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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
11 Shoot, 4 Killed in Dallas Shooting; Dallas Gunman Identified; Ryan, Pelosi Urge Americans to "Come Together Following Dallas Shooting; A.G. Loretta Lynch to Speak about Dallas Shootings. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired July 8, 2016 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: That ultimately killed him. Why would you use -- in what circumstance, Harry, would you use such a device?
HARRY HOUCK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I'll tell you, John, this is the first time I've heard about this device. It's interesting to me. The fact they had to use this device would make it a lot easier for police officers to take him down. A man who's got an A.R.- 15-type weapon, wearing some kind of body armor, and the only way to take this guy down would be for officers to rush him. Now, officers' lives could be in danger, so the best thing you can do is put this bomb on this device and walk it right up to him. You don't know what's going on. And detonate the device. Now, you've taken care of the sniper problem. At the same time, you have police officers that have lived through this specific event.
BERMAN: Gregory Thomas, I want to talk about the atmosphere not just in Dallas but around the country that was brought up by the Dallas police chief, David Brown, who's been so emotional, yet so inspiring all night as his police force has been under attack, while at the same time protecting the people of Dallas. He said this morning, we don't feel much support these days. Let's not make today most days. It just seems undeniable, you talk to officers all the time, they feel like they are under attack, they feel under constraint criticism right now.
GREGORY THOMAS, PRESIDENT, THE NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF BLACK LAW EXECUTIVES: That's the nature of the job on any given day, as my chief mentioned. My heart goes out to Chief Brown, his staff there, the families because I know him as a colleague. I watched last night to see him, you know, be steadfast in his direction, to make sure his men and women were safe and also more importantly the community that was there marching peacefully were safe.
Now take a step back. For me, the troubling events that have happened, that are gut-wrenching, gut-punching to the nation. So as a nation, we got hit hard with the shooting of Mr. Sterling in Baton Rouge, followed up by the shooting of Mr. Castillo in Minnesota, and then last night, having the nation hobbled over. We got to stand up now as a nation. It's time for leadership to step to the front both in the law enforcement side and also on the community side to come together and say this is the time now to make sure this is the last moment that the chief referred to where police are feeling like they're under siege on a regular basis.
BERMAN: Both things can be true. Police can feel like they are under siege, and they do so. Chief David Brown just said so. And many in the African-American community can feel like they are being treated differently by law enforcement. Both those things can't be true at the same time. If both things are true, how then do you heal that divide? Lord knows we need trust.
THOMAS: The first thing is not just hear what they're saying but listen to what they're saying. As an example of all three categories. I'm an African-American male, a parent of two African-American young men in law enforcement. So I get it. I've been here in Brooklyn, born and raised in Brooklyn. I get it. I understand where the tension comes from. That aside, it's time for leadership to step in the middle of this gap, like NOBEL is going to be doing, all this time has been doing We're going to step in the middle of that gap, create that conversation and make sure it's ongoing. Just can't be a conversation that happens. It has to be ongoing. Because, you know, this is a moment in time that's rare, thankfully. I got this morning -- you referenced this morning that 9/11 was the last time there was this police officers killed. This morning when I got up, felt like 9/11. I remember how this felt, this din over me about a gasp for breath. It has to be an ongoing conversation between law the community.
BERMAN: Tom Fuentes, around the country we're hearing about precautions being taken by law enforcement. New York City, they've ramped up security for their officers and all precincts. Other departments we're told are not letting their officers walk alone or drive alone on patrol. Do you think these types measures are required now, Tom?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think so, when you have this many officers targeted and gunned down. Even if the shooter was all by himself in that part of a group, you still have copycats out there, you still have the anger against law enforcement that's been described for the last couple of days in particular, so that's still a possibility. The other question I would have is if you're a police commander and there are protest marches, what do you do with your officers? Do you send them out without heavier body armor, heavier equipment, and put them in the situation that they're just totally outgunned, which is what we saw last night? Handguns and thin Kevlar vests under police shirts won't stop rifle fire or an A.R.-15-type bullet, and certainly a handgun going against a gun like that is not going to be a good situation for the cops.
BERMAN: There's a reason why they were equipped like that, Tom, because the last few weeks and months, if you're out there doing protest duty, you want to not just blend in more, you want to seem less obtrusive. You don't want to be armed up to the teeth, you know --
[11:35:16] FUENTES: That's true. That's true. You don't want that. We've heard the criticism of militarization. But on the other hand, even not fearing the marchers, you know, the police protecting the protesters as they were doing, but you have to fear that maybe they'll be attacked by somebody else or another group, which is what happened. So you're putting officers out there. I just said yesterday I can understand it. What do you do tonight if there are protests and the police have to protect the protesters? Do you gamble again?
BERMAN: Harry Houck, quick question here. The investigation right now, we just got his identity. Just learned he'd been in the Army Reserves, so obviously, received some military training. What else are you doing right now in the investigation?
HOUCK: Well, I'd like to find out his military record. When was he in the Reserves? Is he still in the Reserves? He probably chose that weapon, an A.R.-15-type weapon because he used something just like that in the military, an M-16, so he probably got proficient on it. They're probably checking his telephone records. They're conducting a search of his home. They'll try to find out any information to find out if there's any type of conspiracy, if other people are involved, was he talking to somebody who talked him into committing this type of act. They're talking to neighbors. They're going to track that weapon. How do you get this weapon? That's a very important part.
Another thing also, I'd like to know what his psychological condition might have been. Was he under some type of medication or not? That's going to be very important.
BERMAN: These are all questions they're no doubt asking. There are still three people in custody being questioned.
Gentlemen, thank you so much. Stick around. A lot more to talk about.
Any moment now, the attorney general, Loretta Lynch, she will speak about this ambush, these murders in Dallas of five police officers. We'll bring that to you as soon as it happens.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:40:] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not one person. This is a person --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: What began overnight as a peaceful protest on the streets of Dallas ended in mayhem and death. Tragedy. Much of that city, much of the nation, still coming to grips with what unfolded last night. Five police officers killed, assassinated, murdered. The suspect now identified as 25-year-old Micah Xavier Johnson. He said he wanted to kill white people, particularly white police officers. He said he was upset about the recent police shootings. Now, there is a lot that remains unclear. We did just learn also he had military training, part of the Army Reserves at one point. Unclear if he was still a member of the Reserves.
What is clear is that this week, this nation is on edge. This morning on Capitol Hill, members of the House urged Americans to come together regardless of differences.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There's no cause or context in which this violence, this kind of terror, is justified, none at all. There will be a temptation to let our anger harden our divisions. Let's not let that happen. There's going to be a temptation to let our anger send us further into our corners. Let's not let that happen. That script is just too easy to write.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Episodes like this must not harden our divisions but should unify us as a country. We are all horrified by this despicable act of violence and we share in the shock and grief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: You saw there the House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, both making statements, coming together. What you see there is our better angels in this time when this nation does need to come together to heal.
We're getting new details about the shooter. He has been identified. We're finding out more about his past. We're getting our first look at him.
I want to bring in our justice correspondent, Evan Perez.
Evan, what do you have?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: This is a picture we now have confirmed is the shooter, John, and as you -- as we reported earlier, you know, we've been talking to neighbors about what exactly he was like. Certainly what he expressed to police is some hatred of white people, certainly white police officers. And neighbors told our reporters there on the scene that they didn't see that. They saw him in the company of white people. He was a bit of a loner. He lived with his mother and really kind of kept to himself. So not a lot known about him. We know the police are now on the scene. They've swarmed that neighborhood in Mesquite, Texas, just outside Dallas. One of the things they are looking for obviously is whether or not there's anybody else involved, whether or not there's any kind of connections to extremist groups. We so far have not found any indication of that.
But really, I want to go back a little bit to what the attorney general is about to talk about, John. She just finished doing this 13-city tour where she went from Indianapolis to Phoenix, Pittsburgh, all across the country, highlighting places, police departments that are doing community policing, where police have developed programs, where they have good relationships with the communities that they protect and serve. And that was the purpose of her tour, to try to really change the conversation, not only focusing on these police involved shootings, which her department is very much involved in investigating, but also the sort of reinforced the best practices in police departments now. Really, you can see how much tension there is. You've been covering it all morning.
[11:45:20] I've got in my hands right now a situational report that was sent out by the FBI to police departments around the country. This document really talks about plans by some people on social media, they've been talking on social media about launching riots, purges, so to speak, in various cities, including Baton Rouge and Shreveport, in reaction to that police-involved shooting in Baton Rouge. Our Nick Valencia there in Baton Rouge talked to the state police. They say they're aware of this document and they believe right now there's no threat, however, they're still checking on it, they're trying to make sure police officers are safe. There's a lot of very graphic images of what people say they want to do to police officers. Again, heightening the tensions we've been seeing around the country.
As a result of this document, though, you're seeing police in Boston, in Washington, in New York, they're issuing orders to their police officers that now, at least for the foreseeable, the officers are going to be going in pairs. They want to make sure officers aren't alone and aren't a target for people who might be inspired to do something -- John?
BERMAN: Understandable precautions at this point.
Evan Perez, thank you so much.
Want to go to Mesquite, Texas. Joining us on the phone is Ed Lavandera.
Ed, Mesquite, the hometown of this shooter, this 25-year-old Micah Xavier Johnson, we're now just learning had serve in the Army Reserves. What are you seeing on the ground there or hearing from people in town?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Well, there's a lot of stunned neighbors here in this quiet neighborhood. This is the town of Mesquite, Texas, which is a suburb just to the east of Dallas. I got a chance to speak with a number of neighbors. Right now, Mesquite police have the street where Micah Xavier Johnson lived with his mother essentially blocked off as Dallas police officers have been inside searching through the home. I spoke with one neighbor who told us officers arrived here in the neighborhood about 1:00 in the morning and many people just stunned.
Not a lot of people who have actually know much about him. We did speak with one neighbor who said after his time in Afghanistan, they had noticed a change in Micah Johnson and he was a bit of a recluse, wasn't seen very often. I spoke with a handful of other neighbors who also said the same thing. Showed him a picture of him, and not many people could really pick him out. A lot of people here stunned by the news and development here in their neighborhood this morning.
BERMAN: Looking at live pictures right now, aerials of Mesquite, of the neighborhood.
Interesting, Ed, that police first arrived on the scene at 1:00 a.m. because that would be before the shooter was killed. It would be right in the middle of the activity in Dallas when he was still engaged in a standoff with police. It would indicate police knew who he was while they were staring him down.
LAVANDERA: Remember, officers have been saying throughout the night they were involved in negotiations with this suspect and obviously communicating with him to some degree and it wasn't until those communications deteriorated, according to Dallas police officers, that the situation there became violent again. But this sounds like a steady flow of conversation between this man and officers to obviously lead them to his family, his address, getting the name rather quickly and probably explain why officers were able to descend to this neighborhood quickly to the shock and dismay of many people that live there.
BERMAN: Ed Lavandera, we'll let you get back to reporting there, talking to people in Mesquite, Texas. Thank you so much, Ed.
Live pictures now. You can see the podium at the Department of Justice, attorney general, Loretta Lynch, expected to speak any minute on the killings of the police officers in Dallas. We'll bring it to you as soon as it happens.
[11:52:30] BERMAN: Live pictures from the Department of Justice where Loretta Lynch is set to speak on the mass killing of Dallas police officers overnight. A shooter killed five officers in the deadliest incident, deadliest attacks on U.S. Law enforcement since September 11th.
Let's talk about this. Back with me now is Gregory Thomas. And also joining us, CNN political commentator, Bakari Seller; and Nekima Levy- Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP; and CNN legal analyst, Mark O'Mara, and criminal defense attorney.
Bakari, pure and simple, you call what happened in Texas overnight a hate crime?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Definitely. This is a hate crime. It needs to be called as such. Micah Xavier Johnson is not a freedom fighter or a drum major for justice or a martyr. He is the exact same as Dylan Roof. We have to be clear about that. I think it's incumbent on me saying that as a young African-American male. We are 26 days from Orlando. Two young African-Americans killed at the hand of law enforcement. The law enforcement that gave their life protecting that protest, protecting our First Amendment right, I mourn for them as well. Today is a very sad day in our country. Hopefully, we can come together like we did after we did in Charleston, South Carolina.
BERMAN: You have written, Mark O'Mara, about what Bakari is talking about. This is a sad day. He notes how much mourning there has been over the last days and weeks. Too much, frankly. What is to be done? What concrete steps?
MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: We can't let the anarchist -- that is what this guy was yesterday -- get in the way of the enormous amount of work that we have to do. It is unfortunate that we know these are very difficult days to be black. We've been talking about it for years. It is very difficult days to be cops. Those are the two communities that are the answer. They are the solution to what we have to get done. Unfortunately, we are trying to do it now where both sides, if you call them sides, are at their most vulnerable. How difficult does it have to be for a cop to go on his route today knowing what happened to his brothers yesterday? We still deal with the difficulties of the interactions between blacks and law enforcement because of the two blacks just killed in the past 48 hours. But the solution lies in doing this holistically, in looking at it and committing to funding law enforcement better and training them better, and do more community policing. It is the only way we are going to start on a path that will lead to a solution, which is still, unfortunately, years off.
[11:55:27] BERMAN: Nekima, I want is to bring you into this. There was so much outrage, so many questions. And the protest in Dallas last night largely over what happened in Minneapolis. Now, we are mourning another tragedy. Your thoughts?
NEKIMA LEVY-POUNDS, PRESIDENT, MINNEAPOLIS NAACP: Well, obviously, the nation is at a crossroads. People are concerned about the state of police/community relations. We have a manifestation of the unfinished business from the civil rights movement, the fact that during that particular era, there were quite a number of challenges between police officers and the African-American community. We can not see these as isolated incidents. This is part of an American narrative which has been unfolding, in which African-Americans have been pushed to the margins of society. They face a not only a disproportionate rate of contact with police officers but racial disproportionally within the criminal justice system itself. That disproportionate contract opens the doors for the types of deadly encounters in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis.
We mourn for the officers killed last night but the reality that is this was one person. His egregious conduct is not indicative of the conduct of the majority of protesters, activists and freedom fighters around the country that are simply looking for equal treatment under the law and reforms in policing.
BERMAN: Gregory Thomas, as you have so eloquently noted, you are a member of just about every group that is under discussion. You are a cop. You are an African-American. Well. You look at what happened in Dallas. If you are a police officer showing up to work today, how do you go do your job? What's going through your head as you are doing your job?
THOMAS: You keep your head high. You come together. You bond. You have emotions. You want to focus on what happened last night in Dallas and around the country. You keep your nose to the grind and your eyes on the focus of what you did. But I am concerned as I just heard your colleagues in D.C., about the
reports of possible revenge activities going on around the country. I bring back to us at a time in the civil rights movement when Dr. King made a quote that's famous where he said, if we engage in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, we are going to be a blind, toothless nation. Again, here we are now. Let's take a step back and be leaders in each community. It is two sides. It is time to unite over this leadership and get it done. It's time to step to the forefront for law enforcement and the community and get this done right.
BERMAN: How important is it for someone like Bakari to call it what it is in Dallas? Bakari Sellers calls it a hate crime.
THOMAS: For me, the title is not relevant. I respect Bakari and I know him well. Let's take a step back and look at it, no matter what you call it. It is time to get together and reconcile it. The time is now. It is not tomorrow. It should have been yesterday. But it's surely not tomorrow.
BERMAN: No time to wait.
We have about a minute left. I want to talk quickly about the investigation. What threads are you interested in following up right now.
THOMAS: Clearly, as I'm hearing more of what now has been clearly. There is leakage in law enforcement. It is not going to be a surprise to some people. Some people are going to say, yeah, I saw this coming. He either uses social media or some other medium to get this word out before he did it. It wasn't spontaneous. He has some leakage out there. We have to work hard to find out about that people that knew about it.
BERMAN: Gregory Thomas, Bakari Sellers, Nekima Levy-Pounds and Mark O'Mara, thank you.
Again, Loretta Lynch set to speak at the Justice Department. She is running late. We do not know what she will say. She will speak about the shootings in Dallas overnight. We are also waiting to hear what the president's plans are in the coming days and hours.
Thanks so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR.
"LEGAL VIEW" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.
[12:00:14] ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.