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Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield

Father Dies in Police Confrontation; Police Confrontations Caught on Video; : Boston Bombing Suspects and Friends -- Questions Remain; Sollecito Says Knox Behaved Strangely

Aired February 26, 2014 - 12:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: It is perhaps the biggest what-if in Boston's history. Could the marathon bombing have been prevented if only police had connected the dots in a mysterious triple murder a year-and-a-half earlier? We're going to talk with a reporter whose pieced together some very disturbing details.

Also this hour, police called in to deal with a dispute between mother and daughter, and somehow the father ends up dead. And, yes, the camera was rolling when police piled on.

And, he stood firmly behind Amanda Knox through six years of murder trials, declaring their innocence all the way, but is her ex- boyfriend's story starting to change?

Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It is Wednesday, February 26th. And welcome to LEGAL VIEW.

We're going to begin with a tragic story that started as a spat between a mother and her teenage daughter. They're at the movie theater. It is supposed to be a fun outing. Yet in this case, in Moore, Oklahoma, their argument ended with a deadly encounter with the police. Not for the two women, for the father. Nair Rodriguez took video of the final minutes of the takedown on her cell phone.


NAIR RODRIGUEZ, LUIS RODRIGUEZ'S WIFE: Luis, please! Luis, please!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Calm down, sir.

RODRIGUEZ: This is a parent thing. And look how you're treating him. Luis, are you OK? Luis! Luis, are you OK?


RODRIGUEZ: Why you came to all of this? Please, tell me. This - this - this --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got medical on the way, ma'am.

RODRIGUEZ: This person, this -- our youngest daughter, has been treating us like crap.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, (INAUDIBLE). OK, ma'am, can you do me a favor real quick?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. I want you to (INAUDIBLE) control. What I need you to do is - I need an I.D. from you. I need - I need I.D. from you, OK? I understand that there's a domestic here. Someone hit someone.

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, I hit my daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You hit your daughter?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. A crime was committed. It's domestic abuse. We came out here to investigate it. He refused to give his I.D. We tried to get him to. He got combative. That's why - that's why he got put in this position, OK?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, how -- why he's still -- is he bleeding?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got -- I'm bleeding. All right, that's me. But I've got medical here. They're going to come check him out, make sure he's OK. But right now I need your I.D. -



RODRIGUEZ: Yes. I need to record this also. Well, I'm recording.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand that. What I need is your - is I need your I.D., OK? Just stay with me.

RODRIGUEZ: This is incredible. You will see. That man doesn't look for trouble at all!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now I need your I.D., OK?

RODRIGUEZ: At all! Yes, I will give you my I.D. You all -- five men. Five men!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to let medical check him out.

RODRIGUEZ: Training (ph), hitting that guy -


RODRIGUEZ: Just because our daughter --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma'am, listen --

RODRIGUEZ: Made bad decisions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to end up getting yourself in trouble, OK? We need your I.D.

RODRIGUEZ: (INAUDIBLE). Is he OK? He doesn't move!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've got him. They're going to take care of him.

RODRIGUEZ: He doesn't move! You'll kill him! You kill him!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's getting medical attention right now. I just need you to stay over here.

RODRIGUEZ: You're killing my husband!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let them take of him. They're medical, OK?

RODRIGUEZ: I need to -- please, somebody tell me that he's alive!


BANFIELD: That is very difficult to watch, especially knowing now those last words, "please tell me he's alive," he's dead. He did not survive that police takedown. And our Martin Savidge joins me now live from the CNN Center in Atlanta.

It is so difficult to watch that. What are the police saying about the questions now that are undoubtedly going to only get bigger about how this man died?


It's gut-wrenching without a doubt. And the authorities right now are taking a very -- let's look back and just see what is going on here in their investigation because right now they have suspended or at least put on leave the three officers. Keep in mind here, there were three police officers and two members that were part of actually the game warden's office. And they all happened to be at that theater on another call. And then someone came into the movie theater lobby and said, hey, there's a domestic dispute going on outside you ought to see.

The police went out there and it appears they immediately moved in then on Luis Rodriguez, who is the husband, the man on the ground. It is Nair Rodriguez, who is the woman, the wife of 22 years, that's filming, and their daughter who is there.

But as you heard the woman begin to explain, the fight was actually between the mother and daughter, but the police focused on the man. The authorities say that he was combative, that he resisted their attempts to arrest him or at least take him into custody and that he would not provide I.D. But then you see five men get on top of him, apparently in an effort to restrain him.

Now, the police chief of the police department in Oklahoma says he's looked at this. He thinks it's, quote/unquote "reasonable." We should point out that what you're looking at is the video that picks up halfway through the altercation. We don't see how it began. And we don't really know how Luis died. We're waiting on the autopsy that's going to be key, as is surveillance video, that could be outside the movie theater, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Oh, so many questions still to have answered. Martin Savidge reporting live for us. Thank you for that.

I also want to show you something else that was released overnight. It's another disturbing cell phone video of an off-duty police officer shooting and killing a firefighter. The firefighter had just been married a few hours earlier. You can see the Kansas City police officer, Don Hubbard, he's struggling with the firefighter. Anthony Bruno is the firefighter. And Officer Hubbard was responding to a report of a fight between Bruno, his new bride and a cab driver.

But Bruno, the firefighter, ran away. And the officer struggled to arrest him. Now, you can see that Bruno, the firefighter, had been pounding the officer repeatedly on the concrete. Hubbard, the officer, says he started to lose consciousness. And here's where it's key. He said he was afraid for his life and that he fired two shots. Those shots killed Bruno, the firefighter. The officer has been cleared at this point of any wrongdoing.

And another controversial confrontation in Baltimore County, Maryland, as police arrested two people in (INAUDIBLE) early on Sunday morning. A man was videotaping the arrests, and that's when an officer confronted him saying that he had no right. No rights to be doing that. This incident is also still under investigation.

And for the legal view on all of this, I want to bring in CNN legal analyst and defense attorney, Mark O'Mara, and trial and criminal defense attorney Heather Hansen.

Mark, I just want to start off by asking, what exactly are people's rights when they pull out a camera and they start shooting something that's happening in front of them involving the police?

MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, there are state statutes that address that. In Florida, for example, you can't take an audio of somebody without their knowledge and consent. Videotape is not covered in Florida, and I think throughout the states, for the most part, you're allowed to take a video of something that's happening in the public. So I do not believe the police officer is correct in saying they can't take a video of an event that's happening. Cops may not like it, but I think it's a lawful activity and they should be allowed to continue.

BANFIELD: So if -- Mark, if the police approach someone who is shooting a video and they say "stop, I'm going to arrest you if you don't stop," and you don't stop videotaping, are you now resisting arrest or are you causing an additional legal complication for yourself?

O'MARA: Well, you're probably causing a complication for yourself because what you're really guilty of is contempt of cop. It's not a crime, but very often when you don't do what a cop says, you find yourself in trouble. But don't forget, under the statute, that cop has to be performing a legal duty. If they come up to you and say, "give me a dollar," obviously not a legal duty. If they come up to you and say, "stop videotaping," and that's not a legal duty, then they can't arrest you for resisting arrest because you're not resisting a -- the enforcement of a legal duty. So it's an unknown area. But I think cops are going to have to get used to the fact that everybody has a video camera and most of what they do is now going to be videotaped. They just need to get used to that.

BANFIELD: So if and when perhaps they get used to it, Heather Hansen, how valuable is the videotape? Because you heard in the case that Martin Savidge was reporting on, the videotape starts partially in. It doesn't capture all of the before. And sometimes context can mean everything. As they say, devil's in the details.

HEATHER HANSEN, TRIAL & CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely, Ashleigh. And that's why surveillance in that case is going to be so important. You know the majority of the time, the people who feel as though they're being treated poorly by the cops put out the video as that starts. They're not taping the confrontation that happened before. You heard the cop say that he had his own blood on him. If there was a confrontation that caused that police officer to be bleeding, it certainly would be helpful to have that video. So you need to put it in context, for sure.

BANFIELD: All right, Mark O'Mara and Heather Hansen, stay with me, if you would, both, please.

A couple of other things to tell the viewers about.

In Arizona today, just about everybody is watching the governor and they're wondering what she's going to do because if Governor Jan Brewer does nothing, a bill there is going to become law in a few days, and that bill let's companies, even people, refuse to do business with gays and lesbians if they cite religious reasons. She could also decide to veto that bill and then it's dead in the water.

But at this point, it is 100 percent up to the woman on your screen. And by the way, if you're wondering where she stands right now, she told CNN this week, quote, "I'm going to go home, and when I receive the bill, I'm going to read it and I'm going to be briefed on it and I will make my decision in the near future."

Also in the news, the number of undercover air marshals is lower now than in years past. And you can blame budget cuts for that. The exact number of armed, plain-clothes officers who work commercial flights is a secret. But we've seen an internal Homeland Security memo that says they have been cutting air marshal positions over the past three years.

Could the Boston Marathon bombings have been prevented? It is a massive question. It is a big question because there are new questions and connections to a triple murder that happened just a year-and-a- half beforehand.


BANFIELD: Three men who were slashed to death in a drug den, a leading suspect who was shot to death by the FBI, and in between that the Boston Marathon bombings. None of those cases is new. The triple murder happened two-and-a-half years ago. But despite an undeniable connection in the person of this man, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, only the bombings have been solved.

And the more we learn about the other cases, the more questions seem to really pop up about the bombings and whether we ever really needed to solve them at all. Whether they would have even happened. Questions that range from very trouble to downright shocking. My guest has uncovered reams of new and surprising information in a piece that she reported for "Boston" magazine.

Susan Zalkind, I want to start with the first question, and that is this. This is an exhaustive piece that I have read by you. It's in this issue of the magazine.

When you went through the triple murders that happened in 2011, the connection with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the connection down to Todashev, the suspect in Florida, and his friends, girlfriend, the FBI, et cetera, did you find out something that the rest of us hadn't pieced together, that perhaps the Boston bombings may never have occurred?

SUSAN ZALKIND, "BOSTON MAGAZINE": Well, you put together that this is really three stories all rolled up into one.

We've got an unsolved triple murder, we've got a Boston marathon bombing and we've got a man shot to death in his own apartment in Florida.

And the only official statement that we have from authorities right now comes out of court documents related to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev which officially states the FBI's contention that Ibragim Todashev implicated Tamerlan Tsarnaev in that gruesome triple murder in Waltham.

BANFIELD: And remind our viewers, because there are so many details -

ZALKIND: There's a lot of details.

BANFIELD: We haven't had a year since the bombings to put it all together.

The death of Todashev in the apartment in Florida --


BANFIELD: -- at the hands of the FBI --

ZALKIND: Yes. And there were two Massachusetts state troopers present, as well.

BANFIELD: Who were present, as well.

It was immediately after the potential signing of a confession to the triple murders? Is this what this is about?

ZALKIND: Those are the leaked reports. And we haven't had any official accounts about this.

I actually just got a press release just this afternoon saying that the Florida state prosecutor who is conducting an independent investigation into this FBI shooting, he will have his own independent report out by the end of March.

And that's the first official date that we have had that there will be any official report as to what happened in that room.

BANFIELD: In that apartment.

ZALKIND: In that apartment.

BANFIELD: And you're saying this is the Florida investigation.

ZALKIND: This is the Florida --

BANFIELD: This is not the FBI.

ZALKIND: This is not the FBI.

BANFIELD: They said that they would -- because there's all sorts of -- there's all these different versions of what happened to Todashev.

He's sitting at a table. They say he rushed the officers with either a knife, and then in another account it's a pipe. He has a shotgun -- or rather, a gunshot to the head, to the top of the head.

ZALKIND: Yeah, and I've actually been in this room. I've been in this room. In this -- it's a small condo with Ibragim Todashev's girlfriend before she was deported, by all accounts, for speaking to me.

BANFIELD: So, first of all, it's interesting that you break this news right now, that the authorities in Florida are going to release the information, that perhaps the FBI has not had the control over them, if there is such a thing, to stop them from doing so, as they continue the investigation into who may have played a wider role in the bombing.

Do they perhaps then not see that there is a wider role that Todashev and others may not have had anything to do with the bombings at the marathon?

ZALKIND: Like I told you before, all we have is this one official statement, the FBI's contention, that Ibragim Todashev implicated Tamerlan Tsarnaev in that grisly, grisly triple murder in Waltham.

And so you have to -- there is a lot of questions here. My investigation starts with Waltham and there are a lot of leads that local officials didn't go through there.

And then it ends actually in late fall, where I find the FBI's still reaching out to Ibragim Todashev's friends, asking them very, very basic questions about the Boston --

BANFIELD: Well, while that may have been, you know, at least some respite for these victims' families in Waltham who have been waiting and waiting for some sort of solution --

ZALKIND: I don't think that's -- I think that's where you're wrong.

BANFIELD: It's not much.

ZALKIND: I mean, the victims' families are really, really hurting here.

BANFIELD: Devastated.

ZALKIND: I mean, we had a -

BANFIELD: Let me just ask one question. There was one spot where I just stopped and my mouth dropped open, and that was this.

The girlfriend of Todashev is perhaps the only person who can give us any insight what his reaction was when he heard about the bombings, i.e., did she suspect he may have known something about it when he heard about the bombings and the death of Tamerlan, that maybe something was afoot?

ZALKIND: All she says -- she told me she was in the condo with him and he heard about the Boston marathon bombings, assumingly after Tamerlan Tsarnaev died, and he was very, very sad.

BANFIELD: Maybe just sad for the death of his friend or sad for the reality of it all?

ZALKIND: It's hard to say. It is hard to say. We just know that they were good friends, and there's a lot of questions here.

BANFIELD: Shockingly, as good friends, it's amazing he wasn't investigated back in 2011.

It's a great piece. You've done a lot of work. I highly recommend people take a look. There is a lot --

ZALKIND: Thank you.

BANFIELD: -- that you have uncovered and you've written about. Hopefully, we'll get some answers.

When was the date that the Florida investigators are going to release the report?

ZALKIND: They said by the end of March 2014. This is the first time we've ever heard a solid month date of any sort of report coming out of these --

BANFIELD: You'll have to come back and tell us if it sheds anymore light on anything else.

These questions that you found, it's just remarkable, just remarkable.

Thank you, Susan. Good to meet you.

ZALKIND: So good to be here.

BANFIELD: Appreciate it.

Unity may be crumbling between Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend, as the two of them together are appealing their convictions before Italy's supreme court in that murder heard 'round the world.

We've got a live report coming involving some odd behavior and the ramifications of that and the legal cases that lie ahead.


BANFIELD: This is a young woman who just cannot seem to get out of the press, Amanda Knox. We're talking about her again today, because there is yet another development in this case that won't go away.

Convicted of murder, then acquitted, then convicted again of killing her roommate in Italy, all of this, if you can believe it, six and a half years ago.

And here's the update today. Her boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito -- remember, it's the guy whose version of what happened that night matched up with Amanda Knox's version to the T and the dotted I -- he swore up and down that she was innocent.

But maybe not so much anymore.

It's really tough to put this one together. Our Deb Feyerick is watching this new development about what he is saying about her, what he is saying about the incidents, everything that happened afterwards. And all of a sudden, there's this divergence of things.

I'm not sure what to make of it, because much of it is behavioral, not so much factual.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. He has defended Amanda Knox. Their stories have not diverged.

But what is happening now is, there are some questions being raised. He's saying I don't know why she behaved so strangely the morning that Meredith Kercher was found dead.

For example, they spent the night together. She went to her apartment to shower. When she returned, she seemed agitated. She said the apartment had been broken into --

BANFIELD: Going back to the apartment, the shower is the murder scene.

FEYERICK: That's exactly right. And Meredith Kercher was in her bedroom, the morning she is found.

And Rafael said to her, why did you leave? If the apartment looked like it had been broken into? Why did you stay, why did you take the time to shower?

BANFIELD: You saw blood. FEYERICK: And so now he's beginning to see the behavior is strange. Always said the behavior was peculiar.

BANFIELD: Did we know any of those details? Did we know those specifics before?

FEYERICK: Yes, absolutely. And prosecutors basically said, look, she knew what was going on. She is the one who switched around the evidence. She is the one who made it appear that things had been taken from that apartment.

So, yes, so that has come up before. But this is the first time that Sollecito is basically saying, you know what? Sorry.

And even Amanda Knox has said, look, the reason Italian prosecutors went after him is because he's my alibi.

BANFIELD: It will be interesting to see how much this ends up as strategy, because she's not there and he is, and he needs the tougher defense at this point.

She may or may not have to fight an extradition order.

FEYERICK: That's exactly right. And even his lawyer has said, look, we have to do this. We have to separate the cases.

Now Sollecito's on the record, basically saying --

BANFIELD: We'll see if it works.


BANFIELD: We'll see if it works.

Deb Feyerick, thanks for that. Appreciate it.

The FDA is weighing some pretty serious ethics right now of baby- making with three different parents.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has weighed in. He's going to join me, as well as the legal panel, to talk about the moral, the legal questions and then just the humanity of it.

We're back in a moment.