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THE SITUATION ROOM
Protests in Baltimore, Philadelphia; Marilyn Mosby to Take Up Freddie Gray Case; Baltimore Police: Curfew Remains Throughout the Weekend; Autopsy Report May Go to Prosecutor Soon. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired April 30, 2015 - 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: What's next? It's now up to a young prosecutor to decide whether to seek criminal charges against the police officers involved in Gray's arrest.
[18:00:07] She has a personal connection to police and to Baltimore's history of bloodshed.
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: The breaking news, we're following new protests in Baltimore and Philadelphia, seeking justice for the death of Freddie Gray. Tonight, new bombshells in the investigation just hours after police turned over their findings to the Baltimore prosecutor. WJLA-TV is reporting that the medical examiner found that Gray's fatal injuries were caused when he slammed into the back of the police transport van, not during his videotaped arrest.
Another new revelation, police say they now know the van made a previously undisclosed stop. We're standing by for a news conference with the Maryland governor. We have our correspondents, our analysts, our newsmakers, they're all standing by as we cover all the angles of this breaking story.
First, let's get the very latest from our justice correspondent Pamela Brown. Pamela, what are you learning?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the new revelation today coming from CNN's affiliate WJLA that a police investigation just handed to the city prosecutor finds that Freddie Gray's injuries were not caused by the arrest or any of the interactions with police.
BROWN (voice-over): The medical examiner found that Gray's deadly injuries were caused when he slammed into the back of the van apparently breaking had his neck according to CNN affiliate WJLA, which spoke to multiple law enforcement officials briefed on the findings. The sources telling WJLA the head injury matched a bolt in the back of the van. When that injury happened is not clear. Police revealed today that the fatal trip after Freddie Gray's arrest
included yet another stop, a stop that police not only did not disclose, but apparently did not know happened until recently, raising new questions about Gray's treatment after his arrest.
KEVIN DAVIS, BALTIMORE DEPUTY POLICE COMMISSIONER: We discovered this new stop based on our thorough and comprehensive and ongoing review of all CCTV cameras.
BROWN (voice-over): Police said today the new information came from a private camera at this intersection, not from the police officers involved with arrest and not from police logs of the van's trips.
BILL YEOMANS, FORMER DOJ OFFICIAL, CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION: Obviously, it raises all kinds of questions. Somebody in the police department knew about this stop, and what it suggests is that whoever was driving the van, whoever was involved in the van trip, was not forthcoming.
BROWN: The newly disclosed stop was one of a series after Gray was arrested. First, the policeman pulled over here. This video shows police putting leg irons on Freddie Gray. Police say the new stop revealed today happened next, in front of this corner store. After that, the van made a third stop, police say, to, quote, "deal with Gray." That's when he asked, allegedly, for medical attention but didn't receive it then.
A fourth and final stop was when police put another prisoner in the van. Gray only received help once the van reached the police station 25 minutes later. The police commissioner said a week ago the other prisoner could not see Gray, but could hear him.
ANTHONY BATTS, BALTIMORE CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: What he has said is that he heard Freddie thrashing about.
BROWN: According to a police document obtained by "The Washington Post," the prisoner also told investigators Gray was intentionally trying to injure himself.
YEOMANS: It's a very shaky statement and the fact that it was released is, I think, a transparent effort to try to influence the public discussion of the case.
CROWD: We will fight for Freddie Gray all night long!
BROWN (on camera): And police say there was only one officer inside Gray's transporting van. Five out of the six officers we know involved with Gray have given statements to investigators. We don't know exactly who the officer who hasn't given the statement is. Wolf?
BLITZER: Pamela Brown, thanks very much. Let's go to Brian Todd; he's on the ground in Baltimore for us. Brian, where is this protest moving?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the protest arrived at city hall in downtown Baltimore. Our photojournalist Tom Jour (ph) is going to pan over here. The crowd is very vibrant. I would say at least a couple hundred strong. Some speakers are taking the platform up there, addressing the crowd, calling for peace, peaceful protest.
I'm here with Ashley Fonteroy (ph); she's a local rap artist who was brought here by an organization of other musicians. And Ashley -- I'm going to talk to you about your church in a second. But tell me, what is your main draw? Why did you want to come out today?
ASHLEY FONTEROY, MUSICIAN: Well, honestly because the youth are being misrepresented. I'm 25 years old. And we wanted to let you know that the city is not burning as a result of us. This city is on fire, but the rage needs to be directed into a positive direction for justice and for peace.
TODD: I want to ask you, you say your church was affiliated with that building that burned down on Monday night during the rioting, that building that was going to be a senior citizen living facility. What did that do to your community.
FONTEROY: OK, that is a transformation center meant for our community. It's meant to bring good and revenue and just love and peace and harmony.
[18:05:02] Everything that you could possibly need, housing, drug services, you know, rehab, not to fund drugs and things like that, no. This all was going to be good for east Baltimore. The church has been fighting for that property for years now. It's been a ten-year plan. I've been a member myself for the last five years, you know, and it's been my own money and building and time (ph) and find my faith, my emotions, everything in that building.
TODD: What's your impression of the fact that, that scenes from Monday are what a lot of people take away about images from Baltimore. This is the image they have of your city. And what do you think of that?
FONTEROY: All they know of Baltimore is negative. Baltimore has so much positive. The reason why I stopped rapping is because honestly what I was rapping about wasn't even positive. I stopped that, got into the church. And now if I come back with music, it will be nothing but positivity.
Way (ph) means women are divine educators. I'm 25. We have some smart, some young, college -- we're out here. We are intellectual, we are smart, we're healthy, we're beautiful; we're not that fire you see. We're not those looters. Did you see me on TV stealing anything? No. We are here for peace.
TODD: Thank you. Thank you, Ashley. Good luck.
These protesters, Wolf, very eager to put a different stamp on Baltimore, a different image on Baltimore. This rally, this march, one big step towards that. And, again, like on marches in days past, nights past, they want to take the message back from the violence and put it on the Freddie Gray case. Again, they think this is a big step towards doing that, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brian, thanks very much. I want to show our viewers what's going on. This is a fire that's in northeast Baltimore right now. It doesn't -- all indications it has nothing to do with any of the demonstrations. It just underscores that there are regular problems in Baltimore that have to be addressed even beyond some of these protests. Those are live pictures coming in from this fire in Baltimore. So the city continues with the good, the bad, and the ugly, obviously.
The protests over Freddie Gray's death are spreading, not only in Baltimore but tonight they're in Philadelphia as well. That's where Poppy Harlow is for us. Poppy, what's going on in Philadelphia?
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Wolf, everyone gathered here about an hour ago right in front of city hall. You see it right to my side and now they're marching. I mean, the latest estimate we have from police is there are about 600 people gathered. My eye is that there is more than that.
But it is completely peaceful. This is exactly what you want to see in a protest, people out voicing their opinions saying, "No justice, no peace," talking about Freddie Gray but also talking about the bigger issue of our criminal justice system. One young woman, Angela, telling me this is about a lack of equality, she believes, under the eyes of law enforcement. Another young lawyer who I just spoke with, an African-American woman, told me the first time I was racially profiled was when I was in law school. She's an employment attorney and she says I think things in the system need to change. And, Wolf, she talked a lot about what we heard the president talk about in recent days, and others, and that is opportunity, that this is also about economic opportunity.
So what we see is the police standing by watching but allowing them to march freely. I asked a number of protesters where they're marching. They're not sure exactly how far they're going but so far everything is calm, it is peaceful, and the police telling me here our job is to protect the protesters. They are citizens not suspects and they have the right to do this. And it is our job to stand by them and protect them. Wolf?
BLITZER: Any idea, Poppy, how long they're planning on staying out tonight? We know in Baltimore there's still a curfew in effect. They have to be off the streets by 10:00. What about in Philadelphia?
HARLOW: Yes, there's no curfew here. They've stopped here because it's a red light. And they have not said how long they're going to protest for. I think they're just going to go. We can ask some of them. Do you happen to know how long you're going to march?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Until it ends.
HARLOW: Until what ends?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Until the protest ends. I don't know.
HARLWO: I think they don't have a set goal or time. But again the police are letting them down the street and there's no curfew, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Poppy, we'll stay in close touch with you.
Joining us now, one of the organizers of these Baltimore protests, the Reverend Jamal Bryant. Reverend, thanks very much for coming in.
REV. JAMAL BRYANT, PRESIDENT, EMPOWERMENT MOVEMENT: Absolutely.
BLITZER: What do you make of these new revelations today that maybe the injury occurred inside the van, that there was a fourth undisclosed stop that police apparently never reported, that they found out by seeing some closed circuit private TV cameras? It's pretty surprising what's going on right now.
BRYANT: It's disheartening because you have to keep in mind, when all of this started, the commissioner said we would have a full report disclosure on May 1. Then they backed up yesterday and said, no, it's going to be sealed. It won't be announced.
And then strangely it's leaked to "The Washington Post" that there was somebody else in the van and they tried to make us believe that the first report was he had an asthma attack.
[18:10:00] The second one his legs weren't in full functionality. The third one is overtly suggesting he's committing suicide by trying to injure himself. And so the community really has zero trust in the police department or even in this investigation.
BLITZER: And what about you? Do you have trust in the police commissioner, for example? Anthony Batts, is he doing a good job? Is he doing what he needs to do?
BRYANT: He's not doing half of what he needs to do. He should have never at the outset set a date. Anybody who has gone through the legal process knows that it's a little bit tricky, that you can go back in for further investigation. So to put a false sense of hope has really just upset the community all the more. And so we're going to be working tirelessly tonight so that there's not an explosion tomorrow.
BLITZER: What about the mayor? How is she doing?
BRYANT: I think that the mayor is not doing enough in community relations and spending a lot of energy for public relations. The community now after "The Washington Post", we have more questions when we thought it at this point we'd have more answers.
BLITZER: It's such a tense situation. You're trying to calm things down, though. Tell us what you're doing.
BRYANT: We've been working, pulling together. We've had a truce pact from the Bloods and Crips gang to sign a treaty of no violence. The Christian community and the nation of Islam have, in fact, joined forces to do security, to back young people away, and to try to change the narrative away from the looting and CVS and what happened at Camden Yards, to focus it back on police reform, the officer's bill of rights, and how it is that a lot of African-Americans feel like they're being victimized by the criminal justice system.
BLITZER: Is the curfew smart or not so smart?
BRYANT: I think that the curfew initially was smart. I don't know the curfew with the National Guard has made us feel as if we're in a concentration camp, if you would.
BRYANT: 5,000 traps walking around with rifles and guns is a little unnerving. Yesterday I went to high schools in Baltimore to try to get some sense of peace before Friday comes, and to go outside of a high school and see that many armed force agents really was unnerving for 15 and 16-year-olds.
BLITZER: I'm going to speak to the commanding general of the Maryland National Guard, who is in charge. What do you want me to ask?
BRYANT: I want you to ask that how is it that we treat our children as outright criminals? Imagine, just last week, a young man goes to trial for shooting up a movie theater in Denver. What happens? He's apprehended. He's not shot. But in the African-American community, all we see is excessive force, police brutality. And that's why, since 2011, Baltimore has had to pay out in excess of $5.3 million for out-of-court settlements for how it is that police have (INAUDIBLE).
BLITZER: So the relationship between Baltimore police and the local community is --
BRYANT: It's estranged. It's a marriage of a couple living in two separate bedrooms in the same house. We're co-existing but it is not a loving one.
BLITZER: Reverend Bryant, I want to you stand by. I have more questions. We're watching these demonstrations in Baltimore and Philadelphia. We'll take a quick break. Much more right after this.
BLITZER: Momentarily we're going to hear from the governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan is going to be speaking, answering reporters' questions together with the commanding general of the Maryland National Guard. The state police, the police commissioner Anthony Batts will be doing this news conference as well. We'll have live coverage of that; we're going to get reaction from the Reverend Jamal Bryant of the Empowerment Temple, who's still with me as well.
You see the protests, they're continuing in Baltimore and Philadelphia the. Elsewhere as well. We're all over that. As we're watching what's going on tonight, the Baltimore state prosecutor is urging calm. She's now taking the lead in the Freddie Gray investigation. She's considering whether to pursue criminal charges against any of those six police officers who were involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray. Our CNN anchor Don Lemon is Baltimore; he's been on the streets now
all week. Don, give us more on what's going on.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST, "CNN TONIGHT": Hey, we're here at city hall, Wolf. And I've been out in the crowd talking to people. They're fired up. But you know what? It is mostly peaceful. And that is what this prosecutor is going to have to deal with, really the attention and some of anger coming from the folks here.
She is young, but in her youth, she is very experienced. She has a law enforcement background. She knows tragedy. But can you imagine starting out this very difficult job with the entire world watching?
LEMON (voice-over): She's the youngest chief prosecutor of a major American city, and she's been on the job less than four months. But now 35-year-old Marilyn Mosby has a huge decision to make that could calm the anger in the city she loves --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is definitely a police car that they're vandalizing right there.
LEMON: -- or possibly reignite riots.
COMMISSIONER ANTHONY BATTS, BALTIMORE POLICE: I know the state's attorney is committed to seeing justice.
LEMON: Mosby says she'll review the police findings of Freddie Gray's death as well as an independent investigation by her office as she considers any criminal charges against the six officers involved in his arrest.
WILLIAM "BILLY" MURPHY, JR., GRAY FAMILY ATTORNEY: We have much more confidence in her than we have in the police.
LEMON: Mosby's views on crime and punishment were shaped while she was young.
MARILYN MOSBY, MARYLAND CHIEF PROSECUTOR: I come from a long line of police officers.
LEMON: Her mother, father, grandfather and four uncles all wore a badge.
MOSBY: Despite what we all might want to think, the police officers in our city are doing their jobs.
It actually hit really close to home.
LEMON: Mosby says she decided to become part of the justice system after crime hit home.
MOSBY: My cousin, who was extremely close to me, was like my best friend, was killed on my front door doorsteps.
[18:20:03] CROWD: We want peace!
LEMON: As protests spread across Baltimore and the nation, there's enormous pressure on Mosby to prosecute the officers who arrested Freddie Gray and to give the public answers about how he died. Some of that pressure may come from her own husband, the father of her two young daughters, who also happens to be a city councilman, Nick Mosby represents parts of west Baltimore where the riots broke out.
NICK MOSBY, BALITMORE CITY COUNCILMAN: She's a strong woman. She was built for this.
LEMON (on camera): So now we have this state's prosecutor, we have the Attorney General of the United States, we have a woman in charge of the National Guard, and the mayor of Baltimore -- all African- American women, Wolf, and all making a decision, being a huge deciding factor on what happens now with African-American men and police.
BLITZER: I want to you stand by, Don, because we have more to discuss. But I want to bring back one of the organizers of the Baltimore protest, the Reverend Jamal Bryant. By the way, Marilyn Mosby, I don't know if you know her --
BRYANT: Very well.
BLITZER: Do you know her?
BLITZER: Her husband Nick Mosby is city councilman. He's going to be joining us later this hour here in THE SITUATION ROOM as well. What do you think of her?
BRYANT: I think that she's very promising. She represents a demographic that is woefully underrepresented in public policy, and the young people can relate to her. Most of the protesters are between the ages of 15 and 25, and so they see in her a promise of their own future.
BLITZER: 35 years old, though, is she too young, too inexperienced, for a high profile case like this?
BRYANT: I think that she has a certain level of purity and is unjaded by the system, has a certain level of commitment to her constituents, having just been elected. One of the critical things, why black America is watching, not just Baltimore, is that last weekend in Northern Charleston when Walter Scott was shot and the officer was indicted, it was the very first time in 21st Century that a white officer has been indicted for killing a black person. And so now we're looking to see will, in fact, the tables of justice swing in our direction? Because from Trayvon Martin to Michael Brown to Eric Garner, we feel as if Lady Liberty is blindfolded in a real sense, but keeps peeking out whenever it comes to African-Americans.
BLITZER: You hear the governor, you hear the mayor, the police chief. They say this investigation is continuing right now.
BLITZER: But have you already drawn any conclusions?
BRYANT: That we're dealing with a great level of incompetency. Our governor really can't be taken seriously on this issue because we look at that as reactionary considering that just in this last session of the general assembly, he limited and reduced our financing for public schools but increased the financing for the penal system, which says where his priority is. And we want to see our children grow to have incredible futures and not being reduced to being stigmatized as thugs.
BLITZER: Reverend Bryant, stick around. I want to go back to Don Lemon for a moment. Don, what are the folks in Baltimore, what are they bracing for?
LEMON: Well, right now they're bracing are for the rain because it's raining. But what they're -- that's what the citizens are. But they're not letting it stop them because usually they come to city hall about this hour and then they start to move on to other locations. So they're bracing for peaceful protests, is what they're bracing for. And the same thing they did last night -- the citizens, the community leaders, the community organizers, getting between the police lines and those who may want to defy that curfew.
I just want to say one thing, though, about this new prosecutor, this new state's attorney. The reason that people like her, she's a former insurance company lawyer, but the reason people like her is because she can be impartial. She can look at both sides and be fair on both sides. She has been very critical of police but she has also been critical about police abuse. So that's why they are happy to have her in this particular position.
BLITZER: And what's the reaction over there in Baltimore to this WJLA report that Freddie Gray actually died inside that police van as it was driving around?
LEMON: People don't even --
BLITZER: He didn't die, that the cause of death --
LEMON: Right, right, Wolf. People don't even like to ask -- for you to ask the question, was it self-inflicted? Was it excessive force? At this point they say, you know what, how could it be self-inflicted? They believe that is beyond the realm of possibility. So they're not reacting to it very positively. They want to see the entire report come out, for everything to be investigated, so that then they can judge on the merits, on the facts, when everything is revealed.
BLITZER: All right, Don, thank you very much. Don will be back, by the way, as usual. 10:00 p.m. Eastern later tonight, a special edition of "CNN TONIGHT". Remember, 10:00 p.m., that's when that curfew goes into effect. Much more coming up with Don.
Once again, we're standing by for the news conference. The governor of Maryland, the city police commissioner, the commanding general of the National Guard, they're getting ready to answer reporters' questions. Live coverage coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Once again as the protests continue in Baltimore and Philadelphia, I want to alert our viewers we're standing by for a news conference. The governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, getting ready to brief reporters together with the commanding general of the Maryland National Guard, the police chief in Baltimore, the state police chief as well.
[18:30:07] We'll have live coverage of that. That's coming up here on CNN.
But I want to go to Brian Todd. He's on the ground in Baltimore where they're continuing to march.
What's the latest there, Brian?
TODD: Wolf, the marchers have left city hall. They have -- they're now several blocks away from city hall. They're moving at a fast pace as they have just about every night we've been with them.
We're now moving along Charles Street. We were told that they're going to go back up to North Avenue and Pennsylvania which was, of course, one of the flash points of the unrest here over the past several nights. Several confrontations between protesters and police, but, again, a lot of those co confrontations were self-policed by the crowd when it happened.
The protest organizer of this march, Carmichael Cannady, just told me that they are committed to having this be a peaceful march just like every other night. I asked him how patient he and his followers were willing to be with the police report. He said, "We're willing to be patient. We're willing to be reasonable."
They just don't feel like they've gotten enough answers yet. They're a little bit frustrated with the information that's come out today and they are just determined to keep up marches like this, so that they can take the message back and do not let anyone in the United States forget about Freddie Gray, forget about Michael Brown, forget about Eric Garner, and all of the victims of police brutality. They are making this a nationwide statement on the issue of police treatment in these neighborhoods, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brian. Stand by.
The protest also spreading to Philadelphia tonight. Poppy Harlow is there.
Poppy, update us.
HARLOW: So you've got a huge group here, Wolf. They've been gathered since 4:30 this afternoon. They started for about an hour congregating at city hall. Now they're marching and they don't have an end in sight. They're going to march as long as they can.
And it's a completely peaceful protest. We've seen absolutely no violence. A lot of police are out. The chief inspector of the Philadelphia police inspector told me, we have sufficient law enforcement, but they're not worried. They say the people of this city march peacefully and that's what they're going to do tonight. You hear them chanting "no justice, no peace".
A lot of the people I've been talking to have been telling me this is about a lot more than Freddie Gray. This is about being seen as equals under the eye of the law, no matter what race you are. Another young woman told me this is about opportunity, economic opportunity as well as all races.
You've got some people who want the cameras here. You've got other people who don't want the cameras here. Again, they're marching as long as they can and the police told me they're going to allow them to march as long as they want, as long as it's peaceful -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Poppy, we'll stay in close touch with you. I want to continue to follow the breaking news.
Joining us now is the Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby.
Nick, thanks very much for joining us.
I assume you know by now the affiliate WJLA-TV spoke to multiple law enforcement sources briefed by police reports and they say the medical examiner found that Freddie Gray's injury was caused when he was slammed into the back of the transport van apparently breaking his neck, a head injury they report they say he sustained at, the head injury matches a bolt in the back of the van.
What's your reaction, Nick, to this information from WJLA?
NICK MOSBY, BALTIMORE CITY COUNCILMAN: I haven't heard that information. If that is accurate and true, it's consistent to what the police said before that he wasn't restrained in a seat belt or anything. And knowing that they said he had handcuffs on as well as leg shackles, it's pretty tough to probably maneuver in one of those vans.
BLITZER: We know he should have been in a seat belt. He should have been restrained which were the guidelines in a police van like that. So, that's clear, and the police have said he should have gotten medical treatment much more quickly than he eventually received. By the time he got it, it was clearly way too late.
What's your reaction, also, to the report that what the police are saying is that they only learned about this fourth stop of that van not from police officers from the interviews that they conducted but you from a private security camera that got the video of that? That looks pretty strange, doesn't it?
MOSBY: It looks very strange. And I think some of the information that the community is really concerned about.
Again, Wolf, we take it back to the beginning of this entire saga. Unfortunately, the police weren't able to tell folks why he was chased, why he was ultimately detained and arrested, and what he was charged with.
You know, so, it's information like that that hasn't really come out, and then when you have a couple weeks later that there was an additional stop that's never been reported in the past in any of the police time lines, it's very concerning.
BLITZER: Tell us about your wife, the state's attorney. She's the one in charge now of this investigation.
Give us a little background on her.
[18:35:04] MOSBY: Well, she's a strong woman. She's my wife. I love had her to death. We met in college.
This is her passion. It's always been the pursuit of justice. She always wanted to be the chief prosecutor in a major city and, you know, she is getting an awesome opportunity of doing it. At the end of the day -- we were at church last week and the preacher was talking about right place, right person, right time, and I think that's very fitting for her as it relates to this particular case. I know they're working around the clock.
I told you earlier, Wolf, if you see her, tell her I love her. I know she is going to get to the bottom and at the end of the day, we will have the true facts.
BLITZER: She put out a statement earlier saying her office is not simply relying on what the police are telling them, but they're gathering their own facts as well. What does that say to you?
MOSBY: Well, I know she put out statements a week or two ago saying that she was doing her own independent investigation. So, you know, parallel to the police investigation she's had her own independent investigators looking into this matter.
BLITZER: Is it awkward -- knowing you're a councilman, she's the state's attorney -- is that awkward at all given the high-profile nature of this investigation?
MOSBY: It hasn't been because we don't see a lot of each other. You know, at the end of the day, as a councilman, it's my job to advocate for my constituents, Freddie Gray, his family, his friends, his community, they're my constituents. And that's why I've been out each and every day supporting the community, trying to rebuild and trying to ensure that we keep as much peace on the streets, but we also fight for justice for Freddie and for the community.
BLITZER: I spoke earlier with the Reverend Jamal Bryant. I assume you know him. He didn't say -- he was very supportive of your wife. But he seems to be losing confidence in others, including the mayor, including the police chief.
What's your reaction when you hear that?
MOSBY: I mean, it's consistent with some of the things the pastor has said in the past. I mean, at the end of the day, I think the real focus is on driving down to the issues of how a seemingly 25-year-old healthy guy goes from running away from the police to about 40 or 50 minutes later having a severed spine.
I mean, that's some serious stuff. And folks have the right to be upset, to be angry and to be frustrated. We just have to make sure that we pursue justice in a very peaceful manner, and that's what I'm focused on in my neighborhood.
BLITZER: All right. Good luck, Nick. We'll check back with you tomorrow.
Nick Mosby is the Baltimore district councilman. Thanks very much as usual.
The protests are continuing in Baltimore and Philadelphia.
We're standing by for a news conference with the governor of Maryland. There you see a live picture coming in. He's going to be joined by the commanding general of the Maryland National Guard, about 5,000 troops have been activated getting ready to deal with any problems. I still hope there are no serious problems.
Much more right after this.
[18:42:37] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news: new protests heating up in Baltimore beyond over the death of Freddie Gray who died from a severe spinal injury after being arrested by Baltimore police.
Take a look at this. We're standing by for a live news conference. The Maryland governor joined by others, including the commanding general of the Maryland National Guard, the Baltimore police commissioner, the state police chief. They're all getting ready to answer reporters' questions. We'll have live coverage of that. That's coming up momentarily.
I want to bring in Sunny Hostin.
Sunny, you know the prosecutor in this case, the state's attorney. You know the mayor. How complicated is this case right now?
SUNNY HOSTIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: You know, I think it's complicated for a couple of reasons, Wolf. I think, certainly, this prosecutor is going to be criticized because of her relationship not only to her husband who is the city council for the district in which this occurs, this tragedy occurs. I think, also, her relationship or her ties to Billy Murphy, the family -- the Gray family attorney, that's going to be questioned, and her experience is going to be questioned because she was with this state's attorney's office for about four years.
My understanding is that she has not tried a felony murder case. And so, this is going to be a real test of her leadership.
I also think it will be difficult because she comes from a law enforcement background. Her mother, her father, both police officers in Boston and you have a prosecutor who then is being tasked with a very difficult job of charging -- perhaps charging law enforcement officers.
And so, because of the relationships here, Wolf, and the facts that are coming out as we know them now, I think it's going to be a very difficult case.
BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, as we await this news conference, what's your reaction to this CNN affiliate WJLA report that Freddie Gray may have gotten that spinal injury, the head injury, as a result of what was going on inside the van?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Wolf, many of us have been suspicious from the beginning that whatever happened to him happened in the van. But as far as this coming out in leak form like it is, I'm suspicious of that, also. I would like to see we get the actual medical examiner's report what's definitive as to his injuries and how they know he got them. The claim it matches a bolt in the back of the van makes it sound suspicious to me.
BLITZER: All right. The news conference is about to begin. There's the commissioner of -- the Baltimore police chief, Anthony Batts.
[18:45:00] Let's listen in and get the latest on what's going on in this investigation.
ANTHONY BATTS, BALTIMORE POLICE COMMISSIONER: Good evening. As everyone has come in, we wanted to share some information and answer a few questions.
My name is Commission Batts, Baltimore Police Department.
To my left, I'd like to introduce General Singh of the National Guard, and to my right, Colonel Pallozzi of the state troopers.
As we have moved through this week, when we have large incidents like this and we have agencies come in, we fall into a unified command. We put out mutual aid, law enforcement and the National Guard are used to doing this. It's pretty normal for us. It's nothing out of the norm.
What we go into is an incident command system. The way that is structured right now, I am the incident commander, which means I have to give directions on where we'd go. With the general and colonel, we are working as a very close team.
We just finished meeting with the governor and the mayor, with my two partners, too, both at my sides. We are the policy directors of this event. So the mayor, the governor, the colonel, the general, and myself, we walk through plans from day-to-day. We come to an agreement and then we give it to the operators to put into effect as a whole.
I'd like to thank the general for her support. I'd like to thank the colonel for his support. We've had a seamless operation. We've had a strong team. We've used each other's expertise to move this program forward, and as you see, we've had two very good days of conduct that have taken place in our city.
What I have to say for myself and the mayor and also the governor is that we're extremely pleased and happy and applaud the citizens and residents of the city of Baltimore in their activities. They're coming out, showing what Baltimore is really all about, which is helping each other, standing strong, and the grit that the city is really made of. So, I'd like to applaud all of them, the pastors, the mothers, and on and on and on. I'll stop because I'll miss someone. But we're extremely pleased of those lines.
What I'd like to caution because we've had two days of quiet and the city has become stable and settled itself down, we have residents and business people who are saying, can we take the curfew away? Things have settled. Can you kind of retract some of the curfew ordinance?
I will say this -- we still have a weekend to make it through. I ask for your patience. I ask for your understanding as we move through. We have two very large marches that are going to take place throughout the weekend, and in a very short notice as I walked in, I was instructed and told that we have a lot more protests that are popping up by the minute and even if we didn't, we have other cities that have large protests that their activities impact our city, too.
So, at this point we're going to stay stable. We have built out plans for each day. The policy group went through what we're doing today. The policy went through, what we're doing on Friday, Saturday and through the weekend as a whole.
Again, I want to reinforce the curfew will be on throughout the weekend. The curfew starts at 10:00. We will be enforcing a curfew throughout the weekend until the governor and the mayor and my allied partners come together and make a decision on how long that will go, and that will depend on activities throughout the weekend.
And our operational plan is based in a couple different sections. We have a modular concept which means we can shape and move with the activities that are taking place. It's team based, whether the state police, our allied agencies and I forgot to thank them. We have a lot of allied agencies here from other states, from the state of Maryland, also. So, we'd like to thank them so that's team based.
We tailor our response to events on the ground so we can adapt very quickly to address issues that are out there and the issues will be the response of those issues in the district will be led by the district commanders who usually patrol those areas who know it best supported by the National Guard and supported by the state police and our allied agencies. We just wanted to get before you and to share with you that our focus
is on security, the single focus is on security to the city of Baltimore, standing tall as a unified force under the guidance of the mayor and the governor of the state coming together under mutual aid and incident command system.
Are there any questions that we could answer for you today?
REPORTER: Does this mean the National Guard will be here until further notice (INAUDIBLE)?
BATTS: Right now, we're going to focus on getting through the weekend.
General, is there anything you would like to follow up on that?
MAJ. GEN. LINDA SINGH, COMMANDING GENERAL, MARYLAND NATIONAL GUARD: Yes. So, as the commissioner said, we are following the incident command system. And so, what that does, it provides a very structured way that we are to exit.
[18:50:00] And that is -- that's actually based on what is the need for the local community. That will be determined by the leadership, the leadership you see in front of you, the mayor and the governor. We'll make the determination based on the activities going on in the community.
We will not just all at once pull out. It's usually a gradual because we also have to make sure we're getting our folks back to where they need to be. And so, it's just like any other operation, just like you would see typically for a snowstorm or anything else, you know, we come in and we're working with you until we make sure that everything is settled and then we can actually go back to normal operations.
I just want to remind you that for the National Guard, it's different than what you would see if it was active duty or something else. When we pull out, we go back to our armories, we put our equipment up and the folks actually come back to their homes. So, if they're living within the city, they're still coming back to the community.
So, it's not like we're just leaving the communities in total. We're all here resident within Maryland. So, we're going back to our communities.
REPORTER: How do you respond to the separation about Freddie Gray possibly dying (INAUDIBLE). Whatever you can say, sir.
BATTS: As we shared this morning when we turned the case over to the state's attorney, they now have the ball. We're under their direction and they will answer questions pertaining to the case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
REPORTER: Commissioner, some people complained that the enforcement of the curfew is harder in some areas and not as strong in other neighborhoods. Can you talk about that issue and how that structure (INAUDIBLE)?
BATTS: We do the curfew the same equally throughout the city as a whole. Whether again if you're on your way to work or you have a medical issue that's taking place, those are the reasons that we will allow. I also expect my employees in our allied forces unified command to use common sense. However people are not supposed to be out on the streets so please stay home.
REPORTER: Pertaining to the events this weekend, will additional resources be brought in or will the level stay consistent be where we are right now?
REPORTER: Additional resources will be brought in?
BATTS: Yes, and we'll stay at the level too, depending on the day and the threat that goes on that day.
We will not go into -- someone's phone is ringing up here. We will not go into telling our resources and our counts and our numbers. That's a deployment issue. That's why you're getting a vague response from me.
REPORTER: Can you speak to people (INAUDIBLE) after 10:00, what kind of discretion would and officer have in that situation?
BATTS: Well, what I'd like, and I want to put that on the officers, residents and citizens. This is a curfew. The purpose of the curfew is not to be out on the streets or outside. This is not to stay on your stoop. We will use some common sense and ask you to go back into your house.
It would be a little dicey if I was going to arrest you for being on your stoop but also I do not expect you to be outside.
This is not playtime. This is a serious time. You don't bring in state government and National Guard to be playtime. We expect you to be inside your residence, inside your domicile.
REPORTER: Commissioner, apart from the Freddie Gray case, if an officer puts a prisoner in a van unrestrained and exposes them to injury, is that a fire offensive in your department?
BATTS: Well, we're not even at that point now. The case has been given to the state's attorney. They're following up. So, if you have any questions about the investigation, I refer you back to the state's attorney.
REPORTER: This is a question about policy generally.
Commissioner, if the law enforcement comes under attack, are they committed to defend themselves?
BATTS: I don't think that changes. The rules that we always use is number one, is I expect them to stay within the rules of engagement which hopefully we can take care of issues without having to use force. But if deadly force is coming at them, they have the right to use equal force.
REPORTER: It seems a lot is hedging on this weekend. So, if everything goes smoothly, the past couple of days it seems to be escalating, the peaceful protests, yesterday they came to city hall. If you find that over the weekend there's peaceful, limited arrests, everything is fine, are you going to start scaling back as far as the curfew is concerned? And again, it goes back to pulling out of the National Guard. I'm curious about your thought process.
BATTS: Well, part of the policy group led by the mayor and the governor and the colonel and the general and myself, we meet on a daily basis. And we have those discussions to evaluate if we need to continue.
So, although we're looking at this weekend, every day we go over our plans and the plans for the future date. So it's a day to day evaluation.
[18:55:08] Can I stand by for one second? Colonel, did - General, do you want --
SINGH: There's one thing I wanted to actually bring up, and this really gets back to the community support. So there are two websites I want to point you to. The first is MarylandUniteds.org, right? That's the first one. And then the second one is OneBaltimore.org.
And the reason why I bring those up is because those sites have a lot of useful information out there. Please go out and take a look at them so that you can get access to a lot of I think things that is very valuable for us to get back to normalcy. Thank you.
COL. WILLIAM M. PALLOZZI, MARYLAND STATE POLICE: The only thing I would add quickly is state law enforcement, the law enforcement partners from across the state, from Garrett County to Berlin, Maryland, all of the big counties have been here in big support. We care about the citizens of Baltimore. And the state police, we like to have a saying, statewide approach with a local focus.
Normally, the state police is not in the city of Baltimore patrolling, but we're here in support of the citizens of Maryland, particularly the citizens of Baltimore right now.
I'll close with what I did yesterday. Please, please observe the curfew. Make it easier on all of us. We want this to end peacefully and we've allow all of the peaceful protests to happen. We want that to happen. People have a right to express their opinion. We support that.
But when the curfew hits, it is a hard curfew. We want to enforce it. We have to enforce it. But if people go home like they did the past two nights, we will not have that problem. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, everyone.
BLITZER: All right. There it is. They're wrapping it up. I want to get quick reaction.
First, I want to go to our justice reporter Evan Perez who is in Baltimore.
Are you getting new information, Evan? What are you learning?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, Wolf. We're getting information just in from the medical examiner's office. They're telling CNN that they're preparing to turn over their examination report to the state attorney's office as soon as tomorrow.
This report could be delayed a few days perhaps until next week. They have some work to do, some examination to do, some final pieces of the report to put together. But that report could be completed and ready to send back -- to send over to the state attorney's office as soon as tomorrow.
Now, the significance of this cannot be understated here, because the -- this is an office that kept telling us that this is something that usually takes weeks and even a couple of months. This appears to be completed in record time, Wolf. So, it's a matter of them wanting to provide information to investigators to be able to complete their work. That is what they're telling CNN.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks, Evan, for that.
Cedric Alexander is the president of the National Organization of Black Enforcement Executives.
Cedric, what's your reaction to what we just heard from the Baltimore police commissioner and the commander general of the National Guard and the head of the state troopers?
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF BLACK ENFORCEMENT EXECUTIVES: Well, Commissioner Batts, who is the incident commander at this scene, I think outlined very clearly to all of us, Wolf, what their plans are. They seem to have an objective. And they've been planful as well. It's very obvious and clear that those three individuals are working closely together.
And that truly is what has made the last couple of night as real success in their curfew. Here again I have more than enough confidence in Commissioner Batts and his leadership in that community that they're going to gradually move through this very carefully. But it became clear and evident to me that they have a real focused plan and they're going to take it one step at a time. I feel very confident about their plan.
BLITZER: Let's hope so.
Tom Fuentes, your reaction? FUENTES: A lot is going to depend over the weekend and when that
medical examiner report comes out, because it may be bad news for a lot of people.
BLITZER: Pamela Brown, what else are you hearing?
BROWN: Well, we learned, of course, today, Wolf, that there was previously undisclosed stop, a fourth stop. And sources that we've been speaking with say that could be significant in helping put the pieces of the puzzle together. The key could be not only the medical examiner's report but also the van driver. We're told there is one official inside that van, that was the driver.
So, there's a lot of unanswered questions about what happened at that stop, how long was it, what was the purpose of it. And, of course, people are going to be asking these questions until we know the answers.
BLITZER: And the investigations clearly continue. The pressure right now is in the hands of the state's attorney. She's got a lot of work ahead of her.
The community is clearly moving in the right direction by all accounts. But there's still tension as we all know. That's why the curfew remains in effect and the National Guard personnel remain on the scene.
That's it for me. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
CNN's live coverage continues. Live pictures from Philadelphia, the protests there. Our live coverage continues right now with "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT".