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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Trayvon Martin's Shooting and Race; Tension Between President Obama and Judiciary
Aired April 5, 2012 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Erin.
We begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest" with yet more new developments in the Trayvon Martin killing.
From the beginning, we've been getting fresh, sometimes contradictory clues, to what happened that night. Some of it supporting George Zimmerman's claim that he shot the unarmed teen in self-defense, other evidence casting doubt on it.
Tonight, no exception. We're "Keeping Him Honest." We're trying to bring you all the pieces of the picture as they emerge without jumping to conclusions so you can decide for yourself, based on the evidence, what happened that night.
Today a leading forensic audio expert listened to George Zimmerman's 911 call and weighed in on whether Zimmerman uttered a racial slur when he got out of his SUV to follow Martin. It's only 1.6 seconds of audio, but it's important because the federal government is investigating this as a possible hate crime, and the audio in question could be a major piece of evidence. The FBI is certainly treating it that way. They are doing their own analysis of the tape.
Before we go any further, though, a warning about the language. If you want to send the kids out of the room, now would be a good time, OK? So about the phrase. Some believe they hear Zimmerman saying, F-ing coons. Others hear what our enhanced audio seemed to reveal saying F-ing cold. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I don't want to say what it sounds like this time when a lot of people are saying what it sounds like, but let's play it a few times so the viewer can have an idea for themselves.
BRIAN STONE, CNN SENIOR AUDIO ENGINEER: Sure.
TUCHMAN: And make their own conclusion.
You can stop for now. Now it does sound less like that racial slur. Last time I acknowledge the possibility it could have been that slur. From listening in this room, and this is a state-of-the-art room, it doesn't sound like that slur anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: But today in another interpretation, this time F-ing punks. Here's the newest enhanced version done by Tom Owen of Owen Forensic Services. Listen.
All right, so what do you think? It's not easy to know. Well, once again, Tom Owen says he thinks Zimmerman was saying punks. And Zimmerman's lawyers claim he told them that is exactly what he said. This would seem to be welcome news in the Zimmerman camp, however, Tom Owen is also the expert who contradicts Zimmerman's claim that he was the one crying out for help that night, which was captured on that 911 call. It's a claim his father repeated last night on FOX News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, SR., GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S FATHER: George was there yelling for help for at least 40 seconds. It's clearly him on the tape. There's absolutely no doubt about who it is. A neighbor came, saw what was happening, saw George being beaten, heard George yelling for help, and the neighbor said he was calling 911.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Also when asked whether his son has ever -- that he knew of, used a racial slur, Robert Zimmerman said, and I'm quoting him now, "none whatsoever." He described George Zimmerman as someone who tutored African-American children and spoke out against the Sanford, Florida, policeman who beat a homeless black man.
Mr. Zimmerman called it's sad, in his words, that people are not telling the truth about the case for their own agenda, suggesting it's a racial agenda.
More now on how a role race did or didn't play, is playing or should play or shouldn't play in this tragedy. Joining us, Professor Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University. He is the founder of Yourblackworld.com. Also, Vanderbilt University Law professor, Carol Swain.
Thanks to both of you very much for coming in.
Boyce Watkins, first to you, we don't know for sure what happened the night George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin and we certainly don't know if it was racially motivated, but you think race is a huge part of this story. Tell us why.
BOYCE WATKINS, PROFESSOR, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY: Because I think that it's quite reasonable to believe that what happened to Trayvon that night would not have happened had he been white. All of the things that led to George Zimmerman finding him to be suspicious to chasing him down, and eventually killing him, related to the fact that he was a black man with a hoodie on in a neighborhood in which some people felt that he didn't belong. And so part of the reason that this case has sparked so much controversy around the world, actually, is because there are millions of people who can identify with that, millions of black men, including myself, and women as well, who know what it's like to look suspicious even when you haven't done anything wrong. So to somehow extract race from the case of Trayvon Martin, it would border on the delusional, actually.
BLITZER: Carol Swain, you say the whole discussion about George Zimmerman shouldn't be racialized, shall we say. Explain what you mean.
CAROL SWAIN, LAW PROFESSOR, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: I don't believe that the black leaders should be using race in the way that they have and encouraging young black men to wear hoodies. Those hoodies feed into the stereotype, and unfortunately, in America, when you look at the crime rate among young black men, wearing those hoodies, all of that raises the suspicion that causes them to be viewed, you know, as potentially criminal.
And I am a mother, and I raised two black males, and we lived in predominantly white neighborhoods, and so my children, you know, were trailed, they were stopped by the police, and they had to learn how to carry themselves and how to dress in such a way that they wouldn't raise suspicion. I think we should be teaching young people how to present themselves in such a way that they don't necessarily feed into the negative stereotypes.
BLITZER: Professor Watkins, some, including yourself, have called for an economic boycott of Sanford, Florida, if, if George Zimmerman is not arrested. Tell our viewers why you support this.
WATKINS: I support the boycott as of right now. Because when you look at what's going on in Sanford and what has happened in Sanford, it's not a stretch to think that there could be some serious corruption going on there. If you look throughout the history of George Zimmerman you find that this man who is the son of a judge has been allowed to walk free on many offenses that would have landed a guy like me in jail.
So I think that there are some people that are shaking in their boots in the Sanford government that are -- that realize that they've been complacent in allowing this man to escape punishment for things he's done in the past. So I think that everyone should be investigated. I think that his father should be investigated.
I think that all of these individuals who may have obstructed justice now and in the past should be dealt with because the prosecution of George Zimmerman is really just the beginning. And the last quick point I'll make is that the hoodie is not on trial. Trayvon Martin is not on trial. George Zimmerman should be on trial.
SWAIN: The stereotypes are. The stereotypes are.
WATKINS: If I want to walk outside -- no, but if I want to walk outside and wear a hoodie, nobody has a right to kill me because I'm wearing a hoodie. That's like saying that a woman who wears a short skirt deserves to be raped. That would be a highly inappropriate thing to say.
SWAIN: That's not -- that's not -- that's over -- that's over the top.
WATKINS: So Trayvon wearing the hoodie is not the issue.
SWAIN: That's over the top. And that's part of the problem.
WATKINS: I don't see why it's over the top.
SWAIN: As long as black men have -- young black men have such a high crime rate and there are a lot of -- there are a lot of crimes that we could be talking about, it feeds into that stereotype. And the economic boycott, all that's going to do is hurt the community. It will hurt black people, it will hurt white people, Hispanics, it'll hurt the businesses --
WATKINS: Then what you're saying is that Dr. King was just a big troublemaker.
SWAIN: Nothing good will come from that.
WATKINS: That -- you're saying that when Dr. King organized boycotts that he was just being a troublemaker. He was making things worse.
SWAIN: I think --
WATKINS: But the fact of the matter at the end of the day is that --
SWAIN: I think the era -- I think the era for boycotts are over.
WATKINS: When we talk about -- when we talk about mass incarceration, you cannot begin blaming the victim. We can't do that.
SWAIN: What -- the crimes, look at the black-on-black crime rate. We know the crime rates. We have a problem in the black community.
SWAIN: And the only thing the black leaders have done is to boost the sales of hoodies and Skittles. They need to be teaching young black men and women how to comport themselves in such a way that they don't draw attention to the negative stereotypes. And I think --
WATKINS: Well, let -- let's be clear. SWAIN: The whole --
WATKINS: Go -- well, let's be clear. Many of us are going around the country talking to young black men about how to conduct themselves, how to make good choices, and having a good life.
SWAIN: Good, good, good.
WATKINS: So we can't presume that that's not happening. But you must also --
SWAIN: That's not what our --
WATKINS: -- understand there are systemic structures that must be dealt with --
SWAIN: That's not what our job is and some of these other people are doing. And to me the black leaders, all they're doing --
WATKINS: Well, what Al Sharpton -- well, Al Sharpton is not the focus of the discussion here.
SWAIN: All you're doing, all you're doing is racializing every issue. And it doesn't benefit the black community. The only thing, I believe, this is about --
WATKINS: This issue did not -- we -- no one racialized this issue, madam.
SWAIN: This is about -- you're trying to --
WATKINS: This issue racialized itself.
SWAIN: It's being used in an opportunistic fashion. It's being used in an opportunistic fashion.
WATKINS: No. That is not true.
SWAIN: And it has to do -- I think it has to do with trying to boost black turnout for the next election. I think it's part of the electoral politics.
WATKINS: No, that is not true. When George Zimmerman made that decision --
SWAIN: I hope not. I hope it's not true.
WATKINS: -- to identify Trayvon as being suspicious, when George Zimmerman made that decision to chase down this black man that he felt looks suspicious, and shoot him in cold blood, that is what racialized this issue.
BLITZER: Let me just interrupt because I -- you're both talking and it's hard to understand what's going on. But Professor Watkins, explain why an entire community, Sanford, Florida, families, business owners, white, black, Hispanic, everyone, none of whom had anything to do with the death of Trayvon Martin, why they should be punished by a boycott because of the actions of George Zimmerman?
WATKINS: Because the boycott is sending a message to say that whatever is happening in that government, that corruption that is oppressing so many people that's harming so many people needs to be dealt with. And, again, when you have a boycott, when you impose economic sanctions, there are going to be people who are affected who didn't have anything to do with what actually happened.
But what has to happen is there has to be some sort of action to persuade the citizens of the city and that that government to shake itself down clean and sort of deal with some of these issues.
BLITZER: A good, serious discussion from both of you. We can go on. But I think you both made your points. You made them both well.
Boyce Watkins, Carol Swain, appreciate you very much.
SWAIN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Appreciate your coming on.
WATKINS: Thank you.
BLITZER: So whatever role race may or may not play in the Martin case, recent history in Sanford and elsewhere gives many in the African-American community reason to suspect and, in some cases, fear the police. On his blog, the film director Tyler Perry describes intense traffic stop he had with police in Atlanta. He's also calling attention to the disappearance in Florida of two men whose last known encounter was with a now fired but never prosecuted sheriff's deputy.
Details from Randi Kaye.
RANDI KAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Marcia Williams hasn't seen her son in more than eight years.
(On camera): Do you have any hope your son is still alive?
MARCIA WILLIAMS, TERRENCE'S MOTHER: UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't believe that Terrence is alive. At this point I have to find out what happened to him.
KAYE (voice-over): What happened to Terrence Williams is anybody's guess. He was last seen outside this Naples, Florida, cemetery on January 11th, 2004, with this man, Sheriff's Deputy Steve Calkins.
(On camera): Investigators say Calkins' story about meeting Terrence Williams here at the cemetery just doesn't add up. At one point Calkins said he pulled Terrence Williams' car over because it was having problems. But when he called his friend in dispatch he reported the car had been abandoned. He never let on he'd had any contact with the driver, Terrence Williams.
STEVE CALKINS, NAPLES, FLORIDA, SHERIFF'S DEPUTY: I got a Homie Cadillac on the side of the road here, signal 11, signal 52, nobody around. Maybe he's out there in the cemetery. He'll come back and his car will be gone.
KAYE (voice-over): But if the driver was not around, how then was Deputy Calkins able to run a background check, using Terrence's name and birthday.
UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: Last name?
CALKINS: Williams, common spelling.
UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: Date of birth?
CALKINS: 4-1-75. Black male.
KAYE: Yet just four days later, Calkins claims to remember nothing of the car or the driver. Listen to what he says when a sheriff's dispatcher calls him at home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You towed a car from Vanderbilt and 111th Monday, a Cadillac. Do you remember it?
CALKINS: Uh, no.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you remember? She said it was near the cemetery.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The people at the cemetery are telling her you put somebody in the back of your vehicle and arrested him and I don't show you arresting anybody.
CALKINS: I never arrested nobody.
WILLIAMS: Isn't that amazing? He's a seasoned veteran and he couldn't remember four days later?
KAYE (on camera): So you don't buy that?
WILLIAMS: No. It's not true. It's not true at all.
KAYE (voice-over): Eight days after Terrence vanished, Deputy Calkins was ordered to write a report. And it's in this report that a different story emerges. Deputy Calkins says he drove the 27-year-old father of four to this nearby Circle K where he says he thought Terrence worked. And it's that version of events that concerned investigators. Because just months earlier they'd heard the same story from Deputy Calkins about another missing man.
Twenty-three-year-old Felipe Santos vanished October 14th, 2003 after Deputy Calkins responded to the scene of a minor accident involving Santos. He issued Santos a citation and put him in the back of his sheriff's car. Santos's brother, who was also at the scene, asked we hide his face out of fear for his own safety.
(On camera): Did deputy Calkins tell you where he was taking your brother?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): The officer never told us anything. Later we went to the jail and my brother wasn't there.
KAYE (voice-over): When Calkins was questioned about Felipe Santos, an undocumented worker, he told investigators, he dropped Santos off at a Circle K. Sheriff's investigator Kevin O'Neill.
KEVIN O'NEILL, SHERIFF'S INVESTIGATOR: And we have no independent corroboration of anybody telling us that they saw Williams or Santos at one of these Circle K's. That's strictly Calkins' testimony. And I think we can add up where we can put his testimony at this point.
KAYE: O'Neill says neither of the missing men was ever scene on Circle K's security cameras. And there's more.
(On camera): About a month after Terrence Williams disappears, Steve Calkins gave a sworn statement during an interrogation. He told investigators he had called the Circle K where he says he dropped Terrence Williams off. He told investigators he made that call from his work-issued Nextel phone. But when investigators said they pulled his phone records and told him there was no record of a call to this Circle K from his cell phone he brushed it off saying simply, quote, "I don't know what to tell you."
(On camera): You've been doing this for a long time. You know when something doesn't smell right. Do you think that Deputy Calkins had anything to do with the disappearance and possible death of these two men?
O'NEILL: He's absolutely in the middle of the investigation. Everything I turn to points right back to Steve Calkins.
KAYE (voice-over): Months after Santos and Williams went missing, Deputy Calkins, a 16-year veteran, was fired for lying in connection with the investigation of Terrence Williams. Calkins hasn't been charged with a crime because no criminal evidence was ever found linking Calkins to the disappearances.
In the case of Terrence Williams, investigators say the deputy's car was searched and described as immaculate. Calkins's home was never searched because according to investigators they didn't have the evidence needed for a search warrant.
We wanted to ask Steve Calkins some questions but couldn't get past this woman.
(On camera): Hello?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes?
KAYE: Hi. Sorry to bother you. I'm Randi Kaye from CNN. I'm looking for Steve Calkins.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. You can get the camera out of our property please.
KAYE: He's not on your property?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bye.
KAYE: Is he here? Or is he --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bye.
KAYE (voice-over): In 2006, Calkins did tell a local paper he didn't do anything wrong, blaming the coincidences of the missing men on very bad luck. He suggested maybe they ran away.
WILLIAMS: If Terrence was alive, Terrence would have had somebody to contact his mother. I know for sure that's one thing that he would do in a heartbeat. Call my mama.
KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Naples, Florida.
BLITZER: Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook and Google Plus or you can follow me on Twitter at WolfblitzerCNN.
Tonight, a question, is President Obama trying to muscle the U.S. Supreme Court with his remarks on the health care case? Or are conservatives just freaking out, including a federal judge who took action that our normally low-key legal analyst calls, and I'm quoting him now, a disgrace?
Jeffrey Toobin standing by to join us along with conservative legal scholar, Jay Sekulow. That's coming up.
BLITZER: A very strange chapter in American history is unfolding right now. And our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is right at the center of it, along with the president of the United States.
Jeff, and we'll explain why in just a moment, is, shall we say, a little ticked off.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: What these judges have done is a disgrace. I mean what President Obama said was entirely appropriate. There is nothing wrong. There's nothing controversial. He said I signed a law that was passed by the democratically elected Congress, and I think it's constitutional. And then these judges give the Justice Department a homework assignment, a three-page letter, single-spaced, explaining what the president said.
They don't have to explain what the president said. That was a perfectly appropriate comment by the president. And it just shows how some of these Republican judges are just deranged by hatred of the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So here's what he's talking about. President Obama's defense of the health care reform law now before the Supreme Court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Harvard Law professor, Lawrence Tribe, said the president, quote, "Obviously misspoken, not giving people enough legal context to understand the point he was making." But Republicans pounced with the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, saying, and I'm quoting him now, "The president crossed a dangerous line this week."
And Judge Jerry Smith, a Reagan appointee on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, demanded and got the kind of history term paper from the Justice Department which is arguing a health care case before his panel. Three pages, single-spaced, showing President Obama understand that judges do, in fact, have the power to review and strike down laws. Something any high school student should know has been a fact since 1803.
Jeff Toobin is joining us now along with conservative legal scholar, Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice.
Jeff, first to you. Can federal judges be distressed by what the president said without being characterized as deranged by hatred?
TOOBIN: Absolutely not. This is a phony controversy from day one. What Obama said in its full context is completely appropriate and uncontroversial. Of course the president knows that judges can declare laws unconstitutional. His own administration is asking the courts to declare the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. They declared laws unconstitutional every year.
Every first year law student, most college students know that. Obama didn't suggest otherwise. He simply said under the precedence of the Commerce Clause, which is what's relevant in the health care law, he thinks the Supreme Court should uphold this law. There's nothing wrong with that.
BLITZER: Jay, I know you disagree with Jeff on this. But in politics an ideology permeated the judiciaries to really damaging levels at least in some instances. JAY SEKULOW, CHIEF COUNSEL, AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE: Well, look, I mean the damage here was the president of the United States chastises in essence the Supreme Court of the United States on a case they heard the week before. It was my friend Jeff Toobin who said last week that the administration had a train wreck on one day and a plane wreck on the next day in their oral arguments.
And then the president defending his position calls justices that would overturn an act of Congress, a law signed by the president, judicial activists. Remember the rest of that quote says, unelected judges.
Now the fact of the matter is this. A, the Fifth Circuit, did they have the right to ask for that letter brief? Sure. I've had cases, we've had an oral argument, and during the brief -- during the questioning they'll ask for additional briefing on a point. Are the judges -- are a lot of judges upset about this? They don't like to be called what the president did. And the unprecedented aspect of this, in my view, Wolf, is the fact that the president not only talked about judicial philosophy but talked about a case currently before the court that was argued, voted on last week, opinions being written, and we don't know which way the case is going to go.
It's going to be very close, I suspect. And I think Lawrence Tribe was right when he said the president misspoke, because, Jeff, in -- I understand you want to take it to a broader context, which is what the administration tried to do on Tuesday and Wednesday. But the fact of the matter is the president acted and made that statement as if it was shocking that a court might overturn a decision or a law signed by the president passed by Congress.
And by the way, that was mistake number one. Of course the court can do it. Mistake number two, this is not legislation --
BLITZER: All right.
SEKULOW: -- passed with wide support. I mean, who are we kidding here? This was closely divided in Congress and I suspect closely divided the Supreme Court.
BLITZER: It was along partisan lines, but the Democrats in the House and the Senate had a significant majority. But Jeff, Lawrence Tribe.
BLITZER: Your professor at Harvard Law School. A constitutional law scholar, ally of the president, he'd said the president should generally refrain from commenting on pending cases during the process of judicial deliberation.
Do you think the president regrets making those comments?
TOOBIN: Well, I certainly couldn't speak for Barack Obama. I don't know what he is thinking right now. I think the point is those of us who are watching, those of us who are trying to be fair here, recognize that this is a huge case, a huge issue. This is the signature piece of legislation that he has signed as president of the United States.
And you bet he thinks it's constitutional. And he has every right to say that. I think this idea that the Constitution and judges are these delicate flowers that you can't -- you can't criticize, you can't say anything. But they are very powerful people. The Constitution sets up a system where they are insulated from political pressure.
What can Barack Obama do to the Supreme Court justices? He can withhold invitation to state dinners --
SEKULOW: Why did he have to make the statement?
TOOBIN: Because he's the president of the United States. And this is a pressing national issue.
SEKULOW: Well, do you know another president of the United States -- Jeff, do you know another president of the United States during a case that was argued and pending that made a statement about how the outcome of the case can be and talking about unelected judges? And calling someone that would strike the law as unconstitutional judicial activist? Can you name a president?
SEKULOW: A lot of things.
TOOBIN: I mean there are a lot of different pieces of your question. I think, you know, the president --
TOOBIN: The recent President Bush used to talk about judicial activism all the time.
SEKULOW: Not during -- (INAUDIBLE).
TOOBIN: And judges not legislating from the bench.
TOOBIN: I mean, you know --
SEKULOW: Not while the case -- not on a particular case, which was pending.
TOOBIN: Well, not --
TOOBIN: But I mean so what? I don't think that's --
TOOBIN: I don't that matters.
SEKULOW: I think that's a big difference. I mean --
SEKULOW: Wolf, they're co-equal branch of government here.
BLITZER: All right. Hang on --
TOOBIN: A co-equal branch of government that is not insulated from criticism.
BLITZER: Guys, we're going to leave it right there because I know this is a great -- but it's a good--
SEKULOW: Criticism on a case that is pending? Please.
BLITZER: All right. Hold your thoughts, guys. There's going to be plenty of time between now and June when the Supreme Court rules on this for us to continue this conversation.
Jeff Toobin, Jay Sekulow, guys, thanks very much for coming in.
An 80-year-old Wisconsin woman is getting kudos from experienced pilots. She had to take over when her husband collapsed at the control of their Cessna. The plane was almost out of fuel. She doesn't have a pilot's license but nerves of steel. Plenty. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got to land pretty quick. My gas gauge shows nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. We're going to get it on the next time around.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Helen Collins is alive tonight and that is nothing short of amazing. This is one of those stories that makes you wonder what you would have done in the same situation.
Could you have pulled off what Helen did? Two things you should consider. Helen doesn't have a pilot's license, though she has flown many hours over the years at her husband's side. She's also 80 years old. Once again, here's Randi Kaye.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Good thing Helen Collins was paying attention all those years flying around in small planes with her husband. On Monday, 2,000 feet above the ground, Helen's husband, John Collins, who was piloting the plane, had a heart attack and lost consciousness.
With her husband slumped over the controls, this 80-year-old Wisconsin grandmother did what most of us probably could not. She took control of the twin engine Cessna. Low on fuel and without a pilot's license, Helen began to maneuver towards Cherry Land Airport, about 150 miles north of Milwaukee.
Her heroic efforts were recorded. One thing she makes clear right away she needs to land fast.
HELEN: You better get me in there pretty soon. I don't know how long I'm going to have gas.
KAYE: If Helen was nervous she hardly let it show. Friends on the on the ground at the airport were alerted to the emergency and quickly made contact.
AIR OFFICIAL: Hi, Helen, this is Cathy.
HELEN: Hi, Cathy. Hell of a place to be.
AIR OFFICIAL: OK, Helen, we are going to launch another aircraft. It will come up and it will fly right next to you and give you instructions.
KAYE: Within 7 minutes, the pilot, Robert Vuksanovic, was in the air in another plane. Helen had herself a wingman. Everything he did, she did.
ROBERT VUKSANOVIC, PILOT: She was confident. She wanted to know if I was confident in her confidence. And I said, well, if you're confident, I'm confident. I think we can do this.
KAYE: Despite the fact, Helen hadn't had a flying lesson in years, Vuksanovic said she was familiar with some of the switches. But he thought she was coming in too fast and too high so he had her do some practice runs. But when her wing man asked the airport to close the road, Helen again questioned his confidence in her.
PILOT: It's going to be a little bit of a flight lesson, but you'll enjoy it.
HELEN: What do you mean by close the road?
PILOT: I'm talking to the people on the ground, Helen.
HELEN: Don't you have any faith in me?
PILOT: I do. I don't trust the drivers on the road.
KAYE: The final approach was tricky. An eyewitness caught it all on tape.
PILOT: Turn left. Turn left. Left turn, left turn. Helen, turn left. Bring the nose up. That's it. That's it.
KAYE: Not only was Helen out of fuel, but her right engine was out. Her wingman shouted urgent commands.
PILOT: Nose down. Nose down. Turn right a little bit. Turn right. OK, bring the nose down, nose down. Come, on get down. Get down. Powerback. Powerback. Reduce the power over. Reduce the power, over. Reduce the power. Nose down, over. Helen, do you read me?
HELEN: I read you.
KAYE: About 45 minutes after this nightmare began, Helen landed best she could.
VUKSANOVIC: She did a great job. The timing was perfect, came down and landed a little less than three points. It landed in the nose.
KAYE: Her plane bounced hard off the run way and then skidded about 1,000 feet.
PILOT: Power off, power off, power off. OK. You're down. Great job, Helen. Great job.
KAYE: Helen escaped with just a few minor injuries. All those years of flying with her husband paid off. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital, but no doubt he would have been proud. Randi Kaye, CNN, Atlanta.
BLITZER: As you just saw, Helen Collins had a wingman who helped guide her down, Robert Vuksanovic. He's joining us now. Robert, a truly amazing story, take us back to that moment you and your wife, who is also a pilot, first made radio contact with Helen.
VUKSANOVIC (via telephone): OK. When we got to the airport, Helen was talking on the airport frequency and the airport manager was conversing with her. And my wife and I quickly made an analysis of the situation along with the manager.
And they maintained contact with Helen the whole time. And my wife is very good at flight instructing and given factors of calming people down and allowing them to be very receptive instruction.
And I thought that we were going to need a different perspective from that on the ground. My wife opted to manage the radio and conversely with Helen.
While I pursued the aircraft and a chance to be Helen's second aircraft of Bonanza and went airborne to fly her wing that I could see what is happening with the aircraft as far as performance goes. BLITZER: Was there ever a moment when you scrambled to get into other plane that you thought this was not going to work necessarily have a happy ending?
VUKSANOVIC: You have to think positive and I've been -- I might be overly positive, but -- in aviation, if you're not thinking of a positive outcome and working very diligently and a positive outcome, that's when it becomes very difficult.
So I just keep a positive attitude and work towards a successful outcome and it worked that way. In fact, I was talking to Helen. I could tell in her voice she was as determined as I was to get her on the ground.
BLITZER: And her landing, and you've said this, it was more than just successful. Explain.
VUKSANOVIC: The landing, in fact, it was one of my aviator friends flying for Midwest Express, I had to run out to Los Angeles, California. And we were on a Red Eye flight and I was sitting at the taxi way to the north side of the airport, east-west run ways.
And I saw them make a Delta MV11 come in and makes landing identical to hers. And I told her, she's a hero in my book. She did exactly textbook for a very, very long time pilot or non-pilot I should say performance.
It was just outstanding how she kept the aircraft under control at all times and stayed with it. Never gave up. That's secret to a successful outcome in aviation.
BLITZER: It certainly is. Robert Vuksanovic, thanks very much. Thank your wife as well. Appreciate everything you did.
VUKSANOVIC: You're welcome.
BLITZER: An 80-year-old grandmother. What an amazing story.
Tonight, in your ground breaking special report on "Kids and Race," we hear from parents, their teenagers told us how they felt about interracial dating. They didn't minced any words.
Just ahead, what parents have to say about statements like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think your parents would be fine if you decided to start dating a black girl, brought her home?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly, my parents probably wouldn't be too happy because if I was to marry a black girl, you're connected to their family now and who knows what her family is really like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: We're talking once again tonight about the intersection of the Trayvon Martin killing and racial attitudes. Tonight, we continue our ground breaking "AC 360" Special Report, "Kids and Race, The Hidden Picture," with a look at interracial dating.
Teens spoke about it freely, but instead of a racial divide it exposed a general racial divide. All of them said they would date someone of a different race, but said reactions from parents range from trepidation to outright forbiddance.
According to the expert for this study, it's not only common for parents to discourage interracial dating for teens, but the anxiety about it could seep into the messages they send to their kids about race when they're much younger.
Anderson and Soledad O'Brien sat down with the parents of teens who talked about interracial dating and the harsh realities of racism that this youngest generation continues to face. Take a look.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: First of all, thanks very much for doing this. I want to play something that Jimmy said about a joke he had heard in school. I want to play that.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: It was like saying racist jokes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. And what were some of the jokes.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: How do you get a black person down from a tree? Yes. You cut the rope. I didn't find that one very funny. I didn't find any of them funny.
COOPER: It was surprising at least for me to hear those jokes were being told. Does that surprise you?
SABRINA, JIMMY'S MOTHER: It really does. I remember that day and he came home. He was really upset about it and it was shocking. It really was. Because, you know, I don't think racism, even though it's not a part of our home.
I don't think it will probably ever go away. We wish that it would. I think somehow it will just be around because some people cannot get past a person because of their color.
JIMMY, JIMMY'S FATHER: I tell him, you know, son, stay away with from those kinds of friends. If that's how they are talking that racist stuff like that, stay away from them because I don't want it in his head.
Because me and my family, I grew up, my mom, Alabama and she never, never, I cannot remember her ever speaking about us hating a different race ever. So we don't promote it in our home with our kids ever.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Any of your kids have boyfriends or girlfriends?
O'BRIEN: At 13. That's so young. A lot of conversations about interracial dating. It was really interesting. I want to play a little clip first from Jimmy. Here's what he said.
Do people start dating in middle school?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Yes.
O'BRIEN: Do you have a girlfriend?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: No.
O'BRIEN: If you were to have a girlfriend and she was a white girl and you brought her home, what would your mom or dad say?
JIMMY, SEVENTH GRADE PARTICIPANT IN AC360 STUDY: I don't know. It's just when I tell my parents I had dated a white girl and they said, well -- why not your own kind so yes.
O'BRIEN: So they are not that excited about it.
JIMMY: It's not like you need to choose a black girl just why a white girl. No reason.
O'BRIEN: Tell me about that conversation.
JIMMY: I remember that conversation. You know, like you said, we don't care. But when you see your kid always steering towards a different race you, want to make sure that he doesn't have a problem with his own race.
That's basically why we sit and drill them and talk to them about, you know, you have a problem with your own race. Because we never seen them with a black girlfriend.
O'BRIEN: Which brings us to Luke. We asked him also about interracial dating. Here's what he said.
Do you think your parents would be fine if you decided to start dating a black girl, brought her home?
LUKE, SEVENTH GRADE PARTICIPANT IN AC360 STUDY: Honestly, my parents probably wouldn't be too happy because if I was to marry a black girl, you're connected to their family now. And who knows what her family is certainly like.
O'BRIEN: So they probably wouldn't be that excited about it?
LUKE: Probably not.
O'BRIEN: Where do you think that comes from?
GARY, LUKE'S FATHER: We have an older daughter. She came home one day and informed me she started going out with an African-American or black young man at her school. The young man that we knew we liked a lot.
It wasn't that we didn't so much want them dating because of race per se, we didn't know if she really thought about some of the cultural differences that there may be. So we talked about it in that respect.
In fairness and to be honest, we do recognize that sometimes there are cultural differences and we did talk about that. Not that it's right or wrong, good or bad, but just different. And we played the scenario out with our daughter in that respect.
And we have several friends who are married that are in interracial marriages and they have great marriages. They also shared challenges at times. We try to be as open and honest as we can in talking about those kinds of issues. Again, not to dissuade or to discourage but just to get it out there on the table and to make sure we have talked about those kind of things because they're real.
So I think that's more of our conversation than with our 13-year- old, with the older children.
O'BRIEN: But they listen. They always listen. Let's talk about Chantay. Chantay says she has a double standard. Listen.
CHANTAY, SEVENTH GRADE PARTICIPANT IN AC360 STUDY: If I were to date a white guy, a lot of people really wouldn't have a problem with that. But if my brother were to bring home a white girl, you know, there's definitely going to be some controversy.
O'BRINE: From whom, your parents or you?
CHANTAY: From me. From me.
O'BRIEN: Isn't that contradictory? You can date a white boy, but your brother, forget it if he dated a white girl?
CHANTAY: Really because I think it's more of a problem for people when a black man brings home a white woman because it's been like that for years. You know, you know, a black girl and black guy just broke up. He left you for a white girl? That's just really what people say.
O'BRIEN: So what would it matter to you?
CHANTAY: I think it would, unless of course, she were not to act so quote, unquote, "white."
O'BRIEN: What does that mean?
CHANTAY: You know, flipping the hand. My God, ha, ha, they're so ghetto. No.
O'BRIEN: So she has to be the right kind of white girl?
CHANTAY: I guess so.
O'BRIEN: Wow. There's so much to go to on that.
CHRISTAL, CHANTAY'S MOTHER: Which way you want to go?
O'BRIEN: Where do you think that comes from?
CHRISTAL: I think when she speaks about if her brother were to bring home a white girl, what it says, I think, to our kids, our black kids is are we not good enough for our black brothers. What's wrong with us? You know, why -- do you like the silky straight hair? I can press my hair. It gives them a sense of, you know, like they not --
CHRISTAL: Exactly, I think.
COOPER: Did it surprise you to hear her say that?
CHRISTAL: Absolutely not. I just wasn't surprised. And it doesn't say anything about how she feels about the other cultures or ethnicities. It just says more about what she thinks about herself.
This would definitely spark a conversation for us. Ignite to touch on some issues because it never dawned on me to ask her specifically if she felt a certain way about her brother bringing home another race. It -- I didn't think she cared.
GARY: I definitely think listening to Luke's comments there that we would be more purposeful about talking about it. We tried to be over the years with our other children, but I think probably there may be some questions he would have for us.
I would not want him to think we would be displeased if he came home had a black or Korean or Filipino friend or girlfriend. I wouldn't want him to think we'd be upset or that we would welcome any less than we would anyone else.
O'BRIEN: Will this change the conversations you'll have?
JIMMY: It is an issue definitely. In my household, I think what works for us is that we don't talk negatively about racism. So they don't have a negative view because it's not coming from us.
And I love that because I see the joy in them. You know, I figure if you're a racist or got it in you, at some point, you're just going to be miserable.
If he encounters something, we address it. We get past it. We'll tell them straight, OK, that's just that one person. It's not everybody of that color.
COOPER: Yes, well, thank you so much for taking part in this. We really appreciate it.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: I appreciate it as well. Truly eye opening.
In other news tonight, we're going to show you the face of a monster, the face of a real monster. New photos of convicted mass murderer, Charles Manson. The first we have seen in three years.
BLITZER: We're following other stories tonight. Susan Hendricks is here with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Susan.
SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, new developments in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal. Newly-released audio tapes captured, Greg Williams, the team's former defensive coordinator, urging players to hurt members of the San Francisco 49ers. The tape captures Williams pointing out Frank Gore as a target. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kill the head and hit the body. We've got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore's head. We want him running sideways. We want his head sideways.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENDRICKS: Wow. Also this, the California Department of Corrections releasing the first new photos of Charles Manson in three years. The pictures of the 77-year-old were taken last June.
And Greg Mortinson settled a lawsuit alleging he fabricated stories in his best-selling book "Three Cups of Tea." Mortinson will repay $1 million to the charity he cofounded.
And fans of "The Hunger Games" can own a really big piece of the hit new movie. The town of Henry River Mill Village in North Carolina, which served as the set for much of the film is up for sale. The owner is selling all 72 acres for $1.4 million. Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: Susan, thanks. We'll be right back.