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Second Night of Violent Protests in Charlotte; Tulsa Protests Remain Peaceful; Clinton, Trump React to Police Shootings; Scorch Marks in Rahami's Backyard. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired September 22, 2016 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:10] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Another night of ugly protests in Charlotte. Widespread damage, with demonstrators trashing cars, shattering windows, even reporters under attack here.

Now, the family of the black man killed by police is disputing the official account.

We are live in Charlotte right now after another tense, violent night.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman. It is Thursday, September 22nd. It is 4:00 a.m. in the East.

And the breaking news this morning, eruption of violence in Charlotte, North Carolina. You can see the pictures right here. This was the second night of protest that took a dangerous turn. This follows a deadly shooting.

Governor Pat McCrory, he issued a state of emergency. Charlotte's mayor tells CNN she is considering a curfew if these protests continue. Overnight, the protests were peaceful and near riots. As you can see here, these are looters smashing windows, vandalizing buildings and damaging the Bank of America building and the Charlotte Hornets Store. Those are just a few of the business hit.

At the Hyatt, the manager says protesters broke out the windows with bricks and actually punched some hotel employees.

Our friend, CNN's Ed Lavandera, he was slammed to the ground.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They were trying to get agitators off the grounds and speak --



LAVANDERA: Yes, we're fine, Anderson. Someone taking out their frustration on me.


BERMAN: You know, Ed was fine. He says he hates being part of the story, and wanted everyone to know that the guy who knocked him over actually came back and apologized. But you can see the tensions on the street.

Police say four Charlotte officers suffered non-life threatening injuries. One person, a civilian, was shot by another civilian. That person is on life support at this moment or in critical condition. Officials corrected earlier reports that the person had in fact died.

ROMANS: As to the police shooting that started all of this, very different stories are emerging of Keith Lamont Scott's death. Scott's family says he was unarmed and reading a book in his car.

Charlotte's police chief says Scott exited his car with a gun, which investigators recovered. He says no book, there was no book that was found there.

This morning, demands are growing for the release of police video of the shooting. But the governor, who has not seen the video, says he has concerns about that.


GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R), NORTH CAROLINA: View point of the video doesn't often tell the whole story. The angles can make a difference and not hearing often in the video says the complexity. The video is one piece of evidence and we have to be careful with all the new media that is available. In one respect, it can be used to a very great and positive thing for our republic. In another way, the video can also be abused.


ROMANS: OK. For the very latest on this, let's turn to CNN's Nick Valencia. He is live this morning for us in Charlotte.

Nick, what's the status right now on the ground?


Last night, this city of Charlotte seemed to be torn from within by riots. What started as peaceful protests at about 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. last night turned violent and ugly very quickly, as demonstrators marched towards this area where we are here in downtown Charlotte, launching projectiles at police, tear gas, canisters. Police responded by launching those flash bag as well.

At least four police officers were injured and news crews were injured as well. You mentioned CNN's Ed Lavandera, knocked down, assaulted, while on camera. Another one of our local affiliate crews here, I was speaking to them a while ago, they had their news van attacked. And one of their reporters and cameraman were knocked down as well. It seems that these protesters and demonstrators, they really didn't care who they're going after, or really what the central message and theme yesterday was. They just simply wanted to cause chaos.

You could see some of the aftermath behind me. This is a souvenir shop for local memorabilia. Just on the other side of the street, a stadium for one of the sports teams. This store, this souvenir store vandalized. It looks like the trash can was thrown through the window and what's left of the merchandise is still scattered all around in there, not much left behind.

I spoke earlier to the general manager of the Hyatt, which was just down the road here. He told me about what happened and what he saw from his perspective last night.


[04:05:02] MATT ALLEN, GENERAL MANAGER, HYATT HOUSE: Early on in the night, yes, it was peaceful. You know, everyone, they actually seemed like they're in good spirits. There seemed to be some good camaraderie. I don't know what happened. They marched up the street a little bit and things got ugly fast. Yes.


VALENCIA: What demonstrators say they're upset about is the lack of transparency with the police department and what seems to have fueled that is a Facebook live stream video by Keith Scott's daughter nearly in the moments after the shooting death of her father, Keith Scott, in which she alleges that her father just had a book and not a gun.

Of course, police have disputed that saying that they did find a gun on Keith Scott when they searched him after the shooting because it's currently part of the investigation -- John, Christine.

BERMAN: Any sense how long before the video is released? And any sense of the measures taken tonight going forward? I understand the mayor of Charlotte suggested that a curfew could go into place.

VALENCIA: That's right. We've heard that last night on "CNN TONIGHT". She told Don Lemon there could be a curfew. As far as the timeline for that body cam footage, that has not been officially given.

We should mention to our viewers, it was earlier this summer that the governor of North Carolina signed a bill into law that prohibits police body cam footage or dash cam footage from being part of public record. You need a judge's court order in order for that to be released, and that's adding to the anger her on the streets of Charlotte -- John.

ROMANS: Interesting.

OK, thanks so much for that, Nick Valencia.

Joining us live on the phone right now is Marcus DiPaola. He is a freelance photographer who was in the middle of the unrest last night in Charlotte.

Good morning, Marcus.

What we're hearing from people who are there with you is that this was -- it started as camaraderie and anger but under control anger about the police shooting. And then really quickly folks got amped up and it turned dark. What did you see?

MARCUS DIPAOLA, FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHER (via telephone): Yes, from 8:00 p.m. to midnight, there was so much tear gas and so many pepper balls being shot, that I really didn't have a chance to take off my gas mask for more than a couple seconds at a time. Protesters were smashing glass everywhere. I remember what I now assume was the restaurant manager or owner screaming at protesters for wrecking their windows.

One of the most striking visuals that I'm remembering and I actually haven't slept yet because I just finished filing that footage was when protesters got on the highway. Police got in a single file line and shot pepper balls at them to get them off the highway. This was a really bad night for the city.

I was pushed to the ground twice and so were other members of my crew, but thankfully, everyone that I was with got out uninjured.

BERMAN: How many people? Do you understand the sense of the numbers? And also for our viewers who do not know Charlotte, you know, one of the things that's striking about this protest, is this was in the business district. I mean, this is where, you know, a lot of tourists go. This is where the Hornets play.

I think, intentionally so, we heard community leaders say we want to boycott the businesses. We want to make clear to the city in general, they say, that what is happening to their community is unacceptable.

DIPAOLA: Yes, absolutely. The night started out really peacefully and really calmly with protesters in the city park. Everybody kind of just talking to each other, but things got very nasty, very fast when everybody moved downtown.

Once everybody moved downtown, you know, I estimate the crowd over 1,000 people. And, inexplicably, a line of police of moved through the crowd, calmly, before all this action started to set up a line in front of the Omni Hotel, that is when things started going out of control.

ROMANS: Marcus, let me ask you. We know the video, if there is video that has not released. I mean, some of the early reporting is that there is a video, it needs to be analyzed as part of the investigation before they'd be released. We know a new state law prohibits release of police body cam videos. That doesn't go into effect until October 1st.

The people in the streets are angry because they don't believe the police account, or they don't believe that police are transparent enough yet, because we've seen so many of these cases where, you know, you need to let people see what happened for themselves.

DIPAOLA: Right. What I'm hearing from witnesses who are actually at the location and I want to be careful when I say this, this is not information I can confirm or even begin to remotely say it's accurate. But they are telling me this was a man they saw him every single day in exact same possession.

[04:10:01] And as they were walking to the store, they would look into the car window and see him reading a book.

That's what witnesses are telling me. And the same witnesses also stream the video on Facebook, and they say that that video and I have not seen it. They say that video was taken seconds after the shooting happened. That it does not show any gun on the ground next to the victim.

And they say that the gun only appeared after police moved them back. Again, I really want to be careful with the way I say that because I have no way of confirming that or even any reason to believe it's accurate at all without seeing the video first.

BERMAN: You know, Marcus, you were out there overnight. Do you have any reason to believe that tonight, Thursday night, won't be like this again?

DIPAOLA: Yes, you know, I did not see a huge amount of organization on the part of the police or protesters. It looked like police lost control of the situation. I think now that both police and protesters will have a good six-to-eight hours during the daylight after everybody goes to sleep and wakes back up and organize.

I'm really nervous about what's going to happen tonight, meaning Thursday night, because people will have time to organize.

ROMANS: All right. Marcus DiPaola, thank you so much. Freelance photographer, in the middle of that unrest last night, filing your footage just moments ago. Thank you so much for joining us.

All right. The violence in Charlotte in stark contrast to the scene in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where police shot another black man, 40-year-old Terence Crutcher. Protests there remaining peaceful as demonstrators call for justice. Community leaders in Tulsa say they are channeling anger, channeling frustration into constructive protest.


PASTOR RAY OWENS, METROPOLITAN BAPTIST CHURCH: We are mad. We have every right to be mad just like our brothers and sisters in North Carolina. But what we are trying to do here tonight is give people a place to express that anger in a way that's constructive. We don't want to tear up our property, cars. We don't want to commit violence against police officers nor one another. But we needed a place to come and say I'm mad and I need to be able to express that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: A Tulsa officer shot Crutcher Friday as he waited for help when his SUV broke down in the middle of the road. Crutcher was unarmed, but Officer Betty Shelby's lawyer says that when Crutcher reached toward his car window, she feared he was going for a gun and she fired.

BERMAN: We're going to have more on this breaking news, the violent protests and the damage in Charlotte in just a moment. We're also going to talk about the presidential campaign because, you know, North Carolina is a state that both candidates are fighting for. Hillary Clinton ands Donald Trump both responded to the latest spike in tension. What do they say? That's next.


[04:17:01] BERMAN: All right. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are walking a fine political line as they respond to the police shootings in Charlotte and Tulsa. They offered pretty different proposals Wednesday for changing police practices. Trump addressed the issue in a town hall in a largely black church in Ohio.

Hillary Clinton was talking about the need for change during a speech in Florida.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: There is still much we don't know about what happened in both incidents. But we do know that we have two more names to add to a list of African-Americans killed by police officers in these encounters. It's unbearable and it needs to become intolerable.

I have spoken to many police chiefs and other law enforcement leaders who are as deeply concerned as I and deeply committed as I am to reform. Why? Because they know it is essential for the safety of our communities and our officers.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Hands up. He was doing everything he was supposed to do. Everything. And a young policeman shot this man. I don't -- I don't get it. You can come -- I don't care where you are coming from. There was something really bad going on.

I don't know if she choked. He was walking -- his hands were high. He was walking to the car. He put the hands on the car. Now maybe she choked. Something really bad happened.


BERMAN: Trump also praised stop and frisk as a police tactic saying it would help stem the violence in Chicago among other places. Actually, Trump really went further, Trump seems to suggest kind of a national stop-and-frisk policy. He'd like to see it take place nationwide.

ROMANS: New numbers show Donald Trump as tax and spend proposal would add vastly more to the nation's death than Hillary Clinton's. In total, Trump's plans would $5.3 trillion to the debt. This is according to the Committee for Responsible Federal Budget. It's a watchdog, a bipartisan think tank on tax issues. Trump's tax cuts are the most expensive part of his plan.

Clinton's proposals together would add $200 billion to the national debt. That number significantly less than Trump's and here's why: Clinton says she would pay for a lot of spending with higher taxes on rich people, on wealthy Americans. The committee says it will revise as more details come out, but it says neither candidate has a serious plan to address the growing national debt. That $19 trillion and counting.

BERMAN: All right. Nineteen minutes after the hour.

Charlotte, a city on edge. Violent protests overnight. We'll give you an update on what's happening on the ground right now.

Also, the wife of the suspect in last week's bombings in New York and New Jersey back now in the United States. So, what is she telling investigators? That's next.


[04:24:16] BERMAN: An update on the violent protests in Charlotte, North Carolina. This in the wake of the deadly police shooting. Overnight, rioters smashed store front windows and spray-painted "Black Lives Matter" on several buildings.

Protesters actually broke in to Hyatt Hotel and seem to attack two employees. Four police officers were hurt and one civilian is on life support after being shot by another civilian. The family of Keith Lamont Scott, he is the man who was killed by police, they are disputing the police accounts of his death. They claim that Scott was unarmed and he was reading a book in his car when he was killed. Police insists Scott exited the vehicle with a gun. Police say they found no book. Protesters are demanding police release video of the shooting immediately.

[04:25:05] Also breaking, word of the U.S. military fighter jet crashing off the coast of Okinawa. At least one person has been rescued, according to the Japanese coast guard. It is not clear what caused the jet to crash.

ROMANS: Suspected bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami is unconscious and intubated following surgery at University Hospital in Newark. Authorities are still unable to question him about Saturday's bombing in the Chelsea section of Manhattan that left 29 people injured. FBI agents are guarding his room around the clock.

Rahami's wife is back in the United States. She met with investigators in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday. And it's expected to cooperate with federal authorities here.

Meanwhile, we have new video of Rahami's backyard and there appeared to be scorch marks suggesting, supporting allegations by the feds that the suspect tested explosives there. The FBI also wants to talk to these two men, captured on camera touching the bomb that did not detonate in Chelsea Saturday. He left behind the explosive device and took off with the bag it was hidden in. Authorities say the two men are not considered suspects, but because they touched that bag and they were in the vicinity, they really need to talk to them.

BERMAN: They are witnesses. I mean, they want to find those guys.

Protests over police shooting death of a black man in North Carolina and the protests that were violent overnight. There was looting. You can see some of the damage that was caused, a very dangerous night.

We're live in Charlotte, next.