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Cop Mows Down Suspect with Car

Aired September 23, 2013 - 19:00:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight, public outrage over a graphic and horrific dash cam video that shows a cop mowing down a suspect and killing him with his police cruiser. The officer was fired, but he was never charged with any crime. Is this injustice?

I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live. Thanks so much for joining me.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It shows an officer running over Marlin Brown.

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY: And you determine whether he revved up that engine or not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The grand jury decided this week not to indict the officer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re hoping that everyone is going to take a look at the video, the objective evidence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And have fired the office who was behind the wheel.

CRUMP: We don`t understand how that is not vehicular manslaughter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You tell us what you see.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cops tried to pull over 38-year-old Marlin Brown for allegedly not wearing a seat belt. But instead of pulling over, Marlin ran. Ran. He jumped out of his car, and then he sprinted away behind a house. This is what followed.

We`ve got to warn you. The video is graphic, even though we`re not showing the actual moment when he`s run over. Watch.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: Like I said, very disturbing.

Now Marlin has an arrest record a mile long: more than two dozen arrests over 20 years. Friends say he might have been running from police because he was driving without a valid driver`s license, and he was afraid to go back to jail.

But Marlin`s family says his death is little more than an execution.


CRUMP: He went around those officers, went in the back yard through a vegetable garden at a high rate of speed. And you determine whether he revved up that engine or not with the intent of getting Marlin Brown. We don`t understand how this is not vehicular manslaughter.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The officer involved was fired, but a grand jury decided not to press any criminal charges. Marlin`s family won a $550,000 settlement but says justice has not been served.

So what do you think at home? Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586- 7297.

We have a fantastic Lion`s Den debate panel tonight, including the one and only actor Sheryl Lee Ralph, star of Nickelodeon`s "Instant Mom," and attorney Natalie Jackson, who worked for Trayvon Martin`s family.

Straight out to Sheryl Lee Ralph. You`ve seen the video. Do you think this officer should have been criminally charged?

SHERYL LEE RALPH, ACTRESS: Let me tell you something. First of all, it was a horrific video. If you saw the moment of impact, all I can say is imagine smashing pumpkins, except this was someone`s head. It was so horrific. The young man slipped. He -- his head came up, and he saw that car coming for him and it was horrible.

When there is any loss of life, you feel for those who have lost. You feel their pain.

But my God, when this officer thinks about what happened, was it worth that? Was it worth -- was the loss of life worth what he did for that seat belt? My God. It seemed a bit much.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We want to be -- we want to be careful, but we want to show, because this is the debate. We want to show the video one more time. Again we`re not showing the actual instant of impact, but Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor and author of "And Justice for Some", should this officer have been charged with a crime? The definition of vehicular Minnesota is driving recklessly and causing the death of another. It`s pretty clear-cut.

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Yes, I mean, here`s the exception. Recklessness means more than just an accident, more than mere negligence. It requires some degree of intentionality or at least a high degree of "I don`t care if I kill a person."

But cops are a little bit different. Because they are acting in the heat of the moment, grand juries and often prosecutors will cut them extra slack; not that the law requires it, but they get a little extra slack, because there`s so much going on.


MURPHY: And you have to believe that`s why the grand jury voted not to indict.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I -- I want to go to Natalie Jackson, criminal defense attorney out of Orlando. You, of course, represented the family of Trayvon Martin.

I mean, the point is we are all seeing this on videotape, and it`s a question of how we interpret the motives and intent of the man behind the wheel, even though he is an officer of the law. Your thoughts, Natalie Jackson.

NATALIE JACKSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think we first have to make sure that everyone understands that officers of the law still have to obey the law. So here, they are not above the law. They should not be cut any slack. They should have to obey the law, just like everybody else.

In Florida, there`s two types of negligence. You have accidental negligence, and you have criminal negligence. And here, you have a videotape. A jury should be able to evaluate this videotape and decide whether or not this officer`s actions were wanton and reckless. And what you see is that you see one officer stopped, and you see this officer never slow down and go into someone`s yard, hits a guy and knocks over a fence. That is a real -- that is recklessness.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon Leiberman, you -- we`ve given you the police report to study.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is it true, according to that police report, that the officer did not slow down or not?

LEIBERMAN: Well, let me say this. Look, it`s a tragedy all the way around. I mean, this man should not be dead. We should not be talking about this. And this officer was fired, because the officer did not follow protocol. This officer was not the primary car on scene. He was actually the secondary car, and he passed the primary police car in order to continue this chase.

All of that being said, let me tell you why it appears this grand jury did not indict. I have the medical examiner`s report right here, and there`s two highlights that the experts say.

No. 1, the report found an expert said that a rapid deceleration occurred four seconds before the car came to rest. Meaning that, as egregious as it looks in the video, according to this expert, who testified in front of the grand jury, the car was actually decelerating, not accelerating.

The other thing in this report says...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me stop you right there. Sheryl Lee Ralph, I don`t know about you, and I`m not an expert, but does it look like it`s decelerating? Does it look like it`s slowing down?

RALPH: I`m not an expert either, but it doesn`t look that way to me. You -- I mean, when you see his head come up, and his eyes see that this car is just about ready to strike him, it seems as though it is an -- it is an act in the action of happening. And at the speed that he was going, it was going to be pretty hard to slow down quickly.


LEIBERMAN: Also, in the video it looks like...


LEIBERMAN: ... to be -- to be fair, when you watch the video, it looks like he`s going really fast, but the experts testified he was going 20 miles an hour. So you have to weigh the experts versus what our eyes are telling us...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whose experts?

LEIBERMAN: ... in this video.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s what I`d like to know. Got to be concerned about that. Natalie Jackson.

JACKSON: We`re always told this -- we`re always told this when we see these videos and these tapes. Like in the Trayvon Martin case, the audio tape, we`re told don`t believe what we hear; don`t believe what we see. At some point people are going to want to know the truth from these people. We do know...


JACKSON: ... that the first car stopped, and he went into someone`s yard. So think about the part that led...

LEIBERMAN: Absolutely.

JACKSON: ... of property. Even to a person`s property this person had.

LEIBERMAN: I`m just telling you why...


LEIBERMAN: Look, I agree with the family. There should be...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to bring in C.W. Jensen. He`s a retired police captain, and he can really give us a law enforcement`s perspective on this.

C.W. Jensen, we are trying to get inside the mind of the officer behind the wheel. Now you see there`s a report that says he slowed down. How do they make that determination? I can`t -- I can`t say that that is set in stone. There`s no way, really, that you can determine unequivocally that he was slowing down, can you?

C. W. JENSEN, RETIRED POLICE CAPTAIN: Well, oftentimes now in cars, they actually have almost a G -- or not a GPS, Jane. That`s the wrong word. But they almost have a black box. It`s why some of these insurance companies say, "Hey, if you plug this thing in your car, you know, we`ll give you a better rate," because they can determine how you drive.

Now, let me also say this was horrific; it was tragic. But the police can go in people`s yards on foot or in their car. His lights were on. Everything was going. He didn`t -- and I -- I would have bailed out of the car and run after him. I`ve done it a thousand times.

He made a tactical error, and because the suspect ends up falling -- which, of course, he would have no idea was going happen, this tragic accident happened.



JACKSON: What was he going to do? He was in a car. He was in a car chasing someone. What was he going to do? How was he ever going to capture this suspect? The only thing he could ever do in that car was to hit him. That was all he could do.

MURPHY: That`s not true. That is not true.


MURPHY: The fact is cops -- look, cops chase people all the time in cars. Sometimes the people they chase are in cars. Even when they try -- you know, after they crash or put the car to the side, they do get out and run. Often where they know cops can`t come chase them in the car.

You can`t -- you know, it`s easy to Monday morning quarterback a cop who otherwise is just doing his job trying to catch the guy.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Somebody suggested that he didn`t want to pull over, because then he would have had to run on foot and that maybe it was an act of laziness more than anything else. Oh, I`m behind the wheel of a car. I don`t want to have to get out and run on foot.

MURPHY: Laziness?



VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m not saying for sure. I`m saying some have suggested that. I don`t know.

MURPHY: You want the guy you`re chasing to be afraid and to stop.

JACKSON: There was a fence.

RALPH: He was afraid when he saw that car coming at his head.

JACKSON: The reason that this person stopped, Marlin Brown stopped was because there was a fence. The fence got knocked down as well as Marlin -- Marlin Brown.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side of the break, we`re going to talk about the victim`s criminal history. He has a very long rap sheet.

We`re also going to play you the sound and show you the video of what happened after this tragic horrific car accident that may or may not be a car accident and what the officer`s reaction was to hitting this man, who died tragically and unnecessarily. Stay right there.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the look of a man about to be run down by a police car. His family wants you to see it, because the officer behind the wheel isn`t facing charges.

CRUMP: We don`t understand how this is not vehicular manslaughter.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Friends and loved ones say it was a powerful impact, considering that the patrol car took out the fence. They question why the officer didn`t use his Taser to bring Brown down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unnecessary, too much overkill. They run him down like he was a dog.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The police didn`t even seem to realize at first that Marlin Brown was underneath the car. Listen carefully to what happened just seconds after this tragic collision. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s underneath the car. I think he`s underneath the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, man. Hey, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got to pick this car up now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we pick it up? Put it in neutral.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. The officer involved was fired, but a grand jury elected not to press any criminal charges against him.

Now the man`s family won a $550,000 judgment, but they still want an investigation into this rookie officer`s actions with the hope of getting criminal charges filed against him.

Let`s go back into the Lion`s Den. I got to start with Jon Leiberman. In terms of this comment that "He`s underneath the car. I think he`s underneath the bleeping car." What is the significance of that if you dovetail it with the medical examiner`s report?

LEIBERMAN: Well, yes, if you look at the medical examiner`s report -- I`m going to read it to you -- it says, quote, "He slipped and fell, and then the police car came to a stop on top of him." And the autopsy shows that he had no skull, rib, pelvic, arm or leg fractures, no contusions.

So what the medical examiner is essentially saying is that he died because of the position that he was in. He couldn`t breathe once the car was on top of him. Now...


LEIBERMAN: I totally agree.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t -- you know, I have to -- hold on one second.

RALPH: There`s something wrong with that.

LEIBERMAN: There should be an independent investigation. But let me qualify something. Let me qualify something before you interrupt me, please.


LEIBERMAN: I think there should be an independent investigation to, you know, challenge these experts` facts.


LEIBERMAN: But we do need to provide balance, and this is why this officer wasn`t indicted. That`s what I`m reading to you directly from the report.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we need to provide truth, and we need to get to the truth. And I`m not saying that that is incorrect, but I am saying that it is a little odd to say that somebody died without actually having any contusions after looking at that video, that somehow they just ended up underneath the video and died without being run over whatsoever? A tire didn`t run over the...

RALPH: Exactly. How many times have we heard this? How many times have we picked bodies off of -- hanging off of trees for people to say, oh, they were just -- they were just like that, but nothing happened to them. Come on. At some point...

MURPHY: What are you talking about?

RALPHS: ... somebody has to tell the truth. Did you not see the blood spatter in the video. Come on!

MURPHY: A hundred years ago? Come on.


MURPHY: This has nothing to do with hanging from trees. It may well have to do with an expert report that doesn`t make sense. I can`t understand it myself right now. But the guy clearly died because he was squished by the car, no matter what Jon`s report just said. He was clearly killed because the car squished him to death.

RALPH: ... the video.


MURPHY: What`s the big...

RALPH: Did you see the video?

MURPHY: The cop didn`t want to kill him.

RALPH: You`re the one that brought up conspiracy. I`m just saying that how many times have we heard stories of people, all kinds of people where nothing happened, they just ended up that way? Come on. Stop it and don`t act like you don`t know what I`m talking about.

MURPHY: There`s no mystery is all I`m saying. There`s no mystery here. We know how he died. The mystery is...

RALPH: How is it that the man`s head got hit -- he man`s head got hit, and we see nothing? Nobody saw anything. Stop the foolishness.


MURPHY: ... the jury -- the grand jury, not one bad law enforcement official. A group of citizens...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Paul -- Paul Hokemeyer. I think we need to bring in a family therapy...



MURPHY: No criminal case.

HOKEMEYER: Thank you, because I think what we`re doing is I think we`re spending way too much time talking about the facts of this case and the money that these people are going to make off of this. We`re presenting it like this, and we`re forgetting to look at the incredible trauma that this family has suffered as a result of this. Now this family has been...

JACKSON: You need to look at the human factor.

HOKEMEYER: Now let me finish. Not just one...

RALPH: How many families? How many families?

HOKEMEYER: But many times are they having to watch -- many families. Too many families. And I think that`s what we need to focus on here.

RALPH: Thank you.

HOKEMEYER: Which is the emotional health of this family that this family has had a profoundly traumatic event happen to them, and we as a community need to come around them and be supportive of that.

RALPH: The bigger family and the whole community.

MURPHY: That`s not the issue.


MURPHY: They want an investigation.

HOKEMEYER: Give them an investigation. Let them have an investigation.

MURPHY: What are we investigating?

HOKEMEYER: But let`s talk about what this -- What we`re investigating is the death of a man who died well before he should have. That`s what we need to focus on.

JACKSON: Thank you.


RALPH: And how he died. And don`t cover it up, don`t -- don`t clean it up. Don`t make it antiseptic, just so people feel good about another person...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sheryl Lee, let me bring this in. Let me bring this in. Let me bring in this fact.

The fact is that this victim had a long history of run-ins with the law. He had been arrested more than two dozen times in the last 20 years of a litany of charges, including battery, theft, driving with a suspended license, possession of illegal drugs, forging checks. He did time for drug trafficking.

So my question is could that have impacted the grand jury`s decision- making process, Wendy Murphy, and should it have impacted the grand jury`s decision-making process or not?

MURPHY: Well, look...

RALPH: Absolutely not. No.

MURPHY: ... I don`t care what the guy did, no. Nobody deserves to die at all, much less like that.

RALPH: There`s no question...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time, ladies. Ladies.

MURPHY: ... rap sheet. But it explains this. If the grand jury was aware of his record, which they probably were because they`re entitled to know the motive for his flight -- was he running because he was worried about getting a ticket for the seat-belt violation or was he running because he was worried about getting in trouble for something else? The grand jury is entitled to know that.

RALPH: And what has that got to do with the fact that his head...


MURPHY: ... drove like a bat out of hell and likely knew the guy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sheryl Lee Ralph, I want to give you an opportunity to respond, and then we`ll take a break. And we`ve got still more for you. But respond, Sheryl.

RALPH: I don`t care what he did. That doesn`t make him less valuable as a human being. Should his head have been popped off like a pumpkin the way it was? Should he have been pursued and run down like a dog the way he was? No. I don`t care how bad, how guilty you may...

MURPHY: Nobody disagrees with that.

RALPH: ... anything. Absolutely not.

MURPHY: Nobody disagrees with that.

RALPH: There you go. Somebody does something wrong, so kill them. What are they worth? Nothing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Respect for all life.

Stay right there. We`ll be right back.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m going to tell the story correctly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what do you think happened here.?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They ran him down. A seat belt, death, doesn`t go together. Something has -- something has to be done.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A controversial killing of a man by a police officer. He`s fired, but the officer is not criminally charged. Should he be?

Let`s go out to the phone lines. And by the way, we reached out to the officer for comment. No comment. But he or his attorney are invited on our show any time. We want to get all sides of the story.

Bob, Ohio, thank you for your patience. Bob, your question or thought, sir.


CALLER: Yes. Yes, ma`am.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, your question or thought, Bob.

CALLER: First of all, I love your show.


CALLER: And I would like to comment on all this cop violence lately. I think they all have a God complex. They always think they`re right, and they have no fear of punishment.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I actually think that that is a very interesting point, C.W. Jensen. I mean, they elected not to charge him, the officer, right away.

And there was actually another example of another case earlier this month in Charlotte, North Carolina, where police were very quick to charge one of their very own officers after he shot and killed an unarmed man who was trying to get help.

And this Jonathan Ferrell crashed his car at about 2:30 in the morning, and he walked to a neighbor`s house, knocked on a stranger`s door. The woman became terrified and called 911. Listen to the 911 call, and then we`re going to talk a little bit about this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need help. There`s a guy breaking in my front door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s a guy breaking in your front door?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. He`s trying to kick it down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is she still there?


It`s OK. I`m right here. Is he still in the house? Did he leave yet?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. So there`s the 911 call where the officer got the misimpression that the person that they were looking at was involved in a home invasion of some sort, but he wasn`t. He just had a car accident and was seeking help, because it was a bad accident.

Now the cop who allegedly shot Jonathan Ferrell, who is a former football star in college, ten times, OK? He was almost immediately charged with involuntary manslaughter.

So my question, Natalie Jackson, should that have been the situation here? In other words, let a jury decide? Charge him and then let a jury decide?

JACKSON: A jury should decide. This is a case where you have a video. You have objective evidence. You have -- like I said, there is criminal neglect, and there`s accidental neglect.

Here a jury can decide whether or not this is reckless. And I think that it was proper for the Jacksonville case, the case that -- where the young man got shot by the police officer, to send that to a jury and let them decide.

MURPHY: Is it possible, Wendy Murphy, that because that case involved shooting somebody ten times, which is certainly overkill by anybody`s standard, whereas this involves vehicular killing, that that might have been the reason why this was taken instead to the grand jury?

MURPHY: You think? I mean, I don`t mean to be sarcastic, but of course, that`s the difference.

RALPH: Then don`t be.

MURPHY: You can`t shoot a guy with 10 bullets when he`s knocking on the door for help.

And look, I agree with the caller a little bit in the sense that some cops are hot dogs, and they don`t deserve the badge, much less the guns. But most cops are good and decent, and they are up to here with these criminals that are repeat offenders...

JACKSON: I agree, but no one...


LEIBERMAN: One too many arrests...

MURPHY: They are -- they are so sick of it.

RALPH: We`re just talking about...



MURPHY: You`ve got to have some sympathy for cops. They do a tough job...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Jon Leiberman, go.

MURPHY: ... and most of them are very good.

RALPH: You`ve got to have sympathy for people. You`ve got to have...

MURPHY: Cops are people. Cops are people.

RALPH: You`ve got to have sympathy for people.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. We`ve got to have sympathy for...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... people, but cops are also people.

And, you know, it`s easy to armchair quarterback decisions that have to be made in the blink of an eye. I will say that it`s a lot easier to talk about it from the comfort of this chair than it is to be behind the wheel.

You know, we`ve criticized police officers for not being aggressive enough during high-speed chases. Why did they stay back and let this person drive, potentially endangering many lives on the freeway when we watch these long chases? So you can`t have it both ways. And that`s the question of where do you find the balance in the brink of an eye?

LEIBERMAN: Jane, one thing that`s troubling in this case is...

RALPH: Start looking at people that you`re chasing and stop prejudging them. Stop prejudging the people that you`re looking at when you`re chasing...

MURPHY: Prejudging? The guy was on...

RALPH: That`s why that young man got shot.

MURPHY: The guy was running. The guy was taking off. That`s not a prejudgment.

RALPH: I`m talking about the young man that got shot.

LEIBERMAN: One thing that`s concerning in this case is...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold it right there. We`ll be back, ladies and gents, in one second with more debate. We`ve got plenty of it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was the hardest decision that we`ve had to make, but we`re hoping that everyone is going to take a look at the video, the objective evidence, and you tell us what you feel.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was already in front of them when they come up and he -- the man just hit him out of the -- just hit him for no reason because he didn`t want to get out of the car and chase behind him.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. This all started when a Florida sheriff`s deputy tried to pull Marlon Brown over for allegedly not wearing a seat belt. Now Brown wouldn`t stop and instead sped away in his car. That`s when the deputy started chasing after him and called for backup. Brown fled all the way to a dead end street. Then he jumped out of his car and runs through a vegetable garden behind an empty lot.

The police officers say two other cars, police cars, squad cars stopped but this one officer, Officer James Harris continued to chase down Marlon Brown, driving 100 feet across off (inaudible) road through a backyard fence to where Brown was.

So this is really the final moments before Brown disappeared under the cop car. And the autopsy report says he wasn`t struck by the car itself but apparently died from being run over after he fell to the ground, which our panel is debating what exactly does that mean. You know, you`re not hit but you are run over and you die but not from injuries from being hit by the car. Confusion reigns about that issue.

But I want to go to the phone lines. John, Kansas, thanks for your patience. Your question or thought. And I guess what I`ll start with first though, is Wendy Murphy. Now, the family of this dead man believes that the grand jury was not shown the video. Otherwise they would have had to have, in their mind, filed some kind of criminal charge against the officer who essentially killed this man. Is it possible in your mind that they would not have shown this video because I find that very hard to believe that the grand jury didn`t see the key piece of evidence.

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, don`t find it too hard to believe because it happens every once in a while. A prosecutor who wants to bag a case in the grand jury does it by hand selecting the evidence that they show, they decide to show some stuff and not others.

They have the freedom to do that and that`s why you have to be careful who you vote for. As the elected D.A. if they`re not doing the right thing in the grand jury you have to not vote for them the next time out.

But even though the grand jury is a secret proceeding, the grand jury members are now watching television and I have no doubt that they`re aware of this video and if they know that they weren`t shown this video, they should speak out. And I would if I were them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: C.W. Jensen, retired police captain, law enforcement taking some hits on this panel tonight. You know, I have the utmost respect for law enforcement. These people put their lives on the line every day. They go into life or death situations, a domestic call, a pullover for not wearing a seat belt it can quickly turn deadly or at the very least violent. So I understand that it`s easy to judge.

Nevertheless, this video does seem to show somebody driving right toward somebody. And even though the medical examiner`s report or one of the reports indicates that he slowed down, I don`t understand how they can make that determination for sure. Is there an element of justification going on here?

C.W. JENSEN, RETIRED POLICE CAPTAIN: Well, I`m just going to jump in and say I`ve done a lot of homicide cases. The medical examiners actually have medical degrees and they`re pretty good at what they do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, ok. So essentially you`re accepting the idea that this officer did not hit this man and that he died simply from being under the vehicle without -- go ahead.

JENSEN: That simply doesn`t matter. In the end he died whether he got hit by the car or smothered by the car, it was a tactical error that led to someone`s death.

And I`ve been in the grand jury. I was involved in an officer- involved shooting. It`s very intimidating. They play all the evidence -- radio tapes, now video tapes. To make an allegation that a D.A. wouldn`t show this evidence to grand juries is ridiculous.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, I want to go quickly -- and I don`t know that. I said that`s what the family has suggested. So I certainly don`t know that for a fact and I would doubt it personally. John, Kansas -- your question or thought -- John Kansas.

JOHN, KANSAS, (via telephone): Hey, how are you doing?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Good, thank you.

JOHN: I love your show. Listen, this guy did not have a violent background whatsoever. He did not try to run over any cops, he didn`t shoot at any cops. What would make this guy, after the other cop stopped, make him go off road when he could have jumped out and chased him. No matter how he hit him, if he failed -- if he had been tasering him and he fell he would have captured this man.

But instead he goes and run him over. And he could have got out and chased him. He had back up.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you so much, John, Kansas. I`m going to give Natalie Jackson the final word.

NATALIE JACKSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think what the last caller said is very important because we have to remember, he violated his own department`s policy. That`s why he was fired. So not only did he act reckless in killing Marlon Brown, he acted reckless in violating his own police department`s policies which caused his firing. And really this should go to a jury.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, we`re going to stay on top of it and keep you updated.

On the other side, cops say 25-year-old identical twins tried to kill their own father, but that father he`s on the twins` side. It`s a crazy story.

Stay right there and it`s all true.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Court documents say firefighters found a propane canister wrapped with shotgun shells inside the small burning Ellensburg home and evidence of accelerants. They claim the 25-year-old brothers Caleb and Joshua admitted to police they set three fires inside and that Joshua reportedly tried holding his dad`s door closed.

WILLIAM BLEDSOE, VICTIM: Well, that`s what it sounds like but I question that.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- defendant is guilty of murder in the first degree as charged, so say we all.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: She`s known around the world as hiccup girl and you can now also call her a convicted murderer. 22-year-old Jennifer Mee, found guilty of first degree murder, sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Here she is reacting to the verdict with a flood of tears. Obviously the worst news she`s ever gotten in her life. No hiccups tonight. Prosecutors say in 2010 she lured a man to an abandoned house where he was shot to death by her roommates.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His twin sons would want him dead?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Admitted to police they set three fires inside. They say firefighters found a propane canister wrapped with shotgun shells inside the smoldering Ellensburg home.

BLEDSOE: You can ask anybody in this town, we had a close relationship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean that is not like them at all. They`re very kind boys.

BLEDSOE: If they really wanted to burn me out, make me a piece of bacon, why wouldn`t they have put the gas on the bed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some people think he`s naive for not believing his boys tried to kill him in his own home.

BLEDSOE: My heart goes out to them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even if they tried to kill you.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a bizarre alleged murder plot -- identical twins accused of trying to off daddy and their father`s reaction -- just as unbelievable as the wild murder plot itself -- Dad is defending his boys. What could have driven these brothers to try to burn their father alive as he slept inside their Washington State home, a home they all shared?

Police say 25-year-old Josh and Caleb Bledsoe confessed to setting three fires in an attempt to kill their dad, 70-year-old William. Dad was also their boss in the family`s roofing business and in a very strange twist, one of the twins then, maybe had a change of heart, calls 911. Dad gets out of the house alive, suffering only smoke inhalation.

The sons now behind bars -- $1 million bonds; they`re charged with four counts each including conspiracy to commit murder and use of an incendiary device. That explosive device, a propane tank firefighters found inside the home with a bunch of shotgun shells strapped to it.

The firefighters went running out the house. The evidence sounds damning but Dad has heard it all and he`s standing by his boys and even trying to help them by insisting, you know, he`s just not an easy guy to live with.


BLEDSOE: Well, that`s what it sounds like, but I question that. Because you can ask anybody in this town, we had a real close relationship. If they really wanted to burn me up or to make me a piece of bacon, why wouldn`t they have put the gas on the bed?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to the Andy Matarese, reporter for "The Daily Record", what is the latest on this wild alleged plot?

ANDY MATARESE, REPORTER, "THE DAILY RECORD" (via telephone): Well not a whole lot at the moment. You probably know just about as much as I do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tell me something, new, Andy. Come on. The reaction in the community -- you talked to the dad? Great. Tell us about that.

MATARESE: Briefly. He seemed a little bit, a little bit kind of sore about how I guess it`s been presented. But the same general thesis, I mean he doesn`t seem -- he`s still waiting for all of the information to come out. The arraignment is the 30th and they don`t seem to actually have representation yet.

But yes, he still seems kind of behind them. He`s talking to -- he`s going to have a meeting with prosecutors today. So he`ll learn more and he`s going to catch up with them tomorrow.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I have something to tell you. I also spoke to the dad very briefly and he said well, we`ll talk to you if I get out of the prosecutor`s office. He`s meeting with the prosecutor right now. And the guy sounds --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- he sounds real old-fashioned, like a real nice guy but you know what they say, crusty but benign -- like very old fashioned. This father, you know, if you listen to him you would never think these adult sons that he`s talking about tried to burn him alive, literally, holding the door while they set a fire -- allegedly. I`ve heard parents more upset when they caught their kids sneaking out of the house, for gosh sakes.


BLEDSOE: My sons are the ones that called 911. My boys are my boys and I`ll never abandon them or not support them. My heart goes out to them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even if they tried to kill you?

BLEDSOE: Yes. They`re my boys.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to the "Lion`s Den". Paul (inaudible), family therapist, we need you tonight. Is he just showing unconditional love that a parent has for his child or maybe he`s worried that they might spill the beans on something else?

DR. PAUL HOKEMEYER, FAMILY THERAPIST: Well, I think first of all he`s deep in denial and it`s typical of a parent to want to defend their kids. It`s biological, right. And particularly fathers want to protect their kids. So what he`s doing is what is natural to being a father and that`s protecting his sons in the face of all of this information that seems to defy all sorts of logic.

The bad news is that -- the bad news and the good news is -- the bad news is that he`s protecting them, the good news is he`s protecting them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Well, we`ll see if it`s good or bad news depending on how this all turns out.

Investigators say the twins set three separate fires, one in the basement, one down the stairs and another outside the area where the dad was sleeping, his bedroom. Now court documents claim the twins told cops that they set these fires to help make it look like an accident.

Firefighters actually ended up racing out of the house when they discovered an improved explosive -- a propane tank wrapped in shotgun shells. And Josh also allegedly confessed to holding the dad`s door shut while the dad was trying to escape. All of this because dad was, quote, "difficult to live with and work for".


BLEDSOE: I`m probably not the easiest guy to live with and I`m probably not the easiest guy to work for. The state says I`m a victim. I don`t feel like I`m a victim.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sheryl Lee Ralph, what ever happened to moving out of dad`s house and getting a job that doesn`t involve working for poppa? I mean isn`t that a better alternative?

SHERYL LEE RALPH, TV PERSONALITY: How about that? What about being accountable? What about holding your children accountable? What about giving them a teachable moment? Even if daddy is difficult, you don`t set three fires and try to burn him up. That is what you don`t do.

What did they not learn? And I understand standing up for your children. I understand being a parent who stands by your children. But what did they not learn? My god. It`s like --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wendy Murphy -- I want to jump in here -- former prosecutor, it almost sounds like did he perhaps unintentionally create monsters by backing them so much and supporting them so much, giving them a home until they were 25 and a job that essentially they got spoiled in a big way.

HOKEMEYER: Well, I think there`s actually something definitely deeper going on here.


MURPHY: Well, he also apparently worked them hard.

I would not call that raising an entitled team of twin monsters. No, look. Of course nobody deserves to die and whatever the motive is these kids shouldn`t have done it.

But the kind of case this feels like to me is that those boys went through a pretty horrific childhood, probably a lot of abuse and this was a desperate act for self-protection. That`s what it feels like to me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is that blaming the victim? Just like the Menendez brothers blaming mommy and daddy?

MURPHY: No, no.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look, up next, this may look like a nice house on a very well-kept street, but cops say there were secretly 850 snakes is inside that residence.

It`s a wild story, and we`re going to bring it to you, next.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Time for Pet of the Day, send your pet pics to

Monkey -- you are a little monkey, aren`t you, cutie? We love you. And Frida -- she says, I`m an artiste. Don`t you know? And Ginger says, "I`m just happy and I like to have fun all day long. Why don`t you join me?" And Izzy says, "Ok, I think I`ll do that." Hmm. Look at those eyes.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The ultimate betrayal. An animal control officer secretly selling snakes from his Long Island home. Officers found 850 snakes stuffed into containers in the garage, including two six-foot-long Burmese pythons, and, oh, a whole bunch of other small animals.

Humane Society president, Wayne Pacelli, when it comes to animal cruelty, follow the money. That`s true in this case. Isn`t it, Wayne?

WAYNE PACELLI, PRESIDENT, HUMANE SOCIETY: Absolutely, Jane. You know, we`re talking about a huge trade. You have no idea. Large constricting snakes, Burmese pythons, rock pythons. We just had two kids killed in New Brunswick, Canada by an African rock python. And last week there was a Siberian husky in Miami-Dade County, strangled to death and killed as his owners helplessly watched and couldn`t pull this huge African rock python off of the Siberian husky.

There are tens of thousands of these snakes imported into the United States. There`re reptile trading shows all over the country. We need federal rules and federal laws to ban the trade in wild animals that are dangerous, that can get established in the wild and be an invasive species. So many problems with this, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and I just spoke to your organization, the Humane Society, today, about getting the word out. And I want to thank you for everything you do to get the word out about animal cruelty. Go to, get involved.

Snakes and other wild animals cannot speak for themselves. We need to speak for them. They are sentient beings. They have feelings. Snakes are just as much of a feeling creature at any other creature.

Stay right there.