a big question about how this government will choose to respond to this attack to the situation.

I should also note, in the timing of this, U.S. Executive State Antony Blinken, he is expected to be visiting this region on preplanned visit in the coming days. He is expected to sit down with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. His visit could not come at a more tense and volatile time here. The Palestinians cutting off security coordination with Israelis after the raid in Jenin and now this attack tonight. There will be a lot on the table for the U.S. secretary of state. John?


BERMAN: Hadas Gold, thank you so much for that report. A painful, painful night. We will be right back.