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Violent Protests Over North Carolina Police Shooting; New Charges for Bombing Suspect; U.S.: Russia "Responsible" for Aid Convoy Bombing. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 21, 2016 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:54] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The breaking news this morning, a tense situation in Charlotte, North Carolina, right now. Protesters on the streets after a black man is shot and killed by police. Some of these demonstrations have become violent. All of this after a different black man was shot and killed by police in Tulsa. We have the very latest.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And new details about the suspect in the bombings in New York and New Jersey. He now faces federal charges with new revelations this morning about his alleged activities in the days before the bombings.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: You know, I'm John Berman. Thirty-one minutes past.

There are a lot going on in the developing situation in North Carolina after police shot and killed a black man there. Police in riot gear, you can see it right here, using tear gas to disperse the protesters. Those protesters, some of whom having thrown rocks and water bottles. Police say at least a dozen officers were injured in the blasts. No word on injuries among the protesters.

Protesters did set a fire on the road and there was looting in front of trucks that were forced to stop in place. The mayor of Charlotte is calling for calm into the investigation into the shooting of 43- year-old Keith Lamont Scott by an Officer Brentley Vinson. Now, both the officer and victim were African-American.

We want to listen to the local police chief describe what led up to the shooting.


KERR PUTNEY, CHARLOTTE POLICE CHIEF: At this point, all we know is they're in the apartment complex parking lot, and this subject gets out with a weapon, they engage him and one of the officers felt a lethal threat and fired his weapon because of that.

REPORTER: So, the warrants weren't for the man but we're not sure if this man was connected?

PUTNEY: Absolutely. They were not specific to the deceased, but we don't know if there's a connection of the deceased with the suspect that we're looking for.


BERMAN: Again, the warrant was not for the man who was killed. Police say he did have a gun. The family of Keith Lamont Scott disputes that.

Nevertheless, what protesters are hearing from police is not sitting well.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But as far as my child, my nephews, I am concerned, I'm worried about them. Something has to be done, whether it's our city leaders, whether our state leaders, these presidential candidates that are coming on to the scene, something has to be done. There was a terrorist in New Jersey and New York, he was taken alive. They said they wanted to question him. So, because you wanting to question him, does his life mean more than our black men across the nation? It doesn't make any sense.


BERMAN: Officer Vinson has been placed on paid administrative leave while the shooting is investigated. We're going to update this throughout the morning.

ROMANS: All right. Joining us now on the phone live from Charlotte, Adam Rhew, an associate editor for "Charlotte Magazine".

Earlier in the evening, Adam, I understand you were there on the scene, you left to go file your story for the magazine. Tell us a little bit of what's right happening now.

ADAM RHEW, CHARLOTTE MAGAZINE (via telephone): Yes, it has died down a little bit Christine, in really, the last hour. There are some small pockets of protesters that are still moving around the area, not far from where the shooting happened. But really the intensity of the evening has died down, at least for the moment.

Certainly, the mayor is calling for calm. I think a lot of folks and certainly a lot of people there earlier this evening are expecting another wave of protests at some point during the day today. What we saw earlier, though, were -- there was a large group of demonstrators. I would say several hundred people who had come out to the street in front of the apartment complex where the shooting had happened. And they were protesting, it started out as a peaceful protest. Maybe, around 10:30 is when I started to notice people throwing bottles and rocks and things like that at police officers. A small number of people in the crowd, and there were certainly

protesters who were telling folks not to throw things at the police officers. But nonetheless, that's when really things started to pick up. I would say, not long before 11:00, police put tear gas for the first time they did so in several ways as they tried to clear the street.

There was a little bit of a lull in the action for, I would say, maybe an hour. And then a little after midnight, the group kind of got back together, they re-engaged with police. And then I would say maybe 1:30, 1:35 this morning is when the group of protesters actually walked out on Interstate 85, one of the major interstates that runs through the city of Charlotte and blocked traffic there. And that's when some of the looting that you mentioned earlier started to happen.

BERMAN: And we also understand, we're seeing local force, that a Walmart there -- some of the protesters ended up in a Walmart there. There was some looting there as well. We're looking at pictures of smashed cars.

You said that protesters numbered several hundred at one point. Police were telling us about a dozen officers were injured with rocks and bottles thrown at them. Did you see or hear of any injuries to the protesters?

RHEW: We're hearing that they transport about seven people from the crowd. Whether bystanders or protesters, we don't know. Several people were transported to the hospitals with what we're hearing minor injuries. Medics treated people on the scene.

Certainly, there were people dealing with the effects of the tear gas. As I mentioned police deployed that in several ways, multiple times throughout the evening. There were a number of people trying to catch their breath because of that. What I didn't notice is serious injuries to protesters or police, although we did hear with people getting hit with some of the flying objects.

BERMAN: Let me ask you, how is word spreading about the shooting? I know in other cases, other cities, we've seen social media spread news. And in some cases, misinformation about what's happening on the ground.

How is word spreading through the community?

RHEW: Certainly, social media is playing a huge role. And I think what we've seen in communities across the country when we've had these shootings involving law enforcement where people will come out to the scene. And many of them are live streaming from their phones.

They're using Periscope or other apps to broadcast their interaction with police. I would say that easily that maybe three-quarters of the people who are out tonight have their offense out are either actively recording, live streaming or taking pictures while they were moving around and interacting with police.

ROMANS: What's interesting, you see the police van that's being kicked in. You can clearly see the faces of these folks here. Everything is being recorded. You wonder what the police response will be to the looting and any charges in the days ahead.

BERMAN: The facts of this case, at this point seem somewhat limited. Police say they were at this apartment complex to serve a warrant for somebody, not the man they ultimately killed, Keith Lamont Scott, 43 years old. Police say that he, you know, came out of his car with a weapon, went back to his car, came out again. They say he had a gun. That's when they shot him.

Are we hearing from anyone yet who knew him or knows the family? What's the sense of the protester's connection to Keith Lamont Scott himself?

RHEW: Yes, John, again, we're hearing from social media playing a big role in that. A woman who identified herself as Mr. Scott's daughter did a Facebook live stream at some point, late in the evening, into the nighttime tonight. And she disputed the police department's account of what happened. She said that her father was disabled. That in fact, he was not armed, that he was sitting in his car reading a book waiting for his son to get off the school bus.

So, they -- the family, obviously, strongly disagrees with the narrative that the police department has related to the community that you heard the chief talk about a little bit ago. Again, the police say that Mr. Scott was armed. He did something in his interaction with officers that made them feel that they were in imminent danger.

And that's why, ultimately, they fired their weapon. Again, not really sure. Obviously, lots of space between those two versions of what happened. And clearly, that's where a lot of the angst in this community is coming from, because those are two very different narratives.

ROMANS: It's not illegal to be armed in America. I mean, that's the other thing here. I mean, it would have been some sort of, right, John? Some sort of, something, Adam, in the interaction with police that would cause them to be concerned, because in, I think, 46 states, you can have a permit to carry a gun. You know?

I mean, it becomes a interesting and scary proposition when just having a gun can be so deadly when so many people in this country do have guns.

[04:40:00] What happens next with the investigation? Do we know?

RHEW: Well, we know that the officer who fired the fatal shot, Officer Vinson, has been placed on administrative leave, as we all know, that's standard procedure in a situation like this. We know that part of the investigation was happening early in the afternoon on Tuesday. And clearly, some of that got disrupted by the protests and some of the, you know, violence that was starting to happen in the overnight hours.

It would be my sense that investigators would back out on the scene later this morning. And then, you know, really trying to piece together the stories and looking to see if surveillance video. What do we in terms of dashcam or body cam video of the officers involved, and what does that tell us?

But, clearly, this is a community that's looking for answers. The mayor has promised a full investigation. And that will begin, I think, in earnest, in the early morning hours today.

BERMAN: Adam Rhew, associate editor of "North Carolina Magazine" on the phone with us -- Adam we've been looking at some of your photos through the night. Thank you very much for being with us and letting us know what's happening on the ground right now on this ongoing situation -- Adam Rhew.

ROMAS: All right. This on the heels of a fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Police say PCP was found in the vehicle of the victim.

Forty-year-old Terrence Crutcher suggesting he may have been on some sort of drug. An attorney for Crutcher's family says they are looking into that. But he says this a good example of how not to handle someone in that situation.

Dash cam and helicopter video shows the man, Crutcher, with his hands up. His hands are up, there you go, being shot by an officer as he walks towards his SUV. Protesters took to the streets outside of Tulsa police headquarters Tuesday.

Let's get the latest on all this from CNN's Ana Cabrera.


ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, outrage is growing in this community, with protesters gathering in front of the police station, calling for the arrest of Officer Betty Shelby who opened fire, shooting and killing 40-year-old Terence Crutcher. His family calling the video leading up to his shooting devastating, saying there was no evidence, reason for her to open fire.

Now, there are two separate investigations into whether or not this shooting was justified. First, the criminal investigation by the Tulsa police homicide unit. There's also a federal rights probe that was sparked after the Department of Justice officials saw the video. The video from the police dash camera, as well as the helicopter. Both videos showing Terence Crutcher with his arms in the air as he approaches his SUV.

But in neither video can you see Officer Shelby open fire. That is the crucial moment and the big question mark here. Officer Shelby's attorney telling us, leading up to that moment, Terence Crutcher had refused to obey several commands. And that he reached into his vehicle, which is why Officer Shelby opened fire, fearing he may be grabbing for a weapon.

Now, we know there was no weapon. He was unarmed and there's no weapon in the vehicle. As outrage continues to grow in this community and around the nation,

the police chief is asking people to withhold judgment until the investigations are complete and he vows justice will prevail -- John and Christine.


BERMAN: Ana Cabrera, thank you so much.

We're going to have the latest on the protests in Charlotte right after the break.

And also this, what was the accused New York City bomber, what was he up to in the days before the attack? There are new details on that as well. That's next.


[04:47:51] ROMANS: We are following breaking news right now from Charlotte, North Carolina. These are protesters you see overnight. They erupted after police fatally shot a black man. Police in riot gear using tear gas in an effort to control the crowd.

At least a dozen police officers were injured. We're told maybe seven protesters taken to the hospital. Angry protesters demanding answers after Keith Lamont Scott were shot at an apartment complex Tuesday by an officer who was there serving a warrant for someone else. The mayor of Charlotte calling for calm and a full investigation of the shooting. The police saying Scott was armed. And that led to the confrontation. His family is disputing that. An investigation is under way.

BERMAN: All right. New details emerging about accused bomber Ahmad Rahami with authorities filing federal charges. Court documents and investigation uncovered new video from the cell phone of a Rahami family member. The video shows Rahami setting off an incendiary device partially buried in the ground. The documents say that in the video, he lights the fuse. There's a loud noise, there's flames, smoke billowing and some laughter.

CNN has also learned that two years ago, the FBI investigating Rahami following a violent family fight.

CNN's Pamela Brown has the latest.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, John and Christine.

The bombing inspect Ahmad Rahami has been named in federal charges, including use of a weapon of mass destruction bombing, destruction of property and use of a destructive device. The complaint says that 12 fingerprints recovered from the pressure cooker and duct tape and cell phone recovered at 27th Street in Chelsea. And it says that he bought some of the bomb items used over eBay. And CNN has learned that just two years before that, the FBI opened up

an inquiry into Rahami after he was charged in a domestic dispute. A neighbor apparently heard the father call his son a terrorist and notify the authorities. According to a U.S. official, the FBI interviewed his father who we're told recanted the fact that his son was a terrorist and just said he was worried about people he was hanging out with.

But apparently, the FBI did not interview Rahami who was in jail at the time. The grand jury decided not to indict. The FBI revealed in a statement that it conducted internal database reviews, interagency checks and multiple interviews, none of which revealed ties to terrorism.

[04:50:08] Meantime, we have learned the Pakistani wife of Rahami has been cooperating with U.S. officials. She apparently was on her way back to the United States after her overseas trip and was questioned after her husband was identified as the bomber. She's not accused of any wrongdoing at this point in the investigation -- John and Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Pamela, thank you so much for that.

It is decision day for Janet Yellen and the Federal Reserve.

BERMAN: It's like "The Bachelor", who's going get the rose?

ROMANS: Will the Fed raise interest rates and make mortgage and credit card more expensive?

BERMAN: It's not like "The Bachelor"?

ROMANS: It's not like "The Bachelor". It really isn't. It's not like "Dancing With the Stars." It's not like any -- it's much more important than that.

BERMAN: It's real life.

ROMANS: Get an early start to your money, next.


ROMANS: More now on that breaking news from North Carolina. Protesters in Charlotte furious after a police officer shot a man.

[04:55:03] They are -- killed him. They are throwing rocks and water bottles at officers wearing riot gear. Officers are still trying to control the crowd firing tear gas at a crowd.

We're told at least a dozen officers have been injured. Some seven protesters taken to the hospital, according to someone on the ground. Protesters and political leaders are demanding answer after an officer shot Keith Lamont Scott. He was shot in an apartment complex Tuesday. That officer was there serving a warrant for someone else. Charlotte's mayor is urging calm and a full investigation of the shooting is underway.

BERMAN: You can see the trucks being destroyed, the fires. There are reports of looting this morning. That's not really asking for answers. There's a lot going on. We're keeping an eye on that.

In the meantime, President Obama said the world needs to step up and unify to ease the suffering in Syria. The speech in at the United Nations General Assembly, the president urged nations to welcome refugees for fleeing war. He called the situation unfolding in Syria unacceptable.

And then there is new information of a deadly bombing in an aid convoy west of Aleppo on Monday night. The U.S. insists that Russia is responsible. But now the Russian defense ministry has released their own footage. They make the argument the attack was the work of terrorists.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is tracking the latest live from Syria inside of Damascus.

And, Fred, one thing is clear, the U.N. secretary general just outraged that this convoy was hit.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, yes. You know, it's not very often that you hear the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon use very strong language. But he certainly did when he commented on the hitting of this aid convoy. He said it was unacceptable. And those who targeted this convoy were cowards and that those who were conducting this convoy, the aid workers, were heroes.

So, certainly, a lot of anger on the ground. At the same time also, a lot of finger pointing and a lot of denial. The U.S. says it believes that only the Russian air force was operating in that area when those strikes took place. The Russians for their part completely denied they were in that area. They say they were tracking that convoy before.

But hours before that air strike took place, the say they stopped and they believe militants could be responsible for targeting the convoy. The Syrian air force also said it has nothing do with it either. But, of course, the fact that this was targeted makes no notion to stop of trying to stop the violence here in Syria even more unlikely than before.

And while the U.S. said it's still early to say that the cease-fire here in Syria is completely dead. Certainly judging by the worse on the ground it seems to be very close to it. There's a lot of fighting in the Aleppo area. There's also some fighting in other areas of Syria as well. With more than 30 people killed over the past two days alone.

So, the cease-fire was supposed to do two things, John. On one hand, stopping the violence, on the other hand, getting aid to people. Right now, none of that's happening, John.

BERMAN: Yes, with the Syria in shambles, a new period of uncertainty begins there, the last thing they need in that country.

Frederik Pleitgen, thank you so much.

ROMANS: All right. It's almost the top of the hour this Wednesday morning. Let's get an early start on your money. It's decision day for the Federal Reserve. And investors are not worrying about a potential hike in interest rates. Dow futures solidly higher right now. European stock markets are rising and a big jump in Tokyo overnight after central bankers there unveiled a new long-term interest rate target near zero.

Owners of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 can trade in their phones today at the retail location where they bought it. Samsung shipped 500,000 replacements to U.S. stores but the recall covers 1 million. About 25 percent of customers have already turned theirs in.

The batteries are causing some phones to overheat and catch fire. There are 92 reported incidents in the U.S. If Note 7 owners do not return the older devices, Samsung has a plan B. Get this, John, it's going to push a software update to all recall devices warning anyone looking at the screen to turn it off and return it. It's a little Orwellian, I mean, this idea that they could force an update like that and tell you, turn off your phone.

BERMAN: They're here. They're coming for us.

All right. EARLY START continues right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ROMANS: The breaking news this morning -- anger and frustration as protesters take to the streets after an armed black man is gunned down by police in North Carolina. Now, the demonstrations getting violent in the early morning hours.

All this, after video captured another situation. Another black man being shot and killed by police in Tulsa, with his hands up. We have the latest in both of those cases.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START this morning, this Wednesday morning. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. A lot going on. It's Wednesday, September 21st, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

There's a developing situation if Charlotte, North Carolina, after plus shot and killed a black man. That black man is 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott. You can see pictures of what's been going on all night. Police in riot gear to disperse protesters. Some of those protesters throwing rocks and water bottles.