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Boston Bombings Personal For One ICE Official; Interview With Ken Feinberg; Boylston Street Reopens To The Public; GOP Releases Benghazi Report; More Items Banned For Kentucky Derby; Defense Rests In Abortion Doctor Trial; Charges Dropped After Ricin Arrest

Aired April 24, 2013 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper live in Boston.

For one Immigration and Customs Enforcement official, the investigation into the bombings is not just business but personal. Richard Coleman was standing with friends and family at the finish line when the bombs went off. He is with ICE's enforcement and removal operations program. And he is here with me now.

Richard, you saw the blasts.


TAPPER: You were there at the scene. You're coming forward, telling your story for the first time. Tell it.

COLEMAN: We were at Forum. One of my friends was running the marathon --

TAPPER: Forum is the restaurant right near here --

COLEMAN: -- where the second explosion happened. We received the text notification she was nearing the finish line. So, we went on the patio area to finish our last drink and then we were going to walk outside to meet her at the finish line.

Right when I walked out, the first explosion went off down the street. My friends, Michaela that I was with told me that I said oh, my God, it's a bomb. Right as I said that the second explosion went off right next to us. It was probably about somewhere between five and ten feet from where we were standing on the patio. Michaela and I fell on the ground or were knocked over. I'm not sure.

So I stood there -- sat there for a moment trying to get my bearings and figure out what to do. Michaela got up and started running into the restaurant. So, I chased after her. We found one of our other friends, her husband that was in there at the time and started heading out the rear where security was directing everyone to go. At that time, I realized my fourth friend I was with was nowhere around. So, I stopped. Like I got to find him before we go. You guys go, I'll meet you out back. While I was walking around the restaurant, I remember that I was wearing a work jacket they give us, it resembles like a North Face jacket and there are panels inside of it that you can pull out and say police.

So, I pulled those out, and the people that were hiding in corners or still wandering around I directed them to the back. Everyone seemed relatively calmly to go single file out the back. Nobody was panicking really. There was crying and screaming, but still going as instructed. So I went to stand by the back.

And as I'm standing by the back, probably the first five to ten people saw the police on my jacket. And oh, thank God, the police are here. OK. It seemed to make them feel a little bit better. But then the next five or ten people walked by and kind of just gave me a once- over up and down with like a wide-eyed look, but they didn't say anything to me. They just continued to walk. And finally someone walked by and she was like you know you're like bleeding to death right now, right? And I looked down and I was standing in about a two-foot circumference pool of my own blood. A piece of the bomb had gone into my foot and the lower leg area.

TAPPER: Into your left foot. You have a cast on it right now.

COLEMAN: Yes. It had severed the artery in my leg, so I was bleeding to death in the restaurant. So, at that point --

TAPPER: You hadn't felt anything.

COLEMAN: No. I was walking around the restaurant with, well, I thought perfectly normal. If I ever got a view of the video from Forum, I might be walking around like a zombie for all I know.

TAPPER: And tell us how your leg is.

COLEMAN: Immensely better this week. I'll have to be in a cast for six weeks. I have most of my parts, some of the tendons and muscles were torn out by the blast -- the shrapnel I got hit by. So, they said I should probably get somewhere between 80 percent and 90 percent use of my foot back.

TAPPER: But you're not going to lose --

COLEMAN: No. Not going to lose any part of my foot.

TAPPER: And your same unit with Immigration and Customs Enforcement was involved in this operation the other night in Watertown.

COLEMAN: Yes. I can't go into too many details. The investigation is still ongoing. But my specific unit was in Watertown (INAUDIBLE). and I would have been there had I not been injured in the blast as well. So watching that on TV was a little aggravating.

TAPPER: Well, we're so glad you are okay.

COLEMAN: Thank you. TAPPER: So grateful the wound wasn't more serious.

COLEMAN: Thank you.

TAPPER: And thank you for the work you did that day.

COLEMAN: Thank you.

TAPPER: Really appreciate, and to all of the officials out there. You're kind of a stand in. Thank you so much. Appreciate your time. Good luck with the healing.

COLEMAN: Thank you.

TAPPER: When we come back, putting a price on tragedy. There's already been an outpouring of generosity since the Boston bombings. Yesterday, Mayor Thomas Menino announced the charitable foundation The One Fund has raised $20 million for the victims of the terrorist attack in just the first week since the attack.

I spoke to the man that now has the difficult decision of deciding who gets what, attorney Ken Feinberg.


TAPPER: And Ken Feinberg joins me now. Mr. Feinberg, thanks for joining us.

Explain to us how you come up with the formula. You're in charge of this $20 million fund. How do you decide who is more worthy of more money? You have a double amputee in the hospital. On the other hand, you have the Richard family. They lost their son, a daughter lost a leg. The mother is in the hospital with serious health issues as a result of this terrorist attack. How do you make a decision about who gets what?

KEN FEINBERG, ONE FUND BOSTON ADMINISTRATOR: It's an excruciating challenge. First, you want to hear from the families themselves. What do they think? What does the public think? We usually conduct one or two town hall meetings in Boston, inviting everybody who has an interest to come and listen and voice their views.

Then we look at what has worked in the past. 9/11, Aurora, Virginia Tech, the Indiana state fair, a wind storm. And building on what we've learned works in the past, we come up with a protocol that will guide us going forward with individual claims.

TAPPER: Is there -- I hate to sound crude about it, but there is something crude about the mathematics of this all. Is there a certain figure that people who have lost a limb get? Is there a certain figure that people who have lost a family member get? How does it work?

FEINBERG: First, how much money is there? I mean, in every one of these funds, there's a different amount. And you have to stop with the proposition there's only so much money for such horrific, tragic injuries and deaths.

So, you first decide what's the total amount that's available, how much should be allocated to those who lost a loved one. The three victims of the bombing and the M.I.T. police officer. How much should be then reserved for life-altering, horrific injuries -- as you say, amputees? Single amputees, double amputees. And then you say, is there anybody else who's been in the hospital for weeks, maybe months that also should be included?

And it sort of builds on itself, Jake. There's only so much money for such terrible, life altering circumstances that guides the decision making process.

TAPPER: And an important part of this as you've said is you meeting with the families, talking about how this money cannot make them whole. What else do you tell the families when you meet with them?

FEINBERG: First of all, it is, when you meet with individual families, in confidence, private meetings, it's very emotional. Mr. Feinberg, keep the money. I don't want the money. Bring my son back. Bring my wife back. Bring my husband back. I can't do that, you explain. I can only do a small thimble of your tragedy of the crisis you confront, provide some financial help that may help you move forward as best you can.

You do not begin to try and place yourself in the shoes of these survivors. It's very, very emotional. Much more emotional than substantive.

TAPPER: Lastly, Mr. Feinberg, you've been involved in so many of these excruciating and horrible cases -- 9/11, Aurora -- but you are actually from around here. You're from Brockton, about 20 miles away from Boston. Does the fact that you are basically a son of Boston make this even more difficult than perhaps some of the other cases?

FEINBERG: No. I don't think it makes it more difficult. I think it sort of reinforces my resolve as a high school graduate of Brockton High School and as a graduate of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. So I was raised in Massachusetts, and I'd like to think it's not a problem but rather - it's sort of -- I'm very sympathetic to Boston and to the commonwealth. The mayor asked me to do this, the governor asked me to do it. And I'll do it to the best of my ability.

TAPPER: All right. Ken Feinberg, thank you so much for joining us and good luck on this very, very difficult job.

FEINBERG: Thanks very much.


Last week, it was the site of a terrorist attack. Today, Boyleston Street right behind me is back in business as the people of Boston reclaim their neighborhood. We'll take you to the spot where it all went down.

And he's accused of killing babies that survived abortions. We'll have the latest in the Kermit Gosnell case. That's next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper live in Boston.

While the barricades on Boylston Street right behind me are gone, scars remain of a city battered but not broken. The street, which had been a crime scene since the bombings, reopened early this morning. Throughout the day, it's attracted everyone from mourners to tourists to those seeking a much-needed return to normalcy or something close to it.


TAPPER (voice-over): Today Copley Square turned from a crime scene back into the heart of Boston. The blood has been washed off the streets, but the wounds here are still fresh. And Bostonians gathered at the makeshift spontaneous memorial today to remember those taken from us by last week's horrific, senseless acts of terrorism.

Everywhere you looked, the names of the four who were killed. Officer Sean Collier, Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu, and little Martin Richard. Alicia Capobianco works down the street. She and her colleagues were back at work for the first time today, but they all came with flowers to pay their respects.

ALICIA CAPOBIANCO, BOSTON RESIDENT: In the aftermath I think it feels good that everyone - WHEN we all came to work today and hugged each other, which we would never normally wouldn't do that, you know. You know, everyone just feels closer now I think.

TAPPER: Fields of flowers piled up. American flags flooded in the spring breeze. Abandoned running shoes hung from the fence. Red Sox caps lined the bricks. Baseballs for Little League's fallen Martin Richard.

(on camera): Martin, this season is for you. This is where Krystle Campbell, the 29-year-old, was killed. That's where she worked at the summer shack.

(voice-over): Symbols of mourning, a rubber ducky policeman for Officer Collier. A symbol presumably left to honor Lingzi Lu. Thousands of Bostonians and others were drawn here today. Hundreds left handwritten messages to the victims and to the city.

Amy Falk wrote, may their memories be a blessing.

(on camera): What brought you here today?

AMY FALK, BOSTON RESIDENT: I'm a photographer as my hobby and I just really wanted to capture this moment.

TAPPER: You're not just capturing it. You're part of it.

FALK: Really, unfortunately, this sad time has made me feel very connected to my city.

TAPPER (voice-over): At times the emotions were overwhelming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Orioles. We're from Baltimore.

TAPPER: People were here to help. A team of therapy dogs were on hand, a friendly face and a wagging tail to provide comfort. But Copley Square today was weighed down with a powerful sorrow. Intangible feelings manifested in mountains of symbols. The grief literally piled up all around us.


TAPPER: So many enduring images from the aftermath of the terrorist attacks here, a heart wrenching picture on the cover of this week's "Time" magazine. A boy, his hair covered in blood, wrapped in the arms of a first responder.

"Time" magazine tells us the boy's family has released a statement through a spokesman saying, quote, "The family of the young boy pictured on the cover of this week's "Time" magazine would like the world to know that their son is at home and doing fine.

The family has been deeply touched by the outpouring of concern and support from around the world and ask that the media please respect their privacy and not contact them. They will not be commenting any further.

More than 150,000 people are expected to show up for the Kentucky Derby so how do you keep a crowd that big safe after the Boston bombings?

And House Republicans are accusing Hillary Clinton of signing off on a reduction of security before the Benghazi attack. That's next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper in Boston. Some other big stories we're watching while here in Boston today. One day after a House Republican report blamed Hillary Clinton for the attacks at Benghazi, they are demanding that President Obama release the cable with her signature that they say proves it.

House Republicans say Secretary of State Clinton personally signed off on cuts in security at the diplomatic mission in Libya before the attack last year that claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Top House Democrats are saying they were not consulted by Republican chairman and they're blasting the report as partisan.

Last year more than 165,000 people were there, a record crowd. This year Churchill Downs is beefing up security for the Kentucky Derby following the Boston marathon bomb blast. Officials say with a crowd so large they'll need the fans' help -- coolers, cans, fireworks, and camcorders now on the list of banned items. All changes after the terror attack in Boston. We've heard weeks of horrifying testimony in the murder trial of a Philadelphia abortion doctor, but today when the defense got its turn it rested without calling a single witness. Dr. Kermit Gosnell is accused of performing abortions on women well beyond the 24-week cut-off for legal abortions in Pennsylvania. In some cases prosecutors say Gosnell killed babies who were born alive. Gosnell has pleaded not guilty. Closing arguments are expected to begin on Monday.

As Boston recovers from an appalling act of terrorism there will be some chilling reminders of the day our nation was thrust into the war on terrorism when the George W. Bush Presidential Library opens to the public for the first time tomorrow in Dallas. John King sits down with President Bush for a rare interview that you can see exclusively on an "AC 360" special tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

Up next, a poisoned letter addressed to President Obama. Now the man that police first took into custody, an Elvis impersonator, says he was framed. We'll tell you who he thinks set him up.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper live in Boston. It wasn't exactly lost in the headlines. We did report on the ricin laced letters sent to President Obama, Senator Roger Wicker and a judge in Mississippi, but the story just kind of went away after the FBI announced an arrest. It turns out the strangest twists were yet to come.


TAPPER (voice-over): Any other week it would have been the top story. Letters poisoned with deadly ricin sent to the president, to a senator, a county judge, evacuations at Senate office buildings, and panic in mail rooms across the nation's capitol.

That is how it went after 9/11 when someone sent letters laced with anthrax to senators and media outlets, but the ricin scare happened to coincide with the terror attack on Boston and an explosion in Texas that makes you want to duck every time you see it on TV.

Fourteen dead, hundreds hurt, entire blocks levelled. Don't forget about the time to build ark level floods in the Midwest. Amidst all this suddenly some creepy and potentially deadly letters were mailed to our public officials thankfully intercepted well before they got within sneezing distance of those officials.

At that point, it was pretty much the least of the nation's worries. Besides, authorities caught the guy or so they claimed. The FBI arrested Paul Kevin Curtis of Corinth, Mississippi, an Elvis impersonator.

It started to look as though the only number Curtis would be doing for a while would be "Jail House Rock." But then this happened.

(on camera): Breaking news on a shocking turn into the investigation into ricin laced letters.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": Those charges have been dropped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A short time later Curtis was released from custody.

TAPPER (voice-over): That's right. Elvis had left the building. The FBI admitted they did not have anything on him and they released him.

PAUL KEVIN CURTIS, FORMER RICIN SUSPECT: When you've been charged with something you just never heard of ricin or whatever, I thought they said rice so I said I don't even eat rice.

TAPPER: Curtis and his attorneys maintain that he was set up by an acquaintance with a grudge.

CHRISTI MCCOY, ATTORNEY FOR PAUL KEVIN CURTIS: The government was able to basically find another suspect who we believe is the true perpetrator of this heinous crime.

TAPPER: The FBI has not named as a suspect that other man Jay Everett Dutschke, but Dutschke's lawyer confirms to CNN that agents did search his home in connection with the ricin investigation. Today they searched his former karate studio where he taught martial arts. Curtis says there's been bad blood between them for some time now.

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, CNN'S "PIERS MORGAN LIVE": Have you had a long going feud with him?

CURTIS (via telephone): Yes, several years. He's been showing up on my radar. People in town coming to me asking do you know this guy hate you?

TAPPER: Dutschke's lawyer says he once worked for Curtis's brother, but hasn't had any communication with Curtis since 2010. The attorney claims not to know what beef they may have had. Dutschke does say he exchanged heated e-mails with Curtis over this.

JAMES EVERETT DUTSCHKE, SAYS FBI SEARCHED HIS HOME: I was very upset with him for posting a fake Mensa certificate on a web site. He is not a Mensa member.

TAPPER: Mensa, the high I.Q. society. So now life moves forward for Curtis who knew exactly what his first move would be as a free man.

CURTIS: Find my dog Muchow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Muchow got away during the arrest.

CURTIS: She got loose when Homeland Security swarmed in on me when I went to check my mail.

TAPPER: The next time Curtis laces up his blue suede shoes he can take comfort in maintaining this perfect track record.

CURTIS: Been to jail over 20 times and I've never been convicted of anything.


TAPPER: Mensa indeed. So far the FBI is not commenting on what role if any Everett Dutschke may have played in this increasingly weird investigation.

That's it for me in Boston. I'm Jake Tapper and this is THE LEAD. I now leave you in the able hands of my friend and colleague, Wolf Blitzer, who is right this minute in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

BLITZER: Jake, thanks very much.