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Senate Closing in on a Deal; 24-Year-Old Killed by Police; Grieving Fiance Speaks Out; Interview with Robert Redford

Aired October 16, 2013 - 08:30   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Sixteen hours until the U.S. goes up against the debt ceiling. The House failed to vote on a debt deal last night, putting the pressure squarely back on the Senate. The Senate's leaders, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, they are trying to revive a bipartisan compromise and they are optimistic, we're hearing some optimism this morning that they will have a deal today. We're told that the Senate deal would possibly fund the government through January 15th, raise the debt ceiling through February 7th. Once a compromise is struck in the Senate, then, of course, it will be up to the House to get a bill to the president's desk on time it appears, if that is even possible.

Meantime, all of this governing by crisis has put the U.S. AAA credit - the U.S.'s AAA credit rating in jeopardy. Much more on that ahead.

Chris, let's throw it back to you.


So, look, we don't know if they're going to make a deal down there, so we don't even want to burden it as a question. But we do need to understand how we got where we were to understand how this may ever end. So let's bring in CNN "Crossfire" host Van Jones for the left, S.E. Cupp for the right.

Thank you, both of you, for being here.

Let's set the table here, S.E., with why we are where we are? We heard Steve King, Republican, Tea Partier, this morning say, I know people are being hurt. That is essentially the price of freedom. This is because of all that was done before we got here. We are here to fight to make it stop.

S.E. CUPP, HOST, CNN'S "CROSSFIRE": Yep. No, exactly. People like Steve King, people like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, they didn't manifest out of thin air, right? They won elections based on these kinds of promises. Promises to end Obamacare. Promises to fight over the debt ceiling. Promises to cut spending and lower the deficit. And they really do believe -- they are true believers. They do believe that they are merely fulfilling those promises. Call them grand standers. You can discuss whether the strategy is smart or not, but they really do believe they're doing what they promised to voters. And when they go home to their districts, when they go home to their states, they are rewarded at town halls and at their offices by voters who say, thank you for standing up for us. So there's really no political price for them to pay for doing what they're doing. There might be a political price for Republicans at large, but not for them.

CUOMO: So, Van Jones, how do you make the case that they are actually going to pay a price, because that's what will move the ball forward here, right?

VAN JONES, HOST, CNN'S "CROSSFIRE": Yes. Well, I think that's true. I mean, first of all, this is a very, very sad and difficult period for people. Look, I've got a cousin who's been furloughed. He doesn't know how he's going to pay his rent. My best friend from high school has been furloughed. She's a single mom. So, you know, people back home, this is real deal stuff and it could get a lot worse.

I don't think that, you know, it's just a Tea Party that's on trial here or just President Obama on trial here. I think democracy and the governing ability of the United States is on trial here. We made some tweaks to our system that have now it seemed to be causing some chaos. We got rid of earmarks. Seemed like a good idea, but it means that the power of the purse strings inside the House no longer rests with the speaker. Then we had Citizens United. So now you have a flood of cash on the outside.

Now, the speaker has very little control on the inside, a lot of money on the outside, that seems to be causing some chaos. We've got to get beyond the blame game here and figure out what is wrong with our system that this small group of people, however well-intentioned or not well-intentioned they are, can cause this much chaos. It's not just them. There's something off in our system.

CUOMO: So let's deal with something, Van, for a second. This equivalency narrative that the left keeps pushing, which is basically saying, don't say the two sides are equally to blame here. This is about Republicans. Fine, let's move past that point, as your suggesting. What should the Democrats be doing right now that they're not doing or not doing well enough to get a deal that is acceptable?

JONES: Well, I mean, I think the Democrats have been smart to just stand their ground. I think the president has been smart to say, I'm not going to negotiate with this Republican Party because it's dysfunctional and it's been hijacked by this very small group of crazy folks. And I think that that's the right thing to do. I thing long- term the Democrats have to nationalize the 2014 election. The Republicans are going to nationalize it over Obamacare. I think the Democrats have to nationalize it over this kind of behavior.

Listen, it doesn't matter. If you had a neighborhood association and some guy came in and had legitimate concerns but they said, I'm going to burn down the whole neighborhood if I don't get my way, you can't even deal with his concerns, you've got to deal with his behavior. And that's where we are right now.

CUOMO: So, S.E., so now we turn to the Republicans. It does seems that Boehner -- they used the headline in one of the newspapers "herding cats." I think it's worse now. I think that he's not being listened to. His leadership is being overwhelmed by the strength of a minority that is seeming to power things there. What can be done to control, to create a situation where a vote can be had where you can pass it? CUPP: Oh, God, if I knew that answer, I - you know, I --

CUOMO: You must know it. You have glasses on. It makes you very intelligent.

CUPP: Unfortunately, I wasn't (INAUDIBLE) in the basement of tortilla (ph) coast having watered down margaritas in that Senate meeting. I don't know. I don't know what's going on.

Where Van is absolutely right, and let me agree with my "Crossfire" co-host on the left, where Van is absolutely right, President Obama and Democrats know that this has been good for business, OK? Bad for the country, good for business, good for the Democratic brand, to let Republicans sort of take responsibility for this shutdown, this fight, these maneuvers has been good for Democrats and Republicans were wrong not to predict that, not to anticipate that.

Where he might not be calculating right, is on the debt ceiling. He does not want to be the president of a country that defaults. So he has some caution there. And Republicans still have some leverage on the debt ceiling. Whether that's negotiated today or in January, Republicans have a little leverage. And where Van is right is that in November of 2014, Republicans are going to be banking on the fact that the country is reeling under the weight of a cumbersome Obamacare that is failing them, a government that is inefficient, not remembering the shutdown, not remembering this time in history, and so nationalizing, as Van said, that Obamacare disaster, and Democrats are going to have to deal with that very real reality next year.

CUOMO: I think a big reality check is coming from both.

CUPP: Yes.

CUOMO: S.E. Cupp, Van Jones, thank you very much. Continued success on "Crossfire."

CUPP: Thanks.

CUOMO: Thanks for being here.

Let's get over to Michaela now. A lot of news going on. So we're going to give you the five things you need to know for your new day.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Here we go, Chris.

Number one, police have arrested an employee at Los Angeles International Airport in connection with multiple dry ice explosions. Twenty-eight-year-old Dicarlo Bennett is being held on $1 million bail.

The death toll continuing to rise this morning following that massive 7.1 earthquake that struck the central Philippines. One hundred and forty-four people are reported dead, hundreds more injured, dozens still reported missing. A Florida sheriff has charged two girls, ages 14 and 12, with aggravated stalking. They both are accused of viciously bullying a 12- year-old girl who killed herself last month. It's currently, we should point out, Bullying Awareness Month.

The nine-year-old boy who snuck on to a flight to Las Vegas, well, he is back in Minnesota for a court hearing. A family spokesperson says his parents are likely to make statements afterwards.

And at number five, New Jersey voters going to the polls to elect a new U.S. senator in a special election. Newark Mayor Cory Booker led Republican Steve Lonegan by 10 points in the later polls.

And as you know, we always update those five things to go, so be sure to go to for the very latest.

CUOMO: All right. Coming up here on NEW DAY, a NEW DAY exclusive. He was just looking for help. Instead, police killed him. As simple as that. His fiance speaks out for the first time and she's speaking to us. Listen to her story and decide for yourself what should come next.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

We have an exclusive for you. An update on a former college football player shot and killed last month by North Carolina Police. Twenty- four-year-old Jonathan Ferrell had crashed his car late at night and went looking for help. Woman at a nearby home called 911, fearing he was trying to break in. When police arrived, the misunderstanding turned into tragedy. We're going to talk with Ferrell's fiance in just a moment. She's speaking out for the first time. But first, a look at the story.


CALLER: I need help.

DISPATCHER: Where are you at?

CALLER: There's a guy breaking in my front door.

DISPATCHER: There's a guy breaking in your front door?

CALLER: Yes, he's trying to kick it down.

CUOMO (voice-over): Charlotte Police believed Jonathan Ferrell, a former football player for Florida A&M University, came to this house looking for help after crashing his car nearby, but the woman inside, alone with her one-year-old son, called 911 thinking he was an intruder.

CALLER: He's in the front yard yelling. Oh my God, please.

CUOMO: Three officers responded to the call. When Ferrell approached, one used his Taser to try to subdue him, but failed. Then Officer Randall Kerrick began firing, 12 shots, hitting Ferrell 10 times, killing him instantly. Police soon learned Ferrell was actually a motorist in distress, finding his smashed car less than a block away.

RODNEY MONROE, CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA, POLICE CHIEF: At the time of the shooting, he was not armed. We did not detect any weapons. We're still in the very early stages of the investigation.

CUOMO: The Charlotte Police Department quickly called the shooting "excessive" and charged Kerrick with felony voluntary manslaughter less than 24 hours later. Kerrick was released on $50,000 bond and is now awaiting trial.

MICHAEL GREENE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We're confident that at the resolution of this case, it will be found that Officer Kerrick's actions were justified on the night in question.

CUOMO: For Ferrell's friends and family, there are still many unanswered questions, including what role, if any, race may have played in Ferrell's death. Despite her grief, Ferrell's mother says she forgives the officer who killed her son.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I pray for him each and every day, but I do want justice.


CUOMO: Joining us now is Cache Heidel, Jonathan Ferrell's fiancee. And we're also joined by Chris Chestnut, the attorney for the Ferrell family.

Thank you to both of you for being here.


CUOMO: I know this isn't easy, especially for you, Cache, but as we look at this situation, it's all become about what happened. Tell me about your fiance. What do you want people to know about this young man?

CACHE HEIDEL, VICTIM'S FIANCE: For me, he was the sweetest person that I have ever met. And, in fact, I -- my pet name for him was "sweets." So I called him "sweets." And he always liked to joke, to goof around, make people - make other people smile. He's always a joy to be around. He cared so much for other people more so than himself.

CUOMO: What was he doing that night? Where was he? What was going on?

HEIDEL: From my understanding, he had went out that night. He had made really good friends with some of his co-workers at Best Buy. He went out that night to, you know, just hang out with them.

CUOMO: Your understanding of your fiance, was there anything about his disposition that would ever put him in conflict with people in a situation like that, right, because that's the speculation? Oh, he must have gotten angry at the police. He must have done something wrong. When you heard the story of how the woman reacted, why she called 911, what she said, what did that mean to you?

HEIDEL: I completely understand her situation. You know, she's at home by herself, 2:00 in the morning with a baby. So I completely understand why she was frightened.

CUOMO: But, unfortunately, we're dealing with a situation where if not legal but public perception is going to be lined up against this young man.

CHESTNUT: Correct.

CUOMO: You know, that this search is going to be, what did he do to bring this on himself.


CUOMO: That's why I ask the questions this way just to make clear that each step along the way it's obvious from everything you know so far that this wasn't about Jon. Has anybody brought anything up to you about what Jon Ferrell would have been doing that night that's suspicious?

CHESTNUT: No, not at all. He has a car accident that, frankly, he was lucky to have survived. He's looking for help in the neighborhood. Someone calls 911. There's unconscious bias here. And so there's panic --

CUOMO: Unconscious bias.


CUOMO: What does has mean?

CHESTNUT: Unconscious bias means I think - first of all, he's knocking on the door asking for help. And there's no judgment on the lady who was alarmed and called 911. But had she taken the time to just speak through the door and find out what was going on rather than say he's trying to rob me or he's trying to beat down the door, I think she would have had a different understanding than what ultimately - what she eventually came to learn, which was that he was not threatening her, he was not trying to rob her. He was simply trying to get help after a car accident.

CUOMO: He was knocking on the door. There's no evidence to suggest that it was the window or he'd gone around the back?

CHESTNUT: Absolutely not.

CUOMO: Right?

CHESTNUT: He's knocking on the door. She initially opened the door. And so if it was a home invasion, he would have kicked the door in and run in.

CUOMO: Right. CHESTNUT: But the onus isn't on the homeowner. The onus really here is on the officer, because it's the officer's job, he's a trained professional, she's a citizen. She can panic. An officer cannot.

CUOMO: That's a good point. But you got to see the video, yes?


CUOMO: Do you see what the source of confidence is that this tape will exonerate Officer Kerrick?

CHESTNUT: I think the tape is the reason Officer Kerrick was arrested. I think once his superiors saw the blatant and not only negligence but this was cold blooded murder I think it's unprecedented for an officer to be arrested this quickly. I think the tape confirms that and I think frankly the facts his attorneys are alleging are wholly inconsistent with what's on the video. And that's we want to video to released. The public should see the video.


CHESTNUT: Because it tells the story better than anyone. You see them approaching Jonathan who is walking down the sidewalk in any kind of and walks briskly, about finally someone here to save me. And he thinks they're reacting to what he's been asking for, which is help. Even if they suspected that he was robbing the house from the 911 call most robbers run the other way when law enforcement comes towards them.

CUOMO: Absolutely, understood. So he proceeds to them this way. Then what happens?

CHESTNUT: And then immediately you see two lasers dead in his chest. Just nothing.

CUOMO: No words. No stop.

CHESTNUT: No words no nothing.

CUOMO: Hit the ground, get down?

CHESTNUT: Nothing. You see him raise his hands kind of like wait and then he starts walking faster, almost like wait, wait, wait, and then he goes off the camera and you hear shots. It's one, two, three, four, pause, one, two, three, four, five, six, pause, one, two. That's not a scared officer. That's someone who is intending to kill.

CUOMO: Charges were brought against the officer who does the shooting. Is that enough?

CACHE HEIDEL, VICTIM'S FIANCE: For now I guess it is. I mean I guess nothing really matters until he's actually convicted.

CUOMO: In death do you think he may serve as an example that may wind up changing things going forward? Is that a hope you have? HEIDEL: Yes, that is the hope I have. That his death will resound for a country that prides itself on being diverse and inclusive and you know accepting everyone for who they are.

CUOMO: We know two things. The first thing we know is about you. You had plans with Jon. You were engaged to be married, you're very young, and now you're going to have to live those dreams for both of you. You know that.

And we know something else, that this is the kind of story that you can't just leave alone. You can't even just leave it to the system, can you?

CHESTNUT: We can't at all and that's why we'll bring a civil suit to profound our own discovery, to conduct our own investigation to ensure that all of the truth is in the public domain especially this dash cam video. So America deserves to see this video, we deserve to have the video, it complements the 911 call and I think it answers a lot of questions and will lead to training. There are other police departments, there are other officers, there are other people who can learn from this video especially in the day of stand your ground.

CUOMO: We will stay on this story. Cache, I'm sorry I had to meet you this way but I'm glad I got to meet you. Thank you for taking this opportunity.


CUOMO: Mr. Chestnut to you as well.

CHESTNUT: Thank you Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Kate over to you.

BOLDUAN: All right Chris. Thank you. Great interview.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, Robert Redford talking politics, why he thinks more women should be in charge, when we come back.



Robert Redford is virtually silent in his new film. It's entitled "All is Lost" but when it comes to politics well the 77-year-old certainly has plenty to say. Our Nischelle Turner found that out when she had the opportunity, what an opportunity.


PEREIRA: To sit down with this film legend and she joins us for that second part of your conversation with him.

TURNER: Yes you know he doesn't do a lot of interviews but he does say what he means and means what he says. And he doesn't mince word. You know, in part one of our conversation, Robert Redford told me that he believes the ongoing battle in Washington is partially precipitated by race. That's his opinion. The question now, how does the country move forward?


TURNER (voice-over): Robert Redford's new film "All is Lost" takes you on one man's harrowing journey of survival. His fight to overcome against all odds a fight he likens to the ongoing battle in Washington and President Obama's contentious relationship with some Republicans.

(on camera): But we still have a government to run. You know he still has to lead a nation. You work with big crews, people that you may not love or that you may not get along with, how do you do it? What would be your advice? How do they start talking and get something done together, even if you don't like each other?

ROBERT REDFORD, ACTOR: Well, I think whatever idea I would have had to make things work just wouldn't have been accepted by this minority faction. I think that no matter what you would propose they would go against it because their determination was to destroy this person. They wanted, if it meant destroying the government, anything to keep him from succeeding. Ok --

TURNER (voice-over): Redford's hope for change a new generation, and gender, crediting female Senators like Susan Collins for putting politics aside to get a deal done.

REDFORD: I think the future should belong more to women and young people.

TURNER: I won't argue with that.

REDFORD: Well no, I guess not and young people. I think the young people today that are just coming into age are, give them the reins. I think they can do better than we have.

TURNER: Why did it take these women coming in to get these guys talking and to possibly get a deal done to avoid default?

REDFORD: Because a lot of the men that were in control were behaving stupidly. So I mean sometimes you say can we be this dumbed-down or am I actually hearing what I'm hearing from some of these people? You know are they -- are they really, is that really happening? It's sad.

TURNER: Now you said you'd like to see more women in charge. And I have to ask you, are you supporting a Hillary run in 2016?



REDFORD: No I'm not supporting anything now. I just think that by and large I wouldn't single out one woman over another. I just think that -- I think it's time to give more women a chance and maybe it's happening. I think more women are coming into Congress, you know, but young people as well, give them a chance. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TURNER: You know Robert Redford really applauded Susan Collins and her bipartisan efforts in this whole partial shutdown and debt ceiling battle and whatnot. and he thought with her reaching out and saying I've had enough of this, let's try to get something done, he really applauded that and he loved the way she approached the situation.

PEREIRA: It's interesting, we did crunch the numbers, 19 percent of women in both chambers of Congress -- but it's interesting to think that we have come a long way. There's still more room.

CUOMO: Even just a couple of drops of women into the situation.

TURNER: I think Kate -- it's interesting, Kate, you've been covering politics for so long, what do you think? Are you seeing the change? Are you seeing more women coming in and getting more involved and more involved?

BOLDUAN: I think what you see right now especially right now in the middle of this fight is the growing power of women in congress. You've got 20 women senators right now, 20 out of the 100 senators but they make up I think about half of the bipartisan group that were trying to work out a deal when it seemed no one was talking to each other otherwise.

So you've got Susan Collins as you mentioned. I talked to Kelly Ayotte today, Lisa Murkowski and you have Democrats on the other side trying to work toward a compromise. I'm not saying that all of the women are in lock step with each other, they all have different political backgrounds, they all represent different districts but you are seeing a growing power of women in Congress and I don't think anyone can tell you with a straight face that that isn't a great thing.

I think more of that it broadens the conversation. And off camera, Kelly Ayotte and I were talking about how do you balance the family and the kids and everything. She's like just like everything else -- you balance it all. You don't do it or you do as best you can and I thought that was a pretty refreshing comment. She told me that today.

PEREIRA: That's so true, Kate. Thanks so much.

On that, we'll take a short break. We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: That's it for me in Washington and us -- all of us in New York. Thank you for watching NEW DAY today.

Much more coverage on the debt ceiling showdown.

Carol Costello continues our coverage.