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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Amateur Balloon "Missing in Action" Over Alaska Since Saturday; Bodycam Video Shows Police Shooting of Unarmed Louisiana Man; Parts of Georgia Grand Jury Report Released. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired February 17, 2023 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Right now on EARLY START, an amateur balloon reported missing in action. Was it blown out of the sky by U.S. fighter jets?

Plus, gut wrenching video released from the night a police officer chased, shot and killed an unarmed man.

And grand jurors in Georgia think someone is telling lies. Could perjury charges follow?


ROMANS: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Christine Romans. Welcome to EARLY START this morning.

We begin with what may be a clue that could help solve the mystery of one of those unidentified objects shot down by the U.S. military. A group of amateur balloonists says one of its small balloons is missing in action, its last reported location right over Alaska on Sunday the same day fighter jets downed three unidentified objects, one in that same region of Alaska.

The northern Illinois bottle cap balloon brigade is not blaming the U.S. government for taking out its 32 inch balloon, but here is what President Biden said yesterday.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The intelligence community's current assessment is that they were most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research.


ROMANS: Jasmine Wright is joining me live this morning from Washington.

What else is the White House saying about balloons?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yeah, Christine, well, the president yesterday took the step to really clear up any misconceptions that may be happening or that Americans may have because of the lack of information that the White House has given over the last few weeks, including making it clear to them at least at this point that there is no indication that the last three objects downed over the regions were tied to a Chinese spy program. Take a listen.


BIDEN: We don't yet know exactly what these three objects were. But nothing right now suggests that they were related to China's spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from any other country.


WRIGHT: Now, of course, that could always change over time, but that is something that they wanted Americans to know. This is a White House that was hesitant to take this position, take this step. President Biden you saw him there talking a lot about what the White House still doesn't know and also really being limited at what he could say about what they do know because a lot of that information is classified.

And so, the White House over the last four days under pressure from lawmakers to not only be more transparent about what was going on, but also have the American people be addressed by the president himself, they had really been reticent to take that step. But, of course, President Biden we saw him really outlining at least in the way that he can barring any revealing any classified information what is going on.

And so I want to point you to four points that he made sure to point out in his speech. The president said there was no evidence that there was increased amount of objects in the sky, something that Americans were wondering after those last three were downed in such close capacity. The president promised once again to shoot down any materials that would present a threat to the American public.

Remember, the reason why the president and the White House shot down those last three objects is because they said that they were flying within civilian air space. And the president said he instructed his team to create a sharper rule for how they engage in future objects, what the criteria is to shoot these things down, and obviously sharing that with Congress.

The president also said that he expects to speak with his Chinese counterpart over the coming future really to talk about this issue especially when we think back to that Chinese spy balloon downed over the Atlantic just some time ago -- Christine.

ROMANS: Jasmine Wright in Washington for us -- thank you, Jasmine.

Healthy, vigorous and fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency. That from President Biden's doctor after doing a physical on the 80-year-old commander in chief.

Here is the president after his exam at Walter Reed Thursday. Doctors did find a small lesion on the president's chest. It was no findings consistent with stroke, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease after what his doctor calls an extremely detailed neurologic exam.

Democratic Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania checking himself into Walter Reed to receive treatment for clinical depression. Fetterman is a freshman senator. He was elected in November after suffering a stroke in may of last year.

Vice President Kamala Harris joins politicians, military brass and diplomats from around the world in Munich this morning for a critical security conference.


Europe's security landscape is, of course, transformed by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and now Russian forces appear to be preparing a new offensive.

CNN's Nic Robertson joins me live from Munich this morning.

Nic, what is the prevailing thought in the West about Putin's latest operation?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, I think one of the tell tale signs is that for the first time Russia has been disinvited from the Munich security conference. Generally, you have people like the Foreign Minister Lavrov here speaking, Russia always ready to put forward its position. It is not getting an opportunity this year. Kamala Harris is expected to talk about transatlantic unity, talking about continued support for Ukraine.

She will expect to meet with the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as well is meeting with the Finish and Swedish prime ministers, both of whom, of course, are pushing for their countries to be able to join NATO. Expected here as well, a speech by President Zelenskyy, not in person, by media link as he has done so many times before, likely thanking everyone here for the support, urging them to do more, fighter planes, tanks, ground to air missile systems, air defense systems will be top of Ukraine's agenda.

But Ukraine is not the only thing here. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be here as well as China's foreign minister, Wang Yi. Questions are being asked, will they neat in the margins to discuss China's spy balloon that were shot down recently that led to the cancellation of Secretary Blinken's trip to China -- no confirmation on that, no indications that it will happen. But of course that is something that we'll be looking for here, Christine.

ROMANS: Nic Robertson for us, thank you so much.

Louisiana police officer arrested and charged with negligent homicide in the fatal shooting earlier this month of Alonzo Bagley, an unarmed black man. Some of the footage you're about to see is it is turning.

Here is Ryan Young. He is in Shreveport. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The entire incident took less than two minutes. Two officers arrived at the home of Alonzo Bagley just before 11:00 PM in response to a 9-1-1 call. His wife made complaints, he was threatening her and her daughter.

OFFICER: Hey, what's your name?


OFFICER: Hey, can you step out for me?

BAGLEY: No -- this is the (INAUDIBLE). I've got a dog.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, come out sir. You're disturbing the peace. People, they are (INAUDIBLE)

BAGLEY: Let me put my dog up.

OFFICER: Sit down.

BAGLEY: Let me put my dog up.

OFFICER: Sit down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is intoxicated. That's right.

OFFICER: Let her -- hey, come here.

BAGLEY: I am putting my dog up.

OFFICER: She can put the dog up.

YOUNG: The first officer follows Bagley down the hallway after he says he is going to put his dogs away as his wife continues to yell in the background.

OFFICER: Hey, hey.

YOUNG: The officer realizes Bagley is heading out the door of a balcony and sees him jump from the second floor to the ground below.

He then turns back to run through and out of the apartment downstairs to chase after Bagley. Once outside, you hear one officer yell to the other.

OFFICER: He went that way.

YOUNG: About five seconds later, you hear a single gunshot.



YOUNG: It's been one minute and 25 seconds since officers first knocked on the door.

OFFICER: That's right. Send EMS right now. Shot fired. Shots fired.

YOUNG: For the next two minutes, you can hear the officers distraught and pleading with Bagley to keep breathing and see the two officers administer CPR.

OFFICER: Hey, hey, hey.

OFFICER: No, no, no.

OFFICER: Hey, come on, come on, come on. Come on.


OFFICER: Come on.

OFFICER: No. Come on. Come on.

OFFICER: No. No. No.

OFFICER: Come on.

OFFICER: Come on, man. No. Come on, dude.

OFFICER: This way.

OFFICER: Come on, man.

OFFICER: Send EMS right now at 1019 -- 1018.

OFFICER: Come on, dude. Come on, dude. Stay with me. Stay with me.

OFFICER: Compression. Compression.

OFFICER: Stay with me, man. Stay with me.

OFFICER: Come on, you're good. You're good, bro. Hey, you've got to -- hey, keep breathing. Keep breathing. Keep breathing. Keep breathing.

OFFICER: Stay with me, man. Stay with me. (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

OFFICER: Keep breathing. (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Hey, you're good. Keep breathing. Keep breathing, dude. Keep breathing. Keep breathing. Keep breathing.


OFFICER: Hey, go to -- go to the front of the building. Go to the front of the building. Wave them down. Wave them down with your flashlight. Come on. Run, run, run, run, run. Hey, dude.

You're going to be all right. You're going to be alright.

[05:10:00] Look at me. Look at me. Look at me. Look at me. Look at me. Look at me. Hey, wake up. Wake up. Look at me. Come on. Wake up.

Hey, respond. Come on. Come on. Come on. Wake up. Respond.

YOUNG: But he doesn't wake up. Bagley is later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Alexander Tyler, the officer who fired that shot was arrested today on a charge of negligent homicide. His lawyer says he hopes the bodycam footage is thoroughly reviewed for the facts and evidence.

DHU THOMPSON, ATTORNEY FOR OFFICER ALEXANDER TYLER: Officers are always faced on a day-to-day basis with dangerous situations like that, and at times, where they have to make split-second decisions, where they are in a potential life-threatening situation.

The mere fact that an argument is being made by the investigator in court that he was unarmed does not necessarily mean he is not a threat to the officer.

YOUNG: Bagley's brother, who also viewed the video today, said it wasn't an easy thing to watch.

XAVIER SUDDS, ALONZO BAGLEY'S BROTHER: It took me back to being a little brother, watching my older brother take his last breath and that struck everybody in that room.


YOUNG (on camera): The officer was granted $25,000 bond by the judge, but there are still so many questions in this community after watching this video. You see and hear a man taking his last breath and it has many community members wanting better training for police officers even in a city that is struggling with a crime rate many want to see stopped. But there are so many questions about how the city moves forward together.

Ryan young, CNN, Shreveport.


ROMANS: All right. Ryan, thank you for that.

The Supreme Court has removed a case from its calendar involving the policy known as Title 42. The court gave no explanation, but the Biden administration has already said that the COVID public health emergency that underpins that program will can expire may 11 making the case moot.

Grand jurors in Georgia think someone lied to them and not just on person. So what happens next?

Plus, a father facing charges for a deadly mass shooting committed by his son.

And a Florida woman fighting off an attacker in her building's gym.



TAPPER: Parts of the Georgia grand jury report have been released. And specific charges were not revealed, but we know the grand jury thinks some witnesses may have lied under oath.

Sara Murray has more.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some witnesses may have lied to a special grand jury in Georgia, the panel says, recommending the district attorney consider indictments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is basically the grand jury saying go get him, Madam District Attorney.

MURRAY: The special grand jury would spent months digging into efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election in the Peach State, concluding perjury may have been committed by one or more witnesses testifying before it. The grand jury recommends that the district attorney seek appropriate indictments for such crimes where the evidence is compelling.

This after the special grand jury heard from 75 witnesses including high-profile names like Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.


MURRAY: And South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham who is standing by his testimony.

REPORTER: Are you confident in your testimony?


MURRAY: The grand jury also heard from technical expert, poll workers and investigators concluding we find by a unanimous vote that no widespread fraud took place in the Georgia 2020 presidential election that could result in overturning that election, adding that they heard from witnesses still claiming that such fraud took place.

Because Georgia special grand juries don't issue indictments, their final report is a vehicle to recommend whether anyone should face criminal charges and the judge overseeing the grand jury ordered sections released Thursday, but held back the panel's conclusions on criminal charges after Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis argued against the report's release.

FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We think for future defendants to be treated fairly, it's not appropriate at this time to have this report released. MURRAY: Saying last month she would make decisions on whether to seek

indictments from a regular grand jury.

WILLIS: Decisions are imminent.

MURRAY: The Georgia probe got under way soon after Trump phoned Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in January of 2021 pressing him to find the votes for Trump to win Georgia.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state.

MURRAY: Since the call, the investigation expanded to include the fake elector scheme, false election fraud claims before state lawmakers and efforts by unauthorized individuals to access voting machines in one Georgia county.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, Trump's team is arguing because he wasn't in any of the sections released, this is a total exoneration. Obviously, we don't know that yet. The judge made the call to not have any names released and it will be up to district attorney Fani Willis to decide if she will go before a regular grand jury and seek indictments either for Donald Trump or any of his allies.

Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.

ROMANS: All right. Let's bring in state attorney of Palm Beach County, Dave Aronberg.

Dave, nice to see you this morning.

The report was only nine pages long, and it says the final report will be published at a later date.

What do you expect to see in that final report?

DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: Good morning, Christine. I think that the most important part was the unanimous finding here that there was no widespread fraud in the election. And that is important because that would undermine one of Trump's main defenses. Why would they put that in the grand jury report? They didn't have to. And it was unanimous, not a majority.

But I think they put it in there because I think that it means that the report also contained a part that recommends charging with a crime those who tried to overturn a clean and fair election.


So I think this report is not an exoneration of former President Trump but it could mean the very opposite.

ROMANS: So the report says this, I want to read this line, the grand jury recommends that the district attorney seek appropriate indictments for possible perjury. Do you think that there will be charge or charges against multiple witnesses here?

ARONBERG: Yes, I do, and for perjury as well. In Georgia law, you can add a perjury charge to a RICO criminal charge. So it is really important that the perjury section was in there.

But why should we be surprised that there was an accusation of perjury? Look at the cast of characters. You have Rudy Giuliani who had an avalanche of lies after the 2020 election that led to him getting his law license suspended. And you had Michael Flynn who is a known liar. He is someone who twice to lying to the FBI.

So, why should we be surprised at charges on the table? Now, one thing that it could lead to, it could help prosecutors flip one of these witnesses against one of the bigger fish. So, that is an important section in an otherwise pretty ho-hum partial report.

ROMANS: Do you think any of this a pressure to Attorney General Merrick Garland's investigation on the former president especially nearing a new presidential cycle?

ARONBERG: Yeah, you know, normally the U.S. attorney general would be out in front of a local district attorney. I mean, Fani Willis is my counterpart, she is a first term D.A. and her investigation after eight months is ahead, at least it seems that way, of the U.S. attorney general's investigation. And that is why a lot of people have lost faith in Merrick Garland.

But I think that eventually, he's going to do justice and Jack Smith, the special counsel, the right person for the job.

But I don't think that Fani Willis as first term elected D.A. wanted to be the first prosecutor in the history of our country to indict a former president, but her clock has hit midnight. I mean, the grand jury has come out with this report and it is now time. She said it is imminent and I think that it means, yeah, it is coming. And as far as the U.S. attorney general, they are still taking their time.

ROMANS: All right. Dave Aronberg, nice to see you. Thanks for dropping this Friday morning.

ARONBERG: Thanks for having me, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Quick hits across America now.

The father of the Highland Park shooting suspect pleading not guilty to reckless conduct charges. Robert Crimo was indicted for sponsoring his son's firearm ID card, allowing him access to a gun.

Dramatic video of a Tampa woman fighting off an attacker inside the apartment's gym. The suspect faces multiple charges including kidnapping and sexual battery.

The Justice department taking over the corruption probe into Texas attorney Ken Paxton. He is accused of bribery, misconduct, abusing his office and other criminal offenses.

Coming up, burning cash. Why people in Beirut are setting ATMs on fire.

And next, more miracle rescues in the earthquake rubble in Turkey.



ROMANS: All right. Ten days after the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria, rescuers are still finding survivors.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): How are you, my life?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Brother, where are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I'm in the hospital.


ROMANS: Amazing. That 33-year-old man rescued after 261 hours. And this woman discovered just a few hours before that pulled from the rubble.

CNN's Nada Bashir live in Istanbul. It seems every time rescue teams start to pack it in, they find another survivor. It is just amazing.

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Really is amazing. You and I have been talking about this for days that the window for finding survivors has been closing, but yet remarkably we are still seeing survivors being pulled from the rubble 261 hours, that is how long he spent beneath the rubble. His first question, asking for his mother and his relatives, are they safe.

And that is the concern for so many people in southeast turkey, still thousands of people waiting for news of their loved ones whether or not they may be pulled alive out of the rubble. And of course it is growing more difficult and finding survivors is becoming few and far between. And the focus is I have to say shifting to providing support to those survivors because of course thousands and thousands of people in southeast Turkey have now been made homeless, they are left with absolutely nothing.

And the conditions there are dire to say the least. We're talking about freezing weather conditions, little food, shelter, clothes, medication. We're seeing a huge outpouring of support here in Turkey to provide that vital humanitarian assistance. Meanwhile clinics being set up in ferries for example to be shipped to southeast Turkey. And the international community is stepping up its support for those impacted. United Nations now calling for a flash appeal, they are looking for $1 billion to support those in Turkey.

Secretary-general Antonio Guterres highlighting that Turkey has taken the world's largest portion of refugees, now is the time he says for the world to stand behind Turkey. Similarly, they are also calling for nearly $400 million in aid for northwest Syria because, of course, that region has been heavily impacted.

In fact, we are now seeing aid being transferred across the water from Turkey into northwest Syria, but there simply needs to be more. That's the message from these aid,