Return to Transcripts main page


Russian Armored Trucks Cross into Ukraine; Police to Name Officer Who Shot Teen; Many Questions Still Unanswered about Death of Michael Brown

Aired August 15, 2014 - 06:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking this morning, Russian armored carriers have crossed into eastern Ukraine. This happened not far from where another convoy of Russian trucks are gathered near the border. Ukrainian border guards were inspecting those trucks overnight. Moscow insists the convoy contains humanitarian aid, but Ukrainian officials are concerned it could be some kind of cover for providing support for the pro-Russian separatists.

CNN's Will Ripley live in Kiev in Ukraine, monitoring the situation for us.

Will, what can you tell us?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're just now learning, John, that these Ukrainians inspectors who are doing their work several hours now are finding nearly empty trucks in that Russian convoy in many cases. There is some humanitarian aid, but a lot of trucks are almost empty.

And then at the same time, new reports that a convoy of Russian armored personnel carriers, these tanks on wheels used to transport troops into the battlefield, they were spotted by Western journalists and confirmed by the Ukrainian as crossing the border, heading right towards the battle zone in eastern Ukraine, carrying men with military uniforms and the Ukrainian government thinks this convoy is heading right towards Luhansk, which is an area that has nearly been recaptured, we're told, by the Ukrainian government. The rebels now control just a small area and their situation, we're hearing, is so dire, they're trying to recruit inmates from local prisons to help them fight.

So, this now gives light to the skepticism on the part of the Ukrainian government. Why is there a Russian aid convoy during the day but shipments going across the border, armed convoys, overnight, John.

BERMAN: Yes, every reason for deep, deep skepticism, the situation changing by the minute. Will Ripley, thanks so much.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thanks so much.

Let's take a look back here at home, let's get over the weather with meteorologist Indra Petersons looking at it.

So, it was a mess of week from the Midwest out east. What's it looking like now?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's finally drying out, Kate. And this is huge. If we're talking about record flooding out, towards Detroit, D.C., and eventually went all the way into Long Island, and even out towards Massachusetts. But, finally, look at the eastern half of the country. Very much more stable conditions here. You can see actually how dry for the entire eastern half.

And this is good news. Plus, it's the weekend, guys. Hello? Temperatures where they need to be, especially the northeast. Temperatures better going through Saturday and Sunday. Going to climb up a little warmer. So, it's mid if not upper 70s, maybe a few 80s out there.

Down in the southeast, of course, it's even warmer down there. In fact, they're going to climb a little to above normal, but not far off. We're still talking about some low 90s out there.

The one thing we are going to be watching is, yes, there's got some rain this time of year. We are going to be watching kind of the Central Plains, maybe in towards the Midwest tomorrow, that's kind of through Saturday. By Sunday, another front makes showers in towards the Northeast itself.

The heaviest amount really should be kind of on Saturday. So, pretty much severe weather, two to four inches possible. Again, Central Plains making its way closer. Omaha, towards St. Louis, the kind of a very localized spot there. It's on Sunday you'll see more of the widespread rain out there. Very mild. You're talking about the rain totals out there, only about like an inch or so. So, not a big deal.

Weekend looking pretty good. I'm loving it already.

BERMAN: Yes, it's the weekend, hello. As Indra Petersons says. It's the weekend, hello.

PETERSONS: Weekend, hello.

BOLDUAN: And it's all relative, when you're looking at less than an inch of rain and you had, what was it in one day?

BERMAN: Nine and a half feet basically.

BOLDUAN: Thirteen inches.

PEREIRA: Unbelievable.

BOLDUAN: It was unbelievable. Hello?

Thanks, Indra.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, President Obama spoke out yesterday about the unrest going on in Ferguson, Missouri. But should the president be doing more to directly address the issues of race and police brutality? BERMAN: Plus, the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown set to

be released within hours. We're going to break down what we now know about this case itself, coming up.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is never an excuse of violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. There's also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests.


PEREIRA: The president there speaking out publicly for the first time about the situation and violence that rocked the community of Ferguson, Missouri, this week over the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

Overnight that city finally saw calm after the state highway police stepped in.

Joining us this morning to sort through the issues, Mo Ivory, attorney and radio personality, and my colleague, CNN anchor Don Lemon, who is on the ground there in Ferguson, seeing how things have changed in tone overnight.

And, in fact, Don, why don't we start with that. I don't think it can be said enough that it is a very different morning that Ferguson is waking up to than just a few days ago?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, absolutely. Very different morning and last night, a very different night. When I got here on the scene, I expected something much different. I thought it would be a lot more volatile, and as tensions were high.

And then yesterday, I was greeted, people were happy that I was here and I saw the man who is now in charge of this investigation, as we rolled up here yesterday, actually out with protesters, Michaela, and, Mo, out with protesters, hugging them, marching with them, saying, you know what? I have community ties here. I'm from this community. I know you. I feel your pain. I can relate to you.

That made a huge difference in the way people reacted.

PEREIRA: Mo, in a way, it strikes me as a surprise it took so long to do this. It seems like policing 101. Get into the community, talk to folks. It doesn't surprise you, or does it?

MO IVORY, ATTORNEY & RADIO PERSONALITY: No. It doesn't surprise me at all, Michaela, because this is a problem rampant throughout our country. You know, people that are just not experienced or respectful or compassionate enough to go into the community. The difference that state patrol, highway -- Ronnie Johnson made is that he has compassion for this community. He also decided to allow them to communicate they're feelings to them and he listened and got in the crowd.

A lot 67 people say, well, oh, it was because he's black and he got in there and they respected him automatically. No. It was because he came from the beginning with respect for the community, respect for the situation, and that is something that we had not seen in Ferguson over the last five days. That's what made the difference.

LEMON: Yes, but --

PEREIRA: Don, I want -- go ahead.

LEMON: It does make a difference. I think it does make a difference that he's African-American, because this is a city that is, the majority of the city is African-American and the majority of the police force is white.

This speaks to how important diversity, when it comes to all facets of life, not just in policing. So, I think it helps to have someone who looks like them in a position of power and position of authority, and someone who can relate to them.

Listen, last night, the protests lasted until 2:00 to 3:00 in the morning. And guess what? Most of the police officers went home and the community leaders took over. All the people really wanted to do was to be heard, and to vent and to let off some steam, Michaela.

IVORY: Yes, and, Don, I agree with that, that it probably made a difference. But I don't think that a white officer couldn't have come with those same skill sets --

LEMON: Oh, absolutely, I agree with you.

IVORY: -- you know, the training, the compassion, the respect.

And that was missing from the beginning with Ferguson police department.

PEREIRA: I want to bring in the comments from the president. There have been those that have said they wanted to hear from the president. Many agreed that, or hoped that he might make some comments that would have a bit of a personal nature in the same way that he did when Trayvon Martin was killed. He spoke very emotionally and personally about that and got a great deal of criticism.

Some people are saying, Don, that he was directly speaking to African- Americans instead of the whole nation. In a way, some are now criticizing the president that he didn't do more. Some black critics saying we need him to do something substantive here and address this ongoing issue of policing in our communities. Damned if he does or damned if he doesn't, in a way.

IVORY: Right, right.

LEMON: Right, it is. And what is wrong with speaking to certain groups of Americans? When we had the crisis at the border, when we had the kids who were, you know, going through awful events coming over the border. What is wrong with speaking to the Hispanic population? What's wrong with speaking to African-Americans if African-Americans are in crisis in this country? What's wrong with speaking to women if women are in crisis in this country?

Yes, it is damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. But he got so much criticism from Trayvon when -- you know, when he made the remarks about Trayvon Martin saying, if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon. People are saying, oh, my gosh, he's only speaking to black people, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

If he is the one person in country who has the authority to speak to black people, it should be the first black president of the United States.

PEREIRA: Mo, what do you think he needs to do, though?

IVORY: Well, I mean, I definitely think that Eric Holder at the Justice Department needs to pay attention to not just Ferguson. Ferguson is Staten Island. Ferguson is Sanford, Florida. Ferguson is New York City.

There's so many police departments that have these problems. So, I think it's a national situation to deal with the state, individual police departments, and that's what I think Eric Holder can do. He can make more of a focus, the president can put dollars towards making sure that the states can begin to revamp their police departments. Like that chief of police in Ferguson, he's got to go.

That's how it has to start happening. There have to be heads chopped in order for people to understand that this can no longer go on and they need a team of people to do that on a federal level.

PEREIRA: Don, final thought with you. Let me ask you, in terms of the difference overnight, I'm wondering what people on the ground in Ferguson are saying about the reaction from the president, from the governor? What is the overall tone in that respect? About what outside authorities and leaders are saying?

LEMON: Well, just as people said they wanted the president to speak up sooner. They wanted the governor to speak up sooner and they wanted the governor to come here.

But I think people have largely put those events behind them and are now looking forward to the future. But the important thing that we have to realize here is just because the protests overnight were not violent, the only thing they has had some fireworks doesn't mean that the issues have been addressed here. That doesn't mean that racism in this community has been addressed and it doesn't mean that we don't need to, and meaning, "we" as a country, as Mo said, that we don't need to address issues when it comes to the disconnect between the police department and the young men and especially men of color in this country. Those things still need to be addressed, and now there's a way forward.

PERIERA: Quickly, last thought. IVORY: They figured how to make a difference in Ferguson overnight,

by bringing in a new team that was equipped to handle the situation. That needs to happen much earlier on in all of these situations that happen in the different cities.

PEREIRA: Mo Ivory and Don Lemon --

LEMON: Not being in riot gear -- not being in riot gear made a huge difference. Look at, people who look like the police officers who look like they are members of the military, that should not happen in cities and states across the country.

PEREIRA: Mo, Don, thanks so much for a great conversation. We'll keep watching this as you mentioned, this situation is diffused but the problems underlying it have not been addressed. And we have to look into that still.

We're going to take a short break here on NEW DAY.

Up ahead, the man we're talking about, this man right here, Ronald Johnson, CNN had an exclusive ride-along with him. A busy night for him. We're going to bring it to your right after the break.


BERMAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. CNN has learned that this morning officials in Ferguson plan to release the name of the police officer, finally, who shot and killed Michael Brown. Want to break down what the release of that name means for the community and the investigation in just a moment. But first, lets take a step back.


BERMAN (voice-over): What do we know about the shooting? And what do we not know? Our Susan Candiotti has a look.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Killed for no reason.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An unarmed teenager shot dead on a Saturday afternoon. How did this happen? Moments earlier, Dorian Johnson says he and his friend Big Mike were walking in the middle of a neighborhood street when a police car pulls up.

DORIAN JOHNSON, WITNESS TO SHOOTING OF MICHAEL BROWN: And the officer says, get the [ bleep ] out of the street. Verbatim. It was his words.

CANDIOTTI: Johnson says a squad car starts to leave, but goes into reverse, backing up within inches of the teens.

JOHNSON: At that time he reached out the window with his left arm. He grabbed on to my friend Big Mike's throat and he's trying to pull him in the vehicle.

CANDIOTTI: What little police have said differs sharply. Police say the two struggle over the officer's gun. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was at least one shot fired within the car.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): Mike Brown's friend says Brown was just trying to get away, not fighting for the gun.

JOHNSON: I saw the fire come out the barrel and I instantly knew that it was a gun. I looked at my friend, Big Mike, and I saw that he was struck in the chest, or upper region, because I saw blood splatter down his side, his right area, and at that time, we both took off running.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Another witness is watching from a distance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The officer gets out of his vehicle and pursues Michael as he's shooting his weapon. Michael jerks his body as if he was hit.

JOHNSON: And at that time he turned around with his hands up beginning to tell the officer that he was unarmed and to tell him to stop shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then he turns around, faces the officer, puts his hands up and the officer continues to shoot him until he goes down to the ground.

JOHNSON: I watched him until his body stopped moving and then I ran.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just got another call stating that there was a officer-involved shooting at (inaudible).

CANDIOTTI: As crowds gather, Brown's uncle rushes over to identify his nephew, but police hold him back. Brown's mother desperate for any detail.

LESLEY MCSPADDEN, MOTHER OF MICHAEL BROWN: How many times my son was shot.

CANDIOTTI: We don't even know that. Police do, but refused to reveal even that irrefutable fact. Susan Candiotti, CNN, New York.


BERMAN (on camera): Really interesting to hear that all pieced together. Let's break this down more. With us this morning, Joey Jackson, HLN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney. Also, Paul Callan, CNN legal analyst and former New York City homicide prosecutor. Paul, I want to start with you. Let's start not yet with what we know, but we're about to know. We're about to know the name of this officer who fired that gun. What do you think that now does to the community, but more importantly, or just as importantly I should say, what kind of legal jeopardy is this officer now in?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we know remarkably little about the facts of the case considering the level of violence that's been going on in Ferguson, Missouri. Usually in these shootings, the investigation is a lot more open and transparent. And the reason for that is to give the public confidence that law enforcement authorities are doing what they're supposed to do. Instead, in this case, the officer's name was kept secret, and that's very unusual, because it creates the impression that there's a cover-up going on, and it increases this conspiracy theory in the community, and I think that's been a major problem in the investigation.

BERMAN: So that comes out today and at least that conspiracy part of it, perhaps, will subside a little bit. Joey, the case itself, we heard really interesting witness accounts there that had been given to CNN over the last few days about what went on. I think, to me, there seem to be two key moments. What went on at the police car itself, between Michael Brown and the officer, and then what went on away from the police car when these witnesses say that Michael Brown had his hands in the air. What matters legally? Let's start with in the car?

JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely. Good morning, John, good morning Paul. The reality is is that everything matters, okay? So you want to piece together all the facts here. But, when you look at this you have to examine the police officer's actions. Lethal force historically is a last resort. It is a last option, not a first option so you have to ask, why? What made this officer draw his weapon and then discharge that weapon? What actions were they engaged in at the time, such that the officer felt that he was in imminent fear for his life?

The second issue then, when you address this, John, becomes the proportionality of the force used to the threat that was posed. Why was it necessary, as opposed to using a least restrictive form of force such as pepper spray if then had it, such as a taser if he had it, or anything else that would make this happen. And then when you examine this, you have to piece together the evidence and say, well if there was a shot at the car, which may or may not have been justified and as the facts seem to unfold, it appears not. Why when Michael Brown was running away and not posing any imminent threat, any imminent harm, any imminent danger, was he then shot again? So finally, John, what I think will happen is that ballistic tests will certainly be done to determine muzzle to distance of that gun to where the target was, unfortunately that target being Michael Brown. That forensic evidence will establish what the distances were of those shots and forensic evidence will be done on the car in terms of DNA to determine, is there any on the gun? Is there any on the car?


BERMAN: I want to break this down into two parts here. Based on what Joey said, in the car itself or near the car itself. What would it have taken, then, for it to be legally justifiable for the officer to shoot his gun at the car? Then I want to talk about away from the car in a second.

CALLAN: Well that's why I think Joey's analysis is excellent here because its really a two, maybe a three-part, analysis. One, what happened in the car? Now, we do have a statement from the police chief that the police officer has an injury to his face. We also know that from eyewitness testimony that maybe a shot was fired in the car. So was somebody reaching for the weapon? Was the officer in fear of his life and the gun discharged in the car as a result of a struggle? Now, if that's the case, the use of force in that discharge in the car may be justifiable.

BERMAN: Maybe. Maybe, but take away -


BERMAN: Step away from the car. If, as the witnesses say, Michael Brown has his hands in the air, then what?

CALLAN: Okay, lets talk about part two. And I don't know if people have been talking about something called the Fleeing Felon Doctrine. But there used to be a doctrine in law that if you've committed a felony, and here maybe it would be assault on a police officer, maybe that's what the cop will claim, and you're fleeing, the cops used to have the right to shoot you. They don't anymore under U.S. law. A felon can only be shot if he poses a danger to himself or somebody else. So when he turns, and if he did turn with his hands up and the officer shot him, that's the unreasonable use of lethal force and that's criminal.

BERMAN: Joey Jackson, no matter what happened inside the car, then, if as these witnesses say he had his hands up as he was trying to get away from the car, that's a problem for this officer.

JACKSON: It absolutely it is, John. Its very troubling because certainly, again, police are in a position of protecting and serving. And so when you have someone who's posing no imminent threat whatsoever and apparently is in a surrendering position, what is the need then for lethal force, or any force for that matter? When a person clearly is indicating I mean you no harm, I'm not causing any trouble, I'm unarmed. At that point, certainly, there would be no justification for the shot, and that's where a prosecution potentially could be forthcoming in this case.

BERMAN: Joey Jackson, Paul Callan, glad to have you here with us. These are the facts that will come out in the coming days and weeks, starting today, in just a few hours, with the name finally of this officer. Gentleman, thanks so much for being with us.

CALLAN: Thank you.

JACKSON: Thank you, John. Take care, Paul.

CALLAN: You, too.

BOLDUAN: Alright. We're following much more of the news coming out of Missouri. A lot of news going on this morning so lets get right to it.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: There's no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protestors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Missouri highway patrol, Ron Johnson is now in charge here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will protect the safety of the people in this community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael was a very peaceful guy, and we want to remain peaceful.

BERMAN (voice-over): Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki finally agreeing to step down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The siege at Mount Sinjar has been broken.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Air strikes will continue if needed to keep pushing ISIS back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Robin Williams was in the early stages of Parkinson's disease.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Parkinson's itself can cause severe depressive symptoms.


BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome back to NEW DAY. John Berman is here. Chris is off. A sense of calm has finally returned to Ferguson, Missouri, it seems.


BOLDUAN (VOICE-OVER): The streets there were largely quiet overnight allowing almost, following almost a week of escalating tensions between police and protesters after the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The Missouri state highway patrol is now in charge. The division was called in after local authorities seemed to fail for days to ease the community's concerns when the unarmed teenager was shot.

CROWD: Hands up!

Don't shoot!

Hands up!

Don't shoot!

BERMAN: You hear it right there. Thousands of people showing their support for Brown in protests around the country last night, including some right here in New York's Times Square. Today we do expect to learn the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown. That name has been kept under wraps over concerns, the police say in Missouri, for that officer's safety. Want to bring in CNN's Don Lemon, who is live in Ferguson this morning.


BERMAN (on camera): Don, it is a very, very different morning there. DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is a very different morning but

first I want to tell you the police chief here in Ferguson says they do plan to release that name this morning, today. When pressed when they were going to do it, he said he wanted to meet with some attorneys, get some legal counsel before deciding how to do it and when to do it, but we should get information very shortly. And, John, you're absolutely right. The sun went down last night, and came up this morning and there was calm here after days spent yelling at each other. Protesters and authorities finally really finding some common ground here in Ferguson.


LEMON (voice-over): A lot of credit is going to this man that you're looking at right here. Highway patrol Captain Ron Johnson. You guys mentioned his department was brought down to get the situation under control here in Ferguson in a very critical moment and they did just that. CNN's Jason Carroll went on an exclusive ride-along with Johnson to see his approach.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's a veteran, but some might call this night Captain Ronald Johnson's first night on the job.

RONALD JOHNSON, HIGHWAY PATROL CAPTAIN: Don't expect any issues, but just in case, there are some issues where we have some parties that may get unruly and we need to get out. I'm just going to call you to come and help us get out. (inaudible) intersection.

CARROLL: Captain Johnson took our crew with him on one of his first assignments.

CARROLL (on camera): What's your assessment how things have gone so far tonight?

JOHNSON: I think they've gone fine, I think they've gone well. I think we have to continue to assess it and monitor it.