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Officers Charged with Murder in Child's Death; U.S. Official: 99.9 Percent Certain It Was a Bomb; Missouri Football Players on Strike. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired November 8, 2015 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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DONALD TRUMP, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They have done so much to ridicule me over the years, this show has been a disaster for me.
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PAUL: A lot of laughs. Big night on "SNL" for Donald Trump. GOP candidate poked fun at his mean tweets, his hair. Jokingly showed what it would be like, a Trump 2018 White House win. Be sure to check out these huge moments coming up at the top of the hour.
BLACKWELL: U.S. officials are increasingly convinced that a terrorist bomb caused the crash of a Russian airliner. One has said that he or she is 99.9 percent certain. Later this hour, we'll speak with an expert on these data recorders about whether the noise heard on the MetroJet voice recorder can be determined to be an explosion simply by that recording, or if there needs to be more analysis. Now, in Russia today, families of the 224 victims gathered in one of
the country's most iconic cathedrals for a memorial, a ceremony there. Can you hear the bells? Well, that bell was rung 224 times, once each for each person on board that flight.
And I want you to see this boy. This 6-year-old, Jeremy Mardis (ph), his viewing is today, the funeral's on Monday. Police say he was shot five times in the chest and head, killed by two officers after a chase involving the boy's father. Listen to how a Louisiana state police official described the scene.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He didn't deserve to die like that. That little boy was buckled in the front seat of that vehicle, and that is how he died.
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BLACKWELL: Well, the Marksville (ph) police officers involved have been arrested. Put the pictures on your screen here, the mugshots. Morris Greenhouse Jr. (ph), Derek Stafford (ph) as well, facing second-degree murder charges in the 6-year-old's death. The boy's father is still in the hospital. Nick Valencia has been following this all weekend for us. He's now traveled to Louisiana. And Nick, what are you learning about these officers' past?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor. We are learning that at least one of these officers has a checkered past, a history of getting into trouble, at least according to the local newspaper here. 32-year-old Derek Stafford, who, according to the paper, has been part of this police department in Marksville for the last eight years, was indicted on two counts of aggravated rape within that time he was a police officer here. One of those cases dates back to September of 2004, and another case in 2011. In 2012 however, those cases were dismissed. We are learning as well new reporting this morning that both the officers who had been charged with the murder of that 6-year-old, Jeremy Mardis, are also involved in several civil lawsuits tied to excessive force. CNN has attempted to reach out to the local officials here in this area, as well as the family of those two officers. We have not heard back. But so far there is no indication that either one of those officers were ever convicted of a crime.
I did speak to those here at the Voiles Parish (ph) detention center behind me. They are telling me this morning those two officers are being held in this facility behind me, and they are being separated away from the general population. We should mention they are going to make their first court appearance sometime this week. Perhaps more importantly, that funeral for 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis is expected to be held sometime tomorrow, on Monday, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Victor, Christi.
BLACKWELL: All right, Nick Valencia, reporting for us this morning. Nick, thank you.
PAUL: So let's bring in CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes and HLN legal analyst Joey Jackson. Tom, I want to ask you, we don't know why police were chasing the father, Chris Few (ph) in this case, we don't know why they opened fire. No warrants out on him and there was no gun in the vehicle. In your opinion, and based on what you know, why would officers react like that and why are they not releasing more information about the incident?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think, Christi, you know, not knowing the facts in this case makes it very difficult. The fact they have charged both with second-degree murder in this case is a good indication that the investigation is disclosing that there was no justification, and even the so-called pursuit, that they had no reason to be shooting into that car, which results in the death of a little boy. So I can think of no reason for doing it.
PAUL: So, Joey, second-degree murder. You've got video of the case, which we know the superintendent there of Louisiana police says is one of the worst things he has ever seen, essentially. You've got a history of alleged violence, at least on one of these guys. How do you begin to defend them? Where do you start? JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Christi, good morning, and Tom.
Certainly the dash Cam or the body cam video is going to be rather revealing in terms of what the defense's strategy is going to be. Remember, the defense is going to be predicated upon the issue of justification, and certainly the defense will point out that although there was no weapon, although there was no exchange of any type of gunfire between the two, that a car can be used as a dangerous weapon. Again, that will be the claim, because the defense, in order to clear their clients, will have to establish they acted reasonably, they acted responsibly, and their actions were necessary and proper under these conditions. And so I think you're going to see a defense that is predicated upon their clients' actions and to deem them justified.
I think they will also, the defense that is, will point to the issue of state of mind. Whenever you have someone fleeing, you don't know what they have, what they are going to bring to bear, whenever you have a car that started, you'll argue certainly it's a dangerous weapon, and you feel you're in imminent threat of your safety. Whether again, these arguments carry the day or whether they are effective, the body cam will have a lot to do with whether or not the officers' actions were justified or not. Clearly from the superintendent saying this is the worst he has ever seen, it appears not. But the defense certainly is going to make the arguments that I'm making now.
PAUL: Tom, according to local reports, Officer Stafford was indicted twice on rape charges. The cases were dismissed. Also, as we just heard from Nick, there were several civil lawsuits tied to excessive force with both of these two. Do you think, based on what we have heard there, these two were fit to serve?
FUENTES: I think, you know, it's difficult to defend an officer who had charged brought against him in the past that were thrown out, but, you know, the threshold for being a police officer and carrying a gun and wearing the badge is not that you haven't been convicted of a capital crime. If there is a preponderance of the evidence to believe they have behaved badly in the past, they shouldn't be police officers. There should not have been hired. I would question what the hiring practices were for those police departments, what kind of background they went to.
Was there any kind of character testing done for those departments? How they got to be police officers in the first place is a concern to me, and then once they start having these kind of occurrences during their career, they shouldn't be out there.
PAUL: Well, and Tom, you know, there's reporting that they were part- time jobs for these two for the Marksville city marshals. Does that matter in any way, that this was a part-time gig for them?
FUENTES: It didn't matter to the little boy. So, to me, if they are going to be out there carrying a gun and being in that kind of a position, then they need to qualify as police officers or not be there.
PAUL: Joey, there are four officers involved here and only two charged. As a defense attorney, what would you want to get from those other two officers and how would they play a role here in the defense?
JACKSON: They will play a major role. Not only for the defense but the prosecution. So certainly what their eyewitness accounts are going to be critical. How those officers felt, I mean, I think one of the things the defense will have to overcome is that certainly those two officers didn't open fire, and so what nature of threat did they perceive or did they feel?
And you know, the standard is always did you act as a reasonable officer would act, Christi, in your position. If there were two other officers there and they didn't shoot, well, those are reasonable officers that didn't do it. And so what these officers bring to bear, the other two, in terms of what they have witnessed is going to be very significant. However, it's not going to overcome what the jury sees, which is the body cam.
Just quickly on the past of the officers. I think you'll see the defense moving to preclude any mention about any past history of bad acts or anything else on the other officers, because what the officers did depends upon what you do today, not what you did yesterday, the day before.
Finally, the prosecution will say, wait a second. It goes to a prior plan or scheme, it goes to your modus operandi, and therefore it's admissible, but I think the judge will conclude we have to deal with these facts, these circumstances, and that the prejudice the officers would endure if you allowed information about their past would just be too much for the jury to consider.
PAUL: OK, Joey Jackson and Tom Fuentes, your perspective is always so helpful. Thank you both.
BLACKWELL: A U.S. official says he is 99.9 percent certain that a bomb brought down a Russian passenger jet in Egypt. Now, a lot of investigators are pointing to a sound heard just before the flight data recorder stops recording as the proof. At least one expert who knows this technology very well disagrees.
PAUL: You've heard all the talk about the Fed raising its key short- term interest rate. Mortgage rates jumped. Have a look.
BLACKWELL: The investigation into the crash of the Russian passenger jet is, of course, far from over, but at least one U.S. official has already concluded with 99.9 percent certainty that a terrorist bomb brought down that plane. An unexplained noise heard in the final seconds of the cockpit voice recorder seems to support that theory, but the Egyptian government says more analysis is needed.
So this morning, we have with us Mike Poole. He's a long-time crash investigator and expert in data recorder analysis. Mike, good to have you with us this morning.
MIKE POOLE, DATA RECORDER ANALYSIS EXPERT: Good morning, Victor.
BLACKWELL: I want to read to you something that was reported by CNN affiliate France 2, that one of the investigators said an explosion was heard on that recorder. How much can be determined about the cause of that noise? Can it be determined that it is an explosion simply by that cockpit voice recorder?
POOLE: Well, there's been a lot of research done over whether you can tell the difference between the sound of a bomb and the sound of structural failure, which is called explosive decompression. Because at altitude, the aircraft is a pressure vessel. So at 30,000 feet, when you have a breach of the fuselage, it's going to explosively decompress. So most of the time we listen to on a voice recorder when we are doing analysis, things like the pilot adjusting the trim of the flight controls or gear lever or the autopilot chime, adjusting your seat just like in your car makes a sound. And in fact, the human ear is very powerful, and you listen to a known recording of the sound and compare it with your ear, and hey, that sounds like the pilot adjusting the seat.
We also have more sophisticated techniques which is spectral analysis, which is frequently time and amplitude, and that is a more objective assessment of what the nature of that sound is.
BLACKWELL: I just want to jump in here and say that the head of this commission of this investigates says that there needs to be more specialized analysis, and what does that look like?
POOLE: Okay. So the theory is that when a bomb goes off in a plane, the pressure wave will go through the aircraft, shake the microphone, as well as a structural wave through the metal, and that will go much faster. So work was done to see whether you could tell the difference between the noise of the bomb versus structural failure. And after an international committee with funding from the FBI and the RCMP over a several year period, as well as a UK expert who did his doctoral thesis on this subject, the end conclusion was, in some cases a noise is just a noise. So it is random noise.
We used Aloha Airlines, which was the door blowing off with explosive decompression. We compared that to Lockerbie. And of course, we had the inventories from all these explosives from the past as well as decompression, and from the international committee, so we tried to analyze all of those sounds to see if we could tell the difference, and the team of experts from many countries was unable to.
So the end of the research concluded that you cannot differentiate between a bomb and explosive decompression using sound on a recorder. That was ten years ago. Maybe there's some techniques today I'm not aware of. I think the limitation is the frequency of the data -- of the voice recording. It's actually not that high, and it's not designed to do that.
So in these cases, the Egyptians are right to say so, more analysis. I'm sure they will try to look at that sound some more, but the real definitive answer to what happened will be the physical (inaudible), looking at the metallurgy, and they should be able to determine in the (inaudible) of time whether that was structural failure versus an explosive device that blew it open.
BLACKWELL: Let me ask you this, finally. The new reporting this morning that the FBI has agreed to help the Russians and the Egyptians in this investigation, specifically sending bomb technicians. In addition to the technical element, what do you think this says about the ability of the Egyptians? What do you know about the systems they are working with?
POOLE: Well, Victor, we actually designed and installed the lab that they are using in the early 2000 and gave them lots of training. In fact, when they first got the lab, the (inaudible) 737 crashed into the Red Sea, and we sent some people from my company over to assist them. They have since become very capable, which is normally the case. Start out your rookies. You become more professional over time, and they have.
And the FBI participating, that is the proper protocol. If somebody has information that they think it's a bomb, then the proper process is to be part of that team. It's a very big team, and this is quite normal. But it's treated as an accident investigation, investigated by the investigative authority. But, if at any time, there appears to be criminal activity, then it transitions to a (inaudible) investigation with the police forces like the FBI and RSAP (ph), et cetera. If it becomes a terrorist act, it becomes totally a police investigation.
BLACKWELL: Mike Poole, we learned a lot this morning. So much. Appreciate your insight for joining us this morning.
POOLE: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Thank you, Mike. Christi?
PAUL: Coming up next hour, we certainly have seen a different side of Ben Carson this week, haven't we? He seems to be getting really agitated with the media and defending stories he has told on the campaign trail about his past. So what can we expect this week?
Also, University of Missouri football players boycott their school's president over race. We have a live report for you straight ahead.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLACKWELL: University of Missouri football players are walking off the field. They are staying off the field. Dozens of players announced a boycott last night threatening not to play, not to practice, take part in any football-related activities until University President Tim Wolfe is removed from that position. They accuse him of negligence and inadequate response to alleged racist incidents around campus. Wolfe apologized to students and issued a statement, here is part of it. "Racism does exist at our university. It is a long-standing systemic problem, which daily affects our family of students, faculty and staff. I'm sorry this is the case. I truly want all members of our university community to feel included, valued, and safe."
We've got with us Coy Wire to talk about this. Team walking off, that's big.
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS: That is big, because when you consider FCC football, Missouri football is a huge money-maker for that university. So let's see if this call to action by this group, it has about 30 members of a Missouri football team, they are part of a group called Legion of Black Collegians. And they sent out a tweet saying quote, "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." The tweet also read "we will no longer participate in any football-related activities until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students' experiences. We are united."
They are joining another group called Concerned Students 1950. A lot of really disturbing things have happened at the school in recent weeks. At one point, a swastika showed up in a dorm with feces. This is serious business. And they feel that Tim Wolfe, the president, is part of the problem. And he needs to be removed, that he has basically just shown ignorance to the entire situation.
Now, he's come out and released these statements. We will see about 42 of the 64 players on Missouri's current team are African-American. They had a bye week this week. They are scheduled to practice. They have a game next Saturday, this first one. So we will see if their actions are going to cause a reaction there at the leadership within the university.
PAUL: Coy Wire, always appreciate it.
WIRE: You're welcome.
PAUL: Coming up at the top of the hour, highlights from Donald Trump's appearance on "SNL" last night. Was he funny? Is it going to help his campaign? It is the morning talker.
PAUL: Donald Trump making waves on the ultimate late night stage, "Saturday Night Live." Even though he poked fun at himself, not everyone finds it funny.