Return to Transcripts main page


Pilots Breakdown in the Sky; Health Care on Trial; Obama Healthcare Law On Trial; Gingrich Campaign On Last Legs?

Aired March 28, 2012 - 05:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We're very happy you're with us this morning.

We are bringing you the news from A to Z. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East. We'll start with more top stories.


BANFIELD: The sound and the fury. He was screaming, "They're going to take us down," and ranting about the Middle East and a bomb.

New tape this morning of a JetBlue pilot and what's being called a mental breakdown at 30,000 feet. You're going to hear from the hero copilot and the passengers who literally grabbed him by his neck to save the flight.

And the more you hear, the more you realize just how close they came to disaster.

SAMBOLIN: The Supreme Court set for a critical final day of arguments in the historic health care debate. Today's session focusing on whether parts of the president's plan can even remain law if the individual mandate at the heart of the overhaul is deemed unconstitutional.

BANFIELD: An emotional appeal for justice. The parents of Trayvon Martin speaking to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, as supporters continue to insist the Florida teenager was killed because he was black.

SAMBOLIN: Newt Gingrich is scaling back. The former House speaker cutting campaign appearances and laying off staff, leaving many observers wondering if the end of his presidential campaign is indeed near.

BANFIELD: And Laker legend Magic Johnson ready to bleed Dodger blue? A group led by Magic has agreed to buy the bankrupt L.A. Dodgers for a cool $2 billion with B.


BANFIELD: Two billion dollars. It's the biggest price tag ever for a sports franchise.

SAMBOLIN: And up first, those terrifying moments on a JetBlue flight. We are seeing new tape this morning of a man's mental breakdown at 30,000 feet. Not just any man, the pilot.

BANFIELD: Unbelievable sound. Listen in.


BANFIELD: Just incredible. We're also starting to hear from the air traffic control recordings as the copilot guided everyone to safety.


PILOT: JetBlue 191, emergency. We're going to need authorities and medical assistance.

ATC: Yes, sir, we're standing by for you.

PILOT: Can we have the airport police standing by?

ATC: Do you want them to enter from (INAUDIBLE)?

PILOT: That's probably fine.

ATC: Code one, the pilot requests medical and security as soon as able.

SECURITY: We've got medical and security standing by.


BANFIELD: Simply incredible.

Alina Cho is here with what happened and what one person did on board that probably saved a lot of lives.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is incredible. If you think about it, this is on the heels of what happened with the American Airlines flight attendant a couple of weeks back with the rant about 9/11 and fears about the plane going down. You know, I think it's a safe bet --

SAMBOLIN: It's mental breakdown, right?

CHO: That's right. And to have it happen twice in a couple of weeks is pretty extraordinary. But I think it's a pretty safe bet that ever since 9/11, airline passengers know there may come a time when they'll have to take matters into their own hands. That's exactly what happened aboard Flight 191 from JFK to Las Vegas on Tuesday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God! I am so distraught. We've got Israel. We've got Iraq. We've got Israel. We've got Iraq. We've got to get down!


CHO: You have to listen very carefully, but if you can, you can hear in that video. A man saying he's distraught, mentioning Israel and Iraq, and then saying, "We've got to get down." That man was the captain of the plane. Unbelievable.

Witnesses say he left the cockpit, then came back and started banging on the door. He was locked out at that point. That is when two flight attendants and some passengers, six or seven large men, we're told, jumped in and restrained him. Get this, it turns out that many of the people on board that flight, they were headed to a convention in Vegas, a security convention. Good thing.


BANFIELD: The plane was diverted ultimately to Amarillo, Texas. That's where it made an emergency landing.

And here are pictures of the pilot being wheeled off the plane, restrained with his hands behind his back, and in some sort of yellow chair. That was before he was taken away in an ambulance to a medical facility.


SERGE KAPCHITS, JETBLUE PASSENGER: I saw about two or three guys right next to him jump up and another like four guys rush right past me toward the front of the plane.

DAVID GONZALEZ, JETBLUE PASSENGER: He started to curse at me and try to tell me, 'Hey, you better pray, Iraq and Iran." And so I say, "You know what, I'm going to show you what Iraq and Iran is," and I took him in a chokehold.


SAMBOLIN: So, apparently, there are a lot of heroes in this case, but there's one person who's being credited with really quick thinking.

CHO: I was so surprised by this. But I guess, when you think about the turn of events, it all sort of makes sense, right? It really was the copilot who first noticed something was wrong. In an interview with our Piers Morgan last night, one of the passengers said it was the copilot who was the hero.

It appears that that copilot was the first person to spot there was something wrong with the pilot, odd behavior. He was somehow apparently able to trick him into leaving the cockpit and then locked him out.


TONY ANTOLINO, JETBLUE PASSENGER: The copilot of the flight -- you know, he really, I think, is the hero here because he had the sense to recognize that something was going horribly wrong, and he was able to persuade the captain out of the cockpit. That was really the first step in allowing this to play out the way that it did. And, you know, thankfully, we're here to be able to talk about it.


CHO: That's right, 153 passengers and six crew members.

Meanwhile, federal investigators say this is not terror-related. They are, of course, looking into the pilot's background -- flight history, medical records, training to see if there was any clue at all about his behavior that they may have overlooked. Now, we should mention that in order to fly on a commercial airliner, you have to have what's called a first class, rather -- first class medical certificate.

If you are under 40 years old, that needs to be renewed once a year. If you are over 40 years old, 40 or over, it needs to be renewed every six months. That includes a physical examination by an FAA medical examiner. And if there is the need, they do ask for additional psychological training.

But, you know, a lot of the passengers on board this flight said that captain seemed really calm, and then all of a sudden he snapped. Obviously, there are going to be a lot of questions going forward. We're going to be watching this story very closely.

BANFIELD: I can't wait to se the tapes, if we ever get to see the tapes of what happened inside the cockpit before he got locked out.

CHO: That's what everyone wants to know.

BANFIELD: What was being said before he got locked out. Alina, thank you for that.

CHO: You bet.

SAMBOLIN: All right. It's seven minutes past the hour here.

The third and final day of the historic health care debate unfolds before the Supreme Court. This happens five hours from now. Based on what we heard yesterday, the centerpiece of President Obama's Affordable Care Act could be on life support.

The individual mandate appears now to be in trouble. It requires nearly every American to buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty.

Listen to a skeptical Justice Antonin Scalia.


ANTONIN SCALIA, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: How do you define the market that broadly, health care? It may well be that everybody needs health care sooner or later, but not everybody needs a heart transplant, not everybody needs a liver transplant.

DONALD VERRILLI, SOLICITOR GENERAL: That's correct, Justice Scalia, but you never know when --

SCALIA: Could you define the market? Everybody has to buy food sooner or later. So, you define the market as food. And therefore, everybody's in the market and you can make people buy broccoli.


SAMBOLIN: Interesting arguments happening there.

Kate Bolduan is live in Washington.

And, Kate, the court takes up the critical issue of severability today. I know yesterday we were saying, we're not going to get any answers until June, but we're kind of getting a clearer picture here.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Definitely getting a little more of a window into the thinking of the justices. And as we always say, oral arguments are not the final word. The justices can induce surprises, but oral arguments are important because they give us a little clue of the line of questioning that the justices take on and kind of maybe where they're leaning and where they're kind of leading the attorneys that are in front of them.

Before I get to severability, I just want to take a second if we could to just listen a little more to sound from the more conservative justices, because it does give a clue of just how skeptical they are that they may think that this health care law goes simply too far. Listen here.


ANTHONY KENNEDY, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: What you're saying is the federal government has a duty to tell the individual citizen that it must act, and that is different from what we have in previous cases. That changes the relationship of the federal government to the individual in a very fundamental way.

JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE: Once we say that there is a market and Congress can require people to participate in it, as some would say, it seems to me that we can't say there are limitations on what Congress can do under its commerce power. All bets are off.


BOLDUAN: Those are just some of the tough questions they were throwing at the solicitor general, the top lawyer for the Obama administration, in front of the high court.

But moving on to today, it's becoming a very critical final day. Two issues are going to be debated, the issue of severability and the issue involving the Medicaid program under this law.

Severability, we like to think of it as the domino effect. If the individual mandate is found unconstitutional, can any of the law survive? Do some provisions also need to fall? Or does the entire law need to fall?

Critical questions that will be debated today, this morning. And then this afternoon, the justices are going to be taking a look at whether the expanded Medicaid program under the health care law unfairly steps on state powers by requiring that states pay more of a share in the expanded cost of the expanded eligibility program under this law.

So, two critical questions again today. Yesterday, of course, was the big centerpiece, but today will also be critical as well, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Kate Bolduan, live in Washington for us -- thank you very much.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

BANFIELD: Ten minutes past 5:00.

Newt Gingrich's bid for the presidency, is it nearing the end of days? The former House speaker is cutting back appearances, he's laying off a third of his staff. And the by the way, the layoffs include his campaign manager. All of that fueling the speculation he may be pretty close to dropping out.

And if you ask the majority of Republican voters what they think, they think that's precisely what Newt Gingrich should do. Take a look at the brand new CNN/ORC poll -- six out of 10 think he should end his campaign.

SAMBOLIN: And nearly 500 firefighters have been called into battle. A fast moving and deadly wildfire near Denver, Colorado.

That wildfire has destroyed close to 2,000 structures -- take a look at this -- including the home where the remains of an elderly couple were found. Another woman who lives in the area is missing. Strong winds have died down, but the fire is still not under control. At one point, officials recommended evacuating 6,500 homes as a precaution.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's always one more thing that you can go back for. I'd load the car and look the plume of smoke, bigger, bigger, bigger, and at some point, you know, you just have to draw the line and say, you know what? It's time to get out.



SAMBOLIN: So, let's go now to Rob Marciano. He's live at the weather center in Atlanta.

And, Rob, will the firefighters in Colorado still have to battle the gusty winds? Yesterday when we talked to you, I thought you said they were dying down a bit.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: They were compared to the day before. They kicked up yesterday afternoon just a little bit, but they were low enough to get air support in there.

They don't have a lot. We've got one seat single tanker plane in there, and they've got one heavy tanker, and a couple of choppers. That's about it. They do have about 400 firefighters on scene.

Winds right now are pretty light. So, you know, they'll get a better handle on it again this morning. But as the afternoon wears along, we're looking for gusty winds.

Again, most of those winds will be, once again, north of Colorado in through Wyoming and Montana and western parts of the Dakotas, where winds could gust 30 to 40 miles an hour. But certainly could see gusts over 20 to 25 in the fire zone, and that doesn't -- that will give them a little more of a headache.

Zero containment there. And as you mentioned, 4,500 acres burned so far.

Down to the south, we've got some thunderstorms, and some of these could be severe rolling across I-35 just south of San Antonio, and a little white on the map across the Northeast.

It was a chilly day to start yesterday morning. And temperatures only got to about 50 degrees across parts of I-95, and once again on the chilly side today. But temperatures rebound with a return flow of heat and humidity this afternoon from the South.

Guys, back out to you.

BANFIELD: All right. Rob Marciano, thank you for that.

And still ahead on EARLY START -- everybody off the bus. Are you ready? Fire forcing -- look at that.

SAMBOLIN: Oh my gosh!

BANFIELD: Yes, fire forcing a pretty hasty exit for Greyhound passengers in California. We'll explain that.

SAMBOLIN: Lucky they survived that.

Plus, catching up with the Castros. Pope Benedict XVI meeting with the current and former leader during his visit to Cuba.

BANFIELD: And a man with a big problem. Take a look at your screen.

SAMBOLIN: A big man.

BANFIELD: Honestly, it is a remarkable story. This is the tallest man in America, and a simple thing like shopping for shoes is like nothing you'll imagine. We're going to take you into that life in a moment.


BANFIELD: It's now 16 minutes past 5:00 on the East Coast. It's time to check the stories making top billing in the newscast this morning with Christine Romans.


A new report says the lead detective in the Trayvon Martin shooting wanted to file manslaughter charges against George Zimmerman, but his recommendation to file those charges was rejected by the state attorney general's office. The ABC News report says Florida prosecutors believed there simply wasn't enough evidence to convict Zimmerman.

Pope Benedict meets with former Cuban leader Fidel Castro this morning. Yesterday, the Pope met with Fidel's brother, Raul, the current president. The pontiff is making his first visit as pope to the communist island nation.

Later, he's going to celebrate mass in Havana's Revolution Plaza.

Passengers on a greyhound bus in California escaped a fiery finish to their ride. The bus was just blocks away from the finish in Stockton when the driver saw flames coming out of the back of the bus. He alerted the driver. Everyone got out safely thankfully. The fire's cause appears to be mechanical.

And the tallest man in America needs a new pair of shoes. Igor Vovkivinskiy of Minnesota, look how tall he is. He stands 7'8". He thinks he wears a size 26, but he's not sure. He says no one's made a shoe that fits him for the past six or seven pairs. He's down to his very last pair.

He contacted Reebok, but they said it would cost $15,000 to make him a custom pair. He has started a Web site, and he's raised almost $25,000.

And I say, hey, call Shaq. Come on. There's got to be somebody out there with very big feet who feels this guy's pain.

BANFIELD: You know, I interviewed Shaq once, and I asked him to take off his shoe so I could see what everyone is talking about. I am not kidding. It was the size of my arm.


BANFIELD: It was the size -- it was crazy.

SAMBOLIN: Only one pair of shoe. I feel terrible for that guy, one pair.

BANFIELD: It is very unfair.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Christine.

Yes, it's unfair.

All right. Eighteen minutes past the hour.

Here's an early read on the local news making national headlines.

BANFIELD: I want to start with "The New York Times," though, this morning, because there was this story that came out a while back of a real smart kid who used his smarts for bad and evil, helping other kids cheat on the SATs and the ACTs, and he wasn't the only one doing it.

So, because of a rash of this kind of cheating, guess what's about to happen? If you want to sign up for the SATs and the ACT, you need to upload a photo or mail in a photo when you get your admission ticket. That's what they call it.

Your photo is going to be on the admission ticket, and officials who let you in to take the test are now going to check your photo against your face and your photo ID. And it's going to be a lot tougher for someone to hire a gun to come in and actually take the test for you. All of this announced in the aftermath of cheating chaos.

And, by the way, if you think you're immune, this is going to happen nationwide, folks. So, kids, hit the books.


All right. "L.A. Times" now. Dennis Rodman could actually face jail time over child and spousal support. It's in "The L.A. Times" today. The NBA Hall of Famer faces a possible 20-day jail stint for contempt of court unless he comes up with nearly $1 million in child and spousal support. He owes this to his ex-wife.

Rodman's lawyer says he's broke, he's sick with alcoholism and he cannot make payments. He made just under $27 million in his NBA career. But he's known for really lavish spending and for dating Madonna as well.

BANFIELD: And wearing a wedding dress and other various --

SAMBOLIN: All sorts to things. But he was also on "Celebrity Apprentice."

BANFIELD: I hope he gets better. I never like hearing that someone has an addiction problem.

SAMBOLIN: I know. But that's a lot of money that he lost (ph), right?

BANFIELD: Come on.

Twenty minutes now past 5:00 on the East Coast. And still ahead, we have some new details for you, pretty surprising, in fact, in the Trayvon Martin case, as well as new photographs of the victim and of the shooter. It may just change the narrative in this case for some people. We're going to take you live to Sanford in just a moment.

SAMBOLIN: And Christine interviewed the CEO of FedEx about oil prices. How high will they go? Who does he blame? She's going to share all that with you.

You're watching EARLY START.


SAMBOLIN: We're back. Twenty-three minutes past the hour.

We are minding your business this morning. The markets rally losing some steam yesterday. The Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 all in the red.

But remember markets are up stronger so far this year.

BANFIELD: Let's talk about oil, shall we? The light sweet crude, nice breakfast talk. About $106 a barrel in overseas trading. That's down about 75 cents. Still pretty expensive, though, 106 bucks.

Christine Romans interviewing the CEO of FedEx. Who would care more --

ROMANS: I know.

BANFIELD: -- other you, me and drivers, somebody who depends on gas to make money.

ROMANS: You think it costs you a lot to selloff. Imagine if you're running something like FedEx where your business is basically dependent on oil and the price of oil. I was talking to the CEO of FedEx at the NABE, the National Association of Business Economics yesterday, asking him about whether he sees the price of oil coming down, the answer is no, and asking him who's to blame.


ROMANS: In this country, you hear the conversation blaming presidents, blaming Congress, blaming speculators. I mean, your business is literally run on oil. Is there somebody to blame?

FRED SMITH, CEO OF FEDEX: I think the -- someone to blame is all of us. As the world has become rich and the new emerging economies have an appetite for oil, as we did, it's created significant demand for a finite number of resources, which are increasing more expensive to get.


ROMANS: It's not about us anymore, guys. It's about the rest of the world. They point out, we're using about 90 million barrels a day, and quite frankly, a worldwide demand for oil is expected to go up, he says, 1.5 percent next year.

It means you're going to be coming up with a lot more oil. We're going to be burning more oil even next year. He's point out, it's a lot about transportation. You know, this is about trucks and cars and the way we use transportation around the world.

What he is doing in their business is looking at long haul trucking with -- using natural gas, which is cheaper. You got to build out liquid natural gas facilities along the highway system. But that's what they're looking. And then in towns, very short haul kind of deliveries, they're looking at electric and hybrid type vehicles.

So, there's a lot of things they're trying there because they think that higher oil prices are a reality.

SAMBOLIN: How about price increases? Did he mention that at all? That makes me nervous.

ROMANS: He did mention price increases. I'll tell you what's interesting, is that the economy is still -- he's not really -- the economy is not growing well enough in this country, he said. It's still subpar.

He's looking at big -- he would like big investments in this country to get the economy to do a little bit better. That's what he's worried about, that the economy is not growing strongly enough. Of course, his business is very economically sensitive.

BANFIELD: But does he think we al still have the rapacious appetite for gas we used to now that we have such high prices?

ROMANS: It doesn't matter if we do anyway. It's for the rest of the world. The rest of the world wants to be like us, and that means they're going to build an awful lot of oil.

BANFIELD: Very good point.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you very much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BANFIELD: Thanks, Christine.

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-six minutes past the hour.

Coming up on EARLY START: A school bus goes on a really wild ride. It's a high speed police chase.

And guess what? The chase was only the beginning. Wait until you see the frightening finish. It's like nothing stopped them.


And ghost ship drifting in the Pacific. Sign of what's coming perhaps from Japan? We'll explain this one.

You're watching EARLY START.


BANFIELD: It's now 30 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Time to check the stories that are making news this morning.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): It is the final day of arguments in the Supreme Court healthcare debate. Today, session focus is on severability whether parts of President Obama's healthcare overhaul can remain law even if the individual mandate in the plan is determined to be unconstitutional.

BANFIELD (voice-over): Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign may just be on its last leg. The former House speaker is cutting back the appearances. He's laying off a third of his staff. And when a new CNN poll revealing that 60 percent of Republican voters believe he should exit the race, it's thought that might be just what he's going to do.

This ghost ship, take a look, marking the arrival of debris from last year's tsunami in Japan. There's no one on board, and it's drifting off the west coast of Canada right now. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is telling Reuters the debris could start washing up on North America any time now. And listen to this.

BANFIELD: Mega millions.


SAMBOLIN: The lottery jackpot is growing by leaps and bounds. We're very excited about this. No one won last night's $363 million jackpot. Did you play? So, it's now up to $476 million for Friday's drawing. You still have time. It is the largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history.

BANFIELD: Half of billion dollars.


BANFIELD: And we're in on the office pool as well.


BANFIELD (on-camera): Can't imagine that there aren't a lot of office pools out there. It's now 31 minutes past 5:00, everyone. There are some new details that have been coming out in this Trayvon Martin shooting story. An ABC News report says that the lead detective on the case wanted to charge George Zimmerman with manslaughter in that teenager's death, but that he was overruled by the state attorney general's office.

At the same time, there are some new images that are emerging that paint somewhat of a different picture of the people who are involved in the story. The only photo seen when the story first broke showed a young Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman in a mugshot. Zimmerman's photo was from a 2001 assault arrest and some say that made him appear menacing.

Some new pictures now that have emerged show Martin at 17 years old. He's older and he's bigger, and he's more grown up. And at the same time of his death, he was six feet tall and 160 pounds. To the right, you can see Zimmerman's subsequent photo. He appears much different, too.

He's better dressed, he's smiling, and he's closer to what his friend, Joe Oliver, says he looks like now. In the meantime, Trayvon Martin's parents are speaking out in support in the halls of Congress yesterday, addressing a Democratic House forum on racial profiling, hate crimes, and stand your ground laws.

George Zimmerman, by the way, still not arrested, still in hiding, conflicting versions of what actually led to the fatal shooting has been playing out.


TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN'S FATHER: Told that Trayvon approached Zimmerman, asked Zimmerman, did he have a problem? Zimmerman told him, no, and Trayvon supposedly said, well, now you do, homey. And Zimmerman supposedly was reaching into his pocket for his cell phone.

At that point, Trayvon punched him and the scuffle ensued, which, again, knowing Trayvon, Trayvon -- those are not the words of Trayvon. Trayvon is not confrontational. He would only be trying to get home.

JOE OLIVER, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S FRIEND: I believe that when all of the evidence comes out, this will clearly show this was a case of life or death for either Trayvon or George, and sadly, for the Martin Family, it was Trayvon that we lost.


BANFIELD: CNN's Martin Savidge is live in Sanford, Florida on this story. You know, Martin, as we've been covering the story over the past two weeks, there have been a lot of people who've come forward either with leaked information or a fact they say they know to be true, almost as though they were there at the moment of confrontation, and we've heard the state attorney weighing in on this saying stop, everybody stop with the facts. What else is going on in terms of keeping the pressure on this story because of the tragedy that happened? But then, also, keeping it real and keeping it based on the facts.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, part of the problem with this, Ashleigh, is the fact that, of course, there is this kind of vacuum. You know, you have not had an arrest. And, as a result of not having an arrest, information that might have come out through police reports and other official means have not come out.

George Zimmerman is in hiding. He doesn't speak. He says he cannot speak. So, this creates this huge informational vacuum. And when you have a vacuum, you have all sorts of people that step forward and try to fill that void. Not all of them either have good intentions or have accurate information, and that's part of the problem you're getting now.

And you get these leaks. And, that's a problem for the investigation. It's a problem for -- if there is, eventually, a trial because both sides now are being implicated in negative ways. Take a listen as both the family and friends of George Zimmerman and also Trayvon talk about the whole leak situation, what it's doing.


TRACY MARTIN: This investigation had been botched from the beginning, and that, people other than me knew that it was supposed to be an arrest made.

OLIVER: As we saw with the Casey Anthony case, there was a preponderance of evidence that was released to the public to the effect that she was essentially convicted before the trial even started. I mean, I think that if George had been arrested, then we would have seen more of this evidence come out.


SAVIDGE: Both the family and, of course, George Zimmerman would say that they have been painted badly by these leaks that have occurred, and the leaks are probably going to continue until there's some sort of official ruling one way or another.

BANFIELD: All right. Martin Savidge live from Sanford. Thanks very much, Martin.

And also, coming up at 6;30 this morning, we're going to talk live with Trayvon Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin along with their attorney, Benjamin Crump.

SAMBOLIN: It is 36 minutes past the hour now. And just released, wild video of a police chase in New Mexico that brought traffic to a standstill on Interstate 40 in Albuquerque earlier this month. It happened the morning of March 9th.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SAMBOLIN (voice-over): So, the cops respond to a call about a stolen bus. You're taking a look at some pictures there. The officers unsuccessfully tried to ram it. So, what did they do? They added more police officers in pursuit, dozens of them. Road spikes slowed down the bus thief. The tires shredded, but the suspect, Nathaniel Shipman (ph), just kept on going.

So, the officer in pursuit, his tires also shredded. He had to finally pull over. And check out the police dash cam view of the final moments of the chase. A trooper finally able to get that bus to spin out. Look at that.

BANFIELD (voice-over): Classic move.

SAMBOLIN: The bus crashes into the divider. Wow! The cops finally are able to rush in. Several shots were fired. The suspect was hit twice, survived with nonlife-threatening injuries, and was taken into custody.

BANFIELD: That's the classic maneuver. When you see a high speed chase, the cop tries to take out the rear corner of your vehicle so that you start spinning out, and look what happens when the bus spins out. I was worried about the police officers, though, because they're engaging in a crash. And that's difficult and dangerous.

Look, pushing that corner of the bus. Push, push, push, round it goes over on side and that's it. Game over. You think you're smarter than the cops, you're not.


BANFIELD: Thirty-seven minutes now past 5:00. Ahead on EARLY START, don't take my wife, please. The heroic husband who saved his wife from an armed carjacker.

SAMBOLIN: Got to love that.

And this, Magic Johnson now the owner of a pro-sports franchise. It's not the Lakers, folks. It's not even hoops. Who's behind all of it? We're going to tell you. You're watching EARLY START.


SAMBOLIN: Forty-one minutes past the hour. Time to check the stories making news this morning.

BANFIELD: Christine Romans doing the job for us. Good morning, Christine.



ROMANS (voice-over): The end may be near for Newt Gingrich's White House bid. The former House speaker has laid off now one-third of his staff. He's cancelling campaign appearances, and it's all fueling speculation this morning that he is preparing to exit the race. The Gingrich campaign's communications director will join Soledad live at the seven o'clock hour to answer that question.

An 81-year-old Korean war veteran stopped a carjacker in Michigan from taking off with his car and his wife. Surveillance video shows the 39-year-old suspect getting into the car in a gas station in Lincoln Park. He allegedly held a knife to the woman's throat.

Her husband struggled with the carjacker who eventually gave up and run off. He was caught (ph) short time later. The couple was not hurt. Eighty-one-year-old veteran.

Showtime is coming to Chavez Ravine. A group led by Lakers legend, Magic Johnson, won a bidding war to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers from owner, Frank McCourt, who had driven the historic nationally franchised into bankruptcy. The price tag for the Dodgers, $2 billion, the most ever paid for a sports franchise.


BANFIELD: Is that worth it?



ROMANS: Yes, it is.

BANFIELD: I don't know with that. $2 billion for a sports franchise? They better bring in the jersey sales. That's all I think.

SAMBOLIN: Is he the first AFRICAN-American owner?

BANFIELD: That's the tough one. We have to look that one up.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. We got to look that one up.

BANFIELD: I don't know that off at the top of my head.

SAMBOLIN: No, actually, I was looking at Christine cross over there --


BANFIELD: Time to keep you in the pop culture loop now. We like to do this by looking at what's trending on the interweb and social media. Tim Tebow now, apparently, the most marketable man on the planet.

SAMBOLIN: He looks marketable, doesn't he?

BANFIELD: Look at that. Look at that stride, that strut. He's one happy dude. The popularity is surging even more now that he's landed here in New York, and he's landing right on Madison Avenue, too. Are you ready for this? The Davy Brown Index, have you heard of it?


BANFIELD: Well, apparently, it measures things like trust and sincerity and appeal and influence, and it puts him fourth overall, but he trails these three women on the right. He trails Oprah. He trails Adele. He trails the duchess, Katherine Middleton, duchess of Cambridge.

How about that? I mean, talk about landing right up there among the very popular and the very wealthy. Not bad. That's nice when you want those endorsement deals.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, it is, indeed.

All right. This is one tiny puppy. She's a female dachshund mix named Beyonce. Oh!

BANFIELD: Beyonce?

SAMBOLIN: That's a little bit of a mouse there, right? She could set the world's record for the tiniest dog. Animal rescuers in Northern California say that Beyonce was so small at birth that she could fit into a spoon.


SAMBOLIN: So now --

BANFIELD: Was that a Polaroid?

SAMBOLIN: Yes. It looks like a little -- no, that was an iPhone. So, now, in about two weeks, she's about the size of a business card. And just like the Beyonce song, she's a survivor. Her mother was picked up off the street pregnant. Beyonce was born without a heartbeat and revived at the shelter.

And I've got to add this a little bit, because who does this, right? So, she was not breathing. Her heart was not pumping. And, so, she was given mouth to mouth.

BANFIELD: Come on.

SAMBOLIN: And that is how she made it.

BANFIELD: Look at mommy.

SAMBOLIN: Chest compressions and mouth to mouth.

BANFIELD: Seriously? Who did that? That's remarkable.

SAMBOLIN: That was her doctor.

BANFIELD: Her doctor. Little Beyonce. Adorable.

OK. So, we like this one. This is the lighter side of Mitt Romney. Did we think that we were ever going to say the lighter side of Mitt Romney? He was on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno, and the talk turned professional, talking to running mates and who he might consider. Have a look.


JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Well, tell me about vice president. What are you looking for?

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I haven't actually put a list together at this stage.

LENO: Come on!

ROMNEY: It would be presumptuous, number one.

LENO: Not even like with the wife, you know, honey. Really? It's never come up? I'm not even running, and I discuss it with my wife.


LENO: I'll give you a list of candidates. You give me one word on each person. Let's see, Give me one. Chris Christie?

ROMNEY: Couple words maybe?

LENO: Chris Christie?

ROMNEY: Oh, OK. Indomitable.

LENO: Indomitable?


LENO: All right.



ROMNEY: Man of strong will.

LENO: Strong will.

ROMNEY: Great strength. Indomitable.

LENO: A man of girth.

ROMNEY: If you attack Chris Christie, you're going to get more than you bargained for. He comes back hard and strong. Indomitable.

LENO: Marco Rubio.

ROMNEY: I'll try for smaller words next time.

LENO: Marco Rubio. Yes, we don't want to --


LENO: Marco Rubio.


ROMNEY: The American dream.

LENO: Donald Trump.



LENO: Huge.


LENO: Rick Santorum.

ROMNEY: Press secretary.

LENO: Press secretary.



BANFIELD: That's great. I love it.

SAMBOLIN: Quick wit, right? That was good.

BANFIELD: This is the best I've seen him in this way, especially coming back so quickly, I'll try for smaller words.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. And maybe that would be a good running mate sitting right next to him, right? He brings out a lighter side of him, right?

BANFIELD: I love Jay Leno for VP. Best part might be, though, that he suggested, by choosing a VP, perhaps, he could help Leno out by taking David Letterman out of the talk show circuit and putting him on the political circuit. David Letterman for VP.

SAMBOLIN: Interesting.

BANFIELD: Jay Leno, I like that.


SAMBOLIN: All right. Forty-six minutes past the hour here. Still ahead, Trayvon Martin's parents, they're going to Capitol Hill. His mother saying, they killed my son, and now, they're trying to kill his reputation. We'll talk to the former director of the Miami Dade Police Department who testified about race and racial profiling in this country. You're watching EARLY START.


SAMBOLIN: The story of Trayvon Martin is shifting from Florida now to Washington. The parents of Trayvon Martin were on Capitol Hill yesterday. In emotional remarks, they spoke at a House judiciary committee forum.


SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: Trayvon was our son, but Trayvon is your son. A lot of people can relate to our situation, and it breaks their heart just like it breaks mine.


SAMBOLIN: Florida Democrats, Frederica Wilson and Corrine Brown were among those who asked for the briefing. They were quick to jump on the Sanford Police Department.


REP. CORRINE BROWN, (D) FLORIDA: And I don't know whether it's incompetent or whether its cover-up or all of the above.

REP. FREDERICA WILSON, (D) FLORIDA: Trayvon is the victim of a botched police investigation full of incompetence or intelligent mismanagement.


SAMBOLIN: Robert Parker testified before that committee. He is the former director of the Miami Dade Police Department, and he served there for 33 years. He's also program coordinator and mentor for the 5,000 role models of excellence project. That is a dropout prevention and intervention program for at risk boys.

And Robert joins me now from Miami. Thank you so much for being with us this morning. I want to start with your 33 years of experience. How do you think the Sanford Police Department is handling this investigation?

ROBERT PARKER, FMR. DIRECTOR, MIAMI-DADE POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, I think and I think most of the public believes that the investigation was somewhat of a rushed investigation or that there's a possibility that it was not concluded before a determination was made as to how to proceed with this case, a premature determination on how to proceed.

SAMBOLIN: You just heard Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. She said that Trayvon is the victim of a botched investigation. Would you go that far?

PARKER: Well, I would say that in the normal scheme of things, something certainly did not happen the way that it should happen. By that I mean that there should be an on scene investigation which should include the appropriate law enforcement primarily and principally a trained homicide team of investigators.

I don't mean a single investigator, but a team of investigators. It should also include a representative or a person from the state attorney's office. Of course, any witnesses that potentially are there on the scene or in the immediate vicinity should be interviewed if not immediately before a determination is made on how to proceed with the case. And I'm just not sure that all of that was done in this case.

SAMBOLIN: Well, ABC News is reporting that the lead homicide investigator -- and his name is Chris Cerino (ph) -- actually wanted to arrest Zimmerman on the night of the shooting, but that the state attorney nixed the idea. Do you find that surprising?

PARKER: I do find it surprising, especially when a trained law enforcement officer, homicide investigator would make that determination. I'm sure he didn't make it arbitrarily. He probably made it based on his experience and the factors and circumstances involved in the case.

And, yes, I'd be surprised that in an option to either proceed with the charge, which is what's normally done, some form of charge in the death or not, that a determination was made by a state attorney's representative not to do that, especially if that representative was not on the scene and an active participant in the investigation.

I'm not sure whether they were on the scene or not, but that would be a concern, any consideration. So, yes, it's very surprising.

SAMBOLIN: I want to ask you about some leaks. In addition to that ABC report, there were a lot of other leaks. "The Orlando Sentinel" got the police report. "The Miami Herald" got the school suspension reports.

And Areva Martin who's a disability rights attorney and children's advocate and no relation to Trayvon had this to say. I want you to listen to it, and then I want you to tell me what you think has happened here.


AREVA MARTIN, DISABILITY RIGHTS ATTORNEY, CHILDREN'S ADVOCATE: We can't imagine that anything was intended by those records except to malign this young man's character and to now paint a picture that he's not the good kid that we've been hearing about for the last 30 days or so, and that really troubles me.

Kids have a right to privacy. Their records are protected by law. And I think in this case, in particular, the police department should have acted with more integrity.


SAMBOLIN: What do you think happened there? Did the police department leak this information?

PARKER: Well, if you're referring to the high school records of Trayvon Martin, I would not think that it's the police department as those records are typically in the hands of school officials, not police officials. If there is a leak, I would think that it came from that direction as opposed to the police department. If the situation were to --

SAMBOLIN: What about the details in the police report?

PARKER: The details in the police report should be public record, unless, you're talking about the police report involving Trayvon's actions at the school.

SAMBOLIN: I want to ask you one last thing. Mr. Zimmerman's friend was on Soledad O'Brien's show yesterday, and he made a comment about, perhaps, the gun went off. Do you think that that is something that is contained within the police report as well when they talked to Mr. Zimmerman or do you think, perhaps, that they're setting up their defense?

PARKER: Well, that would be speculation on my part to say that it's something that came out of the police report. It may be just an arbitrary statement by this friend as opposed to a factual depiction or a possible factual depiction.

However, if we do now have the circumstances that says the gun went off, then if the gun went off, then it wasn't an intentional defending of oneself, as is the position by Mr. Zimmerman. It's one or the other. It's either he defended himself and shot this child or that gun accidentally went off. So, it can't be both.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Robert Parker, former director of Miami Dade Police Department. Thanks for your time this morning.

PARKER: My pleasure.

SAMBOLIN: Coming up at 6:30 eastern, we'll talk live with Trayvon Martin's parents, SybrinaFulton and Tracy Martin, along with their attorney, Ben Crump -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: All right. Zoraida, thank you. You know, we like to look at our local papers, and I'll tell you something. The cover of the "New York Post" reads this morning, "This is your captain freaking."

A captain, a captain of a JetBlue flight freaking out at 30,000 feet. And you know something, not funny either. Real danger, real scary, and the passengers had to come to the rescue. We'll tell you more about it.