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Virginia State Senator Attacked At Home; Toronto Council Conflict With Crack-Smoking Mayor Continues

Aired November 19, 2013 - 11:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It's Tuesday, November 19th. Welcome to LEGAL VIEW.

We want to begin with breaking news. Virginia state senator Creigh Deeds is in critical condition right now -- this after being stabbed in his own home in western Virginia. Mark Preston is live with me now in Washington, D.C. There are a lot of stories that are floating out there. But what do we know for sure right now Mark.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, Ashleigh, we're being very careful at this point.

We do know that, Creigh Deeds, he was the Democratic gubernatorial nominee back in 2009. He lost the race to the current governor, Bob McDonnell.

He was assaulted at his home, early this morning. State police showed up, found the crime scene, was able to transport him to the hospital in Charlottesville.

There is another person who is deceased at the residence. State police is not telling us who that person is.

Lots of stories out there, some have suggested that it is a family member. CNN has not been able to confirm that.

We should know more details, though, Ashleigh, at noon. State police, Virginia state police will be holding a news conference in Charlottesville.

Quite a stunner right now in the political world, but certainly in Virginia, Creigh Deeds, very well-known.

As somebody who was very close to him just told me, he is the type of person that you want to see in politics, a very descent, a very honorable, a very humble man.

And right now, a man who is fighting for his life in the hospital.

BANFIELD: And so many tweets and announcements of support are coming in from a broad range of the political spectrum here, as well, Mark.

But just to be really clear, with the response that we're seeing, at least with the emergency response that we're seeing, is there any indication at all that this is politically motivated? Or are they even going that far, right now, the emergency response?

PRESTON: No, they're not saying anything in regards to politics. And I would be very surprised, Ashleigh, if this has anything to do with politics.

Quite frankly -- and we should say that this occurred in a very rural part of Virginia. Creigh Deeds is from Bath County. That is in the very far, western part of Virginia where this occurred.

In fact, that's why they had to take him to Charlottesville where they have the facilities. And, in fact, that's where the Virginia state police is going to be holding their briefing in an hour, because of the rural nature of where he lives.

But, no, politics, I would be very surprised if this had any role in it, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: And apart from that, do we also know that the scene at this point is even secure, or are they simply reacting to now a criminal crime scene that they need to process? Or is there any other danger, at this point, that we may know is still out there?

PRESTON: No, I think it is very much the latter at this point, although they're being very careful on the details.

As you know, Ashleigh, in cases like this, you don't know until you know. And I think at this point the Virginia state police is conducting the investigation.

They've got the state senator out of the residence. They've got him at the hospital, and they do know that there's another individual who is deceased at the residence.

BANFIELD: You know, this is just so sad, no matter how you look at this.

Thank you very much, Mark Preston, watching this for us in our Washington offices, our political director on the job for us. As well, we've got a correspondent en route to the scene.

And I mentioned just as I was talking to Mark Preston that there is response coming in from across the political spectrum.

I have a statement from Virginia's governor, Bob McDonnell, who you know is a Republican, and the victim in this instance is a Democrat.

I want to read a portion of the statement for you, if I may. It's just been coming in to our office.

"The news from this morning is utterly heartbreaking. Creigh Deeds is an exceptional and committed public servant who has always done what he believes is best for Virginia and who gives his all to public service.

"He cares deeply about Virginia and the people of Virginia care deeply for him. "I urge all Virginians today to join me in praying for a full and complete recover for Creigh and for many more years of his public service to the Commonwealth."

We are obviously going to continue to watch this for you and update you as we find out more about his condition.

In about two and a half hours, George Zimmerman is going to do something that he's pretty much grown accustomed to doing, and that's appear before a judge.

And yet again, the charges are serious, felony aggravated assault and two misdemeanors, domestic violence battery and criminal mischief.

Yesterday he says his girlfriend dropped a bombshell, that she is pregnant with his child, and as Alina Machado explains, that seems to be when things turned allegedly very violent.


911: What's going on?

CALLER: He's in my house breaking all my (inaudible)) because I asked him to leave. He has his freaking gun, breaking all of my stuff right now.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's the 911 call, authorities say George Zimmerman's girlfriend made during a domestic dispute that allegedly turned violent inside the home that they shared.

CALLER: I'm doing this again? You just broke my glass table. You just broke my sunglasses. You put your gun in my freaking face and told me to get the (inaudible) out.

Because this is not your house. No, get out of here.

MACHADO: The woman told the 911 operator she was pushed out of her house by Zimmerman, and that he had a shotgun, an AR-15 and two handguns inside.

She also said the fight started after she had asked the 30-year-old to leave.

But Zimmerman tells a different story in his own 911 call.

ZIMMERMAN: My girlfriend has, for lack of a better word, gone crazy on me.

MACHADO: Police were already at the Apopka, Florida, house when Zimmerman made the call.

He told the operator he wanted everyone to know the truth about what happened.

ZIMMERMAN: She just started smashing stuff, taking stuff that belonged to me, throwing it outside, throwing it out of her room, throwing it all over the house.

She broke a glass table because she threw something on it.

MACHADO: Zimmerman went on to explain how the fight started, saying the woman told him she was pregnant and wanted to raise their child without him.

ZIMMERMAN: She got mad that I guess I told her I would be willing to leave.

911: OK.

ZIMMERMAN: I guess she thought I was going to argue with her, but she's pregnant. I'm not going to put her through that kind of stress.

MACHADO: Zimmerman denied using a weapon to threaten the woman.

Responding officers say they used the alleged victim's key to get in and pushed their way through furniture Zimmerman had placed behind the door.

They found Zimmerman inside, unarmed, his misdemeanor described as passive.

DENNIS LEMMA, SEMINOLE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Clearly he's had the opportunity to encounter a situation similar to this in the past, offered no resistance and cooperated the entire time.

MACHADO: It's not the first time Zimmerman has had a brush with the law since he was acquitted of murder in the shooting death of 17-year- old Trayvon Martin.

In September his estranged wife accused him of assault. Police investigated, and no charges were filed.

He has also been stopped twice for speeding, once in Texas where he got a warning, a second time in Florida where he was ticketed and fined $256.

Authorities say they want Zimmerman to undergo electronic monitoring if he is released.


His girlfriend, meanwhile, is Samantha Scheibe. She told investigators that she is not pregnant. Her mother tells us she is doing well and is in a safe place.


BANFIELD: Alina Machado, live for us. Thank you for that.

I also want to bring in HLN's legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson, who spent a lot of time anal analyzing any case by the name of Zimmerman, at this point it seems.


BANFIELD: All right, so, look, this is serious. When you point a gun at someone, and it's an allegation right now, when you point a gun at someone, that can carry with it some serious time behind bars.

JACKSON: Absolutely. So what they did here, Ashleigh, is the charge is aggravated assault. What does that mean?

It means, if you point a firearm at someone with ill intentions and that person is reasonably in belief of fear, then that constitutes, especially when you have a deadly weapon, an aggravated offense.

Now, why is that significant? It significant because an aggravated assault carries, if proven, guess what? A mandatory minimum of three years.

You can do up to five years, but the law takes away judicial discretion, meaning, if proven, three years, you get.

BANFIELD: No questions asked about that.

OK, so, what about this? Looks at this point in the early offings that there were only two people inside that house when this alleged incident occurred.

Yes, there's evidence of audio, but how hard is it to prove that a gun is pointed where someone is alleging it's been pointed?

JACKSON: Here's what happens, Ashleigh. It's a credibility assessment, right?

When it's one person, the other person, it could be he say, she say, but here's why there could be more here. It's about corroboration.

Number one, she says he pushed me out of the home and barricaded it with furniture. When the police got there, there was furniture behind that door. What is that? Corroboration.

Number two, he had a gun. When the police execute a search warrant, if they find a gun, what is that? Corroboration.

Number three, you have a tape. And she's really contemporaneously to events happening, saying what he's doing, OK? And so that could also be deemed as corroboration.

So, at the end of the day, it's about credibility. And if what she says is deemed to be credible, it's problematic for him.

BANFIELD: But it's always that issue of reasonable doubt.

JACKSON: Always.


JACKSON: Defense attorneys love it.

BANFIELD: As we've seen in the last Zimmerman case.

All right, Joey Jackson, thank you for that.

JACKSON: A pleasure.

BANFIELD: So quick, too, on the uptake on this one. I appreciate that.

So the other story that just will not seem to go away, much to my chagrin, it's my fellow Canadians, and that one in particular, Rob Ford's rants.

The crack-smoking mayor continues to deliver video and audio every day that continues to amaze, running, pushing, yelling and apologizing, and all this at an official council meeting.

People, he's not done yet. I don't know about you, but if you can't get enough Rob Ford, I've got a bunch coming at you after the break.


BANFIELD: If there is one thing that you can say about Toronto's embattled Mayor Rob Ford -- stop. I know there are many things that you can say about him, but one is this. He is never lacking for the outrageous quip.

The latest, he's vowing outright war, and I'm talking Iraq-style, his words not mine, against the Toronto city council, because the council decided to strip him of a lot of his important powers.

And then there was this little number. There's Councilor Ford, knocking an elderly co-councilor off her feet during a meeting yesterday.

He said it was an accident. He later apologized for it. But there you have it.

This morning on the "Today" show, he decided to take to the cameras again, this time live, dodging a question about how he could possibly handle a major emergency, like -- I don't know -- say, a terrorist attack if he was on a drinking binge, as he's admitted to doing in the past.


MAYOR ROB FORD, TORONOTO: I'm very fortunate that hasn't happened. It's very few isolated incidents that it's happened.

And you're absolutely right. I'm very fortunate that that hasn't happened.

But that could happen with anybody at any time.

MATT LAUER, NBC HOST, "TODAY": Do you still want this job?

FORD: Absolutely. October 27th, let the people decide. LAUER: What if they say we want another guy like Rob Ford when it comes to the fiscal responsibility, but we want the guy who's going to elevate the office and not bring the baggage that Mayor Ford brought.

FORD: They're not going to find another Rob Ford.


BANFIELD: Yeah, cause he's already saying he wants to be prime minister now. Oh Canada. CNN's Nic Robertson went oh Canada now, he's live with me with more on the mayor's agenda. Have a listen to how Nic is wrapping up just the last 24 hours.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The item as amended.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mayor Ford went down 36 votes to 5. His answer?

FORD: This, folks, reminds me of when, and I was watching with my brother, when Sudan attacked Kuwait. You guys have just attacked Kuwait. And you will never -- you will never see something that -- mark my words, friends, this is going to be outright war in the next election.

ROBERTSON: The battle began even before the vote. Another Mayor Ford moment that he might like to forget. In council chambers, shouting members of the public, and then this. Accidentally knocking an elderly councilor to the floor. Not his finest hour.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mayor Ford, your time is up. Mayor Ford --

ROBERTSON: In the battle to strip his powers, few in the council, except his brother Doug on his side.

DOUG FORD, MAYOR FORD'S BROTHER: What is happening today is an overthrow of a democratically elected mayor illegally. This is what you see in third world nations.

ANNOUNCER: "Ford Nation" comes to Sun U (ph). The Mayor of Mayhem, like you've never seen him before. The booze, the dope.

FORD: You've heard the criticism and the councilors. Now tonight, I want you to listen to me.

ROBERTSON: In a new talk show creating his own world, "Ford Nation."

FORD: I want to thank my supporters for sticking with me. I guarantee you're going to see a change in the next few months.

ROBERTSON: His words, his message, for an hour under control until he stepped out of the studio falling over a photographer.

FORD: I didn't push her.

ROBERTSON: That's all he said.

FORD: I didn't even touch her.


BANFIELD: No, you're right, Nic, he didn't say I'm sorry, or are you okay? He said, I didn't touch her. What is on the agenda today? And when I use that term, I use it liberally. I don't mean the council agenda, I mean the whole agenda of this ridiculous story?

ROBERTSON: The whole agenda is bust (ph). Anything the mayor says he's going to take the council to court over this, he's seeking legal advice, but he hasn't put in an injunction yet. They're still working on it. He hasn't shown up at the office here this morning. He's out in the constituency helping out with them.

But there's a lot more going to happen here. On Wednesday you're going to have the media go to court and get some of that 500 page police document that was heavily redacted, get more of that opened up to the public. Try to get a couple of videos out of the police. So, there's a whole lot going on. The councilors here I'm talking to are thinking, yes, great, we can get on with our work finally. But Mayor Ford is not out of this yet, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: And I hope the elderly councilor is okay today after being nearly tackled. For the life of me, I can't figure out what would have been so important to charge through her like that. Let us know when you've got something else. Probably within 20 minutes.

He never thought he would get a Toronto city hall job. Our senior internal correspondent, Nic Robertson. Thank you for that.

Let's get a check on Wall Street back here in the good old U.S. of A, find out what's going on because we had a wonderful milestone yesterday, 1600. We're getting down below it, but we're taking another run, it seems, at the 1600 mark. Of course that was a first time ever, and we might have a second time ever right now. The Dow - about - up about 11, maybe 12-ish points. For the year, though, the Dow's up 22, so celebrate your 401(k) for now, anyway.

Other news making stories today, thousands of people in the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, commemorating the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. And if that isn't Antonin Scalia, I'll be a monkey's uncle, without question. This is the Supreme Court justice who is at the microphones. You'll know that Lincoln's oration was delivered be about five months after the major Civil War battles at Gettysburg. And it is regarded as one of the America's greatest speeches despite the fact that it was a mere three minutes long, and it wasn't the key address of the day either. No, but boy did it get traction.

Finding the cause of an airplane crash. Investigators are digging through the rubble. But a security camera could prove to provide the best clues into this terrifying accident. You're going to see that disturbing video and find out specifically what it tells us, next.


BANFIELD: Horrifying video that shows the final moments before a Russian plane crashed and killed all 50 people who were onboard. Take a look at that video. It is vertical, simply vertical as it nosedives to the ground and that fireball is just awesome. Sadly, the officials don't know why it crashed yet. But they have recovered the data recorders. I'm joined now by Richard Quest, who is host of "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" on CNN INTERNATIONAL. That's remarkable to watch. But does it tell us anything particularly?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Oh, yes. For the investigators, they've got the data recorder, they've got the necessary equipment. But that tells them that the plane had -- did not have thrust. There was no momentum. It fell out of the sky. And once you know those facts, you can start to work backwards as to realize either engine failure, massive engine failure or major structural failure of the airplane. All have stall (ph), the wing stall (ph) of some sort, because of slow speed. We know the plane was coming in to land. We know there had been one approach already. It was on its second attempt. We knew that already. Now we need to know what was going on. This was a critical moment of flight. Clearly something happened which made the plane unstable and loss of control and the result.

BANFIELD: I said the data recorder. Do they have the voice recorder as well?

QUEST: Yes, it's a 737, 23 years old.

BANFIELD: That's my other question. Whenever I hear about Russian planes crashing, I think about the old days where they had such an antiquated fleet. This is not one much those planes.

QUEST: No. It's old -- it's aged but not old. Providing it's been well-maintained, there's no reason why it shouldn't have been in tip- top condition flying. Looking a at the circumstances so far with the bad weather and all the other issues, I'm guessing that's where we're going to end up.

BANFIELD: I hear Boeing 737 and I think, I fly on those. I know I fly on 23-year-old planes --

QUEST: 7,000 of them in service. Do not fret.

BANFIELD: Thank you. That's why I was so critically interested in this particular story. We fly on those planes as well. Thank you, Richard, I will talk with you more about this.

We've got breaking news that I'm following as well in Virginia. It's just so distressing. A state senator, Creigh Deeds, is in critical condition right now after being stabbed in his own home. We've got more details coming up. Right after the break.


BANFIELD: And we continue to follow this breaking news this morning. Virginia state senator Creigh Deeds, we now know was stabbed in an attack inside his own home this morning. He was flown to the hospital. He's in critical condition. We just don't have many other confirmed details. Lots of stories running rampant. Few utterly confirmed (ph) details, to tell you this, Mr. Deeds ran for governor of Virginia against Governor McDonnell, but he lost back in 2009. This is a photo of him and his family right before he gave his concession speech.