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Suspect Killed After Taking Hostages In Restaurant; U.S. May Have Missed Chance To Rescue Hostage; At Least 87 Killed In Crane Collapse. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired September 11, 2015 - 16:30   ET



[16:30:23] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Our National Lead today, an almost unbelievable series of events in California last night. An armed suspect shot and killed by police after two carjackings and a tensed hostage situation involving a handful of diners in a restaurant.

Let's bring in CNN correspondent, Stephanie Elam, to tell us more about this amazing story. Stephanie, what do we know about exactly what happened?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was riveting to a lot of people here in Los Angeles last night. As you look at the story, there was so much going on, and many of those hostages thought they were actually going to get shot.


ELAM (voice-over): Close call after close call, as a man leads police on a car chase near Los Angeles. His driving is erratic as he barely misses other cars sometimes driving on the wrong side of the road. The pursuit begins around 6:30 p.m. after deputies are alerted to a carjacking.

The suspect takes law enforcement through several jurisdictions hijacking another car along the way. After he leaves the freeway, California Highway Patrol pulls what's called a pit maneuver sending the car careening into another vehicle and ultimately stopping the stolen car.

But the man isn't done, he takes off on foot and with a handgun fires off a shot into the air as he goes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's running no more than maybe ten feet from me. I thought he shot somebody, took off, and an officer took off and chased him. I was getting ready to dig a hole.

ELAM: The suspect takes recover in this barbecue restaurant reportedly filled with about 80 people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He ended up grabbing one of our managers. He was really afraid. He was holding a hostage. He pointed the gun straight into her face. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see a guy, blue shirt, bald just rushed in, very panicked, very, very -- seemed agitated, rushes in and rushes straight to my to-go box where I'm working, and he points a gun and demands water. I need water. Give me water.

ELAM: People begin to emerge from the restaurant, some with their hands up, others holding on to their young children. The suspect barricades himself in the restaurant, keeping several people hostage. Law enforcement surrounds the building.

A hostage negotiator is called to the scene. Deputies demand the suspect put down his weapon, but it becomes clear that the man isn't going to cooperate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the deputies could see through the window that the suspect was walking near the hostages, and he was waving a gun around in the air, acts very erratic, so the deputy felt it was necessary to protect the lives of the hostages to take the shot. He fired one shot and hit the suspect.

ELAM: Then a SWAT team goes in. There's a series of shots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they entered the restaurant, the suspect was down crawling on the floor, he picked up the gun rearming himself and that's when a second deputy-involved shooting occurred that ultimately ended the suspect's life.


ELAM: This is about 2-1/2 hours that this went on. We know that four hostages were taken from the restaurant, unbelievably, nobody hurt except for the suspect -- Jake.

[16:35:07] TAPPER: And we still don't know who he is. Thank you so much, Stephanie Elam. Appreciate it.

The World Lead, he was held captive by al Qaeda for more than three years, and then killed in a drone strike earlier this year, now word that the U.S. may have had a chance to rescue American Warren Weinstein, alive, if only if they had followed through on a lead. The family responds to this possible missed opportunity, next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Topping our World Lead today, new questions about whether U.S. intelligence officials missed an opportunity to rescue American hostage, Warren Weinstein, from al Qaeda's clutches in Pakistan.

CNN has learned that last year a CIA drone detected what was believed to have been an image of a western captive, but the agency failed to keep the individual under surveillance.

[16:40:00] Weinstein, an international aid worker, was accidentally killed along with an Italian hostage, Giovanni Laporto (ph) in a U.S. drone strike targeting a compound in January this year. Now Weinstein's family is expressing outrage at the Obama administration. CNN global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems I've been totally abandoned.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): American aid worker, Warren Weinstein, was last seen in this al Qaeda video, two years after he was kidnapped from his home in Lahore, Pakistan in 2011.

For more than three years, Weinstein was held in this mountainous region between Afghanistan and Pakistan before he was accidentally killed in January in a U.S. drone strike.

Now, a "Washington Post" report says months earlier, the CIA detected a possible western hostage, but apparently did nothing to identify or rescue him.

JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We need to let investigators do their job. If they found there were gaps, if el they found there were mistakes, then we'll deal with that.

LABOTT: U.S. officials confirmed drone surveillance spotted a possible hostage at an al Qaeda compound. That hostage was deemed high value because he was segregated, according to "The Washington Post," but at this point officials insist there was nothing either at the time or in hindsight that the figure was Weinstein.

ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: If they had identified someone they thought was a hostage, they should have put complete and total coverage over that location to make absolutely sure it wasn't a hostage. Apparently that didn't happen.

LABOTT: Despite 400 hours of surveillance, U.S. drone strike inadvertently killed Weinstein and fellow hostage, Giovanni Laporto, an Italian aid worker. In April, President Obama apologized for the fatal mistake promising a full investigation.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We believed that this was an al Qaeda compound, that no civilians were present.

LABOTT: The U.S. never shared the information about an apparent hostage with Weinstein family. His wife says, Elaine, says she's horrified by the news. In a statement saying, quote, "They told us for three years that everything possible was being done to find and rescue Warren. We now feel deceived.


TAPPER: Elise Labott reporting. Joining me now is John Brownlee. He is the attorney for Warren Weinstein's family. Mr. Brownlee, thanks so much for being with us. Does the Weinstein family believed that they were intentionally misled by the Obama administration about the efforts to save their beloved husband and father?

JOHN BROWNLEE, WEINSTEIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Well, Jake, thank you so much for allowing us to be here today, and I want to tell you that I think the family feels deceived. He had been captured, was there for over three years, killed in this drone strike in January.

But now according to "The Washington Post," a year before his death, that the CIA identified someone, a western hostage perhaps, and yet pulled off surveillance, didn't track him, didn't do the things you would think they would do to try to find, locate and perhaps rescue Warren Weinstein.

So the family is devastated by this news. This comes on the heels of just a few weeks ago where they learned that Mr. Weinstein's body had been dug up by members of Al Qaeda, ransom demanded, and yet to date the U.S. authorities have been unable to identify or find his remains.

Unlike the Italian government, who was able to bring their loved one home so this is a very difficult time for the family. What they want is the truth, and what they want is to learn what happened to their beloved husband and father.

TAPPER: According to U.S. officials who spoke anonymously to "The Washington Post," the footage of this western hostage was inconclusive, and to this day it's unclear if it was definitely Mr. Weinstein, but still the family thinking more could have been done, should have been done?

BROWNLEE: We have no idea exactly what happened. As "The Washington Post" reported these were inside sources speaking anonymously. So what we have asked is that the president promised a detailed and thorough investigation.

What we have asked is that the CIA shares with us their findings, what in fact did they know? When did they know it? And what could have been done? In many ways this is about feeling deceived. In many ways it's about lost opportunities.

Warren Weinstein was a true American hero. He was there on a humanitarian mission, spreading American values. American hope to people who needed it and he deserved better, and the family deserves better, and they deserve the truth. So we hope that we will get that.

TAPPER: John, specifically, who deceived the Weinstein family and how did that person deceive them?

BROWNLEE: In this entire time period during these three-plus years in which he was being held by al Qaeda, the administration always told the family we are doing everything in our power to find, identify, and if we can, rescue your husband and father.

[16:45:07] Now if this report is true, they in fact saw potentially a western hostage and yet didn't take the necessary steps to track him, identify and try to rescue him. So when they took so many steps themselves, they hired a private company, they went overseas and had lawyers.

They tried to pay random. They did all these things themselves, but they always believed, because they were always told that the U.S. government was doing everything in its power. Today's story puts that in real doubt.

TAPPER: John Brownlee, thank you so much for your time. Please send our best regards, thoughts and prayers to the family.

BROWNLEE: I will do so.

TAPPER: New video just in showing that takedown of former tennis star, James Blake. Did the arresting officer act with excessive force? We're now learning about two incidents in the officer's past raising some questions.

Plus cheers to this, a tiny pill equivalent to 1,000 glasses of red wine. How it could do wonders for those suffering from Alzheimer's.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Our National Lead now, brand-new video of the case of mistaken identity. A first look at the arrest of the tennis star, James Blake, once ranked number four in the world.

You can see the NYPD officer tackling Blake to the ground and handcuffing him, a sting operation gone horribly wrong. We're also just learning today that arresting officer had been previously accused of excessive force in two prior lawsuits.

Let's bring in CNN correspondent, Boris Sanchez, with more. Boris, we're just learning that James Blake has responded to the incident. What did he have to say?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, James Blake releasing a statement just moments ago. In it he reiterates his version of what happened Wednesday morning. He also says he's going to use this incident as a platform.

Listen to this, he writes, quote, "When this incident was reported in the news media, Mayor De Blasio and Commissioner Bratton both called me to extend their personal apologies. I greatly appreciate those gestures, but extending courtesy to a public figure mistreated by the police is not enough."

Blake not stopping there, he goes on to say he wants to see a significant financial commitment from the NYPD to improve relation between the police and the public they serve.

This statement is coming out on the heels of us learning more about the officer who tackled him to the ground.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): The New York Police Department now investigating one of their own after former pro-tennis star, James Blake, was mistakenly tackled and handcuffed by Officer James Frascatore outside Blake's Midtown Manhattan Hotel. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He picked up and body slammed me, put me on the ground, turn over and shut my mouth. There is no badge in any way showing not around his neck.

SANCHEZ: Frascatore has been placed on desk duty, his gun and badge taken away, pending the results of an internal affairs investigation. CNN has learned this is not the first time Frascatore has been accused of excessive force.

According to court documents, the officer was involved in two separate incidents in 2013. In both cases, Frascatore was accused of beating suspects. Attempts to reach the officer were met with no response.

A representative from the patrolman's benevolent association declined to comment on pending litigation, but did offer a statement, quote, "Placing this officer on modified duty is premature and unwarranted. No police officer should ever face punitive action before a complete review of the facts."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you like to hear from him?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It should not have happened.

SANCHEZ: Though he initially defended the officer saying that Blake fit the description of a suspect, New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton later apologized.

WILLIAM BRATTON, NYPD COMMISSIONER: Well, I had the opportunity yesterday to speak to Mr. Blake on the phone, his attorney, his agent. He agreed to meet with our investigators to help us facilitate to move the investigation forward. At this time I see this as a case of excessive force, inappropriate force.

SANCHEZ: The mayor of New York City, Bill De Blasio, also attempting to make amends.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK: I want to apologize to him on the behalf of the city of New York. This shouldn't have happened and he shouldn't have been treated this way.


SANCHEZ: Just a short while ago, I got off the phone with Blake's attorney, Kevin Marino. I asked him if they maybe planning a civil suit against the NYPD, he told me he would get back to me. Jake, they are planning a press briefing tomorrow. We will be there.

TAPPER: All right, Boris Sanchez, thank you so much.

Up next, how President Obama is breaking a presidential tradition dating back eight decades.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Another World Lead now, a devastating disaster at one of Islam's most important mosques, a crane collapsed today earlier at Mecca's grand mosque in Saudi Arabia, killing at least 87 people and injuring more than 200 others, according to government officials.

The mosque surrounds a shrine that worshippers visit during the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Approximately 2 million people a year make that pilgrimage, which is due to begin in just over a week. The government of Saudi Arabia said via Twitter that storms are behind the collapse.

The White House announced today that it is breaking with a time- honored tradition. President Obama will not stay at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel while attending the U.N. General Assembly later this month.

The Posh Park Avenue Hotel is now owned by a Chinese company sparking concerns that the communist nation could spy on top secret communications.

Every sitting president dating back eight decades has stayed at the famed establishment, which even had its own underground train stop called Track 61. An escape route of sorts should catastrophe strike the big apple. Mr. Obama will instead stay around the corner at the New York Palace Hotel.

Now to our Buried Lead, a new study released just minutes ago potentially bringing great news about a key ingredient in red wine and what it can potentially do for those suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

It's called resveratrol and it may be capable of stopping or at least slowing dementia from advancing. The study looked at how a pill equivalent to 1,000 bottles of cabernet impacted patients.

While the sample size is too small to draw any definitive conclusions, researchers found that this pill improved cognition in patients doing basic tasks such as remembering to brush their teeth.

We could still be a ways off from seeing this in drug stores. Doctors hoped to do larger trials on this pill as soon as next year.

A reminder the next Republican presidential debate is next Wednesday evening right here on CNN. I'll be moderating, and don't forget to catch "State Of The Union" this Sunday.

I'll be talking to Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker plus RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper, turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Have a great weekend.