Return to Transcripts main page


Rodman Bows and Sings for North Korean Leader; Sole Survivors of Plane Crashes Wrestle with Guilt; White House on Defense Over Gates Memoir; Christie: "I Am Outraged. I Was Misled"

Aired January 8, 2014 - 19:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Next, bridge over troubled water. Chris Christie under fire today accused of plotting political revenge.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I find it hard to believe that this administration wasn't directly involved in orchestrating this.


LEMON: Is it the end of his presidential dreams?

Plus, Dennis Rodman's strange trip gets even stranger.

And a call for help ends with a deadly police shooting. The stepbrother of the teenage victim talks to CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They had the situation completely under control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the third officer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The third officer is 100 percent in the wrong.



Good evening, everyone. I'm Don Lemon in for Erin. We are going to begin with breaking news tonight. A controversy involving New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is intensifying. CNN has just obtained a letter that shows what started as a local political fight had real life or death consequences.

We are learning that the traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge in November, which may have within intentionally created by Chris Christie's staff as political pay back delayed paramedics responding to a woman suffering from a heart attack. That's the accusation tonight from a city official in New Jersey.

Joe Johns has the letter just obtained by CNN. What does it say, Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, yes. It's a new headache for the Chris Christie administration. A letter from the Emergency Medical Services coordinator in Fort Lee, New Jersey, he ticks off four occasions when Emergency Medical crews were delayed from responding to calls apparently due to the change in traffic patterns in the Fort Lee area.

We're talking about a vehicle accident with injuries involving four patients, a woman in cardiac arrest who was pronounced at a local hospital and a couple cases of people experiencing chest pains. The letter was dated September 10th of last year. This shows why the evidence of intentionally created delays on the George Washington Bridge are so serious for the governor's office.


JOHNS (voice-over): First, there was snarled traffic on the George Washington Bridge and now newly exposed e-mail traffic between members of Governor Chris Christie's inner circle raised questions over whether the gridlock was intentional and politically motivated pay back.

The closest thing from a smoking gun is this August 13th message from the governor's deputy chief of staff. "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." Funny because the official reason for the gridlock was a traffic study reviewing safety patterns for toll lanes.

Problem is, the town that felt most of the pain was Fort Lee, New Jersey, whose Democratic mayor had endorsed Christie's opponent in the gubernatorial race in November. Democrats in the state pounced.

JOHN WISNIEWSKI (D), NJ ASSEMBLY DEPUTY SPEAKER: There was some reason that they felt it was necessary to inflict some measure of retribution or punishment either on Fort Lee or the mayor of Fort Lee.

JOHNS: But Christie sarcastically denied his office was involved in the bridge problem.

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I actually was the guy working the cones out there. You really are not serious with that question.

JOHNS: That was in December. Today, the governor releasing a statement calling the e-mails unacceptable and saying he's outraged that he was misled by a member of his staff and that the completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without his knowledge.


JOHNS: May not be the end of it. The other headache for Governor Christie is that he didn't know what was going on in his own office. While he says he was misled by a member of the staff, the e-mails seem to suggest that more than one staffer may have had knowledge of what was going on. The governor tonight promised accountability for those responsible -- Don.

LEMON: Thank you, Joe. Joining me now is the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Thank you for coming in, Congresswoman.


LEMON: Democrats are quick to react today. The DNC sent out numerous e-mails, two web videos, bashing Christie. Christie put out a statement as I'm sure you're aware of saying the behavior is unacceptable among other things. Do you have evidence that he actually knew what was going on?

SCHULTZ: I think the investigation that is ongoing is going to -- through the questioning, particularly tomorrow when the assembly asks the right people under oath questions about exactly what happened and who and where these instructions came from to shut down three lanes of highway on the George Washington Bridge that not just -- not only snarled traffic but actually slowed down first responders from looking for a 4-year-old.

There are so many questions that need to be answered that Chris Christie has refused to answer thus far and today those e-mails revealed that there is smoke and that smoke leads right to the closest staff that he has in his office. If he's such a straight shooter, which he prides himself on, Don, why did it take seven hours for him to release a statement for him saying he was outraged and had no knowledge of it?

I can tell you if I knew nothing about something and had no knowledge, I would immediately release a statement. That doesn't take a lot of hand wringing to release a statement like that.

LEMON: So I would imagine you're not buying that he didn't know it and he is blaming it on his top aides after those e-mails surface. You're not buying that, correct?

SCHULTZ: Well, like I said, his statement and actions thus far have proven that he's not a straight shooter that he has claimed to be and the questions require answers. He needs to step up and face the music and answer those questions.

LEMON: So Congresswoman, here's what Republicans are saying today. They are saying President Obama faced a few controversies over the past year. Each time the president has claimed that he didn't know. He didn't know about the NSA spying on allies. He didn't know that about the Obamacare web site. He didn't know that if you -- that you wouldn't be able to keep your doctor -- so what's the difference between Christie not knowing and the president not knowing.

SCHULTZ: The difference is the issues that President Obama said he didn't know about were policy issues. This is a scandal. A scandal that leads right to his office in which his staff and possibly him exacted political retribution in retaliation for a Democratic mayor in Fort Lee refusing to endorse him in his re-election. As a result they ordered the shutdown of three lanes of the George Washington Bridge on the first day of school, snarling traffic, trapping children in school buses --

LEMON: Couldn't all the scandals even the president? I mean, I know the president has said that these -- he believes these are made up scandals. Couldn't they be all made up scandals?

SCHULTZ: How could we compare a governor and his staff potentially deliberately shutting down three lanes of highway in retaliation, which these e-mails that came out today show that it was in response to a mayor refusing to endorse their boss for his re-election. How you could compare that to health care policy, intelligence policy and foreign policy.

Now of those three things were scandals. They are not comparable. Chris Christie has to face the music. He has refused to answer questions for months. He has said from the beginning that he had nothing to do with this and knew nothing about it and that it didn't have anything to do with anyone at his office and it turns out none of that is true.

LEMON: OK, you know, the chairwoman of the DNC to come in, it must be a pretty big deal because Republicans are saying, listen, this is all politically motivated even possibly by the DNC and beyond because recent poll show that Clinton beats all opponents except for Christie. I'm talking about Hillary Clinton. If we were looking forward to 2016, it shows that Christie beats her by 2 points, 48 percent to 46 percent. Do they have a point?

SCHULTZ: Chris Christie is the governor of the state of New Jersey and the head of the National Governor's Association. His job this year, he said himself about a month ago, that his sole responsibility right now is to re-elect and elect Republican governors. So the guy who is in charge of electing and re-electing Republican governors has created a culture in his office at the very least that allowed his senior staff to think that it was OK to exact political retribution that impacted his constituents.

Shut down three lanes of highway on the bridge and he denied having -- his office having anything to do with it. There are more questions than answers. Chris Christie needs to be forthcoming. He needs to step up and answer the questions and he needs to do that immediately.

LEMON: Congresswoman, thank you very much.

Joining me now, CNN chief national correspondent, Mr. John King. John, can you unspin the spin for us here? Is this as big a deal as the Democrats might want to believe?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They certainly hope it is for a number of reasons. Number one, he's starting his new term as New Jersey's governor. He needs to get things done. Just like this, in the state of New Jersey this can set a governor back on his heels.

Number two, you just had the chairman of the DNC. What did she say? Yes, he is a potential 2016 candidate and the only Republican right now who even runs slightly ahead of Hillary Clinton. So they want to take him down without a doubt. They also want to make Republicans around the country afraid of Chris Christie this year, Don.

He is the chairman of the Republican Governors Association. He is supposed to raise all this money for the high profile governor races around the country. The success of Republicans in those governor's races will either help or hurt their House and Senate candidates. So look the Democrats see a star in the Republican Party.

They're trying to take him down. How the governor handles this in the next 72 hours or so including the next 24 hours is critical, both to his second term as governor and to his national ambitions.

LEMON: He's going to need someone like un-scandal to undo this possibly. Listen, it was hard. I have to be honest with you, John. I'm sure you know this. We were hard press to find a Republican today who would defend Chris Christie. What do you make of that?

KING: In fact, a number of Republicans, the office holders are walking away saying, call the governor's office, that's his business, not my business. You look at Rush Limbaugh, you look at a number of conservative commentators, the part of the Republican Party that doesn't like Chris Christie or they're suspicious, they're saying he sounds like Richard Nixon. He sounds vindictive.

We think he's too dangerous. He's a bully. That's a tough image. That's not a presidential temperament. That's been his challenge from day one because of the infamous YouTube videos. The video Joe John showed in his piece of the governor at the very beginning, laughing at reporters saying, you know, answer our questions about this thing.

I was the guy with the cones. Go away, that's not a serious question. Tonight, Don, these are serious questions. The governor has to step back and his staff and the biggest thing he has to worry about tonight, as he said, I was misled. As he says that, we have to assume he knows there is no way, no document that's going to trace this to him.

LEMON: Serious questions that demand serious answers. John King, appreciate it.

KING: Thank you.

LEMON: Still to come, the White House fights back. How the Obama administration is responding to the harsh criticism from the former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Plus, Dennis Rodman wishes the North Korean president a very happy birthday. One person who defends the basketball diplomacy OUTFRONT next.

And more changes announced at "Saturday Night Live."


LEMON: In just over an hour, Dennis Rodman and his team of former NBA players are expected to catch a flight back to Beijing after a controversial visit to North Korea. The purpose of the trip, an exhibition game pitting Rodman's roster against a North Korean team. Rodman opened the game by serenading his so-called best friend, Kim Jong Un, on his birthday.


LEMON: Well, Rodman called today's game, in front of 14,000 spectators, quote, "historic." But very few agree with Rodman's assessment.

The Reverend, Jesse Jackson, joins me now.

Reverend, I want to put this up. On January 6th, it appears that you Tweeted this. "Congrats @dennisrodman. Your diplomacy efforts in North Korea. It must be dark, but you are a light."

So then that Tweet was deleted.

What do you mean?

Are you supporting Dennis Rodman?

JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: No. Let me make what's clear is that when the ping pong team went to China, they shed light on the situation. No one expected the ping pong team to change U.S.-China policy. Like when the Globetrotters went to the Soviet Union singing "Sweet Georgia Brown," there's -- no one expected them to change U.S.- Soviet policy. But it was an illuminating moment that led to a more political and diplomatic effort.

LEMON: But those efforts are a bit different, Reverend, because no one sanctioned this trip for him to go to North Korea. Everyone is denouncing this trip. With all that's going on in North Korea, with the camps, with the people who are not eating, with the poverty in the country, with a dictator, with not being allowed to use information, cell phones, computers, this is quite a difference -- it seems like you're comparing apples to oranges here.

JACKSON: No, you know, I sent a letter to the North Korean leader today urging him, on humanitarian grounds, to release Mr. Kenneth Bae, who is an ill man, down on his back and a diabetic. I talked to his mother today. That's the role I would play, the role that Ambassador Richardson would play or President Carter would play. But we are professional diplomats to that extent.

LEMON: Exactly. Dennis Rodman --


LEMON: Dennis Rodman is not a professional diplomat.

So then why should he be congratulated or encouraged here?

JACKSON: And the ping pong players were not professional diplomats either and the Harlem Globetrotters who went to the Soviet Union were not professional, either. It shed light on a dark situation. LEMON: Reverend, how can people -- and I'm sure you understand this -- how can people take Dennis Rodman serious after this interview with Chris Cuomo and him saying that American Kenneth Bae is guilty of something?



DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA PLAYER: Kenneth Bae did one thing, if you understand. I've got (INAUDIBLE). If you understand what Kenneth Bae did --


RODMAN: Do you understand what he did?

CUOMO: What did he do?

You tell me --

RODMAN: -- in this country.

CUOMO: You tell me, what did he do?

RODMAN: No, no, no, no. You tell me. You tell me.

Why is he held captive in this country?

CUOMO: They haven't released any charges. They haven't released -


CUOMO: -- they haven't released any reason.

RODMAN: Oh, I --

CUOMO: But, listen.



LEMON: There's a lot more, for lack of a better word, craziness, where that comes from. And I want to say what Kenneth Bae's family told CNN. They said they're appalled by Rodman's behavior and by all accounts, Bae is being held illegally by North Korea.

You've been on diplomatic missions.

Do you think Rodman is being used by this brutal dictator in any way?

JACKSON: You know, Rodman said I'm a basketball player. We will leave him as a basketball player. And we would not leave him as a basketball player. Cuomo did a serious diplomatic interview with him about his position about Kenneth Bae, which I thought was off-base because Rodman said I'm just a ballplayer in the tradition of ballplayers and singers who go on liaison missions as (INAUDIBLE).

LEMON: Your point is taken there.

I want to play a little bit more of the interview here, when Cuomo questioned why he thinks his fourth visit to North Korea with a team of former NBA players was a good idea.



RODMAN: I was just saying, no, I don't give a (EXPLETIVE LANGUAGE) I don't give a rat's ass what the hell you think. I'm saying to you, look at these guys here. Look at them.

CUOMO: Yes, but Dennis, don't put it on them.


CUOMO: Don't use them as an excuse for the behavior --


CUOMO: -- that you're make --


CUOMO: -- that you're putting on yourself.


LEMON: Does this make it harder for diplomats in any way, seeing this circus environment, seeing the anger from Dennis Rodman with trying to get --

JACKSON: Of course it does --

LEMON: -- North Korea to scale back its nuclear program?

JACKSON: I would not confuse the role of Dennis Rodman and basketball and the Globetrotters and the Soviet Union and ping pong and China with serious diplomacy. That's no -- but entertainment does have an interesting way of illuminating.

Why are we discussing North Korea today?

Because of Dennis Rodman.


LEMON: Thank you, Reverend Jackson.

And still to come, why did a police union post a video of a toddler cursing on camera?

The union chief joins us to explain why they did it. And 49 people died in 2006 when a plane took off from the wrong runway, and it crashed. Now the technology exists to prevent it from happening again.

So why is it not in all cockpits?


LEMON: Why me?

It is a question that plagues survivors of horrific plane crashes and the theme of the documentary, "Sole Survivors," which makes its global television debut tomorrow night, right here on CNN.

The film explores the complex emotions experienced by lone survivors of major plane crashes. One of these deadly flights, Comair Flight 5191, that crashed when the pilots tried to take off from the wrong runway.

But new technology exists to prevent these types of crashes.

So why isn't it being used in all cockpits?

Rene Marsh has the story right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tower, 191 is taxiing out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Flight 191 taxiing on Runway 2-2.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said set thrust. He set the thrust and away we went.

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): August 2006, Comair Flight 5191 lined up to take off from Lexington, Kentucky. Fifty people were on board. The pilots were assigned to Runway 22, which was 7,000 feet long. Instead, they took runway 26, half that length. The plane crashed before bursting into flames.

First Officer James Polehinke was the only survivor.

JAMES POLEHINKE: I was not supposed to be on the plane flight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Neither was the captain.

MARSH (on camera): That's the terminal that Comair 5119 pulled out of.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct.

MARSH (voice-over): We retraced part of Comair 5191's path, but we did it using GPS technology the two pilots did not have at the time.

GRANT SUTHERLIN, AIRMART AIRCRAFT SALES & BROKERAGE: By having this tool, it clearly identifies with the blue dot each one of the taxiways.

MARSH: Illustrations on screen show which runway is ahead. It's been seven years since the NTSB recommended all cockpits have this technology.

But the FAA hasn't mandated it, saying it isn't fully developed.

The NTSB chairman disagrees.

DEBORAH HERSMAN, CHAIRWOMAN, NTSB: It's technology that most of us have in our pockets or our pocketbooks. And so what we're asking is to give this type of technology to the pilots who might need it the most.

MARSH: Rockwell Collins makes a version of the software.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead and advance the throttles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Short runway. Short runway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you get a clear warning and a red indication that things are not correct.

MARSH (on camera): How important is something like this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In today's world, it's very important to give that additional situational awareness, especially at night. Looking down here at the screen, it looks like day.

MARSH (voice-over): Technology that could have prevented that fatal wrong turn, a mistake Polehinke lives with every day.

POLEHINKE: The people that came on board the plane were my responsibility. They were mine and Captain Clay's responsibility. And if there's anything that I can say to the family members, is that I'm sorry we made that mistake.

MARSH: Rene Marsh, CNN, Lexington, Kentucky.


LEMON: All right, Rene.

Thank you very much.

And don't miss CNN's film, "Sole Survivors," tomorrow night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

Still to come tonight, the White House fights back tonight against criticism from a former member of the president's own inner circle.

Plus a teenager shot and killed in front of his family. The young man's stepbrother joins us tonight.

And the infamous judge who sentenced a rapist to just 30 days in prison makes a major announcement. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Welcome back, everyone to the second half of OUT FRONT.

A former Guantanamo Bay detainee has been linked to the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. Our Elise Labott has learned that the State Department will soon formerly designate Ansar al-Sharia in the Libyan city of Darnah, a terror group and connected to the attack that killed four Americans. The militia group is led by former Gitmo detainee Sufian bin Qumu. The terrorist (INAUDIBLE) will allow the U.S. to freeze its assets and impose travel bans on its known members. The announcement is expected in the coming days.

A controversial Montana judge says he is retiring at the end of the year. Judge G. Todd Baugh came under fire after he sentenced a former high school teacher to just one month in prison for raping a teenage girl who later committed suicide. Now, during the sentencing, Baugh said the victim, Cherice Morales, was older than her chronological age. And that she was probably as much in control of the situation as the teacher.

Our Kyung Lah caught up with the judge in September and tried to ask him about the comments.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Excuse me, Judge Baugh, good morning. Hi. I'm from CNN. Do you have a minute?

JUDGE G. TODD BAUGH: No, thanks.


LEMON: The teacher, Stacy Dean Rambold served 30 days and has been released. However, the Montana attorney general appealed the sentence, saying it did not meet the state's mandatory minimum.

Not many people get to ride in the pope mobile but today the pope picked up a hitchhiker, well, kind of. According to Catholic News Service, Pope Francis spotted Father Fabian Baez. He's a priest from Francis' former archdiocese of Buenos Aires in the crowd at St. Peter's Square and offered him a ride. CNS quoted the pope telling Baez that the picture will go around the world. It certainly did.

Tonight, damage control at the White House. The Obama administration is pushing back at stunning criticism from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. In an upcoming book, Gates slams President Obama's leadership, but his sharpest jabs are aimed at Vice President Joe Biden. He says the president has, quote, "been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades."

Jay Carney is dismissing the attacks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president and the rest of us here simply disagree with that assessment. As a senator and as a vice president, Joe Biden has been one of the leading states men of his time and he has been an excellent counselor and advisor to the president for the past five years.


LEMON: CNN's Jim Sciutto has gotten an early copy of that memoir and he joins us now.

Jim, you've been digging through the book and there are a lot of contradictions, right?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: There are. It's a complicated memoir. It's nuance, it's emotional about at times, it's critical of even Gates himself. It's conflicted I would say because at times, you have very harsh criticism not only of Biden but of the president's decision making, and his split with military leadership in particular.

Here's one comment that he wrote. "The gap within the White House and senior defense leaders have become a chasm. Neither side was really listening."

You know, that's a damning criticism to have for the commander in chief for the time when there were two major wars going on. But at the same time, Gates also praised Obama in many parts of the book. He called him very presidential and went on to say he is a man of personal integrity. And in his personal behavior, he was an excellent role model.

And as you dig into this deeper as well, remember, he served two presidents. He served George W. Bush before Obama as well, a Republican, Gates himself a Republican. But he was bipartisan in his criticism. And he said that Bush and Obama had something in common.

And listen to this, "Both were most comfortable around the cautery of close aides and friends. Both I believe detested Congress and resented having to deal with it, nor it either worked much of establishing close personal relationships with other world leaders." He goes to say both presidents in short seemed to be very aloof with respect to two constituencies important to their success in foreign affairs.

So, you see him there leveling in a very strong criticism against both Republican and Democratic leaders, the presidents he served. But in other places, he talked about how much he enjoyed for them.

And as we've said in our earlier reporting, he says that even in those issues he criticized Obama on for instance, sending his postures as he sent those troops into Afghanistan, he says he believes he got those calls right.

LEMON: A lot has been made, Jim, about transparency and access or the lack thereof in the White House. So, today, they took an unusual step letting photographers into a lunch between the president and the vice president today, was that an attempt to try to diffuse any of Gates damage here?

SCIUTTO: Well, I think it has to deal with the timing suspect. You know, just last night, as the book came out, the White House was already pushing back on this criticism of Biden, saying that in fact the president treats him as one of his closest advisers. So, lo and behold today, here you have you. You have pictures of them eating lunch together, and, of course, Obama treating him as one of his closest advisers. So, I think that is connected. One more thing I can tell you, Don, because I've just confirmed this was someone close to Robert Gates, we now know that a substantial portion of the money made from this book, including the advance, which I imagine was very sizable, is going to go to nonprofits, including non-profits that benefit veterans, and wounded veterans as well.

So, you can see that Gates and Barbara Starr was saying this earlier today in her reporting, in a very emotional connection to the troops he's set to battle off and, you know, breaking into tears as he talked about that commitment.

So, he's going to give, as I said, substantial portion of this money to those wounded veterans.

LEMON: Good information. Jim Sciutto, thank you very much.

It started as a call for help. It ended in a tragic death. Now, the family of 18-year-old Keith Vidal is speaking out. The schizophrenic teen was behaving erratically on Sunday when he was shot and killed by police in his home in North Carolina. Vidal's family says they called authorities for help and two officers appear to be getting the situation under control. But 70 seconds after a third officer arrived, Keith Vidal was dead.

Vidal's step brother arrived moments after the incident and is the sole spokesman for the family. He sat down with David Mattingly for an OUTFRONT exclusive.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three law officers from three different jurisdictions were involved when young Keith Vidal was shot and killed in front of his family in his own home. Two of the officers have already been cleared. The chief of Boiling Spring Lake's police says his officer acted according to policy and to law. The sheriff of Brunswick County says his deputy did the same.

And you might be surprised to hear that Keith Vidal's family agrees.

(on camera): Do you believe that those two officers did nothing wrong?

MARK WILSEY, VICTIM'S BROTHER: Yes, I believe those two officers did nothing wrong.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Vidal's brother Mark Wilsey tells me Boiling Spring Lake's police were familiar with Keith's problem with schizophrenia and had been to the house at least three other times.

This time, the local office knew him and knew what to do, a Brunswick County deputy assistant. But he says everything abruptly changed when a plainclothes detective from another town who did not know about Keith's illness arrived at the scene and told the two officers to use their stun guns.

WILSEY: All they did was tased my brother and try to get him in handcuffs so he couldn't harm himself. They had the situation completely under control.

MATTINGLY: But the third officer?

WILSEY: The third officer is 100 percent in the wrong. Why would somebody shot a 90-pound kid with two full-grown officers on them, with two tasers deployed inside him. There's no reason.

MATTINGLY: An official description of why the detective pulled his gun and shot the teen in the chest has not yet been released. A recording of radio traffic shows the detective claims self defense.

UNDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if you've been advised or not, but shots fired. I've had to defend myself against the subject.

MATTINGLY: That detective is now on paid administrative leave. His boss says there hasn't been an officer shooting in his department for 20 years. The detective's record was spotless.

(on camera): Your officer said on the radio that he had to defend himself. Was that the case?

CHIEF JERRY DOVE, SOUTHPORT POLICE: I wasn't there and I don't know other than what they told me at the radio station.

MATTINGLY: But the question that so many people have, how does an 18- year-old kid who's only 100 pounds or so, and it's already subdued end up dead?

DOVE: Well, that's what I'm waiting for when I hear all the inquiries that are made by the investigation when it's complete.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): At just 18, young Keith Vidal was struggling with a difficult illness. His family says he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia within the last year and was having trouble finding medications that worked for him. When they called police, all they wanted was help getting him to a doctor.


LEMON: David Mattingly joins us now.

You know, all three officers involved in this case are getting some support tonight, am I correct?

MATTINGLY: That's right. From the Police Benevolent Association of North Carolina. They hired an attorney to conduct their own investigation of what happened here.

They released a statement today saying that all three officers acted properly, including the detective who pulled his weapon and fired that fatal shot. They described the screwdriver that the young man was holding as a deadly weapon and they say that after this young man was hit by this stun guns, the hand he was holding that screwdriver in made contact with one of the other officers and that's when the detective fired in order to protect what he thought he need to do to protect that officer.

That sort of conflicts a little bit with what we heard the detective saying in that recording on the police radio when he said he was protecting himself. Now, the official investigation, no one here on the local level is handling that. That's been kicked up to the state and we're waiting to see what their findings are here.

Even that may not be the last word. The family, of course, already has an attorney and is probably considering legal action -- Don.

LEMON: David Mattingly -- thank you, David.

A major shakeup. One of television's top comedy shows. We have a behind the scenes look tonight. And a disturbing video of a toddler saying sexually explicit things posted online by a police group. The head of the union joins us to explain why.


LEMON: "AC360" in just a few minutes. Anderson is here. What do you have, Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Don, we're keeping them honest tonight in the program. Moving past the partisan politics, the breaking news, some question whether Chris Christie, a top contender for president, is even fit to hold the office of governor of New Jersey.

Also ahead, a Texas woman being kept alive against the wishes of her husband and her family because she is pregnant. We'll explain that. And all the angles ahead with medical ethicist Mark Kaplan and legal analyst Sunny Hostin, Mark Geragos.

And our week-long series, "Gone to Pot". A family says that medical marijuana saved their son's life. The therapy that they claim nearly killed their child. We're going to look at the medical evidence. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us with the medical facts. Can marijuana actually have that effect?

Those stories and tonight's Ridiculist, all at the top of the hour, Don.

LEMON: See you at 8:00 p.m. Thanks, Anderson.

You know, last night, we told you about a controversial video that was posted online by the Omaha Nebraska Police Association. Video shows a child in diapers cursing and making obscene gestures with the adults who are taping him and encouraging him. We have cleaned it up for TV but we want to warn our viewers, it is disturbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what hood you from, blood?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say (EXPLETIVE DELETED) I'm from deuce nine (EXPLETIVE DELETED). What hood you from?





UNIDENTIFIED KID: You a ho bitch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's up then?


LEMON: So that video led to a very heated debate on this show about whether it was right to post the video online.


MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Do you think this is a common occurrence even in places where there's high levels of violence?


LEMON: Yes, I do.


LEMON: I hear people talking to their children like that all the time.

HILL: Like that? Really?

LEMON: Yes, absolutely.

HILL: You think people walk around to kid in diapers --


LEMON: I hear people talking to their kids like that all the time, calling them little N words.


LEMON: I walk the streets of New York City. I hear it all the time. HILL: I find that hard to believe. Yes, people use foul language. Yes, people use the N word.

But what we saw in that video was a whole other level.


LEMON: So, many of you went to the internet to weigh in. We like it when you become engaged. Here are a few of the responses.

Felix Vega says, "Watching your debate about that video, I see that type of behavior regardless of race every day as a prosecutor around the courthouse."

Ms. T says, "I wonder where you live in New York, that parents called their kids the N-word. Absurd video and baby shouldn't be posted. Two wrongs don't make it right."

Jaime Power says, "Black people hate @donlemon right now for speaking the truth. Tell it, I see it in Macon, Georgia, everyday."

And Jennifer says, "Poor child doesn't even realize that she's doing anything wrong. It's abusive and invasive. The video will be out there forever."

Well, Sergeant John Wells is the president of the Omaha Police Association, which puts this video on their site. Marc Lamont Hill is a CNN political commentator and Wendy Walsh is a psychologist.

Thank you all for joining us.

Sergeant Wells, I know this video was on Facebook before it was posted on your site. But many disagree with you. How do you defend the decision to put this out there?

SGT. JOHN WELLS, PRESIDENT, OMAHA POLICE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION: Great question, Don. Well, first of all, this video was public. It was on a person's Facebook page. And it was public for anyone to go and view at the time unedited.

One of our followers tipped us off about this video. The whole point behind our Facebook pain and our Web site is to give the public not necessarily the national public because this has obviously received a lot of attention, but the local public around here, law abiding citizens and voters and an unfiltered view of what law enforcement deals with in the city of Omaha on a day-to-day basis.

Some of that is uplifting, some of it is humorous, some of it is very sad, and some of it quite frankly is shocking and evokes especially emotional reaction, much like this video did.

LEMON: Let's get the reaction --

WELLS: At the end of the day, sorry, Don.

LEMON: Go ahead. Finish your thought and we'll get Marc in. At the end of the day, what?

WELLS: At the end of the day, the whole point to posting this video was to show, again, the depth of the problem so that people realize this type of thing does happen in Omaha, Nebraska, and we can start to address these very serious issues.

LEMON: OK. Marc, how do you respond to that?

HILL: Well, I appreciate your candor and honesty because over the last few days some people were saying the video was posted out of concern as a concern for the child, you know, as way, a cry for help, when in fact, in many ways, it was the police saying, look what we have to deal with. We have to deal with people like this.

My concern with the video is multiple. One, you posted the child's face. You know, we spent the last few weeks talking about what it means to protect toddlers, protect innocent baby's, yet we posted this child's face.

Calling it a thug psycho prepares the world to see him as the end of the cycle, in other words, the outgrowth of a process of thuggery ends with this little boy who's not ready for great school yet. We're already imagining him as a thug.

I agree. The video was public, very true. But we don't want to mimic the behavior that --


LEMON: OK. Did you have to show his face and do you think it was wrong to call the child a thug? The family in the video asked him to be a thug in his diaper anyways -- Sergeant.

WELLS: Well, to be straightforward, we never called the child a thug. We talked about thug culture when we talk about criminal culture, a violent culture, a cycle of violence where we have generation of family that fall into this culture and we as police officers here in Omaha, Nebraska, have dealt with this generations and there's a very high profile story back in December that was reported widely in the media, about someone who was recently out of prison and committed a series of four homicides that comes from a long generation of people who have had trouble wit the criminal justice system.


HILL: If you're saying there's a cycle thugging and that thugs were training this kid, aren't you implicitly saying at the end of the cycle, he'll become a thug. Isn't that the argument? That's what a cycle is.

WELLS: The fear is that this child is going to go down a path that he can't recover from. My hope and my prayers are that this child gets the help that he needs to lead a productive life. We refer this to our child victim unit. It is being investigated. I don't know the specifics about the investigation because the police chief would have to comment about that because it's an ongoing investigation. But again, to the child's face. This was a public video. We didn't record this. We didn't make it public.


WELLS: We blurred the child's voice out.

LEMON: Wendy, I want to get your take on this. Just quickly, I want to show you this video. We went to the Internet and found some examples of other children with adult cursing, a couple of them. Listen.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's a good one.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You weak-ass punk.

UNIDENTIFIED KID: Shut up, I just knocked his ass out, bitch.


LEMON: Wendy, it's more common that most people think, right? And it's not just about race, is it?

WENDY WALSH, PSYCHOLOGIST: This is absolutely not about race, except that by forwarding the original, particular video that only showed an African-American child. It sends a message out there that this is only happens in black culture.


WALSH: It wasn't representative of the fact that this has to do with lower socioeconomic class, people who may not be well educated. And this is how we continue to perpetuate the cycle of poverty. And perhaps the cycle of crime. But it's not necesasarily representative of anyone particular race.

This is a class issue. It's not a race issue.

HILL: It's also not a class issue. I mean, Alec Baldwin isn't known for parenting. I mean , there are plenty of high profile and non-so- high profile wealthy people who don't talk to their children well. I think part of the problem is when we have a singular image of a person. It contributes a broader narrative about who these people are. LEMON: But comparing a child to Alec Baldwin, that child will probably have every access in life these kids probably won't.

Wendy, I just have a few seconds here. What's the solution?

WALSH: Well, I think it's early intervention in parenting, that these young parents who clearly are children themselves need to learn that small children and babies are not performing animals doing tricks for you. And understanding that if you decide that you're going to live above the law, that teaching the next generation is not going to actually help keep your genes in the gene pool in the long run.

LEMON: All right. Wendy, thank you. Sergeant Wells, thank you. And as always, Marc Lamont Hill, thank you well. Appreciate you're coming in.

Still to come tonight, what do Beyonce' and Donna Brazile have in common? We'll show you, next.


LEMON: The entertainment world was abuzz this week with news that "Saturday Night Live" had hired its first black female cast member in more than six years. After auditioning about 25 women in New York and Los Angeles, 27-year-old Sasheer Zamata was awarded the coveted spot on the show. It was announced today that "SNL" will also be adding two black female writers, Lakendra Tuks (ph) and Leslie Jones (ph). We'll be adding those young ladies to its staff.

We were curious about what it takes to land a job on "SNL". Earlier, we had the chance to speak with one of the other women who auditioned, actress and comedian Simone Shepherd.


LEMON: How did this audition for SNL go? Tell me what happened?

SIMONE SHEPHERD, AUDITIONED FOR "SNL": So, the L.A. showcase was excellent. We had no idea what we were going for. All we heard was "SNL" and black girl and we just showed up and did our best work.

LEMON: What did you do?

SHEPHERD: That was all we did.

I did a bunch of characters. I did Donna Brazile. I did -- I even did Susan Rice. I did Beyonce. Beyonce is a character that I do a lot, a personality that I do quite often. That's what I'm most known for.

I did Michelle Obama, anybody black I did it.

LEMON: All right. So quickly, give me Beyonce.

SHEPHERD: I would like to wish my baby Blue a very happy birthday today. Happy birthday, Blue, from your mother Beyonce', the greatest singer ever.


LEMON: Is it tough for black female comedians to get work?

SHEPHERD: Absolutely. First of all, a lot of people -- there's a stereotype with women not being allowed to be funny. I mean, there's been Lucille Ball, so many people, but it's still so hard for us to prove to the world that we're funny.

And then being a woman, being African-American, it's like a double whammy. It's like no one wants to see a black girl being funny at all. They want to see us do Angela Bassett, you know?

LEMON: Right. Everything has meaning.

I think you said it best. You said we take ownership of everything, every single comment, right? Do you think sometimes we need to lighten up as a comedian?

SHEPHERD: We do. When "SNL" came about, I never thought to audition. I don't see black girls doing it. So, it was never something that I went out for.

If they didn't come and find me, I probably would have never went to them. So, with that being said, I have to take responsibility, and that's a joke that I make -- like well I wouldn't think about them. So --

LEMON: I wrote something about Sasheer. And I said, she's ultimately going to be judged on her talent. She's going -- because everyone's talking about black comedian this, black comedian that.

She's going to have to be funnier than she is black. Meaning she's going to ultimately be judged on her talent. Some people took offense to that.

Do you take offense to that?

SHEPHERD: I think it's hilarious. Because honestly, what's been rolling around in my brain is that I think that I was funnier than I was black. They look at me -- but still, we can be funny in all packages we are funny.

LEMON: And lighten up.

You have a great attitude. Don't take everything so seriously and lighten up. After all, it's a comedian. People get what you're saying and what you mean. They just want to take offense to it.

SHEPHERD: Exactly.

LEMON: OK. So listen, I understand you mentioned you do a great Donna Brazile.

SHEPHERD: Oh, Lord. LEMON: I have somebody here right now who would like you to do a Donna Brazile. As a matter of fact it's Donna Brazile herself.


SHEPHERD: Hi, Donna.

LEMON: So let's see your best Donna Brazile.

SHEPHERD: Let's do it.

Welcome to CNN. I am Donna Brazile. I will be your moderator for this 2016 presidential debate. Join me now in welcoming our nominees.

Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the Republican nominee, Governor Chris Christie.

Governor Christie, you will have one minute and 30 seconds to answer my questions. Good luck.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? You take all the time you need, girl power.



SHEPHERD: Girl power.

BRAZILE: Yes, love. There you go. All the time.

LEMON: What did you think, Donna?

BRAZILE: I love her. I love her.


LEMON: That was great. I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for joining us.

"AC360" starts right now.