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LAPD Holds News Conference Regarding Fugitive; Interview with LA Mayor Antionio Villaraigosa
Aired February 13, 2013 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much, Carol.
And a lot to cover. A carjack, a gunfight, a cabin fire, a corpse. In southern California this hour, the hunt for a cop turned killer may be over, but I repeat, it just may be over. There are still so many questions that remain. Police may answer some of them just moments from now.
Also, no power, few toilets, dwindling food and still another full day away from reaching land. Just try to imagine the nightmare on that disabled Carnival cruise ship, and then imagine your children are there without you. I'm going to speak to two desperate mothers.
And Jodi Arias, she admits she killed her ex-boyfriend. She hopes an x-rated phone chat will be something that helps get her acquitted. I'm going to play some of that, what the jurors actually heard in open court in just moments.
But we begin with what appears to be Christopher Dorner's fiery last stand. Any second now police in Los Angeles are due to brief reporters on the final hours of a manhunt for the fired L.A. cop who waged war on his comrades.
We know a burned corpse was recovered from the cabin where Dorner holed up near Big Bear east of Los Angeles. But we do not have the scientific confirmation yet that that corpse is, in fact, Dorner's. We also don't know how the cabin caught fire. We do have some remarkable audio that was captured by a reporter who found himself smack dab in the middle of a gunfight, and I'm not exaggerating. You really have to hear it to believe it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hear some screaming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Remarkable video, remarkable audio, we'll return to it in just a moment. But first, live to Los Angeles, where the LAPD is holding an updated news conference. (BEGIN LIVE FEED)
LT ANDY NEIMAN, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: ... sheriff's department who lost a deputy yesterday in the tragic incidents that unfolded in the mountains of San Bernardino.
There's a lot of apprehension today in any kind of celebration, because this really is not a celebration. It's been a very trying time over the last couple weeks for all of those involved and all those families, friends, and everybody that's been touched by this Dorner incident.
So, again, I just would like to express our deepest sympathy from our department, our heart and prayers go out to those family and friends of those deputies who were injured and the deputy that was killed yesterday.
With that, let me just give you some brief -- bring you up to date where we are today with respect to the investigation.
The investigation into the Dorner incidents and the homicides related to Christopher Dorner continue, and that will continue until the investigators have completed everything that they need to do related to that.
The task force is still in place and they will work until there is nothing left to be done. There's still quite a bit of work to be done on this.
What transpired in San Bernardino is being investigated by the San Bernardino County sheriff's department, so I have no comments on their investigation at this time.
I can tell you that the LAPD has now moved back into a normal state of police operation. That began late last night and will continue now as far as normal patrol operation.
The protective details, some of those are still in place, and those will remain in place until the department and those protectees feel safe.
As you know, until that investigation in San Bernardino's concluded and we have any type of positive identification on what transpired up there, we still have some individuals in this department who are still in great fear.
When your life and the lives of your family are placed in jeopardy and threatened with death, that's quite something to deal with, so, we have approximately a dozen or so of those protective details that will remain in place at this point.
All other resources have been returned to their normal functions. The city has not been on any type of tactical alert since early yesterday morning. And we will remain to -- in that status until further.
So, at this time that's about all I have in terms of the investigation. If there's some questions related to the Dorner investigation that I'm able to answer, again, I'm not able to comment on anything related to San Bernardino.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
NEIMAN: Well, again, we have homicide investigation. The fact that the incident transpired yesterday and, you know, we won't speculate at this point whether that is Christopher Dorner or not.
But even if it was to be Christopher Dorner, again, we have a case to close. Just because arrest warrants were issued and charges were filed in Riverside, there's still a case pending in Irvine, the double homicide, and so there's still much work to be done.
We just don't stop an investigation because the suspected individual may no longer be available.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
NEIMAN: Say that again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long does it take to get a positive identification? (INAUDIBLE).
NIEMAN: Yeah, again, that will depend on the condition of the body that's recovered. It will depend on the forensics that are available and the laboratories that are available. I would not make any assumptions right now.
But, again, those types of identifications can be expedite expedited in these circumstances and I'm sure that will be done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
NEIMAN: No, right now this is a San Bernardino case, so the incident that occurred up there involving the shooting and the body that was discovered will be announced by the San Bernardino County sheriff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As far as the reward goes if he is, in fact, deceased, is that still on the table? And who would be entitled to the reward if he is in fact ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, what are the requirements?
NEIMAN: Yeah, that will be determined by the city attorneys that are involved.
The issuance of a reward, again, is for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of an individual. This is sort of an unusual circumstance. Certainly, there was information that was provided that was very beneficial yesterday, and that will be examined and evaluated by the people who deal with the rewards.
The Los Angeles police department does not issue rewards, so we are not in the reward business. Those are outside entities that issue those rewards in an effort to support the investigation. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beyond the emotional and psychic toll of losing officers and deputies, has there been any calculation of the financial cost of all this?
NEIMAN: Yeah. Not as yet. I don't have any cost estimates in terms of what this particular investigation has cost to this point. I'm sure at some point those figures or an estimate will come out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
NEIMAN: Well, our investigation will continue, again, until the investigators have been able to bring their case to a conclusion. And a lot of that, we'll deal with the district attorney's office and making sure that we have covered every base.
You know, there's still witnesses out there. You know, these -- the thousands of clues that we -- or the over thousand clues that we have, many of those are related to the investigation and to the murder and multiple murders.
So, those witnesses still are key pieces that need to be resolved in terms of the investigation and documented.
We don't just stop a murder case simply because we think that the suspect in that case is no longer with us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you say that officers aren't feeling great here, some of them, is it because they doubt that it's over with? (INAUDIBLE)
NEIMAN: Well, again, if it were your family that was placed in jeopardy, not knowing for certain that the person that was threatening your family is no longer around and the threat no longer exists, that's a concern.
And so there are some families who are literally traumatized. They have young children. They have people who have schools that their kids go to and there's great fear still, so that's a trauma that they're going to have to recover from.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
NEIMAN: Yeah, I don't have any information related to accomplices or any other persons involved, but certainly those are parts of this investigation that we have to examine and look in to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lieutenant, could you comment on what the feeling was like inside the headquarters building, among the command staff involved in the case, watching it unfold on television yesterday?
NEIMAN: Well, like many of you, we were listening on local Internet channels that allowed us to monitor radio frequency, and it was -- it was horrifying to listen to that firefight and to hear those words, "officer down," is the most gut-wrenching experience that you can have as a police officer because you know what that means.
And tragically we learned that it truly meant just that yesterday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since you reopened his file, what is the possibility or what if you find that he was telling the truth about this (INAUDIBLE)?
NEIMAN: OK, well, I'm not going to go into that. We're in the very early stages as Chief Beck has mentioned of re-examining the allegations that are in the manifesto, so this is not the time that we're going to discuss that until we have more information on that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have information as to what caused the fire?
NEIMAN: I don't. Again, anything related to San Bernardino needs to be addressed to them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) and what kind of records as DNA and dental does the LAPD keep on former officers or current officers to aid in that?
NEIMAN: Well, again, just like in any death investigation where identification has to be made, that is all done through the coroner's office and the coroners have access to all sorts of records not just those related to employment.
Certainly, LAPD does not keep dental records when you come on the job. So, there will be other measures that will be sought after to identify that individual.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
NEIMAN: I'm sorry?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) still going to take place?
NEIMAN: Is the re-examining of the person? Absolutely. That is a total separate issue and I think we've made that clear that Chief Beck has great concern and he wants to make sure that the public has a confidence in this police department that we are operating in a transparent manner and that the members of this police department are treated fairly.
And if there's information that's developed or uncovered in that investigation that we need to address, we are going to address it and he is very clear about that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) involve the family at all?
NEIMAN: Well, I will tell you that in most identification cases the families of the deceased are very much a part of that, and so the coroner's office deals with that, and they seek whatever type of information can assist in that identification.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you comment about the wallet?
NEIMAN: I don't have any information related to San Bernardino. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
NEIMAN: I'm sorry?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
NEIMAN: The internal affairs case, Gerald Chaleff who is the adviser and legal counsel, many of you know, Mr. Shaliff, has a very reputable history in terms of civil rights law, and he is going to oversee it as well as the inspector general's office, which is an independent reviewer that oversees all personnel complaints, all officer-involved shootings related to the police department and that's where it is at this point.
Your question related to tactical alert, we are not on tactical alert. That ended -- the last tactical alert we had was early yesterday morning, OK?
Thank you very much. This will be the last briefing. We are not going to have a 3:00 briefing. Any ...
(END LIVE FEED)
BANFIELD: Lieutenant Andy Neiman giving us a live briefing in Los Angeles, and perhaps the headline here, while they are no longer on tactical alert with the LAPD, that ending yesterday, this case is far from over.
The task force is still in place and there is quite a bit of work still to be done, perhaps most importantly, the protective details on those officers who were listed in Christopher Dorner's manifesto are still being protected.
I am pleased to be joined now by the mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa.
Mr. Mayor, while we await an absolute identification, a scientific forensic identification of the body that was recovered from that burnt-out cabin, is it too early to say Los Angeles and, indeed, Southern California is breathing a sigh of relief?
MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSO, LOS ANGELES: No. I think we all are breathing a sigh of relief.
We have -- we do believe that it is the body of Christopher Dorner, but we don't know for a certainty, and until we do, those police officers that were targeted will continue to be protected. That's the least we could do.
You know, a lot has been said about these people on the list, but what we don't understand is that it's not just these officers. It's their spouses, it's their kids, and it's their family that have been targeted, and I've talked to many of them.
This isn't about them from their vantage point, it's about their kids and their families, and we're going to protect them until there is, you know, we're reasonably certain or absolutely certain, rather, that it's him.
BANFIELD: And let me ask you, usually in a criminal case, it can take weeks for a positive i.d. DNA is not something that happens overnight, unless, of course, there is a case that is so critical it leapfrogs to the head of everything else.
Is Los Angeles helping San Bernardino in availing itself of the resources, the labs, everything they need to put a pin in this case and obviously assuage the concerns of those who were targeted?
VILLARAIGOSO: The answer is absolutely. We've offered every assistance.
But I want to thank the men and women of the San Bernardino sheriff's department who worked day and night to find Christopher Dorner, who lost a very brave deputy, have another one who is critically injured.
There are a lot of innocent people who have died here, and we're working very closely with all of them.
Our resources are available, should they need them, but I can tell you this, that we've been working from the beginning very, very collaboratively and closely together to find and bring him to justice, Christopher Dorner.
BANFIELD: Mr. Mayor, I know that you are very kind to give us your time right now because you are leaving this interview and you are heading to the funeral services that are planned for a little bit later this morning of Michael Crane, the officer from Riverside who was one of the targeted victims, who was murdered, at this point believed to be murdered by Christopher Dorner.
This is his funeral procession as it makes its way through Riverside, and I know that you will be joining up with this funeral procession and those who are mourning the loss of this officer.
I want to know how soon you believe we will get the positive i.d., and when you say you're availing yourselves in L.A. and those in San Bernardino to help make that positive i.d. happen, how soon do you think we will get that information?
VILLARAIGOSA: Well, in talking to Chief Beck earlier, I said -- I used the word "absolute certainty". Right now, there's a reasonable belief that it is the body of Christopher Dorner. Once we have a reasonable certainty, maybe not an absolute one, we may pull back from the protective detail.
But the -- in terms of an absolute certainty, that could take weeks. I'm not a forensic expert. I can't tell you exactly how long it'll take. It may be much sooner than that. I'll let the experts speculate how long it would take. But as I understand it, it could take hours, days, maybe even weeks.
BANFIELD: Well, let's hope that, given the utmost importance of this case, they can actually do this quickly without any red tape and without any of the other issues that often backlog that kind of work from happening.
Let me move on to the million dollar reward. It was touched upon briefly by Lieutenant Andy Neiman of the LAPD. I understand that it is for the arrest and capture of Mr. Dorner. Well, that's not necessarily possible, but I do know that those two maids who were tied up, who ultimately may have been able to provide the wheels that were eventually in motion towards stopping Dorner, might they qualify for any of that money?
VILLARAIGOSA: They very well may qualify, and the reason why I spearheaded the effort to raise the money for this reward is Chief Beck asked that we do everything we can to incentivize people to come forward. And I want to acknowledge all of the county and city officials from Riverside and Irvine who helped out here and, of course, it may be that these people will qualify. That will be a determination made by the city attorney's office, not me or the police department, as Andy Neiman said. But if they qualify, they'll get the money. It's as simple as that.
BANFIELD: Mayor Villaraigosa, it's good that you spoke to those who have been living in fear after this now reign of Christopher Dorner is over. And I think that the family members and friends of Officer Crain, whose funeral you're about to attend, will likely appreciate it greatly as well. Thanks so much for your time and thank god this is likely over.
VILLARAIGOSA: Yes, thank God.
BANFIELD: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joining us from Los Angeles on his way, again, to that funeral. We showed you the funeral procession just a little bit earlier on.
And when we come back, we are going to take you to the scene of the crime. You will hear things that are absolutely remarkable. The gunfire, the showdown, the fire that ultimately may have led to the death of the man who held Southern California at bay for over two weeks.
BANFIELD: We just heard an LAPD news conference at the fiery end, and we think it is the end, of the manhunt for Christopher Dorner. A burned corpse recovered from this cabin where Dorner holed up near Big Bear, east of Los Angeles. We do not have ultimate forensic confirmation that it's Dorner, but the next best thing. Police somewhat standing down. Not completely, but somewhat.
We also don't know how this cabin ended up catching fire. We do have some remarkable audio that was captured by one of the reporters who found himself right there in the middle of it all as it unfolded. You have got to hear this firefight.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CARTER EVANS, KCAL REPORTER: I hear some screaming.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BANFIELD: And as for the fire, we do know that police used smoke bombs and that Dorner apparently did as well. Here is more from our L.A. affiliate KCAL and the reporter who was in the middle of that, Carter Evans.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It sounds like police officials were trying to move Carter out of the area to a safer area.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Burn it down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Burn that god (EXPLETIVE DLETED) down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Burn that (EXPLETIVIE DELETED) house down. Burn it down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get going right now. (EXPLETIVE DELETED), burn that (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BANFIELD: CNN's Miguel Marquez joins me now live from Big Bear.
Those are pretty incredible words to hear and I just want to repeat, for those who may not have seen the words on the screen: "Burn it down. Burn it down, shoot the gas. Get the gas. Burn the gas, burn the gas, burn the gas." And a lot of other expletives as well.
Miguel, this is getting a lot of traction and a lot of people are asking questions as to whether it's possible those deputies who responded to this may have intentionally burned Christopher Dorner inside that cabin.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's hard for me to add anything at this point. San Bernardino is not -- the sheriff's office is not speaking to those points at the moment.
What you hear on those tapes, though, is a very rushed, first blush of what went on there that afternoon. It sounds to me like they may have been saying use the gas. I understood, about an hour before they actually went in, that they were planning to do that. It is -- typically if they employ gas like that, they are trying to flush the person out. They believe that there were no hostages in that cabin, so it's not clear that they were intentionally trying to set fire to the cabin.
It would be harsh for me to believe that they were, but tensions were obviously very high with one officer down, and probably they knew he was dead by that time, and the other one injured badly, so it was a very, very tense afternoon up here, Ashleigh. BANFIELD: And, Miguel, just the notion that whenever there's a tactical operation, we in the media are used to hearing, "Please lay off the live locations. Please take your helicopters away for your safety, for ours, and let us do our jobs without the suspect potentially being able to track our very move."
And for that reason, many of us in the press were unable to witness exactly what happened in those last moments. But were there any people who did get a firsthand view of how that fire started?
MARQUEZ: Look, there was concern among law enforcement that Mr. Dorner may have been monitoring either television, radio, both, or even the Internet. They believe his phone went on at one point. It is possible they had some communication with him inside that cabin. We don't know whether or not they actually did, whether there was any offer of surrender, whether or not he wanted to come out of that cabin at any point. He certainly has left zero indication that he did, and he clearly had a deep hatred for all law enforcement, no matter where they were.
I do want to take you back a little bit, though, because the other thing going on here is that San Bernardino is retracing their steps in how all of this played out. You know, last Thursday, Mr. Dorner burned his truck on a forest road right between the ski valleys here and then around 12:30 yesterday afternoon, those two cleaning ladies discovered him in a house. That house is about a mile, maybe a mile and a half, from where his truck was burned.
It may be the case that he was in that house for several days, literally right under the nose of San Bernardino sheriff's office, and not -- until these two women came in to clean this house, he stole their car. That was shot up by Fish and Game officials. Then he stole the truck. Then he crashed that. Then he fled into the woods, into that cabin, shot and killed one of those deputies, injured another. And then you saw what happened yesterday afternoon.
There are a lot -- a lot -- of questions that need to be asked and answered. And, at this point, by San Bernardino sheriff's office. Ashleigh?
BANFIELD: All right, Miguel Marquez joining us live now from the Big Bear area.
And joining me now on the phone is CNN contributor and former FBN assistant director Tom Fuentes. Tom, you were one of the first people I thought of when I heard these terms that were being used.
And I just want to go over this again so everyone is absolutely clear what was recorded from the officers who were responding at that ultimate location of the fire.
"Burn it down. Burn it down, shoot the gas. Get the gas. Burn the gas, burn the gas, burn the gas. Hey, hold it, hold it. Get out. Get the f--- out."
I suspect that is the reporter who is being told by the officers to get out of the way of this very dangerous situation.
Tom, is there any -- is anyone founded if they think that this was an intentional burning alive of the suspect?
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR (via telephone): Good morning, Ashleigh. I don't know, you know, really how to respond to the recordings, basically. You hear the confusion. You hear the -- you hear almost panic on the part of whoever is talking on that microphone. And that's not normal.
In a SWAT operation, they're highly disciplined, highly professional. There's not going to be that kind of shouting and, of course, the terminology, "burn it down", and things like that. So, I just don't -- it doesn't fit what I'm normally used to in an operation this difficult.
BANFIELD: Well, is there -- Tom, is there --
FUENTS: You wouldn't hear comments like that, so I just don't know. And I think that, as Miguel said, the sheriff's department's going to have a lot of questions to answer about who was making those statements on the radio and why.
BANFIELD: And let's be really clear, there were two officers who were fired at. One of them today is dead. The other one is in the hospital, having undergone surgery, because of exactly what was going on inside that cabin. Is it potentially even justified that you want to take out the suspect no matter what you use, be it bullets, be it fire, be it gas? Is it possibly justified that they did intend to burn down the cabin?
FUENTES: Normally, I would say, no, it's not justified. If he was in the process of actively shooting at those officers that moment, then they would have to return fire. But if there was any chance that he could surrender, they would have to accept his surrender. So, as soon as the subject called it off, if you will, and stopped the aggressive action and wants to surrender, you have to allow that process, allow him to surrender and take him into custody.
Now, in this case, when they don't see him and don't exactly what's going on -- and we don't know exactly, this moment, whoever is yelling in that microphone is seeing. And I think that's the important thing here, so there could be other factors leading to this -- leading to him to shout that.
But in a way rather than just fire bullets at that cabin, if he was firing at them at that point for any reason -- but you don't hear it in the regard in recording, you would think you would hear gunshots in the background -- so I am really at a loss to explain why, if that's an officer yelling those commands and yelling, "Burn it down," I really don't understand why that would be the case.
BANFIELD: All right. Well, listen, I don't -- I am certainly a novice when it comes to the tactical equipment that can be used in a situation like this, but I think it might have been you at one point during the live reporting referred to something called a "burner". Was that you? And exactly -- if it wasn't you, do you know anything about what a burner is, if it's a device that's used?
FUENTES: No, I didn't -- I didn't hear that term in the coverage yesterday and I didn't use it. What I said was that some of the devices used in a tactical -- especially when they're going to assault (ph) the location and attempt to either apprehend, or if it's hostages, rescue hostages, if they use what's termed a "flash bomb", which is a grenade simulator, it makes a tremendous noise,