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CNN NEWSROOM

George Zimmerman Trial Continues; Gym Owner Testifies For Defense; NTSB: Looking At Actions Of Crew; NTSB: 1,400 Parameters Recorded During Flight

Aired July 8, 2013 - 14:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we are watching the Zimmerman trial. The most recent defense witness that just took the stand, his name is Adam Pollock. He owns a gym there in Sanford, Florida. Let's listen to what he has to say.

ADAM POLLACK, GYM OWNER/TRAINER: That's what I do now.

MARK O'MARA, ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: OK. When you say competitive athlete, tell us a bit more about what that means.

POLLACK: I started off as a child playing a variety of competitive sports, including soccer, basketball, and racquetball. I actually toured for a while as a pro am racquetball, fighting for boxing and Muay Thai.

O'MARA: Tell me -- let's focus, then, on the experience you've had in fighting and tell me about that.

POLLACK: I've been involved in fight training for the majority of my life. I started competing regularly after about 18. I did that for quite a few years.

O'MARA: What type of competing are you speaking of?

POLLACK: For Muay Thai work.

O'MARA: And explain, if you would to the jury, what that is for those of us who don't know.

POLLACK: It's very much like boxing, but it's another ring sport like boxing, but with Muay Thai, you're allowed to punch, kick, knee, elbow, clinch, you can hold and hit.

O'MARA: Is that, I guess, closer to what we might call kickboxing?

POLLACK: Yes.

O'MARA: And you competed in that?

POLLACK: Correct.

O'MARA: For how many years? POLLACK: I don't know exactly, quite a few.

O'MARA: OK.

POLLACK: During that time, what else -- what other training did you do? How else did you involve yourself in this industry?

POLLACK: I've been around weight training my whole life. My brother's a former Mr. USA and a nationally ranked bodybuilder and power lifter. So I just grew up in the gym. I have a fairly extensive background, you know, as far as the weight training and I also have a background with competitive Kettlebell lifting.

O'MARA: Have you ever assisted in other activities around the ring or for other fighters who are in the ring?

POLLACK: Absolutely.

O'MARA: What would that include?

POLLACK: Corners for both amateur and professional fighters for all different levels of competition.

O'MARA: What does working the corner mean?

POLLACK: When you take the fighter to compete, somebody has to take care of the athlete. So when they come back to the coroner between rounds, we're actually preparing them to go out to compete. And then when they come back to the corner between rounds, you have to make sure and give them water and any type of cuts, bruising, icing, et cetera, you have to address accordingly in a very short period of time and then send them back out to do the next round.

O'MARA: If I asked you to guesstimate how many times you were a corner man --

POLLACK: Too many to count.

O'MARA: OK. And this is, again, during the same time that you have been involved in this industry both during Muay Thai training and competing and other fighting?

POLLACK: Yes. Yes, this has been consistent over the last 20-plus years.

O'MARA: If I were to say the term MMA to you, what would you interpret that to mean?

POLLACK: Mixed martial arts, which is a competitive fighting sport, it has gotten extremely popular recently.

O'MARA: And is that the stuff that we see if we watch such things on TV where you see almost sort a mix of kickboxing, regular boxing and whatever else you can do?

POLLACK: Yes. In mixed martial arts, it's basically you can do, you know, almost an amalgamation of boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, jujitsu, submission grappling to where, you know, you can punch, kick, et cetera, and then when you get onto the ground, you can work submission holds, chokes, arm locks, leg locks, things of that nature.

O'MARA: And so within the context of MMA, there are a lot of different disciplines -- or are there many --

KEILAR: Let's take a break just for a moment from the Zimmerman trial and go to the briefing by the NTSB on the very latest in that Asiana Airlines 777 crash. You may know that San Francisco fire authorities say one of their units may have actually impacted or come into contact with one of the crash victims amid reports that one of the victims -- one of the two who were killed may have actually been hit by one of the vehicles. Let's listen to the chairwoman of the NTSB.

DEBORAH HERSMAN, CHAIRWOMAN, NTSB: -- accident investigation board. They are our counterparts from Korea and they are supported by their technical advisers, Asiana Airlines. The NTSB employs a party system to help us in our investigations. We rely on our parties to provide us information to assist us, and particularly to provide technical expertise.

So, for example, with the manufacturer of the aircraft, Boeing, that would be about the design and the function and the performance of the aircraft, Pratt & Whitney, it would be the engines. We have a number of activities that we're undertaking. I'm going to talk to you about our ops, our operations, and our human performance team.

They have documented the cockpit, the switch positions and locations. They also have located the pilot flight bags and the charts that they used for flight. They found the appropriate charts for the airport and the approach in place in the cockpit. They are now reviewing manuals and training.

They're working to conduct 72-hour work/rest histories and those 72- hour histories are really looking at the pilot's flight and duty time, their rest opportunities, and the activities that have taken place in the days leading up to the crash.

In our investigations, we're often looking for things that might affect human performance like fatigue, like illnesses or medication, like health issues. And so we will be looking at all of those things to see if there are any impacts on their ability to perform their jobs.

We are working to interview all four pilots that were on the aircraft coming into San Francisco. There were two pilots, and many of you all have talked about those two pilots. It was a captain who was working on his initial operating experience on the 777.

He was an experienced pilot and a prior captain, but he was working on getting his rating on the 777 and getting initial operating experience on the 777. He was also flying with a check captain or a training captain.

And then there were two other crew members, another captain and first officer who were also flying. Again, remember, this is a very long transpacific flight. And so the four crew members are there for relief so that the others can get rest.

When we interview those four crew members, we are going to get a lot more details about their activities, about their work, about their training, about who was the pilot flying, who was the pilot in command in the cockpit at the time of the accident. We're going to be looking to correlate all of that information with what we are finding on the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder.

It was important for us to wait until the arrival of our Korean counterparts at the K-Rab and also Asiana, when we conduct interviews, we utilize the party process. We do group interviews, and we've got pilots who also might need translation services during those interviews. We want to make sure that those interviews are effective and that they're comprehensive.

I know you all have a lot of questions about the pilots and their training. I will tell you that when we brief tomorrow, I hope to have a lot more information about the pilots just to head off some of those questions that I may not be able to answer today until those interviews are complete.

Our ATC team has looked back through communications, through voice communications, and as I shared with you yesterday, we have no evidence of any distress calls or any problem reports with respect to the aircraft prior to the accident.

We will be reviewing data for prior flights coming into San Francisco in the hours and the days prior to the accident. Particularly on the accident runway to see if there were any issues associated with the recent runway construction or the glide slope outage.

This crew was vectored in for a 17-mile, straight-in, final visual approach. They were vectored in from the Northern California trey con, which is located near Sacramento. Asiana 214 reported that they had the airport in sight. They were cleared for the visual approach and they transitioned to tower control.

They were cleared to land by the tower. And then there was the accident sequence and the subsequent launch of the emergency responders on the airport property. Some of that we've already talked about yesterday. I have seen and heard some reports about a 4,000- per-minute -- 4,000-foot-per-minute descent rate.

They have reviewed the radar data. And the group that reviewed the initial FAA radar data have indicated that there's no abnormally steep descent curve that's been detected in the data that they have. Our power plants team has conducted an on-scene examination of the two engines.

They indicate those preliminary evaluations indicate that both of the engines were producing power at the time of impact. And this is consistent with information that we also see on the flight data recorder. There was no evidence of an un-containment. The number two engine was found adjacent to the fuselage, and there's evidence of high rotation at impact. The number one engine was found liberated from the aircraft and exhibits severe rotational damage. We also took fuel samples from the aircraft for testing.

The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder groups are beginning to convene in Washington. We will create groups who will listen to the flight data recorder and help transcribe. We want to have people on that cockpit voice recorder group who are familiar with the aircraft and any noises or sounds or alerts that might come from that aircraft.

We also want to make sure that we have Korean speakers on that group as well. There's a mix of English and Korean heard on the cockpit voice recorder. Those teams will begin their work, looking at the two-hour cockpit voice recorder and transcribing the sections that they believe are most relevant to our accident investigation. The flight data recorder group will be validating the parameters on the recorder.

As I mentioned yesterday, this is a recorder that has data on it, and there are 1,400 different parameters that are measured by the recorder. We want to make sure that we understand those parameters, what they represent, and make sure that the information that's on there, the data on there --

KEILAR: You are watching the chairwoman of the NTSB give a press conference there on the Asiana airlines flight that crashed on Saturday, the 777 at SFO. Let's bring in now for reaction Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, you know him, former U.S. Airways captain and CBS News aviation and safety consultant. He's live with us from New York.

Chesley, I guess one of my first questions here -- and we're sort of getting a sense of this now that we know from the NTSB -- this pilot was not the main pilot. He obviously had thousands of hours of experience on commercial aircraft. But this was the first time that he brought a 777 into SFO.

And I'm wondering from your perspective, should he have been allowed to be in this position, having so few hours, and also being in an airport he was unfamiliar with and certainly an airport that provides some challenges with such a big aircraft?

CHESLEY SULLENBERGER, FORMER U.S. AIRWAYS CAPTAIN: Well, that's -- certainly that's something that's going to be looked at. Let me take a moment from personal experience, one of the things I enjoyed the most at the airline a period when I was a supervisory captain and instructor. We were hiring new pilot, and I got to fly with pilots who had gone through the classroom training.

They had several thousands of flight experience before they came to the airline. And I got to fly with them on passenger flights and sign them off as being completely qualified to fly with regular line captains. I also got to fly with captains who were new who had been first officers who had been through all the training to become a captain.

I would be flying in the right seat supervising them as they took on new captain duties. It's a very controlled environment. People are professional and have well-defined roles and responsibilities and we take those very seriously. So that in itself isn't really an issue if it's done well.

Everyone at some point is new to an airplane. Even if you have 10,000 hours, there still is that time when you're new to a particular type of airplane. And at least in this country, there are restrictions we put on them about how low visibility can be, what kind of airports you can go to when you haven't gotten as much experience in that particular type of airplane yet.

In fact, four years ago on the Hudson River flight, my first officer, Jeff Skiles, was brand new to the airbus. He had 20,000 hours, but he just finished his initial training. So it happens as a matter of course every day at every airline. And that itself is not inherently an issue. Of course, they'll be looking closely at all the human factors.

Was there fatigue? Was the training good enough? How well did this particular crew work together on that flight? The fact that he was checking out as a new captain on the 777 isn't in and of itself a real problem necessarily.

KEILAR: And then sully, one of the other things is that there doesn't appear to have been if you're a passenger on this flight, there was no indication that something was going wrong until it was very much going wrong. You famously said to the passengers on the flight that landed on the Hudson after striking geese, you got on and said, this is the captain. Brace for impact. You gave them a heads up.

Looking -- I know we look at sort of the time here, that it was a second and a half prior to impact that they were thinking they could do a go around, which obviously wasn't going to happen, but should someone have gotten on and been communicating with folks who were on the plane? Do you think that that was necessary and certainly could have prepared them more?

SULLENBERGER: There likely wasn't time in this particular case. What we will be looking at -- what investigators will be looking at also -- again, among all the human factors that may have led to this, all of the how, the what and the why that went on in this flight is how did they get to that point before action was taken to begin to rectify it?

So that really is going to be part of the human factors analysis is how did they get to this point so late in the flight where recovery apparently was not possible? We have, in all our procedures of all the major airlines, certain checks and balances to monitor and help and assist each other in the flying of the airplane. The pilot flying has certain responsibilities.

The pilot monitoring has certain responsibilities and we have certain protocols that we follow. At a certain point prior to landing at a certain altitude, a certain distance from the runway, we must be stabilized with the wings level at the proper descent rate, the proper speed, the proper altitude all the way from that point to the runway. If we're not, we're required to go around. So we need to find out why they didn't.

KEILAR: Sully, speaking of that, we have some CNN exclusive video of the moment the plane makes impact. When you talk about being in exactly the right position, the wings level, and certainly in this case the nose, can you react to this as you see what's happening?

SULLENBERGER: It's very difficult to tell. I think it certainly looks abnormal. It looks as though the airplane is at a very high angle of attack. Too close to the ground. And ultimately obviously it's unrecoverable. We will know much more from the detailed analysis of the digital flight data recorder from the information on the cockpit voice recorder, from the pilot interviews.

The investigators have huge advantages in this accident investigation that the pilot survived and can't be interviewed and helped to understand what happened and why. The flight recorder, the data -- the cockpit voice recorder have been recovered and begun to be analyzed. All the wreckage is itself on an airport easily accessible. It's not at the bottom of the South Atlantic where it was with France 447. They will find all the answers but it's going to take many months. The final report may require a year, year and a half to be written.

KEILAR: Captain Sully Sullenberger, thank you very much for your perspective. We appreciate it. We're going to go back to the Zimmerman trial. They did just go over MMA fighting moves in the courtroom. We'll tell you exact reply why that was. We'll have more ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: This is a gym owner who trained George Zimmerman in mixed martial arts in the weeks leading up to the death of Trayvon Martin. He actually showcased some of the moves that he showed Zimmerman on the defense attorney. He's a witness for the defense. We'll show you that in a second, but first let's listen in.

O'MARA: -- where would Mr. Zimmerman fit?

POLLACK: Like I said, about a one.

O'MARA: Generally in his overall athleticism as well?

POLLACK: Well, as far as what I'm looking at in the gym, yes.

O'MARA: This talk about his proficiency in the boxing that he took, first of all, tell us what it is, what you do when you start out and what do you progress to as you learn more about boxing?

POLLACK: The way we first start in my facility is we start simply getting proficient within your own body so if you don't have control of your body, it's going to make sure -- it's not going to really facilitate other things working as well. So if I started somebody in the boxing ring sparring right off the bat before they know how to punch or defend or move, that's going to produce a pretty unpleasant result.

You know, so instead of creating that type of situation where it's a liability and people are just getting damaged, we'll start off learning how to control their body, calisthenics, footwork, ab work, just learning structural integrity and aligning their frame.

O'MARA: OK.

POLLACK: In the beginning.

O'MARA: And tell me, then, how Mr. Zimmerman came to you in the beginning, again, on a sort of scale of one to ten, as far as his boxing proficiency.

POLLACK: Like 0.5.

O'MARA: OK, and what did he do, then, along the way to progress?

POLLACK: He basically just took the normal classes that we offered and he was diligent about training and working hard. I mean, he was a hard worker. But even a hard worker without having some of that background is still going to take a certain amount of time of development. I've had guys that start off with tremendous levels of athleticism, and they can get themselves to a fighting level generally within about a year, sometimes to actually be a skilled competitor.

You know, because I don't throw people in the ring. You know, there are some gyms that they'll throw somebody in the ring. They've been there a couple weeks. They'll throw them in the ring if they get hurt, too bad. I don't do that. If somebody's not skilled, they don't get in the ring. That's all there is to it.

O'MARA: Did Mr. Zimmerman ever get in the ring?

POLLACK: No.

O'MARA: Why not?

POLLACK: Because he wasn't skilled enough for that. Mr. Zimmerman, you know, worked diligently at learning how to control his body better than what he had. You know, the steps that we'll start off with after all the calisthenics then we'll put the person on the heavy bag where they'll start to learn how to throw a punch.

And once they get proficient with that, then we'll pair them up with a partner where somebody would throw a punch at them and they learn how to defend the punch, catching, pairing, redirecting, stopping, et cetera. And then once they got proficient with that, then we'll start learning how to move with slipping and weaving and moving and shuffling and putting more movement to it.

O'MARA: At what point did George Zimmerman --

KEILAR: We'll have more from the George Zimmerman trial in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: We are listening to Adam Pollack, the owner of a gym who trained George Zimmerman in mixed martial arts moves. Some folks have asked why did Zimmerman use a gun to defend himself? Why would he have to do that if he was trained in mixed martial arts?

What we're hearing here from this witness for the defense is he's saying that he didn't even know how to effectively punch so certainly testifying at this point in favor of the defense. Let's listen into some more.

POLLACK: No, that's what he was working off of. You know. Those were the forms of exercise that he was engaging with. He did do a little bit of, you know, weight training on his own because we've got a facility where it's available for that. But that was not a consistent frequent thing.

O'MARA: And in your corner work, I presume that you've seen people getting injured in fights, correct?

POLLACK: Absolutely.

O'MARA: Almost every time?

POLLACK: No. Depending on the skill set of the athlete that's out there. I've had athletes get out there to fight and never even get hit and knock their opponent out. I've had other guys who come back to the corner and their eye is swelled completely shut.

O'MARA: You had an opportunity to see Mr. Zimmerman shortly after the altercation with Mr. Martin, correct?

POLLACK: Yes.

O'MARA: Can you tell the jury when that was?

POLLACK: I don't know the exact date, but I would say it was within a couple of days after the incident.

O'MARA: Describe, if you would, if you noticed what he looked like.

POLLACK: He had black eyes. His nose was scraped up. He had some bandages on his head and that as far as the obvious, you know, physical bruising that he had. He looked emotionally traumatized.