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Police to Name Officer Who Shot Teen; Dramatic Change in Ferguson; Prime Minister Steps Down; Interview with Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson; Witness Describes Michael Brown Shooting
Aired August 15, 2014 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight: protests pop up across the country, as Ferguson, Missouri, demonstrations turn peaceful. The new officer in charge marching with protesters. We are live in Missouri.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown set to be released. Why did they hold it for so long? This as we get new video from the moments just after the shooting and talk live to a key witness.
Don Lemon is live in Ferguson.
MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Maliki out. Iraq's embattled prime minister agrees to step down. The U.S. and much of Iraq wanted him gone. But can the new leader slow ISIS in Iraq? We're live in Baghdad.
BOLDUAN: Your NEW DAY continues right now.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.
BOLDUAN: Good morning, and welcome back to NEW DAY, everybody. It's Friday, August 15th, 8:00 in the East. John Berman is here with us. Chris is off.
The Missouri police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown is expected to be identified today. Ferguson police are getting ready to name the officer who gunned down the unarmed teen after a confrontation. His name has been kept under lock and key quite honestly because police there say of concerns over his safety.
BERMAN: In the meantime, the local police no longer overseeing the situation there, the state highway patrol is in and a sense of calm has returned to this town that has spent much of the last week under the national microscope. Streets were largely peaceful overnight after days of rising tensions and demonstrations between protesters and police.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROTESTERS: Hands up!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: These chants of "hands up, don't shoot" -- thousands of people across the country showed support for Michael Ferguson and his family.
Demonstrations held in several major cities, including right here in New York.
Let's start with Don Lemon right now who is live in Ferguson, where we are awaiting some pretty big news there, Don.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, good morning.
We are waiting pretty big news. The man who is going to give it to us standing right next to me, he is the chief of Ferguson police, his name is Thomas Jackson, he's going to release the name of the officer and we'll see what we can find out about that officer just a little bit on CNN, that's coming up in a little bit.
But in the hours just happening after that shooting, my, how it has changed. There's been a change in leadership, how that can turn the tide in a tense time, tense situation. We have learned that over the past couple of days. For days, it seemed that everyone in Ferguson was pouring fresh salt on old wounds.
But, John, as you mentioned here, the State Highway Patrol led by Captain Ron Johnson came in with an effort to connect with residents fed up with their local police force and it worked. It appears to have worked.
So, Captain Johnson stressing his part in this community that he is a part of this community and he says he walks the streets, he's a family man.
He takes a personal stake in seeing the situation defuse and instead of throwing Molotov cocktails, residents were throwing themselves into Captain Johnson's arms with gratitude and they kept their message forceful but it was peaceful last night for the most part.
Now, let's bring in Ana Cabrera with the latest.
Good morning, Ana.
ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Don. Really what a difference some new policing tactics, new tone have made in the past 24 hours. We are outside that burned out QuikTrip, the site of so much unrest over the last several days. It was pure chaos here Wednesday night, not last night.
In fact, protesters basically policed themselves, and they protested peacefully. They packed up their things, they left on their own accord, just a few hours ago, and they say they finally feel like their voices are being heard, that people are listening, and for the first time in almost a week, they have hope that justice will be served.
CABRERA (voice-over): Calls for justice, peace, and answers. Anger and frustrations ravaging this community for days, finally calming after nearly a week of unrest following the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hands up!
CROWD: Don't shoot!
CABRERA: Control over Ferguson's security now the responsibility of Missouri state troopers.
REPORTER: There it comes. They're firing on to the crowd.
CABRERA: After chaos broke out Wednesday night, police firing tear gas, smoke bombs and rubber bullets into the crowd.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't do it!
CABRERA: Overnight, no riot gear, no armored vehicles, no machine guns. Leading the charge is Ferguson local, Captain Ron Johnson, walking amongst the protesters, at times embracing them, telling CNN's Don Lemon he pledges to protect the community without gas masks, listen to them, and give them answers.
CAPT. RON JOHNSON, MISSOURI HIGHWAY PATROL: I think they know that what I'm telling them is true, and my feelings are true and my feel feelings are honest. And that I made a promise, and I made a promise about integrity. Integrity is something I can't get back.
Trust is something that's hard to gain but easy to lose, and I think I've got their trust and I am going to do everything I can to maintain their trust.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good afternoon, everybody.
CABRERA: President Obama calling for an end against excessive used by police against peaceful protests, as did Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, vowing to repair trust between residents and police.
GOV. JAY NIXON (D), MISSOURI: Ferguson will not be defined as a community that was torn apart by violence. It will be known as a community that pulled together to overcome it. CABRERA: This, as police announcing they will release the name of the
officer who shot Michael Brown today. And new video emerging from moments after the shooting, showing Michael Brown's body lying uncovered in the street, his uncle pushed away while crowds at the scene yelled at police that Brown did nothing wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With hands up.
CABRERA: Brown's family attending a protest vigil at the St. Louis arch, later telling CNN's Wolf Blitzer they wanted to be surrounded by peace as they try to grieve.
ERIC DAVIS, MICHAEL BROWN'S COUSIN: We haven't had time really to grieve much. It's been a very long, stressful time. We don't really have many answers to what occurred on that day and she can't rest as a result of not knowing everything that occurred on that evening.
CABRERA: Again the headline today, local authorities will release the name of the officer involved in the shooting death of Michael Brown, so we should have an answer to one question that has been on so many minds in this community, who killed the unarmed teenager.
But, Don, it could be weeks, possibly even months before we know why.
LEMON: Yes, they still have to conduct an autopsy, the family wants an official autopsy and the investigation obviously if done correctly is going to take some time.
Thank you, Ana. Appreciate that.
So joining me now is a man who is going to make that announcement, give the officer's name. He is Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson. Thank you for joining us this morning. Have you gotten any sleep?
TOM JACKSON, FERGUSON POLICE CHIEF: A little bit.
LEMON: So you're going to announce the name of the officer.
JACKSON: I am.
LEMON: Here to do it now?
JACKSON: No, I think we need to do it in front of the entire press corps that's been here through the whole thing.
LEMON: What can you tell us about this officer -- is he a veteran?
JACKSON: He's been with us about six years.
LEMON: About six years. And what kind of an officer is he?
JACKSON: Great; he's been a fantastic officer, no problems.
LEMON: No problems? JACKSON: No.
LEMON: No disciplinary problems, nothing. Nothing for the past six years.
LEMON: And a member of this community. Is he a lifelong member of this community?
JACKSON: Well, I really don't want to talk about where he lives and so forth.
LEMON: Well, not where he lives, but has he lived here his entire life?
JACKSON: You know, again -- oh, yes, in the St. Louis area.
LEMON: His entire life. So have you spoken to the officer?
JACKSON: I spoke to him a couple days ago and I'll be talking to him, probably giving him a call.
LEMON: How does he feel what's going on?
JACKSON: He's devastated by this. He's heartbroken. This is his community. He never wanted any of this to happen and he certainly is heartbroken by the continuous violence that's been going on. It's tough. It's hard.
LEMON: Why did it take so long?
JACKSON: Well, as I said initially, we backed off on releasing his name because of the threats of violence and death threats that were coming in, and I did say to you that this was going to be a day-to-day decision. We were going to continue to weigh the value of releasing it to the press corps, and to the community, versus safety issues. And that's been an ongoing discussion, and we had a couple meetings yesterday about this issue and came to the conclusion that it was time.
LEMON: You're doing this voluntarily? There's no court recorder?
JACKSON: There's no court order, no.
LEMON: People have been concerned about the tactics that your police officers have taken here, and I'm wondering if you -- do you feel personally that you made any leadership mistakes about the deployment of officers in full combat attire and gear?
JACKSON: It's not so much combat attire; it's tactical attire. We never called in the National Guard. The governor and all of us agreed that that was not the proper thing to do, that we would handle this in blue -- that means with police presence. So what we had out there was tactical teams out there. And in spite of the perception that's been out there, you know, across
the country about the tactics and the exchanges between police, no deadly force was used and not a single protester or rioter was injured during this entire process.
LEMON: Is there anyone in your command structure that has any accountability about the decisions that were made this week?
JACKSON: We are all accountable for our actions at all times and ultimately that all comes to me. And there's going to be a lot of discussion, after-action discussions, lessons learned discussions. And what happened, happened. The perception of the community is not actually what happened on the ground. Again, no one was hurt, and I'm really proud of that, and that's really what we're going to focus on going forward is making sure that nobody does get hurt.
LEMON: Do you stand by your decisions?
JACKSON: I do.
LEMON: Did you make any mistakes? Are you willing to admit that you made mistakes?
JACKSON: Certainly, yes.
LEMON: Which were?
JACKSON: I can't list them now. It's just too soon. It's too soon to really go into that.
But moving forward we're talking to everybody who is a stakeholder in this, the Justice Department -- and actually setting up the protest area with the cones and putting out the port-a-potties is the result of a discussion between myself, the Community Relations Bureau for the Justice Department, and the NAACP. So we all met yesterday morning and we actually wrote out that plan, Mr. Pruitt, local president of the NAACP and Reverend Ford, who's an old friend, he's the national president of the NAACP, we worked out the plan. These guys have been on the other side of the line and they've been tremendous help to us.
LEMON: So you're not involved in the investigation at all anymore?
JACKSON: I haven't been since day one.
LEMON: OK. A lot of people around the country have questions for you, and of course including our own Kate Bolduan. Kate wants to ask you a few questions. Kate?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Don. Yes, Chief, just to join in with what Don was saying there, one of the questions has obviously been all along the identity of the police officer, but another question that a lot of folks have is how many times Michael Brown was shot. Are you going to release that information today? can you tell us now?
JACKSON: I actually can't release that information because I don't know. The autopsy has been done, but the coroner's report has not been released. All of that information is up to St. Louis County and really the county prosecuting attorney to determine when that's going to be released.
LEMON: When you spoke to the officer, though, he didn't give you any account of how many times he believes he shot?
JACKSON: No, I don't want to conduct any interviews or be involved in the collection of evidence at all.
LEMON: Go ahead, Kate, I'm sorry.
BOLDUAN: And, Chief, on that point, that gets to some of the criticism that we've been hearing of how this has been handled over the last handful of days, this criticism -- and I want to you answer to that -- of the selective release of information. Not releasing the identity of the officer until today, but not releasing how many times Michael Brown had been shot, but also then deciding to release the fact that the officer's face was swollen. It seems quite one-sided to some folks. What do you say to that?
JACKSON: I'm sorry if it does. I'm just releasing what I know, and so I don't want to talk to anything that I've heard or that somebody's told me who doesn't have direct knowledge.
Really, the entire investigation of this -- and I've told everybody from day one -- from the first moment I learned of it, I called the county police chief and asked him to send his people to the scene and take control of the entire investigation. My people backed away, set up a perimeter, and allowed them to do their work, and we're going to continue to do that.
I can't release anything from the coroner's report because I don't know. I can't release anything about the interviews with the officers or any of the witnesses, because I don't know. And I really don't want to know until this is done.
LEMON: And I have been asking everyone, every member of law enforcement, even members of the community when they come on, it seems that there's -- you've lost confidence in a large part for the citizens that you are supposed to serve and protect. Can you regain that confidence?
JACKSON: I think we're in the beginning phases of regaining that confidence. You know, part of that is getting with people who can help us do that. You know, the Community Relations Bureau, the Department of Justice, they've been doing this since 1964, bringing communities back together after racial tensions. And they're here and said they'll be here as long as I need them.
LEMON: People are calling for to you lose your job.
JACKSON: I understand that.
LEMON: For you to be fired.
JACKSON: I understand that. LEMON: What do you say?
JACKSON: I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to stay and see this through.
LEMON: What did you learn?
JACKSON: I've learned an awful lot. I learned that I did not know that we had this building undertow of mistrust in a certain -- in that area over there in the community.
LEMON: How could you not know that, as the chief of police? You've been here -- you said you worked for the county for years.
LEMON: You worked with Ron Johnson. You've been here, what, four and a half years? How could you not know that?
JACKSON: Because we've been engaged. We've been with the apartment complex management, wanted to set up a neighborhood watch program; we've been over there doing resource displays. We have our neighborhood watch meetings once a month. We have nine neighborhood associations here that are all engaged with the police department. So all I'm seeing is engagement, and somewhere underneath all that is a growing mistrust that we have to get back.
LEMON: So people are looking at you around the country, around the world really, and they're wondering if this is -- if Ferguson is emblematic of something that's happening across America in our culture. What do you say to them and what do you say to your very own people here about what transpired and how you plan to move forward here?
JACKSON: What happened is a terrible tragedy from the very first moment to right now, but we also started the healing process right away. When we saw what was happening Sunday, we started meeting with community leaders who I know, I've been with, and we immediately started talking about getting together and to actually get out in the community and solve these problems and to regain the trust and to do training and mediation and whatever it takes to make sure that the entire community is served, and it has confidence in this police department.
LEMON: I know that we have to go, but if you'll allow me one question, what do you say to the family of Michael Brown?
JACKSON: I don't think I could say anything to them that would help. I can't imagine losing a child. I wouldn't even want to think about losing a child. I have so much sympathy and compassion for them, and I just -- I want the truth, just like they do.
LEMON: Thank you very much. What time can we expect to hear from you?
JACKSON: Probably a little after 8:00. LEMON: A little after 8:00 Central Time, 9:00 Eastern. Thank you,
Chief Jackson. We appreciate you coming on here to CNN.
JACKSON: Thanks for having me.
BOLDUAN: Don, thank you. Chief, thanks so much for your time. Appreciate it. We'll get back to you shortly.
Let's get over to Michaela now for a look more of our headlines this morning.
PEREIRA: Yes. Let's take a look at those headlines right now, at 17 minutes past the hour.
Iraq's embattled Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki is stepping down. He says he'll support his designated replacement, Haider al Abadi. In the meantime, the U.N. is taking issue with President Obama's claim that the ISIS siege in Mt. Sinjar has been broken. They say thousands of Yazidi refugees may still be trapped on the mountainside.
Russian armored carriers have crossed into eastern Ukraine, not far from where another convoy of other 200 Russian trucks are gathered near the border. Ukrainian border guards are inspecting the trucks which Moscow says contain humanitarian aid. Many of them are apparently empty.
In the meantime tensions flared at the Ukraine parliament building Thursday over the situation in the east. See this, one lawmaker punched by one of his colleagues because of military conditions on the ground there.
The World Health Organization says the Ebola outbreak is expected to continue for some time. The WHO places the official death toll in the outbreak at more than 1,000 but says the number underestimates the size and reach of that outbreak. In the meantime, the U.S. has begun to evacuate families of embassy staff in Sierra Leone. The State Department says it is out of an abundance of caution.
Those are your headlines guys.
BOLDUAN: All right. Let's take a break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, there are differing accounts about what really happened when Michael Brown, that 18-year-old boy, was shot. We're going to speak to a witness to the shooting and get her take on it.
LEMON: Welcome back to NEW DAY here on CNN. I'm Don Lemon, coming to you live from Ferguson, Missouri.
Today, the Ferguson Police Department will release the name of the officer who shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Protesters have been commanding to know his identity for days, his family as well has wanted to know that, as well as a detailed account of what really happened last Saturday because witnesses and police have provided different versions of what went on.
Joining us now is Piaget Crenshaw. She witnessed Michael Brown's shooting and she is here with her attorney, Karen Lewis.
Thank you, guys. Good morning.
PIAGET CRENSHAW, EYEWITNESS TO MICHAEL BROWN SHOOTING: Good morning.
LEMON: What do you make of the name being released, Piaget?
CRENSHAW: I think this is the right thing to do, finally, justice, finally.
LEMON: And were you able to go out in the community in the last couple of nights?
CRENSHAW: Yes, sir. It's been completely peaceful for me, everybody in my community has been supporting me and I congratulate them for that.
LEMON: Yes. OK, let's go back to the events that happened Saturday. You were waiting for Tiffany Mitchell, she was coming to, you work with her.
CRENSHAW: Yes, she was pulling up.
LEMON: She was pulling up.
You guys were going to work together. She was witnessing it from her car. You were witnessing it from your balcony in the same apartment complex.
So, tell us what you saw.
CRENSHAW: OK, from the beginning I saw the initial screeching of tires, I then looked out the window while Tiffany Mitchell was calling me. I looked to the (INAUDIBLE) of the police swerving on the two young men, Dorian was out of the picture at this time but they were mainly concerned with Michael, he was doing some kind of reaching and pulling, hassling through the windows and I then heard gunshots fired.
LEMON: Did it look like a struggle for a gun to you? You said it looks like initially you said like arm wrestling sort of.
CRENSHAW: Sort of, it didn't look like at all a struggle for a gun. It just appeared to be the police officer trying to manipulate the young man into his vehicle.
LEMON: Trying to pull him in.
LEMON: And he was trying to rest his arm away in your opinion?
CRENSHAW: Yes, he was trying to get away as best as he can. It didn't look like he was retaliating. It looked like he was trying to flee.
LEMON: So, what happened after that? They struggle and then Michael Brown finally gets free and what happened?
CRENSHAW: A couple gunshots were fired before Michael Brown got free, so the gunshots were aimed just wherever they hit, I guess a couple of them hit him, one did hit my building on the opposite side of me, so as they got out of the car I turned around, grabbed my purse, my belongings went back to the window in the living room where I saw the officer chasing Michael down the street while Dorian Johnson was trying to, you know, hide, kind of get away, so I'm witnessing Dorian ducking out from the police as he's running shooting, and as the police approached Michael maybe not more than three feet away, he then shot again.
Michael then turned around almost in awe, like how he had just gotten shot that many times so he looked down and he tried to put his arms up, and once he put his arms up, the police shot his face and his chest and he just went down.
LEMON: So he shot him after he put his arms up?
CRENSHAW: Yes, he did.
LEMON: And then he fell to the ground.
LEMON: There was concern about how he laid out there, we have new video in to CNN that shows Michael Brown's body on the ground. How long did he lay out there uncovered?
CRENSHAW: Oh, for the original time he laid out there until the tape was clipped, that was 15 minutes, after he even got shot and about 20 minutes later the officer finally came and put a white sheet over his body, not even on the top of his head but over the body.
LEMON: How long was it before his uncle showed up? There's video of his uncle showing up on the scene trying to get to his nephew's body, and then police scurrying him away.
CRENSHAW: That was around five minutes prior to him, sorry, after him being shot. So about five minutes his uncle and everybody else started to gather around. They immediately started putting yellow tape around my building, so it was pretty much about five minutes afterwards.
LEMON: So, I walked through the neighborhood yesterday and if you're looking at this across the country you think this is a terrible neighborhood, a bad neighborhood but people I spoke to said there is police activity there, but nothing like this ever happens. What kind of neighborhood is it?
CRENSHAW: Well, I honestly just moved there July 1st so I never knew all of these occurrences happened within my first time of movement away from my mother's apartment. But otherwise, I did feel comfortable with the Ferguson Police Department presence, because I did hear about things that happen in my community such as, you know, break-ins, just things of that nature, and the Ferguson Police Department usually just does a stroll through couple times a day, so I actually feel safe somewhat.
LEMON: This was way out of the ordinary?
CRENSHAW: Yes, sir.
LEMON: And at no time before, at any time did you witness Michael Brown with a gun or Dorian with a gun? Did they appear to be armed at all?
CRENSHAW: No, sir. Because when they were running, they weren't reaching for anything. It seemed like he was running for his life and got shot and turned around, still didn't try to reach for anything, he put his hands into the air, being compliant, and still got shot down like a dog.
LEMON: Moving forward, what do you think happens with this community now?
CRENSHAW: Well, I think we're coming together much better now. There are protests peaceful, positive protests outside my apartment. I uploaded a video last night of what really goes on in Ferguson when the police presence are not there. There are people setting up tents, handing out free water, free sandwiches. There are community leaders coming out cleaning our streets, because of the looting and rioting, like they're actually trying to turn this around and I actually believe that outsiders, along with Fergusons, are the ones looting.
LEMON: We want to thank both of you. You didn't get to speak but wanted to be here to make sure she didn't get herself into a trouble or incriminate or make conflicting statements so thank you, Piaget, and we thank you both as well.
All right. Back to you in New York.
BOLDUAN: All right. Don, thank you so much.
Coming up next on NEW DAY, we will have more on the situation happening on the ground in Ferguson, Missouri. Our legal team is going to look at this lack of transparency in the investigation. What should be released? What shouldn't be? We'll talk about it.