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Erin Burnett Outfront

Now: Prosecutors Gathering As Jury Deliberates In Chauvin Trial; Protests Outside Courthouse As Chauvin Jury Deliberates; Prosecutor To Juror: This Wasn't Policing, This Was Murder; Cities Brace For Chauvin Verdict As Jury Deliberates; McCarthy Moves To Censure Waters For Chauvin Trial Comments; Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) Is Interviewed About Censuring Rep. Maxine Waters; Putin Critic Navalny Moved To Prison Hospital. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 19, 2021 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We are grateful for what you do. Thanks so much. The first 20 have been excellent. The next 20 will be even better. Appreciate it very, very much, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


BLITZER: Our brilliant Chief Medical Correspondent. He's a source of pride for you.

GUPTA: Thank you.

BLITZER: Thank you. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, the jury deliberations in Derek Chauvin's trial underway at this hour as cities across the country brace for potential unrest in the wake of a verdict.

Plus, the judge in the case is slamming Congresswoman Maxine Waters for telling protesters to get more confrontational if Derek Chauvin isn't convicted of murder. Did the Congresswoman really give the defense reason to appeal or overturn this?

And top Putin opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, moved to a hospital. His doctor warns he could die at any time. What is the U.S. prepared to do about Putin's main rival? Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, a nation on edge as the face of the officer charged with killing George Floyd is now in the hands of a jury. Right now, a group of protesters are outside the courthouse. You can see they're gathered, 12 men and women are deliberating at this hour and they are indeed doing that, not taking a break.

They're deliberating right now left to decide whether former officer Derek Chauvin is guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third- degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. President Biden tonight fearing a controversial verdict could inflame new racial tensions. One senior White House official telling CNN that thinking inside the West Wing is quote, "This was already a tinderbox. It becomes more volatile by the day."

Well, in reflection of that, cities from New York and Washington to Chicago and Los Angeles are bracing for protests and potential unrest in the wake of a verdict. In Minneapolis, stores are boarded up. Razor wire is protecting government buildings. The National Guard is there and more than 100 troopers from Ohio and Nebraska are being called in to help keep the peace if needed.

In Washington, the army preparing to approve a request to deploy the National Guard, the Mayor asking for at least 300 troops. This trial putting a spotlight on policing in the U.S., the prosecution in its closing argument telling the jury the jury that Chauvin murdered, point blank murdered George Floyd.


STEVE SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it. First, when you saw that video, it is exactly that. You can believe your eyes. It's exactly what you believed. It's exactly what you saw with your eyes. It's exactly what you knew. It's what you felt in your gut. It's what you now know in your heart. This wasn't policing, this was murder.


BURNETT: The defense repeatedly telling the jury that Chauvin was acting like a reasonable police officer. A phrase his attorney used roughly 100 times today in the closing arguments.


ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: In this case, the totality of the circumstances that were known to a reasonable police officer in the precise moment the force was used demonstrates that this was an authorized use of force.


BURNETT: Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT live in Minneapolis tonight. And Sara, the jury is deliberating in that courthouse behind you where protesters are gathering and the nation is bracing for this verdict.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And that verdict, by the way, can come anytime now between 10 minutes in the next 10 or more days. It just depends on how much the jury wants to read, look at evidence and how long it will take them to come to some kind of decision.



JUDGE PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA DISTRICT COURT: So members of jury, I instruct you as follows, it is your duty to decide the questions of fact in this case.


SIDNER (voice over): Tonight, after 27 days of trial from jury selection to closing arguments, 45 witnesses and dozens of pieces of evidence, the murder trial against former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd is finally in the hands of a jury.


SCHLEICHER: Use your common sense, believe your eyes ...


SIDNER (voice over): Chauvin who is charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and one count of manslaughter has pleaded not guilty.


SCHLEICHER: That force for nine minutes and 29 seconds, that killed George Floyd. That he betrayed the badge and everything has stood for it.

NELSON: I submit to you that the state has failed to meet its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.


SIDNER (voice over): The defense tried to sow doubt about whether Chauvin's knee on Floyd's neck was the primary factor in his death.


NELSON: You can't come in and say George Floyd on one hand, George Floyd died of asphyxiation, but he has a 98 percent oxygen level as because blood is oxygenated.


SIDNER (voice over): The prosecution reminded the jury of the expert medical testimony they had heard from the stand.


SCHLEICHER: Is that common sense or is that nonsense? Not enough oxygen could get to the lungs and that's what killed George Floyd.

GEORGE FLOYD: I can't breathe, Officer.



SIDNER (voice over): Over and over again ...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're stopping his breathing right now, bro.


SIDNER (voice over): They replay the video of Floyd taking his last breaths.


SCHLEICHER: Somebody is telling you, they can't breathe and you keep doing it, you're doing it on purpose.


SIDNER (voice over): Last week, Chauvin pleaded the Fifth which is a defendant's right to avoid self-incrimination. His defense attorney instead spoke for him.


NELSON: Because the nine minutes and 29 seconds ignores the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds, it completely disregards it. It tries to reframe the issue of what a reasonable police officer would do.


SIDNER (voice over): After weeks of laying out the case, arguing that a heart condition, drug use, carbon monoxide from the squad cars exhaust and potentially stress induced excited delirium all could have contributed to Floyd's death. The defense employed the jury to see there is enough reasonable doubt to acquit.


NELSON: He would observe the white foam around Mr. Floyd's mouth. He would consider the possibility that this person was under the influence of something.

SCHLEICHER: This is not the trial of George Floyd. He is not on trial. He didn't get a trial when he was alive and he is not on trial here.


SIDNER (voice over): Before the jury began deliberations, some of the last words they heard was this rebuttal from the prosecution.


JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: If you were told that Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big and the truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin's heart was too small.


(END VIDEOTAPE) SIDNER (on camera): Now, when the jury left the room and started

deliberating, there was a move by the defense to try and get the judge to order a mistrial saying that there was prosecutorial misconduct. And also he was concerned about something that an official, elected official had said, Maxine Waters from California, and he said that that actually threatened the jury and the jury trial, but the judge denied all of his tries out in this trial, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Sara, thank you very much and we'll have more on that in a moment, because, obviously, possible significance here on what was said by the Congresswoman.

OUTFRONT now Elie Honig, our Legal Analyst and former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Stephanie Rawlings- Blake, former Defense Attorney and Mayor of Baltimore and Alan Tuerkheimer, a Jury Consultant. So I appreciate all of you for taking the time.

So Elie, let me start with you. The jury is meeting right now. So walk us through the charges they're considering, these three charges and the penalties if Chauvin is found guilty of any of them or whether they can be on top of each other. I mean, just lay this out here.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Erin. So the jury is considering three separate charges. Each of them stands alone. They will vote separately on each one. The top charge is murder in the second-degree. What the prosecution has to show is that Chauvin intentionally assaulted, not necessarily intended to kill, but assaulted George Floyd resulting in his death.

The middle charge is third-degree murder. The prosecution has to show what we call depraved mind murder. Meaning that the defendant created an eminently dangerous situation, unsafe for human life. And then the lowest charge is manslaughter and the prosecution there has to prove what we call culpable negligence.

Meaning, Derek Chauvin created an unreasonable risk to George Floyd laying over all this as the issue of medical causation, did Derek Chauvin's actions caused George Floyd's death.

The defense actually misstated that today during their closing. They said if other factors were involved, then you have to acquit. That's not correct. The prosecution corrected it. The judge eventually corrected it. As long as Chauvin's actions were one contributing cause, that's enough for the jury to convict.

BURNETT: All right. And just to be clear, Elie, do they have to pick one of those charges. I mean, they could go on none of them, but they can't go on more than one, correct, you got to pick?

HONIG: They can convict on all three.

BURNETT: They can, OK.

HONIG: They can convict on two, one or zero, yes. BURNETT: OK. All right. So then when you look at your times here of

how much time you could spend in prison, obviously that becomes additive and I know the judge will eventually set that as well.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake, let me ask you then about Chauvin's defense attorney voicing concerns after the jury left the room about whether they've been able to avoid you guys, you all and everyone else coming on every night and analyzing this and taking this apart night after night. He specifically brought up Congressman Maxine Waters who said today that this - have said this when asked what protesters should do if Chauvin is found not guilty, let me play what she said.


REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): We've got to stay on the street and we've got to get more active, we've got to get more confrontational, we've got to make sure that they know that we mean business.


BURNETT: And she explicitly said that he was guilty of murder, murder, murder, she said. Here's what was said in court about her comments.



NELSON: Now that we have U.S. representatives threatening acts of violence in relation to this case it's mind boggling to me, Judge.

CAHILL: I'll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.


BURNETT: I mean, Mayor, as a mayor and also a former defense attorney, I mean, this is pretty stunning. I mean, the Judge in the trial said Maxine Waters may have done something to cause a verdict here to be overturned. It's pretty incredible.

STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE, FORMER MAYOR OF BALTIMORE: I think if you would listen to the Judge, he's very careful with his words. So he really underscored the seriousness of what was said and I think everyone understands her background. Everyone understands she come from a civil rights background, she come from a protest background.

But speaking as someone who has been on the front lines fighting for police reform, when no one - when the legislature was really deaf to the concerns that I was raising, we need other elected officials to stand with community members, go to testify, help them understand the process of moving forward with police reform.

They are (inaudible) that want real police reform, that want to rethink policing and we, the mayors, I shouldn't say we, the formerly we, those mayors need assistance, not confrontation. They need allies and they need people to help testify and shape the policy moving forward.

BURNETT: So Alan, the jury, as I said, is deliberating right now. We know their views about this case may be complicated. I thought it was fascinating today to read through everything we knew about them. They had filled out an extensive questionnaire before they were selected to be on the jury.

One juror, a black man in his 30s told the court that he told his wife after Floyd's death, "It could have been me." But then he strongly agreed, again, that was his - strongly agreed that police in his community make him feel safe. A black woman in her 60s also on the jury said when asked about Black Lives Matter, "I am black and my life matters." But then about Blue Lives Matter, she said, my family members are police officer and all lives matter.

So when you look through all of these details, Alan, what does this tell you about what's going on in that room right now likely?

ALAN TUERKHEIMER, JURY CONSULTANT, TRIAL METHODS INC: This is a very diligent jury. They're nuanced and they have a lot of middle of the road tendencies, because the ones on the extreme ends on the margins were eliminated. So as you said, I think there was also a juror who said he witnessed a police harass somebody and at the same time he has friends who are police officers.

So when you look at those questionnaires, it indicates one thing and then goes to the other. So this is a very diverse jury and jurors see things through many different attributes; race, gender, their experiences, their occupations. And the jury is much more diverse than Hennepin County is and this bodes well for a very rich deliberation.

I've seen observationally and the literature is replete with evidence that the more diverse a jury is, the more viewpoints they consider in deliberations, the more accurate the recall is of evidence and they tend to approach deliberations with much more rigor and determination. So it'll be a fascinating deliberation as I said both over the evidence and all of the testimony.

BURNETT: It's really interesting all those points you make and especially as you call them nuanced and diligent. I mean, Elie, eight of the 12 jurors told the court during jury selection that police in their community do make them feel safe. Now, prosecutors today tried to appeal to those jurors and here's how they did it.


SCHLEICHER: The defendant was a police officer. He was. And again, you need to set aside the notion that it's impossible for a police officer to do something like this. This is not an anti-police prosecution. It's a pro police prosecution.


BURNETT: Elie, I mean, obviously directly going at that, that you're not going against police if you find him guilty. That's the point they're making. You're actually helping all of the good police out there, the argument he's making. Do you think that was effective?

HONIG: Very effective. Your goal as the prosecutor here is not to vilify all police. In fact, that would be counterproductive given this jury the things they said in their questionnaires and given probably any jury.

All you need to do is explain to this jury why Derek Chauvin not every cop ever, Derek Chauvin, why he committed a crime on May 25, 2020. And I think it was a very effective tactic in focusing the jury's attention and taking some of the political sort of air out of this for the defense side.

And as Alan said, this jury has been selected by the parties. And as a result, the jurors are going to have something that each side likes. Both sides, by the way, left some of their peremptory strikes, the ability to get rid of certain jurors on use, so that tells me both sides are satisfied here.

BURNETT: Yes. Which is I thought was actually fascinating when I saw that. You're trying this obviously right where this occurred and on both of them left the ability to cut jurors on the table, so that was fascinating.


So Alan, some of the jurors actually have jobs that directly weigh on the case. So when we talk about all this expert testimony that we have gone through night after night, one of them is a nurse who works with patient ventilation and cardiac care. Another has a background in psychology. How do you think that is going to impact deliberations? It was a pretty impressive group of people with some really impressive careers as I read their descriptions.

TUERKHEIMER: Absolutely. It's a very accomplished set of jurors on this case. The nurse, the healthcare advocates, there's a chemist, they'll probably be residential experts on the jury and the jurors will look to them for guidance on some of the medical testimony, so it really affects how the case will flow in the deliberations.

There was a social worker that said she's trying to respect everyone, she'll probably try to build consensus, take out viewpoints in the deliberation, make sure everybody is heard.

And there's a banker, maybe the banker is more analytical and likes to go through all the details in nature. So it's fascinating how these occupations are going to influence how the deliberation will unfold.

BURNETT: Yes. I think it's fascinating, too, because I know I've heard some people say, oh, well, by definition, they asked people in the jury, Alan. If they haven't really been following this, then we'll consider you as someone to be on the jury and they view that as a negative. That these people would be just so uninterested in the world, how could you have missed George Floyd.

I didn't see it that way when I looked at it. I actually saw that most of them had had quite a bit of knowledge. They seem very nuanced, to your point.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake, but when this verdict comes out, major cities are prepared for unrest. We've got National Guard in Washington. And across this country, cities are extremely concerned. You experienced this firsthand as Mayor of Baltimore when Freddie Gray died in police custody. So President Biden says this was already a tinderbox, it becomes more volatile by the day. How worried are you about what we might see?

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: I'm concerned because there's just no way to predict how people will respond. I mean, there could be protests and things can get out of control if it is a guilty verdict or if it's a not guilty verdict. I mean, there's no way to tell. I think what we need to focus on is the way forward. There are cities across the country who are actively working with the community to rethink what policing looks like.

More people need to be a part of that process to change, constructively change, and work with public servants who have used their lives to make our communities better. We can do better together if we are willing to do the work.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much. I appreciate it.

And next, the jury still deliberating at this hour. Will the family accept the conviction if it's less than second-degree murder? A Floyd family attorney is next.

Plus, Congresswoman Maxine Waters says she's non-violent after these comments that, as I mentioned, even the judge tonight condemned.


CAHILL: I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law.


BURNETT: A manner disrespectful to the rule of law. Her Democratic colleague, Val Demings, responds.

And a historic mission on Mars, incredible video tonight of first helicopter flight on any planet that we know of other than our own.



BURNETT: Right now, protesters outside the courthouse as the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial is deliberating inside, deciding whether or not Chauvin will be convicted of killing George Floyd.

Now, deliberations could run as late as 9:30 tonight. And, of course, the verdict could come. Well, it could come tonight or it could come anytime in the days to come. Inside the courtroom today, George Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, was on hand for the closing arguments.

OUTFRONT now, Chris Stewart, Co-Lead Counsel for George Floyd's family. And look, I appreciate talking to you again. So how did Philonise Floyd feel in that courtroom today watching the closing arguments, knowing that this is now in the hands of the jury?

L. CHRIS STEWART, CO-LEAD COUNSEL FOR GEORGE FLOYD FAMILY: I mean, it was something to see. I mean, even Gianna was in there. His daughter was actually in there. She watched the closing arguments with Roxie and it was - the entire family there, watching and just waiting for justice.

BURNETT: So will the family accept a conviction on any of the charges or only a conviction on the most serious charge, which is second- degree murder?

STEWART: I mean, look, we want second-degree murder, but more than a specific charge, we want him behind bars. But of course, like everyone else in the world, we want second-degree murder.

BURNETT: So the defense attorney today focused in his closing arguments saying, well, it's not just about the nine minutes and 29 seconds. He's trying to say, look, it's about everything that happened before and everything that happened after and all the context surrounding it. Here's a part of what he said, Chris.


NELSON: Officers know that they are being videotaped. They know they're being videotaped by themselves. They know they're being videotaped by bystanders. They know they're being surveilled by the Minneapolis Police Department Milestone camera. They know these things.

Do you do something purposefully that you know is an unlawful use of force when you have four body-worn cameras immediately in the area, where you have multiple civilians videotaping you, where you know your actions are being reviewed through a city-owned camera, where there are surveillance cameras?


BURNETT: What's your reaction to that, Chris?

STEWART: It's ridiculous. Of course, you would behave the way that Derek Chauvin did because he felt invincible. He had gotten away with all his other past transgressions. He had gotten away with his prior use of force with his knee. Why would he think he would get in trouble this time?

These are just some poor black people recording him. He's in an inner city. Why would he feel like he could be touched? Well, he got touched. And that's what's shocking to him. He's not worried about the body cams. Normally body cams could be turned off.

[19:25:00] They fall. They aren't checked. He's not worried about that. He knows

how to manipulate the system. But this time, it didn't work.

So when the bell rings and you get caught, it's hard to accept it. So that's why they don't want to focus on the murder, they want to focus on the time period which has nothing to do with his death.

BURNETT: So let me ask you about the comments from the Judge today or what the Judge said about what Maxine Waters said, the Congresswoman. As I played earlier, she said, and I want to quote her, I hope we get a verdict that says guilty, guilty, guilty and if don't, we've got to get more confrontational. And that's just part of what she said.

The Judge responded saying that her comments created something on appeal that could result in this whole trial being overturned. Did that bother you hearing this and knowing what caused it?

STEWART: No. Because her words could have been interpreted as being more confrontational by speaking up. Most African-Americans when they're racially profiled or harassed say nothing. They just take it on the chin and walk away without complaining, without going to the police department and saying something was wrong without saying I was abused. That's what she could have been talking about. She wasn't talking about going riot or do anything crazy. That's ridiculous.

The family doesn't want that. She's not talking about that. They were just trying to take their basketball and go home, because they're losing. And trying for mistrial is the biggest evidence that you just got destroyed at trial. So we didn't buy it. It was a last attempt effort to get away from the jury verdict and we have faith in God that it's going to be guilty.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Chris, I appreciate your time. Thanks so much.

STEWART: Anytime.

BURNETT: All right. And next, Congressman Maxine Waters is not backing down after her comments.


WATERS: And we've got to get more active. We've got to get more confrontational.


BURNETT: So shouldn't she apologize?

Plus, two families united by a death in the family are now joining forces to fight for justice.


[19:31:03] BURNETT: Tonight, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy introducing a resolution to censure Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters over what he calls dangerous comments regarding the Derek Chauvin trial.

Comments that House Speaker Pelosi says Waters does not need to apologize for.

So, let's you listen for yourself to Congresswoman Waters said.


REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): I am very hopeful and I hope that we are going to get a verdict that says guilty, guilty, guilty. And if we don't, we cannot go away.

REPORTER: And not just manslaughter? Right

WATERS: No, no, no not manslaughter. This is guilty for murder, doesn't mean the first degree but as far as I'm concerned first degree murder.

REPORTER: Congresswoman, so what happens if we do not get what you just told? What should people do? What should protesters on the street do?

WATERS: I didn't hear you.

REPORTER: What happens --

REPORTER: What should protesters do?

WATERS: We've got to stay on the street, we've got to get more active, we've got to get more confrontational, we've got to make sure that they know that we mean business.


BURNETT: All right, as we said the judge in the Chauvin trial admitting those comments could help the defense with possible appeal, overturned the entire verdict. Also issued this rebuke of Waters.


JUDGE PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA DISTRICT COURT: I'm aware that Congressman Waters was talking specifically about this trial and about the unacceptability of anything less than a murder conviction, and talk about being confrontational. I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function.

I think if they want to give their opinions, they should do so in a respectful, in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution, to respect the coequal branch of government. Their failure to do so I think is abhorrent.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings. She also spent 27 years with the Orlando Police Department, including as police chief.

So, Congresswoman, I always like speaking with you. But, obviously, trying to get you an understanding happened here. These are really harsh words obviously from the judge in this case, and you could hear the anger in his voice.

Congresswoman Waters weighed in on this and saying guilty of murder as far as she's concerned, first degree murder. That is not even a charge in this case, right? That is not anything that they've been told to consider, and said the people need to be more confrontational.

Do you think that Congresswoman Waters was being disrespectful to a coequal branch of government?

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Well, Erin, it's good to be with you.

And let me just say, this it's been a long painful year full of grief, hurt, and it's exhaustion. And, you know, I just -- as I listen to Congresswoman Waters, I listen to the comments of the minority leader. And, look at the judge has to do it he needs to do, right? He wants justice to be served.

But I really wish when President Trump has said when they looting starts the shooting starts, and if Leader McCarthy would've stepped up and had something to say then, which is direct violence, I think we all would be better.

We saw protests last year, in all 50 states. Why was that? Because the actions of Derek Chauvin, were so egregious, so inhumane, so inappropriate and so deadly.

And so, we have watched over the last year, people exercising their First Amendment rights. I think the congresswoman is looking for justice. Just like the rest of us are.

It's been a long exhausting year.


DEMINGS: And you know, we need to stay focused on this verdict it will come down hopefully this week. We all need to be focused on justice being served.


BURNETT: Yet, the only thing about it, it's interesting you bring -- you bring up the former president. You know, Trump would have been excoriated if he said something like this. I mean, he just would have been -- Kevin McCarthy wouldn't have, but everyone else would have.

Do you think there's a double standard in, you know, not saying which what she said is wrong? I mean, she's saying first degree murder and that people need to get more confrontational. If Trump had said that, people would be saying that he was -- he was saying go be violent.

DEMINGS: Well, I think if you couple that statement from him, you know, Erin, who's talking matters right? And we've listened to the former president basically incite violence for 4 years, and then we saw the culminate on January 6th.

You know, to even make a comparison of what Representative Waters said to his 4 years of inciting violence and what happened on January 6th, is just, that's a -- that's unfair comparison.

As I said it's been a tough year, we all want justice to be served. As a former police chief, I want justice to be served. Every good police officer does.

And so, you know, for Representative Waters saying first degree murder, that is her opinion. We know what the charges are and we know that's not one of the charges, that this particular jury and judge are looking at.

So we all need to I think stay focused on the verdict that is coming down. Pray that justice will be served, and Derek Chauvin will be held accountable.

BURNETT: So, you know, in the context of what you said, you know, it's been an exhausting year for people and it has. And there has been a lot of rhetoric out there. I think we would all say, is it best problematic.

In the Adam Toledo case in Chicago, obviously, the 13-year-old boy tragically shot and killed during a pursuit with police. Police say he was armed at the time, the family's attorney insists he was not armed when the officer fired. So, that's the crux of the argument right now.

One of the attorneys for the Toledo family used extremely strong language to describe the incident. Which another attorney for the family then came on the show and try to walk back. I'll play them both for you, Congresswoman.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you shoot an unarmed child with his hands in the air, it is an assassination.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Poor choice of words, the family is praying for peace and prayer.


BURNETT: You know, you have a background obviously now as a lawmaker, but in law enforcement, right? Twenty-seven years that you have actually been there.

How unhelpful is it right now, to have lawyers for a family putting it where the assassination out there in this environment, that the president himself has called a tinderbox? DEMINGS: You know, Erin, look, we know all, not just in the last year but long before in this country, it would be nice for all of us to watch what we say. Be careful with our words.

And I have to go back to we have watched four years of inciting violence. And it seems like too many people have been silent in those cases, especially my colleagues on the other side of the aisle.

This is a tough time, whenever a person loses their lives. It is a tragedy. It is a stressful time.


DEMINGS: The lawyer -- the attorney for the family is responsible for representing their clients. The court, if that's where this case ends up will be responsible for weighing the evidence and coming up with the verdict.

And so, we need to stay focused. If we all say, again, if justice is what we want, we need to focus on justice being served.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Congresswoman Demings, I always appreciate your time and thank you.

DEMINGS: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, the families of George Floyd and Emmett Till brought together by a tragedy and now fighting for more just America. Their powerful story is next.

And top Putin critic Alexey Navalny move to a hospital, as supporters say he's deteriorating quickly. So what is the U.S. response?



BURNETT: Tonight, the families of George Floyd and Emmett Till, two people whose deaths have become inextricably linked to the civil rights movement in the United States now bonding over shared tragedies, strategies that took place 65 years apart.

And Sara Sidner is back with me for this powerful story.




P. FLOYD: We're going to be on a mission.

WATTS: That's right.

P. FLOYD: And we are here for justice, man. SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The

moment they met in Minneapolis, a bond was formed. A bond born of the deepest sorrow.

P. FLOYD: Do you know how hard it is for someone to look at their child, beaten to death? Do you know how hard it is for people to look at a person who has been torched to death over nine minutes? It's not right.

SIDNER: Each experience to death in the family that became a catalyst for civil rights in America.

Philonise Floyd is the brother of George Floyd. Debra Watts is the come cousin of Emmett Till. They met because Watts lives in Minneapolis, and took to the streets after George Floyd was killed.

WATTS: Oh, my good.

P. FLOYD: Look at it. I think about this all the time, I think about Emmett them and Emmett was, to me, one of the first George Floyds, that people just recognized like, they put him in the spotlight, but he didn't get justice.

WATTS: Still hasn't.

P. FLOYD: Still hasn't.

WATTS: But we are still fighting. I don't want you to have the 66-year journey. I really don't.

SIDNER: For Watts, the pain has spanned generations. Her 14-year-old cousin, Emmett Till, was murdered in 1955, by white supremacists. Till's mother, opening the casket at his funeral, so the world could see the horror done to her child at the hands of hateful adults.

WATTS: And, by making those efforts, opening Emmett's casket, showing the world what his 14-year-old body looked like, with the 75-pound cotton gin fan, tied around his neck, with barbed wire, after being thrown into the Tallahatchie River, she exposed to the world.


And I think the world stood up. The world spoke out. The world was enraged.

SIDNER: Sixty-five years later, the world spoke up again from Minneapolis, to London.

GEORGE FLOYD: Please, I can't breathe.

SIDNER: After watching Philonise Floyd's brother, George, gasping for air, his neck pinned down under the name of an officer who refused his pleas for help.

P. FLOYD: People should die of natural causes, not because you get an overdose of a knee to someone's neck. Not because you have beaten somebody to death, and dump them in the river.

SIDNER: Both families' pain playing out in the spotlight, both creating a wave of change, and demands for justice for all in America.

In Floyd's case, cell phones and body cameras captured the incident of the white police officer, kneeling on his neck, for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. He is awaiting his fate from a jury of his peers.

But the people who disfigured and murdered Emmett Till were acquitted by an all white jury.

They confessed to their crime a year later.

Watts is still fighting for justice.

WATTS: This is what you do. It carries disappointments, but it also carries a lot of hope. Justice is going to be served in George Floyd's case, whether it's in the courtroom, or outside of the courtroom. Justice is going to be served.

SIDNER: The tragedies in their lives propelled both Watts and Floyd into lifelong work that they didn't intend to take on. Both have started foundations to create healing, and, changed through policy.

WATTS: The Emmett Louis Till victims recovery program, is something we are fighting for that affects the families.

P. FLOYD: I'm the big brother now.

SIDNER: Philonise testified in front of Congress right after his brother's funeral. At this very moment, the Floyds are trying to get the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act pushed through Congress.

Both families say this is the fight of their lives for a better, more just, America.

WATTS: Thank you for your strength.


SIDNER (on camera): So, you see that bond there, and let me tell you, when we left, and our cameras left, we went back to pick up a few more things, and they were still talking to each other, they hadn't separated, for 40 minutes. It was a beautiful thing to see -- Erin.

BURNETT: Yeah, I'm sure it is.

Sara, thank you so much for that report.

And next, top Putin critic Alexey Navalny's health said to be rapidly deteriorating, now in a hospital. Is the Biden administration weighs, what to do if he dies, right? This is the number one opponent for Putin, in the entire country. So, what is the Kremlin saying about all this?

Plus, remarkable images tonight from Mars. Something we can all root for, a NASA helicopter just took its first flight.



BURNETT: Tonight, top critic of Vladimir Putin, Alexey Navalny, moved to hospital for the prisoners. Russian officials confirm due to the incredible international pressure that they've gotten. I mean, it comes to supporters of the Russian opposition leader say, his health is rapidly deteriorating, following a hunger strike, he began imprisoned last month, and then some sort of illness he appears to have had that they never told us about.

Concerns are mounting over Navalny's condition, with the White House national security adviser, warning that the administration is looking to various cost to impose on the Russians, if Navalny dies in their custody.

Clarissa Ward is OUTFRONT.

And, Clarissa, of course, has done incredible investigative reporting on the role of the Kremlin in Navalny's poisoning, his arrest, and now, of course, I know, covering his present condition as well.

So, tonight, Clarissa, the Kremlin says there is no information on Navalny's health, which is sort of absurd on the face of it. What more can you tell us about his condition?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, we have been talking to a lot of Navalny's closest allies, Erin, and they are extremely concerned about his rapidly deteriorating health. We heard from his physician over the weekend, who said that his potassium levels are exceptionally high, which is leading them to be worried, he could have a heart problem, or renal failure. The quote we read was, our patient could die at any moment.

His lawyer who also was able to see him today, he's been transferred to a different hospital, in a different penal colony, said he has lost a tremendous amount of weight. That is obviously because he's been on hunger strike for nearly three weeks.

But the whole reason why he went on hunger strike was to protest the fact that he was not allowed to have any outside medical attention. He says he has residual problems from his poisoning in August of last year. The Russian prison system is saying, his health condition is assessed as satisfactory, he sees a doctor every day. He's on vitamin therapy, whatever that means.

Today, as you mentioned, we went to the Biden administration that Russia would face serious consequences if he dies, while he is in custody of the Russian prison service. That prompted, though, Navalny's chief of staff, Leonid Volkov, though, to take a quote and say, quote: With all due respect, I would very much prefer the international community holds Putin accountable for everything that is happening to Navalny now, before he dies. But you have to understand, Navalny supporters believe that the

Russian state is killing him slowly. They are fearful, and that's why they called for huge protests across the country to take place on Sunday.

BURNETT: Right, and, of course, there is the poisoning which you've done such extensive reporting on. Then the hospital that is plain diverted to, where Navalny was treated. Two of the doctors who work there has now died themselves.

I mean, this whole story, altogether, is quite terrifying. This is the chief opposition leader, obviously.

So, when you see the U.S. say, the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, you know, they're upset about this. They put tough sanctions on Russia last week. Biden called Putin a killer, directly, right, which is incredible, to come out and say that to another world leader, threatened further action.


Does any of this move Putin? Is he afraid in any way?

WARD: I mean, you know, I have covered Russia for long enough now, Erin, to know that it's very difficult to know when Putin is moved by something, or when he is afraid of something. Afraid is not a word I would probably associate with him, but he is inscrutable, right? His thinking is opaque. And that makes it difficult to understand.

On the surface, the Kremlin is taking a very laissez faire attitude here. We heard today from Dmitry Peskov, who is Putin spokesperson, he was asked about this U.S. threat of consequences if Navalny was to die, and he responded, simply by saying, quote, we in no way perceive such statements which are voiced by representatives of other states. The state of health of convicts, of territory, of the Russian federation, can opt, and should, not be a topic of their interest.

At the same time, we also heard from the Russian ambassador to the U.S. He spoke to British press here over the weekend, and he said -- well, firstly, that he did dismissed Navalny as a hooligan who is exaggerating his conditions, but did say, Navalny will not be allowed to die in a Russian prison. I'm not sure if that's going to inspire much confidence, though, Erin, from his supporters.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Clarissa. As I said, covering the story and wit us live.

And next, who flew the first airplane? Well, a NASA official calls today a right brothers moment on Mars. The space agency, making history, after its first helicopter flight on the planet. The incredible images are next.


BURNETT: President Biden among those congratulating NASA tonight at its red letter day on the Red Planet. The dream came true for the scientists, six years in the making. Engineers of the jet proportional laboratory in California celebrating an incredible feat and it was.

NASA's Ingenuity helicopter completed a historic flight on Mars, and landed safely back on the surface, 40 seconds of flight for Ingenuity, a 4-pound helicopter and we are really little totally different in terms of atmosphere and gravity. It rose 10 feet above the surface, took a picture and then touched back down on Mars. The project manager calls it their Wright Brothers moment.

Thanks for joining us.

Anderson starts now.