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Trayvon Martin Investigation; New Video Of Zimmerman At Police Station; Captain Wanted To Take "Leap Of Faith"; New Video of Zimmerman; Jet Blue Pilot's In-Flight Breakdown; Official: No Military Access To Crime Scene; Workers In Spain On Strike

Aired March 29, 2012 - 05:59   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: It is just before -- just a hair before 6:00 a.m. on the east coast.


BANFIELD: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN HOST: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We are bringing you the news from A to Z. It is just about 6:00 a.m. here in the east, so let's get started for you.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): We have new surveillance video. It's raising new questions about the death of Trayvon Martin. It shows George Zimmerman on the left there in handcuffs at a police station just hours after the shooting. What it doesn't show has renewed calls for Zimmerman's arrest. George's father is speaking publicly as well for the very first time.


ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S FATHER: They're just making up things that are not true about George. How he is being portrayed is just an absolute lie.


BANFIELD: Robert Zimmerman insists that his son acted in self defense.

SAMBOLIN: And he talked about taking a leap of faith. Federal charges now filed against a JetBlue pilot who had a midair meltdown. The captain's mental health coming into question now and whether he should have been at the controls in the first place.


UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Where's mom? What are you stopping for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There it is, right there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's OK. We're out, we're out.


BANFIELD: Never good when you hear a child's voice like that, a family's brush with death driving through smoke and flames and burning red to escape a wildfire in Colorado. The drama all captured on a cell phone video. We're going to that family. Lucky they're with us.


BANFIELD: They'll be talking with us at 6:40 a.m. Eastern Time.

SAMBOLIN: Workers on in Spain on strike since the stroke of midnight. They're challenging the new conservative government and its austerity measures.

State television in Spain says nearly five dozen demonstrators have been detained by police. The protests coming one day before billions more in painful cuts are scheduled to be announced.

BANFIELD: Now just 1 minute past 6:00 on the east coast. We're following the new development in the Trayvon Martin investigation and there are new ones just overnight.

This video, just released, obtained by ABC, of George Zimmerman just hours after he fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The tape shows Zimmerman being led in handcuffs from a police car to be questioned at the Sanford, Florida police headquarters.

It appears to be moving all right, having no difficulty. It is hard to see any outward signs of the physical injuries that Zimmerman has claimed to have suffered in what he has told police was a life and death struggle with Trayvon Martin.

In the meantime, Martin's girlfriend spoke to ABC and recounted those final moments of her conversation on the phone with Martin and she said that he was afraid.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was walking fast. When he says this man behind him again, he come and say this look like he about to do something to him and then Trayvon come and said the man was still behind him and then I come and say run!


BANFIELD: George Zimmerman's father is also speaking out now for the very first time. And CNN's Martin Savidge is live in Sanford, Florida.

So Martin, obviously every little detail is just gobbled up in this story because it is about the devil in the details when it comes down to the law. What is George Zimmerman's father shedding in terms of light on this story?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're absolutely right, Ashleigh. Especially with this sort of desert of information coming from the official investigation, any detail that comes out through some other means is just riveting.

That is certainly the case with what you hear from Robert Zimmerman, the father of George Zimmerman. He spoke out on local television last night. It's interesting that he did not want to be shown.

He was in silhouette when you hear him, mainly because he says he fears for his own safety. But here's the point and here's what he makes is that his son's life was absolutely in jeopardy. He says that Trayvon Martin was the aggressor here. Listen.


ZIMMERMAN: Trayvon Martin walked up to him, asked him, do you have a -- problem? George said, no, I don't have a problem and started to reach for his cell phone.

At that point, he was punched in the nose. His nose was broken and he was knocked to the concrete. Trayvon Martin got on top of him and just started beating him in the face, in his nose, hitting his head on the concrete.


SAVIDGE: All right, so let's move the narrative forward a little bit more. Robert Zimmerman picking up seconds later.


ZIMMERMAN: After nearly a minute of being beaten, George is trying to get his head off the concrete, trying to move, with Trayvon on him, into the grass. In doing so, his firearm was shown.

Trayvon Martin said something to the effect of, you're going to die now or you're going to die tonight, something to that effect. He continued to beat George. And at some point, George pulled his pistol and did what he did.


SAVIDGE: Two things. Robert Zimmerman was not there. He is recounting what we think is what George Zimmerman has told him. We can't be certain of that. He didn't explain.

The other thing there is that he points that George Zimmerman apparently made a conscious decision to shoot Trayvon Martin. There had been other story lines that suggested maybe a fight over the gun and the gun had gone off that way.

This appears to counter that saying, no, it was a direct decision by George Zimmerman to shoot Trayvon Martin. BANFIELD: All right, Martin Savidge, thanks very much as you continue to monitor details from Sanford, Florida.

Also want to remind you that in just a few minutes, we're going to be speaking with Lou Palumbo, who is a former investigator, a police investigator, and now he is a PI.

He's talking about this new George Zimmerman video, the police video when he's brought into the Sanford Police Department and what kind of details we can glean from it, from a police officer's perspective. That's coming up shortly.

SAMBOLIN: It is now 5 minutes past the hour. The JetBlue pilot who had to be wrestled down in midair is now facing federal charges for interfering with his own flight crew.

And now for the first time, we are hearing minute by minute details from inside the cockpit about his apparent mental breakdown. That started just moments after the flight took off from JFK in New York.

The first officer says the captain, Clayton Osbon, scolded air traffic controllers for making too much noise then turned off all the radios, started preaching about how things don't matter.

And said we're not going to Vegas and yelled, quote, "We need to take a leap of faith." Then passengers grabbed him, pinned him down as the first officer guided the plane to a safe, but very scary emergency landing in Texas.

CNN's aviation correspondent, Lizzie O'Leary, has new details live from Washington, D.C. So what are we gleaning from this information that we're getting from the cockpit?

LIZZIE O'LEARY, CNN AVIATION AND REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a much fuller picture, Zoraida, of what exactly was going on. We got these details as part of the charges that were levied against this pilot, Clayton Osbon, who is 49 years old, had flown for JetBlue for about a dozen years.

What you get is a picture of exactly what was going on there. You talked about it, at a certain point, his first officer started to notice things were a little bit off. I want to walk you through some of the stuff that was in this federal affidavit that gives an account of what was going on inside that cockpit.

He did show up late, missed the crew briefing, you talked about yelling about air traffic control, turning off the radio inside the cockpit, dimming some of his monitors and then in the first officer's words, starting to give a sermon.

And then, at this point, the first officer -- you might think of him as a co-pilot, colloquially is starting to get a little nervous. He says Osbon talked about needing to take a leap of faith and then the real thing that set up red flags was saying, we're not going to Vegas, that was the plane's original destination.

About three and a half hours in, he wanted to get the pilot out of the cockpit into the lavatory. At this point, the captain left the cockpit and another pilot who was along for the ride essentially stepped in there.

They locked him out. He began banging on the lavatory door. We know he walked back to the back of the plane and then turned around and ran forward again.

At this point, certainly it's clear from passengers we've talked to, that the flight attendants and the passengers were already aware that something major was going on here.

He began banging on the cockpit door and the passengers, prompted by the flight attendants and by that co-pilot over the PA system, helped to subdue him and bring him to the ground. They sat on him essentially for 15 minutes until the plane landed safely.

SAMBOLIN: Lizzie, I got to tell you. You know, a couple of weeks ago, we had that flight attendant that kind of lost her mind while she was on a flight as well.

What kind of medical screening do they go through? Is it mental health screening as well? And I'm talking about the pilots here. I'm not sure if the flight attendants go through the same thing.

O'LEARY: Yes, it is a little different for pilots than flight attendants. First off, we should point out the pilots are some of the most observed people doing their job on the planet. This certainly does seem to be an aberration from people we've talked to.

But the way it works is every pilot gets an evaluation, a medical evaluation once a year or twice a year if they're over 40, as Osbon was, but it's by a GP, general practioner, who is certified by the FAA to do that.

There is not a separate and specific mental health evaluation. Pilots are supposed to self report that and also if the GP has any concerns, they're supposed to talk about that.

We should note that there's also a culture of sort of nervousness about reporting mental health. A pilot with 30 years of experience told CNN people are nervous about talking about that. They're worried about losing their FAA certification.

SAMBOLIN: Good gracious. All right, Lizzie O'Leary, thank you very much for those details.

I should tell you that coming up, we're going to talk to the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants. She should shed some light in her perspective on what perhaps should change. That's at 6:30.

Have there been too many cases recently and what else can be done if crew members are not mentally fit to fly. There's a stigma, but at the end of the day it's about safety, right?

BANFIELD: The stigma is interesting. I was listening to a couple of former veteran pilots talking about this and how concern they are about bringing up any kind of issues like that because it could mean you're grounded.

You work your whole career to achieve this status and there is that potential that if you bring up the fact you're bipolar, you're on medication, it could affect your job. But on the other side of things, the pilots are saying this is so rare.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Right, and the safety of the passengers have to be considered as well. It's 9 minutes past the hour.

BANFIELD: It is. Coming up on EARLY START, Spike Lee, love him. However, he is kind of eating some crow for retweeting something. He is apologizing for it. It was an address. It was an address named Zimmerman. It was not the right Zimmerman and these Zimmermans had to flee their home because of it.

Republicans rallying around Mitt Romney. He has two big endorsements. Can he go toe to toe with President Obama? New numbers are out there that we'll share with you. You're watching EARLY START.


BANFIELD: Got some new video this morning of George Zimmerman in handcuffs at the police station. This is from the night that Trayvon Martin was killed. It is surveillance video from the Sanford Police Department.

It was obtained by ABC News. In it, you can see George Zimmerman getting out of the police cruiser and eventually being taken into the building. But more importantly for a lot of reasons, there are details you need to keep an eye on.

First, we want to show you a mug shot. There's a big difference in how George Zimmerman looked in this mug shot from back in 2005. In the video, he certainly looks different. He's much thinner, seems to be in shape. He's also wearing the red jacket we've heard a fair bit about.

Of course, there's a lot of attention being paid to his physical condition. Can't see any blood. Can't see any major bruises or injuries. Can't see any bandages. Trayvon's mother reacted to this video last night on Piers Morgan.


SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: This video is the icing on the cake. This is not the first part of evidence they have had. They have had the 911 tapes and they have also had witnesses.

This is in addition to what the Sanford Police Department already has. This video is clear evidence that there is some problem with this case and that he needs to be arrested.


BANFIELD: Lou Palumbo is a former investigator with the Nassau County Police Department, and now is the director of the Elite Intelligence and Protection Agency.

So, Lou, obviously, when you see video like this, everybody is looking for the details, the signs that there was this life and death struggle.

When you look at that video, with all of your background as police officer, what do you see?

LOU PALUMBO, DIRECTOR OF ELITE INTELLIGENCE AND PROTECTION AGENCY: I don't see anything consistent with injuries that he eluded do. I mean, if you look at the video, and I've looked at it, reviewed it a number of times. I don't see anything consistent with a broken nose. And, clearly, if he had one, they probably should have transported him to a hospital.

And as far as abrasions or contusions on his head, again, there's nothing significant there.

BANFIELD: Is it close enough for us to really make that determination?

PALUMBO: I would say absolutely. Yes, you can tell when someone has their nose broken. I've seen it quite a few times.

BANFIELD: We have a still shot of this. We've stopped the video in two places where you can see his face and the back of his head. This is the shot where you can see as well as you can the front view of George Zimmerman. And like you said, you don't see any blood.

There's the shot of the back of his head. There's been a lot of attention being paid to George Zimmerman's account where his head was being slammed repeatedly against the concrete, which is where he said that you feared for his life.

Again, it's not close-up. I'm not a doctor. I'm not there.

But you're a police officer and you've been in those circumstances before. And those police officers are right next to him.

Is it possible that those injuries do exist, even though they're not evident to us in the video?

PALUMBO: Perhaps in a minuscule degree. And I think that's all part of what I consider to be Zimmerman's cover-up. In other words, you know, I don't want to trivialize this tape or the information passed along in relationship to this case.

But the simple dynamic here is this individual had no authority to approach this young man in any capacity. He wasn't a sworn law enforcement agent. He didn't have credentials that would give him some type of validity in approaching. And he precipitated this encounter.

Now, you have to understand where this little boy comes from. This kid probably fights morning, noon and night. That's part of his existence.

Here's a guy comes up to him out of the blue -- or as we now know through phone conversations with his girlfriend, is following him. We have a timeline created by a 911 call where the dispatcher who is trained, under the supervision of law enforcement --

BANFIELD: Says we don't need you to do that.

PALUMBO: Advises him to stand down.

BANFIELD: Well, he says, "We don't need you to do that." At which point, Zimmerman's dad says or at least his friend says that Zimmerman is heard to say, OK. There is discrepancy as to what happened after that. You really have to match up a lot of accounts and time lines to figure that one out.

I want you to show one other thing where the police officer is looking over George Zimmerman's clothing and sort of touching the front of his red jacket, touching his arm. And he gets around towards the back where, of course, we had heard there was blood and grass stains.

But watch him right there as he touches it. He wipes something off on his pants. Take a look. You can see him wiping his hands there.


PALUMBO: Not really. Obviously, the police officer, the same way I may have when I'm in law enforcement, encountered a substance he wasn't comfortable with and was looking to -- how would you say -- remove something from his hands. But what was interesting is that this police officer he didn't have rubber gloves on, normally, especially in today's environment. Those are issued to us. It's a hard question.

BANFIELD: I want to play for you Robert Zimmerman, this is George Zimmerman's father, who's now emerged on tape, defending his son's actions.

And he said something very specific about this encounter. He defends his son by saying that when his son was on the ground and moving about underneath, as he claims, underneath Trayvon, the gun he had on his person became visible, at which point he said Trayvon had this reaction. Have a listen.


ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S FATHER: Trayvon Martin said something to the effect of "you're going to die now," or "you're going to die tonight," something to that effect.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, you're saying that Trayvon Martin verbally threatened his life?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you can hear the screaming, why can't you hear Trayvon Martin saying -- using those verbal threats?

ZIMMERMAN: I don't know. I don't know at what point he said that.


BANFIELD: So, Lou, if George Zimmerman said these things to the police officers who attended the scene, would that not fall under their purview of believing he was in defense of his life, if he had heard those verbal threats, you're going to die tonight?

PALUMBO: Not necessarily. I mean, you know, quite frankly, I think what we have here is Zimmerman trying to figure out how he's going to cover this thing up, because he precipitated this problem with this young man and something that he didn't anticipate was going to happen actually happened.

There are a lot of tangential issues here, for example -- including him carrying a weapon in his capacity of being a neighborhood watch person. The laws in the state of Florida are rather interesting laws and I deal with them myself because of my business. If you're given a permit to carry a concealed weapon in the state of Florida, for example, that doesn't necessarily entitle you to carry it in any type of work capacity or environment.

BANFIELD: Certainly not as a neighborhood watch captain?

PALUMBO: Absolutely.

So, the question is, who authorized you or made you believe you could encounter this young man on any level? And secondly, who told you that you could carry a weapon if they did it will you that you could participate in a neighborhood watch? I know they wouldn't because we have auxiliary policemen in the city of New York, Nassau County, Suffolk County in uniform and they're forbidden to carry weapons.

BANFIELD: I think every time a detail comes out about these cases, I mentioned it before, it's gobbled up. It's parsed in every particularly way. So, we certainly appreciate you coming in with your expertise and lending that perspective to us. Thank you.

PALUMBO: My pleasure.

BANFIELD: Zoraida?

SAMBOLIN: Fascinating discussion and conversation. Thank you.

We're going to switch gears here. Mega millions madness. What would you do with a half a billion dollars? I asked on Facebook this morning. Some really interesting ideas you all have.

You're watching EARLY START.


SAMBOLIN: Such a great conversation this morning. Got money?

BANFIELD: Twenty-four minutes past 6:00 am.

If you're just waking up, the ching ching was going on overnight in a mega millions jackpot and that lottery is now offering winnings of half a billion dollars. It was just slightly shy of half a billion before you went to bed.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You could buy company with that, you could by countries.

SAMBOLIN: So money gal is here. And she's talking about, she's Debbie Downer this morning, telling us the terrible -- what are our chances of winning this?

Go for it. And then I want to know what you would do if you win.

ROMANS: Ladies, we've got no chance. I just want to be honest, we got no change. If you got high-interest credit card debt, you've got no business running and spending 20 bucks in these tickets because you need to take care of your personal finances.

Now that I've been responsible and I, you know, practice what I preach here, I'm going to tell you the odds are 176 million to one. So, think about it for a minute. A lot of other things are going to happen to you before that happens.

Now let's talk about what to do with the money, shall we?

BANFIELD: Oh, yes. When you win it?

BANFIELD: When you win it, I suggest you take the lump sum. And here's why -- I'm assuming you're good with money. People who aren't good with money tend to run through this money in five to 10 years.

But we're going to assume we're all very good with money. We're going to take the lump sum, we're going to keep a low profile. We're not going to go out and buy a Maserati and we're not going to go out like shower all of our friends and relatives with money.

That is the road to unhappiness is paved with lottery tickets, ladies and gentlemen. Winning lottery tickets. So, be very careful.

And we're going to learn how to grow the money. We're not going to just spend it. What happens when people when they get any kind of a settlement, or any kind of money, even inheritances -- I've seen this a lot -- people get a little money or a lot of money in this case -- and they think about how they're going to spend it, not how they're going to preserve it and grow it.

And that's how rich people think differently than the rest of us. Rich people think of how to make more with their money, not how to spend their money.

SAMBOLIN: And you're not a rich person, however, you do know a lot about money. Is there a frivolous thing that you would buy?

ROMANS: I would buy -- you know what? I would buy a really nice car. That's what I would probably do. I was thinking about a yacht. I don't think I'd buy a yacht. You're flushing money down the toilet when you own a yacht every minute you own it.

So, I don't know, you could buy the yacht. I'll buy the nice car. What are you going to buy?

BANFIELD: I'm going to buy new hours at CNN. I think that would be worth it.

ROMANS: I don't know. I got three little kids that got to go to college. First thing I'm going to do is put it away for college.

BANFIELD: That's great.

SAMBOLIN: All right. I'm going to advice you to join me on Facebook and Twitter because we're having a fascinating conversation about this, what you would do at the money that would include me.

BANFIELD: I'm going to invite you to join me, per se, $300 a head for lunch.

SAMBOLIN: And she buys.


Twenty-seven minutes past 6:00.

SAMBOLIN: And still ahead, new information on a pilot's apparent mental breakdown in the sky. You've heard about this. What can be done to see whether crew members are mentally fit to fly? We'll ask the international president of the Flight Attendants Association for her perspective.


JEFF DUNHAM, COMEDIAN/VENTRILOQUIST: Hi. I'm comedian ventriloquist Jeff Dunham. I'm on the road with my characters about 140 days a year.

Yes, he's trying to kill us.

We're usually on a bus but making the big jaunts across the country, just forsake of schedule, we get a private plane now.

Walter, there are a few creature comforts on the bus, aren't there?

Yes. Let's see. You have to have your coffee machine. He likes to grind his own beans.

What's the toy I like to have?

Radio controlled helicopters. I don't get that.

So, I have a little toy helicopters on the road and fly them around in these big arenas. And that's all fun, and built the big ones, too.

Oh, yes. Big helicopters, this idiot flies in real helicopters that he built himself. He's a moron.

This is roadie, my giant Doberman pincher. I bring her on stage and she does one trick, makes her a total tax deduction.

Well, that's it for me and my little guys. We'll see you on the road some time.

Hold on. All I get is the closing?

That's it.

You jerk.



SAMBOLIN: It is 31 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BANFIELD: Good morning. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

It is time to check the top stories making news this morning. And we begin with this -- new police video. It was obtained by ABC News and it shows George Zimmerman getting out of the cruiser in handcuffs the night that Trayvon Martin was killed.

Zimmerman claims that he shot Martin after the teenager attacked him. The video shows no obvious signs of physical injuries.

Trayvon's mother says it is, quote, "icing on the cake" and she wants Zimmerman arrested.

SAMBOLIN: Director Spike Lee is apologizing to a Florida couple after he retweeted their address. He thought that it belonged to George Zimmerman. The couple had to go to a hotel to get away from all the threats and all of the media. David and Elaine McClain, you're looking at them there, we'll be talking about their ordeal when they join Soledad O'Brien live at 8:20 Eastern.

BANFIELD: A Colorado family's family terrifying escape from the grips of a deadly wildfire caught on tape. It's a like a drive through hell. Their 13-year-old child captured the drive through billowing orange smoke and burning trees. Very frightening stuff.

I want to let you know that they are all safe and sound. Thank God. Just a few moments, the Gulik family with their three children are going to join us live to talk about that great escape.

SAMBOLIN: Lots of smoke there.

Republican front-runner Mitt Romney picks up two more endorsements. Florida Senator Marco Rubio announced his support last night on FOX News. Former President George H.W. Bush announces his endorsement later on today that is in Houston.

BANFIELD: Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation is reportedly taking steps to create a national United States sports network. Yes, we do already have one. It's called ESPN. He wants to compete with ESPN. This all according to Bloomberg News.

News Corp. is already acquiring broadcast rights from TV carriers and sports organization and could launch a national sports network later this year.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-three minutes past the hour.

The JetBlue pilot that had to be wrestled down midair is now facing charges for interfering with his own flight crew. And now, we're hearing new details about his midair meltdown as well. The first officer said the captain, Clayton Osbon, scolded air traffic controllers for making too much noise just moments after the flight took off from JFK in New York. Then turned off all the radios and said we're not going to Vegas and yelled, quote, "We need to take a leap of faith."

When he ran in, yelling about Iraq, Iran, and Jesus -- passengers grabbed him, pinned him down as the first officer guided the plane to an emergency landing in Texas.

Veda Shook is international president of the Association of Flight Attendants and joins us now live from Washington, D.C.

Thank you so much for being with us this morning.

So, we know that you have a lot of experience dealing with unruly passengers. Now we're throwing into the mix your co-workers, the crew. Do you have training for situations like this?

VEDA SHOOK, INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: We do. Flight attendants go through a rigorous initial training and we go through a mandatory recurrent training every year. And we are trained on how to deal with various threat levels, understanding that our goal as the first responders and last line of defense is to deescalate any situations to mitigate, you know, a kind of situation like we saw yesterday.

SAMBOLIN: But, Veda, does that include training to deal with a pilot losing it?

SHOOK: It trains to deal with any kind of disruption. Obviously, it's extremely rare to have an incident with the pilot, such as what happened yesterday. But, you know, we've looked beyond what someone looks like. We're looking for the behavior on how to assess the situation and deal with it in a fashion that makes sure that the plane can land safely, it would happen.


SAMBOLIN: Let's talk specifically about this flight. According to the affidavit filed with the complaint, the first officer was able to take charge of the situation in the cockpit and the cabin.

Here's the quote from the complaint. Osbon started trying to enter his code in order to reenter the cockpit and he banged on the door hard enough that the F.O. he was coming through the door. The F.O. announced over the P.A. system in order to restrain Osbon.

Was it just instinct on behalf of this guy or is there specific training as well for an incident like that?

SHOOK: Well, there's absolutely specific training. Instinct kicks in as well. We're so well trained and a pilot flying a flight, they've got a series of checklists so that it's actual muscle memory on how to deal with an emergency.

So in a case like this -- again, with the threat levels established, as you would know, after 9/11, the cockpit doors became secured. And so, there are definitely checklists to make sure that door was not going to come open for the remainder of the flight.

SAMBOLIN: Now, as we understand it, pilots undergo a medical assessment every year. But what about a mental health assessment? Is that something that's done on a yearly basis or every six months?

SHOOK: No. You go through -- a pilot would go through a physical, but that's to make sure you don't have any risk of heart disease or that you wouldn't have a stroke so that when you make sure that you could be flying the plane healthy.

SAMBOLIN: And what about a mental health assessment?


SAMBOLIN: Not at all? What about when they're first hired?

SHOOK: When you're hired and you work as a crew member, there's ongoing evaluation. You would be assessing your personality, your behavior, when you're interviewed, going through an initial training and when you're out flying with your peers, but, you know, no.

SAMBOLIN: Do you think it's going to change now?

SHOOK: No, I don't think it's going to change. What I do hope happens is that this highlights the need to have valuable employee assistance programs, such as we have with the association of flight attendants where your support network to make sure that if someone is in need they can get help or treatment. You know, many, many Americans suffer from different kinds of mental disabilities and need help and treatment.

SAMBOLIN: All right. I want you to listen to what one passenger said on Wolf Blitzer last night. And then I want to talk to you after it.


TONY ANTOLINO, JETBLUE FLIGHT 191 PASSENGER: He started yelling things like, they got us in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan. They're going to take us down. We need to throttle down, take the plane down.

And then he suggested that we all say the Lord's Prayer. And I think certainly, for me, that was all I need to hear. I think the other guys probably felt the same way, because at that point we just wrestled him to the ground and forcibly restrained him.


SAMBOLIN: Veda, as a flight attendant, is it your expectation that passengers will actually step up and help?

SHOOK: That has been proven to be the experience, yes. And from a perspective of a flight attendant, we are always paying attention, being situationally aware and looking for those that could help in an emergency.

So, even before I board an airplane, I'm looking around the boarding area. When we're on the plane, looking for those that could be available to help, military, fellow crew members.

SAMBOLIN: And what about air marshals, do you identify where they're sitting if they are, in fact, on your flight?

SHOOK: We would typically know if there were air marshals on our flight.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Well, Veda Shook, thank you so much for sharing your experience today. International president, Association of Flight Attendants -- thank you for your time.

SHOOK: Thank you.

BANFIELD: It is 38 minutes past 6:00 on the East Coast.

And up next, an escape from hell. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED KID: Daddy, where's mom? What's she stopping for?


BANFIELLD: A family's terrifying escape from a wildfire and all of it caught on the cell phone camera. And the little one was actually rolling. We're going to talk to not only that youngster, but the whole family live in just a moment.


BANFIELD: Good morning, Denver. Beautiful tower cam shot of your early morning dark skies. It's 55 degrees where you are right now, warming up to a very pleasant 69 degrees later on today.

And speaking of temperatures, boy, have we got something hot and dramatic. Some video out of Denver -- a family barely escaping with their lives on Monday from a deadly wildfire that has already claimed two people's lives, and the whole thing captured on a cell phone video. Take a look.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll make it. We're going to be fine.

UNIDENTIFIED KID: Daddy, where's mom? What's she stopping for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's down there. It's down that hill.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There it is. Right here. Right here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's OK. We're out. We're out. We're out.


BANFIELD: Boy, is it good to hear we're out, we're out, we're out because joining me now live from Denver is the Gulick family, Doug, and Kim and their three kids, Caleb, Bella and Quilan (ph).

Welcome to the program. And I'm so glad to see you're all safe and sound.

Doug, that must have been unbelievable. Can you take me back for a moment and tell me what was going through your mind as you were driving through, what looked to us, like hell?

DOUG GULICK, FAMILY NARROWLY ESCAPED FIRE: I mean, we -- we basically came -- we loaded up the car. The last thing I saw was, you know, this large flame shoot up. We realized we had to go right then.

And we turned that corner and went from daylight into pure darkness. And the reason my wife -- my wife was in the jeep in front of us. The reason she stopped, she thought the road might not be passable.

And then our neighbor passed her and he knew that there was only about half a mile of that to drive through. He went in front of us and we got out. It was terrifying, obviously.

BANFIELD: As I was looking at this, Doug, I was thinking -- at first it didn't look like there was going to be a way out.

DOUG GULICK, FAMILY NARROWLY ESCAPED FIRE: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, yes, my wife was thinking -- we could have turned around and gone back down, but it's a dead end road, and then it would have just been, you know, the hope that the fire would blow through, and we would be able to get out later.

We knew that to get down the hill is we were going to have to drive through that to get down the hill. So, yes, basically our neighbor, who had just come through and knew it was just a short spell we'd have to drive through is the reason we decided to continue. Obviously, you can, yes, tell how scary it was.

BANFIELD: No kidding. Kim, I want to ask you really quickly. We can hear -- I think it's Roanna Bell's (ph) voice on video saying, "where's mom? Where's mom?" I got Goosebumps when I saw that and when I heard it. You were in the car ahead, and you slowed down to a stop, at one point. And I think it's Roanna Bell's (ph) who said why is she stopping? Why were you stopping?

KIM OLSON, FAMILY NARROWLY ESCAPED FIRE: Yes. Two reasons. First was I needed lights, it was so dark. And I was fumbling for the lights and trying to get myself together. I think we were all in such a state that it was all happening very fast. I had to put on the brake to figure out that I could get my hand to the lights and turn those on.

And I was also considering that we might not make it through and maybe we needed to turn around, like my husband said. And my dad and my brother are both firefighters, and I know that one of the dangers is if the road becomes blocked with trees that are downed and I was concerned we would just get trapped inside.

So, the neighbor that passed us, we didn't know that that neighbor knew the way out, but he was flying, and so, we just -- we went for it.

BANFIELD: And I want to ask Caleb, you're 13. And as I understand it, you are the photographer here. Did your dad throw you the cell phone and just say roll? I mean, what made you decide to take those pictures and then what kept you taking them? Did you want to toss it down and run for your life at any point?

KALEB GULICK, FAMILY NARROWLY ESCAPED FIRE: Yes, totally, I did. But I just took the -- yes, you're right. I took the video because he threw me the phone and I just did my best to capture the whole experience.

BANFIELD: I bet you're glad to be with your family safe and sound today. I don't know the condition of your home or do you know at this point whether your home has survived this blaze?

OLSON: On Tuesday morning, there was an aerial shot of a roofline and a neighbor's house that's also in our meadow. And those were standing then. And the word yesterday was there are now -- all the firefighters that have come in, there are two firefighters that are camped out on our driveway, two on another neighbor's driveway.

And so, they're sort of flanking the back side of the fire where we were and trying to put out spot fires at this point, because there's still a lot of flare up. And, yesterday, there was more activity just to the east of us, directly east. So, we're, you know, we're not out of --

BANFIELD: Not out of the woods yet?

OLSON: Not out of it at all at this point. Still hoping for the best.

DOUG GULICK: Well, we're out.

BANFIELD: Well, then, and that's exactly what I was going to say. Easy for me to say this, but your most prized possessions are right there on the screen and you guys are all touching, which is the best part of this story. When you see that video, it's really harrowing. So, I'm glad to see you all safe and sound this morning, and I'm really thankful that you came in to talk to us. Thanks so much everyone.

OLSON: Thank you.

DOUG GULICK: Thank you.

KALEB GULICK: Thank you.

BANFIELD: Be well. Be very well.

SAMBOLIN: You see the little girl there, yawning. It's an awfully early morning for them.


SAMBOLIN: Thank you very much, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: They're precious.

SAMBOLIN: They are precious. Soledad O'Brien joins us now with a look at what's ahead on "Starting Point." Good morning, Soledad.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST, "STARTING POINT": Hey, it's an early morning for all of us, isn't it?


O'BRIEN: Guys, this morning on "STARTING POINT," I'm going to talk to two kind of unlikely victims in this whole Trayvon Martin's shooting death and investigation that's followed. The couple's (ph) home address was sent out in a tweet they claimed it's where George Zimmerman lives and then spikely re-tweeted it to his 2,500 -- 250,000, rather, followers. The problem is it wasn't the right George Zimmerman, and the couples received death threats and hate mail. We'll talk to them what they've had to do since they've had to leave their home.

Also, a new documentary, a movie. It's called "Bullity." Really, 13 million American kids reported will be bullied this year. The filmmaker is Lee Hersh (ph). We'll talk about this powerful documentary that follows real-life victims along with the emotional and the physical violence that they endure. It's an absolutely heartbreaking movie. We'll chat with him about why his film is so powerful, but it's being released without a rating.

And the biggest prize in golf, the Masters begins week from today. How Tiger Woods is going to do? We're going to talk to his former coach, Hank Haley -- Haney (ph), rather, was with Tiger 110 days a year, observing him in nearly every circumstance and tournaments, practice range, et cetera, et cetera.

He's written a new book reveals a lot about Tiger and some people say it's an absolute betrayal. We'll chat about that as well when "Starting Point" comes on right at the top of the hour. We'll see you then.


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


BANFIELD (voice-over): U.S. military says it has never had any access to the scene where Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales allegedly gunned down up to 17 Afghan civilians, and that could hinder the military's prosecution of Bales.

It's according to a U.S. official who tells CNN that Bales returned to his base -- he's confirming this now, that Bales returned to his base and told his roommate that he had been out killing Afghan civilians.

SAMBOLIN: Federal charges now filed against that JetBlue pilot who had a midair meltdown. The first (ph) officers are saying the captain, Clayton Osbon, talked about taking a, quote, "leap of faith" before passengers were forced to grab him and hold him down.

BANFIELD: Workers in Spain are on strike. It started at the stroke of midnight. They're upset over the new conservative government and its austerity measures in that country. State TV in Spain says nearly 5,000 demonstrators have now been detained by police.

SAMBOLIN: And when guard dogs just aren't enough. A farmer in Houston, Texas, is trying something different to protect his property -- bee. He hired a bee wrangler who brought in hives to keep thieves from poaching tractors and other farming equipment.

BANFIELD: Well, you can just dress for that, can't you? Genius.

SAMBOLIN: You're not expecting it.


BANFIELD: Exactly. Now, it's been on the news.


BANFIELD (on-camera): Kind of blew that guy's cover, didn't we? It's 54 minutes now past 6:00 on the east coast.

And coming up on EARLY START, Republicans seem to be really choosing their guy. Former president and a possible running mate throwing their hat behind this man, Mitt Romney. What does it mean for the others? You're watching EARLY START.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Critical endorsements for Mitt Romney from a former president and a potential running mate.

BANFIELD: Certainly the list more than 20.


BANFIELD: Word of the day.


BANFIELD: CNNs Joe John is live in Washington. I'm pretty sure it's more than 20, Joe Johns.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Yes, yes. You know what? But look, OK, this is an endorsement that was expected. More symbolic than anything. Endorsement is in Houston, pretty much glorified photo-op. It's not like it's a secret. Not clear also how much endorsements are helping this cycle. George H.W. Bush has sent signals he supports Romney for a long time all the way back to December.

He said he thinks president -- he thinks Romney's the guy. So, what does all this really mean? Well, another sign the Republican establishment is getting behind Mitt Romney as the frontrunner. The truth is, though, the Republican establishment is Romney's strong suit anyway.

He's gotten a ton of endorsements from him this election cycle, frankly, didn't save him from a bruising battle in the primaries. What he needs, frankly, is more of the conservative set, evangelicals. That's what he's had the problem with inside the Republican Party. Back to you.

BANFIELD: All right. Joe Johns in Washington live for us this morning. And that would be EARLY START, the news from A to Z. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.