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Britain: Another Attack May Be Imminent After Subway Bombing; Trump Criticized For London Terror Tweet; Protest After Ex-Cop Acquitted In Death Of Black Man; Trump Attacks ESPN After Anchors Calls Him A White Supremacist; Jose Back To Hurricane Strength, Could Threaten U.S. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired September 15, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:05] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We begin this hour of breaking news from London. The British terror threat level has been raised to critical, meaning another attack may be imminent after this morning's rush hour subway bombing. An urgent manhunt is under way for the bomber or bombers. No one has been arrested. At least 29 people were injured when the improvised device exploded on a crowded subway train.

You see it's still burning in photograph that was widely circulated. Sources said the device had a timer and likely contained the powerful explosive TATP.

Let's go to Matthew Chance now in London.

Matthew, what's the latest on the manhunt?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR NTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can see, the situation is still very tight in terms of security on the streets of London. It's 1:00 a.m. local time.

And this police cordon behind me just a short distance from Parsons Green Tube Station is still very much enforced, although it looks like the police are starting to move away at this point.

The authorities say they're making, in their words, excellent progress in their investigation. They're being very tight-lipped about what that progress is. They haven't named any suspects. They haven't arrested anybody as far as we're aware at this point.

And we don't know the extent of their investigations. They're saying there's a heavy elements of covert work being done in this investigation. In the meantime, as you mentioned, the country has raised its terror threat level to critical, meaning there's a possibility, they believe there's a possibility of an imminent terrorist attack, another terrorist attack. And that's a function of the fact that the individual or the individuals responsible for this Parsons Green Metro Station bombing could be still very much at large.

COOPER: And, Matthew, ISIS has claimed responsibility even though the attacker's still on the loose, correct?

CHANCE: Yes, they have. The news agency affiliated with ISIS has issued a statement saying that the detachment of ISIS soldiers carried out the bomb attack. So, they're implying there's more than one individual concerned.

But, you know, first of all, that's been played down by the British authorities. The Metropolitan Police here in London say it's routine for ISIS to claim responsibility for attacks like this, not just in Britain but elsewhere in Europe and in the broader world. And on many of those occasions, there's simply not any evidence at all to actually connect the people who carry out these attacks with ISIS directly.

And so, the authorities are waiting for more information to come from the actual -- on the actual suspect before they jump to any conclusions or accept any claims of responsibility from any group.

COOPER: Right. And the so-called bucket bomb that was found on the train, the fact that it seems to be intact, obviously that'll give clues for the investigator to work on. What have you learned about it?

CHANCE: The bucket bomb -- the bucket is not ideal receptacle for a bomb because its open ended nature. And I think that's a sign of how crude this device was. It was also inside a sort of thermal shopping bag as well when it was placed on the train.

So, it was a very crude device. It didn't go off properly. It didn't explode, fortunately, for the passengers on board it burst into flames and caused some burns. Twenty-nine people have been treated in hospitals for those burns.

But it was an ambitious bomb because there was a timing device that was on it, a time detonator. So, the ambition was for this bomb to be able to cause mass casualties, and there was some sophistication put into constructing it through this timer device. It just wasn't successful from the terrorist's point of law.

COOPER: Yes, thankfully on that. Matthew Chance, thanks very much.

Joining me now is former House Intelligence Committee chairman and CNN national security commentator, Mike Rogers, and CNN terrorism analyst, Paul Cruickshank.

Paul, just in terms of the bomb itself, again, the fact that it didn't work is a huge blessing for investigators, in order to sort of figure out the signature of the maker if they've seen one like this before.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: That's absolutely right. They're doing the forensics right now at Defence Science and Technology Lab. That's in Wiltshire. They're excellent in this kind of analysis and they're going to figure out what kind of device it was, whether there were any bomb signatures which might lead back to a particular bomb maker.

The reason they're critical alert right now is because they believe the bomb maker is still at large, could still put together more devices.

But you're right. This was essentially a dud -- a dub bomb. The initial assessment was that there a likelihood that contained TATP. They're trying to confirm that now with all that forensics. And so, we'll wait to see whether that is indeed confirmed.

But TATP has been used in ISIS terrorist attacks, in Paris and Brussels and Manchester. And also, when those Barcelona plotters just a few weeks ago were trying to put together devices in a bomb factory and they blew themselves up.

[20:05:01] That was TATP as well.

And actually, this detail, very interesting details about this thermal bag is very significant potentially because TATP is very, very sensitive and so, you got to keep it cool. Otherwise, it could go off prematurely.

And one of the scenarios they're looking at is this might have gone off prematurely, because it got just jostled on the train, it was too hot and it was meant to go off deeper into London Parsons Green, right on the outer bound of London. If you're a terrorist trying to pull off an attack like this, you would presumably want it to carry out that attack near the center of London.

COOPER: Chairman Rogers, what stands out to you as you look at this?

MIKE ROGERS (R), FORMER HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: It's going to be really interesting on the forensics of the bomb. Did they find any shrapnel type devices wrapped around? A lot of times, they'll put items, including --

COOPER: Ball bearings.

ROGERS: Ball bearings, nails, glass, in order to inflict more damage at the explosion. And it doesn't sound like they have done that. So, it looks to me like they were either, a in a hurry or b, didn't follow the instructions very well on the bomb making process. So, what I think you're going to find is that this was probably someone that was a lone wolf, that was not directly attached in communicating regularly to ISIS, but may have been in fact been radicalized.

COOPER: You know, British authorities haven't said much about the progress on the investigation, given the number of security cameras that exist all over London, or you think there are a lot in New York, London has far, far more and has for many years, you know, somebody entering that subway station or any subway station, you would think by this point would have at least, they would have a visual on this person because they're carrying this device in a thermal bag.

CRUICKSHANK: Absolutely right. In fact, every train carriage in the U.K. and subway has CCTV, so they'll be out to pick him up inside the carriage along the station. They'll be able to go back in time to see what streets he walked in the hours before. They might even be able to going back to where he emerged early in the morning to put this device on the train. So, that will be a critical part of this investigation.

ROGERS: The first thing the investigators talked about was bringing on more people to do that forensics of the video. Not as easy as you think or maybe automated as we'd like it to be, so it still takes a lot of eyes on the screen to make that track, follow that track and not to miss anything on that track. When they say this is a covert investigation at that point, I'm sure this is good ole fashion gum shoe investigative work and then they're also tickling their sources out in the community trying to figure out.

COOPER: In terms of raising the threat level, the British government raised the threat level -- I want to play with the Prime Minister Theresa May had to say.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The Joint Terrorism Analysis Center, that's an independent organization, which is responsible for assessing the threat level on the basis of available intelligence has now decided to raise the national threat level from severe to critical. This means their assessment is that further attack may be imminent.


COOPER: What does that actually do, I mean, raising the threat level?

ROGERS: It puts people on alert. People will be more vigilant about picking up the phone saying something doesn't look right. For the investigators and for the security forces, it doesn't mean anything.

COOPER: It doesn't trigger like an automatic, like, emergency response like, OK, automatically now, funding is -- it's not like that?


ROGERS: No, what it is doing is telling the general public that, hey, listen, this is -- we haven't caught him yet, maybe we think there's one or others who are out there who are still dangerous. And by the way, pick up the phone and call.

As far as the investigators go, any time they have this and don't have a suspect immediately identified, in their minds, they're all there. They're already at this heightened level of doing everything that they can to fan out across the community to find the folks who are guilty of it.

COOPER: You want to --

CRUICKSHANK: Just one extra point is that, they have brought in some military now to replace some of the duties of the armed police, they freed about 1,000 armed police over the weekend, over the next several days, it shows you how seriously they're treating this. Last time it went up to critical it was in the four days after the Manchester bombing. Any time you have a bombmaker at large, that's a worrying time for counterterrorism --

ROGERS: And it wasn't a suicide attack either, by the way --

COOPER: Right. ROGERS: -- which tells you a little bit about this cell, and I think that's why they came to this conclusion.

COOPER: Unless, it was intended, and just a device went off before --

ROGERS: Yes, maybe, there's always a possibility he's one of the 29 people in the hospital.

COOPER: You know, the president also tweeted out, you know, he called it a terror attack. And he tweeted out that these people, who ever responsible was, quote, in the sights of Scotland Yard. Theresa May said that's not, of course, helpful to speculate in this investigation.

Does that -- I mean, do you think he was briefed on that or just saying that?

ROGERS: I think he just said it. I don't -- candidly wasn't helpful, I don't think it hurt the investigation. It just wasn't helpful. And it gets people pointing fingers early --

COOPER: Even if he had been briefed, I don't get why he would go on Twitter and give out details of an investigation in those early hours.

[20:10:04] ROGERS: Yes, and I'm not sure the information would do anything to the investigation. It just wasn't helpful. And it allows people who are the naysayers to say, see, you missed another one.

He may have in fact have been trying to be helpful in an odd way, where he's saying, listen, they kind of knew about it and they slipped through the cracks, and we're all going to be a better job. You know, that's being magnanimous. I never think it's helpful for any public official to get ahead of the investigation. It's just never helpful to do that.

COOPER: All right. Paul Cruickshank, and Chairman Rogers, thanks very much.

Following the attack in London, the New York Police Department boosted security for the city's transit system. The city has more than 665 miles of subway tracks, nearly 6 million people ride the subways each weekday. Earlier today, outside a near subway stop, I talked with the NYPD's chief of counterterrorism, James Waters.


COOPER: So, because of what happened in London, have you changed something here in New York today?

CHIEF JAMES WATERS, NYPD COUNTERTERRORISM BUREAU: So, what we did is increased our police presence mostly in the transit facilities throughout the entire city subway system.

COOPER: Yes. We just went down there and there are like four or five police officers standing in the turnstile. WATERS: So, what we're looking to do is take the administration from

the London authorities. The New York City Police Department Intelligence Bureau has detective assigned there full time --

COOPER: Actually, this is based in London?

WATERS: Based in London.

COOPER: So, if there's an attack, you immediately try to learn all you can about the methods, the technique of the terror?

WATERS: Exactly. So, that detective provides us with real-time information for what's happening over there from the crime scene, in partnership with Scotland Yard and the U.K. police, provides that information to us so we can better deploy in New York City. He gets that New York City question and answer.

COOPER: Is that the -- I mean, the idea of that is that the techniques or strategies used by terrorists or anybody are constantly evolving. Sometimes, you know, it's one time an explosive, or an active shooter situation. So, as they evolve tactics, you want to evolve response?

WATERS: So, we need to keeping up or be ahead of them in those truck rammings, vehicle rammings of pedestrian, active shooter situations. And so, we need to know what they're doing over there and to be able to deploy here in New York City.

We're going to get that information from our partners in the U.K. through either the federal government Joint Terrorist Task Force and our liaison person. We're going to understand what the components were, what went right or wrong with that explosives, so we can better protect --

COOPER: But something like -- you know, I don't want to cause alarm, something like a subway which is an enclosed space, you can't check the bags of everybody going into a subway, or a movie theater, you know?

WATERS: We have to strike the balance between security and privacy. I think we do that very well here in New York, with venues like sporting arenas and all. They do check bags and packages. But the subway system where millions of people ride each day --

COOPER: It wouldn't be practical.

WATERS: It wouldn't be practical.

COOPER: Right.

WATERS: It would be terrible inconvenience to the public.

COOPER: So, you also have sort of pre-deployed very well-armed, very well trained officers throughout the city at all times?

WATERS: Yes. So, in the last two years in the wake of the tragedies and terrorist attacks in Paris, we developed a critical response command, 525 elite, highly trained counterterrorism officers who are out here employed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with the long guns and the equipment and they are trained to deal with any kind of incident that manifest.

COOPER: And what's the idea of having them pre-deployed on the streets and also very visible on the street?

WATERS: We're looking for omnipresence. We're looking to do a few things. We're looking to send a message to anybody that is doing pre- operational surveillance who are looking to do harm to us that this is not the place to do that. Go somewhere else. Don't do it at all, but go somewhere else.

And also, to give some confidence to the general public. New Yorkers and tourists and people that come and do business here have earned the right to have a healthy understanding of what the police do and have confidence in the police.

COOPER: In active shooter situations, most of the fatalities that occur, occur within a couple of minutes, is having police officers -- heavily armed police officers deployed in areas it's a faster response time.

WATERS: Right. So, we know from active shooters that the shootings occurs in the first couple of minutes.

COOPER: I think for six minutes during a FBI test.

WATERS: And the death and serious injuries are inflicted at that point. Having officers pre-deployed in locations to quickly respond and neutralizes a shooter saves lives.

COOPER: What's your message to New Yorkers, to people visiting New York?

WATERS: I think the message is clear, live your life but have a sense of awareness of what's around you. And if something doesn't seem right, report it to the police. New York City is safe, 311, and if there's an emergency, 911.

COOPER: It's the old see something, say something.

WATERS: See something, say something.

COOPER: Chief Waters, thank you.

WATERS: OK. Thanks, Anderson.


COOPER: As we mentioned, the president tweeted about London attack this morning speculating the earliest hours of the investigation.

[20:15:03] The prime minister of Great Britain said that's never helpful. We'll have more on that, next. Also, we have protest in St. Louis after a judge today found a former

police officer not guilty in the killing of an African-American man in 2011.

You're looking at live pictures. Protests have been going on throughout the day. Protest got violence and dispersed and now people gather again and marching. We'll take you there live.

Plus, the president targets an ESPN anchor Jemele Hill online. What he tweeted about her and the latest on that, coming up.


COOPER: We're keeping an eye on the street of St. Louis where a former police officer was acquitted in the death of a black man. A case from 2011. We'll take you to St. Louis and have the backstory on the case ahead tonight.

But, first, President Trump who tweeted this morning just hours after that exclusive device we were talking about injured 29 people in London. The president tweeted this, quote: Another attack in London by a looser terrorist. These are sick and demented people who are in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive.

He also tweeted this, quote: The travel ban of the United States should be far larger, tougher, and more specific, but stupidly, that would not be politically correct.

This was before 7:00 a.m., 7:00 this morning. It had not been four hours since the attack.

[20:20:01] The British investigation was in the earliest of stage and British authorities have not been publicly discussing details of it.

Here's what British Prime Minister Theresa May said when asked if the president knew something that everyone else didn't.


MAY: I never think it's helpful for anybody to speculate of what is an ongoing investigation. As I've just said, the police and security services are working to discover the full circumstances of this cowardly attack and to identify all those responsible.


COOPER: Well, joining me now is former Missouri GOP chairman and Trump supporter, Ed Martin, and CNN senior political commentator and former Michigan governor, Jennifer Granholm.

Governor, does it make sense to you that President Trump would get on the Twitter machine and punch this thing out early this morning?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Of course not. I mean, 23 minutes earlier, he had seen a segment on another cable show that he always watches, and they were speculating. "The Times of London" this evening confirmed that in fact he had no knowledge of what was going on. So, he's just engaged in this sort of trigger happy twittering that he does. He did the same thing in June, I think it was when there was the other attack.

COOPER: In the Philippines, right. It turned out to be a robbery that, that was three months ago, right.


COOPER: That he said was a terror attack.

GRANHOLM: And the same thing on the previous terror attack in London. Well, what I'm talking about right now is the trigger happy nature of it, how quickly he respond before getting the information, whether it ends up being a terrorist attack or not. So, he's doing this. He did this in Paris. He did it in San Bernardino. He did it in the Philippines. He did it here, twice.

And it's, you know, I mean, what Theresa May didn't say, but what certainly these intelligent services suggested was this was not helpful. Mike Rogers said it earlier here.

It's not only not helpful, but it's dangerous. What if they needed to keep information close about this person. He didn't have the information but nobody whose reading his tweet knows that.

COOPER: Ed, I mean, I know you're a Trump supporter. Is it appropriate that the president will weigh in on this?


COOPER: By saying that these guys were already on the radar of Scotland Yard?

MARTIN: Yes, I mean, I think it's more than important. You talked about two tweets, Anderson, and I think there are points in this wonderful and important and it's great the president is making them.

The first is, these terrorist are losers. I mean, one of the things the president has done is called the people that are doing this losers. ISIS has claimed this now. And one of the things we're trying to say is if you want to be a loser, want to be somebody who's not fitting in society, go do this kind of stuff.

That's, by the way, very powerful to get people to understand this. But the second --

COOPER: Just on the second on that, do you think would be terrorist are cowed by the thought of being called a loser by Donald Trump?

MARTIN: Sure. No, I think tens of millions of Americans and people in the world are following the leader. It may not be always palatable to you or to Jennifer or anybody else, but they follow a leader. He's a prominent leader.

And I think it's true. When you see people that are doing these kind of things, suicide bombers, he called them losers --


COOPER: But to the governor's point about tweeting before you have all the information, or even if you do have information the British authorities have not gone down that road. Is that wise?

MARTIN: Well, I mean, I think -- look, I don't think it was anything too specific. But let me go to the second point. Jennifer was attorney general in Michigan in 9/11, you certainly are a New Yorker. We know that immigration and breaking immigration laws is what led that terrorist to attack America. They were able to do it.

So when the president points to the fact that we've got to have tougher, not politically correct anymore, but tougher rules to stop these bad guys, these losers, the American people, by the way, look up and are happy. And in Europe, people in Britain, they voted for Brexit, and also people in the E.U. are saying, when are we going to get leaders like Trump that are on our side?


GRANHOLM: People are not happy when an investigation is potentially jeopardized.

MARTIN: There's no --

GRANHOLM: Wait, I was going to say, I would wonder why the president didn't text about the losers in Charlottesville until three days later, or the losers in Minnesota with the Muslims who are attacked in the mosque.

MARTIN: You're changing the subject.


COOPER: You brought up Charlottesville. The president was criticized for not coming sooner, and obviously, what he did comment. This is why he explains himself for not commenting sooner. Let's play this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was very important to me to get the facts out and correctly. I couldn't have made it sooner because I didn't foe all of the facts, it takes a little while to get the facts, I want to know the facts. I want the facts.

I wanted to see the facts. Before I make a statement, I need the facts. You don't make statements that direct until you know the facts. I want to make a statement with knowledge I wanted to know the facts.


COOPER: So, Ed, I mean, do you believe he knows the facts when he tweeted this morning? MARTIN: No, but listen, I really want you to let me make this whole

point. When he commented on Charlottesville, he did it from New Jersey on a Saturday afternoon in real time and he didn't do it well enough. We all agree.

And when he was saying I needed to get more facts, it was in the days after. Today, this morning, he made a point this morning, a very important point.

[20:25:02] But he did not jeopardize the investigation. He didn't put any more specifics. He put the pressure on the right places and he's not commenting on specifics.

So, it may be not our style and we may wish a president never tweeted again, but I like it and most Americans do. And again, I think it pushed the debate in a direction, there's no downside. Theresa May is not -- she's dealing with it. It's not jeopardizing investigations. And I just think it's really a very helpful way to engage.

COOPER: Does it hurt -- I mean, obviously, they're closest allies, relations aren't going to be severely hurt, but she doesn't seem thrilled with the comments.

GRANHOLM: Of course she's not thrilled. I mean, she said so today. And she had criticized him after Charlottesville.

When you go out and do things that embarrass or jeopardize a potential investigation as the leader of a free world, that is not a good thing.

But the other point I just wanted to make is that he's such an opportunistic tweeter. He only tweets on something when it furthers his agenda. So, you notice both after this incident and after the London attack that he did tweet about, both of the times, he linked to his travel ban.

However, let's be real clear, in Minnesota, in August, there was a terrorist attack on a mosque. He did not tweet about that. In June --

MARTIN: Well, he doesn't tweet about everything.

GRANHOLM: Well, of course, that's my point, is he only tweets about the things that affect his particular agenda. It seems he doesn't have a responsive cord or a sense of empathy when it doesn't impact his agenda. This is all about Donald Trump once again.

COOPER: Ed, you get the final word.

MARTIN: Well, I mean, I just think, again, I point to things like -- you can be upset about his closure of tweeting and others, but when he goes to Houston the first time, people say he wasn't empathetic enough. The second time, I think we all agree, there was a man fully engaged in the community, black community, African-Americans, it made a difference.

I mean, if you like him to tweet more about terrorist acts, I bet he would.

GRANHOLM: I don't want him to tweet more, really.

MARTIN: But I just think it's really leadership. And, by the way, more Americans, not popular vote, but more Americans Electoral College-wise voted for his vision, that means something too, right, Jennifer.

GRANHOLM: Not more American tweeted -- no, not more Americans voted for him.

MARTIN: Electoral.

GRANHOLM: Yes, electoral, but she got more votes. So --

COOPER: All right. Ed Martin, thank you. Governor Granholm, as well.

Coming up, we're going to take you to the streets of St. Louis where protesters starting gathering earlier today after a former police officer was acquitted for the 2011 shooting death of an African- American man. The crowd was dispersed for a little bit, this was -- this is a live shot? This is earlier?

OK. This is now live. That was earlier today. It seems like demonstrators are back now. They're marching. We'll take you there, next.


[20:31:06] COOPER: Protests on the street tonight after a police officer is acquitted in the death of an African-American man. Of course it's a scene that's played out over and over again in this country over the years.

This time, in the city of St. Louis, which today a judge found the former police officer, Jason Stockley, not guilty of first degree murder for fatally shooting Anthony Lamar Smith back in 2011. Shortly after the ruling (ph) protest started in Downtown St. Louis.

CNN's Dan Simon is there. He joins us now. So, explain the situation right now, Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we are walking right now with a couple hundred protesters. We are in the central west end of St. Louis and this is all been spontaneous. This is not been planned and it appears that this group now is attempting to shut down a freeway.

It was a very intense afternoon when you saw clashes between protesters and police. The question is what's going to happen tonight? Of course, the elephant in the room is, are we going to see something in St. Louis like what we saw in Ferguson, Missouri. That is very much on to everybody's mind tonight.

But I can tell you that authorities are prepared. The National Guard is on stand by. Police are working 12 hour shifts. Some vacations have been called off and it's a very intense situation, I'll tell you that.

This group looks very peaceful, but what we saw earlier outside the courthouse, we saw protesters throwing rocks at police, throwing bottles and that's when police started using pepper spray made several arrests.

Again, we're just walking up this freeway overpass and I guess we'll see what happens. Forgive me that I'm a little out of breath because we just run to catch up with this group, Anderson.

COOPER: So, Dan, I mean, is there kind of a central organization doing -- behind this? I mean, you said they're spontaneous. I mean, if somebody is sort of determining, "OK, this is where we're going now." And is there somebody trying to help keep order? Because oftentimes protesters will try to, you know, keep watch over each other instead of try to keep things orderly.

SIMON: Well, when things broke up outside of the courthouse this afternoon, we had received word that they were going to come to this section of town and I assume it got spread by social media.

But it wasn't like when they woke up this morning, "We're going to meet at this particular location in the event of verdict." This is all have been unfolding, really, within the past hour or so, once things broke out at the courthouse. So you see there are people holding signs.

COOPER: And, Dan, is there a heavy police presence where the protesters are now? Or since it's rolling, are the police just kind of following along?

SIMON: Right now they're taking a hand off posture. You can see, you have police over here on the side. Obviously, they don't want to shut down the freeway because that's really going to disrupt things.

I don't know what's going to happen if and when they do try to go on to the freeway itself. It's going to be something to watch with this. But you can see police just casually standing off from the side, clearly they don't want to escalate things and this crowd is acting peacefully as you can see.

COOPER: All right, Dan, we're going to continue to check in with you throughout the evening as we keep an eye in that situation. I want to give you some background on the case that they are protesting about. Our Randy Kaye reports.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You're watching the final moments of a man's life. It's December of 2011, a motorist Anthony Lamar Smith is being chased by St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley and his partner.

The officer suspected he'd been involved in a drug deal. The officers would later say when they approached Smith he jumped in his car and drove off, hitting the police cruiser and knocking Officer Stockley sideways.

The officer fires several shots saying he feared for his life and the safety of others. The high speed chase stops 80 miles per hour.

[20:35:03] During the per suit, Stockley is heard saying, "I'm going to kill this blank, don't you know it?" It's difficult to hear on the dash cam video, but court documents say that's what he said.

The chase ends with a crash which Smith survives. But when officers approach, an internal report says Stockley ordered Smith to show his hands and that he thought he saw Smith reach for a handgun. Officer Stockley fires four shots. Anthony Smith is struck in the chest and dies at the scene.

KAYE (on camera): An internal report says Officer Stockley entered Smith's car to locate the weapon and render it safe and remove the ammunition from a silver revolver.

According to the criminal complaint, forensic analysis revealed that only Officer Stockley's DNA was on the gun, he said belonged to Smith. Officer Jason Stockley is relieved of his duties and charged with first-degree murder.

CHRISTINA WILSON, ANTHONY SMITH'S FIANCE: We all knew what it was when it happened. There couldn't have been any doubt about it. I knew that it was murder from the beginning.

KAYE (voice-over): Stockley's murder trial started last month. The key question, whether or not the motorist, Smith, had a gone at the time of the shooting. Prosecutors argued that the ex-officer may have planted the revolver in the car to justify the shooting. Even though multiple cameras captured the incident, the gun was never seen.

Still in his not guilty ruling, Judge Timothy Wilson said the gun would have been too large for Stockley to hide and then plant. The judge said he reviewed the video footage innumerable times and that just because Smith's finger prints weren't on the gun didn't mean the driver didn't touch the gun.

Judge Wilson was left to determine whether the killing was intentional or lawfully use of deadly force by an officer acting in self-defense.

Randy Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: And as you saw, there is a lot of, obviously, outrage and reaction to this. We saw those protests earlier today. And now, this is a live picture from KTVI. It's 7:37 there in St. Louis.

Several hundred people, it's hard to get a sense of the actual total number, but Dan Simon who is there somewhere in the crowd said there's about several hundred people and he believes that they were trying to stop or cross over a freeway to kind of cut off the freeway as a protest, which is obviously something we have seen.

Dan, what's going on right now?

SIMON: Well, we're just standing on top of this freeway overpass and right now the crowd is not attempting to go on the freeway. It looks like they're headed towards some apartment buildings actually. And right now, you can see there are just a number of police vehicles here. Traffic has really slowed down as, obviously, drivers are wondering what's going on.

And it looks like the crowd is moving. They're going on to sort of a grassy area. And I don't really think they have much of a plan, Anderson. I think they're just making it up as they go. But right now police are not tempting to interfere. They're just kind of letting the crowd go as they please.

COOPER: And we're looking at two different shots, so it's a little hard to tell one in relation to the other. You're on -- just so I'm clear, Dan. I believe your camera is on the left-hand side of the screen and -- where we see the flashing police lights. You're on an overpass of the highway, is that correct?

SIMON: This is actually a freeway entrance, exactly. You can see a number of people just standing on it. You can see this police vehicle blocking the crowd.

So, here's what's going on. You can see that the officers are clearly trying to keep the crowd from going on to the freeway. You see the police in full riot gear. Obviously, this is what preventing people from actually going on to the highway.

And the crowd now is pushing just straight in front of us over this grassy hill here, and I don't know where they're going. That appears to be a residential area and right now we're just waiting to see how this unfolds, Anderson.

COOER: And the camera on the right side of your screen, which is an affiliate camera, again, just kind of giving a broader overview. I believe Dan is to the left on the area that he is in. But it looks like traffic has been stopped on that freeway, maybe out of concern that people are going to come on. But, again, it's a little hard to tell.

We're going to continue to follow this situation. We have reporter, Dan Simon, there. Actually, you're seeing there are some lights from a helicopter kind of lighting up, illuminating the -- where the crowd seems to be going.

They're seems to be walking. Dan was saying its potential in a residential neighborhood. It's hard to tell, Dan, just where you are in relation to this other camera that we're seeing which is more of an overview shot.

[20:40:06] But it does look like there's a large crowd of people moving down what appears what appears to be more of a residential street.

SIMON: Yes. It's definitely a residential area. I can see some of the homes or apartments in front of me. There appears to be a church over here. And now, we see two big bus loads of police officers to my right here.

Jim (ph), can you turn the camera over here? See those buses right there, full of police officers getting out. Again, police don't know really where this crowd is going. So, it is beginning to be a tense situation. Obviously if they flood into some of these residential areas, that's going to cause some major concern and that's where you might have to seek police intervene, Anderson.

COOPER: Right. Dan, we'll continue checking with you.

St. Louis -- former St. Louis Alderman Antonio French joins us on the phone. He was actually an eyewitness to car chased which resulted in that shooting or ended with that shooting.

Antonio, can you just explain -- I mean, this was a shooting that took place in 2011. My understanding is that was there was new information that is the reason this case ended up going to court. Is that correct?

ANTONIO FRENCH, FORMER ST. LOUIS ALDERMAN: Well, first, let me correct you. It's kind of strange, but I am not the Antonio French who was a witness to the case.

COOPER: Oh, OK. I'm sorry about that.

FRENCH: Antonio French.

COOPER: I do know -- yes, you are the former St. Louis alderman who I met many times.

FRENCH: Right.

COOPER: OK, good. Yes.

FRENCH: That's right.

COOPER: Apologize. I thought that was a very odd coincidence, by the way.

FRENCH: Yes, yes.

COOPER: But why was this case brought now when this shooting took place in 2011?

FRENCH: Well, that's a good question. The former circuit attorney brought these charges before she left office. And I think it was due to the DNA evidence, video evidence.

I am not sure exactly what happened different, but they had been pressured for quite a while, giving all the evidence that this was a case that could actually, you know, meet the threshold of Missouri state law, which is very hard to convict a police officer of murder. But the former prosecutor and current prosecutor both felt that they had a good case. And looking at the evidence, especially some of the statements from the officer, again, saying that he was going to kill this mf just before he actually did it. You know, we felt that this was a case that could be won. We're disappointed with today's verdict.

COOPER: Shot five times while he was in the vehicle. There was a weapon found, but the accusation against the officer was that he had planted the weapon. His DNA and only his DNA, I believe, traces only of his DNA were found on the weapon. He claimed that he touched the weapon while executing a search.

FRENCH: Yes. So it's a couple of things. One, as you said that the weapon only had the officer's DNA. But then there's also this video evidence from the police car above the dash and the backseat camera that show that the officer go to his bag and get something and then take it back by himself to the car.

And so, yes, the prosecutors believe that this was a clear case of a gun being planted, an officer having premeditation to kill this suspect and people are very frustrated by tonight's verdict.

COOPER: You know, I'm wondering just -- if you could give us a sense over the last, you know, several months, last year or so since Ferguson, which is when I think, you know, many people met you for the first time in terms of seeing you on television and hearing your voice nationally. What has changed? What has not changed in, you know, in the St. Louis area?

FRENCH: Well, sadly I would say not enough has changed. I mean, we find ourselves in the same frustrating position here where people are still going to the streets demanding the same thing that they demanded back in 2014, which is accountability.

People want to have faith in the system and know that if an officer takes a life that there is some level of accountability and people are not feeling that they -- that that is happening.

If there is something positive that has changed is that there is more awareness about this issue, but awareness about actions didn't mean much. And you're seeing tonight, you know, people taken to the street once again to let the world know that we want change in the city.

COOPER: Former St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, we'll continue to talk to you. Thank you very much. We're going to check back in with the alderman and also with our reporter on the ground, this protest in St. Louis throughout the night.

Up next, President Trump has a new target in the media tonight, ESPN Anchor Jemele Hill. Why he is now asking for an apology from her?

[20:45:03] Plus, Jose is back to hurricane strength with the new track that could bring it back towards the U.S. We'll tell you where it's headed, all the models ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Yet, again, the President of the United States is targeting a media figure on Twitter, this time ESPN Anchor Jemele Hill. It started when she recently tweeted, "Donald Trump is a white supremacist who is largely surrounded himself with other white supremacists."

The comment spark to fire a storm as you might imagine, especially among conservative media outlets, which should criticize ESPN for year for what they see is a liberal political bent.

This morning the President tweeted this, apparently referring to Hill, "ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics and bad programming. People are dumping it in record numbers. Apologize for untruth."

Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that what Jemele Hill said was a fireable offense. From the podium today, she stood by those remarks and said that ESPN has been hypocritical and should hold anchors to a fair and consistent standard.

Joining me now is CNN Political Commentators Bakari Sellers and Scott Jennings.

Bakari, I mean, so there are two angles on this to discuss. First of all, should the White House be going after someone directly because they express a personal opinion on Twitter? And then there's also the decision by ESPN in what she said.

So, does it make sense to you that -- I mean, is it appropriate for the White House to be saying that this is a fireable offense?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely not. It's not appropriate for the White House to go after private company or private individual and talk about that it's a fireable offense.

I mean, we can go down the list of fireable offenses in the White House, but even more importantly, we got to talk about the fact that her right is protected in the First Amendment.

I thought it was conservative. I thought it was the Republican Party who got in a tizzy day after day and we just saw it in Charlottesville where they were having a free speech rally or free speech march. And so it kind of catches me off balance and off guard when all of a sudden, Sarah Huckabee Sanders wants to attack Jemele Hill. But to actually get to the substance of what she said, I dare anyone to tell me where she lied.

[20:50:07] She did not speak an untruth. Jemele Hill spoke her truth. And for anyone to come up here and not have the ability to stand in the shoes of an African-American woman who was talking about sports under that light and have the ability to simply say that she was speaking her truth and let her do that, then it's very audacious for any of us to criticize her, even more so, more audacious for Donald Trump to do so.

COOPER: Scott, I mean, the White House telling a company that what their employee has said is fireable offense. Does that concern you?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It concerns me. I don't think that government ought to be a weighing in on private sector personnel decisions. Look, I'm a conservative. I want the free market to determine who's hired and fired out there in the private marketplace and it's really the issue here.

She is protected by the constitution. She has a right to speak her mind, but she's not free of the consequences of that speech. And so she serves in a public role for a network that has to decide if they want their sport center anchors out there, you know, essentially pissing off half of the country, which is what she did with her tweet.

So, I think she has the right to speak. I don't think she was necessarily protected from the consequences of that speech, although it seems tonight that ESPN has decided to lightly reprimand her and move on.

COOPER: You know, Bakari, I mean, Sarah Sanders said something today that, I think a lot of people agree with, certainly conservatives agree with, that ESPN has been hypocritical that they should hold their anchors to a fair and consistent standard. They've let go people who said things they took issues.

Curt Schilling, I believe, had made comments about transgender bathrooms. Linda Cohn was, I believe, disciplined for expressing her opinions about ESPN programming and business deals.

SELLERS: Yeah. And Linda Cohn was reprimanded and so was Jemele Hill. She was reprimanded. But the comparison between her and Curt Schilling is a fallacy and it's a flaw and it's intellectually dishonest and I'm glad you brought it up.

Because Curt Schilling, he not only came out about against transgender, he also came out against Muslim Americans. He also said Hillary Clinton should be buried underneath a jail. So he not only had one bite against the public policy apparatus at CNN, but he had three.

I mean, Curt Schilling is an awesome picture, but he's also borderline racist. And so I think that ESPN was right in their justification with curt Schilling because you had three instances with him. Jemele Hill actually said something and Scott will not refuted. I don't know who will. She did not speak an untruth.

And listen, guys, I mean, we're sitting here -- we're three men and we're talking about an African-American woman in Trump's America. I mean, what she's going through right now, speaking sports, where most people think she needs to sit in her place where she needs to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.

She's talking about sport. She's talking about it from her perspective and she's speaking her truth. Let her live that truth. And if people don't want to watch ESPN because of Jemele Hill, so be it. I got three or four more friends who will stand with her. COOPER: Scott, I mean, the President tweeting about this is part of it just him trying to please his base and, you know, time that he's receiving criticism from his base about DACA. But this is, you know, this is a tried and true thing attacking someone in the media.

JENNINGS: The President has had great success turning the guns on the media. He's done it, of course, to CNN as we're aware here. He's doing it to ESPN. This is part of a political strategy. And look, great -- many of his supporters do believe there is a vast media conspiracy out there to try to undermine this President.

I do think it is important to address the substance of her tweets. She is welcome to her opinion. I don't have a problem with people expressing their opinion. I do think she impugn the character of a great many people. She said that he surrounds himself with white supremacists.

I mean, I think if Ben Carson (INAUDIBLE), members of the President's cabinet were told they were white supremacist, they'd be pretty darn surprise to learn that. And so she's welcome to her opinion.

The free market here has to rule. I think ESPN has to decide are -- is half the country worth making mad over a political issue when she's supposed to be, you know, talking about sports.

Again, I agree, right to freedom of speech. I just don't know how you make a business decision to make everybody that supports President Trump angry and give them the excuse to turn your network off.

COOPER: We're going to leave it there. I said Sarah Sanders called Jemele Hill remarks a fireable offense yesterday. It was actually Wednesday when she first said that and she stood by it today. Bakari Sellers, Scott Jennings, guys, thanks very much.

When we come back, Jose has now been upgraded to a hurricane. We'll tell you where in the United States it may hit.


[20:57:38] COOPER: We're watching closely at protests taking place in St. Louis. You're looking at two different view points of it. Several hundred people have been marching now through the streets.

There had been, according to Dan Simon who's in there with the protesters, they had been thinking about try to cut off a freeway. It looks like the police were out in heavy presence in order to stop them from getting onto the freeway. It's not clear where they are headed now or how organized it is. We got reporters on the ground. We'll go back to them shortly.

First to talk about, one and a half millions people are still without power in Florida after hurricane Irma (INAUDIBLE) from the state, but already there's another hurricane that could impact the U.S.

Jose regained strength today. It was upgraded back to a Category 1 hurricane. Allison Chinchar is in the weather center with a look at the potential path. So what do we know about this, Allison?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, what we know is a lot of things are going to be changing in the next 24 hours. Already, we've started with the fact that it's upgraded to back to a Category 1 hurricane. Winds right now about 75 miles per hour.

As it progresses north, it's actually going to expand in overall size. Tomorrow, it's actually very likely the National Hurricane Centers say that they will issue tropical storm watches for areas of North Carolina because as this gets bigger, some of those outer bands are likely to interact with it.

Then as it goes even further north, say timing around Wednesday morning-ish, it will be about 225 miles east of New York City. Keep in mind, the margin of error for the cone is also 225 miles, which means cities like New York and Boston will likely still be well within that area of reason for potential Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

COOPER: So, I mean, is the northeast the only part of the U.S. that may be affected by this?

CHINCHAR: That's a great question and the answer is actually no. So let's take a look because here's the storm. As it continues to push up towards the north, it's actually going to push all of that water towards the eastern seaboard, which means, Anderson, that everyone from Maine all the way down towards Florida will at minimum have the potential for incredibly strong rip currents. Then the further north you get-- let say from North Carolina up to Maine, there's also the potential for an actual landfall as well.

COOPER: All right. Allison, thanks for the latest. Appreciate it, Allison Chinchar.

We've been following the situation, as I said, in St. Louis. Protesters start the gathering this afternoon. Now, they have been marching. It comes after a judge found a former police officer not guilty in the shooting death of an African-American man, Anthony Lamar Smith, back in 2011.

Ryan Young joins us now with the latest from St. Louis. So last hour, Ryan, the protesters were trying to march onto a freeway. I hope we're going to show it now (ph). What's happening now?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Anderson, we've been with these protesters at about 11:00 this afternoon. This is the largest gathering that we've had so far.