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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Senate Debates Gun Control; Interview With New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly
Aired January 30, 2013 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 here on the East Coast.
And tonight on the program, it was as powerful moment as you could imagine. Gabby Giffords, whose life was changed forever by a deranged gunman, back on Capitol Hill today, she spoke with difficulty on a subject that is neither easy nor simple, preventing another massacre like Tucson or Newtown from happening.
"Keeping Them Honest" tonight though, why figuring out what the right thing to do is so very difficult and why the facts are so hard to come by.
Also on the program tonight, what it's like to live through this, a terrifying moment at the Winter X Games, a snowmobile flipping and landing on its rider. There was another incident where a snowmobile went careening into spectators and why people are now taking a closer look at extreme sports.
We begin though in rural Alabama with a little boy's life at stake. A 6-year-old with Asperger's syndrome who needs medication is being held by a suspected killer in a bunker, a bunker that is now surrounded by authorities. Authorities have not released the suspect's name, but neighbors say he is 65-year-old man Jimmy Lee Dykes. They say he is a survivalist. They call him paranoid and volatile. He was due in court today in connection with an allegedly armed run-in last December with some former neighbors.
Instead, he is in that bunker in his front yard with a 6-year-old child. Now, the standoff began yesterday when a gunman, allegedly Dykes, stepped onto the school bus, demanding two boys. When the bus driver tried to stop him, the gunman fired four shots, which killed the driver, a 66-year-old man named Charles Poland Jr. He is being hailed as a hero tonight.
The gunman got away with one child, who as we said is right now in that home-built bunker.
CNN's George Howell is on the scene for us tonight. Also with us, former FBI hostage negotiator Byron Sage, and because the suspect allegedly holds extremist views, according to neighbors, Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
George, you're on the ground there. What is the latest?
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, first and foremost, the welfare of this 6-year-old boy.
Investigators just a short time ago came out to announce that they don't believe that he has been hurt or harmed in any way. That is very good, very important news. They say that the negotiations with Jimmy Dykes are still ongoing. And through the course of that, Anderson, we learned some interesting, interesting stuff.
We learned they were able to get the young boy crayons and a crayon book, coloring book that he apparently requested. But more importantly, they were able to get him the medications that he needs. I spoke to state Representative Steve Clouse, who has been in touch with the family, staying very close with them. He says, number one, that the family is relieved they were able to get the medication to him. But also as every hour passes, you know, these are desperate times for them. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE CLOUSE, ALABAMA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: The family was camped out once they heard about it. We got in touch with them just to give them any comfort that they needed. And they're just holding on by a thread right now, hoping to get a resolution to this situation and get their young son back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: So, Anderson, this situation continues hour by hour. We saw a new group of investigators who came in and they continue to relieve each other just to make sure everyone is here in place to watch this situation 24 hours as this continues.
COOPER: Byron, you say the critical component here is that this alleged gunman apparently didn't know the boy that he allegedly kidnapped. Why is that so important?
BYRON SAGE, FORMER FBI HOSTAGE NEGOTIATOR: It is key, because if an individual is known previously, there is a much higher potential exposure to violence.
Here, it would appear that this individual boy was taken in a classic hostage sense as leverage. So that -- it is a very important aspect of the situation.
COOPER: And what is now the most important thing right now for law enforcement who are basically surrounding this, and on the scene?
SAGE: Patience and the opportunity for the negotiation team to develop a rapport and trust with the individual that has taken the hostage, and that only comes with time.
COOPER: Mark, I know Jimmy Lee Dykes was not on the radar of the Southern Poverty Law Center. I know you have been talking with people involved in the investigation. What are they telling you tonight?
MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: Well, what they have told us -- and these are investigators in the Hood County -- the Dale County sheriff's office -- is that this man was quite well known to his neighbors for holding apparently quite strong anti-government views, whatever that may mean, precisely, and also that he was known as a survivalist.
The chief investigator described him as anti-America, this according to neighbors. He also talked about what a loner he was. He apparently had virtually no contact with people around him. And that is about what we heard. What we have not been able to do is connect this man to any group that we know of.
COOPER: George, what have you been hearing from neighbors, people in the area about this man's behavior? Seems like from what Mark is saying from what he has heard from investigators, this guy was well known.
HOWELL: Well, Anderson, yes, we spoke to Jimmy Davis. He's a neighbor here nearby. And he described Dykes as being paranoid, certainly a Vietnam vet, but a person who believed in aliens, believed in alien abductions.
And apparently David and Dykes, they were supposed to be in court today for an incident that happened back in December. This was a confrontation between the two men, a situation where Dykes became upset, and Davis said he pulled a pistol on him. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY DAVIS JR., NEIGHBOR: He pulled a pistol out, and by the time I seen the pistol, I took off on the truck pulling the trailer. And I made it probably 10 foot, and he fired the gun twice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: So Davis was in his pickup truck with his mother, with his young daughter and this happened. So this is a situation where people who know Dykes, they say that there were signs all along that he might be unstable -- Anderson.
COOPER: And he was due in court for that incident?
HOWELL: Yes, yes, and it was charge of menacing. So , again, not in court today -- in this bunker and has been there going on day two, going on now day three. You know, we just continue to see it drag out, Anderson.
COOPER: Byron, as a negotiator, you talk about trying to build rapport, having patience and building trust. How do you do that with someone who neighbors say is paranoid and who has a court case where he has allegedly shot at somebody? SAGE: First of all, the negotiators need to recognize that, but set it aside, compartmentalize it.
You can't let that -- you can't be predisposed to put a character to this individual. Let it manifest itself through dialogue. If he has these kind of issues, paranoia and so forth, he has a story. Obviously, he would not have initiated this action, taken the course of action that he has done unless he wanted to try to put across some sort of statement.
It will be the negotiators' responsibility to try to draw that out as they get his emotionality down and allow him to become more rational.
COOPER: And, Byron, the fact that this has gone on now into day two, is that a -- does time work in the law enforcement's favor?
SAGE: This is a -- this is a true hostage situation. It is not a pseudo-hostage situation.
A person -- this young boy has been taken hostage purely for leverage purposes. So the passage of time in that context is incredibly important. And, frankly, I think the family hopefully can take a little positive aspect, or positive hope from that fact that he has allowed them to deliver medication. He has provided them -- particularly if the boy requested the coloring book and so forth, and then allowed that to be delivered, those are huge indicators of progress.
COOPER: Well, that is certainly some good news to end on tonight and we will continue to watch this.
Byron Sage, I appreciate your expertise. George Howell, Mark Potok as well, thank you very much.
Let us know what you think. You can follow me on Twitter right now at Anderson Cooper. We will be following this over the course of the hour. If any new developments occur, we will let you know.
Just ahead, no shortage of passion in today's Senate hearings on gun violence from Gabby Giffords and from others testifying. The question is where are the solid nonpartisan facts and why are they so hard to come by? We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.
Also, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is here to talk about the strategies that work in his city.
And later, football great Ray Lewis in the Super Bowl this weekend, the final game in a brilliant career, but there is another chapter, a much darker one to the Ray Lewis story. We will tell you about it when we continue.
COOPER: Welcome back. Well, a man holds a child at gunpoint after shooting and killing a school bus driver, which was our lead story tonight. And another man walks into a Phoenix office building and opens fire, hitting three, killing one. There are just two headlines from today.
There have been many others recently, some far worse, of course. "Keeping Them Honest" though how big a role, if anything, does easy access to firearms play in violent crimes like this? That is the question, and crucially, how do we really know what the true facts are?
Now, are both sides building their cases on shaky factual ground? Today, in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who survived the Tucson massacre, spoke of the need for action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN: Thank you for inviting me here today. This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities, for Democrats and Republicans.
Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying, too many children. We must do something. It will be hard. But the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, she spoke from handwritten notes which were posted on the Facebook page of the gun reform group that she and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, founded. He also testified, along with the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre and others.
Commander Kelly at one point answering Mr. LaPierre's claim that background checks don't need to be made universal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK KELLY, HUSBAND OF GABRIELLE GIFFORDS: My wife would not be sitting in this seat, she would not have been sitting here today if we had stronger background checks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The NRA position, though, and it's shared by many people, is that criminals would still be able to get and use firearms, that banning high-capacity rifles would similarly not work, nor would reinstating the ban on semiautomatic weapons, such as the ones used in Newtown, Aurora and elsewhere.
There's just one problem. Both sides in the gun debate use the assault weapons ban, which was in effect in 1994 to 2004, to make their case. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: Independent studies including one from the Clinton Justice Department, proved that it had no impact on lowering crime.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: The Department of Justice report, assault weapons as a percentage of gun traces, which shows a 70 percent decline.
GAYLE TROTTER, INDEPENDENT WOMEN'S FORUM: While armed security works, gun bans do not.
CHIEF JAMES JOHNSON, BALTIMORE POLICE DEPARTMENT: I have been in law enforcement for nearly 35 years and I have seen an explosion of firepower since the assault weapons ban expired. Victims are being riddled with multiple gunshots.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Reenact a law that according to the Department of Justice did absolutely nothing to reduce gun violence.
SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: The 1994 assault weapon ban did not stop Columbine. The Justice Department found the ban ineffective.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You might hear all those sides and say to yourself both sides cannot be right.
The problem is there is really no clear-cut way of telling who is, not just because each side accuses the other of cherry-picking the data. The real problem is that there is simply not enough good research to draw solid conclusions.
Take a look at the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service concluded in a November report on the existing body of knowledge. And they quote, "None of the existing sources of statistics provide either comprehensive, timely or accurate data with which to assess definitively whether there is a causal connection between firearms and violence."
And a big reason for that scarcity of good research, Congress under pressure from the gun lobby doesn't pay for it. Take a look. From 1993 through 1996, Congress allocated about $2.5 million annually so the Centers for Disease Control, the CDC, could study gun violence. But since 1996, the money has dried up, averaging just $100,000 a year over the last three years in a budget of nearly $6 billion.
Having said all that, the lack of definitive research has not stopped policy-makers and community members from doing what they can with what they have got in the struggle against gun violence and learning as they go.
Few know that better than longtime New York City Commission Ray Kelly. He joins me now. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: You point out to the fact that in a city like New York, handguns are the problem that you see on the streets. Will anything in the current debate about gun control legislation, whether it's limiting high-capacity magazines, or further background checks, will that limit the lethality and the number of handguns you see?
RAYMOND KELLY, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: I think it can have an effect. But there is no easy answer to the problem.
I think universal background checks, if they are done properly, if there's sufficient data in the databases, can make a difference. The major problem for New York City and for other cities in America is the concealable handgun.
COOPER: When -- everybody is focusing on semiautomatic assault- type rifles, semiautomatic rifles. Are you opposed to a ban on that?
KELLY: Oh, no, absolutely not. I think it is a good thing, but the impact in New York City will be minimal.
COOPER: You see like, what, 1, 2 percent of...
KELLY: Yes, it's about -- I think it was less than 3 percent. And the indications are it may even be less than that.
COOPER: The NRA says very clearly, look, existing laws on background checks are not being enforced, that the number of people who lie -- people are not being prosecuted if they lie on background checks and they turn out to be felons and they're lying or they are not telling the truth. Do they have a point?
KELLY: Yes, they do have a point.
But also there has been legislation that has been passed that limits the holding of that information, the information that is used to check someone, to 24 hours. So the government is restricted. The federal government is restricted on how effectively they can do an investigation.
COOPER: Is it an either/or argument, though? Because essentially they're saying criminals will never submit to background checks, so you don't need more background checks. You just need to execute existing laws greater. They're saying it's either/or. Do you see it...
KELLY: It is not either/or. Obviously, you can do both and it makes sense to me to do both.
COOPER: What do you make of their argument that criminals will not submit to background checks? I mean, how big a problem is this -- the gun show loophole, that private dealers that can sell without having to have people go through background checks?
KELLY: Yes. It is not just in gun shows. It happens outside gun shows.
It is estimated that 40 percent of guns that are sold are sold without any sort of registration or background check. That amounted to about six million guns last year. That's a tremendous universe of guns.
And I think it will deter criminals from buying guns if you have to register. Again, it is not an easy answer. There is no magic bullet here. But I think each one of these pieces can help to reduce the problem, never end it.
New York City and other big cities are going to have to face the problem of handguns on our streets for a long time to come.
COOPER: Where do the guns come from? Because New York City itself has pretty tight laws. Are people just getting them out of state? Where are they...
KELLY: Precisely; 90 percent of our guns come from out of state. We call it the iron pipeline.
COOPER: Isn't part of the problem with these background checks also the fact that states have not been living up to their obligations? The states have not been giving drug data to the national database. They haven't been giving mental health issue or even arrest data in some cases to the national database?
KELLY: Right. Apparently, some states think that there are privacy issues, when there really are not.
But we now know that some states have held onto as much as 600,000 records in terms of mental incapacity, if you will. Now that flow is beginning to move as a result of all of that attention on the issue.
COOPER: Do you think something has changed after Newtown? Do you think there is enough will? Do you think there will be some sort of legislation or at least stricter gun background checks?
KELLY: I think there will be something.
But I'm not optimistic that it is going to be a major change. You can see as long as the can is sort of kicked down the road, we're going to have less and less of a chance of getting significant change.
COOPER: Do you see a reason why some folks should have semiautomatic, you know, military-style weapons?
KELLY: I really don't.
I don't see a logical reason for military-style weapons or clips with 30 rounds of ammunition. You can certainly hunt with something with a much smaller capacity. I think the so-called assault weapons sort of scare people. They're really weapons of war. They're meant to kill other people. General McChrystal has said that.
I don't see any logical need for it. Having said that, I think we're going to have them with us for a long time to come.
COOPER: What about the idea of arming people in schools? I mean, is that something from a police standpoint you worry about?
KELLY: I don't think it is the right way to go.
I mean, it would take an awful lot of resources to do that. I think that amount of money and resources could be better spent in a lot of different ways, even additional police officers. To move to have armed officers or armed security guards in schools, I think, would be a tremendous almost -- not waste, but it would be a tremendous investment of resources that could be better spent in other places.
COOPER: That is interesting.
Commissioner Kelly, appreciate your time. Thank you.
KELLY: Good to be with you.
COOPER: A quick programming note to let you know about. Tomorrow morning, we're gathering people from all different sides of the gun debate, all different perspectives, for a 360 televised town hall from Washington, D.C. It airs at 8:00 and 10:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow night.
We're doing our best to try to cut through the noise and cut through the politics of this all. We're not taking sides here. We're just trying to get information, bring you information that really makes a difference. You can weigh in. Tweet us using #gundebate360. We may read your tweet on air. "Guns Under Fire," a 360 town hall, that's tomorrow night 8:00 and 10:00 Eastern.
Just ahead tonight, though, deadly storms raking the Southeast. Some incredible pictures, a tornado caught on tape in Georgia left massive damage in its wake. it's part of a big storm system sweeping the country. We will check in with Chad Myers and bring us the latest.
And also later tonight, the alleged rape that has divided an Ohio town. Will the high school football players charged get the change of venue they say they need for a fair trial.
That ruling ahead.
COOPER: Welcome back.
A terrifying day for a lot of folks in the Southeast, where winter tornadoes killed at least two people, injured nearly 20.
Now, imagine seeing this outside your window. That twister touched down in Adairsville, Georgia, then moved across the state, leaving a trail of damage in its wake, buildings destroyed, people trapped in the rubble, cars overturned.
Authorities were forced to shut down Interstate 75 at one point. Thousands of people lost power. Today's storms were part of a huge violent system that has been hammering the country from Michigan to the Louisiana coastline.
Chad Myers joins me right now with the latest.
Is this strange to be seeing tornadoes in January, Chad?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good question.
There are about 40 tornadoes every January every year on average, but they follow the jet stream, so, yes, a little strange, but not completely out of the ordinary. Follow where the jet stream and that is where the potential is.
So, in January, the jet stream is down here. That is typical, and that is where the tornadoes would be. If you move up into February and March, you start a little bit farther to the north. And by Tornado Alley standards, April and May, you're up here.
Believe it or not, like in June, July and August, you can actually get tornadoes all the way up into Canada, because that is where the jet stream is. So, no, not unusual, but 40 every year on average. Today, we got about 10, so that is obviously more than average for the day.
COOPER: And the big swings in temperature that we have been seeing, well below freezing last week, much warmer today, much cooler again in a couple of days, how out of ordinary is that?
MYERS: It was five degrees in New York City six days ago.
Today, Newark, New Jersey, got to 64.
MYERS: Now, that is a 59-degree swing because of where you were in the jet stream.
When the jet stream comes down like this, all the cold air from Canada and from the north keeps on coming on down. But if the jet stream turns to the north like this, all the warm air comes up. And that is what has happened in the past couple of days for the East. You see it has come on up to the Northeast.
COOPER: All right, Chad, appreciate that. Thanks.
Our thoughts, of course, with all those people in the path of these storms. A lot more happening tonight. Let's check in with Randi Kaye and a 360 "Bulletin" -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a 360 follow. A judge has changed against a change of venue in the rape trial that has sparked protests and divided an Ohio town. Pictures of the alleged victim, a 16-year-old girl, surfaced on social media and led to the arrest of two high-school football players. The judge also ruled that the trial will be opened to the media and the public. Both defendants are minors.
U.S. officials say Israeli fighter jets struck a suspected Syrian convoy believed to be moving weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The overnight strike occurred along the Lebanese-Syrian border.
Syria disputed the account, saying Israel targeted a research facility near Damascus.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has named William "Mo" Cowan to fill John Kerry's Senate seat until a special election is held in June. Kerry steps down this week to become secretary of state.
And coming to a post office near you, Johnny Cash. The U.S. Postal Service is honoring the legendary singer in its new music icon series. They'll release it later this year.
COOPER: That's cool.
KAYE: Yes. Anderson, I guess it's a pretty big deal. Apparently, the U.S. Postal Service gets, like, 40,000 suggestions for stamps every year and then narrow it down to 20 and Johnny Cash wins it.
COOPER: Well, everybody likes Johnny Cash. Good to see.
All right, Randi, thanks very much.
The Baltimore Ravens' Ray Lewis is going to play his last NFL game ever on Super Bowl Sunday. He seems headed for the hall of fame, but 13 years ago he was on a trial for double murder, and now one of his co-defendants has written a book. You'll hear from him ahead.
Later, just when you thought the Manti Te'o fake girlfriend story couldn't get, well, any more involved, it has. Dr. Phil McGraw says the California man who admits he was behind the hoax fell in love with Te'o while pretending to be his girlfriend. Wait until you hear what else Dr. Phil asked in his interview.
COOPER: A certain sport is under some scrutiny tonight after some dangerous stunts went wrong. This wasn't the only incident caught on tape. We'll talk to the X Games competitor involved in another frightening accident, ahead.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Well, Super Bowl Sunday is this weekend. The Ravens and 49ers, probably didn't need to tell you that. For Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, it's going to be his last game in the NFL. He announced his retirement at the end of the season and crushed his way through the playoffs making 44 tackles, more than any other players. Remarkable.
Besides his raw talent, he's known for this dance which his vans revered him. He also wears his spirituality on his sleeve, literally, on his T-shirt: Psalms 9:1.
That's the Ray Lewis that we see today. But there is another chapter of his past that's never far away. And for the first time, one of the men who was involved in an ugly incident speaks out about what really happened the night Lewis' career almost ended before it barely got underway.
Here's Ed Lavandera.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The epic football career of Ray Lewis almost ended 13 years ago outside the Cobalt Lounge in Atlanta just hours after the 2000 Super Bowl. A fight breaks out, and when the dust settles, Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar are stabbed to death, left in the street. Ray Lewis and two friends, Joseph Sweeting and Reginald Oakley, are charged with murder.
What unfolded next is a mesmerizing saga, and the truth is as elusive as ever, as you're about to see.
REGINALD OAKLEY, CO-DEFENDANT WITH RAY LEWIS: I haven't been back to this area since that incident happened.
LAVANDERA: This is the first time Reginald Oakley has talked on camera about that night. Oakley has written a book which we find he's eager to sell.
OAKLEY: From my point of view, I think, you know, it was self- defense.
LAVANDERA: Oakley says he was leaving the club with Lewis when the two victims started arguing with their group. Jacinth Baker broke a champagne bottle over Oakley's head. Then it was mayhem.
OAKLEY: I had no idea that nobody had gotten stabbed or nothing like that.
LAVANDERA (on camera): So you didn't stab him?
OAKLEY: No, I didn't stab him.
LAVANDERA: So how did the guy end up with stab wounds, if you're the one fighting him?
OAKLEY: You'll have to read the book to find out. LAVANDERA (voice-over): After the fight, Lewis and his entourage piled into his limo and sped off.
(on camera): I was never clear about how two guys end up in a fight with two other guys and two of them end up dead. Right? No one's ever convicted. And how they ended up with stab wounds.
OAKLEY: If you ended up with stab wounds, what does that mean? Somebody stabbed you.
LAVANDERA: Right. But you're saying you weren't the one that stabbed him?
LAVANDERA: So who could have stabbed him?
OAKLEY: You have to read the book to find out if I knew or not.
LAVANDERA: Are you saying someone you know who did it?
OAKLEY: You have to read the book and find out.
LAVANDERA: There are a lot of people who think you got away with murder, basically.
OAKLEY: Well, that's why I wrote the book.
LAVANDERA: You know everyone watching this is going to think it's a really weird answer.
OAKLEY: I think it's an appropriate answer.
LAVANDERA: All right. If that's the way you want to play it.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): We'll come back to Reginald Oakley. But there's another element of the story you've probably never heard before. The story of what Ray Lewis was wearing that night.
Prosecutors said there was a blood trail, eyewitnesses and a cover-up of lies that would prove guilt. The limo driver told investigators he heard Oakley and Sweeting admit stabbing the victims. Both men denied it.
Other witnesses say Lewis yelled at everyone inside the limo -- there were 11 in all -- to keep their mouths shut and not say anything and that "my football career is not going to end like this."
But the white suit Ray Lewis was wearing that night has never been found. Prosecutors suspect that it was stained in the victim's blood and that someone took the knives and suit and threw them all away, which brought us to Ed Garland, Ray Lewis' attorney.
(on camera): Where is the suit that he was wearing that night?
ED GARLAND, RAY LEWIS' ATTORNEY: It went to the cleaners, and it was in the suits that were in his closet. The prosecution didn't do the things they need to do to get access to the suit.
LAVANDERA: So it exists somewhere?
GARLAND: I don't know that it exists now.
LAVANDERA: Prosecutors denied our requests for interviews about this story.
(on camera): The murder trial crumbled on live television. Witnesses backtracked on their stories. Defense attorneys eviscerated the credibility of many witnesses.
It got so bad that prosecutors had to drop murder charges against Ray Lewis in the middle of the trial and offered him a plea deal. Lewis pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice in exchange for testifying against Sweeting and Oakley. But even that didn't help. Both of those men were acquitted.
(voice-over): Ray Lewis claimed he was the peacemaker, but Oakley says that's not the case.
(on camera): Was Ray involved in the fighting?
OAKLEY: In my opinion, yes. I don't know if he was wrestling or fighting, but I know he was right in the midst there with everybody else.
LAVANDERA: Because his lawyer and his side have always kind of said, hey, he was trying to be the peacemaker in that situation.
OAKLEY: I didn't see that. When the police asked him what happened, he wouldn't, you know, come clean.
GARLAND: He was not involved in the fight. He didn't cause it. He didn't take an act, a step, a statement to make this happen. He was no more guilty than the other 100 people on the street.
LAVANDERA: No one has ever been convicted in the deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. For Baker's uncle, Greg Wilson, it angers him to see Ray Lewis basking in the glow of football glory and redemption.
GREG WILSON, VICTIM'S UNCLE: Redemption? You know, stop acting like you're one of the people that are coming out of the Bible.
LAVANDERA: So you think on this day Ray Lewis knows what happened that night?
WILSON: Oh, yes. I hope it haunts them for the rest of their life until they die and then until they burn in hell.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): The most painful irony of all for Greg Wilson is that, in a few years, Ray Lewis will likely be forever immortalized in the Pro Football Hall of Fame not far from where Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar were laid to rest.
COOPER: Ed joins me now from Atlanta. So this guy Oakley says he didn't kill them. So who does he think killed these guys?
LAVANDERA: Well, some of these guys -- you know, remember, the stories here have just been so convoluted and so many different versions that, you know, the victims' families are left wondering just exactly who's telling the truth.
But Oakley points to two people that he says -- and some other people have said -- were never properly vetted by prosecutors and investigators at the time. So it doesn't say that those two people were responsible, but it kind of puts the doubt that way.
The bottom line is here, is that it was Oakley and Sweeting and perhaps Lewis himself who were in there with Baker and Lollar and after -- as soon as that fight was over, those two men were left dead in the street.
So you know, wisdom tells you that it had to have been somebody in that group. The problem is there were never any witnesses who actually saw someone brandish a knife. Or any credible witnesses. Remember, many of these witnesses were just simply discredited on the witness stand. So there was never anyone who really came forward and said, "I saw the knife and I saw, you know, who had the knife" and can put it in the victim.
COOPER: Also this guy Oakley doesn't do himself any favors in terms of credibility by constantly just trying to pitch his book, I mean, by not answering the questions.
LAVANDERA: No question. It was a rough interview. And it was interesting, because he hasn't really spoken publicly about his -- that night in 13 years.
But, you know, he says he's trying to clear his name. He walks away and says, look, at the end, they feel vindicated that a jury acquitted them, that the prosecution dropped the charges against Ray Lewis. And they're trying to move beyond it.
COOPER: Clear his name and, I guess, sell some books. Ed Lavandera, appreciate it. Fascinating.
Coming up, maybe you've seen this incredible video of a snowmobile accident at the Winter X Games. Amazingly, the snowmobiler wasn't hurt. The runaway snowmobile didn't hit anybody else after careening into a crowd of fans. Could have been much worse. We're going to hear from the guy who was on that snowmobile next.
COOPER: Well, the X Games, featuring extreme sports, are under scrutiny tonight after a string of accidents at the winter games in Aspen, Colorado. One snowmobiler is in critical -- critical condition. Another has a separated pelvis. A freestyle skier suffered a spinal fracture, and a snowboarder got a concussion. Another competitor, snowmobiler Jacko Strong, was lucky that he wasn't hurt during this accident at the X Games. Take a look at this. Trying to do a back flip. The snowmobile got away from him and actually veered off into a crowd of fans. The throttle was still on; went straight for the crowd. A boy who hurt his knee trying to run away was taken for an evaluation and released. Thankfully, the runaway snowmobile did not hit anyone in the crowd.
I spoke to Jacko Strong about the accident; about the safety of the games.
COOPER: So Jacko, first of all, I'm glad that you and obviously everyone in the crowd are OK. Can you just take me through what happened? How did it go so wrong?
JACKSON "JACKO" STRONG, EXTREME SNOWMOBILER: Unfortunately, when I was in the air with that trick, the rear brake on the sled, I kind of pushed off my left handle bar to spin around, and my rear brake is right there and I accidentally tapped it. And because of tracks are big on the snowmobile and the jarring effect when you hit your brake in the air, it actually nose-dived forward.
And I had no option but to abort ship and sent me cat-scratching through the air trying to find my feet. I finally found them and luckily landed on my feet and dodged the snowmobile. And it kind of went really lucky.
I was so glad when I saw my snowmobile take off that it didn't hit anyone in the crowd. I definitely would have been -- don't think I could have lived with someone being hurt from my snowmobile going into the crowd.
My mom was standing right there, too. And I was just watching her face as it was heading -- heading for the fence.
COOPER: This may be a dumb question, but I mean, when you're flying through the air like that, what is -- what's going through your mind? Is -- does it feel slow? Does it feel fast? What's happened?
STRONG: Well, for someone who's been in a near car accident or something like that, when you get that -- that vision of everything slowing down, and I guess the adrenaline sets in and you think, OK, I've got -- I've got -- this is pretty much make or break, you know. I've got to find my feet here so I can take this landing as best I can.
And I'm a dirt bike rider by trade. So I've crashed too many times on the hard dirt landings that are like concrete. So it's kind of almost comforting knowing there was snow underneath me, and coming down, that snow definitely felt a lot better than what it does coming down on the hard dirt -- hard dirt like it is at some races (ph).
COOPER: I mean, you could have also been hit by your -- by the snowmobile. STRONG: I was lucky that I didn't have to get hit by the -- by the sled, and I'm lucky it didn't get away from me.
COOPER: Do you think -- there's some criticism that there's not enough protection for spectators in events like this. Do you think there needs to be more or do you think it's generally pretty safe?
STRONG: I think it is pretty safe, really. You know, I think maybe some things could be done, but this was a one-off freak accident, pretty much. It's pretty rare that the snowmobile would land that way. If you thought you would be on it some way it would find its way back onto its track and drive itself towards the crowd. You know, I think it was pretty much a freak one-off thing. So...
COOPER: I also want to ask you about your fellow snowmobiler Caleb Moore. He suffered a really terrible accident at the X Games last week. Do you know how he's doing?
STRONG: Yes. He's -- he's in ICU still, and I've been speaking with his manager and family. And he's still in critical condition. That's all I can say at the moment.
But I'm lucky enough -- we are lucky enough that I've done shows with Caleb all around the world in the last few years, and luckily, Rock Star energy drink has come forward, and they are -- we are going to auction off my sled through RockStarEnergy.com and my official beads (ph), which are at Jacko.Strong on Twitter. And all of the funds from that are going to be going towards Caleb to help out with his recovery.
COOPER: Well, I mean, we certainly wish him the best. And I'm glad that you're OK and that folks in the crowd were OK, as well. Jacko Strong, thank you so much.
STRONG: Thank you very much.
COOPER: In tonight's "American Journey," the story of how one football game got to be a multibillion dollar industry. Super Bowl Sunday, it's almost upon us, and the National Retail Advertising and Marketing Association is predicting a record-breaking year for the number of people who will be watching and the amount of money they'll be spending. Tom Foreman reports.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The numbers expected from the big game are staggering: 179 million fans will likely watch. Almost eight million will buy new TVs. And total consumer spending for wings, beer, pizza, and more will top $12 billion.
So how did we get there from here? This is believed to be the oldest film of a college football match, Princeton and Yale, 1903. At that time, a version of the game had already been played for 30 years, but football as we know it was just beginning its American journey. MICHAEL ORIARD, FORMER NFL PLAYER: We're talking about a period when the game was being played in college and maybe 2 percent of Americans were even going to college.
FOREMAN: Michael Oriard is a former NFL player turned author and college professor.
ORIARD: So why would they care about what the boys are doing with their spare time? Well, the popular press transformed the game into this popular spectacle.
FOREMAN: Through florid, hyperventilating accounts, newspaper readers were drawn into a competitive world so violent that horrendous injuries and even fatalities were common. The game was so wild, many wanted it banned outright, prompting President Theodore Roosevelt, a fan, to plead with organizers to tone it down.
(on camera): He succeeded, and football has grown ever since, developing a professional league before World War I, and not terribly long after World War II, surging in popularity.
ORIARD: And what changed that in the 1950s was television. Television made it possible for football fans everywhere to follow professional football, and it also opened it up, then, a game for people who had no connection whatsoever with universities.
FOREMAN (voice-over): TV turned it into big league entertainment with slow-motion replays, cute cheerleaders and superstar athletes. Today, pro football has, by far, no more fans than any other American sport, and each Super Bowl is a record breaker even before the kickoff.
Tom Foreman, CNN, looking for tickets in Washington.
COOPER: Coming up, what's a Super Bowl party without $65,000 worth of chicken wings? "The RidicuList" is next.
COOPER: Time now for "the RidicuList." Tonight we've got a story from Georgia, where police say two employees at a cold storage facility outside of Atlanta broke in and stole -- wait for it -- $65,000 worth of chicken wings.
Police say the two guys rented a truck, backed it up to the bay doors, and used a forklift to load up ten pallets of frozen chicken wings.
Now think about that. $65,000 worth of hot wings. See, they're hot wings because they were stolen. I kid. Never mind.
I cannot even really conceptualize how many chicken wings you get for $65,000, other than apparently, you need a forklift to do it. Luckily, a reporter from WGCL was nice enough to break it down for us. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This bag of Tyson frozen chicken wings, about 5 pounds of it, is $12.50. So that's $65,000 worth of chicken divided by $12.50, times five. That's 26,000 pounds of frozen chicken wings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Twenty-six thousand pounds. I still can't really picture it, but it does beg the question why. Why would someone need that many chicken wings? Local residents are understandably concerned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did they recover the chicken wings? I mean, is it a total loss?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First off, you'll need some hot sauce with that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sixty-five thousand dollars in chicken wings? It sounds like a well-planned heist to me, with the Super Bowl coming up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That is a pretty sound theory: 26,000 pounds of wings would be quite the centerpiece for one heck of a blow-out Super Bowl party. And it was a well-timed, if ill-fated heist, because chicken wings are at an all-time high price this year, according to the National Chicken Council. They say that Americans will eat 1.23 billion chicken wings over the Super Bowl weekend. Enough to stretch from San Francisco to Baltimore 27 times.
Suddenly, 26,000 pounds of stolen wings, it seems, well, poultry -- I mean, paltry -- in comparison. Thank you very much. I'll be here all week.
Maybe those guys were just trying to realize a dream of opening a smallish renegade Hooters. Speaking of hooters, do you know that you're eating chicken wings the wrong way? Apparently, the way to get the most out of your chicken wing is to not just cram it sloppily in blue-cheese dressing and then gnaw on it like some caveman. I guess you're supposed to debone it. But don't take it from me; take it from an expert.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You pick up the wing on either end and pull in opposite directions. Give it a little twist, find the two remaining bones, twist and pull. And voila. Hooters, the wing is our thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: That's my gift from me to you before you get down with more than a billion chicken wings this weekend. Now you can do it in a civilized, Hooters-approved way. Yes, thanks to the dream team of Anderson Cooper and some lady from Hooters on YouTube, this year you won't be just winging it.
Hey, that does it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.