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Soon: Jury To Resume Deliberations In Alex Jones' Defamation Trial; Community Response Targets Mental Health Emergencies; Seattle Detective Improving Lives Through Game Of Chess. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired October 07, 2022 - 07:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: We are on verdict watch in the Alex Jones defamation trial in Connecticut. So, here in just a few hours, jurors will resume deliberations where they will decide how much Jones must pay each of the 15 plaintiffs. That includes families from Sandy Hook victims, as well as an FBI agent who responded to the school that day. The right-wing conspiracy theorist was found liable for falsely claiming that the massacre was a hoax.

Attorneys for both sides delivering their closing arguments Thursday.


JOSH KOSKOFF, PLAINTIFFS' ATTORNEY: Alex Jones is a liar. You get that, right? His idea that he is a -- even a conspiracy theorist is a lie. He's not a conspiracy theorist. When it comes to the truth, Alex Jones is nothing but an arsonist. He sets fire to the truth and he spreads that roaring fire immediately from his place in Austin up to Connecticut, to Washington.

NORM PATTIS, ATTORNEY FOR ALEX JONES: Are these the words of a man who for the sake of a dollar has targeted these families, or are they the words of a man who has lost trust in our basic institutions?


KEILAR: Joining us now is New York Times feature writer, Elizabeth Williamson, who has been extensively covering the Jones trial and other Jones trials from inside the courtroom. She is also the author of "Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth." Elizabeth, thank you so much for being with us today.

What was that like? What were -- what was it like being in the courtroom for closing arguments? How was the jury reacting?


I saw a lot of furrowed brows during Norm Pattis, Alex Jones' lawyer's presentation because he was attempting to kind of minimize what Alex Jones has done to these families and the damage that's resulted from their -- from his lies on Infowars for years. In fact, he mentioned that maybe they are exaggerating the difficulties that they've had and the torment that they've endured for all these years since he began, three hours after the shooting, spreading the theory -- you know, hoax theory that this was a government gambit for gun control.


So, I did notice some head shaking in the room and certainly, in the gallery, which was absolutely full for these closing remarks.

KEILAR: Yes, it is a curious approach because of the accounts that we heard from these family members. I want to play some of that so that people can see what has happened in court -- the stories they've told.


JACQUELINE BARDEN, 7-YEAR-OLD SON DANIEL BARDEN KILLED IN SANDY HOOK SCHOOL SHOOTING: I remember one saying that they were at Daniel's grave and they had peed on his grave because they didn't think anybody -- they didn't believe that Daniel was buried. And another letter --

KOSKOFF: These letters came to your home?

BARDEN: What's that?

KOSKOFF: These letters came to your home?

BARDEN: Yes. And then another letter was that they were going to -- they were going to dig Daniel's grave up because he wasn't there.

ROBERT PARKER, 6-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER EMILIE PARKER KILLED IN SANDY HOOK SCHOOL SHOOTING: And this guy just kept following me and he was just in my ear the whole way just -- Emilie is alive, isn't she? She's alive, huh? Son of a bitch, she's alive. For years, I've been dealing with this.


KEILAR: This is, Elizabeth, what the jury has been listening to even as you have Alex Jones' lawyer trying to minimize what they've been through?

WILLIAMSON: Yes. I mean, he even used the term "Dennis the Menace," saying that he was this sort of child cartoon character that -- and a mad prophet who really does distrust government institutions.

But we've heard that from Alex Jones for years. That's his shtick. But when you heard this litany of real reverberating trauma among these families -- people who believe these lies. And as we know, Brianna, Alex Jones has tens of millions of listeners. So it just takes a few people to say I believe this, and I'm going to actually confront these families and defend these delusions with actual violence or certainly, with death threats and other types of view. The trauma that these folks are inflicting on these families. KEILAR: Yes. One of those listeners was actually in a mother's grief

group that one of the moms went to. She was there talking about how her child had died and one of the other mothers said no, that didn't happen. It was unbelievable to hear.

So, now, the jurors, Elizabeth, are going to deliberate. Tell us about the timeline ahead. What does this look like?

WILLIAMSON: So, it's really hard to tell, Brianna, how long this might take. You have 15 plaintiffs in this case. You have a list of violations that, as you pointed out, Alex Jones has already been found liable for. So it may take some time.

The ask here is to set a dollar amount times 550 million impressions that these lies made on social media over the years. There's not a specific dollar ask but each plaintiff needs to be assigned monetary damages. So, this could take some time and some real deliberation because, again, this has to be unanimous.

KEILAR: All right. Yes, that is a tall order.

Elizabeth, we'll be checking in with you in the coming days. Thank you so much for being with us.

WILLIAMSON: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Another big hit and another concussion. So when will the NFL update its concussion protocol? We're going to discuss that with Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. soccer stars calling for accountability and justice after a damning report found systemic abuse and misconduct within women's professional soccer. We're going to speak to the president of U.S. Soccer ahead.



BERMAN: According to a new CNN poll, nine out of 10 adults believe there is a mental health crisis in the U.S. The poll also found that about a quarter of adults are hesitant to call 911 for help, believing it would do more harm than good in a mental health emergency.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta went on a ride-along with one North Carolina city working to make 911 responders feel more like trusted neighbors.


911 OPERATOR: Durham, 911. What is your emergency?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 911 -- dialing those three numbers activates one of the most sophisticated response systems anywhere in the world. Police, EMS, or the fire department shows up to your door within minutes in most cities. But what if the help you need is different -- less physical health, more mental?

JORDAN HYLER, CRISIS RESPONSE CLINICIAN, HEART: Good morning, my name is Jordan and I'm a counselor in the 911 call center.

GUPTA (on camera): So what happens in these situations is that the 911 call gets diverted over here to Jordan because there's some concern that there may be a mental health component to it.

HYLER: Let me just kind of summarize what I heard to make sure I understand what's going on, OK?

GUPTA (voice-over): Jordan Hyler is a crisis response clinician here in Durham, North Carolina --

HYLER: And these are all the calls that are currently coming in.

GUPTA (voice-over): -- and she is part of something new -- something increasingly necessary. It's called HEART, Holistic Empathetic Assistance Response Team.

GUPTA (on camera): So the goal is to say look, if someone is dealing with a mental health crisis --


GUPTA (on camera): -- or something like that, it should be treated differently than the standard 911 call?

HYLER: Yes, in the sense that we, as clinicians, have more training in mental health in just assessing people who are struggling with that.

HEART: Has he ever hurt you physically?


HEART: OK. When was the last time?

CALLER: Last week when he pushed me to the floor.

HEART: I'm so sorry.

CALLER: I feel kind of dangerous to myself. Not anybody else. I would like to go to the hospital.

GUPTA (voice-over): And too many calls like this one, a mother distraught, calling 911 about her daughter.


CALLER: I have a 27-year-old daughter --


CALLER: -- who has mental issues.

HEART: Is she a danger to herself right now?

CALLER: No, it doesn't appear.

HEART: Do you feel unsafe? Do you feel like she's going to hurt you?

CALLER: No. I don't know what to do.

GUPTA (voice-over): And just like EMS, should the need arise, HEART goes into the field as well.

GUPTA (on camera): So this is a community response team and there's no weapons.


GUPTA (on camera): Nobody's carrying weapons.

BEDIAKO: No -- no weapons.

GUPTA (on camera): That's a different vibe right away, right?


GUPTA (on camera): You see somebody approaching, even if they're well-intentioned, if they're carrying a weapon and a badge it's a different feel.

BEDIAKO: It's a different feel entirely -- exactly. But we come truly open and wanting to engage.

GUPTA (voice-over): Abena Bediako, a mental health clinician, has teamed up with Allison Casey, an EMT, and Christopher Lawrence to provide peer support.

BEDIAKO: We are off to see a neighbor who we've encountered before. Our initial encounter with him was through a trespass -- a 911. Someone had called about him living out on their property.

ALLISON CASEY, EMT: This is -- we're actually not far from the --

GUPTA (voice-over): What you are witnessing is one of the most common calls they get -- trespassing.

GUPTA (on camera): And this is private property here, though?

CASEY: Yes, it's owned by --

GUPTA (voice-over): The HEART team works to diffuse the situation.

BEDIAKO: We'll let them know that we're helping you to move --


BEDIAKO: -- and they'll leave you alone.

GUPTA (voice-over): This pilot program was born, in part, after a tragedy that gripped the nation.

GUPTA (on camera): In George Floyd, there was obviously police sent and we know what happened, tragically.

WITNESS: Boy, you got him down, man. Let him breathe at least, man.


GUPTA (on camera): Do you think that having a team like this would have made a difference in George Floyd's case?

BEDIAKO: I think so. To have us there to advocate for him, possibly. To step into that space for the neighbor and for the officers to just give a different perspective.

GUPTA (on camera): Yes.

BEDIAKO: And lastly, if we can provide a resource that you need right now in the moment --

GUPTA (on camera): Yes.

BEDIAKO: -- so that it would escalate. We can be that for them even in that brief moment. It could save a life.

GUPTA (on camera): Yes.

GUPTA (voice-over): If HEART does deem a situation unsafe, it also has the option of dispatching a co-response team, which pairs police officers with a mental health clinician.

POLICE OFFICER: I'm going to dispatch you to a trespass call on (bleep) street.

GUPTA (voice-over): But so far, there are no issues today.

BEDIAKO: We are heading to the location.

GUPTA (on camera): I notice you use the term "neighbor."


GUPTA (on camera): Is that -- is that how you refer to everyone that you're helping -- as a neighbor?

BEDIAKO: Yes, yes -- very intentional because they're not subjects, they're not patients or clients. Like, it could be me that you all may have to help one day. It could be you, you know? So --

GUPTA (on camera): Everyone's a neighbor.

BEDIAKO: Everybody's a neighbor.

GUPTA (voice-over): And so, the HEART team works the streets helping a community of neighbors more anxious and depressed than ever, providing a dose of humanity and, yes, heart in the hopes they can help those who can't always help themselves.


GUPTA: I've got to tell you, I really enjoyed going along on those ride-alongs with that team. It's really gratifying work helping people who really need help.

About 75 percent of the calls they get are diverted from 911. So someone calls 911 and then the call is diverted to this crisis response team. About half of those calls are actually able to be handled without needing to send someone into the field. So a lot of that was done over the phone, which was remarkable. It really frees up a lot of resources.

Fundamentally, what this is about is trying to decriminalize mental health. For a lot of people, they have no other option except to call 911 when dealing with a situation like this. This helps provide a buffer.

BERMAN: It really is interesting to see there are so many different ways you could remove barriers to access for mental health, and this is just one of them, Sanjay. That was really fascinating.

Look, before we let you go, I do want to take a minute to talk about what happened during the football game last night. We had been anticipating a change in the NFL concussion protocols.

But look at this right here. This is a Colts running back getting hit and it's when he gets up that's a real issue here. He was taken out of the game. You'll see him stumble in a second here.


BERMAN: He was taken out and this was clear.

But what is the most important part of this discussion now, Sanjay?

GUPTA: Well, first of all, with regard to changing concussion protocols, I think it's pretty clear based on what we've seen for some time now, but certainly over the past few weeks, that something needs to change here. These protocols can take a while to change. There's a lot of committees that weigh in on this, so it may take some time.

But what we do know as things stand now is that there are no-go sort of signs -- things that would not allow a player to return to the field and -- loss of consciousness, confusion, amnesia. But gross motor instability, which is highlighted there, is one of the big ones.


And what has happened in the past is that people said gross motor instability but only if deemed to be from a neurological cause, not from an orthopedic cause. So there was -- there was sort of this -- they were parsing the language a little bit there. And I think that that's probably what's going to change. They're going to say gross motor instability, no matter what they think is going on -- that is a no-go for return to the field.

I had a chance to talk to Dr. Allen Sills, who is the chief medical officer for the NFL, about this point, specifically, after we saw what happened to Tua last week. Listen to what he said.


DR. ALLEN SILLS, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, NFL: One of the things important to realize, gross motor instability in the protocol is a no- go sign if it's determined it's from a neurologic cause. And so, we've seen situations in the past, Sanjay, where gross motor instability clearly did have a neurologic cause. We've also seen situations in the past where, on video, it looked like it was neurologic but it turned out not to be a neurologic cause. There was an orthopedic cause.

There was a famous cause a couple of years back of a quarterback who voluntarily fell to the ground because he was told to do so from the sidelines.

So, I think that's very hard to judge from video alone.


GUPTA: So, you kind of got the sense of what he was talking about here -- that nuanced language. You may remember that story where someone was told to fall and then they said well, that's not gross motor instability due to neurological causes. I think that that's what's going to be sort of clarified when we hear these new concussion protocols.

It's important. I mean, the idea that somebody, like you saw there, stumbling -- and Tua had sort of the same thing and was put back in the game -- that's a problem. And I think that's what they want to fix.

BERMAN: Yes. It -- I can't figure out a clearer warning sign than something like that --


BERMAN: -- on a football field, Sanjay.

You were a key part of this discussion. Thank you so much for helping us understand it. Thank you.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

BERMAN: The White House looking at, quote, "alternatives" after the OPEC+ decision to cut its oil production. So, what options are on the table?

KEILAR: And one Seattle detective going beyond the call of duty by showing the youth in her community a better path all through the game of chess.

(COMMERCIAL) [07:56:35]

KEILAR: A Seattle detective going beyond the call of duty by changing the lives of young people with a game of chess. With her kindness and encouragement, she uses the game to show kids in her community they can achieve more than they ever dreamed.

CNN's Natasha Chen has more.



NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Denise Bouldin goes by "Detective Cookie."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't judge me, but I don't know how to play chess.

BOULDIN: That's OK. I can teach you.


CHEN (voice-over): Known for her weekly chess club --

BOULDIN: I want you to act, not react.

CHEN (voice-over): -- and for bringing sunshine to the Seattle rain.

BOULDIN: I love to dance.

CHEN (voice-over): The former model and "SOUL TRAIN" dancer grew up on the South Side of Chicago and saw how police harassed her brothers.

BOULDIN: Make them get on the ground, search them, and then they just leave -- no explanation.

CHEN (voice-over): But she also remembers a kind officer at school.

BOULDIN: We could come to him and talk to him just about anything.

CHEN (voice-over): She has now modeled his community spirit and trust, rising to the rank of detective, serving Seattle police's youth outreach program.

BOULDIN: You are --

CHILDREN: Welcome here.

BOULDIN: -- here.

CHEN (voice-over): She mainly works the Rainier Beach neighborhood, designated in 2010 as the country's most diverse zip code based on U.S. census data. She plays with kids --

BOULDIN: Go get it -- get it.

CHEN (voice-over): -- helps them find jobs, pays for groceries, and gives out her cell phone number.

BOULDIN: If someone would text me and say this is the name of the person who did it.

CHEN (voice-over): Yet, her boldest move, starting a chess club in 2006. When neighborhood children first asked her, she couldn't really play.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, I beat you in a chess game.

BOULDIN: I put restrictions on myself. I said that I wasn't smart enough to play chess.

CHEN (voice-over): But she quickly learned.

BOULDIN: Life is like chess. If you're not careful of what you're doing it's going to catch up with you. There's going to be consequences.

CHEN (voice-over): Chess wasn't an easy sell to all children.

BOULDIN: One kid raised his hand and he said I don't play chess because chess if for smart people. Another kid raised his hand -- I don't play chess because chess is for white people.

CHEN (voice-over): But she showed them how to think beyond stark black and white terms.

BOULDIN: You could threaten me with this, but then I'm going to take the threat away. There's another better move for you.

CHEN (voice-over): Jabril Hassen joined her chess club when he was a teen.

JABRIL HASSEN, PROFESSOR, BELLEVUE COLLEGE: So, I had a lot of behavior problems. My parents -- they had to take me out of school.

CHEN (voice-over): But Detective Cookie sat him on a path to college.

HASSEN: Like, she really changed my life.

CHEN (voice-over): He studied criminology because of her and is now a professor at Bellevue College and Seattle University.

CHEN (on camera): If Detective Cookie were a chess piece, which one would she be?

HASSEN: Detective Cookie, for me, is the queen on a chessboard because she has a vested interest in the protection of community. She just happened to be a police officer. She's actually like a teacher. She's actually like a social worker.

CHEN (voice-over): So revered, a chess park has now opened in her name.

BOULDIN: It's a dream come true.


BOULDIN: Everybody plays chess every day. No matter what you're doing, you've got to make a move. You've got to make a decision.

CHEN (voice-over): Natasha Chen, CNN, Seattle.


KEILAR: Detective Cookie is definitely the queen.

And NEW DAY continues right now.

A blunt and chilling assessment from President Biden this morning. The world could face, quote, "Armageddon" if Vladimir Putin makes good.