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Sex Abuse Suspect Walks; Connecticut Police Investigate Deadly Home Invasion

Aired July 25, 2007 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
After years of declining, violent crime is on the rise again nationwide, murder up last year in Phoenix, Las Vegas, Chicago, Philadelphia, skyrocketing in New Orleans. So is armed robbery and in some cities rape. And it's not just the big cities.

Tonight, new details are emerging in a new crime that really goes beyond any kind of category, location or description. One expert today called it a family annihilation killing, a home invasion resulting in robbery, rape, torture, and murder. The two suspects were on parole. Tonight, new details about what happened in this quiet Connecticut town and how common home invasions like this really are.

Also, "Keeping Them Honest," why a judge tossed the case of an alleged rapist out of court. It hinges on how well the defendant speaks English and how badly the system apparently botched the hunt for an interpreter. You will not believe this story.

And the blows triggered a national outcry. Now will the verdict in the case of one of the police officers do the same? The latest from New Orleans.

First, though, the latest from Cheshire, Connecticut, where a husband and father is recovering from serious injuries suffered in a home invasion robbery. He escaped with his life. Now he has got a lifetime ahead of him without his wife and two daughters, victims of two alleged killers who are accused of spending hours raping and brutalizing them inside their own home.


COOPER (voice-over): A family terrorized, a mother and her children murdered, allegedly by two career criminals out on parole who may have preyed on their targets for days.

RICHARD HAWKE, FATHER OF JENNIFER HAWKE-PETIT: I think God is crying with us today over this disaster.

COOPER: A local newspaper says Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevky allegedly followed Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her 11-year- old daughter, Michaela, on Sunday. From there, the paper says the suspects went to a Wal-Mart to buy rope and an air gun.

Then, police say, the two waited near the Petit home in the quiet small town of Cheshire, before entering the house at 3:00 a.m. on Monday. Inside, a scene of unspeakable horrible unfolded.

Reports say the father, prominent doctor Dr. William Petit, encountered the men, who took him to the basement, where they tied and beat him. Then, police say, they turned on Mrs. Petit, Michaela, and 17-year-old Hayley, binding them, brutalizing them, and raping them.

Around 9:00 a.m., one of the suspects allegedly forced Mrs. Petit to this Bank of America and waited outside while she withdrew $15,000. Somehow, Mrs. Petit was able to tell a bank employee that her family was being held hostage. Bank officials notified police.

But by the time patrol cars showed up at the home, about half-an- hour later, the house was in flames and the two suspects were in the family's SUV, ramming one cruiser, before both were caught.

Today, take medical examiner says Mrs. Petit was strangled, her body found on the first floor, upstairs, the bound bodies of Michaela and Hayley. Autopsy results indicate both died of smoke inhalation.

HAWKE: We were just shocked to hear that there could be such a tragic, evil thing that could be done to human beings.

COOPER: Dr. Petit managed to escape. He's now at a nearby hospital. As the two suspects remain behind bars on $15 million bond each, we're learning more about their pasts.

Court records show 26-year-old Komisarjevky, who lived just two miles from the Petit home, was a serial burglar who began stealing when he was just 14. He was in and out of prison. Even so, Komisarjevky was paroled on April 10; 44-year-old Hayes was convicted numerous times since 1980 on multiple charges, including forgery, drug possession, burglary and escape from custody. He was paroled less than a month after Komisarjevky.

The two men met each other last year at a halfway house. They haven't filed pleas in the case. Prosecutors have told reporters they might bring capital murder charges against them.

JACK LEVIN, PROFESSOR, NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY: You know, this might look like a typical burglary gone awry that turned into a robbery. But in this case, we're talking about two sadistic, sociopathic career criminals who decided to up the ante.


COOPER: Eric Zager is reporting the story for CNN affiliate WTIC. He joins us now from Hartford.

Eric, is there anything to indicate that this was premeditated? The suspects each have more than 20 burglaries on their record. They have no history of violent crime. Do we know the details of how they picked this house?

ERIC ZAGER, WTIC REPORTER: Anderson, so much of this story has not come out yet and that's part of it. We just don't know why they settled on that particular house. And there's nothing in their past that would suggest that they would reach out and cause this kind of chaos, commit this type of grisly crime.

Yes, they have been arrested many times, especially Steven Hayes, but nothing was there that would ever indicate what they were about to do.

COOPER: There is this report that they followed Mrs. Petit and one of the daughters back from a store. You say you're hearing otherwise?

ZAGER: Well, we can't substantiate that. That's what at least somebody is reporting at this point, that they saw this woman, a young daughter get into this Mercedes-Benz. They thought, aha, these people must be rich. Let's follow them. Let's stake their house.

But, Anderson, you have to understand, in Cheshire, seeing a Mercedes-Benz is nothing. It's like seeing a Yugo. Plenty of people have Mercedes-Benz. And it doesn't necessarily mean you're affluent when it comes to Connecticut to drive a Mercedes-Benz.

COOPER: These two suspects met at a drug rehab center last year. Are they being tested for drugs? Is there any evidence that they were doped up during the rampage?

ZAGER: I would certainly have to believe that -- the state police have been very tight-lipped about everything. But one would have to conceive that these two were all coked up or something else, but we just don't know at this point.

COOPER: Why did it take so long for police to arrive? Jennifer Hawke-Petit tipped off the teller at the bank that there was something wrong. The police didn't arrive at the house for almost half-an-hour. Do we know why?

ZAGER: Anderson, we don't have a complete timeline on this.

Somehow, Mrs. Hawke-Petit was able to intimate to one of the bank tellers that her family was in jeopardy, they were in trouble. Somehow, after that, the police showed up at the bank branch. It's closer in proximity to the police department than the house.

But you also have to understand that by the time the first officer pulled up, the house was going up in smoke. The two suspects were walking out of the house. So, they were there right at about the time the most horrible part of this story was happening or just a few minutes after that.

They were there very early on once there was some word that something was going awfully wrong in this house.

COOPER: Do we know how Mrs. Hawke-Petit was able to tip off one of the tellers? Did she slip a note? Did she say something? Is that known at this point?

ZAGER: We don't know that. That's one of the things we have heard, is that she was able to pass them a note. Another thing that we have heard is that, by her appearance, was just -- was ashen when she came in to there. We believe that there are people who know the Petit family very well in that bank. For her to come in and just withdraw some $15,000 and for the look that she had on her face, something didn't make sense.

COOPER: They have been charged now with rape, assault, kidnapping, arson. Prosecutors still deciding on murder charges. Do you think they're -- I mean, there is such outrage. Do you think they're going to pursue the death penalty?

ZAGER: Oh, absolutely.

I have no doubt in my mind they are. At this point, what the state police are trying to do. And the attorneys, the prosecutor, they're trying to put all the pieces into play. Remember, you only get one chance at this. So, if they're going to go at the death penalty, you better have everything there.

COOPER: Eric Zager, from WTIC, appreciate your comments. Thanks, Eric.

ZAGER: Good night, Anderson.

COOPER: Home invasion robberies of any kind are rare, so rare that the government doesn't even track them as a separate category of crime. Thieves generally prefer having no one at home, which is why most break-ins happen during the mid-morning and early afternoon.

Now, that said, as CNN's Joe Johns, the number of crimes that do take place when someone is home appears to be growing.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As violent crimes go, it doesn't get much scarier than this. The home invasion robbery defined is when people try to con or force their way into a home, often knowing the victim is there for the purpose of taking money and property.

JOE MCCANN, FORMER HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: They're going to hit a home that looks like it's going to have some valuables to it, where the occupants are not going to put up much of a resistance.

JOHNS: It's a terrifying scenario and it's apparently increasing. Though there's no official crime category under the heading home invasion, in a recent report, the FBI says robberies in residences accounted for more than 14 percent of all robberies in 2005, up slightly from the year before.

To get a feel for this stuff, we asked two of D.C.'s top security consultants, former homicide detectives Joe McCann and Dwayne Stanton, to walk us through it at a nice corner lot house in the suburbs.

For starters, what kind of guys would want to do this sort of thing?

MCCANN: First of all, it's going to be a start criminal, probably a career criminal, and most likely a violent criminal.

JOHNS: Victims are selected because of the cars they drive, the jewelry they wear, or a repairman, say, a gardener, perhaps, has cased the house. Some victims get followed home. Or maybe they stake you out for a while.

MCCANN: If they're looking for a big score, a big hit, they're going to take their time.

DWAYNE STANTON, FORMER HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: And their own investigation, so, to speak. They also select neighborhoods, well-to- do, affluent neighborhoods.

JOHNS: So what to do about it? A lot of this stuff is common sense. First, have a plan to get your family out of the house, a window or peepholes in the doors to see who's out there. Don't let strangers in. Good locks and a good alarm help, too.

MCCANN: Have the alarm system or evidence of an alarm system visible from the outside.

JOHNS: Keep the shrubs cut.

MCCANN: Somebody could hide behind this shrubbery.

JOHNS: After that, game is on. McCann suggests keeping copies of your car key, the one with the panic button, stashed around the house.

(on camera): You just hit that button.

MCCANN: Hit it.

JOHNS: Even if it's in your garage.

MCCANN: Even if it's in your garage or in front of your house.

STANTON: You want to spook the person, there's no question about it.

MCCANN: They're going to run.

STANTON: And get the attention of your neighbors.

JOHNS (voice-over): And prevention is not all high-tech. Rover still works great.

MCCANN: Absolutely the number-one deterrent. The bark will -- they just don't want it. Neighbors comes out. Everybody comes out when they hear your dog barking.

JOHNS: You can't anticipate or prevent a home invasion, but there are ways you can reduce the risk of one.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Some good advice there.

We called the Cheshire Police Department to find out about crime in that town. And here's the "Raw Data."

With a population of just over 29,000, there were two murders in Cheshire from January of this year to June. In that same time period, there were four sexual assaults, one robbery, and 28 burglaries.

Before we go to break, we want to tell you about a problem that you might not even be aware of, perhaps because it sounds like the sort of thing that simply can't happen. You're in the hospital for an operation. They have given you anesthesia. They think you're asleep, but you're not. Believe it not, it happens.

CNN's David Mattingly is working on the story. Here is a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there was a pain. There was a pain that you cannot deal with.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just goes on and on. And you're screaming inside your head.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These former patients went under the knife, but did not go under. They heard, they felt, they remembered everything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just kept praying, God, please, just let me out. Just let me out. Let somebody know that this hurts so bad.

JOHNS: Victims call it anesthesia awareness, a condition that occurs when anesthesia paralyzes the body, but, through some error, does not render the patient unconscious.


COOPER: Hard to believe.

David Mattingly is working on the story. You can see the full report tomorrow night on 360.

Coming up in the rest of the program tonight: a story about justice denied that will shock you, why an alleged predator went free and may never have to face trial.


COOPER (voice-over): Child sex abuse charges dropped because no one could find the defendant a qualified interpreter. We found one just 15 minutes away from the courthouse. And it gets worse.


TUCHMAN: And does he speak pretty good English?


COOPER: Yes. He says the alleged rapist didn't even need an interpreter. So, what do the authorities have to say in their defense? We're "Keeping Them Honest."

Also tonight, it was a police beating seen around the world. Now the judgment's in on one of the cops involved. And, as you will see, it's a shocker -- tonight on 360.



COOPER: The story you're about to hear seemed utterly surreal when we first read about it in a local paper: an accused child rapist going free because the court couldn't find him a qualified interpreter. The more we investigated, however, the stranger it got. And the more details you hear tonight, the madder you will likely get.

How could an accused molester go free?

Gary Tuchman tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."


TUCHMAN (voice-over): This is the man at the center of a legal storm, because of a bizarre technicality that is hard to believe, Mahamu Kanneh, charged with the horrifying crimes of raping and repeatedly molesting a 7-year-old girl and molesting a 1-and-a-half- year-old girl, both relatives of his.

But now the charges against the Liberian immigrant have disappeared.

JOHN MCCARTHY, MONTGOMERY COUNTY PROSECUTOR: We believe that that decision to dismiss these charges was improper.

TUCHMAN: Why were such serious charges dismissed? Because a court clerk was unable to find an interpreter fluent in the rare language known as Vai who could stay through the entire trial. A court-ordered psychiatrist told the judge an interpreter was necessary.

MCCARTHY: The bottom line is that any delays caused by an attempt to find an appropriate and qualified interpreter is not attributable to the prosecution and legally was the responsibility of the courts and should not serve as the basis for dismissing the charges against the defendant.

TUCHMAN: But Judge Katherine Savage disagreed, saying on the bench, "This is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in a long time." She cleared the charges because she says the long delay violated Kanneh's constitutional right to a speedy trial.

"Keeping Them Honest," we investigated what went wrong. An estimated 100,000 people in the world speak the West African tribal language of Vai.

The court office in Rockville, Maryland, says it worked hard to find someone anywhere in the country who could be with the suspect during the trial. Over two-and-a-half years, it couldn't successfully do so.

But, after researching about two-and-a-half hours...

(on camera): How do you say swimming in Vai?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): ... we found a Vai-speaking Liberian immigrant who lives about 15 minutes away from the courthouse who would have served as an interpreter if asked.

CORNEH: I would do anything, anything at all that this government asks me to do. I am their guest.

TUCHMAN (on camera): This story strikes high on the outrage meter. But what may be more outrageous involves the question over whether Kanneh needed an interpreter to begin with, because CNN has learned that Kanneh graduated from this Maryland high school back in 2005, one of the best high schools in the state, where, most certainly, you need to know more than Vai to get by.

(voice-over): At Magruder High School, a student is not allowed to get a diploma without passing four years of English. A source in the school says Kanneh did not even find it necessary to take the English-as-a-second-language course that is offered. And there's more.

JEREMY BROWN, NEIGHBOR OF MAHAMU KANNEH: It's right there, number seven.

TUCHMAN: Jeremy Brown currently lives next door to Kanneh.

(on camera): And how long have you lived here?

BROWN: About a year.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): We wanted to talk to Kanneh about his case and his language skills, but nobody was home in apartment seven. So, we asked his neighbor this.

(on camera): Does he speak English?


TUCHMAN: And does she speak pretty good English?

BROWN: Yes. TUCHMAN: So, on a scale of one to 10 of English proficiency, what would you say he had?

BROWN: Probably a seven or eight.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): No one, from the judge, to the court clerk, to Kanneh's public defender, would speak to us about the case, because prosecutors have filed an appeal. An appellate court would have the authority to make the charges reappear. But, if the appeal fails, Mahamu Kanneh will not ever go to trial on these charges.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Rockville, Maryland.


COOPER: It is hard to believe.

Now here's John Roberts with what's coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING."


JOHN ROBERTS, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": Anderson, President Bush has heard from the members of the wounded veterans panel. And now the secretary of veterans affairs is responding to the panel's findings about Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the treatment of wounded veterans back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Join us tomorrow for the most news in the morning, beginning at 6:00 a.m. -- Anderson.


COOPER: Up next in "Raw Politics," new troubles for John McCain, Democrats take on the White House, and Guinness takes on the president. How close is he to being the most disliked president in history?

Also ahead, frightening moments near downtown Dallas, massive explosions and flying shrapnel -- the story behind the chaos coming up on 360.


COOPER: Tonight, John McCain's presidential campaign seems to be sliding closer to a meltdown. Two more McCain staffers have quit, this time his well-known media team. Both men resigned by e-mail, telling friends they hadn't been paid and weren't sure when they would or how much they would be paid.

McCain isn't the only one sweating in Washington, however. A legal and political battle is heating up between Congress and the White House over the U.S. prosecutor purge.

That is where "Raw Politics" begins tonight with Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Democrats are furious at the folks at the White House, accusing them of stonewalling their attempts to investigate those attorney general firings. So, the Democrats are firing some shots of their own.

(voice-over): Former White House counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten ignored congressional subpoenas about the firings. But now the House Judiciary Committee has them in its sights, saying the two should be held for contempt of Congress, before others get the same idea.

REP. JOHN CONYERS (D-MI), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We won't be able to get anybody in front of this committee or any other.

FOREMAN: Tony, a response?

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In our view, this is pathetic.

FOREMAN: The Tour de France is reeling under a barrage of new doping allegations. But the great tour champion and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong is wheeling across Iowa with John Edwards. Armstrong invited all of the candidates on the ride. He's holding a cancer forum next month in the Hawkeye State. Many of the White House hopefuls are expected to show up.

New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg says he's not in the race.


FOREMAN: Not in the race.

BLOOMBERG: Let me make it clear, I am not a candidate for president of the United States.

FOREMAN: Are you in the race?

BLOOMBERG: That's the kind of Shermanesque question.

FOREMAN: OK, so, he's not Sherman either. But now he does have a new Web site,, highlighting his accomplishments. Not in the race, but he's certainly strapping on his Nikes.

And to the record books. Guinness says this woman in Chicago has the poppiest eyeballs, this man in L.A. the stretchiest skin. But this man in the White House may soon hold a title for most disliked president. George Bush's disapproval rating is now at 66 percent, only one point away from the worst rating ever since modern polling began.

(on camera): So, who holds the title? Well, he's from way back in 1952, when George Bush was just 6 years old. And the honor goes to Harry Truman.

That's "Raw Politics" -- Anderson. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Tom, thanks.

We're going to have plenty of "Raw Politics" in our next hour. We're going to be devoting the entire hour to all the best of your questions from the YouTube debate and some you didn't see on Monday night.

Don't forget, you can also start shooting your videos for the Republican debate, what questions you want to ask them. September 17, that's the night the debate is going to be airing right here on CNN. Just go to for that.

Let's get some quick headlines right now from Erica Hill in our 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, in Iraq today, joy turning to terror in an instant. At least 50 people died, dozens were wounded when a car bomb struck crowds of Iraqis as they were celebrating their national soccer team's victory in the Asian Cup Games. The bombings targeted two Baghdad neighborhoods. Meantime, people shooting guns into the air in celebration caused two deaths and at least a dozen injuries.

A terrifying day in downtown Dallas. Flaming debris raining down on highways and buildings, following a string of explosions at a natural gas facility. At least three people were hospitalized with injuries. Authorities evacuated a half-mile area, shut down parts of two interstates. It's still unclear just what caused those tanks to explode.

And, in Oregon, another explosion, this one, though, intentional. The state's biggest utility began demolition of the Marmot Dam today. Eight feet of the 47-foot-tall hydroelectric dam blasted away. That project, which will take two months ,will restore the flow of the Sandy River, allowing fish to reach their spawning grounds for the first time, Anderson, in almost 100 years.

COOPER: They're going to have many happy fish.

HILL: Many happy fish, indeed.

And this next "What Were They Thinking?" I have to admit, one of my favorites of the day. So, we have got a suspect in a Phoenix bank robbery making his getaway. He's in the white pickup truck. Well, he just sort of pulled under a gas station thing there. But keep an eye on it.

Police are chasing him. But, then, wait a minute, I need to make a quick pit stop at the gas station. I really need a cigarette. Yes.

COOPER: Are you kidding?

HILL: No, I'm totally serious. Runs in. The clerk said that the suspect threw him a $20, put it on the counter, grabbed his pack of smokes, and then started to wait a little bit for the change before he realized, you know what? If I wait, the cops might get me. So, then he left.


COOPER: And police are chasing him during this time?

HILL: Police are chasing him. He had apparently eluded them a little bit at that point. But those cigarettes may have sealed his fate, because police caught up with him just a few minutes later and took him into custody.

Maybe it's time to quick smoking. It's just a thought.


COOPER: I don't think he was thinking.

HILL: Probably not.


All right, Erica, thanks.

HILL: Mm-hmm.

COOPER: That is one kind of "What Were They Thinking?" story.

Coming up, another story, a very serious one, that has a lot of people in New Orleans asking exactly the same question about the verdict in a case that rocked their city.


COOPER (voice-over): A police beating seen around the world. Now the judgment's in on one of the cops involved. And, as you will see, it's a shocker.

Plus, what really happened in the sweltering heat of a hospital in the days after Katrina? Did doctors go too far, going from healers to killers, injecting ill and elderly patients with overdoses? Tonight, the justice system speaks, but not everyone will like it -- details ahead on 360.


COOPER: We've been following this story for nearly two years. The video, of course, is impossible to forget. The man on the ground is Robert Davis, a retired schoolteacher who was unarmed at the time. A TV news camera was rolling when police beat him on Bourbon Street not long after Hurricane Katrina.

Now another dramatic turn in the case. Many people thought the tape would give Davis and his attorneys an airtight case. That is not how a New Orleans judge saw it.


COOPER (voice-over): The pictures are disturbing. Sixty-six- year-old Robert Davis pummeled by police on the devastated streets of New Orleans in October of 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

To many, it looked like a classic case of police brutality. But now a New Orleans judge has disagreed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no comment.

COOPER: Robert Evangelist was one of the New Orleans police officers involved in the struggle. He was charged with second degree battery and false imprisonment. Today he walked out of court a free man, acquitted by all charges by Judge Frank Marullo, ruling without a jury.

Stephen Bruno is Robert Davis' attorney. He says he and his client are stunned.

STEPHEN BRUNO, ATTORNEY FOR ROBERT DAVIS: Well, we felt like he was beaten all over again. He was shocked and he was astonished and he reacted very negatively.

COOPER: The judge said he watched the tapes, saw Davis struggling, but he said, this event could have ended at any time if the man had put his hands behind his back. He concluded it wasn't even a close call.

Robert Davis' confrontation with New Orleans cops came at the darkest time in the city's history. A little more than a month before, Hurricane Katrina had slammed into the big easy, flooding the streets, willing more than 1,500 people in Louisiana alone, knocking out power, causing billions of dollars worth of damage.

It was a tense time for New Orleans police, as well. Dozens of officers had abandoned their jobs in the wake of the storm. The city was under a tight curfew, and the police said Robert Davis was drunk and resisted arrest. Those charges were dropped.

BRUNO: Mr. Davis was never placed under arrest at any time during the ordeal. Yet he was charged with resisting arrest. Now how do you fill out an affidavit to say that someone resisted arrest when you're saying in your own criminal trial that he was never arrested in the first place?

COOPER: Not surprising, Robert Evangelist's attorney said his client was happy with the outcome.

FRANK ZIBILICH, EVANGELIST'S ATTORNEY: I feel that he believes that everyone's been shooting at him for the last two years since the storm. And when he finally got his day in court, the vindication came.

COOPER: But Evangelist wasn't the only officer charged in the case. Another New Orleans cop, Lance Schilling, was also accused. He took his own life in June.

A third officer, Stewart Smith, was charged with assaulting an Associated Press photographer on the scene. Judge Marullo also dismissed those charges. Smith was suspended from the force for 120 days. Evangelist was fired.

BRUNO: The police department got it right. They tossed these two bad apples off the force. They're no longer police officers.

COOPER: Evangelist says he'll fight to get his job back, and Robert Davis, who now lives in Atlanta, is preparing to sue the city of New Orleans and its police department.

BRUNO: This is far from over. And the civil proceeding, it's going to be a slam dunk, an entirely different result. His worst crime was to have his hand on the gate while his other arm was pinned behind his back. How that led to him being -- ending up in a pool of blood, I don't know.

COOPER: Another controversy, another unforgettable picture from a city shaken by the storm.


COOPER: For some perspective on this rulingnypd, we turn to Eugene O'Donnell, who teaches police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice here in New York. He's a former NYPD officer and also a former New York prosecutor.

Thanks for being with us.


COOPER: As you look at this tape, what do you see? Because the judge who looked at this tape said he saw five minutes, quote five minutes, of struggling to put on the cuffs.

O'DONNELL: Well, there's a number of different things going on. Obviously, each officer is perceiving each situation -- the situation differently.

The officers, of course, not only are they trying to restrain him, and it's unclear whether he's actually complaint fully or completely not complying, they've all got handcuffs out. Obviously, those we could see.

But also uppermost in their mind are threats from outside from people that are standing around and also the need to retain weapons. That's a very big issue, the weapons that they carry there.

COOPER: So in a situation like this, you look at how each individual person is acting, not really how they're acting as a group.

O'DONNELL: We have the benefit of knowing the end, because we know the script the way it ends up, but they don't. So they have to look at all the various moving pieces.

COOPER: I want to look at one piece of the tape in particular. You can see in this part of the tape, as the horse -- as the horse moves away here, let's see, right -- it's going to be over here.

You can see the officers punching Mr. Davis. One of the accused former officers admits to striking him. Is that the proper procedure?

O'DONNELL: Well, the difficult thing with these tapes is that you don't have the context. So you don't know what happened before, you don't know what's being said and you sort of have an angle that's not necessarily clear and doesn't give you the whole picture.

They're trying to restrain him. He appears to not be complying. There's an allegation they've made that he was intoxicated and therefore not compliant. So they're doing the best they can, apparently, on the video to try to restrain and to handcuff him.

COOPER: There's also a portion of the tape where you can hear what we think is Mr. Davis talking to the officers. Let's play that.


ROBERT DAVIS, CLAIMS HE WAS BEATEN BY POLICE: I'll turn over if you allow me to. If you allow me to turn over, I will.


COOPER: He seems to be saying, "If you allow me to turn over, I will."

O'DONNELL: Right. But there certainly are cases -- we never know exactly what occurs just based on the video. But there certainly are cases where people express compliance verbally but actually are physically not compliant.

COOPER: So as a police officer, you wouldn't pay attention to what someone is saying but what they're doing?

O'DONNELL: It's sort of a mix of things, sure. So there are cases where people say let me go, let me go, but they're very much resisting.

COOPER: The other thing you note is that in the video where there's this altercation, they have to be concerned about other people who may enter the scene. They don't know what's going to happen.

O'DONNELL: Absolutely. For all they are concerned, this could turn out to be a full-scale riot. There would be team coming to jump them. He could, of course, try to take away one of their firearms.

These are -- unfortunately, the police are involved. It's almost a potential for deadly force but you also have deadly force with them.

COOPER: Do you see anything wrong in the tape, as we look at the tape again now, what jumps out at you, anything? O'DONNELL: It's imperfect, it's moving and it's probably not the kind of thing as you would use as a how-to. But that's the nature of police work.

COOPER: Because a lot of people will see this and say, "Look, this looks like police brutality." And they're going to think you're a former police officer, you're -- you know, you're loathe to criticize other police officers.

ALBERTSON: Well, all this is truth. We don't know the whole picture. For all we know, can only tell by the video what it tends to show. What it tends to show is the cops using force, which is what cops do.

COOPER: When we look at the injuries Mr. Davis suffered, he had sustained facial fractures. Certainly, there was a lot of blood in this video. Do the -- does the amount of blood, do the injuries tell you anything?

ALBERTSON: Well, again, the video is a piece of evidence. But you want to also look at the medical records, additional witnesses, and get a whole, full picture. Those interviews may be consistent with what you see on the video. It may also raise some troubling questions.

COOPER: We appreciate your perspective. Thank you very much.


COOPER: Up next on 360, a moving update on another story from New Orleans, a doctor accused of killing nine patients. Almost two years later, a grand jury decides her fate. Or was it murder? A resolution to a story we've been following since it happened, next.


COOPER: Before the break, we told you about a New Orleans police officer who was acquitted in the beating of an unarmed man shortly after Hurricane Katrina. The ruling came on the same day as this one, in a case that got just as much if not more attention.

A New Orleans doctor at the center of an investigation into patient deaths in the chaotic days after the storm was also cleared of all charges. With that story, here's CNN's Rick Sanchez.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vindication. But nothing to gloat about.

DR. ANNA POU, ACQUITTED BY GRAND JURY: Today's events are not a triumph, but a moment of remembrance for those who lost their lives during the storm. And a tribute to all of those who stayed at their post and served people most in need.

SANCHEZ: Dr. Anna Pou was charged with second degree murder. Accused of the mercy killing of nine of the sickest patients at memorial medical center. They died during one of the worst disasters in American history. Who can forget the rising waters, the delays in getting people out, the help to those who were stranded? That was the memorial medical center. Supplies, power, patients, all running out.

Last year, the daughter of one critically ill patient told CNN's Drew Griffin she heard nurses discussing which patients would be left behind.

ANGELA MCMANUS, PATIENT'S DAUGHTER: This is grown men buckling down to their knees because they couldn't believe FEMA was making them sit there and watch people die. They had decided not to evacuate the DNR patients.

SANCHEZ (on camera): That's when you heard for the first time your mom was not going to get out?

MCMANUS: Right, the first time.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Angela McManus is not sure if her mother died from her illness or was killed. Her death certificate lists the cause as merely hurricane related.

MCMANUS: They say she died from an infection. I don't know. I really don't know. And, you know, hearing this doctor was saying about euthanasia at the hospital, I don't know where to go.

SANCHEZ: Two other women, nurses Cheri Landry and Lori Budo were also charged. But their charges were dropped after they testified to the grand jury.

Dr. Pou has denied all along that she did anything wrong. In fact, she maintains what she and her staff did was heroic. Under the most difficult of circumstances. And, she says, the grand jury verdict has now proven her right.

POU: The last 23 months have been very challenging and painful, not only for Sherry, Laurie and for me, but also for our families. And the family members of those who died at Memorial Hospital following Hurricane Katrina.

SANCHEZ: The man who brought the charges, Louisiana state attorney general Charles Foti, says he respects the grand jury's decision. But stands by his reason for filing the charges.

CHARLES FOTI, LOUISIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Our investigation, the statement of witnesses and opinions of experts provided us with a reasonable belief that these crimes had been committed.

SANCHEZ: Dr. Pou says she'll go back to doing what she loves best, healing, in a city where healing has become a way of life.

Rick Sanchez, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: Another chapter of the storm.

Still to come tonight, she' is fallen but luckily she can get up. Who is this diva literally on the dance floor? That's our shot tonight. And later, a country on the rise. But we're also facing the consequences.


COOPER (voice-over): A booming economy. The most people on earth and the price you're paying for it.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) river. And just take a look at it. It looks dead to me. It's covered with this layer of black muck.

COOPER: What China's growth means to the Chinese and how it affects all of us living on a "Planet in Peril.

Later tonight, more of your questions from the CNN YouTube Democratic debate. What you asked, how they answered, and what it all means, coming up on 360.



COOPER: Consider this, 40 percent of America's lakes and rivers and estuaries surveyed by the EPA are not safe enough to fish or swim in, 40 percent. If you think our water supply is threatened, we want to show you what is happening right now in China.

As part of our "Planet in Peril" series, 360 MD Dr. Sanjay Gupta went to China to witness the toll the contamination from the surging economy there is taking, on everything and everyone. Here's his report.


COOPER (voice-over): Rush hour in Beijing. The traffic in the city of 15 million people is brutal. Breaking free from the gridlock isn't easy.

(on camera) We're leaving Beijing now. One of our goals here is to see how much pollution exists, and frankly, you can see it in the air everywhere here in Beijing.

We're told some of the worst pollution actually occurs outside the big cities in some of the smaller villages. There factories are just spewing contaminants into the air.

We're also going to visit a river called the Dulojin (ph). It is a very polluted river, and the concern is that that water may be having an adverse effect on people's health. We're going to check it out.

(voice-over) Researchers estimate at least one fourth of all Chinese people lack access to clean water. And a lot of those people live out here in the countryside.

The culprits of the pollution are mostly the factories that dot the landscape here: chemical factories, coal factories, many of them completely unregulated by the state. All of them a sign of China's torrid rate of growth.

The economy here has grown by 1,000 percent since the mid 1970s.

(on camera) This is it. The first thing that struck me is how awful this smells.

This is the Dulojin (ph) River and just take a look at it. It looks dead to me; it's covered with this layer of black muck. And the problem is that people live around here.

And in fairness, while there are water beds that look like this in the United States, here they actually use this water to irrigate crops.

(voice-over) The farmers say they don't have much of a choice. It's either water from Dulojin (ph) or rely solely on rainwater, an unpredictable source at best.

Water pollution is a touchy subject here. Something we quickly learned.

(on camera) We were supposed to meet with an environmental group dedicated to promoting awareness about rivers like this. In fact, we were here yesterday and so were the police. So today the environmental group didn't show up, afraid they might get arrested or shut down if seen talking to us.

(voice-over) As we left the river, word of our presence started to get around. We were almost immediately stopped by police who wanted to know what we were doing. They asked to see our passports. They let us go without much of a fuss.

(on camera) We're not too far away from where we just got stopped by the police. We finally made our way into the field here to try to ask people whether they're concerned about the dirty water in the irrigation of crops. We keep hearing the same thing, which isn't very much. What we're finding out, it's tough to get answers.

(voice-over) We asked this man about the water issue here.

(on camera) The water here is so dirty. I mean, how do you irrigate all the crops?

(voice-over) Before he could answer, he got a phone call from a car just over our shoulder that had been following us.

"Some foreigners are asking about the water here," he says. "How should I answer?" He got off the phone and came back with his answer.

"We've been doing a lot of things to improve the environment, so the water may look scary, but it's actually OK," he says. In fact, recent studies by local researchers show the Dulojin (ph) is one of the most polluted rivers in the region.

But not everyone in China is afraid to speak out. There's a small but growing environmental community in China gently asking the government to better balance the country's growth with its environmental effects.

Wang Yun Chin (ph) is a Chinese journalist who founded this group called the Green Earth Volunteers. The group takes weekly walks to the rivers to raise awareness.

(on camera) Why is it important to you to get this river clean?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because we're living in nature. The nature is our living area. We need it clean, we need it for the future.

GUPTA: A simple answer to a complicated problem. One the Chinese government and its people are slowly starting to tackle.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Beijing.


COOPER: Sanjay's report is part of our "Planet in Peril" documentary. The project is a big undertaking for CNN. It's literally taken us around the globe. You can find out more about it at, which is all one word.

"The Shot of the Day" is coming up. A diva takes a nasty fall but gets up and starts swinging her hair around anyway. But first Erica Hill has a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, a South Korean being held hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan has been killed. He was one of 23 church volunteers kidnapped last week. His bullet-ridden body found by Afghan police.

The Taliban says eight others have been released but warns the others could be killed in just hours if its demands are not met. He wants Taliban prisoners released and South Korea to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

HILL: In Seattle, in Washington, a passenger who missed the Northwest Airlines flight headed for Memphis allegedly made a bomb threat against the plane which forced the plane to turn back to the airport, where bomb sniffing dogs searched the plane. They found no explosives. The man could face charges.

In California, that cocaine that cops say they found in Lindsey Lohan's pocket, she says it's not hers. And no, she didn't do drugs. The actress e-mailed "Access Hollywood", saying she is innocent. That cocaine charge came along with a DUI arrest in Santa Monica, her second in nearly two months, and it also comes two weeks after she was released from rehab. At the White House, President Bush out for a jog with two wounded soldiers. Sergeant Neil Duncan (ph) on the left, lost two legs fighting in Afghanistan. Specialist Matt Ramsey (ph) lost his left leg in Iraq. He's back jumping out of planes at the 101st Airborne.

Sergeant Duncan -- check that out -- outrunning the president, Anderson. Not bad.

COOPER: Not bad at all. Erica, check out "The Shot of the Day". Rough night for singer Beyonce. That's right, she tumbled down a flight of stairs.

HILL: Ooh!

COOPER: Ouch, yes.

HILL: Oh, that dress.

COOPER: Fallen on her face. She apparently handled that very well. Look, she got right up and started flipping that hair again.

HILL: There you go. A little hair flip makes everything better, doesn't it?

COOPER: I guess so. Boom, boom, ouch. It almost looks like she did a complete cartwheel, but I don't think so. She just got right up and there you go.

She apparently asked fans not to post the fall on YouTube. But, you know. Loyalty to Beyonce' only goes so far.

HILL: It does. In fact, I think if you say don't post it on YouTube, it probably prompts people to post it faster. But that's just a guess.

I'll see your Beyonce tumble and I'll raise you an Al Roker hurricane tumble.


HILL: Yes. I mean, you're a hurricane guy. You know what this is like. Ow. Yes, not the only one going down. Look, the guy trying to hold him up, also down. October, 2005, I believe that was.

COOPER: That was a good fall and Beyonce was a good fall, but I think I'll see your Al Roker and raise you a local news reporter squashing grapes.

HILL: Great.

COOPER: Just watch and listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ouch, ouch, ouch.

COOPER: Yes, not good.

HILL: I really feel for that woman.

COOPER: Yes, terrible.

HILL: That really does not sound good. I think it sounds worse every time I see it.

COOPER: Yes. But the greatest part is not on this. It was the reaction of the two local, like, news anchors who, like, during a live shot and they're like, "Oh, yes, OK."

HILL: That's right. Moving on, the weather today. Yes.

COOPER: Exactly. We want you to send us your "Shot" ideas. If you see some people falling, tell us about it: Or some other great videos. We'll put some of the best clips on the air.

Yes, it hurts to look at.

Up next, a 360 special. A debate everyone is still talking about. You ask, the candidates answer. We'll show you the best of nearly 3,000 YouTube videos, including many you haven't seen before, in this special hour of 360. That's coming up right after the break.