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Remembering Michael Brown; Mothers Share Grief over Sons' Deaths; Cops And Deadly Force: What's Legal; Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria?; Earthquakes Spark Fire in Napa

Aired August 25, 2014 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, thanks for joining us. ISIS makes disturbing new inroads into Syria, securing a regime-held airbase. The question is, will the United States expand airstrikes into Syria to try to stop them?

The Syrian regime says it's ready to accept help. But will the United States give it and will it be enough as ISIS fires take control of more of the country?

Also, Napa, California, recovering tonight from the strongest earthquake it has seen in 25 years. We'll see if this is a precursor to the next big one. We'll have a live report from Napa.

We begin, however, tonight in Missouri where the family of Michael Brown had a request to celebrate his life, to lay him to rest in silence. That request was honored today. Protests gave way to peace, tear gas replaced with tears, as people gathered at Brown's funeral to celebrate his life just over two weeks after his death.

Family members spoke of the young man they called Mike-Mike, a big guy with, they say, a kind and gentle soul. Thousands turned up at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. Family, friends, community leaders, clergy members, strangers and stars, all to say good-bye to 18-year-old Michael Brown to honor the memory of his young life.

Victor Blackwell reports.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Organizers called it a celebration of the life of Michael Brown. Family members and complete strangers jumped to their feet clapping and shouting.

But not Lesley McSpadden. At the start of the service, she stood staring at her son's casket and photos, more than two weeks after he was shot and killed on the street in Ferguson, Missouri.

PASTOR CHARLES EWING, MICHAEL BROWN'S UNCLE: Michael Brown's blood is crying from the ground, crying for vengeance, crying for justice.

BLACKWELL: Justice, Brown's great uncle, says for more than just his nephew. EWING: There is a cry being made from the ground. Not just for

Michael Brown, but for the Trayvon Martins, for those children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, for the Columbine massacre, for the black-on-black crime, there is a cry being made from the ground.

RANITA CONWAY, ATTENDED SERVICE: That was definitely message of, you know, keep it peaceful and it starts at home -- excuse me, it starts at home then goes out to the community and then into the world. You know, we have to start with ourselves and then go out and, you know, spread peace and be respectful definitely, first and foremost, be respectful of others.

BLACKWELL: Ranita Conway had never met Brown, likely neither had many of the estimated 4500 attendees. Some wearing a memorial T-shirt or sharing a story about someone they'd loss.

BISHOP EDWIN BASS, THE EMPOWERED CHURCH: I know the grieving over lost grandchildren that will never be born.

BLACKWELL: Celebrities and notables like Spike Lee and Jesse Jackson sat in a seemingly reserved VIP section next to politicians from the state capitol and the nation's capital. And there was plenty of politics.

ERIC DAVIS, MICHAEL BROWN'S COUSIN: What you guys can do to continue this is show up at voting polls. Let your voices be heard and let everyone know that we have had enough of all of this.

BLACKWELL: But after weeks of protests with moments of violence, fogs of tear gas and standoffs with police, a plea.

TY PRUITT, MICHAEL BROWN'S COUSIN: Today is for peace. Peace and quiet. We will lay our son, brother, cousin, uncle, our family, young man, young black man, young human being, but we don't say good-bye. We say good journey until we meet again.


COOPER: Well, Victor Blackwell joins us now live.

Obviously a very emotional day for Ferguson. What's -- what's it like there tonight?

BLACKWELL: Well, Anderson, most people I spoke with after the service, they say they expect things to be peaceful tonight and not to see those protests we've seen over the past almost two and a half weeks now.

There was one speaker who said that the heavens will shake with our shouts and our cries for justice and equality, but not today. Today is for peace.

You know, coincidentally I was sitting up in the balcony. There was a woman who was right in front of me who was one of the most vocal protesters we saw over the weekend. She was dressed in her black T- shirt and the cargo pants and military boots, wore dark glasses, she was shouting over the weekend but she sat silently at the service today out of respect and she left without incident.

You know, the police, the law enforcement, every car you see over my shoulder, those are law enforcement cars. They're ready if something happens over the night -- over the next few hours. We'll have to wait until the sun goes down and see what happens when night falls -- Anderson.

COOPER: Victor Blackwell -- Victor, thanks.

Joining me now live is Michael Brown's cousin, Eric Davis, along with Benjamin Crump who's an attorney for the Brown family.

Eric, thank you very much for being with us and again our condolences to you and your family. As you saw today, what to you was the greatest message that came out of today's service?

DAVIS: I think the greatest message that came out of today's service is that this is the beginning of a movement. This is not just a burial for Michael Brown, but a movement for the country, for the communities to come together and to speak to the police officers about how they are policing our communities. And I believe that that was a message that Reverend Al Sharpton drove home very well today.

COOPER: And, Eric, we saw some of that with voter registration drives, outside Red's Barbecue on Thursday night when I was there last. Do you believe that this will continue, that this will continue to be a movement that goes beyond the -- you know, beyond your cousin and impact people around the country?

DAVIS: Yes, I do. Michael did let us know as we spoke of today that his name would be known around the world. And I do believe that this is a movement that just the beginning of a movement because things that have happened here in Ferguson, Missouri, there were also protesters in New York City, Los Angeles and around the world, so I do believe that this is just the beginning of a movement for the African- American community can speak out to let people know that the police need to treat us fair and justly in our communities.

COOPER: Ben, on Sunday night, Michael Brown's dad pleaded for a day of calm as he and Michael Brown's mom have pleaded all along. Explain to people why that is so important to them because my understanding is they don't want people to lose focus of Michael Brown. They don't want the distraction to be the violence of demonstrations, they want the focus to be on what they call and demand justice for Michael Brown.

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL BROWN'S FAMILY: Absolutely, Anderson, and really when you get down to the crux of the matter, for them to be able to have their son rest in peace as they put him in the ground today, they need everybody to be peaceful and focus on getting justice because, as Eric said, it really is a call for action today. We think how we pay respect to Michael Brown is trying to prevent anymore Michael Browns.

And we do that, Anderson, by calling for mandatory body cameras on police officers and mandatory dash cam video for police departments all around the country so we can take the guesswork out of it and we can see what actually happens and it'll be transparence that Ferguson has been so desperately calling for.

COOPER: Ben, it may not be until mid-October until the grand jury finishes its work. What happens as far as you're concerned between now and then?

CRUMP: Well, I think certainly we keep the pressure on the Justice Department to keep doing the review and also I believe witnesses even today were still coming forward and I think we're going to have some new evidence that will come out that will give us more insight to what happened on that Saturday afternoon when he was executed in broad daylight.

COOPER: Benjamin Crump, I appreciate you being on. Eric Davis, as well. I know it's been a long and difficult day. I appreciate you taking the time to talk with us.

Coming up, three amazingly strong women, the mothers of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and Sean Bell coming together for a conversation about how to go on after the death of a son day to day sometimes minute by minute, second by second. What they share is extraordinary. You'll hear it here next.


COOPER: The funeral program for Michael Brown today included a letter from his mother. Lesley McSpadden wrote about how becoming a mom gave her a new sense of being that out of everything she did her son was what she got right and he was the purpose of her life. Not many people can truly understand exactly what Michael Brown's mother is going through but the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Sean Bell know what it's like. Certainly their sons were killed in the prime of life.

Seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was, as you know, killed by George Zimmermann in 2012. Twenty-three-year-old Sean Bell was killed by police in New York City in 2006.

Our Don Lemon spoke with all three joining brought together by grief, joining together in support of one another.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got it. We got it.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, momma. Hey, momma.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God bless you. God bless you.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): An emotional embrace.

SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: Just lean on him and he going to cover you, and he going to cover you and he's going to make sure you're OK.

LEMON: The mothers of Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell and Michael Brown meeting for the first time.

VALERIE BELL, SEAN BELL'S MOTHER: Keep your head up no matter what, keep your head up so he can see. See your son in you.

LEMON: We stepped out of the room.

(On camera): I'll see you in a few minutes.


LEMON (voice-over): Giving them time alone before starting our interview.

(On camera): What can these moms, these women -- these women, I mean, they can offer you something that the guys can't, right? The husbands can't?


LEMON: What can they -- what can they offer you?

MCSPADDEN: They're speaking to me from experience, you know. They offer me something right now. But I can't tell you what it is. But it's something. And something is more than nothing.

LEMON: When we were standing there waiting to meet her, you turned to Valerie, Sybrina, and you said, are you having flashbacks of this moment.

BELL: Yes, she did.

LEMON: When it was the day before the home going.

BELL: Yes, and not be strong. The flashback is my son eight years ago. That was my flashback. And thinking of her at that time, her son was 10 years old when it happened. And I thought to say to her, keep the memories in your heart. That's going to help you to continue to carry on with your son. And believe and have faith in God will also help you and the close family members.

That's what keeps the memories of my son. He always used to tell me, ma, I got this. So I'm telling you, ma, you've got. It's OK to cry, scream, I still do, it's eight years. But you got this.

FULTON: You've got to focus on when he was smiling. You have to focus on his first day of school. And you have to focus on Christmas Day and things like that. The happier times. And put a picture up when he was happy.


FULTON: And you have to focus on those. Just don't focus on the death because that's going to eat away at you.

LEMON: And, Lesley, you know it's hard, and you're probably thinking right now that -- I'm sure it doesn't seem real to you. But these ladies are examples that there's -- you can survive this. And I don't know. I can't -- maybe I'm not putting in the right words, but can you ever be whole again, or can you ever -- how would you put it?

FULTON: I don't think it's a matter of being whole. What I think it is, it's a matter of a new life. And this is the new life. This is -- I can never go back to who I was and what I was, because I'm missing something very precious in my life and something very special.

BELL: Losing my son is like losing a part of your body. But you remember. You remember what that part of your body has done for you. Like if you lose an arm, you knew what that arm did. So my thing is keeping the memories that will keep and carry you on.

LEMON: I want you guys to talk about it, because it's going to be very difficult, and you have dealt with it, is character assassination. I think you describe it as character assassination, one of you. What do you mean by that?

FULTON: That means that people that don't even know her son is going to say negative things about him, just to portray him in a different light, in a negative light. Just to try to justify what happened.

LEMON: Is that one of the hardest parts, even thinking about that -- about people talking about your son?

FULTON: No. The hardest part for her is going to be the home-going service. As I have said, that is the absolutely worst day of her life as a mother because there is no words that can bring comfort to her as a mother by seeing her son in the casket.

LEMON: Do you -- go around the house, in the kitchen, do you talk to Trayvon?

FULTON: Absolutely.

BELL: Yes.


FULTON: Absolutely.

LEMON: Do you?

BELL: Yes. Things come to my mind. If I know something has to be done, ma, I got this. I say the saying, "Ma, I got this." LEMON: Do you do the same thing, Lesley?

MCSPADDEN: Especially when it rains. Yes.

LEMON: When it rains. Why?

MCSPADDEN: My son loved the rain. Something about it.

LEMON: That makes you want to --

MCSPADDEN: I feel him.

FULTON: He's there. He's there. He's watching over you.

LEMON: What was it like meeting her?

BELL: I'm glad I did meet you. It brought back memories for my son and I just thought of your son.

FULTON: It's hurtful. But at the same time, it's comforting because I know she needs people that understand what she's going through.

LEMON: And, Lesley, what was it like meeting these ladies? They have been saying everything, how they feel about you. What's it like meeting them? What do you want to say to them?

MCSPADDEN: I'm sorry you had to go through it. I'm sorry about yours, too.

LEMON: Thank you all.

FULTON: We got you. We got you, baby.


COOPER: Three mothers all who have been through the worst possible kind of loss.

Joining me now are CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin and CNN political commentator and "New York Times" columnist Charles Blow.

You know, Charles, so many people -- and we talked about this last week in the wake of something like this, retreat to various corners and they see it through a certain prism. They're either in support of the Brown family, they're in support of the officer involved here. And, again, there's a lot we don't know about what exactly went on.


COOPER: But there is something, and you wrote about this in your column in "The New York Times," that everybody can sympathize with a mother's loss no matter what you think about this case, this is -- it boils down to for this family it is a loss which will be impossible to replace. BLOW: Absolutely. And Sean Bell's mother in that particular

interview even compared it to Phantom Limb Syndrome, like there's something missing from you that you remember what it did, you remember the articulation of it, and how -- but at this point it's no longer there and you are forever imagining that it could be back or it has forever fundamentally changed who you are as a human being.

And I think that these particular cases are even more poignant because we, as all parents regardless of what race or whatever you are, you always teach your kids to watch out for the bad guys. Right? These are the people -- and then in those cases you can talk about things like, you know, maybe we should address gun policy or maybe we should address mental illness or maybe we should address gang violence in our neighborhoods and maybe we should address, you know, mass incarceration, or whatever you want to talk about.

In these cases these are the people who are supposed to have the guns and that is a more frightening situation because -- and that is why you really want to have answers because, you know, how do you -- that's an extra burden that you have to have for some people to have to have a conversation with their kids and it is society wide, this extra burden that we sometimes overlook, that some people have to carry that others do not.

COOPER: It's also, Sunny, I mean, it's one thing to -- the horror of losing a child but then also to be in the public eye and in a case that divides people and then to find yourself having to defend your child.


COOPER: In the wake of it and, again, you know, you can view this case in many different ways but that is just got to be -- I mean, any parent is going to defend their child and to have to do that in the midst of grief has got to be particularly horrific.

HOSTIN: You know, I think it's remarkable. I got to know Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's mother, very well during the Zimmermann trial, and I got to know Jordan Davis' mother, as well. And what's always been very remarkable to me, especially about Sybrina, is the fact that she was able to publicly carry that grief with such elegance and I said that over and over again. She's such an elegant woman and really seemed to depend on her faith.

And as a mother myself of a young boy, he just celebrated his 12th birthday, I'm watching that interview and I'm in tears because I think as a mother there is no purer love in my mind than the love that a mother has for her son. It is a very, very spectacular special relationship and it's just -- I'm so saddened by the fact that I'm seeing this type of mother's loss and grief over and over and over again.

And to your point, Charles, which I think is just so poignant, as mothers of brown and black children, males, we do have that extra burden when you're teaching them about things, stranger danger and look both ways when you cross the street, how do you teach them that the folks that are supposed to protect you may, in fact, harm you? It's just -- it's the extra burden of the mother of color.

COOPER: You know, Eric Davis, Michael Brown's cousin, at the top of the program was talking about having this result in some kind of lasting change. Benjamin Crump, the family attorney, talked about dash cameras, cameras on police officers nationwide.

Do you think, Charles, that this will lead to some sort of change because we have been here before?

BLOW: And that is the problem. I mean, every, every tragedy and whether or not it is -- and I'm going to group this in -- even though we don't know exactly what happened because there is a kid who just got put in a grave today. So regardless of what happened in that day in that particular situation, it is still a tragedy because he's not going to be able to come back.

But every tragedy that we have as a country, we yearn for there to be some resolution to come from it that we say, well this won't ever happen again. This is so bad that we won't -- we don't want this particular kind of thing to happen again. And yet, you know, we cannot get our politicians to muster the kind of political fortitude to make it happen and so while I am hopeful that this will lead to some sort of change because those seem like reasonable changes, although, you know, after -- you know, Newtown, that we thought there would be reasonable changes, too.

HOSTIN: Well, that's the thing.

BLOW: And so -- and so, you know, reasonable changes don't necessarily happen.

COOPER: Although -- you know, it's interesting. I mean, I talked to the mayor of Ferguson who, you know, said that there is no racial divide in Ferguson. And --


COOPER: Then you start to look at the numbers and, you know, that police force is more than 90 percent white for a community which is 67 percent African-American. You know, Ray Kelly, the former commissioner of New York, looked at those and said, I can't believe that they have those kind of numbers.

HOSTIN: It's bizarre. I mean, I prosecuted cases in D.C. and the police force in many respects, the Metropolitan Police Force, while it has its problems and had its problems then, really was more of a reflection of the community and really the answer I think having been a part of law enforcement is that community policing, the community has to trust the officers, the officers need to feel a part of the community. They need to be able to walk in the community.

They need to be able to have witnesses feel comfortable with coming up to them and giving them firsthand accounts of what they've seen.

BLOW: But that's -- right.

HOSTIN: What they've experienced and that's not happening in Ferguson.

BLOW: That's typical, right? So if you have a police force where people get the sense that they are against you, you are less likely to have that high school senior or that college freshman that says, I want to one day be a police officer.

HOSTIN: Or that won't run when they see the police.

BLOW: Exactly. Exactly.

COOPER: Charles Blow, Sunny Hostin, thank you very much.

As always you can find out more on this story and others at

Just ahead, why the indictment that so many people in Ferguson certainly and beyond are calling for may not happen at all. The reality is police officers like Darren Wilson are protected by laws that allowed them to use deadly force. That's a fact. Whatever you think of this case, there are these laws.

How those laws could shape the grand jury's decision ahead, next.


COOPER: Well, so many people in Ferguson have made it clear that for them justice in the shooting of Michael Brown means a criminal conviction for Officer Darren Wilson. For supporters of Darren Wilson, of course, that is the exact opposite. The fact that he hasn't been charged has fueled much of the outrage over the killing by people in Ferguson. That decision, though, will rest with a grand jury. That will be presented evidence in secret out of the public eye at least in initially.

Among the many factors they'll have to consider are the laws that spell out when police officers are allowed to shoot someone. According to experts those very laws explain why indictments of police officers are so rare. Deborah Feyerick tonight reports.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Despite the emotions around Michael Brown's death and the ensuing cries for justice.

PROTESTERS: No justice. No peace.

FEYERICK: There's no guarantee the grand jury will bring charges against Police Officer Darren Wilson. When considering the evidence it is not a question of race, but a matter of law.

J. TOM MORGAN, FORMER D.A. DEKALB COUNTY, GA: Police officers are given a wide latitude when they can use deadly force.

FEYERICK: As a former district attorney in DeKalb County, Georgia, Jay Tom Morgan prosecuted police shootings. Now as a criminal defense lawyer he represents the officers. Like it or not when it comes to deadly force, police have different rules than ordinary citizens.

MORGAN: One possibility is that the officer had reason to believe that this person had just committed a forcible robbery. The other is did this person commit an assault on the police officer?

If he did so, that is a forcible felony, therefore the officer would be entitled to use deadly force or that force necessary to make the arrest happen.

FEYERICK: Much the same way as stand your ground laws allow private citizens to fire in self-defense, police are protected by laws that not only safeguard their safety, but legally compel them to prevent crime.

Despite calls from some African-American leaders to appoint an independent prosecutor to replace Robert McCulloch. Morgan who knows him personally says not only are there no legal grounds, he defends McCulloch as fair and objective.

MORGAN: He will present the facts and the evidence to the grand jury and the Missouri law as he is required to do so. We do not put defendants on trial just to see what a jury will do.

FEYERICK: As for an indictment based on the piece of information widely discussed in the media.

MORGAN: I think there is a good chance there is no indictment based on my understanding of this case and the Missouri law.


FEYERICK: That's where the federal government comes in. The Justice Department will review the same evidence applying different laws to determine whether Officer Wilson intentionally and without justification violated Michael Brown's civil rights. Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.

COOPER: It bears repeating, there is a lot we do not know about what happened between that officer and Michael Brown, forensic evidence, none of the forensic evidence has been released.

A second autopsy results and independent results were released and a few eyewitnesses, people who say they saw parts of what happened have come forward to speak publicly, but there are other witnesses presumably who have not come forward that will testify before the grand jury.

Joining me now is CNN legal analysts, Sunny Hostin and Mark O'Mara. Sunny, of course, a former federal prosecutor and Mark is a criminal defense attorney who defended George Zimmermann in the Trayvon Martin trial.

Mark, you've been reading up on Missouri statutes. Do police officers enjoy a kind of special advantage when it comes to the use of deadly force? MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: First on this day of mourning for the Brown family, again my condolences to them. It's difficult to talk about some of the defenses available to the police officer, but they do have a great deal of advantages under the law.

And police in Missouri not only have the right to use force when they are assaulted and may well happen in this case, but they have the obligation to arrest when they see a felony occurs and that includes the one that may have occurred on them.

So they have very particular privileges, if you will, of protections because we give them the awesome responsibility of enforcing the law on the street and we tell them to arrest people who should be arrested.

And in this case, if in fact, there was a tussle, an assault of some sort on the officer at the car that he not only has the right, you might say, but he has the obligation to effectuate the arrest.

COOPER: Sunny, I mean, one of the things we do not know is exactly -- I mean, the nature of that tussle, none of the eyewitnesses that have come forward have said they saw specifically what happened in that tussle or were sure about what happened. And there's no video of the actual shooting itself, the aftermath, yes, the fact there's no video, does that work in the officer's favor?

HOSTIN: I am not sure because I think even though there was no video certainly we know at least of five eyewitness accounts and I know many people feel that eyewitness accounts are not creditable. I'm not one of those people. I think that prosecutors build cases on eyewitness testimony combined with forensics.

COOPER: But they are notoriously unreliable.

HOSTIN: I don't agree with that. I think when you have, let's say, one eyewitness, there have been cases that have found that may be not as credible. But when you have two and three and four and five if there are similarities between those eyewitness accounts, case law will tell you that that makes that testimony more credible.

But I think to Mark's point I want to address, yes, police officers can shoot and to effectuate an arrest. It's sort of this fleeing felon rule. If you know someone has committed a felony and they are getting away, you may be able to shoot.

But they also have grave responsibility because of their training and so in order for an officer quite frankly to be allowed to use deadly force and to shoot, to kill, that officer has to be in fear of imminent bodily harm or death.

And so when we're talking about two people that may not have been that close and six bullets -- I don't know that that's --

COOPER: My reading of various cases is it doesn't necessarily have to be bodily -- O'MARA: No, any person has the right to react with deadly force if

they are in imminent fear of great bodily harm, a regular citizen. Strangely enough, though, under most of the fleeing felon statutes in most of the protective laws that are out there for the police officers. And I'm not saying I agree with this, but the statutes are very clear that they don't have to be in fear when they are effectuating an arrest --

HOSTIN: But, Mark, we don't know that Officer Wilson, because we don't know that much about this case, we don't know if he knew about this alleged strong-arm robbery. We don't know about that.

O'MARA: I'm ignoring the strong arm robbery. I don't think he knew enough about that to give him that cause. But if, in fact, there was this argument and if there was a strike to the face, one strike, Sunny, as we both know, that's a felony.

That's a class one felony in Missouri that is a serious felony and would allow for the fleeing felon rule and protection of the officer. Now, I agree it's going to be very, very specific as to when you do what you do.

If there is evidence one, two, three, four eyewitnesses that say no question, Mike Brown, turned around hands up in the air and said, I surrender, then at that point --

HOSTIN: It's very different.

O'MARA: I think the fleeing felon protection falls away.

HOSTIN: It doesn't apply.

COOPER: Mark, do you believe that eyewitnesses are reliable?

O'MARA: No, generally speaking eyewitnesses are, in fact, your word notoriously unreliable, but I agree with Sunny, if there are several of them and their evidence is corroborated by independent forensic evidence it can be strong evidence.

But we know all of the studies that talk about eyewitness ability to identify particularly a stressful event, we are not good at it. We have never been good at it because our brains are not programmed to imprint memories in a traumatic event.

HOSTIN: That is not the case when you have multiple the eyewitnesses telling consistent stories. That's the type of case we're looking at here at this point.

O'MARA: If there are corroborative witnesses and if everyone sees a red light, the light was probably red. But the problem with it is that most people in traumatic events from different perspectives -- it's just going to have to be taken in context. We're not saying they have to be thrown out the window.

COOPER: I do think so much is going to boil down to forensics, which should be very telling. I mean, there are someone who said there was a shot when the officer was in the police car. There are others who say, no, it occurred outside. Forensics should tell us a lot more. Sunny, appreciate it. Mark O'Mara.

Up next, we're going to have more, by the way, on this case in the next hour of 360. Also going to talk to supporters of Officer Darren Wilson to get a variety of perspectives.

But up next though in this hour after losing a vital air base to ISIS, Syria agrees to US airstrikes targeting the Islamic extremist group but with conditions, pretty significant ones.

Plus an American journalist freed by a different terror group in Syria. The latest on those developments ahead.


COOPER: Tonight Syria says it's ready to accept with certain conditions US airstrikes to help stop ISIS terrorists. Over the weekend, the ISIS Islamic extremist group sized control of the key air base in Northern Syria.

Both sides reportedly suffered heavy losses. ISIS fighters celebrated in the streets after the winning the battle for the base. A human rights group said some were seen carrying the heads of Syrian regime soldiers.

Syria retaliated by bombing the city of Roccah, and captured the airbase. ISIS is now understood to effectively control virtually all the province.

The other major development in Syria over the weekend, the release of Peter Theo Curtis, an American journalist who was held for nearly two years by the Nusra front, a group with ties to al Qaeda.

Chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, joins me along with Christopher Dickey from "The Daily Beast." What more do we know about Syria's position on these airstrikes?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It was an interesting message from the Syrian foreign minister. On the one hand, he said we're willing to work with the international community, the U.S., to fight ISIS.

But he also said, listen, don't come into Syria without our permission. As you know, the administration considering air strikes there. But it is a remarkable offer when you think about this administration's relationship with -- the Obama -- his senior aides have said for years they want this regime to be done with.

So this possibility here of working together, administration officials say they're not going to do it, but just that possibility.

COOPER: Christopher, do you see any chance that the U.S. would actually work with the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad?

CHRISTOPHER DICKEY, FOREIGN EDITOR, "THE DAILY BEAST": No, I don't I think they're saying we have to give you permission before you come bomb this territory that we completely lost control of. You know, we've just announced that Roccah is gone and the whole province is under the control of ISIS that we're calling it and so now the U.S. has to get permission to do something.

COOPER: It also plays into the narrative which, frankly, Syria has been using from the beginning of the revolution in Syria. I mean, from the earliest times when it was peaceful demonstrations in Darra against the regime by people whose children had been arrested by the regime.

The regime was branding them terrorists and now in fact there is this terrorist group, which has, you know, big gains in the battlefield. The idea that the U.S. would be kind of linking up with them certainly fits their narrative.

DICKEY: Of course, it does and in fact, a lot of people have suspected that at least in the early days of ISIS, it had the tacit approval or cooperation of the regime because it was spending more time fighting other jihadists and other rebels than it was fighting against Assad. There were a lot of times when Assad could have attacked ISIS and they didn't.

COOPER: And Jim, the U.S. has carried out according to the Obama administration at least one effort to try to get hostages out inside Syria so it seems like they do have the capabilities to operate.

SCIUTTO: They do although administration officials have said that they did not need permission to do that. They did it much like, for instance, in Pakistan, the operation to kill Bin Laden, right?

You go in literally under the radar and make it happen. But it's interesting, you know, talk about fitting in the narrative, this new relationship with Syria.

It also fits the facts on the ground because at the end of the day, today, ISIS is the bigger threat than the Assad regime so it hasn't changed the administration's decision-making in terms of working with Syrians.

But it is changing the calculus on the ground, ISIS more of a threat to the U.S. homeland and that's why you have a totally new view of the situation.

COOPER: Although without human intelligence on the ground, I mean, there's only so much one can do from the air without, you know, someone with a --

DICKEY: Well, it's not just a question of intelligence. The real question is who holds the ground once it's taken. You can use bombing to take a lot of territory, but you can't hold it unless you've got boots on ground.

Somebody's boots and what our reporting at "The Daily Beast" is showing is that a lot of those forces that we might theoretically rely on to do that, the free Syrian Army that we sometimes train. Sometimes fund, sometimes don't or the Kurds, who were supposed to be the greatest fighters in the Middle East, they are not really up to the task. They really can't do it.

SCIUTTO: One thing I've been briefed by U.S. intelligence officials and say by not having a presence on the ground in Syria, not having relationships arming some of these groups, you have an intelligence black hole there. And that's going to make it much harder to pick out the targets, you know, to truly hit ISIS.

COOPER: Fascinating developments. Jim Sciutto, thanks. Christopher Dickey as well, thank you very much.

Up next, a strong earthquake striking California's wine country that sparks a fire that leave several homes in ruins. An update on the destruction ahead.


COOPER: Residents of the San Francisco Bay area are trying to clean up after the region was hit by its largest earthquake in 25 years, the magnitude 6.0 quake struck Sunday morning before dawn. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an earthquake. It's an earthquake.


COOPER: Not the wake-up call a family expected and the Napa Valley the quake shattered bottles of the region's famed wines. No one was killed in the quake. More than 200 people though were injured, one critically.

In downtown Napa brick and concrete facades gave way, fell to the ground. Damage is far greater just 5 miles north of downtown where all that's left to some homes are ashes.

Our Gary Tuchman is live now from Napa -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, here in the city of Napa, population 76,000, about 70 buildings including this office building behind me have been red tagged. They are too dangerous to go in.

Another 200 buildings yellow tagged, you can only go in if it's essential. There's been a lot of damage here and there also has been some close calls.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Bill has lived in the same house for many years, but this is all that's left. He and his wife, Teresa's mobile home in Napa destroyed after the Northern California earthquake. And he's looking for his kitten.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cocoa. Cocoa, girl. Cocoa, where are you at? Mommy and I miss you, honey.

TUCHMAN: Bill who requested we only use his first name was in the house with his wife when the earth started rumbling and then a fire erupted. It's believed a gas line ruptured. Three homes in this lot including Bill and Teresa's are total losses.

The fire started almost immediately after the earthquake began. Nobody had any time to take out personal belongings and lost everything. It's all unrecognizable. But everyone who lived in three houses escaped with their lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look at stuff on TV, right? About how people lose stuff, they lose their home. There's a hurricane or an earthquake or a fire or a lot of things. You look at that and go on TV, you if look at it on TV, you go what a bummer for them, but you don't get it. Nobody gets it until it happens. Now it's happened to me.

TUCHMAN: This community with 225 residents is very tight knit with many retirees. There is destruction everywhere. Homes are off foundations. There's no water or gas and people are filling up buckets in the swimming pool for now.

(on camera): You're about to turn 93 years old and you look younger which is great.


TUCHMAN: But in you're 93 years, have you ever experienced anything so scary as this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not really, no. I was even almost in a car wreck, but that didn't even scare me.

TUCHMAN: But this did.


TUCHMAN: How long have you lived here?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Bill Linder lives across the street from where the fire broke out.

BILL LINDER, NAPA RESIDENT: There was a loud explosion. At least it sounded like an explosion and a big, hard shake. That's why it didn't feel like an earthquake. It felt like a plane crash and that -- I came out and saw the flames and I thought a plane has hit the park.

TUCHMAN: When the fire started in their home, Bill and his wife ran out quickly. He went back in to try to rescue Cocoa, but he had to leave when it got too dangerous.

LINDER: She follows us around all the time. She's like the cutest kitten in the world. I guess everybody's kitten is the cutest one, but she's white with a black markings and she got black around here and a little black nose.

TUCHMAN: Bill will continue looking in and around this community that was jolted awake in the dead of night.


COOPER: Hope that cat comes home. What do we know about aftershocks? Have there been a lot?

TUCHMAN: Anderson, none of them have been strong, but there have been precisely 73 aftershocks since the initial earthquake. That's an average of about two every hour since this happened Sunday morning. The strongest was 3.6 last night, that's not something most people can feel and that is the good news -- Anderson.

COOPER: Wow, Gary, appreciate the reporting. Thanks very much.

Strong emotions and calls for action as thousands gather for Michael Brown's funeral. We'll take you live to Missouri for new developments at the top of the hour.


COOPER: Welcome back. Thanks for watching 360's extended live coverage tonight. It was a momentous day in Missouri, not the way we've seen in the last few weeks certainly, but a day of peace, a day of remembering Michael Brown.

Thousands gathered at a church in St. Louis for the funeral, a little over two weeks after the 18-year-old was shot and killed by a police officer. His father called for calm, a day of silence to lay his son to rest.

His mother wrote a letter that was published in the funeral program saying there were no words to express how much he meant to her. Brown's mother is enduring what few mothers have to.

Lesley McSpadden met with two other women who know all too well the pain she's in, the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Sean Bell, who were both killed at young ages.


LEMON: Do you go around the house in the kitchen? Do you talk to Trayvon?


LEMON: Do you?

VALERIE BELL, MOTHER OF SEAN BELL: Yes. If I know something has to be done, ma, I got this. Say the saying, ma, I got this.

LEMON: Do you do the same thing, Lesley?


LEMON: When it rains, why?

MCSPADDEN: Something about the rain. There's something about it.

LEMON: That makes want to...

MCSPADDEN: I feel him. He's there. He's there. He's watching over you.


COOPER: Three mothers who know a special horrible kind of grief.