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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
D.A.: No Charges Against Officers in Keith Lamont Scott Shooting; Pelosi Re-Elected as Democratic House Leader; Trump Vows to Leave Business Completely; Trump Announces Economic Team Nominations; Statement from Keith Lamont Scott Family Attorneys. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired November 30, 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:] ANDREW MURRAY, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, CHARLOTTE MECKLENBURG COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA: In the days that followed Mr. Scott's death, we watched as long-simmering frustrations boiled over. I heard observers say this is not Charlotte, this is not the city that we love. But it is. This is Charlotte. This is where our friends, families, neighbors and colleagues felt so passionate that they marched on our streets to call for change. Let me be clear. I have not and will not condone violence or property damage as a means of expression. But the fact that criminal charges are not appropriate under the law in this particular case does not mean we can dismiss the concerns expressed by those who raised their voices to raise the consciousness of this community. I think it's high time that all of us recognize that this is Charlotte and not everyone experiences the same Charlotte.
Throughout our entire justice system, people should have the same experience. The people of Mecklenburg County deserve the confidence that every case is handled with fairness and equity. I want this community to know that I would not hesitate to prosecute an officer whom evidence showed acted outside the law. In fact, we have, from assaults to DWIs to fraud to unfortunately, sexual offenses, we have prosecuted officers.
It is my sincere prayer that no one is ever killed by police. But I also pray that police are never placed in a position of having to make the decision to use lethal force to protect themselves or innocent lives around them.
I welcome being part of the ongoing public discussion and exchange of ideas on how to improve our system so that all community members have complete confidence that they will be dealt with fairly and treated with respect. Justice demands nothing less.
At this time, I will take questions.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)
MURRAY: We do. I would just tell you that he was taking a significant number of drugs and they were for -- some of them, somewhat mind-altering.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did Mr. Scott actually raise the gun at any point?
MURRAY: He did not raise the gun, to our knowledge, based on the video, any evidence from any of statements of officers.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION). The truth shall set you free. (INAUDIBLE QUESTION). He had a gun. Why? (INAUDIBLE QUESTION).
MURRAY: Sir, as I stated, I appreciate the question. An investigation has to unfold. When video gets out, individuals can comport, and in this case did, what they say they saw to a video. The investigation, what I would ask is, your community, your church, this entire community, to please just wait for the investigation. It takes a while. You have to get the investigation. We had to get analysis of the gun. The police did a good job in going out, finding where did that come from, where was it located. All that investigation has to come to us, and then we have to evaluate. In this case, there were 63 FBI agents called in from around the state to do the investigation, with over 2300 hours of their time to do this investigation. That's a quarter of the entire FBI. That's how important this case was. That's the time they put on. But that doesn't happen overnight. That's why I'm asking the community to take a collective pause.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So you said he did not raise the gun, he had a wild look in his eye based on the medication. It was difficult to hear the officer but it sounds as though the bottom line here is you're saying because he had the gun in his hand, he had a zoned-out look in his eye, the decision was made to shoot because they didn't know what he was going to do.
MURRAY: It's a justified shooting based on the totality of the circumstances. the gun, the gun that when officers come, he draws the gun. He doesn't keep it in his holster. He doesn't put on it the floor. He's told numerous times to drop the gun. He then gets out, doesn't turn to run away from officers. He turns toward them with a look -- I don't know if it's from medication, I don't know if that's his look, I don't know Mr. Scott -- but assessing, looking at each, and focuses back on Officer Vincent, our determination is that, at that time, his belief was reasonable that he was in imminent threat of death or the death of his fellow officers, and he was justified in shooting.
[11:35:34] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Follow-up, any medical experts talk to you about that drug and what that --
MURRAY: Investigators did talk to medical experts. Really, the medical has nothing to do with the analysis since Mr. -- Officer Vincent and none of the officers knew about the medical. It's the scene and what occurs at that split second and everything surrounding that decision.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The officers said they saw marijuana, that was one of the reasons they approached him in the first place. Why was there no test in the toxicology report for marijuana?
MURRAY: First of all, the blunt was tested. It was marijuana. The prescription bottle or empty yellow bottle had residue that was marijuana. A later test was done and Mr. Scott did test positive for recent consumption of marijuana.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Where is that information? It's not in the toxicology report.
MURRAY: It's not in the toxicology report --
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: If you're just joining us, thank you so much for joining us, everyone. Kate Bolduan here, along with John Berman.
We have been watching this press conference from the Charlotte Mecklenburg County district attorney, Andrew Murray, in making a very big announcement that there are no charges against the officers involved in a shooting that really gained nationwide attention. This is an officer-involved shooting from back in September of Keith Lamont Scott. The district attorney saying no charges. The officers acted lawfully.
This is a case, again, the nation was watching after this shooting took place. And it also sparked days, at least two days of riots following this shooting.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Officer Bradley Vincent, the D.A. said, acted lawfully.
We want to bring our CNN criminal analysts, criminal defense attorney, Danny Cevallos, CNN legal analyst and former prosecutor, Laura Coates; and CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes.
Danny, let me start with you.
This case, as so many cases we have seen involving police shootings, seems to turn on whether the officer believed he was in imminent danger.
DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALAYST: It actually centers on two inquiries. First, what was the reason for approaching Mr. Scott in the first place and, secondly, the decision to shoot. Those are separate, distinct inquiries. Critical here is the determination that once -- if the police saw -- number one, if they saw marijuana, and they saw him exit the car with a firearm in his hand -- remember, this is an open carry state, which creates a thorny issue. How do you decide someone who may be lawfully open carrying their weapon is committing a crime or dangerous? It really is problematic. And the question is, if you're holding a firearm by your side are you brandishing it such that it's dangerous? Or did the police have reasonable suspicion to approach and initiate contact with this victim.
The second issue is whether or not the shooting part was justified and if he was noncompliant and making any sort of threatening moves. That's an easier analysis in favor of the police. But that initial reason to approach should really be scrutinized in this case.
BOLDUAN: Laura Coates, want to bring you in on this. The D.A., it's noteworthy to everyone sitting here, went into meticulous detail about the investigation and their findings and what led the district attorney to reach this conclusion of no charges. From what you heard, did the D.A. convince you?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I'm not convinced that we have all the information that he had to make that decision, because frankly, a very big chunk of this, a missing piece here, is this idea of, we all saw video of Keith Lamont Scott also walking backwards at the time that he was shot, and that wasn't really discussed by the prosecutor. And what really kind of got under my craw, for lack of a better term, is what he was relying on, in part, is this notion that somebody who has a weapon drawn at his side would be able to match or tie the speed time and reaction time of an officer responding to it. That may be the case. But focus was on all the things an officer did not know at the time. They didn't know about the medical history, didn't know about the drug use except for the marijuana, perhaps, didn't know about his traumatic brain injury, and they saw a man with a gun down on his side walking backwards. There must be more to it.
But really, this case comes down to this. It was a competition between credibility. You had the community members who were shown in many parts to give one testimony in front of the media and one in front of the FBI, and you had officers who were already deemed to be credible and you had more than one saying there was a threat of lethal force by Keith Lamont Scott. In that balancing act, officers almost always win.
[11:40:24] BERMAN: One of the discrepancies was, did Keith Lamont Scott have a gun.
BERMAN: A lot of the witnesses said no. The wife said no. The evidence as laid out here in the witness testimony from the other police officers and radio traffic is yes. That is what the D.A. just said there.
However, Tom Fuentes, the D.A. made clear Keith Lamont Scott did not raise or point the gun. No witness testimony points to that. The other piece of evidence, which is interesting, is none of the video -- and there was a lot of video, from dash cams, body cam, to Keith Lamont Scott's own wife shooting video with her cell phone -- none of the video actually shows a gun in his hand.
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: First of all, John, they not only show that he had a gun, they showed that he had and proved that he had that gun, with the evidence that it had been stolen and the individual who sold it to Scott, that that's how he obtained that gun.
The idea that he would be wearing an ankle holster without that gun in the event that he might find a gun that fits that holster somewhere on the street is absurd.
Secondly, this whole notion that just because the gun is in his hand and he doesn't pose a threat -- I was a police firearms instructor, an FBI firearms instructor, SWAT team member, SWAT commander. I can tell you that Wild Bill Hickok would have a difficult time winning that draw if the subject already has the gun in his hand because it would take less than a tenth of a second to raise it and let a bullet fly toward that police officer.
We can do this, we can go to a test lab and try this with toy guns, if you want. But I'm telling you that the notion that he didn't raise the gun and, therefore, didn't pose a threat is absurd from a police standpoint.
Secondly, he doesn't -- the officer doesn't shoot him the second he gets out. As Danny mentioned, it is an open carry state. He gets out of the car. They don't know who he is yet. They don't know if he has a lawful right to possess a weapon. He gets out of the car with that gun in his hand. They don't shoot him at that point. And you can hear in his wife's video where the officers yell 10 times at him to drop that gun and he doesn't comply. That indicates to them each time they yell and he doesn't comply. That indicates to them that -- each time they yell and he doesn't comply, the level of threat goes up, because now you wonder what is he going to do. And it shouldn't be a guessing game. It shouldn't be a quick draw contest between the police and the subject. No matter what's going to happen here, you are not going to have a situation where an officer under those circumstances doesn't defend themselves and shoot the individual.
BOLDUAN: You know -- we have been reading leading up to this press conference that the county, the city has been -- has put officers on standby, really, because they will be working -- be ready to work 12- hour shifts in the event they need to prepare for any violence following when the D.A. made this announcement. That, of course, is top of mind. You could hear it in the D.A.'s voice when he pleaded with the community, he hopes the community now takes a collective pause and considers and digests this report.
Big news coming out of Charlotte following this officer-involved shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.
Danny, Laura, Tom, thank you. Thank you so much.
COATES: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: So, go ahead.
BERMAN: Sorry. The attorneys for Keith Lamont's family -- sorry. Do we have Nick Valencia in Charlotte? I was told we have him standing by with the family. OK.
We are trying to get the family to speak to us. Nick Valencia is with them.
We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[11:47:40] BERMAN: All right. We have breaking news from Capitol Hill. House Democrats have elected a leader. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi faced a challenge. Did she survive?
Our Manu Raju on Capitol Hill with the results -- Manu?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Hey, John. Yes, she did survive. Nancy Pelosi re-elected as the House Democratic leader by a vote of 134-63.
She, of course, has run this caucus since 2003, the most dominant leader of the House Democrats in a very long time. But this was a significant challenge posed by Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio. 63 defections is a significant number, nothing for her to sneeze at. Last time she had a challenger was back in 2010, Keith Schuler got 43 votes, so there's 20 more defections in her caucus. Something she needs to pay attention to, I'm sure she will, going forward.
Now, Tim Ryan, the Ohio democratic congressman, who mounted this challenge, had little shot. This was viewed as an uphill bid because Nancy Pelosi has deep loyalty within the caucus. She's raised a ton of money for her colleagues. And she's very progressive, like a lot of people in this very progressive caucus. But Tim Ryan tried to make the case that it's time for change, the party needs to go in a different direction, particularly to communicate to the Rustbelt voters in states the Democrats struggle with in the past election. He appeared to have made some headway within the caucus by the fact he did get 63 votes. Still, Nancy Pelosi re-elected as House Democratic leader.
The pressure, John, will be on her to get back -- a way to get back a House majority, something they have not had since that 2010 election. If she can figure out how to do that within two cycles, she will be in a better chance. But still, something for her to pay attention to. Nancy Pelosi a little more vulnerable than we may have few weeks -- John and Kate?
BOLDUAN: Absolutely right.
Manu, thank you so much with the breaking news from Capitol Hill.
We also have breaking news this morning on the Trump transition. A major announcement coming from the president-elect as he moves from the boardroom to the Oval Office, Trump tweeting this morning that he will hold a news conference in two weeks with his children by his side to discuss the future of his business empire. Trump says he's leaving his business behind, writing this in part on Twitter, "Legal documents are being drafted that take me completely out of business operations. The presidency is a far more important task."
BERMAN: So what legal documents, and leaving the business how, and with whom? Those are huge, crucial questions.
Also, we have announcements from the president-elect on who he wants to run the economy. Former Goldman Sachs banker Steve Mnuchin will be nominated treasury secretary; and billionaire investor, Wilbur Ross, as commerce secretary; and Todd Ricketts, a billionaire and co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, deputy commerce secretary. A lot of news this morning.
Let's go straight away to CNN's Phil Mattingly -- Phil?
[11:50:34] PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Certainly a lot to unpack. I want start with the president-elect's tweets about his business. We've been following the potential conflicts of interest, the very real conflicts of interest that a billionaire taking the White House with international operation is facing now. Here's the news in the president-elect's tweets this morning, that he's going to have a news conference in December, the first one in more than 130 days. There's no actual news yet on what he's going to do with his business. John, you laid out the crucial point here. Questions that need to be answered.
Here's what we do know. According to advisers, they have ethics lawyers that are trying to tackle this issue and it's an extraordinary complex one. But Trump said repeatedly on the campaign trail that he would consider putting operations boo a blind trust and then he would also hand business operations to his children. His children that are currently on his transition team and taking part in various calls with foreign leaders.
So, there are a lot of issues here that need worked out, and the reality of whether or not the president-elect can actually remove his business operations from a very real conflict of interest, that is still an unanswered question.
One point his advisers continue to make that is interesting is this -- voters knew this conflicts existed when they elected the president. The fact that he would not do a lot to address them, they don't feel like it would be a shock to any of these people. So, keep an eye on comments like that going forward. A bit of a preview of what we might see.
Real time, on the economic team, are the individuals that will lead the way on some of the president-elect's crucial policies of tax reform, the top-line economic issue for him and also on trade. You mentioned Steve Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross, two who are well liked by Wall Street. You can look at the markets and see how they feel right now. And Todd Ricketts, as deputy commerce secretary, somebody with intense political connections, well known. His family wealthy on the donor side and also co-owner of the Chicago Cubs. Must have figured he's won the World Series, might as well work in government -- guys?
BOLDUAN: A huge part of it, I'm sure, Phil. I'm sure, huge.
BERMAN: And saying he helped lead the Cubs to the World Series that's why I'm making deputy commerce secretary. Didn't really say that.
All right, Phil, thanks so much. Let's bring in our panel, CNN politics editor, Mark Preston; CNN's chief business correspondent and star of "Early Start," Christine Romans --
BOLDUAN: The star.
BERMAN: -- CNN political commentator and George W. Bush staffer, a veteran of two presidential campaigns, Margaret Hoover; politics reporter at "The Daily Beast," Betsy Woodruff; and Joshua Green, senior national correspondent with "Bloomberg Business Week."
Mark Preston, first to you.
We don't know the details, how Donald Trump intends to separate himself from the business, and if he will, as much as promised in the tweets. That does matter. This is something to an extent that has begun to hang over him during this transition period.
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: And hung over him during the campaign. People brought this up, but it was brushed aside. The bottom line is the laws are vague anyway about what could be enforced if Donald Trump did try to continue to run his businesses. No matter what legal documents he signs, no matter what he pledges to do, the bottom line is he's going to be sitting at the dinner table with his kids, clearly having discussions about business. This has been their entire life. I don't know if it's a conflict they can get beyond. You would hope Donald Trump would do his best to try to keep a clear line of demarcation between both of them.
BOLDUAN: Involves emoluments, one word --
BERMAN: Doesn't it all?
BOLDUAN: It came up, we were sitting together, this came up the other night, which is fascinating in and of itself. How he separates himself, if he can, is all in the details. What is the range? Do you see -- is there a way for him to pull himself completely out of business operations, which is how he said it on Twitter, to the satisfaction of those who are trying to pressure him to do -- to cut himself out?
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I think the naming of the December 15 date and saying he is going to take himself totally out of his businesses is something people wanted to hear. To hear he wasn't going to try to do both at once. Remember, it wasn't long ago said he could do both perfectly, wouldn't be a conflict, as president, possible for him --
BOLDUAN: Saying he didn't need to.
ROMANS: That's right. His names are on the buildings and he will benefit from his name being more famous today than when he ran for president. There will always that part of the story that will be a question, I think. I think the December 15th, saying he's going to legally separate
himself from his business, was a good move that ethics professionals wanted to see. But his name is on the buildings. So, foreign leaders could come and stay at the Trump hotels because they want to be seen as currying favor with the family.
BERMAN: What ethicists think and he thinks may be two different things. We'll have to wait and see.
[11:55:] BERMAN: I want to talk, Joshua Green, about these economic picks, Steve Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross. Tell me about -- particularly Mnuchin. The treasury secretary is generally known at the captain of the economic ship. What do we know about them?
JOSHUA GREEN, SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG BUSINESS WEEK: Mnuchin is an extraordinarily successful Wall Street banker and is also one that brings a lot of liabilities for Trump. If Elizabeth Warren were to design a Wall Street villain in her laboratory, it would be Mnuchin. He is a former Goldman Sachs partner, the son of a Goldman Sachs partner, went to Yale, drove a Porsche, made a fortune in the financial crisis by buying a bank and foreclosing on 36,000 mortgages. The bank he later flipped for hundreds of millions in profits. It wound up needing a $2.2 billion government bailout and then it failed, wiping out taxpayer money. So, he is somebody facing a rough, rough confirmation fight.
BOLDUAN: Margaret, even before then, just look at the background of Mnuchin and Ross, when you look at, a Wall Street -- just interrupting myself quick.
Real quick, guys, let's go down to Charlotte. This is, I think, the lawyer representing Keith Lamont Scott, following the announcement from the district attorney that no charges are filed against the officer involved in his shooting death. Let's listen in.
CHUCK MONNETT, ATTORNEY FOR KEITH LAMONG SCOT FAMILY: -- that Andrew Murray, his office, the SBI, and the courtesy that they have shown to the Scott family this morning in meeting with us and answering the questions that we had, and giving us a lot of additional information about what their investigation had showed.
We still have concerns, and it's important for the family -- the public to understand that this doesn't end our inquiry. There are differing legal apply to a decision about whether an officer should be criminally charged for the discharge of their weapon and the use of deadly force and whether the department, the officer, or the city, should be held civilly liable for negligence in the way this entire situation was handled.
We still have real questions about the decisions that were terms of how they confronted Keith, how they reacted to the information that he had a brain injury, and whether they used appropriate de-escalation techniques to end this situation in a way that didn't result in the loss of Keith Scott's life. So, we look forward to having an opportunity to review the entire investigative file. We think that we will see information in there that perhaps they didn't. We're going to continue to look at other aspects of the situation, and we look forward to some day obtaining justice for Keith and his family.
I think Mr. Curry had a couple remarks he'd like to make, and we'll --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can everybody please introduce themselves.
EDUWARDO CURRY, ATTORNEY FOR KEITH LAMONT SCOTT FAMILY: Yes. I'm Attorney Eduardo Curry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) -- Justin Bamberg (ph), Bamberg Legal (ph).
CURRY: The family of Keith Scott is still devastated about his loss. It's a painful situation that can't be covered up, and they are going to have to learn to live with his absence.
We're still in the process of investigating this case. Standards are different, as Attorney Monnett has said, and what we ask is the public withhold any judgment that they would make, be considerate of this family, and allow us to conduct what we would call a thorough investigation behind the investigation. We don't even have the files yet. We will be getting those, and we will be pursuing the matter for Mr. Scott and his family.
And we would ask the media to assist us in asking Charlotte and the community to keep an open mind, to be -- to have a reasonableness, to remain objective, and to support this family in their quest for justice.
MONNETT: Well, and let me say, we know that there are other members of this community who are going to be equally disappointed with this decision. What Rakia and the family want you to know are a couple of things. First of all, they appreciate all of the support and outpouring of love received from the community. There are still significant issues that need to be addressed, in terms of community police relations in Charlotte. But they want everyone to understand, while we encourage them to express their feelings openly and publicly, to do it lawfully and peacefully. There is no excuse for violence. And we implore everyone protest, protest peacefully, and to be --