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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Police Allow Family to View Video of Fatal Shooting; Charlotte Officials Hold Press Conference. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired September 23, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As you said, the mayor has basically said, first of all, it's out of her hands. She doesn't make that decision. But second of all, it is part of an investigation, so it is the state's decision to decide if it should be released. She says, though, if it can't be released in its entirety, as least maybe if we can quell some fear, some questions, rather, from protesters by letting some faith community leaders come and view it for themselves and let everybody know what that video shows.
She also cautions, you know what, there's a lot to this investigation. It's not just about the video. There were witnesses there, there were other police officers there, so it's important that everybody look at the whole investigation in its entirety and, of course, that's going to take a long time for it to be finalized.
Really at this juncture, protests were peaceful or at least more peaceful than they were the last two nights, but certainly there is this continuing conversation about this video, why hasn't it been released. The mayor also saying that, you know what, we just think that it's not even going to answer many questions that people have in the public, really all it's going to do is just quell the fact that they aren't hiding something -- John and Kate?
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Brynn Gingras for us in Charlotte. Thanks a lot.
Want to go to Brian Todd at the site of the news conference in that room in Charlotte.
Brian, it's interesting because the Mayor Jennifer Roberts saying she would like to see the video, it seems to be perhaps the beginning of a little bit of space between the mayor and the police chief, Kerr Putney, who, up until now, said he doesn't plan on releasing the video.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You just hit on the operative part of this, the mayor and police chief seemingly at odds over whether to release the tape. Chief Putney telling us consistently he does not want this to be released, saying it's not their policy. He believes that showing the last moments of Keith Lamont Scott's life will not serve a positive purpose in any way, shape or form. But the mayor, Jennifer Roberts, as we have been talking about, says at the very least she wants community leaders to be able to see what's on the tape so they can get the word out of what's on there. Mayor Roberts has said she belies the protests probably will continue unless and until they get this issue resolved somehow.
The issue of the tape, I can tell you, being out on the streets last night, consistently, we heard from protesters release the videotapes. They were chanting it. They were saying it all over the place as they were marching through the streets of Charlotte yesterday. There's intense public pressure right now for the videotape to be released in some form. Until that happens, we may be kind of at a very tense juncture in this whole situation.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Brian, at the last press conference, yesterday, you had some tough questions, you among other reporters, tough questions on exactly this, the release of the video. The transparency or lack thereof to the chief of police do you get a sense that anything has actually happened that will -- that has changed the chief's mind? Do you see, do you sense any shift?
TODD: Well, that's going to be a key question that may be answered in a couple of minute maybe we will hear in a couple of minutes that the chief's mind has changed on this. As mentioned a short time ago, he's the one that's got to make the call. But you really do get the sense that Mayor Roberts and the chief are at odds over this and you would love to hear some of those discussions behind the scenes of what they are talking about you know, he is following police, police chief does in these situations oftentimes. Keep everything close to the vest while the investigation is going on.
But right now, there is such intense public pressure to release the videotape or at least a detailed description of what's on them. You're not really sure how long the situation can continue with the mayor and the police chief seemingly at odds over this.
BERMAN: Brian, stand by. We are looking at the pictures right now. It looks like that news conference is close to beginning. We will take it the second it begins.
Meantime, let's discuss a little bit. Want to bring our panel, CNN legal analyst, Mark O'Mara, criminal defense attorney; Laura Coates, CNN legal analyst, former federal prosecutor and former Washington, D.C. assistant U.S. attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department; also here, CNN law enforcement analyst, Matthew Horace, a former ATF executive.
Laura, let me start with you.
We are talking about this video. The police chief says he will need a compelling reason to do so. Is there compelling reason left not to do so?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No. They have every reason to release the footage but if you are the police chief who previously held a press conference and said here's what happened after viewing the videotape and it's completely opposite of what the family has said, now we are revealing that actually it's inconclusive, they are trying to carry on what they earlier said and that's not the reason to avoid transparency. It's not about the investigation coming undone. It's about a P.R. issue they are facing. Keep in mind, you guys know there's a law coming into effect in a few
days that will prevent you from releasing any footage barring a court order. And the chief's statements track the language of that statute now.
[11:05:01] BOLDUAN: Mark, I want to get your take. From your perspective, do you -- what do you think is going on with the decision to not release it at this point?
MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the idea of keeping the integrity of the investigation sacrosanct is very necessary, very important and good police procedure. No question about it. But that's really 10 or 15 years ago. We now live in an immediate- satisfaction society because of everything, social media and whatnot. I agree with what was just said. If we are going to have somebody like the chief basically narrate through what happened and in effectively give their version of it, then now as long as we can guarantee that the integrity's not going to be compromised, witnesses will not see that video and then change their testimony, now it is time to release the video, get it out the way we need to, to at least allow the public, the people who truly have a public interest in what's happening, this case and many other similar cases, let's get it out and get it viewed.
The problem that I have, we now know it will be inconclusive and won't give us great answers. Now what's going the happen, everyone will focus on the video and the entirety of going to be most important. All the witnesses, all of the statements, the cops' statements, other videos, and get it all at one time. We won't want to wait that long but that's how the investigation is supposed to take.
BERMAN: That's exactly right. In fact, the police chief and the family, they are not opposed. The police chief made clear that when he looked at the video he never saw Scott pointing the gun, and the family said, look, they never even saw whether or not he had a gun, and it looked like he was walking away. That's not in opposition. They just saw very different things.
What about Mark's point here, Matt, that the police chief also says it's the other evidence, everything else he knows, that leads him to believe that those police officers felt threatened? Will he have to come forward, if this goes public, he will have to tell us what that evidence is or what those witnesses said.
MATTHEW HORACE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You would think that would be the case. But remember, we have two distinct issues here. One, the optics of the situation which is driving a lot of the protest and a lot of public sentiment. And then we have the facts. No one knows the facts except for the investigators and the facts are emerging day by day. So they need to craft a message that quiets public interest, they need to craft a message that's honest and candid, but also protect the investigation the same time.
COATES: That's the issue. You talk about crafting the message. The facts are going to be static in time. You are talking about the officers are trying to promote transparency and say, listen, here's what we know in this closed universe of facts. They have eyewitnesses, the wife of Mr. Scott, who was present on the scene. We have not heard her testimony obviously, and other eyewitnesses. It is a developing story but whether to actually disclose the footage is a separate inquiry, whether you have a beyond a reasonable doubt trial or an indictment pending. What you have here is this is fixed in time, release the footage, and the reason to withhold it is only about public relations, not about the integrity of an investigation at this point.
BOLDUAN: Mark -- I think we are going to be watching this press conference start right now. That's the mayor of Charlotte. Let's listen in.
JENNIFER ROBERTS, CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA MAYOR: Good morning. Thank you for being here.
I want to thank our local, state partners for being with us as well.
Last night, in Charlotte, last night was what a lawful demonstration looks like. I want to say I appreciate the efforts of all of our law enforcement officers, both local and state, and I want to thank them for the professionalism they have demonstrated.
I was out on the streets last night listening to folks who were there. It was great to see people voicing their opinions peacefully. I was also encouraged to see acts of gratitude and acts of positive personal interaction between demonstrators and our men and women in uniform. However, we continue to maintain our level of resources. And we are in preparations for the weekend ahead. We are thankful for the support of our business community as we work to return to a normal business schedule. Our uptown area is largely open for business and we are working to return to normalcy.
Last night, I signed a city-wide curfew that is in effect between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m. This curfew is a tool that allows us to adjust enforcement at the direction of our law enforcement officials.
[11:10:12] Our Corporate Communications Division has compiled a list of frequently asked questions, and I would direct people to the city website Charlottenc.gov, as well as to watch our Twitter feed, @cltgov, to continue to see more information on the frequently asked questions about the curfew.
I will go over just a few of those. We have gotten several questions about what does it actually mean to have the curfew in place. One of the questions, are schools, day cares, et cetera, exempt from this curfew. Travel for services necessary to sustain the well-being of citizens or their families are exempt from the curfew. That would be day cares and schools. Some of those do open before 6:00 a.m.
Another frequently asked question, how will the curfew impact businesses such as restaurants and bars that are open after midnight. The curfew restricts travel for non-exempt purposes within the -- to 6:00 a.m. Patrons who leave establishments such as bars and restaurants will be impacted if they need to travel on the roadways during those curfew hours. Bars and restaurants will be closing at midnight.
There are other frequently asked questions. Again, I direct people to the website and to our Twitter feed. We will continue to get those questions answered as people adjust to what a curfew means.
With that, I would like to turn it over to our chief of police, Chief Kerr Putney.
KERR PUTNEY, CHIEF, CHARLOTTE POLICE DEPARTMENT: Thank you, Mayor.
Good morning. I would like to go over some of the details concerning last night's demonstrations that were, for the most part, peaceful, very much so. There were a couple of issues that we need to address and I will give you kind of a timeline, a sequence of events.
At approximately 8:30, a group of protesters started to block the streets at the square. At approximately 8:45, we saw some protesters within the group, one of the groups there beginning to put on gas masks. At 8:52, we got intelligence through our Intel Unit that there was a valid group coming out of South Carolina, coming up here to join in the protests. These factors and a few others influenced my decision to seek approval for the curfew -- and that was at 9:00 p.m. -- to be in effect starting at midnight and going, as the mayor said, until 6:00 in the morning.
At 10:15, I sent an emergency unit that had to be deployed to protesters continued to block streets. At 10:40, Interstate 277 was shut down and we deployed CEU, Civil Emergency Unit, to move the crowd out of the street and regain order. That process took about 15 minutes, which is a lot more timely than we've had in the past. At 10:46, the city building on Church Street at Morehead was reported to be vandalized -- in the process of being so. So we responded to that location. At midnight, the curfew went into effect.
A couple of things about the curfew. One of which is, it is a tool, a tool in the tool belt to help us maintain order. It gives us discretion, so employing that curfew, I do have the discretion to use some discernment and judgment in how we implement or enforce that. Meaning, as long as people are being peaceful, and for the most part they were, I don't have to be the aggressive party creating a sense of disorder, from our part, creating some tension than I wanted to and our officers wanted to deescalate. So that was our approach.
We continued to facilitate the protesting throughout the night. And by 1:45 this morning, the protesters protesting had subsided and the groups had begun to dissipate significantly.
Overall, we had one officer who was treated for a minor hand injury, two who were treated after being sprayed with some chemical agent by some protesters. One National Guard member was treated by Medic for a minor injury. We had one civilian that was transported by Medic but was not related to the protest itself.
[11:15:31] We had a total of three arrests, obstructing a lane, failure to disperse, one for carrying a concealed weapon and a curfew violation. I have to highlight a little bit of the work, though. Our
investigations were being conducted from previous -- the previous night, where we had quite a bit of damage. What I saw was humbling, impressive work. Our officers were sacrificing their own safety to protect our city and I can't say how humbled I am by that. Just great work.
At 7:00 a.m., just today, another example of the follow-up work and the good investigative work, our Violent Criminal Apprehension Team just apprehended Rakwan Boram (ph), a suspect in the murder of Mr. Justin Carr, which happened on Trade Street near the Omni. He was shot and killed, as you know, during the demonstration Wednesday night. Investigators and homicide detectives were able to use a lot of footage. A real-time crime center was able to supply footage from cameras that helped us solve that case. Just a tremendous amount of good detective work there. Currently, we are still conducting the interview as the investigation continues. But we already have established probable cause and made that arrest.
We have also identified several other suspects involved in property- related crimes the night before. And, again, I can't say enough the impact that we have had with the camera footage that covers the city that allows us to piece together some of these cases.
We have also posted a number of photos of additional suspects and we ask the public to do likewise. If you have any evidence that can help us resolve and solve some of the outstanding cases that we're looking to resolve, we ask you to do so.
I would be remiss if I didn't thank our partners, as always, the Charlotte Fire Department. We also have Medic, who is always a good partner. We have the National Guard, the State Highway Patrol, as well as our local Mecklenburg Sheriff's Office. We could not ensure the safety of our jurisdiction without their support.
And, again, I just want to underscore the hard work of our men and women, of our partner agencies and our police department. They continue to do good work.
I am also very encouraged by the manner in which the First Amendment was exercised last night. We are most appreciative to that. And I can tell you personally, I have a great deal of empathy for -- or appreciation for the empathy and professionalism displayed by our heroes. I continue to be marveled by their efforts and their work.
Lastly and, unfortunately, maybe for you, but not so much for me, this will be the final case update that I can give you regarding the officer-involved shooting of Mr. Scott. Currently, it has officially been turned over to the State Bureau of Investigations for an independent investigative process. They will be the entity that's responsible for updating any cases and disseminating information and releasing any information.
A thorough investigation relies on multiple factors. I can tell you one piece of evidence will never, ever make a good case. I know the expectation that video footage can be the panacea and I can tell you that is not quite the case. There are a lot of other factors that have to support and corroborate even what you might visually see. But the process is painstakingly slow sometimes, so I ask for your continued patience as the State Bureau of Investigations conducts their thorough investigation. Because it's going to take them some time to piece together everything that has happened. And what I can tell you is I have confidence in that process. And I hope our fellow community members will allow for that thorough investigation.
Again, last thing I want to say is I'm still optimistic, I'm still proud of our city. I'm still proud of our community. And I'm humbled and very proud of the work that our CMPD officers and law enforcement partners continue to work to make this a safe city that our community deserves.
[11:20:28] WILLIE RACHETFORD, CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG COMMUNITY RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Good morning again. I'm Willie Rachetford, with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee.
And I want to acknowledge up front that these are and continue to be difficult times for all of us. Together, our community has always worked tirelessly to address concerns surrounding police and police community relations. It is critical that we remain diligent and continue to engage in productive dialogue, sharing and respecting diverse perspectives. We must continue to do what is right based on factual information, not speculation, not innuendo or rumor. Let's continue to work together to seek the truth and find the mutual solutions that will foster trust and strengthen us as a community. We, as a community, need to navigate through this together and I believe that we will. We must remember that we cannot control what others might think, say or do. However, we do control how we might react to them.
The Community Relations Committee is currently working with the Community Building Initiative and faith-based organizations to create opportunities and safe spaces for dialogue, for convened and intact groups. We are here as a resource to our community. Anyone interested in participating in a facilitated dialogue can do so by contacting Diane English at the Community Building Initiative at 704- 333-2595 or they might contact me at 704-336-2195.
ROBERTS: Before we open up to questions, I just have a few words to say about our community. And I have a great deal of gratitude for the incredible collaboration and partnership that we have seen over the last several days.
I want to thank our federal partners for the resources they have, for the support that they have provided, and for their continued reaching out during this situation. I want to thank our state partners. I want to particularly thank our governor for working with us on a declaration of emergency, and the State Highway Patrol and the National Guard, who are here. I had a chance to talk to several of them yesterday and they are from all over the state, wanting to be here to help, to help restore and order, and to be partners for the city of Charlotte and we are very grateful for them. I want to thank our federal and state officials as well for their support. And at the local level, I want to thank the members of the county commission, the school board, the staff, the county staff, the staff of our schools, as well as all our city council members and our city staff.
I had the opportunity -- we have around-the-clock work on collaboration and coordination of information sharing and gathering as we continue to work to restore our city. And we just have incredibly dedicated folks. We have people who have a common vision that this community works together, that we are willing to face some issues we know that we still have.
We know there are disparities in our community. We know that there are some -- there are people who believe they are not being treated equally. We want to face that. We want to work together in the best interests of all of us to move forward to address those disparities. And I'm saying now that we're going to have continuing ongoing work in our community to do that. I am grateful that we have a team, a team of professionals, a team of compassionate individuals, who are dedicated to doing that.
I also want to just -- one final thanks, and I'm sure I left somebody out, in thinking about all the first responders, police, paramedics, State Highway Patrol, National Guard, all the folks, our religious leaders, our community leaders, that have shown up, that have put forward their best efforts and their hearts and souls to work together to move us forward. And so as mayor of this great city, I am just grateful. I'm grateful.
[11:25:32] And we still have work to do. We are going to roll up our sleeves and we are going to do it together.
With that, we are ready to answer some questions.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)
ROBERTS: I lean towards transparency in everything that our city does. However, I know there's a delicate balance when you have an ongoing investigation. And I have heard from all sides of this and I absolutely want to move -- I want to be transparent. I know that when you have an ongoing investigation, when there are key pieces of evidence still to be collected, when there are key pieces of evidence still being gathered, if one can jeopardize the integrity of that investigation. We want everyone to have full faith in what this investigation will produce, and in that, I am relying on our experts to say we want all those pieces together to present a full picture. I do believe the video should be released. The question is on the timing. And I am willing to work with our law enforcement officials to discuss when that will occur.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)
PUTNEY: Let me make sure I understand your question. I was adamant it shouldn't be released yet.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- with the mayor, at this point today, do you favor releasing it and when?
PUTNEY: What I can tell you is it's a matter of when and it's a matter of sequence. As I said before, I wish the video, any video, even the cases we made from two days ago, I wish just based on video evidence it could give us probable cause but it didn't work that way. The reason I want to release it when I can give more supportive information is because if it's proving our case, or proving our case should go in a different direction, the only way to do that is to be able to establish probable cause. And what I can tell you is the video evidence in that case didn't get us to that standard solely. So now that more evidence has come in, it would be a proper time, but right now, what I can tell you is the State Bureau of Investigations has the lead and they are to play catch-up to get to the point where they have all the pieces of the puzzle so that they can then give the fuller picture of exactly what happened.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I would like to know --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hang on. Hang on. One question at a time.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: My question is about the demonstrations, demonstrators and those who were arrested. We had heard from the Fraternal Order of Police that as many as 70 percent of the demonstrators that were arrested came from outside of Charlotte. I would like to get accurate numbers. And you mentioned this group from South Carolina coming from outside. What do you know?
PUTNEY: What I can tell you is we haven't vetted it since yesterday, but the initial -- we had -- it was a mix but the majority -- and this is before we started really making a great number of arrests -- were local. And that is, though, when we only reached about 10. So there's an additional 34 or so that we have yet to go through but I will follow up and get that. Absolutely, yes, sir. You will get that information today.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A comment and a question. Thank you for your time. First of all, you have been very open in answering questions in great detail.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I will acknowledge that you have answered questions. However, over the last 24 hours, your office has failed to respond to all calls and e-mails, so I just wanted to bring that to your attention going forward.
The question being this, looking forward down the road, aside from Mr. Scott's case, do you believe that it is worth reconsidering how and when videos are released? Now that we live in this world where social media has the ability to create --
PUTNEY: You are going to create another question I think. Let must respond there and let -- is that OK? I'm not trying to be funny. I'm not.
But what I can tell you is we are always assessing our process and procedures.