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Military Blimp Got Loose from Its Base; Officer Who Threw A Student Out Of Her Chair Is Now Fired; Aired 8-9:00p ET

Aired October 28, 2015 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:11] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks very much for joining us.

We begin tonight with breaking news. We are just learning about a shooting at a mall in Indianapolis. And according to CNN affiliate, WTHR, it happened at the Washington Square mall on the city's east side. Police say three maybe four people were struck by gunfire. Their conditions right now are not known. We are working to get more information. We are going to bring that to you as soon as we can.

There are now report, early reports a gunman was seen wearing a mask at the mall. And again, we do not know the number of those injured or their condition. There are conflicting reports on this. As you know, often the very reports are conflicting. It often takes some time to kind of work through details of this as multiple eyewitnesses report things from different vantage points. We're going to continue to follow this breaking story and bring you updates throughout this hour.

Our other breaking story tonight, the blimp that went bad, went rogue, got loose from its base at the military's Aberdeen military proving ground, north of Baltimore. And for most of the afternoon, went drifting across Maryland and then Pennsylvania. Trailed by f-16s and tracked by TV networks, it floated thousands of feet into the air and dipped low enough to take out power lines before coming down in north central P.A.

It's no ordinary blimp or aerostat as the military calls it. It's part of a multi-billion-dollar network of lighter than air surveillance platforms, radar in the sky designed to spot low-flying missiles but many have argued not really working out so well even before one of them got loose today.

Boris Sanchez joins us now from Anthony Township, Pennsylvania, not far from where this (INAUDIBLE) came down. What's the latest?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the blimp went down about a half mile down this road where you can see behind me. Police have cut off the road. Authorities are working to set up a perimeter around the blimp. We know, a military recovery envoy was sent this afternoon. You can imagine right now, they are securing all of its sensitive mechanics on that blimp. All the information that might be in there is obviously sensitive. And so, it's being secured right now.

They are also collecting evidence hopefully to get a clearer picture exactly what happened here. That evidence collection probably going to be difficult considering it's been raining non-stop since we arrived here. This is also a pretty rural area so there is not much light around here.

Aside from that, you mentioned, the power outages, that blimp was dragging a 6700-foot cable where they took out power lines across the region. It is about 30,000 people without power. We've seen some utility vehicles here. So we know certain groups of people, certain neighborhoods are getting lights turned back on. But it is going to be a long time before we were able to get answers as to specifically what happened with the blimp, Anderson.

COOPER: Do we know if authorities actually brought the blimp down? And if so, how they did that or did it come down just naturally?

BORIS: Well, Anderson, we know from CNN's Barbara Starr that the two f-16s that were monitoring these blimp this afternoon were armed but it does not seem that the blimp was fired upon. Part of that is fear that some of the helium inside the blimp might explode. We also know that there was a self-deflating mechanism on the blimp. It's not clear still at this point whether or not that was activated or if it worked.

COOPER: And any word about how this thing broke loose?

BORIS: No word yet. That's obviously at the core of this investigation. This simply isn't supposed to happen. The blimp is supposed with stand hurricane-forced winds. We had bad weather but nothing of that magnitude so this is something officials are obviously going to be looking at. This could have been much worse than turned out.

COOPER: All right. Boris Sanchez, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Let's go to Barbara Starr whose Boris just mentioned has monitoring developments on the chase all day from the Pentagon. So what's the Pentagon saying about this?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, they, too, are saying there is going to have to be a full investigation into what happened, how it became loose, how it got untethered from its moorings and whether or not this is a program that they will really decide to continue with. This is a program that is supposed to monitor 360 degrees over the nation's capital to look for incoming airplanes, low- flying cruise missiles and any air threat to this area of the United States. But this kind of technology really was first developed for the war zone for military basis in Iraq and Afghanistan they were having trouble keeping watch 24/7 over their perimeter. So if this is not supposed to happen over the United States, this coming loose and drifting 200 miles in uncontrolled flight with no ready way to bring it down, I think it's fair to say the Pentagon is going to be taking a look at whether it wants to continue with this effort.

COOPER: So this one was being used to monitor over Washington D.C., do we know how many are in use around the country? STARR: Well, right now, actually, there are a pair of them in this

one and another one at the same location in Maryland that, by the way, at this afternoon has been grounded, obviously. This has been a major test program at the Aberdeen proving ground just north of Washington D.C. in Maryland. They have been looking at testing this thing. They had it up for some time trying to see how it operates, trying to develop the track record to see how it works. Whether or not they expand it, it's a very expensive effort. Whether or not they expand it after today's events will remains to be seen.

[20:05:55] COOPER: Yes. I mean, it's expensive and it has been kind of controversial, hasn't it?

STARR: It has been controversial, Anderson, because of this very question. Is this the technology that's really practical? When those two armed f-16s were shadowing the blimp as it drifted for 3.5 hours over the eastern seaboard today, one of the things that they were also doing is coordinating with the FAA to keep commercial air space in front of it safe. It's uncontrolled flight when it drifts. They have no idea where it's really going to drift with the wind and weather pattern so they have to make effort to work with the FAA to make sure there was no civilian air traffic in front of the path. So, if these things become loose over the United States, it's very problematic.

COOPER: Yes. All right, Barbara, thanks very much.

Let's dig deeper into what this blimp or aerostat was about. We are joined by Randy Arrington. He is a flight instructor and former naval aviator. Also joining us, retired army lieutenant general Mark Hertling, CNN military analyst.

General Hertling, how big of an incident was this today and what does it say about the safety and security of these aerostats, these blimps?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It was pretty big incident, Anderson. These things are about 250 feet long, about twice the size of a blue whale. What is interesting about them is this is all undergoing test right now as part of the surveillance system on the east coast. When this thing is fully deployed at 10,000 feet it gives you a range and you can see from Boston Massachusetts to Raleigh, North Carolina.

So these two aerostats, they call them JLENS but they have counter cruise missile and airplane and drone mode will pick up things as big in an area as big as the state of Texas. This critically important because it takes the place of a lot of manned aircraft. These blimps, there aerostats can stay up about 720 hours at a time, if there is no great winds above 100 miles an hour. So it replaces crews that would normally be doing this, fuel on aircraft, lots of different aircrafts so this is a cost-saving and a personnel saving method. And it also has a great deal of technology associated with it.

These are not only used this kind is an anti-cruise aerostat, there are also JLENS on the southwest boarder in Arizona and New Mexico that have been there for several years tracking illegal immigrants and narcotics traffickers. So this is something that has been expanded. COOPER: General Hertling, you said it allows you to see. Does it - I

mean, literally, is there cameras or is it radar? Is it infrared or?

HERTLING: Yes, this one on the east coast is purely radar. And the radar underneath it, that big nose that you can see on the pictures is a 7,000 pound radar and that is part of the issue and why it take so much power to lift this thing. The ones on the southwest desert are smaller, don't have to lift as much and they have cameras with terrific forward lucky (ph) infrared radar on it that can detect people at a long distance.

So two different types. This one is being tested since about December of last year and they are still working some of the bugs out, but it's going to be a good system in my view.

COOPER: Dr. Arrington, you are a former Navy aviator, the fact that this aerostat, this blimp was being trailed by military fighter jets, how does that work? I mean, I don't think that really be difficult for the pilots, the rules, I mean, what are the rules of engagement when you are tracking something like this? How do those military pilots proceed?

RANDY ARRINGTON, FORMER TACTICAL NAVAL AVIATOR: Well, the f-16 is a quick-moving aircraft so it would have to do a racetrack pattern around this blimp, these aerostat and the rules of engagement, they are armed any time. They are standing alert. It have missiles and 20 millimeter cannon firepower. But what happened on this one is undoubtedly they let out the helium. If this thing has a problem and it gets a couple holes put into it, it covers itself up internally. But big enough holes or push a button and let the helium out, it gently comes down to the ground. So we did avert a catastrophe. And I agree with the general, this is a wonderful system. We used in customs for many, many years on the border. It works wonderfully.

COOPER: General Hertling, I mean, how concerned do you think people should be that for a-while today, it wasn't doing what it was supposed to be doing? I mean, they have been -- going over rural Pennsylvania as supposed to in position.

HERTLING: Yes. There were certainly problems. Something happened today whether it broke the tether and the thread. The tether is a very large cable or it could have come off the nose of the aircraft. Don't know. That's what the investigation can tell.

But Anderson, truthfully, I had these systems not quite like this one on the east coast, but I had 17 of aerostat systems in northern Iraq when I commanded in 2007 and 2008. When I first got them, I said what the heck are we going to do with this? As soon as we put them up and I saw the capability of these things, I said these are great. The soldiers love them. They could see a long distance. But truthfully, I mean, I'm embarrassed to say this, of the 17 I had, three of them broke their tether during the 15-months we were deployed. We tracked one of them from the (INAUDIBLE) near Baghdad all the way up to Mosul before it went down. It's just one of the things we have to work through in these devices.

[20:10:44] COOPER: Yes, Dr. Arrington, do you think there also need to be changes in terms of the tether, how this thing is secured?

ARRINGTON: They probably need to add another tether. This is a Vectron-type is a filament, based -- supposed to be as strong as steel because they wrap this nylon around and around and around but it did -- my sources tell me it broke at the 6700 foot mark. That's why it was trailing that along in Pennsylvania. And the problem is, static electricity. If you touch that, you could be electrocuted to death or force (INAUDIBLE). You get hit by it, it could kill you that way, too. So it was a problem.

COOPER: Thankfully, nobody was injured in that way.

Randy Arrington, good to have you on. General Hertling, always, thank you. We are continuing to monitor the mall shooting in Indianapolis. We are going to bring you more information as it comes in.

Coming up next, the story behind the deputy who is fired today for doing this to a student. We will hear from the sheriff who did the firing. We also get the latest from the deputy's attorney and talk to law enforcement and legal experts about whether these kind of police tactics justified or not belong in classrooms at all.


[20:15:33] COOPER: We're continue to follow breaking news out of Indianapolis, reports of a masked shooter opening fire at a local shopping center. We're just now getting our first pictures, police telling CNN affiliate WTHR that three, possibly four people were wounded, again, these are early reports. Terrified shoppers took refuge in a storage area inside a target store. No word yet on a suspect either at-large or in custody or anything about that just yet. We'll of course, keep monitoring the situation and bring you any updates throughout this hour.

Now, to the rough arrest in the South Carolina classroom. It happened on Monday, as you know, and by this afternoon the sheriff's department and school resource officer who brought a student to the floor and threw her several feet across the close room lost his job. You'll hear from the sheriff who fired that police officer in just a moment.

First the latest on the incident that sparked a federal investigation as we have been seeing a national debate over police and schools. For that let's go first to Miguel Marquez in Columbia, South Carolina where this all playing out.

What is the latest, Miguel?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, not only that was that deputy fired today but the sheriff went out of his way during a press conference in which he made a very quick decision and agonized over that decision, he said, to fire that deputy. Saying that everything he did was fine up until the point where he tried to remove her from the room and threw her basically across the room. That maneuver was not part of law enforcement policy and that is the problem that he had all the way along. He also went to great lengths to say this was -- this never would have

happened if it wouldn't have been for this student who was using her cell phone in class, he said, when the teacher asked her to turn it off. She refused. When the teacher wrote her up and said go to the office, she refused. An African-American administrator was brought into the class, he told her to leave the class, she refused. The deputy came in. He asked several times for her to leave, she refused. The administrator then asked the deputy to remove her from the class. The sheriff said all of that was fine. But what he should have done was probably use less force somehow. Handcuffed her immediately. Use some sort of less forceful maneuver to put her in cuffs and remove her from the room would have done nicely. But that one move has now ended that deputy's career, Anderson.

COOPER: What's the response been in the community, at the school to this news?

MARQUEZ: Certainly, the African-American community here was watching what the sheriff was going to do very closely. The sheriff was well aware of the power of video in this environment and how this has taken off in other places. And he felt that he had to talk to the community and come up with the decision very quickly on this.

We spoke to members of the civilian review board they have at the sheriff's office here. The on one in South Carolina they have where they actually go in and review those findings, they said they are very pleased with the way the sheriff has handled this. African-Americans in this area and across South Carolina concerned about not just this video, but about how their students are treated in the school system and more largely in the criminal justice system here - Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Miguel, thanks very much. Miguel Marquez.

We want to get more insight to how and why the decision was made to fire deputy fields. For that we turn to his former boss, Richland County sheriff Leon Lott.

Sheriff Lott, in your press conference earlier you said that the moment officer Field dragged this student across the floor, that's when he violated proper procedure and caused his termination. Did he follow proper procedure all the way up until that moment?

SHERIFF LEON LOTT, RICHLAND COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA: No, we would have liked him to done some things different, maybe engage in verbal talking with her and try to solve the situation without escalating it. The deciding factor for me is when he threw her across the room. That's where there was no fall in our policy whatsoever. That's totally against our policy is when you do engage someone you make an arrest of, you don't let your hands off of them and that's what he did. So he violated our policy.

COOPER: Is there something specific that he could have done? Obviously, you talked about kind of deescalating the situation, but once it got to the point of putting hands on a student, is there a different way to put hands on them? LOTT: Once you start arresting someone like that who is non-compliant

and combative, there are pressure points you can use and different tactics that we teach and he just didn't follow those tactics and training that we had given him.

COOPER: The tossing the student on the floor, as you said, is not proper procedure. Could it be seen as assault? Do you think it could it lead to criminal charges?

[20:20:03] LOTT: Well, that's why we called the FBI in. One of the first things I did once I saw it and realized, I called FBI in and got them involve involved. I want somebody independent to investigate this and there is nobody more respected than the FBI. So that's why we're turning that part over to them. We did the internal part. But our policy that anything criminal will come from the FBI and department of justice.

COOPER: Did you meet with him personally? And if so, how did he, how does he now feel about the incident?

LOTT: I did meet with him. I met with him this morning, and when he was terminated and he regrets it. He wish he would have handled it in a different way. He has been at that school for seven years. He loves those students. This is not something that he wished had happened. He wished he would have handled it a different way but he also understands how it looks and his actions and that he didn't do the right thing, that he could have maybe done it different. So you know, he wishes it never happened this way. This wasn't his intent.

COOPER: It was also interesting, I know in your press conference you said the teacher in the room and school administrator who was brought in both approved of what the officer did, is that correct?

LOTT: That's correct. They both gave statements when they were interviewed. In their statements they said that the student was the aggressor. The student was causing the problem. And they didn't see any excessive forced used by the officer. And they, you know, they supported what SRO Ben Fields had did. But again, I have to make the decision was he representative of me and the sheriff's department? Did he follow our rules and policies and procedures? And he didn't. So that's why he was terminated.

COOPER: The student was charged with disturbing school and I know that's a law that's been passed or a kind of punishment that's been passed by politicians in your state, how difficult has that made the job, your job, the job of safety officers, I mean, is it too broad a term? Is it something you want to look at moving forward?

LOTT: Yes, it is very broad. It's been something I've been against since it was passed. It was reaction to some tragedies we've had in schools and so our legislature passed this law not to disturb schools. And it's very broad and it's too broad and it's caused some problems. And, you know, this is the evidence of one of them right here. We should have never been called in there. That's been something, that disruptive student should have been handled by the teacher or administrator. But the history in our state with this law, you call the cop, call the

SRO and let him handle disciplinary problems and that's not our job is there. So that is going to be reevaluated. And I hope elected officials look at this and say maybe we need to step back and change this law a bit.

COOPER: Sheriff Lott, appreciate your time. Thank you very much, sir.

LOTT: Thank you.

COOPER: Well, that SRO officer deputy Fields has just responded to his firing. We'll bring you that, his comments to you and we'll talk to Harry Houck and Sunny Hostin about it.

And the mystery of what happened to Corey Jones, the young man whose car broke down in Florida and waiting for help was shot dead by a plain clothed place police man.


[20:27:00] COOPER: More new developments tonight in the South Carolina classroom story. They fired -- excuse me, the fired deputy's attorney is weighing in releasing a statement that reads in part. We believe that Mr. Fields' actions were justified and lawful throughout the circumstances of which he was confronted during this incident. To that extent, we believe that Mr. Fields' actions were carried out professionally and that he was performing his job duties within the legal threshold.

The attorney also saying that because the matter is now under investigation, he's not getting into specifics at this time. Our panel though can and will, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin, a law enforcement analyst and former NYPD detective Harry Houck.

Sunny, you heard what sheriff Lott had to say, what is your take? Do you expect this officer actually face criminal charges?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it is very possible. I mean, I said this from the very beginning, Anderson, when I first saw the videotape, it was very clear to me. And I think other law enforcement professionals, prosecutors that this is an easy case of excessive force. The force had to be reasonable and necessary.

Now his, you know, his department had determined that it was unreasonable, unnecessary, so I think criminal charges are certainly very possible. What I think, though, was most interesting about what sheriff Lott said is that the teacher should have handled this, that law enforcement should not have been called. And I agree with that wholeheartedly. What we are talking about now is the criminalization of behavior of a child and that's classic child behavior and that sort of the school to prison pipeline is very real. If we are criminalizing behavior that is classically child behavior, we are basically not giving our children a chance to succeed. COOPER: Well, Harry, from the beginning you were saying you don't

think the officer should be called in and this is something the teacher should have handled. You did say that you thought the officer didn't do anything wrong and acted properly and his own sheriff is saying he violated proper procedure. What do you think now?

HARRY HOUCK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I'm kind angry about this because the fact that officer was never trained to the point where the options he could have. Everybody is talking about how you can empty the classroom out. Why didn't the officer know he had that option? Why? Because he wasn't trained with that option.

That officer was trained to react the way he did. Now, the sheriff said that, you know, they teach police officers certain holds and throws. Let me tell you something, in real life that stuff does not work. You know, they teach you this stuff in the academy, they teach you to pressure points, how to throw somebody, how to put somebody in a lock. But you know, in real life it doesn't work. And when he said he doesn't allow his officers to throw somebody, throw somebody and then take them down, then what does he allow his officers to do?

COOPER: Sunny, it is interesting that, you know, in talking to the teacher and talking to the administrator who was in the room, they supported the officer and his actions.

HOUCK: Exactly.

HOSTIN: And that's a problem. That's a problem. I'm troubled by what Harry is saying that sort of in real life it doesn't work. You know, that what works is what we saw --

HOUCK: Only on TV.

HOSTIN: Tossing a 16-year-old, 15-year-old across the room that apparently that is the proper take down that works. That is troubling. But I think it's also troubling that a teacher can't control a classroom. Doesn't have the respect of his or her student to control the classroom.


... apparently that is the proper take down that works. That is troubling. But I think it's also troubling that a teacher can't control a classroom. Doesn't have the respect of his or her students to control the classroom.

HOUCK: And you know, the officer was immediately fired. There was no due process at all. I think this officer if he finally decides to sue the department for what happened here, this guy might get his job back.

COOPER: Does it surprise you, Sunny, that the charge of disturbing schools, which as you heard Sheriff Lott saying, you know, is very broad and has caused problems in the past for school officers like this school resource officers, do you think those charges will continue against this girl? HOSTIN: You know, I actually was disappointed that Sheriff Lott

started out his press conference by saying that this girl started this entire thing. I think the person that started this entire thing was the teacher. Again, this is something that the teacher should have been able to handle.

HOUCK: I'll tell you, Anderson, I'm not for this law, either. I'm not for the police engaging students in a classroom for acting out of turn. I'm not for this law. I think the state of South Carolina should take that law and throw it into the garbage because there is no sense for kids being arrested on misdemeanors inside a classroom because they don't want to listen to the teacher. I think it's ridiculous.

COOPER: Harry Houck.

HOSTIN: We can finally agree on something, Harry.


COOPER: And we'll leave it on the agreement. Sunny Hostin as well. Thank you both.

HOUCK: Thank you.

COOPER: We just got new information on the Indianapolis mall shooting. A press conference just wrapping up will bring you the latest on that. Also ahead, growing demands tonight for transparency in the investigation on the shooting death of Corey Jones. He was killed by a police officer while waiting for help after his SUV broke down. I'll talk to his family and their attorney.



COOPER: Indianapolis law enforcement officials have just released some briefing that erupt about the shooting that erupted at a local shooting mall. They say three people were hurt, one seriously. It happened, they say, when a gunman approached someone he apparently knew and opened fire. In other words, this was apparently neither random act, nor a mass shooting. The other injuries were apparently from ricochets or stray shots. The suspect fled the mall afterwards and is currently not in custody

Moving next to Florida, and calls for transparency in the investigation of the shooting death of Corey Jones. Hundreds attended a rally outside the Palm Beach County state attorney's office. The crowd demanding answers and justice. It's been ten days since Mr. Jones was killed by a police officer. The FBI has joined the investigation. Now, what we can say with certainty tonight is that on October 18th, the chance encounter on a Florida road side ended in tragedy.


CLINTON JONES SR. COREY JOINES FATHER: Why? Why is my son is gone today? Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Corey Jones, age 31 shot at six times, three of those bullets striking and killing him. Jones had just left a gig where he was the drummer and was planning to play the next morning in church.

FREDERICK BANKS, COREY JONES' UNCLE: My nephew is broken down on the side of the road. (CRYING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Broken down in the middle of the night, Jones had called road side assistance and was waiting for a tow truck when a plain clothed officer wearing a baseball cap approached in an unmarked van.

CHIEF STEPHEN STEPP, PALM BEACH GARDEN POLICE: As the officer exited his vehicle, he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject. As a result of the confrontation, the officer discharged his firearm resulting in the death of Mr. Corey Jones.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But both the prosecutor and the Jones' family attorney say Corey never fired his weapon. The family attorney says his body was found 80 to 100 feet away from his vehicle, making it seem as though he might have possibly tried to run away.

DARYL PARKS, JONES FAMILY ATTORNEY: We know that this officer was in plain clothes. We know that he had no badge to display to Corey. Corey had no way of knowing who he was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The officer, Nouman Raja, was working a burglary detail that night and had nobody or dashboard camera. He's now on paid leave and many in the community are left wondering how a man with no criminal record ended up dead.

DOROTHY ELLINGTON, CEO, DELRAY BEACH HOUSING AUTHORITY: A laid back young man, non-confrontational which is why I'm finding this so hard to believe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But Officer Raja's records with his previous employee show otherwise. Including being in possession of and failing to report morphine pills. Evidence he had seized three weeks prior from a suspect. At the time he cited work related issues, something he failed to mention on his application for the Palm Beach Garden police department. The job he's held for just six months.

BENJAMIN CRUMP, JONES FAMILY ATTORNEY: This is a situation that cries out for answers. It cries out for transparency. It cries out for the police to give this family information.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Information that may be found in the phone calls Corey Jones made to road side assistance that night. 15 in all. The last one was made at 3:10 a.m. and lasted for 53 minutes. That's well into the timeframe undercover officer Raja had arrived on the scene, meaning the incident may have been recorded by the call center. For now, the Jones family and friends are left to grieve.

BORIS SIMEONOV, FRIEND OF COREY JONES: It's really sad for Corey's family. They lost an amazing person.


CROWD (singing): Lean on me when you're not strong, and I'll be your friend. I'll help you carry on

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And seek justice.

CROWD: We want answers, we want answers.


COOPER: Well, it's obviously incredibly difficult time for the Jones family, certainly for C.J. and Melissa Jones, Corey's brother and sister. I spoke with them as well as Daryl Parks, an attorney for the family earlier.


COOPER: First of all, thank you-all so much for being with us. I know this is just a horrible time for your family, obviously. C.J, first of all, how are you holding up?


C.J. JONES, COREY JONES' BROTHER: I'm holding up pretty good, man. I'm just maintaining, just trying to get everything done for Corey and get this funeral arrangements done and just hoping that everything comes out successfully like we know it will be.

COOPER: There are reports, there are phone records indicating Corey was on the phone with AT&T road side assistance during the confrontation and that it may have actually been recorded. I'm wondering if you've seen those phone records or if your family has and do you know if in fact, that call was recorded?

C.J. JONES: Right now, that's what they are saying that it might have been recorded. We actually don't know if that's true or not yet. We haven't had the phone records in our possessions yet. So we're not sure on that case yet.

COOPER: Melissa, what do you think happened out there? I know your family has said that the state's attorney office told you that the Officer Raja never showed his badge and that your brother never fired his weapon. The state's attorney's office, they won't confirm that independently yet. But what do you think happened out there the night your brother was killed?

MELISSA JONES, COREY JONES' SISTER: Well, that's what we're here for. We're looking for answers. We don't really know what happened, but I do know that, you know, my brother is a victim, and we're looking for justice for him and no matter what it takes, I'm going to make sure I see that day happen.

COOPER: And Melissa, I mean your brother legally purchased a gun. He had a permit to conceal that gun. Did Corey ever share with you why he felt he needed a gun?

MELISSA JONES: Well, my brother, he works in the field of his profession in drumming and things like that. So he has to have protection on him of that degree because he has drums that are costly and also, he's out at late hours. So to have, you know, protection like that is necessary for him.

COOPER: C.J., what was Corey like? I mean, you know, is he the type of person to have engaged with authorities if confronted?

C.J. JONES: Man, if anybody say police, man, we're getting to the ground. Corey is not that kind of person or not even has the character to even -- he never even shot a gun before, put it like that. He never even shot it. He just purchased the gun. The receipt was in the box. Everything was there. Yeah, it's no way possible. My brother has been pulled over multiple times by the police, and I know every time he's pulled over, because he would call me. So yeah, there is no -- that's not right. That's not the Corey that we know.

COOPER: Darryl, you said all along the family wants to know the truth, Melissa said that as well, the full story about what happened that night. At this point for you, what are the biggest unanswered questions?

PARKS: Without question, we want to know what the officer's full statement was. We want to know what did the forensics show and evidence that was done that night by the investigation by both the sheriff's office and the state attorney's office. We certainly welcome the support from the FBI in this investigation, but we expect that, one, that this investigation must be efficient and it must be speedy so that the public can know the truth about what happened on that night.

COOPER: Melissa, what do you want people to know about your brother?

MELISSA JONES: I want people to know that he was a level-headed person. A person that can really give you advice about life even if he hadn't experienced it. He was just full of wisdom. He was very peaceful. Very funny. He had jokes for days. A person that would serve at any given time, and he just loved people. He loved the Lord. I really want people to see the person, you know, who he truly was and not who they are trying to portray him to be. You know, character speaks for itself. You really don't have to fight that hard for somebody's character when it speaks for itself. So whatever the naysayers say, I know who my brother was.

COOPER: Melissa and CJ, so sorry we're talking under these circumstances and we'll continue following this and wish you the best. Darryl Parks, thank you.

PARKS: Thank you.

COOPER: Just ahead tonight, the backlash over Hillary Clinton's comments about the V.A. health care scandal, and how far off base was she? We're keeping them honest, next.



COOPER: Tonight, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton is under fire for comments she made about the health care scandal, the Veterans Administration. A story we've been reporting on for years. Here is what she said in an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.


CLINTON: It's not been as widespread as it has been made out to be.


COOPER: The 13 words have set off a firestorm. Today, Senator John McCain demanded Clinton apologize, calling her remarks disgraceful. Representative Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, also blasted her. Keeping them honest, CNN senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin has spent many hours documenting the widespread problems at the V.A. And he's uncovered veterans in need of medical care, waiting for months to see a doctor, some of them dying while they waited while V.A. employees were cooking the books to hide the long delays. Drew's reporting sparked outrage, investigations and new leadership. The revelations lead to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. Today, Clinton's press secretary was in damage control mode and said wait times and other mismanagement of care by the VA were indeed systematic and said that Mrs. Clinton will roll out her plan to reform the V.A. next month. Drew Griffin joins me now. As we mentioned, you've been reporting on this for years. You're really the one to break the scandal to full view. Does it surprise you that Hillary Clinton would make this comment?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Anderson, it really does, and here is why. It's a matter of record, and report after report shows the delays of care, deaths of veterans waiting for care and wait lists were and are widespread and systemic, and even two years of this, in many places it's not getting better. In fact, listen to this whistle-blower we have recently interviewed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reality is veterans are waiting months, three, six months at a time, sometimes more for care at the Phoenix V.A.


GRIFFIN: Like most of our sources inside the V.A., this whistle blower in Phoenix has asked we not reveal any identity. Are we talking about critical care? Who are they?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are patients that are waiting for appointments, everything from colonoscopies to angiograms, to procedures to actually remove tumors. These are specialty appointments that need to be seen immediately by the V.A.


GRIFFIN: Anderson, this is recent. The V.A.'s deputy secretary told me just a few weeks ago, as many as half a million vets still waiting for appointments at least 30 days out; many places wait times continue to go in the wrong direction. They are simply the facts, which is why what Secretary Clinton stunned a lot of people, really.

COOPER: What are you hearing from veterans? How are they reacting to Secretary Clinton's comments?

GRIFFIN: They were caught off guard, because these problems as I said, are facts. What Secretary Clinton said is just not true, so the vets that are sympathetic to her say she must be ill advised on these issues, and those politically opposed, as you can imagine, it shows she shouldn't become commander in chief. None of them I should say, Anderson, are happy she has tried to make this a political issue.

COOPER: Drew, thanks very much. We'll continue. A quick update on our two breaking stories, first, the Indianapolis mall shooting, the search now under way for the gunman. Authorities say he confronted and shot somebody he knew. His intended victim and two others were hospitalized, one with serious but not life threatening injuries. And on the runway, runaway blimp story, a military recovery team will be working tonight to secure the area in rural Pennsylvania where it came down after breaking free from its moorings at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground northeast of Baltimore. According to NORAD, the blimp or aerostat, is mostly deflated, and there is also a lot more happening now. Amara Walker has the 360 news and business bulletin.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, House Republicans have officially nominated Paul Ryan to be speaker. A full House vote is set for tomorrow morning and will end weeks of drama over the job. Ryan is expected to get the gavel from John Boehner, who last month announced his resignation, surprising almost everyone.

Meanwhile, the House has approved a two-year budget deal that would avoid a default next week. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it's expected to pass and get the president's signature. The deal raises the nation's debt ceiling through March 2017 and boosts spending for the military and domestic programs.

Jerry Sandusky could face a new trial on sex abuse charges. A 42- year-old Boston man claims Sandusky abused him when he was 16 at a Penn State football camp. Sandusky is behind bars for sexually abusing 10 boys during the 1990s and 2000s. And outside Philadelphia a train robbery and assault caught on camera. A man is tazed and then pushed onto the train tracks. Police say a couple stole his bag. He confronted them and you see what happened. The man survived. But the search is still on for the assailants.

COOPER: That's just awful. Incredible video. Thank you.

Coming up, something to make you smile at the end of the day, "The Ridiculist" is next.


COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist," and tonight we have a story from Virginia, where a 14-year-old girl is suspended from middle school for a month for allegedly playfully tossing a baby carrot at a teacher in the hall. The documents show the baby carrot in question is a little less than two inches long. It reportedly hit the teacher in the forehead. Why are there documents involved in this case, you may ask? Because the 14-year-old girl may face criminal charges over this. Her mom is not amused.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't even know how to combat the stupidity of it. I don't understand the whole thing. She was playing. Yes, it happened. They would have called and said oh, she's in trouble. She got a couple days in school, maybe even a day or two out of school, but this has gone beyond that. We got courts. She's charged, not small charges, she's -- assault and battery with a weapon.


COOPER: Assault and battery with a weapon. The weapon being a root vegetable. Now, I wasn't there. I didn't see the force with which the baby carrot was thrown, but it really seems like this kid may be getting a raw deal, which according to a legal expert, could actually be the crux of the case.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a soft carrot, may not be as offensive as a raw carrot.


COOPER: So let this be a lesson. If you are going to throw a baby carrot, maybe boil it first, at least give it a light steaming, soften that thing up a little bit. The lawyer also says nobody has to even get hurt for it to be battery in the eyes of the law.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't have to have an injury for a battery. There doesn't have to be any showing that somebody is actually hurt. It just has to be offensive and unwanted touching. That's what the law says.


COOPER: He really seems to know what's up, doc, but if this criminal investigation doesn't turn up any leads, could this girl seriously be found guilty of assault with a healthy weapon?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will go before a judge, and there could be legally sufficient evidence for a finding of guilt here. This is not the kind of thing I think a judge would necessarily find her guilty of. But they could offer her some sort of counseling to have it taken on advisement and sort of put a carrot at the end of the stick.


COOPER: I never understood that carrot and stick analogy. Who is going to be lured by a carrot at the end of a stick? Not me. An Ambien, maybe. That would get me. The bottom line is, this case seems to be totally absurd. The month-long suspension alone -- that may be excessive for the crime at hand, but much less getting lawyers and courts involved -- so here is hoping she'll beat the rap on "The Ridiculist."

That does it for us for now. It's still a very big night to come. At 10:00 Eastern tonight, we'll bring you the latest on tonight's Republican debate in Boulder, Colorado. Donald Trump facing his first debate in which he's not the undisputed frontrunner, Jeb Bush facing ongoing doubts about his candidacy, that is tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, a special edition of 360. I hope you join us. "This is life With Lisa Ling" starts now