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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD

Student Sues Police After Brutal Beating; Obama Calls Boehner to Reiterate He's Not Negotiating; Cops Making Millions Selling Cocaine.

Aired October 8, 2013 - 11:30   ET

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


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: The legal panel is going to weigh in next. You might be surprised at what you hear.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: There's really no other way to describe it. David Conner got a beat-down in Atlantic City. The video showed it clear. There he was, and screaming at the police. Not the kind of behavior I'm sure he's proud of, nor his parents. And then five of them descended upon him and then a police dog showed up. He was hospitalized. Now he's suing. Who has the upper hand here? Video or not.

CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan; and CNN legal correspondent, Jean Cesarez, join me on this one.

Jean, let me start with you. We tend to think once we see something on tape, open and shut case.

JEAN CESAREZ, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: I know it.

BANFIELD: That's not the case.

CESAREZ: Devil is in the details. I've really studied this video. The police have initially talked with him, which they're supposed to do. Peacefully they're doing it. He walks back, everything is fine and then he starts yelling and pointing his finger. What is he saying? Is he inciting violence? We don't know. But that's where they move in. And here is the devil in the detail. When they're all on the ground with him, I see him reach his hand around the waist of an officer.

BANFIELD: Oh, He has a gun, doesn't he?

CESAREZ: What does an officer -- a gun.

BANFIELD: Paul Callan, jump in. If you are defending these officers, obviously you're looking for every piece of this video that you can mine to your benefit. Is that the thing that will turn the jury or is this where they would say, I don't care what he's reaching for? The guy was blinded by this attack.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: This is going to be a tough case for the cops. I think Jean raises a legitimate point. They will say that he's possibly reaching for a gun, so we had to react forcefully to stop the gun from being taken. But on the issue of how it starts with him pointing at the cops --

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: Can't I yell at you all I want?

(CROSSTALK)

CALLAN: You can yell and curse at me if I'm a police officer. And he's supposed to stand there and take it. The law as changed in this area radically. It's not like it used to be in the old days where, deep down, it was allowed. It's illegal unless the officers are threatened in some way. And I'm not seeing them being threatened in that video. I see them surrounding him and jumping him. And of course, they put a dog into play.

BANFIELD: He's a big guy.

I've got to ask you something. I hear this a lot in cases where those who are victims, if you want to call them victims, because there are other descriptions as well of some of these people at the center of the beat down. They say I wasn't resisting arrest. I was protecting my vital organs. And when you see five officers, if I were him, I would say, I've got to protect everything that's getting hit. I'm not giving them my hands readily. Isn't that a fair defense opposite his part?

CESAREZ: I think it is a fair defense. In this particular case, one of the charges that he now faces is aggravated assault on the dog. Because Paul just brought it up, and I think the dog is an important part of this. Maybe this should be bifurcated as what the officers did and what the dog did. His injuries are horrific. They are horrific. They're all around his neck and that's from the dog.

BANFIELD: I have to be honest with you, I just couldn't see the need for the dog. It looked as though they -- look, I wasn't there. And the video is not perfect. But, man, did that look --

(CROSSTALK)

CALLAN: And the cops have to take full responsibility for the dog. They train the dog and sic the dog on the suspect.

BANFIELD: The dog's an officer.

CALLAN: This kid has bite marks in his neck --

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: We're going to watch the federal case. The pictures will be shown to the jury. And we'll see what happens. Jury selection is huge in all of this.

Paul Callan, Jean Cesarez, thank you both.

Coming up, one town in Florida is making a lot of money these days. And I say a lot of money. I mean millions. Because their cops are selling cocaine. And all of this is legal. I am not kidding you. I'm going to explain this. And it may be a brand new trend sweeping the nation. Coming up.

First, though, a brand new arrest in the Steubenville rape case and this time it's a grownup. Why an official at the high school has now been taken into custody.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BANFIELD: Welcome back. I want to give you updated news because the news is flying at us fast at furious in this government shutdown. Not only did we hear from Speaker Boehner and Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, now we're hearing that President Obama got on the telephone and gave him a call. And his aide characterized it not exactly how the White House might. He said the president called the speaker again today to reiterate that he won't negotiate on a government funding bill or debt limit increase. That is from a spokesman from Speaker Boehner.

I'm going to go to Brianna Keilar who is at the White House.

Brianna, here is my assumption: The White House is not characterizing it necessarily the same way, that's my assumption. Tell me.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, they aren't. What we're hearing from the speaker's office, and I will tell you, this is sort of the dualing messaging that we've been hearing. To the opposite, you have -- this is a readout come from the White House that says the president called to say he is willing to negotiate with Republicans after the threat of government shutdown and default have been removed over policies. He will negotiate on policies that Republicans think would strengthen the country. So this is sort of some of what we've been hearing. But we do understand that this call took place at 10:45 a.m. And I think the bottom line is you kind of look at what's coming out of this call, the sort of competing messages that we've been seeing in recent days, and it really sort of is no progress. We understand according to the White House that the president expressed the speaker to allow a timely up or down vote in the House to raise the debt limit. So he was referencing the bill that is being introduced today in the Senate. Which, Ashleigh, as you've noted is an extension of the debt ceiling for more than a year. It would put it beyond the 2014 mid-term election. To really move this hot potato issue after that. But at this point it seems to be in doubt whether the House would do something like that. We've heard from the speaker. He says that the debt ceiling increase without concessions is going nowhere in the House.

BANFIELD: I just got the full text of this. If you'll indulge me for a second, I want to read something more that the White House has put out about the phone call. Speaker Boehner, again, characterized this phone call at 10:45 this morning from the president to Speaker Boehner as the president called me to tell me he won't negotiate. The White House says the president is willing to negotiate with Republicans after the threat of government shutdown and default have been removed. I'll skip ahead. The president urged the speaker to hold a vote in the House of Representatives on the Senate passed measure that would re-open the federal government immediately, citing the Senate's intention to pass a clean year-long extension of the debt limit this week. He also pressed the speaker to allow a timely up or down vote in the House to raise the debt limit with no strings attached. Failure to do so would have great consequences and the American economy as a whole.

So the speaker is right in saying that the president doesn't want to negotiate and the president is right in saying I'll negotiate after these crises seize are over.

KEILAR: That's right. And House Republicans are basically saying we want to negotiate when we have leverage of the debt ceiling of funding the government. And the White House is saying we're not going to negotiate with you until those are off the table. Now, in the White House they'll say strengthening Obamacare. But really Republican don't have an interest, it's not that they want to strengthen Obamacare, it's that they don't like the program am and when it comes to the debt ceiling and the shutdown, you heard how Speaker Boehner say that neither is getting through the House. He says he doesn't have the votes to have this sort of up or down, the simple bills without any concessions attached to them. But you've heard Democrats saying that's not true.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: CNN's count has on the record 17 Republicans, 200 Democrats. If you do the math, that's 217. And you need 217. That's a slim majority. But it's the majority.

Anyway, Brianna, keep an eye on things.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: Go ahead, quickly.

KEILAR: You take that number to Republicans and you say, hey, what are you talking about here is the number? And they say, yes, but even some of the Republicans who say they want a clean bill aren't going to break with leadership at this point, that they aren't going to force the issue. So it's this nuance and it's frustrating as we're you're watching this all go down.

BANFIELD: I call that strings attached. That's my favorite phrase these days, "strings attached." I wish they would cut the strings.

Brianna, thank you. Appreciate that.

Working hard at the White House. Poor girl never gets to sleep, she and Dana Bash.

Come up, a story that -- it's going to have you shaking your head, I guarantee it. That's cocaine, that's money. It's all real. Police are selling it and raising money for the city of Sunrise, Florida. You want to know how? You want to know how? You want no know why it's all legal? Coming up in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: We all know how the textbook drug sting goes: A cop poses as a buyer and then they make the shady deal and, boom, lights go on, people come out of the woodwork and the guy is busted. In Sunrise, Florida, they do it the exact opposite and the cops are making millions off of it. The cops aren't the buyers. They are instead of sellers of dope. And at least one kilo of real cocaine is a part of the deal. They even let the criminals sample it. That's how they're luring big drug dealers into their quiet, peaceful little town. And the best part is the cops get to keep everything the dealers bring with them, the cash for the deal, their jewelry, the watches, cell phones, anything of value, they have to forfeit it. Those cops have brought in almost $6 million in the operation in just 2011 and 2012. And it's all perfectly legal. How on earth can they get away with it?

Megan O'Matz, "Sun Sentinel" reporter behind the six-month investigation. She's joining us live to talk about it.

Megan, when I read this, the first thing I thought this sounds like textbook entrapment, but it isn't necessarily. How is it legal?

MEGAN O'MATZ, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, SUN SENTINEL: I think if you ask a lot of different attorneys, they will give you different opinions on whether exactly it is legal. I think one of the main problems is that the police offer cocaine for sale at bargain prices. They are offering deals to people that they lure in, for example, buy one kilo, get one free. And some ports have found that particularly appalling or as bad government conduct. But as I understand it, as well, other lawyers have said you have to look at the circumstances in the entirety regarding the person's predisposition, if they really wanted to buy cocaine or not or were lured into the deal by these police and a cadre of informants they have working for them.

BANFIELD: The millions they haul in, they have to spend a lot to make this happen. This is a huge overtime operation. They have to play one of these informants. And I guess one of these gorgeous brunette informants has paid about $800,000. One cop has made about a quarter million in overtime. Yet police say they are putting the bad guys away but, Megan, I've looked at some of the numbers, they are not putting that many bad guys away.

O'MATZ: Right. We looked at a hundred arrests made. 40 cases are still pending. They have many cases that were dropped, at least a dozen or so cases were dropped and they have many cases where the guys are given probation or slight sentences. Only two cases the people got the minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years in prison. In one of those cases, it was because the police and the prosecutors felt the man didn't help them become an informant in an efficient style. In the other case, it was a Philadelphia woman who fled. So she got 30 years. But she is not in jail because he took off.

BANFIELD: It's a fascinating story. You did some good work on that. It's a long read and all of it is very intriguing and you did good work on it. Megan O'Matz, thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.

O'MATZ: Thank you.

Coming up, the more of the breaking news. Speaker Boehner on the phone with the president. Cumbayah. Not so fast. Apparently, not so much said, yet a lot said, and each is taking it with an entirely different perspective. We take you live to Capitol Hill next with the reaction.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BANFIELD: Thank you. So we got a little bit more breaking news that I want to bring to you. And, of course, this is all over the shutdown. That phone call that happened just a short time ago between President Obama and the House speaker. They spoke about at 10:45 in the morning. Not characterized well by either. Just a moment ago, we learned the president has a plan to speak live at 2:00 p.m. away. We will cover that live for you.

I want to you live to Athena Jones, on Capitol Hill.

Speaker Boehner's office relieved his characterization of the phone call and the president has as well. What did you hear on Capitol Hill?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ashleigh. I saw the read-out from the White House and it's much longer than what we got from Speaker Boehner's office. I'll read it to you now. It says, "The president called the speaker again to reiterate that he won't negotiate on government funding or a debt limit increase." That's all we were able to learn from his office. We don't know how long that conversation lasted or whether other conversations are planned.

Now, of course, the White House's view on this is the president and Senate Democrats stand ready to negotiate but don't want to do it with a proverbial gun to their head. They want House Republicans to hold a vote on a spending bill that will reopen the government with no strings attached and then sit down and negotiate. House Republicans are not having that. Just a couple of hours ago, they held a press conference and the key word out of that press conference was "negotiate." They said the president's refusal to negotiate now ahead of passage of either of these bills is not a sign of leadership. That where things stand right now -- Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: I think we should lock them all in a room with only Funyuns and water and only allow them out when they come to a conclusion.

Athena Jones, thank you for the update. We will continue to watch this.

JONES: You bet.

BANFIELD: Live at 2:00, the president will speak. In the meantime, that's it for me. I'm flat out of time. Thanks for watching, everyone. AROUND THE WORLD starts after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Hala Gorani, in for Suzanne Malveaux.

MICHAEL HOLMES: Welcome, I'm Michael Holmes.

We do have some breaking news for you. We start with a phone call between the president and the speaker of the House.

GORANI: Welcome to day eight of the government shutdown. Even a phone call is a big deal as the shutdown drags on and the debt ceiling deadline is a few days away.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Indeed. Jim Acosta is at the White House.

A few things breaking in the last few minutes. Tell us about the phone calls, first of all.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The phone call happened around 10:45 this morning on the east coast on in the United States. The president called House Speaker John Boehner. It was a fairly one- sided call if you listen to the various accounts. According to White House officials, the president said what he has been saying all along he is not going to negotiate on a debt ceiling or continuing resolution to reopen the federal government with strings attached.