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THE SITUATION ROOM
Ferguson Protests; National Guard Deployed in Ferguson; Conflicting Witness Accounts in Grand Jury Testimony; Officer Darren Wilson Speaks Out In ABC Interview
Aired November 25, 2014 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, night of protests.
There's growing fear of a new wave of violence as night falls on Ferguson, Missouri, and more than 100 demonstrations are planned in cities across the United States. Can a massive National Guard presence keep the peace?
Stepfather's rant, shocking video, shocking video of the husband of Michael Brown's mother inciting an already agitated crowd. Were his words the tipping point that sparked the violence? I will talk to one of the Brown family attorneys. That's coming up this hour.
Critical testimony. We have new details of what the officer Darren Wilson told the grand jury about his deadly encounter with Michael Brown. Were his words what led the panel to its decision against an indictment?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. In Missouri, officials there bracing for a second night of violent protests over a grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.
The Missouri governor, Jay Nixon, says more than 2,000 National Guard troops are being deployed to prevent the kinds of clashes, the looting, the arson that ravaged parts of Ferguson overnight. Brown's father appealed for calm. But the teen's stepfather, after comforting Brown's grief-stricken mother, apparently instigated some of the violence.
There are more than 100 protests planned across the United States tonight, but law enforcement officials they are vowing there will not be a repeat of the violence in Ferguson. We're covering the breaking news with our correspondents and our guests. They are in key locations including one of the attorneys for Michael Brown's family. Daryl Parks, he is standing by live.
But let's begin our breaking news coverage this hour with CNN's Don Lemon. He is on the ground for us in Ferguson. Don, we're all worried about what is going on. We saw what happened
last night to you, to our other reporters, producers, photographers, to so many people there. What are you seeing right now?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely.
Everyone thought they had this all mapped out. They had it all figured out. Now we're seeing they're adding more enforcement here. The National Guard on the scene, they are guarding the Ferguson Police Department. Everyone thought they had figured it out, how they might react, whatever the announcement might be, an indictment, nonindictment.
Law enforcement thought they had. Officials thought they had. The people thought they had. But as we have learned when it comes to Ferguson, nothing goes off as planned.
LEMON (voice-over): Tonight, Ferguson is a city at war with itself, police and protesters vowing to return to the streets scarred by fires and looting, while community and faith leaders call for the chaos to become calm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are all in this together. We are all on the same side.
LEMON: Missouri's governor says National Guard troops will step up the presence tonight, already on scene at the Ferguson Police Department hopefully avoiding more of these scenes. But there is a palpable sense that fueled fires have only intensified as angry business owners visited burned-out shells of their destroyed stores. Last this afternoon, in a hastily arranged press conference, Attorney General Eric Holder weighed in.
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: It is clear I think that acts of violence threaten to drown out those who have legitimate voices, legitimate demonstrators. And those acts of violence cannot and will not be condoned.
LEMON: Today, as attorneys for Michael Brown's parents repeated calls for restraint, they found themselves answering for a lack of it in this video showing Brown's stepfather overnight shouting angrily to a crowd, seeming to suggest they stoke the fire. The outburst came after an emotional plea from Brown's mother.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I ain't never had to go through nothing like this.
LEMON: The family's attorney condemned the stepfather's comments while chastising the prosecutor who led the grand jury investigation of officer Darren Wilson.
BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF MICHAEL BROWN: Raw emotion, not appropriate at all, completely inappropriate, and, you know, God forbid your child is killed the way they're killed and then they get that just devastating announcement in the manner it was announced and somebody put a camera in your face. What would be your immediate reaction?
LEMON: Meantime, for the first time since the August shooting, Darren Wilson is speaking publicly, telling ABC News he was just doing his job and feared for his life.
The city's mayor says the 28-year-old policeman remains on administrative leave as the city he once patrolled braces for another night of protests.
LEMON: People didn't know what daybreak would bring here. Now they're not sure what nightfall would bring -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Don,,we want to hear from the president of the United States. He is in Chicago back in his hometown. We're told he might thank a few of the local folks there. He has a whole separate speech prepared on immigration, but he will begin his remarks we're told after some preliminary introductory words with a statement on what's going on in Ferguson, Missouri. That's where you are.
Don, but let's stand by. I don't want to hear all the thanks the president is about to make, all these guests there.
But, Don, let's talk for a moment while the president thanks some of the local dignitaries who are there. The National Guard, you see them getting ready to be deployed.
LEMON: Yes. They are getting ready to be deployed.
LEMON: Hold on, Don. I think the president just started. Hold on.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... Missouri, our neighbor to the south, but all across America.
As many of you know, a verdict came down, or a grand jury made a decision yesterday that upset a lot of people. And as I said last night, the frustrations we have seen are not just about a particular incident. They have deep roots in many communities of color who have a sense that our laws are not always being enforced uniformly or fairly.
That may not be true everywhere and it is certainly not true for the vast majority of law enforcement officials but that's the impression folks have and it is not just made up. It is rooted in realities that have existed in this country for a long time.
Now, as I said last night, there are productive ways of responding and expressing those frustrations and there are destructive ways of responding. Burning buildings, torching cars, destroying property, putting people at risk, that's destructive and there's no excuse for it. Those are criminal acts.
People should be prosecuted if they engage in criminal acts. But what we also saw, although it didn't get as much attention in the media, was people gathering in overwhelmingly peaceful protests here in Chicago and New York and Los Angeles, other cities. We have seen young people who are organizing and people beginning to have real conversations about how do we change the situation so that there's more trust between law enforcement and some of these communities.
And those are necessary conversations to have. We're here to talk about immigration. But part of what makes America this remarkable place is being American doesn't mean you have to look a certain way or have a certain last name or come from a certain place. It has to do with a commitment to ideals. A belief in certain values. And if any part of American community doesn't feel welcomed, or treated fairly, that's something that puts all of us at risk. And we all have to be concerned about it.
So my message to those people who are constructively moving forward, trying to organize, mobilize and ask hard, important questions about how we improve the situation, I want all of those folks to know that their president is going to work with them. And I think you'll find a lot of separate and apart from the particular circumstances in Ferguson, which I am careful not to speak to because it's -- it's not my job as president to comment on ongoing investigations and specific cases -- but the frustrations people have generally, those are rooted in some hard truths that have to be addressed.
So I -- those who are prepared to work constructively, your president will work with you. And a lot of folks I believe in law enforcement and a lot of folks in -- in city halls and governors' offices across the country want to work with you as well.
So as part of that, I have instructed Attorney General Eric Holder not just to investigate what happened in Ferguson but also identify specific steps we can take together to set up a series of regional meetings focused on building trust in our communities. And next week we'll bring together state and local officials and law enforcement and community leaders and faith leaders to start identifying very specific steps that we can take to make sure that law enforcement is fair and it is being applied equally to every person in this country.
And we know certain things work. We know that if we train police properly, that that improves policing and makes people feel that the system's fair. We know that when we have a police force that is representative of the communities it's serving, that makes a difference. We know that...
OBAMA: So we know that when there's clear accountability and transparency when something happens, that makes a difference. So there's specific things we can do, and the key now is for us to
lift up the best practices and work city by city, state by state, county by country all across this country, because the problem is not just a Ferguson problem, it is an American problem, and we've got to make sure that we are actually bringing about change.
The bottom line is nothing of significance, nothing of benefit results from destructive acts. I have -- I have never seen a civil rights law or a health care bill or an immigration bill result because a car got burnt. It happened because people vote. It happened because people mobilized. It happened because people organized. It happens because people look at what are the best policies.
It happens because people look at, what are the best policies to solve the problem? That's how you actually move something forward. So don't...
OBAMA: So don't take the short-term, easy route and just engage in destructive behavior. Take the long-term, hard, but lasting route of working with me and governors, state officials to bring about some real change.
And to those who think that what happened in Ferguson is an excuse for violence, I do not have any sympathy for that.
OBAMA: I have no sympathy at all for destroying your own communities. But for the overwhelming majority of people who just feel frustrated and pain, because they get a sense that maybe some communities aren't treated fairly or some individuals aren't seen as worthy as others, I understand that.
And I want to work with you, and I want to move forward with you. Your president will be right there with you, all right? So that's what we need to focus on. Let's be constructive.
I appreciate your patience, because I know you came to talk about immigration, but this is relevant.
BLITZER: All right, so there you hear the president of the United States. He is going to move on now and talk about the immigration proposals he put forward the other day.
But he was very, very firm. There are productive ways he said to deal with the anger, the frustration. There are destructive ways. The president said there's no excuse for the looting, for the fires, for the damage. Those individuals who have committed those illegal acts, he said, should be prosecuted.
Jim Acosta, you're our senior White House correspondent. You're monitoring what the president is doing. Any indication the president might be heading over to Ferguson to try to reassure the folks there, to calm the situation? I know that has been under considering for some time.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And, in fact, Wolf, I asked the president last night after he made those remarks here at the Briefing Room in the White House. And he basically hedged as to whether that might happen.
And earlier today, a top White House spokesman, Eric Schultz, said that is under consideration. So it is something the White House looking at. And obviously it would go a long way in perhaps calming things down in Ferguson, but they would have to do it at the right time. And now is obviously not the right time.
Wolf, but as you heard the president say, they do want to take some concrete steps over here at the White House to bring together what White House officials refer to as stakeholders in this conversation about race and law enforcement in America. And it sounds like the president will be convening that sort of meeting next week over at the White House on that subject. Setting up regional meetings around the country.
There has been some talk that Eric Holder, the attorney general, may be doing some of that over the coming weeks. And Valerie Jarrett, top official over here at the White House, she was on the phone with Governor Nixon last night and earlier today. And so the White House has really been sort of doing a full-court press on this over the last 24 hours.
But, as we know, from watching that brief statement that the president made last night and what's happening now in Chicago, that he is sort of having a split-screen presidency for the moment, because as he is speaking in front of the cameras, we're seeing things unfold in Ferguson and the White House is obviously very conscious of that, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, very conscious indeed. Jim Acosta, stand by.
Don Lemon, you're there for us on the streets of Ferguson.
When I think about the president -- last night right after the prosecutor made his announcement, no indictment, we heard the president. He went into the Briefing Room and made his statement. We were watching you within moments after the president appealed for calm and appealed for peaceful demonstrations. A lot of the folks over there, we saw the violence. They weren't listening to the president of the United States at all, were they?
LEMON: No, they weren't.
The people he needed to reach were out here on the streets of Ferguson where there are no televisions and they're not watching the news, unfortunately. The weird thing was as soon as the president mentioned not throwing bottles, and not being violent, someone threw a bottle into the crowd of police officers right behind me almost on cue.
And I did mention that last night. But I think it is interesting, as the president said, that he is going to set up what he calls stakeholders and meet with stakeholders hem around the country. This is something many people around the country have been wanting the president to talk about, and not just to talk about, but to actually have some -- make some concrete movement and progress on, take some action on.
And I thought it was very poignant and important that president said I have never seen or heard of a bill getting passed because someone burned a car or someone looted a business. That's the message that the peaceful people, the overwhelming majority of people here who are law-abiding citizens want to hear from the commander and chief of their country.
BLITZER: Don, I want to you stand by as well.
We're watching the breaking news out of Ferguson, Missouri. Looking at live pictures coming in right now; 2,000 National Guard troops, they have now been deployed. They will try to prevent what happened last night. The fires, the looting, the destruction.
Much more of our special coverage coming up.
I will also speak live with the Brown family attorney Daryl Parks.
BLITZER: All right, take a look at this.
These are live pictures coming in from New York City. Protesters gathering near Union Square. They're frustrated, they're angry about this decision by the Ferguson grand jury not to indict the police officer. And we're going to monitor this demonstration. There are demonstrations in Baltimore, Atlanta, all over the country planned for later tonight. More demonstrations clearly in Ferguson and Saint Louis as well. Let's hope they all remain peaceful.
We're back now with one of the Brown family attorneys, Daryl Parks, who is joining us right now.
Daryl, thanks very much for joining us.
You just heard the president of the United States speak passionately about the American justice system, the legal system. Do you still have confidence in the American legal system?
DARYL PARKS, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF MICHAEL BROWN: Without question, I have all the confidence in the world in our legal system.
However, there are a few times, like this grand jury situation, that sometimes our system doesn't get it right. It doesn't mean in any type of way that our system is bad. But it means that there are some situations that our system just has small failures.
Well, in this situation here, we're going to keep pressing forward, because our legal system does offer other remedies to the Brown family. We intend to fully pursue those remedies that our legal system allows. BLITZER: When you heard those awful comments last night egging on the
crowd by the stepfather of Michael Brown -- and you represent the Michael Brown family. Did you have a chance to talk to him today? Does he regret what he said?
PARKS: Well, I think, without question, the feelings that they had at the moment, they were caught in the moment without question. And I can tell you, they are very grief-stricken, Wolf, about what happened and to learn the news that they learned.
I can tell you, Lesley McSpadden believed in her heart of hearts that the system would do right by her. When they didn't, she was traumatized and I think the stepfather, who also loved Michael Brown, was traumatized.
So his comments that were certainly made out of passion were just that. And if anyone, anyone has ever lost a child that they loved and that person is taken away, the person who did that to them, because Michael Brown didn't have to die, the person that took him away won't have to answer for taking that life.
Life is all we have, Wolf, all we have. And to take that life means everything in the world.
BLITZER: When you heard the Saint Louis prosecuting attorney, Robert McCulloch, say that he had African-American witnesses go before the grand jury and testify that they saw Michael Brown charging at the police officer, Darren Wilson, what does that say to you?
PARKS: Well, it still doesn't say that this officer had to take the life.
I think we're now learning a lot more about this officer's mind-set about, one, this community, two, about Michael Brown, the demonic, the Hulk. All of those comparisons are totally inappropriate. In his mind, for whatever reason, those are not reasons to take his life.
He, for whatever reason, had no appreciation for the fact that he was taking Michael Brown's life, taking all that Michael Brown had, because he had somewhat of a fear for whatever reason. It is no question about it, uncontradicted, Michael Brown had no weapon. This officer had all types of options that he could have used that he chose not to use, but instead chose to -- because he says he felt fear, decided to take the life the way he did. He didn't to have shoot him the way he did.
BLITZER: Where do you go from here legally speaking? The family's next steps? Will there be a wrongful death lawsuit?
PARKS: Wolf, obviously, that's an option. It is something that our team is looking into and then certainly privately taking action on the same. And we will deal with that issue. But this is not about money for them. Wrongful death lawsuits are only about money. However, that will have its day.
I think what's important now though is that our federal system does have a civil rights investigation that the Justice Department is moving forward on. That's a different process. We would even -- that process will run its course. But let me say this.
The state process all along, we called and asked for a special prosecutor. We talked about it from August 9, the first part of October. The first part of October, October 6, we sent a letter to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon asking that the special prosecutor be appointed. One of the reasons that prompted that letter was the fact that we learned that this prosecutor's office had made a decision to put all the cases on hold that involved officer Wilson.
Well, they put him on hold because they realized that there was an issue there, that they could not be prosecuting this guy in one case, and yet be working with him on other cases. The fact they put him on hold indicated that there was some suspicious or bias. In our justice system, any time there is a suspicion of bias, the proper thing to do is for him to remove himself and to have a special prosecutor appointed. So those are some serious procedural issues that we had early on. And we see what the product was.
BLITZER: Daryl Parks, the family attorney for the Michael Brown family, thanks very much for joining us.
PARKS: Thank you.
BLITZER: Let's get another point of view right now.
Jeff Roorda is joining us. He's a state lawmaker in Missouri. He works for the Saint Louis Police Officers Association. He's a friend of police officer in question here, Darren Wilson.
Do you want to give me your immediate reaction to what we just heard from Daryl Parks, the family attorney for the Brown family?
JEFF ROORDA (D), MISSOURI STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Well, my first reaction, Wolf, is that if Eric Holder were the Saint Louis County prosecutor, I doubt that that Darren would be calling for him to step down from this case.
The fact of the matter is, Bob McCulloch is the elected prosecutor of this county, overwhelmingly elected to I think his fifth or sixth term, and has been a wonderful prosecutor. Put every single piece of evidence before the grand jury and he is now being criticized for that. I can't imagine the tsunami of criticism that would have followed if he would have held off just one piece of evidence from the grand jury.
BLITZER: I understand you had a chance to speak with officer Wilson last night.
What was his reaction to the grand jury's decision not to indict him?
ROORDA: I'm not going to go into any detail about when or where or how I talked to him.
But his main concern is and continues to be with the police officers out there that are in harm's way. You can imagine this is a difficult time for him knowing that shots are being fired, hundreds of shots fired last night. A dozen buildings burned. Two police cars ravaged with fire.
This is a dangerous situation for police and National Guardsmen and firefighters and being sidelined like this is difficult for Darren.
BLITZER: We heard from the mayor of Ferguson earlier in the day that Wilson remains on administrative leave. Do you know what he is planning on doing? I assume he is going to resign from the police force at some point.
ROORDA: Well, that's a personal decision that he and his family have to make. I have not had that conversation with him and, frankly, I wouldn't share the details if I had.
BLITZER: Do you agree with a lot of the critics of the Saint Louis County prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, that the timing of his announcement, 8:00 p.m., local time, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, that that was a bad mistake because it was dark already, and the violence could really escalate, as we saw it did?
ROORDA: Well, I think there's not an hour of the day that he could have released that decision that that same criticism wouldn't have fallen on him.
We started hearing that criticism early in the afternoon, that the timing, before we even knew what the timing would be, would somehow provoke violence.
The fact of the matter is, the crowd chose to be violent; chose to engage in rioting and looting and mayhem; and that's -- that's not on Bob McCulloch. That's on the bad actors in the crowd.
BLITZER: You heard the president of the United States just moments ago say that he hopes that those who looted, who burned stores down, who engaged in violence, he hopes they will be prosecuted. Do you believe that local police and state police are going to go after those, the violent looters, the arsonists, use the videotape that all of us have seen and start arresting these people?
ROORDA: It's going to be very difficult to apprehend them. The bedlam was all occurring at one time, and identifying the culprits is going to be difficult. I'm sure law enforcement will make a pitched effort. They went out there all day on West Florissant, processing the various arsons as crime scenes. And I know there will be an effort to prosecute them.
But this was a sort of baseball "hit them where they ain't" situation. The rioters and the folks that decided to burn buildings down just kept going to places where police and National Guardsmen weren't stationed. And, you know, this criticism after the fact that there should have been more guardsmen out there, that would have just driven them to the next building. So I don't buy that criticism.
BLITZER: There's going to be a lot more National Guards troops: 2,000 on the streets of Ferguson later tonight to make sure that the violence we saw last night does not recur.
By the way, not only the video that we've been showing on television, but we're told that there's a lot of closed-circuit video from all of those stores that were burned, that were destroyed that the police could use if they decide they want to go after those alleged criminals, shall we say.
Jeff, thanks very much. Jeff Roorda joining us from Ferguson, Missouri.
Take a look at this. We're going to show you some live pictures. These are protests underway in New York City right now. There are protests underway in Baltimore, Atlanta, other cities around the United States. A lot of frustration, a lot of anger.
We're going back to Ferguson for more of the breaking news right after this.
BLITZER: Take a look at this. These are live pictures from New York City, Manhattan, near Union Square in New York City. A lot of people running through the streets right there. They're protesting the decision of the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, not to indict the police officer. Similar demonstrations, by the way, are getting underway in other cities across the United States.
We're following the breaking news. A second night of protests beginning over the grand jury decision of the Michael Brown shooting.
We're also learning new details of the testimony that may have played a critical role. The testimony of the police officer, Darren Wilson, who fired a dozen shots at the unarmed teenager, including the one that killed him.
Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, is joining us. She has details.
Pamela, what are you finding out about Officer Wilson's testimony?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Officer Darren Wilson testifying for several hours. He told the grand jury that Michael Brown's face looked like a demon. He said he was worried he was going to be knocked out or worse. And he said that Brown charged toward him.
Now some of the witnesses accounts align with what Wilson said. Others were very different.
BROWN (voice-over): Among the massive amounts of evidence presented to the grand jury, pictures of Michael Brown's blood inside Officer Darren Wilson's car were the confrontation began. But witnesses accounts of what happened outside of the car, recorded from 70 hours of grand jury testimony from around 60 people over the course of three months, dramatically differ.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The prosecutor chose to present those witnesses, even the ones whose testimony was contradicted by the physical evidence, I think deciding ultimately, "I'm going to let these ordinary citizens decide one way or the other."
BROWN: The 210-pound Officer Wilson testified he felt like a 5-year- old holding onto Hulk Hogan. He says the 290-pound Brown reached into his car and fought for his gun. Wilson said moments later, Brown turned around, making a grunt like an aggravated sound while he tucked his hand toward his waistband and ran toward him. The officer says he opened fire in self-defense.
St. Louis authorities say Brown's body was 153 feet east from Wilson's car, and his blood was around 25 feet farther east.
CALLAN: The blood trail indicated that Michael Brown had turned and had approached back toward Officer Wilson.
BROWN: Other witnesses told the grand jury Wilson was the aggressor. One saying, "He gets out immediately and starts shooting."
One of the biggest points of contention? Whether the unarmed 18-year- old was surrendering.
DORIAN JOHNSON, WITNESS: He tucked around with his hands up, beginning to tell the officer that he was unarmed and to tell him to stop shooting.
BROWN: But one witness said, "I never seen him put his hands up. He started charging toward the police officer."
Other recollections weren't so clear cut. One witness said Brown didn't raise his hands but also never charged the officer. Instead, he staggered slowly toward him, his arms outstretched.
The St. Louis prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, said some of the witnesses lost credibility.
Once the autopsy findings were released showing that Michael Brown had not sustained any wound to the back of his body, no additional witnesses made such a claim.
BROWN: According to forensics, Brown was struck at least six times out of the 12 rounds that were fired. The only close-range wound was to his hand -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Pamela Brown, thank you.
Let's dig deeper. Joining us, our law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes. He's a former FBI assistant director. Also joining us, the community activist John Gaskin, and our CNN senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. John, give us a little idea of the mood right now on the ground there
in Ferguson, because a lot of us are worried that there could be a recurrence, maybe even worse -- we hope not -- of what happened last night.
JOHN GASKIN, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: Well, things here are pretty firm right here at the command center. There is quite a bit of a police presence. You see a lot of police cars moving back and forth. Lots of media here.
But things are relatively calm right now. The street, West Florissant, is blocked off for much of it. So civilians getting access to that area where the rioting and the looting took place last night, it's very difficult to get down those streets. Security is very tight around the perimeter.
And so it's quite clear from the governor's press conference, Captain Ron Johnson's press conference today with Chief Belmar, that they are tightening up on security very quickly so that we don't see the same kinds of incidents that we saw last night.
BLITZER: Are you seeing the National Guard presence where you are, John?
GASKIN: I have not seen the National Guard presence where I am right now. No.
BLITZER: All right. Let me bring Tom Fuentes into this.
Tom, federal and state law enforcement officials, they tell CNN they didn't want the St. Louis County prosecutor to make that announcement last night at night, because they were afraid there could be the kind of violence we saw. This was obviously a mistake, right?
TOM FUENTES, LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think you can say now. But I would question what time of day he ever could have made the announcement that we wouldn't have had the same result. And not only that, if we have violence tonight, that will have been 30 hours since the announcement.
BLITZER: But if they would have made it, let's say, in the morning -- 9 p.m., 10 p.m., 11 p.m. daylight, wouldn't that have made the police work easier, as opposed to the middle of the night?
FUENTES: Maybe for a while. But it still wouldn't have stopped the people from coming back out after dark. And I think they would have had the same problem, I think. No matter when they announced it yesterday, I think once it got dark, once more of these -- the hooligan element got out there, this would have been the same thing, I think.
BLITZER: Jeffrey, listen to the prosecutor, Robert McCulloch. He was pretty critical of the news media in his remarks last night before announcing the decision. I'm not going to play the clip, but you know, he was -- he was suggesting that it was a one-sided presentation in favor of Michael Brown against the police officer. You didn't like what he said, did you?
JEFF TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: No. And I thought it was ridiculous and absurd and whining about the fact that McCulloch simply had to do his job, which he was to interrogate witnesses and learn what they knew from the news media and what they learned from first- hand observation.
This is not the first high-profile case in the history of the United States. Lots of cases are covered by the news media. And that's part of the responsibility of a big-city prosecutor, to learn how deal with that.
I thought, given the magnitude of the events, to be whining about social media and blogs and Twitter instead of talking about doing his job, about an unarmed man who was killed in his city, I thought it was an entirely inappropriate part of his presentation.
BLITZER: You know what? Let me play that clip. I just want to be precise. Here's what the prosecutor said.
Stand by for a moment. I don't have that clip. What I do have is a separate clip. This is the police officer, Darren Wilson. He remains on administrative leave right now from the Ferguson Police Department. Now that the jury has declined -- the grand jury has declined to indict him, he is speaking out in an interview with ABC News. He's talking about the struggle that led him to his weapon. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OFFICER DARREN WILSON, SHOT MICHAEL BROWN: I keep it on my right. I take it out, and I come up and I point it at him. I said, "Get back or I'm going to shoot you."
And then his response immediately, he grabbed the top of my gun. When he grabbed it, he said, "You're too much of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) to shoot me." And while he's doing that, I can feel his hand trying to come over my hand and get inside the trigger guard and try and shoot me with my own gun. And that's when I pulled the trigger for the first time.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: What happened?
WILSON: It didn't go off. The gun was actually being jammed by his hand on top of the firearm. So I tried again. And again another click. And this time, this has to work. Otherwise, I'm going to be dead. He's going to get this gun away from me. Something is going to happen, and I'm going to be dead. So I pulled a third time, and it finally goes off.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That was the first time you ever used your gun, right?
WILSON: Yes, it was.
STEPHANOPOULOS: In all your years as a police officer. WILSON: Yes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Then what happens?
WILSON: He gets even angrier. His aggression in his face, the intensity just increases. And it comes back in again at me again. I wasn't looking at him. I was just like, rack it, expecting another hit and I put my gun to fire. Then I go to exit my car. And when I'm getting out, I use my walkie and I said, "Shots fired. Send more cars".
And I start chasing after Michael Brown.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Why not stay in the car? He's running away.
WILSON: Because he's not -- my job isn't to just sit and wait. I have to see where this guy goes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You thought it was your duty to give chase.
WILSON: Yes, it was. That's what we were trained to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. That's the clip.
Tom Fuentes, what do you make of that?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Of course, it's his duty. I've heard the comments, well, there would have been violence so the police officer should have just let him run away. He's committed a felony when he did the strong arm robbery in the convenience store. He commits a second felony when he commits aggravated battery on the police officer. To let him flee into a residential area and maybe go to an apartment where he gets a gun and does something more serious, that's an absurd.
The police officer's job is to arrest felons. And somehow, we've gotten this thing now where police officers have to (INAUDIBLE) and to convince somebody to submit to being arrested or they have to be Olympic wrestlers with 350-pound people and wrestle them into submission. No, the law is the law. If an officer says you're under arrest and tries to get somebody to submit and had Michael Brown done this, he'd be alive today.
BLITZER: So, the -- but the notion of using deadly force to subdue him, you say he was justified.
FUENTES: He didn't use deadly force to subdue him. According to the testimony, he -- and his statement, and the forensics, Brown turned around, left blood 25 feet further down the street, came back toward Wilson.
And the one witness that had been shown in the little clip of Pamela Brown that is jumping up and down claiming, he is surrendering, he is surrendering. I heard that individual give testimony -- not testimony -- an interview, where he said Wilson was backpedaling as he was shooting. No cop was going to be backpedaling unless the assailant is coming toward him.
So, the evidence, the forensic evidence backs up much of what Officer Wilson says. Now, maybe he had some hyperbole with the Hulk Hogan comment. But the forensics show much of what he says is true as to the struggle at the car and what occurs on the street.
BLITZER: All right.
FUENTES: The deadly force is when he charged at him.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by.
John Gaskin, stand by, Jeffrey Toobin. We're going to continue our analysis. We've now finally heard from the police officer.
Take a look at this. More demonstrations happening, including in New York City right now, the crowds are gathering near Union Square. We're watching what's going on very closely, not only in New York but other cities across the United States.
BLITZER: All right. Take a look at these live pictures from New York City. Demonstrators are very angry about what happened in Ferguson, Missouri. They're protesting right now, in Manhattan. This is not far from Union Square. We're monitoring this demonstration. Others happening in other cities across the country and they're bracing for more trouble in Ferguson, as you all know.
We're also hearing, for the first time, from the police officer, Darren Wilson. He just spoke out in an interview with ABC News. Listen to this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: You say he starts to run. Does the stutter step, starts to come towards you, and --
WILSON: At that time, I gave myself another mental check. Can I shoot this guy? You know, legally, can I? And the question I answered to myself was, I have to. If I don't, he will kill me if he gets to me.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Even though he's 35, 40 feet away?
WILSON: Once he's coming that direction, if he hasn't stopped yet, when he's he going to stop? After he's coming at me and I decide to shoot, I fired a series of shots and paused.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What did you see?
WILSON: I noticed at least one of them hit him. I don't know where, but I saw his body kind of flinch a little. And after that, I paused, and again I yell, "You know, stop, get on the ground," giving him the opportunity to stop.
And he ignored all the commands and he just kept running. So, after he kept running, again, I shot another series of shots, and at least one of those hit him because I saw him flinched. At this time, he's about 15 feet away. So, I start backpedaling, because he's getting too close and he's still not stopping. As he gets 8 to 10 feet, he does that, he kind of starts leaning forward like he's going to tackle me. And I look down the barrel of his gun and I fired and what I saw was his head and that's where it went.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Right in the top of his head?
STEPHANOPOULOS: You've never even shot your gun before and now a man is dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He also spoke about, in this interview with George Stephanopoulos, he also spoke about the issue of race. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is there anything you could have done differently that would have prevented that killing from taking place?
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you're absolutely convinced when you look through your heart and your mind that if Michael brown were white, this would have gone down in exactly the same way?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Let's bring in Don Lemon. He's joining us from Ferguson once again.
Don, I want your reaction, specifically because you were one of those anchors who had a chance to meet in recent days with Darren Wilson, the police officer. I know it was off the record, but since then, you've spoken with his attorney. Give us a little sense of what he's like.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: OK. So, let me explain to you what happened.
You know, this -- normal network procedures, you go in, you meet someone, you try to do an interview with them, and many times those meetings are off the record. So my colleague at ABC News, George Stephanopoulos, won out and -- great.
And so, I wanted him to have his moment, to get the interview out there first. And after the interview has been out there, it aired, we've been airing the clips. I called his attorneys and asked his attorneys if I could share the contents of our meeting on our air and his attorneys said, "Yes, I give you permission to share."
So, with that said, now that meeting is not off the record, it's on the record. And I want to say that it is -- meeting him was interesting, because I was surprised by how boyish he is. He's a very young man. He's taller than I expected.
And I didn't quite honestly think, Wolf, that he was going to share the story with me about what happened on Canfield Drive that day. But when we got there, he did. He sat down with me and we spoke and his representatives were there.
And he basically shared everything that he's saying to George Stephanopoulos, and exactly what he said to the grand jury, about what happened. He said he was -- he was in his car, he had just finished a -- to the best of my recollection, I'll go over what he said, because it was off the record, so there were no notes. But he said he was on Canfield Drive and just finished a sick baby call and he heard some of the commotion on the radio and told them to put him in service.
And then he sees these two young men walking in the middle of the street and cars were going around them, so he asked them to get out of the street, and then the altercation happened. He said, you know, in some way, that Mike Brown said an expletive to him, to "F off", and you're not going to do anything to me, you're, you know, another expletive.
And then they got into another altercation and Mike Brown hit him and what-have-you, and that's what happened. And they got out of the car, finally, and then there was the altercation in the middle of the street. And he talked about the demonizing, all of those things in our conversation as well.
BLITZER: Did -- how did he impress you as -- did he seem sincere? What was your impression of this police officer?
LEMON: Well, you know, when interview anyone, I mean, I just want to hear their story. I wasn't there to decide whether he was telling me the truth or not.
You know, when we spoke to Michael Brown's family, we spoke to Dorian Johnson, the key witness in all of this, and basically, what you do is you just ask them questions. It's not up to me, it's up to the grand jury. It's up to the viewer. It's up to the representatives to decide if they're telling the truth or not.
But did he seem like, you know, his story was believable? Yes, it didn't -- you know, he has told it over and over. Did I think that he was deceiving me in some way? No. But I do think that, you know, most people will, you know, say their
best recollection of things. And obviously, I don't think he wanted to do himself any harm in speaking to us. And I don't think any of the witnesses on the Brown side wanted to do themselves any harm by speaking to us as well.
I just wanted to go there as a journalist, to get an interview, and not to be a judge and jury. I just wanted to get an interview. He decided to tell me the story. I didn't ask him. I was surprised that he did. And I would imagine that with other colleagues who work at this network and others, that he did the same thing.
But he shared -- you know, he talked to me about his family. I stayed -- initially, his fiancee was not there, and he was very cordial and he invited me back to meet his fiancee. I actually stayed here a little bit longer than I was supposed to and met his fiancee and talked to her. And I have to -- I have to say, quite honestly, she was a little bit upset with the network news coverage, some of the networks, because they put her home on television. And she said, I don't see what that had to do with anything, our home. You know, obviously, Darren has his issues and he's dealing with that, but why did our home have to be on the news? What did that have to do with anything? We have been there for less than a year and now we've moved and we're in hiding.
And I understand, I don't know what their home had to do -- putting their home and their address on the news had to do with anything.
BLITZER: And this was a separate meeting, I just want to precise. Your meeting with him was separate. Obviously, Anderson Cooper also met with him, right?
LEMON: Yes. You'll have to ask Anderson. Listen, I can't share for my colleague. If Anderson wants to divulge what he -- what he did, yes. And I think he did on Twitter, say that he met with him.
BLITZER: All right.
LEMON: But, yes, Anderson did as well. And it was an undisclosed location.
BLITZER: All right. Don is going to have a lot more throughout the night, including 10:00 p.m. Eastern, "CNN TONIGHT".
Don, thanks very much for that report.
That's it for me. Thanks for watching.
The breaking news continues right now with "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT."