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Interview with Richard Franklin

Aired July 5, 2002 - 10:48   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Let's get back to that breaking news. Palo Alto, California is the dateline. The incident, right now, being handled by the California Highway Patrol, essentially involves what amounts to a standoff between a motorist and a passenger in a vehicle on the southbound lanes -- there's the vehicle.

You see what appears to be a liquid there. That's actually, we think, some gasoline which, we're told by authorities, has been spread around the vehicle by the driver of that car.

It began this morning in Livermore, and to walk us through the events, we have with us on the line with the California Highway Patrol -- you see the tires there, there are no tires, just wheels. The California Highway Patrol able to puncture those tires out. Obviously, the motorist kept driving until there was nothing but metal there.

Richard Franklin is the officer on the line with us. Can you hear me OK, Officer Franklin?


O'BRIEN: If you could just back up for us and just tell us how you -- the facts as you know them to this moment.

FRANKLIN: OK. About 4:40 this morning, one of our officers in Dublin stopped to assist a vehicle that was on the side of a road when the vehicle approached the vehicle -- excuse me, when the officers approached the vehicle, the vehicle sped away.

And the vehicle was described as a mid-90s maroon Oldsmobile with Tennessee plates. The officers then attempted to stop the vehicle using their emergency lights, but the vehicle continued to speed away at speeds up to 100 miles per hour, and the path of the pursuit was -- went from Livermore, Castro Valley, Oakland, and across the Bay Bridge. After the Bay Bridge, in the city of San Mateo a strip -- a spike strip was employed, and the vehicle came to stop where it is now, southbound 101, just south of University.

O'BRIEN: Tell us -- for the uninitiated -- how these spike strips work, and how you were able to deploy that to stop this vehicle.

FRANKLIN: Well, when the vehicle is approaching a certain location, we tell officers that's ahead of the vehicle that the vehicle is in the number one lane, maybe the far left lane, or the far right lane. We deploy the strip across all the lanes, the vehicle goes across it. We de-deploy the spike strip, and then our vehicles go across it and wait for the vehicles -- or the vehicle to slow and make a stop, and then after that, we hopefully can apprehend the suspects, but as you see, we have not done that yet.

O'BRIEN: Well, and let's talk about the complications as it relates to that. You have a driver and a passenger and apparently, some gasoline. Tell us what we know about what's going on inside that vehicle right now.

FRANKLIN: Right now, I'm not sure what's going on. I can't confirm anything. There was reports that the suspects were pouring the gasoline and ripping out the back seat. I can't confirm that, but that's what I have been told.

O'BRIEN: Are you able to see CNN right now, sir?


O'BRIEN: As you can see, we have a close-up. It looks -- at the very least, that the inside of this car is in great disarray. Has there been any contact between the highway patrol at all and the motorist? For example, I am just thinking, is there a cell phone, anything like that?

FRANKLIN: Right now, no. We made a number of approaches, numerous attempts to speak with the suspects in the vehicle, and they haven't. We went as far as even putting the dogs on the loudspeakers so they know the seriousness of this, and we still haven't gotten any responses from them.

O'BRIEN: I am sorry, you put dogs on the loudspeakers?

FRANKLIN: Yes. We had them barking on the loudspeakers so they know that, you know, this is serious, and you know, the police are behind you. Maybe they didn't speak English, and we just wanted to get -- we just wanted them to know the seriousness of what was going on right now.

O'BRIEN: All right. I guess everybody understands the canine language, if you will. Give us a sense, then, of what the tactics and strategy are right now.

FRANKLIN: Right now, the SWAT team is on its way, and they are going to do what they do best, and try to apprehend -- extract the suspects out of the vehicle. Right now, we're just waiting to make sure the freeway is safe and neighboring communities and people are safe, just in case things don't go as planned.

O'BRIEN: Would you characterize this, Officer Franklin, as a hostage situation, or do we not know that yet?

FRANKLIN: That's not -- that's unknown right now. O'BRIEN: All right. But obviously, that has a lot to do with how police might be responding, or not responding in this case, correct?

FRANKLIN: Absolutely right. We want to take all precautionary action as possible. We don't know who is in the vehicle. Safety measures, is everybody OK? Is there a child in the vehicle? We just want to take all safe approaches right now.

O'BRIEN: How soon will the SWAT team be on site there?

FRANKLIN: Momentarily. We just got word that they are on their way. They're stuck in the traffic right now on the freeway. So, as soon as they can get there, they will do what's needed to be done, which is hopefully safely get the suspect out of the vehicle so we can open up the freeway.

O'BRIEN: All right. And just briefly, the traffic, I assume, is horrendous as a result?

FRANKLIN: Yes, sir.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's leave it at that. California Highway Patrol Richard Franklin, if it possible, we would like to ask you to stay with us, or at least be available to us to call you back. I know you're very busy right now. We will take a quick break, be back with more on this, and the rest of the day's news in just a moment. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back. I'm Miles O'Brien at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Let's show you some live pictures now from Palo Alto, California. You are looking at a maroon Oldsmobile with Tennessee license plates. It is the focus of a lot of attention in the Bay Area right now. That vehicle is in the southbound lanes of the 101, which is a main artery north and south in the Bay Area. The vehicle is disabled right now. There are two occupants we are told by the California Highway Patrol.

It all began nearly three hours ago when a California Highway Patrol officer pulled up behind what appeared to be a disabled vehicle. The vehicle, this one, with the Tennessee plates, sped off in the area of Dublin. Went through various East Bay communities, including Livermore and then made its way across the Bay Bridge into San Mateo and then southbound on 101, where, finally, the California Highway Patrol was able to deploy some -- a puncturing device, which took out the tires. You see, in some of these pictures, you will see that the tire -- the car had been driving for some time just on the rims.

We're told by the highway patrol that the driver of this vehicle has been spreading around some -- excuse me, not alcohol -- some gasoline. And what is unclear at this point is whether this is some kind of hostage situation or not, too early to speculate on that, but the net result is that the 101 South in Palo Alto is closed, and will remain closed for the foreseeable future while the SWAT team makes its way to the location.

With us still on the line is California Highway Patrol officer Richard Franklin. Officer, thank you for your forbearance. We appreciate you staying with us.

Do you know about any weapons? Have you heard any discussion about guns or anything?

FRANKLIN: No, that's unclear right now. We don't have any description or any weapons that have been seen. But we are taking all precautionary actions, just in case there are weapons in the vehicle.

O'BRIEN: You know, it's hard -- sometimes on the wider shot we get a sense of it. But how close are your officers to the vehicle right now? Do you know?

FRANKLIN: Right now I'm not sure. I heard they were backing away just to make it even more safe. So, they could be, maybe, 100 feet away from the vehicle or more than that. I'm not sure right now. Only -- I can't see it, only can see it from the television screen here.

O'BRIEN: Right, right. The other thing that comes to mind is, having driven down that road many times through that area, that is a pretty densely populated area. Are you evacuating any portion of the area, as you say, if something goes awry?

FRANKLIN: Not as yet. Nothing has been told to me. But if need be, we can have that done.

O'BRIEN: OK. And as far as the strategy from here, the SWAT team arrives, and how does, typically, how will they try to initiate negotiations, or at least communication with the driver of this vehicle?

FRANKLIN: Right now, the SWAT team is on the scene, and they are creating a plan right on what they do, and what tactics they will be using to get the suspect out as safe as possible. I'm not sure on that.

O'BRIEN: All right. Obviously, something they train for quite frequently. I know the California Highway Patrol gets involved in a lot of pursuits. This sort of thing is a little bit unusual, isn't it?

FRANKLIN: Very much so.

O'BRIEN: All right. Officer Richard Franklin. California Highway Patrol. Watching things from the command center there.

We are going to check in with you later, if you don't mind. We appreciate your time, and we know you are a busy man right now, as this situation unfolds in Palo Alto in the Bay Area this morning -- excuse me. We are going to step away from that for just a moment while we continue to gather some facts. We will keep you posted on it. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT



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