Return to Transcripts main page


Mechanical Causes Ruled Out; Nobel Peace Prize Given Today; Celebrating A "Monumental" Life; Did Student Get Violent?; Two Adults, Four Children Missing; Leaders Celebrate Mandela

Aired December 10, 2013 - 07:30   ET


JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Here is D.C., pushing into areas like Baltimore and pushing into Philly right now. We'll be in New York City in the next couple of hours, just on the fringes right there. What we're looking at, isolated amounts, 3 to 5 inches could see about 1 to 2 inches within the city itself. And then the surrounding areas could see higher amounts, so this is going to push on out later this evening.

The good news is, it is going to push on quickly. We'll get a little bit of a breather after this passes later on this afternoon and then the next system possibly moving in a little bit later towards the weekend. But Michaela, how is this for a stat? Philadelphia on Sunday received more snow in that one day than they received all year last year.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: In one day, no amounts of snow blowers or shovels could help with that. All right, Jennifer, we'll be keeping an eye on that with you. Thank you so very much. Let's take a look at your headlines right now.

Three Miami police officers reportedly have been shot in Northwest Miami in a series of shootings, all of them have been sent to trauma centers. Their injuries are not life-threatening we're told. It is unclear what exactly led to the shootings. Local media is reporting a suspect involved in the shootings was also transported. We'll continue to keep an eye on this story.

Secretary of State John Kerry is heading to Capitol Hill today. He's expected to clash with Congress over the fragile Iran nuclear agreement. Bipartisan of lawmakers are preparing a possible vote on new sanctions against Tehran. The White House has warned any sanctions going to jeopardize the historic deal freezing Iran's nuclear program.

Meantime, federal investigators continuing to rule out mechanical problems as the cause of a deadly train derailment earlier this month in New York. They're revealing one more clue, suggesting that human error might have been to blame. About 10 minutes before the December 1st derailment, Engineer William Rockefeller failed to dim the train's headlights as required when it pass another train further suggesting he might have lost focus before that accident.

It is a question of intent in the murder trial of the woman charge with pushing her husband off a cliff to his death. In opening arguments, defense lawyers for Jordan Graham admits she pushed Cody Johnson during an argument this summer in Monday, but they say his fatal fall was an accident. Prosecutors say Graham did it on purpose and tried to cover it up because she was unhappy in her new marriage.

The Nobel Peace Prize is being presented today in Norway. Weapons inspectors overseeing the removal of chemical arms from Syria are receiving the award. The Nobel Committee chairman has said the award was decided even before the group was tasked with its work in Syria. The organization for their prohibition of chemical weapons receives $1.2 million among other prizes. Those are your headlines -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of news going on here and around the world this morning. Let's get straight back to Chris with the big story of the morning at the soccer stadium in Johannesburg, watching this memorial play out. Good morning, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I have to tell you, Kate, this has really something to behold here. People started lining up last night to get into the FNB. This used to be soccer city for the world cup, this stadium. The rain has been pretty heavy on and off all morning. The weather has been cold. The people came and they have been up on their feet for so much of the morning, singing and chanting songs of celebration of a man, Nelson Mandela, who was so much more than a man.

We had U.S. President Barack Obama who gave a very moving tribute here, that sent echoes not just to other world leaders and to South Africans but to those back home in the United States. There have been other world leaders here, there have been big moments, but there was a lot before the president here.

This was about the South African people, the family of Nelson Mandela, and there's been a lot of emotion and things you need to see if you didn't get a chance. We go to Errol Barnett who has been following it for us here all morning long. Here are the highlights in case you missed them.


ERROL BARNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hours before the ceremony began, there was singing, dancing and celebration. The wet weather not dampening spirits.

PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA, SOUTH AFRICA: We were not able to stop the rain. When it rains when you're buried, it means that your Gods are welcoming you.

BARNETT: Tens of thousands of mourners listened to the mass choir sing the South African national anthem. This followed by prayer. Leaders and public figures from 91 different nations, including President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, waved to a roaring crowd. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also paying tribute.

BAN KI-MOON, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: Nelson Mandela was more than one of the greatest leaders of our time. He was one of our greatest teachers.

BARNETT: And Mandela's grandchildren who ignited the cheers of the entire stadium.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You tower over the world like a comet, leaving streaks of light for us to follow.

BARNETT: In fact those overwhelming cheers, forcing a good-natured plea for order.

ZUMA: Can we appeal for those behind the stage to please tone down their singing.

BARNETT: And then an unprecedented sight, President Obama shaking hands with Cuban President Raul Castro.


CUOMO: And that handshake obviously was a huge moment but not to be misunderstood. The handshake with Raul Castro, the president of Cuba, we believe was President Obama showing respect to Nelson Mandela and the occasion of today and the spirit of reconciliation. Of course, it going to be dissected politically but remember, right after President Obama spoke, not long after, you had the vice president of China and you had the president of India and you had the president of Brazil.

We have Raul Castro, the president of Cuba upcoming soon. No matter the ongoing political disputes, on this day it was about something bigger, about forgiveness and reconciliation. It was about a man who was bigger, Nelson Mandela, that is what the tribute has been all about today.

We'll certainly continue for hours and days and weeks to come as this country, South Africa, reconciles itself with the loss of such a huge figure. A lot of other news for you this morning. Let's get you back to Kate Bolduan in New York -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Keeping up context is very important on this day as you well say, Chris. We'll take a break. We'll be right back with NEW DAY.

Coming up, new details this morning about what happened when an honor student was shot and killed by campus police. But for fellow students, the officer's story, for them, isn't adding up.

PEREIRA: It's a snow ball fight on a college campus that got out of hand. It went viral. Now a football star involved is suspended. How that going to affect an important bowl game, coming up.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. We're learning more about what really is being described as a bizarre incident that left a student dead at a Texas Christian College. Campus police now say the 23-year- old hit a police officer with his baton, forcing the officer to fire at him. But his friends, the students' friends, say the honor student would not do that. CNN's George Howell has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the campus of the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio, students struggle to make sense of two very different stories about 23-year-old Cameron Ridas. Friends remember him as an honor student, as peaceful and well liked.

JONATHAN QUAJANO, FRIEND OF VICTIM: I've known Cameron for two years. He really is one of the nicest, most caring, compassionate guys ever, not a mean bone in his whole body.

HOWELL: Police say they saw a very different Cameron Ridas, who one allegedly attacked a police officer who they say fired his weapon in self-defense, killing Ridas. Investigators describe a violent 6- minute confrontation. They say he's pulled off by corporal crisis carter for driving erratically.

RICHARD PRUITT, ALAMO HEIGHTS POLICE DEPARTMENT: He instructed him 14 times to place his hands behind his back and informed him three times that he was under arrest and stop resisting 56 times.

HOWELL: Richard Pruitt, Of The Alamo Heights police department, says the officer's patrol car captured the audio of what happened through a rearview camera, but did not capture the actual confrontation. The University of Incarnate Word put out this statement saying the change in temperature prevented the glue from setting and it had fallen off the evening before the incident. Carter says Ridas continued resisting arrest and the confrontation escalated. He says he told the student four times to stop or he would open fire.

PRUITT: Officer Carter deployed a collapsible baton to protect himself from further attack, but the baton was taken away from him by Robert Ridas to struck him several times on the arm and head.

HOWELL: At some point, police say Officer Carter was able to knock the baton from the suspect's hand.

PRUITT: Officer Carter stated that Robert Ridas then charged at him with his arm raised as if to strike him and that's when he fired his weapon six times, striking Robert Ridas five times.

HOWELL: Ridas was pronounced dead at the scene when medics arrived, the victim's friends question the police account.

SARA GHANAM, FRIEND OF VICTIM: If there was no dash cam, how do we ever know what really happened that night? How do we fully know if what was said is true?

HOWELL: George Howell, CNN, Chicago.


BALDWIN: George, thank you so much for that.

For more on this let's bring in retired New York Police Detective Steve Kardian. Steve, thanks for coming in.

STEVE KARDIAN, RETIRED POLICE DETECTIVE, NEW YORK: Pleasure. BOLDUAN: I mean, it's a tragic ending to something that should not have escalated to an altercation at all. A lot of details we don't know because there is no dash cam video. What is your take on how this transpired?

KARDIAN: It is a tragedy anytime we see someone so young die as a result of a motor vehicle stop. The chief just said he told this individual so many times to turn around and put his hands behind his back. Six minutes, that's a lifetime to a police officer that's engaged in combat.

BALDWIN: What does that tell you?

KARDIAN: That tells me this was a violent encounter. We saw a similar case to this back last year in the University of South Alabama in which a student was under the influence of a drug and you know, they exhibit superhuman strength.

BOLDUAN: Toxicology reports not back in this incident.


BOLDUAN: We don't know that really.

KARDIAN: We don't.

BOLDUAN: How do you square the fact that you have students that know him, you have this description of him, that he was a gentle boy, and then you also have a police officer who has years of experience, how did it escalate to this level? Do you think this could have, should have, ended without a gun being fired?

KARDIAN: We never like to see deadly physical force being employed, especially in this institution, on a college campus. However, when the officer runs out of options, when he's being struck with his own baton, he has to resort to deadly physical force if he believes he's about to be killed.

BOLDUAN: How -- does it play into this at all that we're talking about a campus police officer versus an officer with the local police department? Does that play into this?

KARDIAN: The mission of the campus police is a little bit different. They're not exposed to as much as a police officer from a stay or municipality would be exposed to, but that being said, they received the same training. He had eight years with the police department and there's a lot yet that has to come out. They're going to go through his history with a fine tooth comb. They'll go through this incident in very specific detail.

BOLDUAN: There are reports of multiple gunshots to this young man. Does that seem excessive?

KARDIAN: We have the Hollywood effect. We don't see one shot stops an individual. Often its many bullets that are fired before the actions of any individual, especially a violent person, are stopped. BOLDUAN: How big of a problem do the investigation is it that there is no dash cam video, that there is a story that's unfortunate, that there should be dash cam footage, but because of a temperature change it had fallen off.

KARDIAN: We'd know much clearer what occurred but we do have audio. As long as that audio supports what the officer said occurred to him that should be solid evidence.

BOLDUAN: What should people expect going forward? The officer has been put on administrative leave, which is standard in situations like this.

KARDIAN: The police department and the district attorney going to at some point become involved. They're going to go from the moment he came on duty and look at until the termination of this incident. How long were they engaged in battle, they'll look for surveillance video?

BOLDUAN: Do you have a gut sense of how this going to turn out?

KARDIAN: It's a little bit early, but right now based upon the information, should it hold true, that this individual was attempting to strike him or striking him with the baton, he'd be justified with the information we have this time.

BOLDUAN: We'll see. Steve Kardian, thank you so much for joining us. Great to see you.

PEREIRA: Coming up on NEW DAY, a race against time to find two adults and four little children who went missing in the mountains. Snow and freezing temperatures are making it really tough for the rescue team. We'll have the latest on the frantic search.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. You saw the graphic. Extreme weather continues to slam the east coast this morning. Let's check in with Jennifer Gray to see where it is going and where it is right now. Jennifer?

GRAY: Well, it is not letting up. Snow pulling into D.C., Baltimore right now, just started in Philly in the past couple of minutes and New York, you are next. It is starting to pull into the outlying areas for you. We could see anywhere from 2 to 3" inside the city. Outside the city, snowfall amounts could equal anywhere from 3 to 5".

Good news about this system, it's going to pull on out pretty quickly. We'll track this low for you today around 11:00, still seeing the snow, some areas seeing freezing rain to the south. This going to pull on out by this afternoon, leaving us with better weather and a little bit of a breather as we go through the next couple of days.

The other big story going to be the lake-effect snow up in the north, could see 2 inches to 4 inches throughout the day in some areas. Upstate New York, Kate, could see up to a foot of snow later today.

PEREIRA: All right, thanks so much, Jennifer.

Those freezing temperatures that have gripped the nation are making the search for a missing family incredibly difficult this morning. Two adults and their four children have been missing in the Nevada Mountains since Sunday night. Now, snow and subzero temperatures have increased concern for the family's safety.

CNN's correspondent, Pamela Brown joins us now. They went out to have a little bit of fun in the snow.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They did, Sunday at noon to play in the snow, according to their family. They were reported missing, Michaela, 8:00 pm on Sunday night. A boyfriend and girlfriend, Christina McKenzie, 25. They took their two children, ages 3 and 4, and a niece and nephew out. They haven't had any communication with their family since they went out Sunday.

This is really a race against the clock. Search and rescue team out, conducting an aerial search. It's becoming a dire situation because of the frigid temperatures. At one point it got to 16 below zero and we're expecting the clouds to move in which, of course, could hamper the search and rescue efforts.

So what authorities are hoping for is that they're going to be able to see the top of their jeep, silver jeep with a blacktop. The hope is, of course, that they would be able to spot that. Other than that, they don't have anything to work with.

PEREIRA: Aerial support is so important. They'll try to pick up any signal pinging off towers to try to locate them. They were probably dressed for the weather because they were going out to play in the snow. Do we have a sense that they have any supplies, emergency gear or were used to this terrain?

BROWN: Authorities are simply saying they don't know what kind of supplies they had with them they don't know how prepared they were.

PEREIRA: They might have gone out for an afternoon in the snow.

BROWN: Exactly. But you know, these were conditions that probably weren't conducive to going out and playing in the snow. It's just concerning they're in a situation that it is dire. They're hoping they stayed in their jeep, of course. That is the best case scenario. At this point, it's just uncertain exactly where they are. They narrowed it to down to a remote area 100 miles northeast of Reno.

PEREIRA: Give us an update when you have one. We appreciate that, Pamela Brown. The desperate search continues for that missing family. Thank you so much.

BROWN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, is the NSA going undercover in the video gaming world? New information that everyone needs to know.

PEREIRA: We are going to take you back live to South Africa for continuing coverage of the Nelson Mandela memorial. We are going to look at President Obama's powerful tribute to the late icon.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Nelson Mandela reminds us it always seems impossible until it is done.


CUOMO: Live from South Africa, happening now, the Mandela memorial, one of the largest gatherings of world leaders ever over shadowed by the joy and sorrow of a nation. Nearly 100,000 celebrating in person. President Obama paying tribute. We're covering it all.

BOLDUAN: Closed for business. The federal government shut down this morning. A massive snow maker pounding the northeast, millions bracing for a brutal commute, we're tracking it all.

PEREIRA: Spy games, literally. The NSA is now infiltrating video games. Are terrorists using games to plan and carry out attacks? Your NEW DAY continues, right now.

CUOMO: You hear, that is --

BOLDUAN: It's Tuesday, December 10th, 8:00 in the east. I'm Kate Bolduan here in New York. There's Chris Cuomo right there.

CUOMO: Kate, sorry about that. It's so loud in the stadium down here in South Africa. It's hard to hear what's going on. Apologize for that. Right now, I'm speaking over the president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, the most recent of many great speakers this morning. This has been a phenomenal moment, this memorial to Nelson Mandela.

There's been rain, but it has not dampened the spirits of the people here at all. So many have come out to hear the message, the dignitaries, President Obama with three former U.S. presidents and that was just the beginning here.

So many people in positions of leadership in this stadium who ordinarily wouldn't want to be in a zip code of each other, let alone side by side, but for Nelson Mandela, they were here. The party, intimates, the family of Nelson Mandela, so much here, so much to talk about. Let's recap for you with a piece from Errol Barnett.