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The Situation Room
Tonight: Memphis Expected To Release Tyre Nichols Arrest Video; Police Chief: We Haven't Found Probable Cause For Nichols Arrest; Nichols Family Attorney Calls On Memphis To Disband "Scorpion Unit"; Court Releases Video Of Brutal Attack On Paul Pelosi; Pence: "Mistakes Were Made" In Handling Of Classified Docs; At Least Seven Dead, Three Injured After Jerusalem Synagogue Shooting; Nichols Family Attorney Calls On Memphis To Disband "Scorpion Unit". Aired 5-6p ET
Aired January 27, 2023 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, we're standing by for the expected release of arrest video showing the fatal encounter between Tyre Nichols and five former Memphis police officers. The Nichols family and city officials urging calm tonight while warning that the footage is extremely disturbing.
We're also getting our first look at the brutal attack on Nancy Pelosi's husband last October. A San Francisco court releasing video of the suspect breaking into the couple's home and lunging at the 82- year-old Paul Pelosi with a hammer.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Let's begin with the latest developments out of Memphis right now, where we're awaiting release of the Tyre Nichols arrest video. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is on the ground for us. He's joining us with new details. What's the latest, Shimon?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. In just about two hours, the city of Memphis expected to release this video. We've now heard from family members and the police chief all describing how horrific and disturbing this video is. Today, we also heard more from the family members calling on further police reforms.
CHIEF CERELYN DAVIS, MEMPHIS POLICE: You're going to see acts that defy humanity.
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis warning the public about the violence in the deadly police beating of a 29-year- old black man. DAVIS: You're going to see a disregard for life, duty of care that we're all sworn to and a level of physical interaction that is above and beyond what is required in law enforcement.
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): The anticipated horrific video of the encounter between her police officers and Tyre Nichols is set to be released this evening.
ROWVAUGHN WELLS, TYRE NICHOLS' MOTHER: They beat my son to death.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: He cried out for his mom.
WELLS: Yes. Yes, he cried out for me because I'm his mother.
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): The five officers involved in the beating charged with second degree murder. Chief Davis says the video will show two incidents after police stopped Nichols on January 7, on the claim he was driving recklessly. She says her department has not been able to find any evidence the stop was warranted and warned the officers showed aggressive behavior from their first moments with Nichols.
Nichols ran from the cops after being pepper sprayed. It's not clear why the spray was used. Then the aggression from the officers escalated.
WELLS: Where was the humanity? They beat my son like a pinata (ph). They had beat him to a pulp. He had bruises all over him. His head was swollen like a watermelon. His neck was busting because of the swelling. They broke his neck. My son's nose looked like a s. They actually just beat the crap out of them.
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): The officers who beat Nichols were part of anti-crime unit called the Scorpion Unit. Lawyers for the family are now calling for the unit to be disbanded immediately.
TONY ROMANUCCI, NICHOL'S FAMILY ATTORNEY: Tyre Nichols, at all times was an innocent victim on that night. He did nothing wrong. He was caught up in a sting.
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): The family also notes the lack of empathy and care from the paramedics, who waited several minutes to treat Nichols after the severe beating, according to police.
RODNEY WELLS, TYRE NICHOLS' STEPFATHER: Nobody tried to stop it or even after they beat him and they popped him up against a car, no one rendered aid to him, whatsoever. They walked around smoking cigarettes like it was all calm.
BEN CRUMP, NICHOLS' FAMILY ATTORNEY: That's what's so painful, because you wanted some ounce of humanity, somebody to say, hey, we got to try to help him.
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Family attorney Ben Crump saying the real issue in the case is the police culture. Since all five of the officers involved in the beating are black. CRUMP: It doesn't matter if the officer is a black officer, a Hispanic officer, or a white officer. It is the culture that allows them to think they can do this.
DAVIS: As this video will show you, it doesn't matter who's wearing the uniform.
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Nichols' mother says the violence against her son is so horrific, she worries about the reaction the public may have when it's released.
WELLS: And any of you who have children, please don't let them see it.
PROKUPECZ: And, Wolf, this afternoon, the President, President Joe Biden, calling the family, both the mother and the stepfather, to offer his condolences and support and, as you say, as this community now awaits the release of this video. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Shimon, thank you very, very much. Shimon will be back with us in just a few moments.
I also want to bring in CNN Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst John Miller, Civil Rights Attorney Areva Martin and the former President of the NAACP, Cornell William Brooks. Cornell, let me start with you. We keep hearing that this video that's about to be released shows a beating that defies humanity. As you reflect on the killing of Tyree Nichols and other acts of police brutality before this, I wonder what's going through your mind right now.
CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, FORMER PRESIDENT & CEO, NAACP: Well, I'm really taking back to the video of Rodney King more than a generation of Go, where the nation witnessed essentially the first viralized video of police brutality. And here we are this many years later, this many decades later, where we are sitting in a kind of American theater on the edge of our seats, waiting for the movie of man's inhumanity to man, police brutality being revealed yet again.
And so what I think about is how long, how many hashtags, how many human beings killed? How many lives decimated and desecrated does it take for American policing as an industry to come to grips with the fact that the culture is sick? We need more policies. But the culture of policing is sick.
And it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if the officers are black, because black wrapped in a criminal shade of blue is a danger to white people, black people, and people of all colors. And so I'm really sickened by this because it is absolutely inhumane and it's serial inhumanity.
BLITZER: You know, John, unlike previous cases of police brutality here in the United States, these officers were promptly fired and are already facing very, very serious charges. Do you see that as evidence that police departments have actually learned from the mistakes of the past?
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: I think it is. And I think Chief C.J. Davis here recognized immediately what this was. And, you know, there were two choices there, have a drawn-out administrative process, have the criminal process come in, and then have the administrative process wait.
She said, I'm firing these officers because what I see on the video is crystal clear, and there's no coming back from that. Now, there are places, Wolf, and this is important, where the civil service laws, as constructed wouldn't allow that to happen so fast. They would be suspended, first without pay, then with pay, this could be drawn out. But she took advantage of her situation there and acted directly and swiftly and surely.
BLITZER: Yes, to her credit. Areva, all five of these police officers behaved in a way that resulted in charges of second-degree murder. What does that say to you about the culture of at least some members of this department?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Wolf, if it says that, we have a lot of work to do, as Cornell indicated. I think what's so galling for so many people, even though we haven't seen the video, is the notion that five officers could be at the scene. And perhaps even more that we don't know about, but that those five who participated in this brutality, that not one of them had the presence of mind to say to the others, enough. Stop. We're going too far. He's under control. He's in handcuffs.
And given what we witnessed with Derek Chauvin and the kneeling on George Ford's neck and the civil unrest that we saw happen across the world after George Floyd, you wonder, how can any police officer in America, in any police department, not have that in their minds, in their hearts, when they go out and face the public? So there's so much that we still need to learn about what motivated the actions of these officers.
Hearing that, she said that she didn't see any reckless driving, she didn't see any probable cause, she didn't even see a reason for Mr. Nichols to be stopped. That another unarmed black man died in the custody of police during a routine traffic stop says everything we need to know, which is that policing in this country is in crisis.
BLITZER: You know, Shimon, the city wanted these charges to be announced before the actual video, which is brutal, was released. Has that helped ease anger and anxiety among members of the community? You're there for us.
PROKUPECZ: Well, you know, Wolf, for the most part, things have been very peaceful here. People are just -- it's just another day. You know, certainly there's a lot of emotion. You go to the store, the restaurant, anywhere you go here, people -- you can feel there's emotion, there's some tension. But we haven't seen any kind of influx of people to indicate like we have in some other -- during some other situations where people come from out of town to protest or anything like that. We've not seen that for the most part. It's been a very quiet downtown here in Memphis, and people have just proceeded with their day.
Certainly this is on the mind of everyone here, and everyone is hoping and expecting a peaceful night. No one is expecting any kind of drama, but nonetheless, of course, the police are prepared, Wolf.
BLITZER: You know, Cornell, I know you've worked in recent years with cities across the United States to eliminate police brutality, and that work toward nonviolent encounters clearly continues right now. Tell us how you plan to approach this going forward.
BROOKS: Well, our social justice public policy clinic at the Harvard Kennedy School, we work with students who work with mayors and police chiefs to reimagine policing. So, in other words, thinking about policing in -- as you would public health, right? In other words, police officers working beside social workers, working beside teachers, working beside many members of the community to keep the community safe.
And so, in other words, putting the accent on keeping everybody safe, including from violent police officers and using more tools. I mean, let's be clear about this. Where we have this specialized unit, this so-called Scorpion Unit, where you have officers who can jump -- who jump out of cars, who are on plain clothes, who function like an occupying army.
There are other ways to engage the community so that you're able to get at weapons, you're able to get at people who pose a harm to the community. So what we look to do in the futures is to gauge more mayors, more police chiefs to both change policy and the culture of policing.
And to be clear, policing should not be assumed to be necessarily violent, right? It should be routinely nonviolent, right? This should not be a matter where we just accept the death of civilians as the price, the casualties of policing.
BLITZER: Cornell, thanks for all you're doing. Everybody, stand by. Cornell you too. Right now, I want to bring in the Vice Chair of the Memphis City Council, JB Smiley Jr. JB, thanks for joining us. I know you got a lot going on right now.
What steps are you and your fellow members of the City Council taking now to prepare the community for what's been described as a truly appalling video? And what are you bracing for in a personal level as you prepare to see this?
JB SMILEY JR., VICE CHAIR, MEMPHIS CITY COUNCIL: Well, what the Memphis City Council has done in terms of getting the community prepared for what we believe to be essentially almost a repeat of Rodney King is, you know, getting on the phone talking to the community leaders, talking to the community activists, talking to the faith based leaders, trying to ensure them that we're going to take all the steps necessary to make sure this never happens again.
And if you know anything about the city of Memphis, it's a community of people who lean heavily on their faith. And I believe the faith leaders have an opportunity to step up and show the world how we will handle this going forward. And I do believe what you will see peaceful protest in the city of Memphis.
There are a couple of organizations that are organizing right now, one near the news station, one getting ready to organize near the organized crime unit location. So people are preparing for protest, but we do believe it's going to be peaceful.
BLITZER: Let's hope they are peaceful. Your police chief there in Memphis tells CNN there's no evidence Tyre Nichols was actually driving recklessly. Tyre Nichols's mother says she believes police attempted a cover up in the aftermath. Does this raise broader questions about the culture of the Memphis Police Department?
SMILEY: Well, absolutely. I do believe it raises more questions if you paid attention to what happened in Memphis after the wake of George Floyd in 2020. Our council proposed several initiatives to target police reform, and our police department pushed back free, harshly, sternly against those reforms.
I do believe that they're going to be in a hard position to push back because there's council members ready and ready to introduce legislation to target police transparency and also to change the way that we train our officers. And we've believe that it has to be going forward, some type of collaboration with law enforcement officers, but also the general public. We have to do something about that.
BLITZER: Do you echo the calls to disband that so called Scorpion police unit in Memphis focusing in on reducing violent crime?
SMILEY: Well, it seems to me that that unit itself is lacking supervision. Whenever you have new officers, new to crime fighting, so to speak, there needs to be some type of direct supervision. If there is, this organization, this unit is absent of supervision. I do believe we need to disband it. We have to take all the appropriate steps going forward so that Memphis sets the standard on how to respond to tragic incidents like this.
BLITZER: We're going to have much more later this hour on the Scorpion unit. A lot of background as well. JB Smiley Jr., thank you for all you're doing. Thanks so much for joining us.
SMILEY: Thank you.
Coming up, we'll have more on the latest developments out of Memphis. The police chief is speaking with CNN. We'll share that with you right here in THE SITUATION ROOM after a quick break.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: More now on our top story, the anticipated release of arrest video showing Tyre Nichols fatal encounter with police. Today, the chief of the Memphis Police Department spoke with CNN's Don Lemon.
DAVIS: Well, from the very beginning, to me, they were rolled up. You know, I don't think they were as amped up as they were on the second -- at the second scene, but just the stop, the nature of the stop, very aggressive, loud, you know, communication and it was -- it just rose from there. It escalated from there.
Mr. Nichols was able to get away from these officers, and they found him again at another location. And at that point, there was an amount of aggression that is unexplainable, you know, in any instance where you're apprehending someone. Even in the worst situations when there is resistance, officers still have the responsibility to exercise care and regard for any individual that's in custody or they're attempting to apprehend, and they're trained to do that.
LEMON: And to deescalate.
DAVIS: And to deescalate. And that's a piece, I think, that is in question. But I think the escalation was there from the officers before training even needed to come in as it relates to deescalate. The escalation was already at a high level.
LEMON: So you're saying they did everything wrong? Nothing that -- you think this was outside of their training, everything?
DAVIS: Oh, absolutely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, let's bring back our experts for some more analysis. And, Shimon, what can you tell us about the EMTs on the scene?
PROKUPECZ: Well, you know, we've been hearing a lot about the officers and their failure to deescalate and their failure to take actions. What we've also learned in the past few days, really more information about two EMTs that were on scene. And there appears to be some delay in care here for Mr. Nichols that they failed to render aid quicker.
The police chief indicating that it took several minutes before the -- Nichols was administered aid, and then the DA yesterday as well, talking about that now. Those two EMTs were relieved of their duties. They're no longer working. They haven't been fired, but they're certainly not on the streets.
And then today we learned from the fire department, which oversees the EMTs, that they had not viewed this video until today. Now, as a result of viewing this video, they're conducting their investigation. And we'll have to make some decisions about these EMTs. But I think it's significant because we don't have an explanation as to why care was not given to Tyre Nichols sooner. And that is something that we still, still do not have answers to, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, they could have saved his life. John, you just heard the police chief there of Memphis describe the aggression these police officers exhibited from the very beginning of their encounter with Nichols. That certainly seems to fly in the face of their training, doesn't it?
MILLER: Well, it does, and it flies, particularly in the face of, you know, kind of the mantra of C.J. Davis. She is the chief of Memphis, but before that, she was the chief in Durham, North Carolina. Before that, she was with Atlanta PD. But, importantly, she was the head of NOBLE, which is the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement.
And, you know, I've seen her testimony before the Senate as the head of NOBLE, where she said, you know, there should be mandatory national standards for police use of force, which would include the duty to intervene, pull your partner off if it's going too far, the duty to render aid, the duty to report these things, and so on.
So this had to be a particularly shocking event for her to see, given the tenants she's been putting forward and what's included in Memphis's own police policy.
BLITZER: Yes, you're right. Areva, the police chief also revealed to CNN that there's no evidence that Nichols was actually driving recklessly. Does that reveal a larger problem about profiling, or police tactics for that matter?
MARTIN: Oh, absolutely, Wolf. And I think that's going to be further explored not only in the state case, but we have to keep in mind that there has been a federal criminal civil rights investigation opened by the U.S. Department of Justice. And one thing that may happen, in addition to additional charges being filed against these five officers and perhaps even some of those EMT workers that we've talked about.
But a lawsuit actually filed against the Memphis Police Department if there is evidence of some kind of pattern and practice of racial profiling of African Americans. So I don't think this case ends with the charges, the individual charges against these officers. I think there's a lot more that we're going to learn about that police department.
And we heard the city council members say that after George Floyd's murder, there were efforts to implement certain reforms that were resisted by the police department. So there's a lot more that needs to be known about what those efforts were and why the police department resisted some of the reform efforts that the city council member talked about.
BLITZER: Cornell, I know you're the former head of the NAACP. What advice do you have for anyone who is bracing for the video of this horrific incident? Or anyone who has heard the details of Nichols killing and is feeling anger or devastation tonight? BROOKS: As you watch the video of Mr. Nichols being murdered, to focus on him, focus on his family, focus on his son, and seeking justice for that family, for this victim, not merely nonviolently, but persistently, with perseverance, with determination. So, in other words, we can't get distracted by the expectation that those protesting the violence of the police will engage in violence.
We have to focus on the fact that even we go back to Rodney King, 60 people lost their lives in the unrest with a thousand people lose their lives at the hands of the police each end every year. So we can't get distracted by the prospect and possibility of violence. We must focus like a laser beam on getting justice for this family and frankly, turning around policing in this country because we cannot continue to do that which is so violently and so routinely done every day.
And Wolf, I might note that these so called suppression units, Tyre Nichols' attorneys posed the question of to what degree do we see disparities of violence, arrest and the treatment according to black people relative to other people? And is this in fact necessary? And so we have to focus on disbanding this unit, turning around this police department and turning around policing nationwide, because this is just the latest in a long series pressure (ph).
BLITZER: As you would know better than I do, there's a lot of work that clearly needs to be done across the country. Cornell William Brooks, thank you very much. Shimon Prokupecz, John Miller, Areva Martin, thanks to you guys as well.
Up next, there's more disturbing new video just released showing a man breaking into the San Francisco home of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and brutally attacking her husband, Paul Pelosi, 82 years old, with a hammer.
BLITZER: There's more disturbing video we're seeing for the first time tonight. Police body camera video showing the brutal attack on the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi inside their San Francisco home. CNN National Correspondent Nick Watt is working the story for us. Nick, we want to warn our viewers, of course, this video is very disturbing.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it certainly is. Listen, CNN and a bunch of other news organizations petitioned to have this material released previously. It had only been seen and heard in court. Now what we got today, the body cams worn by the SFPD officers. Some surveillance video from outside. Also audio Paul Pelosi's 911 call and also the suspect's interview with police.
WATT (voice-over): 2:31 a.m., October 28, SFPD officers arrive at the Pelosi home. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's going on, man?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything's good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. Drop the hammer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, hey, hey, hey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is going on right now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
WATT (voice-over): The suspect had allegedly broken in about a half hour before.
DAVID DEPAPE, ATTACK PAUL PELOSI: I'm starting to think of fuck, what if they're not even here? I'm actually surprised by him.
WATT (voice-over): He woke Paul Pelosi with the words, "Where's Nancy?"
DEPAPE: I was basically going to hold her hostage and to talk to her basically tell her and what I would do. If she told the truth, I would let her go, scot-free.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
DEPAPE: If she fucking lied, I was going to break her kneecaps.
WATT (voice-over): Nancy Pelosi was not home. Paul Pelosi made it to the bathroom, dialed 911.
DEPAPE: I'm a friend of theirs.
PAUL PELOSI, HUSBAND OF NANCY PELOSI: Yes, I -- he says he's a friend, but as I said, I've never --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you don't know who he is?
PELOSI: No, ma'am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
PELOSI: He's telling me I'm being very leading, so I got to stop talking to you, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. You sure? I can stay on the phone with you just to make sure everything is OK.
PELOSI: No, he wants me to get the hell off the phone.
DEPAPE: Well, honestly, he's pushing me into a corner. And I have other targets. And I don't -- I can't be stopped by him. If I have to go through him, I will. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: He is making progress, but it'll take more time. As you know, today there was a release of some information. I have not heard the 911 call. I have not heard the confession. I have not seen the break in, and I have absolutely no intention.
WATT (voice-over): Both prosecution and defense opposed this release, arguing it could compromise David DePape's right to a fair trial, and that these days, images can so easily be manipulated, then spread.
Given the widespread misinformation and conspiracy theories disseminated by mainstream and fringe media around this case already, wrote San Francisco's THE, this video might become a vehicle for improper purposes.
This attack influenced Nancy Pelosi's decision to stand down as the Democratic leader in the House.
DEPAPE: They jump into action. They jump into action. They're on top of me instantly.
SGT. HURLEY: But you had already able to hit him several times, right?
DEPAPE: Yes, I have no clue how many times but I (INAUDIBLE).
SGT. HURLEY: And were you able to use all your force or were you just tapping?
DEPAPE: No, it was not a tap. It was full force.
WATT: Now David DePape faces a slew of charges, including attempted murder. He has pled not guilty. Paul Pelosi has a fractured skull. Had a fractured skull as a result of this. Now, asked in that police interview if the Pelosi's had done anything to him, DePape said that they'd done something to, quote, the entire American public. He says Pelosi and other Democrats were involved in what he calls an endless crime spree, quote, the whole four years until they were finally able to steal the election. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Nick, thank you very much. Very disturbing video indeed.
Other news we're following right now, the former Vice President Mike Pence speaking out about the classified documents discovered at his Indiana home, saying, and I'm quoting now, mistakes were made. CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is working the story for us. So what else is the former vice president saying?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, he's trying to emphasize how cooperative him and his lawyers -- he and his lawyers are being with the Justice Department, which is doing a review. We're talking, obviously, about a dozen documents that were recovered from his home.
He says he alerted the FBI immediately, the National Archives immediately about the discovery. And what we know from Jamie Gangel's reporting is that, you know, the documents involved we're talking about here are mostly briefing documents, lower classification. And as you can get from this clip of what the former vice president says, he's trying to emphasize that they obviously are cooperating and want this to be over as quickly as possible. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Let me be clear. Those classified documents should not have been in my personal residence. Mistakes were made, and I take full responsibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: And Wolf, taking full responsibility, look, I'll point out that this is a bit of a contrast with President Biden, who has tried to say that there was no there there and has tried to diminish all of this. Obviously, there's been a lot of cooperation by President Biden and his team with the Justice Department.
What we've seen happen, though, in that case is the FBI decided that they needed to do a search. The President's team obviously invited the FBI to do that search, which happened a week ago. The question right now, Wolf, is will the FBI be doing the same thing with the former vice president's home. Will they do a search in his home in Indiana?
BLITZER: We shall see. Probably sooner rather than later. Evan, thank you very, very much.
The January 6 rioter who assaulted Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick with pepper spray has just been sentenced to more than six years in jail. Dozens of capitol police packed the courtroom for the proceeding. Julian Khater pleaded guilty to attacking Sicknick, who suffered a series of strokes hours after the insurrection and died the next day.
The Washington D.C. medical examiner determined that the attack was a factor in Sicknick's death.
Just ahead, at least seven are dead after a gunman opened fire at a synagogue in Jerusalem. One Israeli authority calling it one of the worst terror attacks in years. Will go live to the scene. We'll get a full report.
BLITZER: Tonight, Jerusalem is in mourning after a shooting at a synagogue killed at least seven people and injured several more. The gunman was pronounced dead at the scene after a chase and a shootout with local police. Israel is calling the deadly incident a terrorist attack. CNN's Hadas Gold is now at the scene. She's joining us live from Jerusalem. Hadas, what more can you tell us? What are you learning about this attack?
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf -- yes, Wolf. Israeli police saying this attack started around 8:15 local, just outside of a synagogue in Neve Yaakov, we're about northeast neighborhood of Jerusalem. Police say that worshippers were leaving the synagogue. It's Friday night. It's shabbat. The synagogue was likely full of people. That's when the attack started. And at least seven people have been killed.
Five men and two women, and several have been injured. Among the injured is a 15-year-old boy. The attacker then actually came down this hill behind me, and I want to step back so my cameraman can actually zoom in. Because you can see where the police are standing is a white sedan. That is the car that the attacker got into, started driving, and where that car is parked is actually where he then encountered police, who then shot and killed the assailant.
Israeli police are saying that the attacker is a 21-year-old Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem, and as far as they know, he was working alone. The Israeli police are calling this a heinous terrorist attack. They say it's one of the worst attacks that they've seen in recent memory.
Benjamin Netanyahu also just recently spoke to the media. He called on people to act with determination and composure and called on people not to take the law into their own hands, saying more decisions will be coming soon. This has been a very tense and violent past two days or so. We've been reporting on this for the past two days.
Yesterday was one of the deadliest day for Palestinians in more than a year in the West Bank after an Israeli military raid in Jenin killed nine. Another Palestinian was killed later in the day. And then last night, rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel by militants. Israel responding with airstrikes.
And then tonight, we had this shooting attack. There was already concern the situation was so volatile that it was going to spiral out of control. And this may be the incident that really sets off that potential spiral. There is now a question about what's going to happen next. This is a big test for this new government under Benjamin Netanyahu.
He is returning as Prime Minister, but he has a new right-wing government. It's the most far right wing in Israeli history. So the big question will be, how are they going to respond and when? What is going to be the next steps? And I should know, Wolf, that in the next few days, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be here meeting with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Wolf?
BLITZER: Attention clearly escalating over there. Hadas Gold in Jerusalem for us, thank you very much. Coming up, the Memphis Police Scorpion unit is under increasing scrutiny right now after some of its members were charged with the murder of Tyre Nichols. Now an attorney for the Nichols family is asking the police department to disband the group.
Up next, we'll take a closer look at the unit that's right at the center of Nichols' death.
BLITZER: Some of the Memphis police officers facing second degree murder charges related to the brutal killing of Tyre Nichols were members of the city's so called Scorpion Unit. An attorney for the Nichols family says the city should immediately disband that group.
CNN's Brian Todd is looking into the controversial unit for us, he's getting new information. What are you learning, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf, this unit has not been in existence for very long, but already has a history of controversy. And tonight, the attorneys for Tyre Nichols family calling on the police chief to take the swiftest, most decisive action against that unit.
ANTONIO ROMANUCCI, ATTORNEY FOR TYRE NICHOLS' FAMILY: I'm asking Chief Davis to disband this Scorpion Unit effective immediately.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
ROMANUCCI: The intent of the Scorpion Unit has now been corrupted.
TODD (voice-over): Scorpion standing for street crimes operation to restore peace in our neighborhoods is a specialized unit of the Memphis police created by the current chief Cerelyn C.J. Davis in the fall of 2021, with a promo video accompanying its launch. Chief Davis told our Don Lemon they needed a unit to address a surge of violent crimes in Memphis.
CHIEF CERELYN "CJ" DAVIS, MEMPHIS POLICE: This is one of three teams whose primary responsibility is to reduce gun violence, to be visible in communities and to also impact the rise in the crime. Basically, out of an outcry from the community. We had record numbers in 2021, 346 homicides.
TODD (voice-over): Chief Davis says the Scorpion Unit, at least initially, had great success.
DAVIS: Last year was the first year in a long time that we have reduced (ph).
TODD (voice-over): The mayor's office also touted Scorpion's early success, saying that between its inception in the fall of 2021 through January of 2022, the unit made 566 arrests, seized more than 250 weapons, 270 vehicles, and over $100,000 in cash. But in its brief lifetime, there's already a history of tension between Scorpion officers and the community.
Attorneys for Tyre Nichols family say the unit goes around in unmarked cars and is sometimes unnecessarily aggressive. Family attorney Ben Crump relayed one account that a local man had also described to media outlets of his encounter with Scorpion.
BEN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR TYRE NICHOLS' FAMILY: There's a brother who said four or five days before this happened to Tyre, that same Scorpion unit confronted him while he was in his car going to get pizza. And he said that they used all kind of profanity against him. They threw him on the ground talking about where the drugs and where the weapons.
TODD (voice-over): And Crump said the officers pointed a gun at the man's head. CNN has reached out to the Memphis police for response to that account. We haven't heard back. One law enforcement veteran described issues that often crop up with specialized units in city police departments.
DARRIN PORCHER, FORMER NYPD LIEUTENANT: Generally speaking, when we have an enforcement driven unit, these units have a greater propensity to rack up complaints against them based on excessive force. But the terminal piece in this is overall supervision. So I believe that we had a failure in supervision and there was no appropriate oversight to ensure that these officers were doing what they were supposed to do.
TODD: Again, the Memphis Police Department has not responded to specific allegations of previous use of excessive force by the Scorpion Unit. But the Memphis police do tell CNN that unit and all other specialized units in the Memphis police force are going to undergo a review and that the Scorpion unit is, quote, inactivated during the review process, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brian, thank you very much for that report. Brian Todd reporting.
Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day here in the United States and around the world, honoring the 6 billion Jews murdered by the Nazis. For me, this is very personal. All four of my grandparents, Polish Jews, were among those murdered. My mom and dad survived the concentration camps and came to the United States after the war.
I grew up knowing my parents were Holocaust survivors, but it wasn't until last year, while preparing my CNN documentary on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum here in Washington, that I discovered my dad's personal testimony of his experience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID BLITZER, SURVIVOR, FATHER OF WOLF BLITZER: Well, because when I arrived in Boherald (ph), I saw outside lying dozens upon dozens upon dozens of dead bodies laid out like in a forest route, and I thought I got to get out from over here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How would you like future generations to remember the Holocaust?
D. BLITZER: The future generations to remember the Holocaust, everything which is written but people are telling you the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What's especially painful is that we're seeing increased antisemitism and even Holocaust denialism. As President Biden said today, each of us must speak out against this poison. Together we must affirm hate has no safe harbor in America.
Coming up, we'll get back to our top story. The anticipated release of video showing five former Memphis police officers brutally beating Tyre Nichols. An attorney for the Nichols' family, Ben Crump, will join us live right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.