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Miscalculations Contributed to Taylor's Death; Judge Orders Cohen's Release. Aired 8:30-9a ET
Aired July 24, 2020 - 08:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Led to the shooting death of Breonna Taylor was deeply flawed and riddled with critical miscalculations. A CNN review of documents and interviews finds officers were using months' old information and a high-risk operation that led them to her apartment.
CNN's Drew Griffin live with the results of this CNN investigation.
Drew, this was, you know, a serious dig and very revealing.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: John, thanks.
You know, the questions still remains, as you go back to it, not what happened the night of the shooting, but what happened before and why did narcotics detectives lump Breonna Taylor and her apartment in this citywide sting targeting drug dealers and crack houses?
GRIFFIN (voice over): For Breonna Taylor's family, the entire tragic story boils down to one question, why were police breaking down her door in the middle of the night?
BIANCA AUSTIN, BREONNA TAYLOR'S AUNT: They should have never been there in the first place. It should have never happened.
GRIFFIN: A CNN analysis finds key miscalculations, including using months old information led Louisville Police to include Breonna Taylor in a high-risk operation targeting drug houses. Some facts are in dispute. These are not.
Police raided Taylor's apartment under the suspicion she was involved with handling money and drugs for an alleged Louisville drug dealer, her ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover. When it was all over, police found no drugs, no money in her apartment. Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician, who worked two jobs, who had never been convicted of a crime, was dead, shot five times by police.
OPERATOR: 911 Operator Harris, where is your emergency?
KENNETH WALKER: I don't -- I don't know what happened. Somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend. GRIFFIN: To understand how this tragedy unfolded that night, you have
to come here to the door where it began, just before 1:00 a.m., March 13th. Officers for the Louisville Police Department arrived with a no- knock warrant but say they did knock anyway. Sergeant Jon Mattingly recorded in this police interview admits he had limited information.
SGT. JONATHAN MATTINGLY: They said she was probably there alone. So we -- we determined -- predetermined to give her plenty of time to come to the door. Banged on the door. No response. Banged on it again, no response. At that point, we started announcing ourselves, police, please come to the door. Police, we have a search warrant.
GRIFFIN: Inside, Breonna Taylor wasn't alone. She had just dozed off next to her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. Walker telling police the knocking, banging at the door scared them, thinking it could be Taylor's ex-boyfriend breaking in.
WALKER: She's like, who is it, loud at the top of her lungs. No response. So I'm like, what the heck? So then I grabbed my gun, which is legal, like I'm licensed to carry, everything. I've never even fired my gun outside of a range. I'm scared to death.
GRIFFIN: Walker says he never heard anyone say "police." Neither did multiple neighbors who spoke with CNN, including a neighbor whose door is just inches away. What they heard was shouting, banging, gun shots.
WALKER: The door like comes like off the hinges. So I just let off one shot. Then, all of a sudden, there's a whole lot of shots. There's just shooting like we're both on the ground. And then when all the shots stop, I'm like panicking. She's right there on the ground like bleeding.
GRIFFIN: Walker said he purposely aimed his gun towards the ground. Sergeant Jon Mattingly was struck in the leg and was one of three officers who returned fire.
MATTINGLY: As soon as the shot hit, I could feel the heat in my leg. And so I just returned fire. I got four rounds off. And it was like simultaneous. Just, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.
GRIFFIN: Mattingly is on administrative reassignment, along with a second officer who fired shots that night, Myles Cosgrove. The third police officer to fire his weapon, Detective Brett Hankison, was standing outside and fired ten rounds through the closed and curtained patio door. He has been fired. He is appealing. But according to Louisville's police chief, his blind shooting displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life, which his lawyers deny.
RENEE PRUITT, NEIGHBOR: I mean, I was asleep. And I woke up to gunshots. And it scared me. As soon as I woke up, they were just going off.
GRIFFIN: The gunshots whizzed through walls, windows. Bullet holes were found everywhere, in the kitchen, bedrooms, in a neighbor's apartment with small children nearby. Multiple neighbors called 911 asking for police, only finding out later it was the police. One of the neighbors recorded this video of Taylor's boyfriend being
arrested while pleading with police to help his girlfriend bleeding inside. All charges against the boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, would be dropped.
JU'NIYAH PALMER, BREONNA TAYLOR'S SISTER: You could tell it was brutal.
GRIFFIN: Breonna Taylor's sister, Ju'Niyah, who police apparently did not know also lived in the apartment, was out of town that night, returning to find her bedroom covered in bullets and a pool of her sister's blood.
PALMER: When we had to clean up, if I could show you what it looked like in there, you would be like, wow, that is very horrific.
GRIFFIN: Attorneys for Breonna Taylor's family say the police mistakes began well before they knocked down her door.
LONITA BAKER, ATTORNEY FOR TAYLOR'S FAMILY: Sloppy intelligence, getting a no-knock warrant when it was not necessary to have a no- knock warrant.
GRIFFIN: Police got five warrants approved, four were for the suspected drug dealers and suspected drug houses, lumped into that with similar language was the warrant for Breonna Taylor's apartment. According to a source, police told the judge Taylor was Jamarcus Glover's current girlfriend and the warrant suggests Glover was having drugs delivered to Taylor's apartment by mail to be shuttled to the crack houses.
Her family says the information police had on Taylor was outdated or incorrect. She hadn't dated Glover in months. A package police say they saw Glover picking up at Taylor's apartment was likely a pair of shoes according to the family attorney. And despite what officers were told before the raid, Breonna Taylor certainly did not live alone.
The family lawsuit against police summed it up as the incredibly stale nature of this intelligence.
AUSTIN: We just want the truth to come out and we don't want to rush anything and we know it's complicated.
GRIFFIN: Circuit Court Judge Mary Shaw, who signed the warrants, tells CNN in a statement, she spent more than 30 minutes considering the warrant application and subsequently made the probable cause determination required of me by law. Breonna Taylor's death was a tragedy, the judge told CNN. Her death will stay with me forever.
Taylor's family wants more than sympathy and understanding. They want police officers charged with murder.
GRIFFIN (on camera): I'm sure your attorneys have told you that is hard to do in the United States.
AUSTIN: Oh, it -- we don't expect it to be easy. We don't expect the truth to be easy to no one because it's not easy us to. But we know the truth. And we'll -- we're willing, we are, we're going to fight this to the end, you know what I mean? So I mean she's just Breonna Taylor to y'all, but this is our family to us. This is our baby. And she's going to get the justice she deserves.
BERMAN: Drew, that's a remarkable report.
Any response from the officers?
GRIFFIN: John, we heard from just one of the officers involved in this, Sergeant Jon Mattingly, the officer who was shot, through his attorney, telling us he was not involved in the planning. He followed all established police procedures that night, and says, on that night Breonna Taylor was killed that he was just following orders.
BERMAN: All right, Drew, we appreciate all the work you and your team did on this. Thank you very much.
BERMAN: Coming up, the federal judge scolding the Justice Department over its handling of Michael Cohen's prison sentence. Why he's being released from prison again today.
BERMAN: Michael Cohen is set to be released from prison today, again. A federal judge ruled that President Trump's former personal lawyer was sent back to prison as retaliation for his plans to write a tell- all book about the president.
Joining us now is Cohen's new attorney, Danya Perry.
Danya, thanks so much for being on with us.
What time will Michael Cohen get out? Where is he going to go? What's he going to do?
DANYA PERRY, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL COHEN: He's due to be released at 2:00 this afternoon from Otisville. And he's going to be picked up by his son, Jake. And he'll be returned to his apartment in Manhattan. And there he will remain until November of 2021 when his sentence will be over.
BERMAN: You called the ruling yesterday a victory for free speech. Why?
PERRY: I mean, on one level it's a pure, clean victory for everyone in this country's right to speak publicly, particularly on matters of great public concern. On another level, I think it was a great victory for the rule of law and for all of us -- those of us, which I hope includes all of us, who are deeply concerned about this Department of Justice being used as both a shield to protect this administration's friends and family and also as a sword to cut down enemies of the administration. So on -- on so many levels, it was a great win yesterday.
BERMAN: So just to bring people up to speed here, Cohen had served one year in prison and then he was released to home confinement because of the coronavirus pandemic. And then, in July, a few weeks ago, put back in prison.
And the Bureau of Prisons and prosecutors claim -- they claim it wasn't because he was writing a book. What they claim is this. They say, during this process, Mr. Cohen refused to agree to the terms of the program, specifically electronic monitoring. In addition, he was argumentative, was attempting to dictate the conditions of his monitoring, including conditions relating to self-employment, access to media, use of social media and other accountability measures. And prosecutors also said they had no idea he was even writing a book.
So what's your response?
PERRY: My response is exactly what the judge found, which is that that is a pre-textual post-hoc rationale. That is not, in fact, why they remanded him to prison. They remanded him because he tried to exercise his First Amendment rights and the judge so found yesterday.
BERMAN: When's the book coming out?
PERRY: It is coming out in advance of the election. There's another chapter I think that he now will have to write. But he expects to release the book in around September of this year.
BERMAN: Now, it is your job, obviously, to represent Michael Cohen and defend his actions, but -- and prosecutors in the Bureau of Prisons says this is not the reason he was put back in prison. There were the pictures of him eating out at the restaurant, living his life. What kind of message does that send that a guy who was out early from a three-year sentence is out on the town? Is that a good message to send to the public?
PERRY: Whether that was advisable or not is a question, I think, that I can fairly be asked of my client.
Whether or not that was in violation of the rules of his furlough is another question entirely. The Bureau of Prisons, in their papers, has admitted that he was not at all in violation of the conditions of his release. He was permitted to be in the, quote, area of his home. And he was a stone's throw from his home at the time.
So he was completely within the rules. But, yes, it's another question of whether that's use of good judgment or not. And, you know, I think those "New York Post" pictures the following day did not serve him well.
BERMAN: Did not serve him well. How do you expect him to go about his daily life as of this afternoon?
PERRY: Look, I think he'd be well advised to watch his back. They're going to be on top of him. And he is going to be extremely cautious. He -- the conditions of his release this time of home confinement are different than when they were on furlough. For technical reasons I won't bore you with. Though this time he will be confined to his home. He will not be at (INAUDIBLE) or any other restaurant or anywhere other than within the very narrow rules that the Bureau of Prisons is releasing him under.
BERMAN: In this whole process, what evidence, if any, did you uncover that the pressure to put him back in prison, if there was any pressure, was from more than just the Bureau of Prisons or prosecutors? Is there any evidence it was higher up in the Justice Department or from the White House itself?
PERRY: There was certainly pressure. We put in our papers the fact that these orders, both the question of whether or not he should be released in the first instance and certainly his remand came from highers up. Exactly how high up, we have not alleged.
Certainly in certain friend of the court papers that have been filed and also I think as a matter of common sense and inference, one can imagine -- and it doesn't take a conspiracy theorist, I think -- one can imagine where this fits within the pattern and conduct that we've seen from this administration and this Department of Justice.
But for the purposes of this proceeding and this emergency order, that was not at issue. Should Mr. Cohen decide that he wants to bring an action for a civil lawsuit, and -- and discovery is granted, I hope those questions will be answered.
BERMAN: Very quickly, last question. Obviously, the Trump family and, in some cases, the Trump administration have worked to stop the publishing of books in the past. Are you anticipating any action to keep this book from coming out?
PERRY: He was already -- Mr. Cohen was already sent a cease and desist letter some months ago with the claim that he had signed an NDA. As we said in our paper, he doesn't recall signing any such NDA, nor could Mr. Trump's lawyers produce one. So I would be surprised if they don't try again. Certainly there's a pattern there. But I expect just as with some of the previous rulings that we've seen, that that attempt will not be successful and this book will be published before the election.
BERMAN: Danya Perry, attorney for Michael Cohen, thank you very much for being with us this morning.
PERRY: Thank you.
BERMAN: Your work may not be done here. We'll have to wait and see. Thanks so much.
PERRY: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: OK, John, now to entertainment.
Taylor Swift gave her fans a big surprise last night. We'll tell you about it, next.
CAMEROTA: New overnight, the city of Chicago taking down a controversial statue of Christopher Columbus. Crews used a large crane, as you can see, to remove the statue as a small crowd gathered to watch.
Last week, protesters clashed with police as they tried to topple the monument. It is unclear where this statue will be taken.
OK, the Internet's on fire this morning. Taylor Swift dropping a surprise new album called "Folklore." And a self-directed new music video for the single "Cardigan."
Let's take a watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAYLOR SWIFT, MUSICIAN (singing): But I knew you, playing hide-and- seek and giving me your weekends. I -- I knew you, your heartbeat on the High Line one in twenty lifetimes, I -- And when I felt like I was an old cardigan under someone's bed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Swift says she wrote and recorded the album in isolation because of coronavirus. The stirring mellow indie album is already earning rave reviews from critics and fans. So-called Swifties, like Bakari Sellers, celebrating the release online, remarking that it just might be the only good thing to happen so far in 2020.
BERMAN: Yes, we actually tried to book Bakari for the show this morning, but he would not come on because he needed as much time as possible to listen to this album again and again and again.
CAMEROTA: Makes sense.
BERMAN: Who could blame him?
All right, the United Nations reports that the coronavirus pandemic could double the hunger crisis in developing nations, pushing 265 million people to the brink of starvation. 2010 CNN Hero Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow feeds more than 1.5 million of the poorest children every day in schools worldwide through his non-profit Mary's Meals. When schools closed because of coronavirus, Magnus and his team lost direct access to students but that didn't stop them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAGNUS MACFARLANE-BARROW: We've come up with models that allow the community leaders, the parents, to come in a very careful way to the schools and to collect the food that we deliver there, to bring it back home, to make sure that those most vulnerable children in the whole world are still getting enough to eat every day.
Because sometimes it's a very good reason to suspend schools, there can never be a good reason to suspend the feeding of children. Nearly all of those 1.6 million children are still being fed by Mary's Meals. Someone of them have asked me whether that would be possible even two months ago, I wouldn't have believed them. But here we are, at that point, having found this way to keep our promise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: To learn more about how Magnus is making sure more than a million children continue to be fed, go to cnnheroes.com. It's a wonderful cause.
CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, what a remarkable story. I'm so glad we did that.
BERMAN: Have a good weekend.
CAMEROTA: You too, John. Get some rest.
BERMAN: I've got to do a show tonight.
BERMAN: CNN's coverage continues right after this.
CAMEROTA: It never ends.