Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
New Protest In Ferguson; Police Seek Two, One May Be Ferguson Shooter
Aired March 12, 2015 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much. Appreciate it, Don. Thanks for joining us. Good evening, everyone live from Ferguson where, as Don said, protesters and police are back on the streets behind me.
Not a too visible police presence and the number of protesters maybe a few dozen at the most. In the last hour or so more have arrived, very peacefully, I should add, and in many ways it is not as much different from any other night our here in front of the police headquarters.
At least not for the many, many months, and you can hear the people playing the drums behind me, and some people are dancing. People have been chanting for more or less the last hour or so.
Two police officers have now life-changing wounds to recover from, and as Don mentioned, one shot in the shoulder and the other shot in the face. The bullet is still believed to be in his head.
The people here and there are many good people here. They have taken a body blow as well. They are scared. Some have battle fatigue. They want their kids off the streets and back home in some cases.
Others fear a, and off of the streets, and others fear that all that they have accomplished is going to be eclipsed and this is how people will remember Ferguson.
Well, that is what it looked and sounded like in the chaotic hours overnight here on the street. The shock from it has yet to live. Missouri's governor is coming tomorrow to see for himself.
The Missouri Highway Patrol and county police have taken over security duty from the Ferguson Police Department. People have held a small vigil not far from here for all victims of violence whether it was directed at law enforcement or committed by the law enforcement or simply within the community, and this is the stated intention at least, and whether that spirit continues, it is too soon to tell.
And we have correspondents who have been reporting the story here ever since the first shots rang out. We begin with our Jason Carroll.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A blue line of law enforcement is on guard at the Ferguson Police Station. It is just after midnight -- when the shots rang out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was gun fire and now the cops have the guns drawn.
CARROLL: Two officers hit, and one rips through his body and exits through the back. The other officer is shot in the face, and the bullet lodges behind his ear. They were both rushed to the hospital in serious condition after what authorities call an ambush.
CHIEF JON BELMAR, ST. LOUIS COUNTY POLICE: Several shots were fired, at least three, and two officers were struck. I don't have an official status on what their condition is right now. They are conscious. However, those are very serious gunshot injuries to sustain in the upper torso, and certainly in your face.
CARROLL: At the scene, intense moments in the immediate aftermath of the shootings, and some police draw weapon, and others take cover to prepare for the possibility of more incoming fire. And then the situation seems secure, their priority to find out who just shot two of their own.
(on camera): This is Tiffen Street and if you look behind me, you can see where it is in relation to the Ferguson Police Department where the officers were shot there.
Police theorized that whoever was responsible for the shooting was standing about 125 yards north of where the officers were shot possibly right up this street here in that area.
(voice-over): Early this morning, authorities swarmed this house a half mile from the shooting scene. Dozens of law enforcement in swat gear and police dogs descend, and some enter the home through the front door.
While others try to the pry a hole through the roof, and described as a tactical situation related to the shooting investigation. Three people are taken in for questioning, two men and one woman. Iresha Turner was one of them.
IRESHA TURNER, QUESTIONED IN POLICE SHOOTING: It's 3:00 in the morning we heard, boom, boom, boom, and it is 15 police who said we ain't leaving until you open up the door. I look down, and my chest and I have a red dot on me, and I said, please don't shoot me.
CARROLL: Turner says she was protesting last night and when the shooting happened, she sped away from the scene in her car out of fear, possibly raising suspicions of law enforcement.
TURNER: After they searched the house, there was something up in the attic?
CARROLL (on camera): A gun.
TURNER: Yes, it was a gun they found in the attic. It was not to be used to hurt anyone. It was used to protect myself.
CARROLL (voice-over): She was questioned but not charged. Later on in the day, some good news, both officers are released from the hospital.
BELMAR: We are lucky, by God's grace, we didn't lose two officers last night.
CARROLL: And as the day turns into night, Ferguson is on edge as the manhunt for whoever shot the officers continues.
COOPER: And Jason Carroll joins us now. That manhunt is very much on and yet the protest continues. There are several dozen people here tonight.
CARROLL: And you know, it was unsure a little earlier today if we would even see what we were seeing right now. I was texting with some of the protesters out here who I have been in contact with actually for the past several months.
And in light of what happened last night, is there a chance that you would show up tonight, and one of the older protesters called us, he said, if it were my choice the answer would be no, but he says a lot of this is being run by younger people, many of them you see out here right now.
COOPER: We have talked to a woman who you talked to her granddaughter, and she is the one taken in for questioning today, and ultimately cleared and released. The grandmother saying she wishes people would calm down and stay off of the streets for a little while.
CARROLL: She does, and in fact, she didn't want her granddaughter coming down here last night, but she did come down here last night, and of course, when the shooting happened, rushed to them as soon as she could.
When I spoke to her earlier today, she was very emotional, Anderson about that, very emotional about, not only what happened to her granddaughter, but what is happening in this community as well.
COOPER: Jason, I want to bring in CNN producer, Shimon Prokupecz, on the late developments in this manhunt that's underway. What do we know about who they are looking for?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN PRODUCER: So we know that there are two people, one of which is believed to be the shooter. Some pretty solid leads that the police have now. I think they are getting close.
The feeling is that, you know, perhaps we will see some developments tomorrow, believed to be local people. A lot of the information that police have received about who these people are came from other protesters.
COOPER: Police have been getting information from the community about who may have been involved in the shooting?
PROKUPECZ: Yes, they have. Actually a lot of protesters who were out here last night have been talking to the police and also the police have been out in the neighborhood knocking on doors, and going into other homes, similar to what happened to this family or that Jason profiled. So there's been a lot of that in the community, and they are learning a lot of things, and they are pretty confident.
COOPER: Are you hearing from police that whoever is involved in the shooting actually was somebody who had taken part in the protest?
PROKUPECZ: They believe it is someone who was here and was taking part in the protests.
COOPER: The weapon used, it's believed a handgun was used.
PROKUPECZ: Yes, they believed it's a handgun, but some -- they are not sure. The other thing is could it have been a rifle or some kind of modified rifle. There are some smaller style rifles that could be used, because the bullet if it came from where they say it came, it traveled far. So it would have to have some kind of power. So the question is, was it some kind of modified rifle?
COOPER: OK, appreciate it, Shimon, thank you very much, and Jason Carroll as well. I want to go next to our Sara Sidner, who is with the protesters, and not a great distance from where I am standing. Sara, the mood is clearly -- well, what is the mood like?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I believe that we will win. One thing that we know is going to happen is that the thing that they keep asking for which is to indict that cop. That is the chant that is over and over again. That is not going to happen.
The grand jury said they are not going to do that and the Department of Justice is not coming after Darren Wilson. He has been exonerated. The crowd is going to start thinning out here, and you are se seeing a few people here, as opposed to quite a few more not long ago.
But I want to give you a look at where the police are in approximation to where they are, and oftentimes you will see a line of officers here, and that is not happening today, and it seems that the officers, you won't see them standing behind the cars.
Obviously, the St. Louis County Police now taking over again to do the patrolling here, and part of that is that Ferguson has 50 officers, and they cannot handle doing this every single night.
So they have agreed to come in again as they did more than the 100 days that these protests went on day in and day out before we saw the grand jury's decision -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Sara Sidner, appreciate it. We hope it stays peaceful. With me is a witness to the shooting. Bob Hudgins joins me now. Thank you very much for being with us. What did you see last night when you were here? BOB HUDGINS, FERGUSON CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE: I was standing about right there where the crowd is but on the sidewalk. From above and behind me to the northwest, I would say up Tiffen Avenue right here, I heard several shots. I have heard three and four plus, but it sounded about eight to me. I saw a guy go down, and --
COOPER: You saw one of the officers go down?
HUDGINS: Yes, and he screamed. They immediately dragged him away, and people were hitting the ground and crawling. I jumped in the car, and we left and went that way.
COOPER: Have you ever seen anything like this?
HUDGINS: No! We have felt our agencies, and sensed the power, and we're feeling good about things. My best friend from this movement said yesterday at this time, this is the happiest I have been in a long time.
COOPER: You felt like progress was being made?
HUDGINS: Yes, without the electoral process, without going through votes. We saw that we got results from being in the street and then that happened, and we can't help but get smeared with that.
COOPER: You believe -- you were worried that it takes away from what you believe the protesters have been able to accomplish?
HUDGINS: I do. I think it is a setback. It wasn't us, I would stake my life on it. Somebody taking advantage of the situation, we have had seven months to do something like that, and we never did and never have.
COOPER: Bob, I appreciate you being with us and telling us what you saw, thank you very much.
HUDGINS: Yes, indeed.
COOPER: There is a lot to tell you about in the hour ahead. Just ahead, we are going to dig deeper into the question of where the shots came from. You heard a little bit there from Bob, and look at the larger picture as well including whether the responsibility for what happened should end with those who pulled the trigger. We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRADLEY RAYFORD, WITNESSED POLICE SHOOTING: Bullets were really going right past my head. It was kind of traumatic that the -- I'm still kind of in shock because of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, for many who were here last night, it was not an easy day today. For the officers certainly who were wounded, they are out of the hospital, amazingly when you consider how close they came to losing their lives potentially. That said, they suffered life changing gunshot wounds.
As the police seek out two people possibly including the suspect and the question remains where precisely did the shots come from? With me now is John Eligon of the "New York Times," who was here last night. So you were in your car, I think charging your phone.
JOHN ELIGON, MIDWEST CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes.
COOPER: Because the demonstration has sort of died down, right?
ELIGON: Yes, it's been dwindling down, and they were fading away. And I was thinking to go back to my hotel room, and so I was thinking of going back to my room, and then about 5 minutes after I heard gunshots, and you know, people running everywhere.
COOPER: You heard the shots?
ELIGON: Yes, yes, I heard the shots.
COOPER: And did you instantly know those are shots?
ELIGON: Yes, I knew they were shots, but you know, previous protests I've covered in Ferguson, there have been gunshots so I didn't really think much of them. You know, it's hard to the say, but you know, I heard these shots. It did look like some officers were dragged, and that is when I thought that it was serious, but then I did know that they were shot.
COOPER: And where was your car?
ELIGON: My car was like directly across from the Ferguson Police Department. So if I were to go forward I would have been right across.
COOPER: And are you pretty sure the shots came from up the hill?
ELIGON: Honestly, from where I was sitting, you know, it was a loud echo so I can really tell. Honestly, it just sounded like it was from a distance, and it was not that close, but it was loud echoes.
COOPER: What happened after that?
ELIGON: After that, people were running everywhere, and cops were dropping on the ground with the shields, and shortly afterwards, you see them coming up with the guns drawn, and the protests, and the people were hands up, and the cops were going up the hill to see if the shooter was there.
And I am still sitting in the car and they were shining the light on me, and I turned on the dome, because I had my hands up, because I didn't want them to know that I was a threat. COOPER: You are based in Kansas City for the "New York Times." You've been covering demonstrations here for a long time, what impact do you think this is going to have?
ELIGON: Well, I think, you know, it really gets the issue, and brings them to the forefront, like beyond just covering this, my wife is from this area too, you know, so we have heard the whispers, but what this does is to bring the critical mass of the stories to the forefront.
And when that comes to the forefront, the more people talk about it, and the more people talk about it, then more people get involved and then we will see the folks working on the change. And before it is isolated stories here or there and people may not believe it as much.
COOPER: At this point, what do protesters want? Tonight, I've heard them chanting that the mayor needs to resign, and the police chief have stepped down, a judge, a number of people as a result of the DOJ report. What do you hear from protesters?
ELIGON: Well, you know, that is difficult thing to pinpoint, because they want resignations, which they got from the chief of police, and the city manager, and they want the mayor now. But you know, it is not like you are reaching out for voting rights or something like that.
But you want a system to change, and really, how do you define that system changing, and how do you see the system changing, and it is not something to happen overnight, and it is something that you may not see for a number of years.
It is something that the protesters are just figuring out, and one of the troubling things is that they have to figure out the strategy to get there because there are a lot of the competing strategies right now.
COOPER: Do you see a generational difference because some of the people out are younger people. I talked to some of the older people today who said, you know what, people should stay off of the streets for a while.
ELIGON: You hear that the folks who are older won't be out here as late at night. But within the generations, you will see some of the within the protesters, well, I have been here a long time the, and what are you, and what are you doing, and they are like, don't block the street, and who are you, because I have been here for day one, and so there is a few cliques forming, and so sometimes getting there. They are not always aligned on that front.
COOPER: John, thank you for the reporting, and thank you so much, John Eligon from the "New York Times."
I want to turn next to Mark O'Mara, our legal analyst. Of course, he was George Zimmerman's former defense attorney and with us also in Washington also, CNN political commentator, Van Jones, former special adviser to President Barack Obama, and here with me here in Ferguson, Neil Bruntrager, general counsel for the St. Louis Police Officers Association and also, of course, the attorney for Darren Wilson.
You have been critical, Neil, of the Justice Department's handling of the two reports that were released. You felt it was -- do you believe inappropriate to release both on the same day?
NEIL BRUNTRAGER, ST. LOUIS POLICE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION: I do. I think it was manipulative too. I think, Anderson, their point in this thing was to gloss right pass the Darren Wilson issue and run into that report. And I said to you before, give me an hour in a courtroom with that DOJ report, and I'll disassemble that report.
COOPER: Really? Do you think you can poke holes in the statistics that were in that Justice Department report?
BRUNTRAGER: I do. On so many different levels, but the important thing was the Darren Wilson aspect because that's what we are still seeing here today. The people when they were marching in the 109 days we were here. They weren't walking up and down the street saying that we are complaining about parking tickets. It was hands up don't shoot, and that was a false narrative.
COOPER: They are still saying it tonight.
BRUNTRAGER: And the attorney general owed it to these people and to the Brown family, and to the Wilson family, to explain what he did and why he did it. He owed it to the grand jury, who spent all those days listening to this. They needed to be vindicated and he should have said that because his report left it clear.
And these people who said, well, it is a different standard in the federal court, they stated the standard. They said we had to determine that there was a crime committed and that we could prevail in court. They found neither. They didn't say we're worried about this -- they said neither of those existed.
COOPER: Van Jones, what about that? I mean, was not enough attention put to the fact that Darren Wilson was cleared of wrongdoing, and that hands up don't shoot according to the Justice Department did not happen?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, I want to say my condolences and prayers are with the two officers, who almost lost their lives last night, and it is easy to use this moment to start a political fight with Eric Holder.
Listen, it is a miracle last night that nobody lost their lives, and that is important. This movement has been consistent that we are against violence. We are needless violence from the police or against the police.
I think that the vast majority of people today including Eric Holder including the president and the Mike Brown family, and every responsible protest leader across the country has condemned this the violence, and that is very, very important.
Another thing I want to say is that I'm very disappointed to hear the attorney for Darren Wilson showing such little sympathy, and such little regard for the people in Ferguson who do feel that the police department has been unfair to them, and treated them badly.
The report maybe you can poke some holes in it, but it does point to a vindication for a set of concerns that I think that if I were the attorney for Darren Wilson, I would take the opportunity to express concern and solidarity for what the people are going through.
These people are not just making stuff up and protesting for no reason. And we need more unity and more solidarity I think on all sides now especially given what happened last night.
COOPER: I want to get to Mark O'Mara, but Neil, I want you to respond to that.
BRUNTRAGER: Look, this is not an issue that I am condoning racism or anything like that, and if people really have complaints, I am all in favor for them to address those complaints, and the government to address those complaints.
This has nothing to do with me saying I don't care about that sort of thing. What I do care about is the false narrative. What I do care about is the attorney general who has a duty to make sure he explains this to the community, and meeting that duty.
That is what I am saying, get out there and tell us why you did this and why you found this, but he glossed right past it.
COOPER: Mark O'Mara, what do you make of this? Do you think you can separate the actions of Darren Wilson when he encountered Michael Brown from the overall policing situation in Ferguson?
MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think you can. I do think that the DOJ minimized the exoneration of Darren Wilson and they owed him a better explanation, but setting that aside, that report is there. I think the much more significant, and even though Neil can say that the statistics can be manipulated.
The reality is that there is a problem with the way the black community is being treated in Ferguson, first part. Second part is the entire nation now has focused on Ferguson because of the Mike Brown shooting, and I think that DOJ, Ferguson itself, Missouri owes it to their own citizenry, and to the rest of us to say to Ferguson, we are not going to allow this to continue.
That is why I think the Ferguson Police Department should be reconstituted under DOJ supervision, not because every officer is bad, but because there is so little trust, and we have such an opportunity to say, look, we found it in Ferguson.
We know it exists in a thousand other towns in America, but we are going to show you that when we find it in Ferguson, we can fix it, and five years from now, or three years from now, we can look back and say, Ferguson is a police department that has respect and earned the respect of its community. If we don't do that, the frustration is going to continue, there is going to be another Ferguson and more problems.
COOPER: Van, do you believe the Ferguson Police Department should be reconstituted and disbanded and have the St. Louis County Police patrol the streets?
JONES: I do. And I also think that Darren Wilson's attorney does make a point that is worth hearing. By putting out both of those reports at the same time, the one on the one hand exonerates the individual officer, and at the same time condemns the whole department.
It did not give enough space for really either conversation, and I'm not saying that he does not have any point to make, but tone matters right now. It is a dirty little secret that nobody in the nonviolent movement wants to talk about, and the dirty secret is that no nonviolent movement.
Not Gandhi's or Dr. King's was able to escape some violence from the fringe. Gandhi had to stop his movement twice because of the violence from the fringe. Dr. King the last march he tried to lead in Memphis broke out into a riot and he came back to Memphis to do it over that's when he got killed.
So this violence from the fringe has always hunted these non- violent movements and you have to be honest about the fact that there is that danger and you have to be very aggressive with any hint of that in your rhetoric because o otherwise you open the door for these types of things.
So I think that all of us have to be a lot more reflective now. We almost had a tragedy of unimaginable proportions, let's listen to each other, and look at the tone and let's try to -- we don't agree on the stuff, but get through this better than we've been in the past seven months.
BRUNTRAGER: Anderson, if I could, listen, I think that the tone is very, very important. What I think we have to do is to get through the rhetoric, and my argument with the attorney general was he could have done that. He could have cleared up so many of these issues and he didn't.
So now we do have to go forward and with what Mark said, there is no intent to reform this department. This department is going to be closed down.
COOPER: No doubt about it?
BRUNTRAGER: No doubt in my mind. I think the Justice Department has set it up so that they can't succeed. So now what is going to happen to St. Louis County is going to have to come in. If you put a consent decree on these people, the city of Ferguson cannot afford it. They can't do it, so they will close them down, and so again,
the idea of reform won't happen that way. It is going to change, and we do have to have change, and we do have to talk about these things, but talk about real facts.
COOPER: Mark, I want to give you the final word here. Do you think that shutting down the department is what needs to happen?
O'MARA: I think it is absolutely necessary because it is going to help the community, and the nation to heal from now Ferguson being the example of how it's been done wrong to the black community. Take the opportunity, reconstitute it and do it in a way that we can start regaining the faith that we absolutely have to have.
Because without faith in the system, we will continue the have problems, and the black community knows that there are real issues here. If we fail to address them then we are not doing what we are supposed to be doing.
COOPER: Mark O'Mara, Van Jones, and Neil Bruntrager, thank you all very much. Good discussion.
I'm going to talk to the grandmother of the woman who was taken in for questioning today after police raided her house. Hear what she has to say about whether she believes protesters should continue for now. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Welcome back. We are live here in Ferguson, Missouri, where again protesters are out on the streets tonight. Not a lot, and there are a lot of reporters covering the protesters. It is hard to tell exactly how many protesters there are, maybe a few dozen.
But at it is mostly people milling around and watching police, a few people chanting, sometimes playing the drum, and some are holding signs. And the police presence is not very visible.
There are several SUVs which are parked between the fire department, and the Ferguson Police Department. There are a number of police officers, some of them behind the SUVs, and others are standing out. You will see some of the officers there from a number of different departments.
I saw four or five police officers wearing helmets with Kevlar shields in front of their helmets, and not riot gear, but closer to it than the officers who were just wearing the Kevlar vests underneath their shirts.
Earlier, I talked to a woman named Iris Turner, her granddaughter was actually taken into custody earlier today because she had been seen leaving the scene of the protest and the shooting last night.
Her grandmother said she was leaving the scene because her grandmother was on the phone with her at that time saying, you need to get out of there because shots have been fired.
She was questioned with by police, her granddaughter was, and released as were two other people, and as we said, there is a manhunt going on for two possible suspects right now, and one of whom police say may have been the shooter, and that is very much under way.
And I talked to Iris Turner about what happened to her granddaughter, and also what she believes the protesters should do now.
COOPER: Thanks very much for being with us. I know it has been a difficult 24 hours for you, your granddaughter was here at the protest when the shots rang out.
IRIS TURNER, GRANDDAUGHTER'S HOUSE RAIDED BY POLICE: Yes.
COOPER: She called you. What did she say?
TURNER: She called and said, Grandma, they have shot a police. And I said, where are you, and she said, I was at the protests, and I said, get you get your -- home. And she said me and the baby and we are going home.
And we call her son, MJ, and I said, you get and MJ get in the car, and I said, are you all in the car, and she said, yes, and she said, I am going straight home and I will call you in the morning.
So the next morning, she did not call. And I got a call the next morning at 7:00-something, it was one of my girl friends and she said, girl, your granddaughter house is surrounded with s.w.a.t., and a mess, and they got Iresha and her house is surrounded.
COOPER: So you went down there?
TURNER: No, I don't have a car. So after they called me, I had trying to call a ride. I was hysteric, and I was running around the house like a chicken without a head, and I was hysteric, and so I called my other granddaughter, she came and got me after she dropped her kids off and she came to get me.
COOPER: So the fact that it seemed that -- because they held your granddaughter for many hours, and then came to get you.
TURNER: By the time I got there, they said that she was around the corner in the police car. They could not let me go down there because I could look down the street, and see them walking around in her house. And then I saw a guy with the ax, and tearing up the house on top on the roof.
COOPER: It seemed like they focused on your granddaughter because she got in the car and took off.
TURNER: And that is what one police said, we seen her taking off, and we followed her, and then after we followed her, we followed her back, and she came back to her house. No.
COOPER: So did you tell the police, well, she got in the car because I was telling her to do that.
TURNER: Yes. But this is the thing. She can't be two places at one time. She was dropped him off way from her house, and then she came back and went into the house, and then the police came.
COOPER: So what do you think, should the protests continue because earlier in the day, you were saying that the time, people should be letting things cool down and stay at home for a while?
TURNER: I think that they just need to let it rest. Rest their minds and let everybody rest for a minute because all of this here is confusion. Just like my granddaughter got caught up in a bunch of lies.
COOPER: You feel like it went on too long?
TURNER: Yes, too long, and this right here, has got my grand baby so devastated, and my granddaughter, well, where she stay at -- she has to move and they have to fix it. They went around and tore up her house, and my grandson is scared to go home. And the police can be wrong, too.
They had said they had a tip, and somebody sent them to the house. They sent them to the house, and they said, we just picked it, well, no, it is a mistake.
COOPER: But you are hoping tonight that people don't protest, just let it rest.
TURNER: Yes, just let it cool down because my granddaughter, we thought she was in a world of trouble and come to find out, she didn't even do anything.
COOPER: Iris, I am glad that she is doing fine, and you are fine.
TURNER: Yes, they need to fix this and they need to fix it, and she needs a place to go because my grandson is scared to come back there.
COOPER: Thank you, Iris. Appreciate it. Thank you.
TURNER: Thank you.
COOPER: It's begun to rain just a little bit here. That also may deter other protesters from coming to join the few dozen or so people who have come out so far. Just had some powerful words from Michael Brown's family condemning the, quote, "Senseless shootings of the Ferguson police officers." More ahead.
COOPER: Well, even in the grief, Michael Brown's parents have urged protesters in Ferguson and across the country to remain peaceful while pushing for the police reforms.
In a statement today, they said and I quote, "The family of Michael Brown Jr. condemns this morning's senseless shooting of two Ferguson police officers. We reject any kind of violence against directed toward members of law enforcement. It cannot and will not be tolerated. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the officers injured during this morning's shooting and their families."
Now, take a moment to just let that sink in, two people whose teenage son killed by a Ferguson police officer remain unequivocal in their commitment to peaceful change.
Benjamin Crump is their attorney. He joins me now here in Ferguson. When you first talked to the family, Michael Brown's family after the shooting, what was their initial response?
BENJAMIN CRUMP, BROWN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Everybody woke up this morning to this horrible news, and Michael Brown's mother, Leslie said that I feel sympathetic towards the families of these police officers that was shot, and, you know, I would just hope that the law enforcement community would extend the same sympathy to her.
But it was important for them to say it is wrong. It is not what anybody wants, Anderson. Think about what was going on the momentum where they were finally getting the city to respond to the terrible findings in the Justice Department --
COOPER: By the Justice Department.
CRUMP: And this thaws all of that momentum off a distraction to try to get some real positive change.
COOPER: You are saying that apart from the horror of two police officers being shot here and being injured and the horror for their families and their friends, that it actually for what the objectives or what the protesters want, it actually gets you farther away from this objectives.
CRUMP: It gets you farther away from it because nobody is talking about the DOJ report, and rightfully so, any time you have senseless acts of violence, you have to condemn it, and you have to be stern. You have to be away from it. This is now what we want. Violence is never ever is the solution as Dr. King said.
And I think the majority of the peaceful protesters have all been pushing it. How many days have went by and you know, you never had anything like this to deal and now we are having to deal with this and it's just a distraction. We are prayerful and thankful that the officers got to return home today.
COOPER: Should the protesters continue for now or should -- I mean, I talked to Iris Turner, a grandmother, who said, maybe things should cool down a little bit. Others said absolutely not.
CRUMP: Well, the peaceful protesters, you know, even peacefully protesting is honoring them as well, because remember this isn't about anti-campaign against the police, this is is an a anti-campaign against bad police officers.
And good police officers should say we want to work with the community. We want to make sure that this is a lesson for everybody in America to say, let Ferguson be the example, and let's talk about how we never let this happen again.
COOPER: But there a lot of the people who, you know, support the police and look at the protests and say, you know what, this is actually -- you know, it is not a surprise that some police officers have been shot. I mean, given some of the vitriol that have been said, and the words spoken, and the animosities that have been, you know, displayed, and totally justifiable but --
CRUMP: Yes, Anderson, it is on both sides. You will have the fringe element on both sides, and neither one of them is good. We really need to say as Americans, we all need to come together, understand our community, we need the police.
And the police hopefully should understand they need the community to work with them to achieve law and order, and we can't achieve it without one another. We have to work together, and let that be the legacy for Michael Brown, Jr., not this heinous act of violence.
We want real positive change. I don't want to be talking to you again about another person unarmed being shot and killed by a police officer.
COOPER: Benjamin Crump, good to talk to you. Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.
Just ahead, as police investigate the shooting of two of their own, as we said, a manhunt is underway for two people they believe may have been involved. Question about some witness accounts of where the shots actually came from. We're going to take a closer look at that next.
COOPER: We want to take a closer look now at the scene of last night's shooting where two officers were wounded and hit. The officers were among those in front of the police station behind me, protecting it while about 100 protesters were across the street.
Witnesses said the shots came in from a hill on nearby Tiffen Avenue. Tom foreman has more.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is fully possible that shots could be fired from up that hill. They could fly in over the heads of the protesters and strike the police on the other side of the road, but if you rotate this around, you look directly up Tiffen Avenua, you can see why investigators have doubts about that.
Because the shots would have originated right at the limit of sight there and traveled 100 to 125 yards to get here based on these account, and that is a really long shot for a pistol. They can be effective at that range, and lethal at that range, but very hard though to be controlled very well, and put the shot where somebody might want to put it.
That is much more likely to happen with a skilled marksman at something like this range about a quarter or less than the distance we are talking about. It does not mean that it was fired from over here at the protesters, but it means that the investigators have to look very seriously at that possibility.
COOPER: And we said that a manhunt is under way -- two people that the police are looking at two names of people that they are looking at and one may be perhaps the shooter. And again, these are very early reports. We will have to see that once the case develops.
Joining me now is Neil Bruntrager, general counsel for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, a frequent on this program and also attorney for Officer Darren Wilson and also joining me here is St. Louis Alderman Antonio French.
Neil, the ambush of the two officers, should the blame begin and end with the person who pulled -- persons who pulled the trigger because some today have suggested that protesters have been pouring kerosene on the situation here.
BRUNTRAGER: Anderson, this is a criminal act. Obviously, the responsibility for this act belongs to the people who pulled the trigger and they have to be held accountable for what they have done. I don't believe that the protesters who were up there, irrespective of what the tone has been.
I don't think that they are at all responsible for what happened. This is a simple criminal act that was committed and they are assassins, and they need to be treated like assassins.
COOPER: Antonio, obviously you would agree that I assume that this is the act of an individual or individuals, and it should not impact the protests. Do you believe the protests should continue?
ANTONIO FRENCH, ST. LOUIS ALDERMAN: You know, I think that we shouldn't be distracted for what folks are out here for. They are still trying to get systemic change out here in the region to right some of the wrongs that have been going on for a very long time especially those that were outlined in the DOJ report.
But I think people need to be respectful that a person was harmed, an officer, two officers were harmed last night, and I think it's possible to still protest in a way that is respectful. So right now we don't see very many protesters out here. I expect that may change later.
COOPER: There is supposed to be a vigil tonight, vigil against violence, whether it is violence against the police or the civilians. FRENCH: Yes, and I hope that there is a tone here to come together because we want the violence to end on both sides, and what happened last night did not help anybody. That actually acts to make our community less safe, as it further could possibly divide the police and the community.
COOPER: Neil, what about the DOJ report? I mean, if the federal government did not settle this, and the community is faced with resignations, what needs to happen now? Because obviously, a lot of the stuff, and the DOJ report, they have talked about Darren Wilson and the whole hands up, and don't shoot.
There is no evidence that it actually occurred as the narrative early on developed by some witnesses, but we have already seen a number of resignations in the wake of this DOJ report, what do you think needs to happen here?
BRUNTRAGER: Well, I am glad you brought that up, because I think that that -- I mean, that's a real hot button for me, and what you have to understand the way that the federal government has handled that report.
So there were two things that were released on the same day, and anybody who says that we are not being manipulated by the federal government isn't paying attention. The leaks that came out were done to manipulate us and the way that they released the DOJ report along with the Darren Wilson finding were done to manipulate us.
Now what should have happened on the day that it was released is that the attorney general should have sat down and said to everyone, listen, you need to read the 86-page report, and go over this in detail, because if you do, you will have confidence in the investigation that was done.
They went page by page, witness by witness, piece of evidence by piece of evidence, and they said here is why this supports the decision, which is the only decision that we could make which is that there was no criminal activity.
But when you listen to attorney general, what he said was that there was no prosecutable conduct. That is distinctly different from justifiable or no criminal activity. What the attorney general should have done is to vehemently and carefully gone over all of it.
And make sure that people understood that the decision of the grand jury was the only decision that could be reached. He didn't do any of that, Anderson, and I think he let the community down, and the country down and let Darren Wilson down.
COOPER: You clearly believe though that the focus of -- do you believe that is true?
FRENCH: No, I disagree. I think that the attorney general went out of his way to present both the Department of Justice report, and he is right that there was not a prosecutable case under federal law which is a much higher threshold. COOPER: Antonio French, appreciate it and Neil Bruntrager as well. We will be right back.
COOPER: Let's get a quick update on some stories we are following, Amara Walker has got a 360 News and Business Bulletin -- Amara.
AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, at the Boston bombing trial for the first time jurors saw video of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev going to an ATM and withdrawing $800 from the account of a man he and his brother had just carjacked. They then drove the SUV to a gas station where the man fled as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was buying food.
A 35-year-old woman was killed and two other tourists were injured when a surfacing whale hit their boat. The group was returning from a snorkeling trip off the coast of Mexico.
And a 360 follow out of Utah where a 18-month-old girl who survived 14 hours in a partially submerged car is now out of the hospital. Her father says she is doing great even singing -- Anderson.
COOPER: Amara, thanks very much. Thanks for watching. Morgan Spurlock "INSIDE MAN" starts now.