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THE SITUATION ROOM
Police Officer Didn't Know Brown Was a Suspect; Did Michael Brown Rob Convenience Store?; Ferguson Street Protests; Interview with Alderman Antonio French; Mass Killings Reported After New ISIS Raid; Obama's Vacation Full of Crises
Aired August 15, 2014 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now, breaking news -- stunning revelations in the Michael Brown shooting case, including allegations and surveillance video of a convenience store robbery.
Officer identified -- police release the name of the six year veteran who shot Michael Brown, but say he didn't know the teen was a robbery suspect.
ISIS threat -- the U.S. fears thousands of new fighters are joining the militants. And we're just learning of a deadly new ISIS assault.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Let's get right to the breaking news. Major new developments in the case capturing world attention. Police in Ferguson, Missouri have dropped a bombshell, alleging the shooting victim, Michael Brown, was a suspect in a convenience store robbery.
But hours later, they said the officer who shot him, now identified as 2-year-old Darren Wilson, didn't know Brown was a robbery suspect.
All of this has critics accusing police of trying to damage Michael Brown's character.
We're covering all angles of the breaking news this hour with our reporters and our guests.
Let's begin with our national correspondent, Jason Carroll.
He's in Ferguson, Missouri, of course -- so, Jason -- let's get the very latest from Jason.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The new security camera video released by the Ferguson Police Department shows a confrontation with a store clerk inside a convenience store at 11:52:00 a.m. last Saturday. According to police, Michael Brown was inside the convenience store with his friend, Dorian Johnson, committing a so- called "strong-armed robbery." Police say Brown aggressively pulls the clerk in close to him and then immediately pushes him back into a display rack. Police said he stole a box of $49 cigars.
There were no weapons used, but Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said the robbery was not related to the shooting incident that killed Michael Brown.
CHIEF THOMAS JACKSON, FERGUSON POLICE DEPARTMENT: This robbery does not relate to the initial contact between the officer and Michael Brown.
CARROLL: Police say they released the video of the convenience store robbery today because the press asked for it.
Earlier, Chief Jackson described what happened after the robbery.
JACKSON: At 11:51, there was a 911 call from a convenience store nearby. At 11:52, dispatch gave a description of a robbery suspect over the radio.
At 12:01 p.m., our officer encountered Michael Brown on Canfield Drive.
At 12:04, a second officer arrived on the scene immediately following the shooting.
CARROLL: After almost a week of silence, the officer involved in the shooting was identified -- Darren Wilson, a white 28-year-old who has served on the force for six years, and, according to the department, has no disciplinary actions taken against him.
He was treated for injuries which occurred during the altercation on Saturday.
JACKSON: He had no complaints. He was a...
JACKSON: -- he was a gentle, quiet man. He was a distinguished officer.
CARROLL: Police say Dorian Johnson, who was with Brown in the convenience store and when Brown was shot and killed, will not be charged in the store robbery.
The dramatic developments follow a night of relative calm streets and peaceful demonstrations. To sway the tide of violent altercations, Missouri's governor put state Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson in charge of keeping the peace.
CNN was with Captain Johnson as he arrived on the scene.
CAPT. RON JOHNSON, MISSOURI HIGHWAY PATROL: I want to go down here and kind of and get an assessment of what the mood is.
CARROLL: First, a reallocation of forces.
JOHNSON: And I'm not going to take a chance. I'm going to have you guys turn around and go back to the McDonald's, both of you. And then I'll call you when I need you.
CARROLL: Then came time to meet the demonstrators.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so proud of you (INAUDIBLE). Appreciate you, sir.
CARROLL (on camera): What do you make of all of this crowd, all of these people surrounding you like this, in this way, supporting you?
JOHNSON: Well, I know the good people that live in this community. And I've lived here 48 years of my life. And so I know we've got good people in this community.
CARROLL (voice-over): But despite the positive influence of Captain Johnson, as details emerge, questions remain.
How did that an alleged unarmed convenience store robbery end in a scene like this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you see (INAUDIBLE)?
Do you see anything that would have caused a threat to these (EXPLETIVE LANGUAGE) police (INAUDIBLE) because they want (INAUDIBLE)?
(END VIDEO TAPE)
CARROLL: And an attorney representing the Brown family says the release of that have convenience store video changes nothing about what they allege, which is that a Ferguson police officer shot an unarmed man -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jason Carroll, thanks very much for that report.
Let's go to CNN's Don Lemon.
He's also in Ferguson for us -- Don. I understand you had a chance to speak with the police chief, clarify some of these issues.
What did he say?
DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. Wolf, you and I have been talking about the -- about the inconsistencies that have been going on here with the press conferences and especially what's in the incident reports, as well.
Why did they release the videotape of this alleged robbery on the same day they released the officer's name?
I got some clarification about that.
Essentially what he says is it was not -- it wasn't an easy decision, that he was getting pressured to release the name of the officer and they thought that they would get some lawsuits over that, so they figured they would -- they may as well go ahead and release both of them at the same time.
When I asked him, I said, but you -- you didn't clarify if the two were related.
And it turns out -- and everyone assumed that they were related, and rightfully so, he said.
But he said, you know, he should have done a better job.
And he said it was just no good choice in doing it. He had to do it. And he figured if he was going to have to do one, he should do the other.
The rest of that interview will air tonight 9:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN, when I host a very special edition of "A.C. 360."
I talked to him about other things, as well, Wolf. And there are going to be some revelations about this officer. I asked him some questions about this officer and prior work assignments that you'll want to hear in this interview.
But regarding those inconsistencies and regarding that videotaping released today, the entire community here is upset over that. They're thinking it's a character assassination on the victim and it's essentially blaming the victim.
And you can hear the protests starting to ramp up now behind me. The horns are honking. We're right across from the police station.
Protesters are -- with bullhorns are behind us now. And the family -- a family member of Michael Brown just held an impromptu press conference in front of the police station, as well, reiterating what you read earlier and the family statement and said what the attorney told me here on CNN, as well.
BLITZER: Don, it sounds like the family and their lawyers, they're pretty angry that the police released this videotape, the still pictures, the police report of the robbery -- the alleged robbery at the convenience store. The video showing what they say is Michael Brown, in effect, pushing the clerk, stealing some -- allegedly stealing some cigars and walking out.
They're angry it was released because it tends, obviously, to smear, if you will, to make him look pretty bad.
BLITZER: We show the picture right there of him pushing that clerk aside and then threatening him as he walks out the door with the cigars.
And so they're pretty angry this came out today.
The question is this, what should we be bracing for tonight? LEMON: Well, that's -- that is the question. And I can't answer that question now. But when I spoke to the people earlier, when we were at the QT, where those protests have been emanating from, the bases -- the base of the protests, most people said that they were going to be -- it was going to be non-violent.
You heard Ron Johnson, who is now in charge of this, from the Missouri Highway Patrol saying -- asking for calm and really promising, in as many words, that there would not be violence tonight, or asking people not to be violent this evening, especially after the sun went down.
But also, you know, when I spoke to the police chief about releasing it, you know, the videotape, as well as the officer's name, he said, listen, I knew that there was going to be controversy. I knew that there was going to be some uproar about it. And he said because it was going to be seen as a character assassination and a deflection. But he said that I had no other choice. I just had to -- there was no good choice and that's what I had to do, so I did it and got it all out of the way -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And the lawyers for the family, they are conceding that the man in that video in the convenience store was, in fact, Michael Brown, right?
LEMON: Yes. Yes, the lawyers are conceding that. And point blank, I asked the police chief, the Ferguson police chief, that. And he says he does believe it is Michael Brown.
BLITZER: Don Lemon will be back with us later.
Don, thanks very much.
Let's get some more on the investigation.
Joining us, our law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, and our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown.
What are you hearing from your sources, first of all, Pamela, about Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we learned today, Wolf, that St. Louis County detectives have interviewed Darren Wilson, that officer involved in the shooting, twice since the shooting occurred, one right after the shooting and then a second, more thorough, longer interview shortly after the shooting, within the next 48 hours after.
So the initial interview was very brief. We've learned -- it was obviously a very chaotic time and traumatic for the officer. And so that was more of a brief interview. And then there was the -- the longer interview.
As far as what the officer said, the officials that I've been speaking with won't share that information. But we know just from what the police chief said earlier this week that the officer's account is that there was a confrontation between him and Brown and they were tussling over the gun. So, of course, that's what we've learned just from what the police chief said.
But what investigators are really going to be focused on and what Tom can attest to is they're going to be looking at did the officer, based on what he's telling investigators, take reasonable action considering the circumstances?
Did he fear for his life?
BLITZER: What do you make of the videos that -- the videotape that has been released from the convenience store showing this alleged robbery, and, if you will, some sort of push back or assault on the clerk?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think the fact that they're conceding that it was Michael Brown, the family is conceding it, it does indicate that he's not an angel, that he would be capable of some violent act, at some level, pushing the clerk as he does in that store. And that maybe he could, you know, also push or get into an altercation with a police officer. So I think that from that standpoint.
But, you know, what -- the big thing that we wanted to know early was, what did Officer Wilson know about those two individuals walking down the street?
Was he aware that they were suspects in a robbery that had just occurred.
BLITZER: The police chief says no, he wasn't.
FUENTES: Now he says no. So now we know what was in -- or what wasn't in Officer Wilson's mind.
But now it adds to the thing, what's in Michael Brown's mind?
If he knows he's had this altercation, if he knows that he did what he did at the convenience store, that could change how he perceives -- he might assume that Officer Wilson knows he has just committed that robbery and that maybe he's going to get arrested, maybe there's going to be more to it. It's not just two guys being told get up on the sidewalk and off the street.
BLITZER: And so the...
FUENTES: So it's very important what's in the mind of Officer Wilson at the beginning of the incident.
What's in the mind of Michael Brown when this thing starts?
BLITZER: Yes. We're never going to know what's in the mind of Michael Brown, because he's dead.
But we -- there are his -- his friend Dorian, was there with him, he's already been questioned. I interviewed him earlier in the week. He told me exactly what he recalls happened. He never told me about what was going on in the convenience store a few minutes earlier. But, presumably, he'll have an explanation of what's going on there.
FUENTES: Yes. I would expect so.
BLITZER: He's one of the eyewitnesses.
BLITZER: And the question is, will he be -- will he be telling the truth?
That would be one of the questions, if, in fact, the police officer is charged with homicide, if you will.
The argument being -- and you just heard the lawyers make the argument -- that let's say they did get into a fight in the car, for whatever reason. Let's say Michael Brown was, in fact, trying to reach in for the police officer's weapon and he was shot in the car.
But then he runs away and then he gets his hands up and he gives up. If the police officer then, with his hands up in the air, goes ahead and fires some more rounds, what does that mean?
FUENTES: That means if they can prove that that, that officer is probably going to prison, because when a suspect, even if they're armed, even if Michael Brown had a gun, even if he shot at the police, if he throws the gun down and throws his hands in the air, if that turns out to be true -- in this case, he didn't have a gun. But if he did, even, once the suspect surrenders, it's over. The police officer can no longer be justified in deadly force. And that will be the issue here.
So you really have two issues -- the altercation at the police car where the first shot is fired, but now, down -- you know, further down the street, where Officer Wilson now goes to where Brown is and fires additional shots into him when witnesses say he was possibly surrendering. That's the important thing for investigators -- can they prove or disprove that he was, in fact, surrendering?
BLITZER: Because there are two -- at least two witnesses who say they did see him raise his hands to surrender and then he was shot afterwards.
But forensically, how -- how do you prove that, let's say you don't believe these two witnesses?
FUENTES: Well, that's going to be difficult to prove. There's no video of it that we know of. There's no audio of that altercation that we know of.
Now, you'll have an indication of the first shot, because there would be -- a shot in close proximity at the police car door would leave powder burns. I mean he would literally be burnt from the powder and the flame that comes out of the barrel of the gun.
Now, down the street, it will be a little harder to tell whether or not the police officer was real close to him. And secondly, the autopsy will show whether the additional bullets started as shots to the back. They'll be able to determine entry wounds, if it was to the back first, and then after Brown turns around and supposedly tries to surrender, they'll be able to see entry wounds into his chest...
FUENTES: -- as the witnesses say.
BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, thanks very much.
Pamela Brown, thanks to you, as well.
Much more on the breaking news.
The new allegation that Michael Brown was a robbery suspect.
Does that really change anything?
Our legal experts, they are standing by. We'll discuss.
And will there be more protests?
We're going back live to Ferguson for more on what people are saying there now about these dramatic new developments in the case.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. A series of bombshell revelations in the Michael Brown shooting, including allegations by police that the teenager was a robbery suspect. But they say the officer who shot and killed him didn't know that.
The officer's been identified as 28-year-old Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of the Ferguson Police Department. Let's dig deeper with our guests, CNN legal analyst, the criminal defense attorney Mark O'Mara; criminal defense attorney Mawuli Davis; and Ronald Hosko, the former assistant director of the FBI's criminal investigative division.
Ron, let me start with you. What do you make of the fact that the family has now acknowledged that the individual in that alleged robbery in the convenience store was, in fact, Michael Brown? What does that say about this case?
RONALD HOSKO, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FBI'S CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIVISION: I think it's significant in a number of ways, not the least of which, and Tom Fuentes just mentioned it, it's relevant in what's in the mind of the officer who fired his weapon at Mr. Brown. It's also very relevant what's in Mr. Brown's mind.
BLITZER: The officer didn't know that the man that he shot and killed had been in that alleged robbery in the convenience store.
HOSKO: Right. So that's important here. Why was the officer pulling up on Mr. Brown? Why did the encounter start is relevant to the bigger picture here in whether he did wrong or not.
BLITZER: Because the sheriff, the police chief in Ferguson says he was pulled over -- this is the account of the police chief -- because Brown and his friend were walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic. So he pulled him over.
HOSKO: Assuming that's correct, that is a potential violation of law. And it doesn't mean he doesn't have the right to pull him over or try to move him out of traffic or move him out of being a threat. But it is significant if he didn't hear the transmissions about the strong- arm robbery and he wasn't responding to it.
BLITZER: Mark, what do you think about these latest developments that the police officer who shot and killed Ron, he didn't know about the alleged robbery at the convenience store. But Brown obviously would know about the alleged robbery. That would be in his mind if he's being pulled over by the cops.
MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Exactly because Michael Brown may have reacted thinking he was being pulled over because of the robbery even if the officer wasn't aware of it. So how Michael Brown is going to react to it is very significant. Whether or not they had any information as to why he pulled him over, if Michael Brown is going to react in some way, thinking he's being pulled over for a robbery, and the officer has no idea what's going on, then it's going to be that miscommunication, and it's going to be even more concern between the two of them when the first interaction starts.
BLITZER: Mawuli, what's your -- what's your sense of what happened?
MAWULI DAVIS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: My concern is that this already does not change anything fundamentally when you deal with someone being stopped for jaywalking and then being fired upon. So what Mr. Brown was doing prior to being stopped by the officer, I think really it doesn't play that much of a factor in the shooting itself. I think that's what we should stay focused on.
BLITZER: But what if the account by the police officer supposedly he's arguing that, when he pulled him over, that Michael Brown went for his gun and tried to resist. That's when the gun was fired. What about that argument that apparently the police officer in question here is making?
DAVIS: Well, I think that may allow...
O'MARA: I'm sorry.
BLITZER: Go ahead, Mawuli.
DAVIS: I think the problem with that is when they initially engage, if the -- if Mr. Brown is no longer a threat, then there should -- he should not have fired his weapon. If he puts his hands up, he's no longer a threat. The weapon should not have been fired. That's the analysis that I think is it important.
While we can look at what happened leading up to the fatal shot, I think we still have to look at what happens when his hands are up. If his hands are up and he's shot, that's -- he's no longer a threat and that officer should not have fired.
BLITZER: Ron, you agree with that. Even if there had been an altercation, some contested fight within the vehicle itself and even if a shot had been fired in the vehicle, once he leaves and once he throws his hands up in the air, he should not be shot again?
HOSKO: Well, generally, that's exactly true. However, there is a lot of ifs in your statement and Mawuli's. And that's the point of an investigation. What did happen? Not if, if, if. We need to find out what did happen.
And if there were rounds fired or a gunshot that was fired in close proximity, there's going to be an indication of that. If Mr. Brown's hands were on the officer's gun, there could well be an indication of that. His fingerprints could still be on the gun.
How far he got away, the distance of the shell casings, is going to be relevant to prove distance. All those factors are going to be brought to bear to give us a fuller perspective of what happened.
BLITZER: That's why your former colleagues at the FBI are involved in this investigation right now.
Mark, the -- there are eyewitness accounts who say they did see the Michael Brown raise his hands after he left the vehicle. He was shot once or twice in the vehicle. After he left, he did put his hands up. I guess the point is, you're going to believe those eyewitnesses?
O'MARA: Well, you know, witnesses can get things wrong. They can hear other witnesses' testimony and decide to bring that into their own. But here's what's going to be very important, and Ron sort of touched on it. The forensics in a case like this are going to be very, very important.
And here's why, for an example. One of the witness said that the officer was within three feet of Michael Brown when he shot and the hands are up. If that fact is true, then there's going to be stippling on Michael Brown's arms, and it's going to be on the arms as they would be up. And that could be very significant evidence that he did, in fact, have his hands up. If the stippling is on with his hands down or another location, that's going to show something exactly different.
So we need to wait. We do not know what was going on. I think it was a huge mistake for the cops to release this information piecemeal the way it does. It just allows for speculation.
You need to wait till the investigation is over. Let the FBI and the other agencies do what they want, because we need to do this transparently. But that doesn't mean let it out every moment you get it. It means that the agencies that are involved should be talking and the families' representatives should be involved and let's do it right the first time.
BLITZER: Very quickly, Mawuli, what do you want to hear right now? What do you want to hear?
DAVIS: I want to know the distance of the shooting, because the stippling typically is a foot and a half to three feet away. And if there's no stippling, then if this officer is seven or eight feet away, and Mr. Brown is unarmed, then how was he a threat? That's what we need to determine. That's what we need to see. So I agree. There needs to be more evaluation of the evidence so that we can have a clearer picture. But with hands up, that's not a threat. Not at all.
BLITZER: Mawuli Davis, Ron Hosko, Mark O'Mara, guys, thanks very much.
Coming up, more on the breaking news. The man now in charge of security at Ferguson reveals how he defused a very, very tense situation. The state trooper, Captain Ron Johnson, talks to CNN's Jake Tapper. Jake is standing by to join us live.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. Sources now telling CNN the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown has been interviewed twice by detectives. He's now been identified as 28-year-old Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of the Ferguson Police Department.
CNN's Jake Tapper, the host of "THE LEAD," is in Ferguson for us.
Jake, what's the latest over there?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER": Well, it has been a more quiet period since Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol was appointed to be in charge of security here. And in fact, he has been walking with people. He has been talking to people at a press conference earlier today. He invited community members to come up and sit among the reporters and ask him and the governor questions.
And in fact, there was one interesting moment. I asked him about today, from yesterday, when he saw some people who looked young men, who looked kind of angry to put it lightly and he directly approached them. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. RON JOHNSON, MISSOURI STATE HIGHWAY PATROL: Well, walking behind them I could hear their anger. And you know, I kind of went over to talk to them and just have some discussion with them and really have to give us a chance, and to let them know that I've got a son that looks just like them.
You know, many of them talked that they had tattoos and things like that. And I told them my son has some tattoos. So I just my son is just like you and I said give us a chance. And I said, you know, there's a new day coming. There's going to be some honest interaction with you. And I said I just didn't want to walk past him. I walked over to them because I wanted to hear what they had to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Captain Johnson trying to directly talk to some young men who looked angry to say the least. But his approach seems to have worked at least for now. Last night, however, boisterous it was, and you can hear the horns honking people showing their support here as people get off work in St. Louis and Ferguson, showing their support but doing so in a completely peaceful way.
Interesting also, Wolf, this sight here of the Quick Trip Convenience Store that was burned down over the weekend with some of the protests turned violent. People have taken to writing in chalk messages about their feelings about what this week has come to mean to them and among the chance, "no justice, no peace," the people have written down and "hands up, don't shoot," "RIP Michael Brown," one rather poignant statement right here on the ground, "Black men do matter." It says right here.
It's a message that for a lot of members of the community is really what the protests have been all about. Mike Brown and other young men in the African-American community here in Ferguson and across the country, they want the United States' power structure to acknowledge we do matter -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yesterday at this time, they were beginning to gather for what turned out to be very peaceful protests. Are we seeing something similar now?
TAPPER: Yes, it's exactly the same people are boisterous, they are -- they are effusive with what they're trying to say. But so far completely peaceful demonstrations.
I should note when I say peaceful, I mean nonviolent. I don't mean that it's quiet here. It is certainly not quiet here as anybody watching our coverage last night can attest. It is a rather boisterous crowd. But so far so good. Captain Ron Johnson and his message of talking to people and listening to them really seems to have assuaged many members of the community that there is somebody here now listening to them.
Also the fact that there aren't any more mine resistant trucks, tear gas and rubber bullets being fired at them. That helps, too -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Certainly it does. All right, Jake, thanks very much. Jake Tapper in Ferguson.
Let's get some more now with Antonio French. He sits on the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.
Alderman French, thanks very much for joining us. So what did you make of today's developments, specifically the police chief there in Ferguson, Police Chief Jackson, announcing at his news conference that Michael Brown was actually stopped by that police officer for blocking traffic, not for robbing a convenience store for a box of cigars?
ANTONIO FRENCH, ST. LOUIS ALDERMAN: Yes, I think what we saw today was just another example of how the local Ferguson officials are really in over their head. While people were expecting and were demanding the name of the officer who killed Michael Brown, that the police chief chose to release that other information at the same time just shows that he really doesn't have a handle on just how tense things are out there.
I'm really happy that Captain Johnson is now on the ground and taking charge. What we did learn, though, is that the Ferguson police chief didn't consult with Captain Johnson before he decided to release that information at the same time. So, you know, I think it kind of took away a little bit of the good momentum we had from last night. But I remain hopeful that we're going to have another peaceful night here in Ferguson.
BLITZER: I hope this is going to be a peaceful, as well.
Alderman, you think that they released -- they obviously released the name of the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown. Do you think they released the other information, the videotape, these pictures, the police reports of the alleged robbery at the convenience store, they released simultaneously it to help that police officer? Is it that what you're suggesting?
FRENCH: Well, I don't know what the intention was but I know what the result was. The result was that they angered people again. And that's not something we really want to see right now. It served no positive constructive purpose to release that information especially at the same time as you were releasing the information that we were asking for. And in fact, what it really does is help sully the reputation of a dead young man who should be living and going to college right now.
BLITZER: But when you look at the video, And I'm sure you've seen it, we've all seen it now several times and the family and the family's lawyers have now confirmed that is in fact Michael Brown. He's going in there and allegedly taking cigars, not paying for the cigars, walking out and pushing the clerk, throwing the clerk to the -- the clerk side, as he well then coming back in and threatening him a bit before leaving once again. It obviously does not speak well of Michael Brown.
FRENCH: Well, this really isn't new information. I posted a video on YouTube and on Twitter a couple of days ago where a young man in his kitchen is shooting this video and explaining what he saw. And he describes that Mike Brown and a friend had just stolen some cigarettes or some cigars from a local place and they were walking home. In the video he said that they didn't think that police were after them. And in fact, they were just walking casually home when they encounter this officer.
So it's really not new information. And even after the second press conference under questioning the chief admitted it was really unrelated that the officer didn't stop him because of anything having to do with this incident.
BLITZER: Yes. The police chief in Ferguson said he was stopped because he was blocking traffic. If you will, jaywalking. All right. Alderman French, thanks very much for joining us. We
We're going to have much more on what's going on in Ferguson right now. We're standing by to see how the demonstrations develop, what's going to happen in the next few hours.
Also, Michael Brown's family is calling for calm even as they denounced the police for releasing this video, pictures showing Brown allegedly robbing a convenience store.
Also there's other disturbing news we're following here in THE SITUATION ROOM. It's breaking in Iraq. We're getting word of a new ISIS massacre.
BLITZER: We continue to watch the dramatic events unfolding in Missouri. But there's some other very disturbing news that's breaking in Iraq right now. We're hearing reports of mass killings and abductions after a new ISIS raid on a Yazidi village about a dozen miles or so from Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq.
Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is joining us, she has more on this new ISIS threat.
What have we learned, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a short time ago, the U.S. Central Command announced it did carry out airstrikes in that region after receiving reports that villagers were under attack by ISIS. ISIS now at unprecedented strength and for the U.S. intelligence community, the crucial question, how far will the group go?
STARR (voice-over): This video appears to show Iraqi police taking down an ISIS flag, defiant against the brutal Islamic militants the U.S. intelligence community now calls a credible alternative to al Qaeda.
After days of U.S. airstrikes, ISIS fighters in Iraq may be in hiding in some places, the U.S. says. Its leader Abu-Bakr Al-Baghdadi may have fled back to Syria. But more than one million Iraqis now on the run from ISIS according to the U.N. It's still grabbing territory and bolstering its ranks across northern Iraq and in next door Syria.
SETH JONES, RAND CORPORATION: It's now increased to well over 10,000 fighters. So it does appear to have increased in numbers. It appears to be wealthier.
STARR: The U.S. intelligence community now doing a new assessment. Trying to calculate how many fighters ISIS has including foreign fighters mainly in Syria. And how many may be Americans.
The worry for the U.S., Westerners trained by ISIS could return home and plot attacks.
JEH JOHNSON, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We're concerned about those -- this type of organization which is very dangerous and probably wants to try to prove itself in one way or another. Could go further along in its efforts to attack our homeland.
STARR: U.S. intelligence agencies worry the momentum has brought ISIS thousands of new fighters now armed with heavy weapons from abandoned Iraqi military bases. But ISIS is not unstoppable at least in Iraq.
JONES: ISIS is not 10 feet tall. It's vulnerable in part because its ideology does not appear to be well supported among Iraq's even Sunni population.
STARR: An even bigger problem for ISIS, its place in the jihad movement. So far many of al Qaeda's strongest affiliate organizations in Yemen, North Africa and Somalia have not sworn their allegiance.
STARR: And many U.S. experts believe that ISIS and al Qaeda will someday fight it out for leadership of the global jihad movement. And that may be very good news for the United States. The feeling is, let them fight it out between themselves. As long as they're fighting, they won't be attacking the homeland -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara Starr, at the Pentagon, thanks very much.
So how much should the United States be involved in combating the threat still posed by ISIS? With us now our National Security analyst, the former CIA operative Bob Baer.
Bob, thanks for joining us. I know you're working to try to bring some Iraqi Sunnis to the United States to make their case, I guess, against ISIS right now. But how much of a threat does ISIS really represent?
ROBERT BAER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, if it holds on Anbar Province which includes Mosul, establishes flows of income, really sets up an army, continues to grab more equipment, and take more land and hold onto the Mosul dam, it's a threat we've never seen before against this country of the West. It's much more potent than al Qaeda. It's the replacement for al Qaeda.
So the longer this goes on, the longer it stands to continue, to exist. I mean, we really have to get serious about it and this new election of the new prime minister Abadi is a good sign. The Iranians cooperating with the United States. Now it's a question of bringing the Sunnis who stand against ISIS and get them to start fighting, as well. This is going to be a long-term battle. But there is no choice at this point.
BLITZER: Because a lot of the Sunnis in Iraq apparently are sympathetic to ISIS. ISIS being Sunni and they're fighting the Christians, the Shiites, the Kurds, the Yazidis. All this other groups. So how do you beat ISIS? What needs to be done? BAER: First of all, we have to arm the Kurds. They have to be able
to defend themselves. They have to be able to hit ISIS all across the north. Secondly, you set up and start arming the Sunnis that are against ISIS. Let them go back in.
What you don't want, Wolf is a Shia army or a Christian army or Kurdish Army going into the Sunni areas. That will alienate the population more. You let -- make the Sunnis take back their own part of Iraq. And I think that's doable. What we need is a reprise of the awakening which in 2007 destroyed al Qaeda. It's possible to bring that back right now.
BLITZER: It's going to take a long of time, though. It's going to be a lot of hard work.
Bob Baer, thanks very much.
Coming up, we're watching the latest developments on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. Michael Brown's family now calling for all the people there to remain calm even though it's been a day of some serious anger and lots of confusion.
BLITZER: Good evening. Our eyes on the breaking news as protesters now gathering in Ferguson, Missouri. You're looking at live pictures coming in. Much more of what's going on there and it's coming up in a few minutes, right at the top of the hour.
Ferguson is just one of the many crises that has been interrupting President Obama's vacation.
Our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta is with the president on Martha's Vineyard.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even as President Obama pedaled off with the first family and teed off on the golf courses of Martha's Vineyard, it's been the kind of vacation that could use a mulligan. The clashes in Ferguson, the crisis in Iraq.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes, we're looking forward to it.
ACOSTA: Even an attack from Hillary Clinton CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin summed it all up perfectly.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The president of the United States who appears to be on the vacation from hell.
ACOSTA (on camera): Has it been the vacation from hell?
ERIC SCHULTZ, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Jim, I look around here. I'm not sure I'd use that label. But I do think the president has been juggling both the idea of getting a respite, getting some breaks, taking some downtime and recharging his batteries with staying engaged.
ACOSTA (voice-over): That means staying in contact with top administration officials Susan Rice and Attorney General Eric Holder, plus a dozen different phone calls with world leaders.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We broke the ISIL siege of Mount Sinjar.
ACOSTA: And two trips in front of the cameras.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He got fires burning everyone. It's not surprising that the president has to keep on putting on a sport coat or a suit and go out in front of the cameras as he has done.
ACOSTA: In response to critics who've accused the president of vacationing while the world burns, Mr. Obama's defenders say consider his predecessor.
The president has taken 125 partial or complete days off. Still well behind George W. Bush's 407, according to CBS White House correspondent and statistician Mark Knoller.
GERGEN: I think most Americans can give the president a break for going on vacation. It's a tough job. We may not like what he's doing sometimes but he deserves R and R.
ACOSTA: A few unauthorized photos on this crowded island later posted by the "Daily Caller" have found the president cutting a rug on the dance floor and sitting down if not hugging it out with Clinton.
CLINTON: We have disagreements as any partners and friends as we are might very well have.
ACOSTA: With the crisis in Iraq and Ferguson cooling down at least for the moment, who knows, the president might actually start enjoying himself.
SCHULTZ: He's had a few rounds of golf. I wouldn't be surprised if he has a few more before he leaves.
ACOSTA: Now the White House is still being secretive about what the president will be up to when he returns to the Washington, back to the White House on Sunday night for meetings there on Monday and Tuesday before coming back to Martha's Vineyard on Tuesday night. Aides are downplaying any expectations for major news.
And as you know, Wolf, that kind of guidance is only par for the course when it comes to covering the president -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Of course. Par for the course. Key words.
All right. Thanks very much, Jim Acosta, for that report.
Coming up, more on the controversial new surveillance video police say shows Michael Brown robbing a convenience store. We're going live to Ferguson, Missouri. What that city is facing tonight.
You're looking at live pictures as the protesters gather.