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Chauvin Murder Trial Testimony; Professionals Dread Returning to Office; Tishaura Jones is Interviewed about Becoming St. Louis' Mayor. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired April 08, 2021 - 08:30   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Getting a lot of attention about this bit of audio that we can hear and how both the defense and the prosecution and asked an expert witness about it.

Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'm going to ask you, sir, to listen to Mr. Floyd's voice.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you hear that?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did it appear that Mr. Floyd said, I ate too many drugs?


FLOYD: (INAUDIBLE). I ate (ph) too (ph) many drugs. Please. Please! Please, I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Having heard it in context, you're able to tell what Mr. Floyd is saying there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I believe Mr. Floyd was saying, I ain't do no drugs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that's a little different than what you were asked about when you only saw a portion of the video, correct?



HILL: Two very different approaches to that audio, which, you know, as we've been talking about all morning is hard to discern, period, full stop. Elliot, who came out on top after those exchanges?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think -- sorry, Erica. Look, I don't think anybody did because there's no reasonable conclusion that anyone can draw from listening to that video. Now it's certainly in the defense's interest to throw a lot of things up there to try to create doubt in the minds of the jury, but you cannot -- I listened to it multiple times, on my own television, and it's just, you cannot come away from that with a clear conclusion. And the notion that either side seems to be thinking that you can is -- I would even go as far as to say foolish.

Look, this case is not going to rise and fall on the strength of that one sentence. And what the prosecution has already put on the record quite clearly is that nine minute -- nine-plus minute video. That's where -- and, of course, the question is to how George Floyd died. But this one sentence, a lot is being made of it. The defense has done its job. But it's not going to change the outcome of the case pretty dramatically.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Joey, what's your view on that?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Look, my view is, I agree, it's inaudible. And you could review it and listen and listen and you could come to different conclusions as to what it says.

Now, to me, it's not really what he said, it's what was the effect of the death. Now, remember what happens. If you're the defense, you're going to seize on the narrative that it's all about the drugs. He was involved in drugs. He has a drug history. He ingested drugs just prior to this. As a result, he's dead because of the drugs, right?

But the fact is, if you're the prosecutor, you're going to say, keep your eye on the prize. We're going to base this upon what you believe he said or didn't say and we all have difference as to what that could be? This is about cause of death and this is about what was a substantial cause of the death. And if you're the prosecutor you're going to say that the drugs very well may be a cause if you want to concede that even. But the fact is, if it is a cause, you don't have to establish as a prosecutor, John, it's the sole cause, right? The fact is, is that you just have to demonstrate that the kneeling of the knee on the neck is a substantial cause, case closed, ladies and gentlemen, keep your eye on the prize. And I think that will be the narrative of the prosecution.

HILL: You know, one other thing that stood out to me in terms of reaction from Charles Ramsey this morning is, he was noting, and I'm just looking down at my notes here, he was noting that even if George Floyd had said, I ate too many drugs, there was a duty of care here, Elliot, for the officers. So that duty of care, according to, you know, former Commissioner Ramsey was, if someone said to you, I ate too many drugs, if you're the responding officer and now this suspect is in your care, you should have been calling to get his stomach pumped if he ate too many drugs.

WILLIAMS: Right. HILL: Is -- could this backfire on the defense?

WILLIAMS: It could. Number one, get his stomach pumped. Number two, later on in the circumstance where they're interacting with him, where was the CPR or any attempts to resuscitate him? None of those things were done. So this whole question of, I ate too many drugs and, moreover, if you are to believe, as the defense wants you to, that he did die of a drug overdose or from some other substances in his body, you have to then suspend all disbelief and assume that he just happened to expire at this moment that, oh, by the way, he was also being asphyxiated by another individual with a knee on his neck for nine minutes. It just defies logic and reason. They've got to put it up there, but it just -- it's a stretch.

BERMAN: Elliot, if you can, you wrote an interesting op-ed last night which addresses something that we've been hearing quite a bit the last few days. There's this notion out there that's been raised on our air and others that somehow the prosecution is over prosecuting the case in the sense that they're calling too many witnesses, they're hammering their points home for too long.

What do you say to that?

WILLIAMS: Yes, it's two things, John. Number one, this whole notion of reasonable doubt that we all know from watching "Law & Order," it's a very high standard to beat in any case, right? And let alone when you're prosecuting police officers, which the public overwhelmingly is reluctant to do, it's just hard to do.


What this prosecution has to do to overcome doubts is hit this jury over the head with evidence and get enough prosecutors -- pardon me, enough police officers, experts and eyewitnesses and so on to overwhelm them to avoid this notion of doubt. It's not just a normal criminal case where you've got to hit that burden. You've got to hit that burden and overcome society's predisposition against prosecuting police officers. And then, you know, you put race on top of that and sort of biases that people carry into the criminal justice system and there's a big burden prosecutors have. So I just don't buy this argument that prosecutors are gilding the lily or putting too much evidence on. They couldn't possibly put too much evidence on in this particular case.

BERMAN: Joey, very quickly, your view on that?

JACKSON: I agree. I think excellent op-ed. This is not just any case, to be clear. And I think what we're seeing in this case is usually you have police protecting police. Not here.


JACKSON: You have a sergeant of 27 years saying, guess what, that's not what we're trained to do and that was excessive. You have the police chief come in and say, you know what, this is about the sanctity of life. That's not protecting the sanctity of life. You have a person, Lieutenant Zimmerman, 40 years on the force, saying he should have stopped. The parade goes on.

And so to Elliot's excellent point and with respect to the op-ed made today, you know, police convictions are rare in itself. Indictments are rare, much less prosecutions and convictions. So you have to make a compelling case. I think the prosecution is doing just that.

BERMAN: Joey, Elliot, thank you very much.

JACKSON: Thank you, John.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

HILL: New, weekly jobless claims just released. So is the economy still moving in the right direction? We're going to bring you those numbers, next.



BERMAN: So just into CNN, jobless claims up last week as the economy tries to recover from the pandemic.

CNN's Julia Chatterley with the new numbers.



It's still an ugly report. A further 744,000 people filing for unemployment benefits in the past week alone. That's higher than expected. In addition to that, a further 151,000 people getting pandemic related support. It's a worse number than expected. If you compare to what we saw in January, it's still lower. But these numbers simply aren't coming down quickly enough.

What we have to remember here is not all these people are going to actually get access to benefits. So the best way to look at this is just the high degree of uncertainty. We are still in crisis mode. The final point, there's still more than 18 million people getting some form of aid. The hope is that we can add around 4 million jobs in the next couple of months then we start to see these numbers coming down.

But, Erica, I'll hand back to you and say, this is really work in progress and there's lots of work still to do.

HILL: Yes, that's for sure.

Julia, thank you.

Well, meantime, employers are preparing to bring workers back to offices. For some, the prospect of returning to the workplace is giving them pause.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich has more.


TOM MARTINEZ, WORKS FROM HOME: That's it. That's my commute.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For Tom Martinez and millions of other Americans, this has been the morning commute to work. In homes across America, work from home is the new way to work.

YURKEVICH (on camera): Do you feel like you were able to do your job from home?

T. MARTINEZ: Oh, absolutely. Pretty much everything that I do relies on digital tools. So I'm in front of a computer 90 percent of the time anyway.

YURKEVICH (voice over): Martinez works for a major publisher. In a year, a lot has changed. He's moving to upstate New York, his 11-year- old son Logan, who has ADHD, is thriving in virtual learning.


YURKEVICH: And he loves working from home.

T. MARTINEZ: At first I wasn't sure what that would mean, but I think now I've seen that there are a lot of benefits to not having to perform tasks in such a very compartmentalized and rigid order.

YURKEVICH: But now he says his company, like others, is figuring out how to bring employees back into the office.

Citigroup says they hope to have 30 percent of their U.S. workforce in the office this summer, while New York City plans to bring back 80,000 city employees starting next month.

Taylor Seegmiller, a psychotherapist, says she could be back in the office within 30 days.

YURKEVICH (on camera): What is your level of comfort and anxiety?

TAYLOR SEEGMILLER, WORKS FROM HOME: I would say definitely some anxieties, definitely some anticipation.

YURKEVICH (voice over): For the past year, Seegmiller has seen her patients virtually and says she's shared concerns with her employer about a return to in-person work.

SEEGMILLER: We've talked about some of the concerns with being in very small rooms, face to face. Sometimes those rooms don't have windows. A lot of times they're not very well ventilated. You know, it's trying to find a balance between what is the best care for somebody versus what is the safest for everybody.

YURKEVICH: But even as vaccinations ramp up, 55 percent of adults say returning to pre-pandemic life right now would be a moderate to large risk to their health and well-being. Spotify, which has 3,000 U.S. employees, says they can now work from anywhere. KATARINA BERG, CHIEF HR OFFICER, SPOTIFY: But what we're aiming for is

that 100 percent freedom of flexibility.

YURKEVICH: Chief HR Officer Katarina Berg says the pandemic proved their new model will work long term.

BERG: Productivity and efficiency did not go down. I think it is the future of work. I think that is what we're going to see. In some industries and businesses earlier and in some others a bit later.

YURKEVICH: This last year has shifted priorities for both companies and employees. They've also changed for Martinez.

T. MARTINEZ: We'd all come home exhausted. We'd barely have a conversation. But now we're all together all the time, working together, taking time and benefiting from it tremendously. People are starting to value the moments we have together. That's something that maybe we were taking for granted for a minute there.


YURKEVICH: Companies are taking several things into account when they're bringing people back to work. They're looking at CDC guidance, the speed of vaccinations. But they're also surveying employees. We heard from several major companies, Erica, who said that their millennial employees are more eager to get back into the workplace, to see people again.


But some people with families and kids want that flexibility.

But one thing is for certain, that these best laid plans will probably change. As we all remember, we are still in the middle of a pandemic with new cases every single day, Erica.

HILL: Yes, we certainly are. Great reporting, as always. You stories, about this past year, as you know, Vanessa, as we've -- I've told you, have just been so important and so well told to bring those voices to us.

Thank you.

Breaking barriers. As the first black woman to lead the city of St. Louis, we're going to speak with the mayor-elect about her historic victory and also her big plans for the city. That's next.


HILL: In less than two weeks, St. Louis, Missouri, will make history, swearing in the city's first black woman as its mayor. Tishaura Jones won by a couple thousand votes earlier this week, running on a promise to reform and revitalize the city.


And joining us now, the mayor-elect of St. Louis, Tishaura Jones.

Madame Mayor-Elect, good to have you with us this morning.

I know you're probably still letting it all sink in at this point, but we can't overlook just how important this is, not just for you, but for your city because representation matters.

I'm curious, what have you heard from the community since -- since your election?

TISHAURA JONES (D), ST. LOUIS MAYOR-ELECT: Yes, good morning, and thank you for having me.

Absolutely representation matters in a city that's 45 percent African- American, 45 percent white, and the rest are other populations of color. We are a majority minority city. And what I heard from voters is that they are ready for a black woman to lead this city, that a black woman has lived experiences that others do not.

And also, I am a daughter of the most neglected part of the city, which is north St. Louis. I was born and raised there, and my plans are to definitely revitalize that part of the city. And I am ready for St. Louis to thrive instead of just survive.

HILL: You know, you mention where you grew up in the city and also that this is a majority minority city. There's also been a decrease, though, in the city's black and African-American population in the last ten years. It was at, I believe, 51 percent. Now it's down to 45 percent. And a lot of that is over concerns that racial issues are not being addressed. Inequities in the city are not being addressed. And there is a massive divide in the city of St. Louis.

JONES: Yes, absolutely. We lost 21,000 African-Americans since the last census. And that's alarming. And we should be sounding the alarm, asking the questions why, asking why black people don't feel welcome in St. Louis, that they would choose to leave. And many young people who go to college don't even think about returning to St. Louis after they finish. So there's a huge brain drain. And so we need to reverse that trend. We need to provide opportunities, everyone to succeed, no matter their zip code, the color of their skin, who they love or how they worship.

HILL: You know, one of the thing that really struck me is when it comes to the police force, I didn't realize until reading up, you know, for this interview the fact that there are two police unions still, a black police union and a white police union for officers in St. Louis.

How do you begin to tackle that issue?

JONES: Yes, absolutely. So we are done avoiding the hard and difficult conversations. We haven't had those. And we also have a white firefighters union and black firefighters union. So this is indicative of all of our first responders. And so, you know, obviously, there is a level of mistrust within our first responders and public safety department, and we have to have the hard and difficult conversations to heal those divides.

I think St. Louis is long overdue for a truth and reconciliation commission because we have had systemic policies that have increased inequalities for decades and for generations. And that has to stop.

HILL: You talk about maybe a reconciliation commission and starting that piece of the puzzle, but how do you start the conversation initially? I mean you said it's time for the tough conversations. You can't avoid them any longer. Do you -- I mean is it your sense that there's a willingness to just start the conversation, to come to the table?

JONES: Yes, absolutely, because when I look at the support that I received across this city, it was multigenerational and multiethnic, multiracial. So I won 18 out of 28 wards. And not only in March, but also in -- yesterday or a couple of days ago. And so that mean -- that signals to me that we are ready to have these tough conversations. And it has to come from leadership. It has to come (INAUDIBLE) because (INAUDIBLE) by example.

HILL: YOU know, and we've talked so much over the last couple of weeks about the new voting law in Georgia. Things changed in St. Louis before your election, but sort of went in the other direction.

How much do you think this, you know, approval voting system has gotten you to the point where there is more opportunity for conversation?

JONES: Well, in previous elections, we were being governed by the minority. You could win mayor with only winning 32, 33 percent of the vote. And so what we saw our new voting system allows for voting by -- or being governed by the majority. And, obviously, 52 percent of the voters in St. Louis elected me on Tuesday.

And so I think that, especially with our last election with the vote being so split, there were seven candidates in the -- our current mayor, our outgoing mayor won with 32 percent of the vote. And people wanted a runoff. That's all of the text messages I received. You know, when's the run-off? Is it top two? You know, what can we do? They felt cheated. And now they feel like their voices are being heard.


HILL: Really quickly, I do want to point out, you are fully vaccinated. I know you're going to use that to encourage more people in your city to follow that lead. But I do want to ask you about your son. You're not just a black woman in terms of representation. You are a mother of a 13-year-old son. You're a single mother. He had a lot to do with the fact that today you are the mayor-elect.

How's he feeling this morning looking at you?

JONES: He's so proud. He's so proud. But also, he feels like (INAUDIBLE) safe. We were having a conversation before I started running about what a mayor does and he asked, well, mommy, are you going to be (INAUDIBLE)? And I said, yes. Indirectly, I -- the police chief will report to me. And he said, well, that means I'm going to be safe. And that hit me like a ton of bricks because his mom should haven't to become mayor in order for him to feel safe with interactions with our law enforcement or any child.

And so I want to build a St. Louis where my son doesn't feel afraid and my son is able to be a little boy, a little black boy and explore and learn and make mistakes and not have to lose his life over it.

HILL: And he will not be the only one who will be able to do that.

Madam Mayor-Elect, thank you for joining us this morning. We look forward to continuing the conversation.


JONES: Thank you.

HILL: CNN's continuous -- coverage, rather, continues right after this.

BERMAN: And our continuous coverage.

HILL: And our continuous coverage.

BERMAN: Continues.

HILL: We're very busy.