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Ferguson Protests; East Coast Weather

Aired November 26, 2014 - 21:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, AC360 HOST: Good evening. Again, John Berman sitting in for Anderson tonight. It's 9:00 p.m. here in New York, 8:00 p.m. in Ferguson where it is tense but calm.

The National Guard remains out in force. It is cold. A little snow was falling. People seem to be staying inside so far.

Protesters though out in the streets of Los Angeles, you can this video here from our station KABC looking down. Right now, what you see is the police out in force.

Obviously, the car is there. Earlier when we're looking at photos, live pictures of hundred of people out demonstrating, moving through the streets and now we see the police there to meet them. We will keep our eye on this over the next several minutes and hours.

In the meantime, the parents of Michael Brown spoke out today. Just the day after we heard from Officer Darren Wilson, two days after a grand jury decline to indict him and then parts of Ferguson erupted in rioting.

Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden say they simple do not buy Officer Wilson's account of their son attacking him. They tell CNN Legal Analyst Sunny Hostin. It's simply isn't the child they knew. You'll hear more from them shortly.

Right now though we're going to check in with our Jason Carroll who was in Ferguson for us this evening. And we know Jason, as the evening gets later, the concern does grow at least based on what we saw at the last few nights but what it's like there on the ground right now?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well tonight is nothing like the past nights that we've seen out here, John. I mean, I know that you've taken a look at what we've been at out here. In front of the Ferguson police department you can see the National Guard out here. In terms of the number of protesters, you can take a look right over here, we've counted maybe two dozen but what you're looking at right here is protesters and also members of the media. So definitely a very small crowd tonight.

What we're thinking is it's the weather that you talked about, this freezing rain and the snow keeping a lot of people at home. One of the organizers out here telling me that he believes the night will be a small crowd and peaceful. He said it might be one of the first nights in a long time residents in Ferguson might actually be able to get some rest.

BERMAN: That would be a welcome thing, I think for many people there. Who is in charge on the ground there tonight in terms of the tactical situations? Is it the National Guard? We see them out there. What are local in state of the world is doing?

CARROLL: Well, you've got the National Guard out here on the frontline which is a different from what we saw out here last night when it was St. Louis County police who were out here.

What we are being told is, if anything does happen St. Louis County police who are not present now at least not visually will then moving as the frontline. The National Guard will be support. They will act in the same way that they did last night when we saw so much unrest, actually not afar from here, just up the street of South Florissant.

But right now, people are hoping things remain just as they are right now.

BERMAN: Quickly Jason, I do want to ask you about or a report we're getting in of that the church that Michael Brown Sr. father -- and Michael Brown Sr. attended, buried down there. There's now an investigation going on about this flier. What can you tell us?

CARROLL: Right. That's the Flood Christian Church and that's one West Florissant not far from where the looting took place.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has taken over that investigation.

That church was burned on Monday. Federal authorities looking at that very closely because if you look at that area John, it was the only establishment there that was burned. Authorities want to know if it was targeted simply because Michael Brown's father attended that church.

BERMAN: Right. Jason Carroll for us on the ground in Ferguson. We're all hoping you have a quite night tonight, Jason. Thank you being with us.

Also Darren Wilson's account the brief confrontation that ended Michael Brown's life is drawing sharp reactions tonight from Michael Brown's parents.

Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden sat down today with CNN Legal Analyst Sunny Hostin who asked them about officer Wilson's description of the mortal threat that he says he felt from their son.


SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Now, when you got to the crime scene and you found this out, what were your immediate thoughts?

LESLEY MCSPADDEN, MICHAEL BROWN MOTHER: Why? Why you do that? Anybody that knew him, that was the thought. Why? No.

Mike, Mike. No. We don't believe it. He's too sweet.

HOSTIN: Well let's talk about that because so many people in America had seen this surveillance video in the convenient store. And people are saying your son was a punk, your son was a thug, your son was aggressive, your son was violent. So he must have been aggressive with Officer Wilson. What do you say to that?

MCSPADDEN: I say that you cannot judge him over 18-second video and we knew -- and we've know him for 18 years. We know better.

I say no, you're wrong and you cannot look at one image of a person and perceive who they are in a whole. Because if that's the case, let's look at the officer -- with Darren Wilson.

HOSTIN: So do you believe that when officer Wilson first approach your son and told him to move out of the roadway that your son's first response was, F what did you say?



HOSTIN: Do you think that's even possible?



HOSTIN: Do you think it's even possible officer Wilson is saying that your son reach into the car and try to grab his gun?


HOSTIN: Do you think it's possible that your son told him, you were too much of P word to shoot me?

MCSPADDEN: I don't even believe those -- any of those words was -- were exchanged at all.

BROWN: Right.

HOSTIN: Officer Wilson said that he had a clear conscience about what happened that day. If he had to do it again, he would.

What's your response to that?

BROWN: He's a murderer. That's what that tells me.

HOSTIN: What it does tell you Lesley?

MCSPADDEN: I hope the lord have mercy on his soul.

HOSTIN: Has Sybrina Fulton reached out to you?

What advice did she give you? MCSPADDEN: She gave me some very encouraging words. She wrote me a letter. In everyday or every other day, she will send me a nice pics (ph). She's letting me know that I have her support and to be strong.

And as weak as I feel and as helpless as I feel. She see something else there. And every time I see her, she give me a hug, you know. And a good conversation like she keeps me grounded on this situation I can say. And I do take her advice because she's been through it.

HOSTIN: And Mr. Brown, tell me, you know, act in the wake of Trayvon Martin's murder, death. Have you heard from Tracy Martin, have you heard from other fathers who've lost their sons?

BROWN: Yes, I have heard from Tracy Martin. It's been a few weeks but I heard from Bryan Davis every other day...

HOSTIN: Jordan Davis's father?

BROWN: Yes. And to Uncle Bobby.

HOSTIN: Oscar Grant's father?

BROWN: Uncle, yes.

HOSTIN: Uncle. And what advice have they giving you, other man that have lost their sons or nephews?

BROWN: They tell me it's going to be all right. Anytime that I feel like I need to talk and it doesn't matter what time in the mourning it is, I feel like I'm about to explode, just pick up the phone and call them.

Just stay positive, keeping my head, keeping chin up high, stay grounded all, ten toes down, you know, and just fight for where we believe is right.


BERMAN: Joining us now is Tracy Martin, the father or Trayvon Martin, who along with his ex-wife Sybrina Fulton co-founder of the Trayvon Martin Foundation.

Tracy, thanks so much for being with us. I do appreciate it.

We keep on saying, you know, none of us can understand what it must be like to go through what Michael Brown's parents are going through right now. You are someone who I think understands it all to well. It got to be so difficult to have to grieve in such a public way.

TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN'S FATHER: I think it's tough. First of all I just like to take my hats off -- my head off to the Brown family for standing up for their son and continuing to keep his name and forefront and keep is name focus. It's tough to grieve in public, specially as men, it's very tough for us to grieve in public. And one thing I try to relate to Mr. Brown is that, there's no certain way to grieve and there's no time for you grieving process, all of us grief differently. But it's painful and it's going to be a long process.

BERMAN: We all saw Louis Head, the stepfather of Michael Brown react the other night when the decision from the grand jury became public and he was shouting "Burn this down. Burn this down. Burn this down". You say everyone reacts in different way and grieves in different ways. I wonder what you made of that reaction.

MARTIN: That just natural reaction, that's -- that was emotions, that was raw emotions. And for his reaction to be that he's hurt, he's hurting, he's a hurting part of that family. And you -- at times we expect motion to run high. And I just pray for their family, I pray for him, I pray for the family and I hope that we can help them get through this.

BERMAN: When you heard the grand jury decision the other night. What went through your mind?

MARTIN: I was disbelief, I'm a firm believer and, you know, that we -- anytime you're dealing with the death of a young man, young woman, whether it be black or white. I think that the justice system should have a chance to -- I think that it should be taken to the court and it should been -- they've should been given the chance -- these parents should have been given the change to at least have a jury of their peers here all the evidence and let them decide. I just think that once it went to the grand jury I just had a feeling -- I had a feeling deep down in my heart that they were going to come back with no indictment.

BERMAN: You spoke so eloquently after the death of your son about turning something horrible into something positive. You worked very hard about that not to make the verdict in the jury's of ever (inaudible) case, sum up who your son was. So what can be done now to turn the death of Michael Brown? Whether or not you think the grand jury decision was right or not. What can be done to turn this whole event into something positive?

MARTIN: I think the first thing we can do, we can start by continuing, to get signatures, to get any law enforcement of issue to wear this body cameras where there story can't be contradicted. Those cameras don't lie. I think this is the time for us to start pushing forward. There's a lot of positive things and that can come out of this.

BERMAN: Tracey Martin, we appreciate your time. We always appreciate you talking to us and helping us understand a lot of the emotions that are at play. Thank so much.

MARTIN: Thank you John.

BERMAN: Just a head. We're going to bring the speed on the weather that is slowing down and have to put it lightly, a lot of travel for a lot of holiday drivers. Stay with us.


BERMAN: Live pictures right now of the snowy eastern Pennsylvania in Pocono Mountains. It all looks so nice, it all looks so peaceful. But house isn't trying to go anywhere. The problem for thousand and thousand of driver is that the roads are mess with the storm affecting so many, hundreds of flight have been canceled, thousands delay. Big, big problems, let's go straight to Chad Myers at the CNN weather center to see what is happening right now. Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: John it's still snowing at a couple areas. Look at those numbers from West Virginia, from Towanda to Pennsylvania from being up to New York and Shickshinny pick up eight inches. Not that Shickshinny has the highest number. I just -- John, I just kind of like saying Shickshinny, it's kind of like Punxsutawney just one of those name you just want to say, just comes right off your tongue.

Snow at Maine, now at Vermont, New Hampshire and a little bit a snow still in New York. The snow is going an inches or so, probably in Central Park and then it's over. So maybe just a dusting for the parade tomorrow morning and it kind of look prettier than anything else, not much in the way of any significant accumulation now, this is really winding down for the airports for the driver.

Now, because it's dark the roads are freezing up. It's been slash a lot of day. Watch out for that slushy bridge that's going to really freeze up here in the next hour or so if it already has it. We saw a lot of snow up and down the appellation all the way from the Catskill, all the way up even into the Pocono that you saw, that picture right there. The only new snow still to come will be up really into Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire three to five more inches here.

Forecast radar for right now, New York City almost out of it. By 10:00 it's completely gone, but even by 3:00 for Maine it's on up into Nova Scotia, in Atlantic Canada and it's done for now. It's been cold behind, it very cold. But at least dry in cold, you'll be able to get home on Sunday.

BERMAN: Particular good news for the people of Shickshinny. Thank you so much.

MYERS: That's right.

BERMAN: Chad Myers, I appreciate it.

All right, the storm creating some problems at the airport. Jennifer Gray, joins us now from LaGuardia. Jennifer, what do we think? Flight delays, is the worst over?

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well hopefully they'll be over in the next couple of hours. We have seen about 300 delays, 150 cancellations here at LaGuardia along. Look at the board behind me, it looks like a flight are starting to catch up a little bit. We have seen all red and all yellow at certain points on that board, but now we're seeing three and four hour delays. But it's look like folks are now starting to get in. Nationwide, 4,000 delays today, 700 cancellations, they get to airports affected of course.

The ones around New York City, D.C., Philly and Boston. Of course they're going to probably pay being play catch up as we get into the morning hours tomorrow. But its good news is John, it looks like there are still operating flights very late leave to morning hours. Some of those flights only can get here until well after midnight.

BERMAN: (inaudible) that's after the bar is close in airport. (inaudible) which could be a real problem. Jennifer Gray, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, he assisted on one of the autopsies on Michael Brown, now there are questions about his qualification. What Shawn Parcells has to say about the accusation against him, that's coming up next.


BERMAN: A man who assisted with one of the autopsies of Michael Brown give a news conference and many interviews about his findings but he is now the subject of scrutiny himself. As questions have emerged about his qualifications. Elizabeth Cohen has the story.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Out of death and violence in Ferguson Missouri this summer, turned to be to media star for a man named Shawn Parcells.

SHAWN PARCELLS, ASSISTED IN AUTOPSY OF MICHAEL BROWN: First of all, I'm Professor Shawn Parcells...

COHEN: He dazzled the details on the private autopsy of Michael Brown.

PARCELLS: The two gunshot wounds to the head indicating that Mr. Brown was bending over as they were coming down...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're back with Shawn Parcells who assisted in the autopsy of Michael Brown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now showing Parcells.

COHEN: Even here on AC360...

ANDERSON COOPER, AC360 HOST: Mr. Parcells, thank you every much.

COHEN: ... he has appeared on the media time and again as a forensic pathology expert. We know he assisted Dr. Michael Baden and then the private autopsy commissioned by Michael Brown's family. Baden said, he was a good assistant. Parcells is not a doctor. We know he called himself a forensics medical consultant, a medical investigator and a professor. But is he what he says he is.

So you call yourself a professor?


COHEN: Where are you a professor?

PARCELLS: I'm adjunct professor at Washburn University in Topeka Kansas.

COHEN: But that as far as we could tell isn't accurate. We contacted Washburn University. They say, we'll he has spoken to nursing students. He is not now and never been an adjunct professor there.

Washburn University says that's not true.

PARCELLS: OK, I have contract to the state that is true.

COHEN: Can you show us that contract.


COHEN: But he never sent us that contract showing he was an adjunct professor. He later said it was proprietary.

GRANT GILLETT, ANDREW COUNTRY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: I see him as a fraud. I mean that's the best word I would say describes Shawn Parcells to me.

COHEN: How about you.


GILLETT: Very good con artist is a way I'd would put it.

COHEN: In Missouri, Deputy Sheriff Grant Gillett and Dustin Jeffers say Shawn Parcells performed an autopsy procedure in a criminal case without a doctor present.

So he introduced himself as a pathologist, as a medical doctor?

JEFFERS: that is correct.

COHEN: And he seemed believable.

JEFFERS: Very well so, yes.

COHEN: I mean you too are both experienced law enforcement officers and even you were (inaudible).

GILLETT: That's right.

COHEN: The deputies say without a medical doctor signature on Robert Frost result autopsy report, it's not valid.

It's been more than two years since the crime, can you move forward with the prosecution?

GILLETT: We cannot move forward at this time with that case at all.

COHEN: Why not?

GILLETT: Because the autopsy was not performed legally, so we cannot use any evidence found from the autopsy in a court of law to be used to prosecute any suspects on the case. COHEN: That means according to the deputies, Bobby Forrester, suspected of killing his grandfather was set free and he went on to bit up his grandmother.

Shawn Parcells says he never told the deputies he was a doctor.

PARCELLS: They want to think I'm a doctor, that's their issue. People assume stuff all the time and they may never asked. It's bad that they're assuming and that they never ask.

COHEN: Parcells who has bachelor's degree says he supervised by medical doctors but sometimes they are not present when performed an autopsy procedure.

So you do autopsy when there is not a pathologist or an M.D. anywhere in the room?

PARCELLS: At time, sometimes a pathologist is there and sometimes they're not.

COHEN: You're not an M.D.

PARCELLS: I'm not an M.D.

COHEN: But it's legal for you to be cutting up bodies, taking organs out, making observations?


COHEN: This, even though a letter on his own company's letterhead states unequivocally that during each and every forensic autopsy conducted the attending pathologist is present at all times. We always have the attending pathologist present and directing the autopsy examination.

And if you think that is shocking, the owner of this funeral home says, Parcells promised to arrange for an autopsy on the remains of an unidentified body but didn't show up for more than a week, maggots appeared and where is that body now, Phelps County Deputy Coroner Lennox Jones would love to know he says he's not heard from Parcells in more than a year.

When we asked Parcells where is the body, we got a barrage of obscenities.

Lennox Jones says that his never heard back from you?

PARCELLS: He has holly -- excuse my language but (inaudible) e-mails approve. Him and I going back in forth and the fact that he ignores me. His a (inaudible), you want to be truthful, he is a (inaudible) and I'm sorry to address like this in your cameras. But this particular case pisses me off.

COHEN: Parcells added that the Coroner can pick up the body from his morgue into (inaudible) anytime. So with Coroners and law enforcements so angry, why haven't they gone after him? Dr. Mary Case, chief medical examiner for St. Louis County says prosecutors might be worried. She says some of them may have used this autopsy reports to get convictions, convictions they don't want overturned.

MARY CASE, CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER, ST. LOUIS COUNTY: It could be problem for they are prosecuting attorney if that prosecutor has prosecuted somebody based upon Shawn's findings, of course, that's a problem.

COHEN: For the prosecutor.

CASE: For the prosecutor.

COHEN: So no ones wants to go after him.

CASE: No one has. No one has to this point.


BERMAN: All right, Elizabeth Cohen joins me now live.

Elizabeth, if there are so many questions, so may allege issues, why do counties keep using this guy's services?

COHEN: You know, John we asked that question in officials in Kansas and Missouri said, "Look, he charges less than his competitors." And these are small counties. They're financial strapped, even just saving a few a hundred dollars here and there. They said it's a big deal.

BERMAN: It comes down to money. Have any other counties that he's worked for taken any action against him?

COHEN: You know, John we know one county in Missouri that did. They went to the state licensing board and they said, we thought we were getting a pathologist and Shawn Parcells performed the autopsy without a pathologist present. Now, the board investigated and they close the case without doing anything.

They didn't tell us why. But John, I'll tell you that officials that we talked through there said, "Look, licensing boards are not necessarily going to be able to do anything because Shawn Parcells by under (inaudible) does not have a license to do anything so they can't take that license away."

BERMAN: All right, Elizabeth Cohen. Thank you so much.

COHEN: Thanks.

BERMAN: I am sure there will be more to report here.

A quick not about some programming earlier in the day, we're reporting on witness testimony from the St. Louis Country grand jury on CNN's 4:00 p.m. program, The Lead. CNN inadvertently displayed a photo of a police official with the Philadelphia Police Department instead of Officer Darren Wilson. The Ferguson Missouri police officer of course will be talking about. We apologize to the Philadelphia police officer and sincerely regret the error.

And with that "CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon, starts now.