June 23 Black Lives Matter protests

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes, Ben Westcott, Adam Renton and Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Updated 12:03 a.m. ET, June 24, 2020
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10:58 p.m. ET, June 23, 2020

Fulton County DA says Congressman Collins' criticism of Brooks investigation "clearly political" 

From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson

In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo Tuesday, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard addressed Congressman Doug Collins’ comments about him and the Rayshard Brooks case. 

Over the weekend, US Rep. Collins called on the Georgia attorney general to appoint an independent prosecutor in the Brooks case, claiming that charges brought against two police officers in connection with the fatal shooting of Brooks outside an Atlanta Wendy's are political.

Howard hit back at Collins, saying that Collins was a congressional representative -- not the representative for Fulton County.

"I think you're also aware that his opponents have spent a lot of time talking about his weak law and order record," Howard said.
"I guess what Congressman Collins believes is by coming to Atlanta and attacking me and showing his support for the Atlanta police union, I think he believes it wipes out his record as a criminal defense attorney representing child molesters and defendants involved with domestic violence cases.
"I think his remarks ... were clearly political because as you know, Congressman Collins is running for the US Senate."


10:30 p.m. ET, June 23, 2020

Rayshard Brooks' case has "very little to do with a Taser," says Georgia prosecutor

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard speaks with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Tuesday, June 23.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard speaks with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Tuesday, June 23. CNN

The case of the fatal shooting of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta has "very little to do with a Taser," Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told CNN's Chris Cuomo on Tuesday night.

Brooks was shot dead by police outside a Wendy's restaurant earlier this month after failing a sobriety test. Officers tried to handcuff Brooks, who struggled and then took a Taser from one officer and ran away.

When asked whether the Taser would be legally considered a deadly weapon once it was in Brooks's hands, Howard said that argument was a "diversion from the real facts."

"The whole argument about the Taser is way off the track, and I hope that people will really get to the substance of this case, and what I think people should be talking about is why is it in this country that African Americans continue to get killed by police officers," he said.

Brooks' death, coming two weeks after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, sparked more protests and demonstrations across Atlanta, and the city's police chief stepped down less than a day later.

Devin Brosnan, one of the Atlanta police officers charged in the death of Brooks, said he would not have done anything differently that night.

Read more about Brooks' case:


9:59 p.m. ET, June 23, 2020

West Virginia University places assistant football coach on leave after allegations of mistreatment 

Vic Koenning, at the time the defensive coordinator at the University of North Carolina, watches during the team's NCAA football game against Clemson on September 27, 2014 in Clemson, South Carolina.
Vic Koenning, at the time the defensive coordinator at the University of North Carolina, watches during the team's NCAA football game against Clemson on September 27, 2014 in Clemson, South Carolina. Bob Leveron/AP

West Virginia University assistant football coach Vic Koenning has been placed on administrative leave, effective immediately, following allegations that the coach was mistreating players.

In a lengthy statement released on Twitter, football player Kerry Martin Jr. tweeted that the coach was mistreating him and other players. 

“We need a change in our program,” he tweeted, including allegations of inappropriate comments by Koenning regarding religion, politics and the recent protests. 

CNN is attempting to reach Koenning for comment.

University response: In a statement Tuesday, West Virginia athletics director Shane Lyons thanked Martin for having the courage to bring his concerns to light.

“We will not tolerate any form of racism, discrimination or bias on our campus, including our athletic programs. Coach Vic Koenning has been placed on administrative leave effective immediately, and the department will work with the appropriate parties to conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations. This is serious, and we will act appropriately and in the best interests of our student-athletes." 
11:41 p.m. ET, June 23, 2020

The FBI has provided more details on the rope found in Bubba Wallace’s garage

From CNN's Randi Kaye

The #43 Victory Junction Chevrolet, driven by Bubba Wallace, sits in the garage area prior to the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on June 22 in Talladega, Alabama.
The #43 Victory Junction Chevrolet, driven by Bubba Wallace, sits in the garage area prior to the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on June 22 in Talladega, Alabama. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The FBI has released more details about the rope found in NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace’s team garage.

When asked why the agency characterized the rope as a noose, Birmingham FBI spokesperson Paul Damon told CNN: "It's my understanding that the rope was fashioned into a noose knot and used as a door pull."

Damon said 15 agents were assigned to an investigation to get to the bottom of the case quickly. They considered it an important case and an important issue.  

What's the background? The FBI said Tuesday that a noose found in Wallace's garage at the Talladega Superspeedway had been there since last year and Wallace was therefore not the victim of a hate crime.

NASCAR, mentioning the FBI report, described the item as a "garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose."

"The FBI learned that garage number 4, where the noose was found, was assigned to Bubba Wallace last week," the agency said in a statement Tuesday. "The investigation also revealed evidence, including authentic video confirmed by NASCAR, that the noose found in garage number 4 was in that garage as early as October 2019. Although the noose is now known to have been in garage number 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week."

Read more:


9:07 p.m. ET, June 23, 2020

Sen. Kamala Harris calls for investment in underserved communities, not completely defunding police

CNN's Anderson Cooper and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)
CNN's Anderson Cooper and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) CNN

Sen. Kamala Harris said she thinks the country needs to "reimagine public safety" and direct public funds to underserved communities -- not necessarily get rid of law enforcement.

This comes at a time of unrest in the United States as protesters against racial injustice and police violence call for major reform.

"Understand that healthy communities are safe communities," the California Democrat told CNN on Tuesday. "I'm not saying get rid of police but we have to invest in the health and well-being of our communities."

Harris said factors like access to education, resources for businesses and access to health care all contribute to a "healthy community," and in turn, make for safer places that require a lower police presence.

"When you go to upper-middle class suburbs in America, you don't see that kind of police presence that you see in other neighborhoods, but what you do see are well-funded schools," she said. "What you do see are communities that have small businesses that have access to capital."

Harris said when cities spend nearly one-third of their budget on policing, "that's not a good return on investment for our taxpayers."

"If we want safe communities, we have to invest in the health and well-being and they will be safe," she said.


8:21 p.m. ET, June 23, 2020

Richard Petty Motorsports says it's thankful for "swift and thorough investigation" into noose

From CNN's Jill Martin

Richard Petty Motorsports, which fields the Number 43 car driven by Bubba Wallace, responded to the conclusion of the FBI and NASCAR investigation into a noose found in Wallace's garage.

“In accordance with established protocols, our team member notified the crew chief who notified NASCAR of the presence of the item in the garage stall. NASCAR leadership determined the course of action going forward with an immediate investigation into the item and its possible origins," the statement said.

The company also said in the early stages of the investigation, Wallace was told about the noose and other information gathered by officials.

“Richard Petty Motorsports fully cooperated with NASCAR and authorities as they conducted an investigation into the situation," the statement said.

"No member of Richard Petty Motorsports, nor Wallace had any involvement with the presence of the rope," it continued.

The statement also said the company was "thankful for the swift and thorough investigation" and for the support of NASCAR, the industry and their fans.

Read the statement:

8:04 p.m. ET, June 23, 2020

Los Angeles County supervisors call for independent investigation into Andres Guardado shooting

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Candles and flowers are placed at a makeshift memorial for Andres Guardado on June 19 in Gardena, California.
Candles and flowers are placed at a makeshift memorial for Andres Guardado on June 19 in Gardena, California. Damian Dovarganes/AP

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors are demanding an independent investigation into the recent L.A. County Sheriff’s Department shooting that killed 18-year-old Andres Guardado.

The board voted unanimously for a motion, put forth by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, that mandates the inspector general be provided with all evidence throughout the investigation.

“Our principal concern is that the people of this county have a degree of confidence that we have attempted to make sure that there is accountability, transparency, that there is nothing being concealed,” Ridley-Thomas said.

Some background: The L.A. County Sheriff's Department put a security hold on the coroner’s case, preventing the release of any information beyond the name and age of the deceased. This measure ensures that the independent investigators are granted “immediate and full access to all evidence requested,” including information from the coroner.

The current Inspector General, Max Huntsman, testified that sometimes investigations do call for secrecy.

“But even when there is secrecy, it’s important that there be some kind of means of verifying the integrity of the process,” he said. 

Huntsman said that there has been a history of a problem with establishing cooperation. In this case specifically, his office is currently awaiting a response from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department to their request to view video evidence relevant to the case.

Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva, alongside L.A. Police Chief Michel Moore and District Attorney Jackie Lacey, is expected to introduce a new proposal for a countywide task force aimed at investigating fatal law enforcement-involved shootings.

8:11 p.m. ET, June 23, 2020

Louisville police officer involved in Breonna Taylor's death has been fired, chief says

From CNN's Pierre Meilhan

Breonna Taylor
Breonna Taylor Change.org

A police officer involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor last March has been fired, the Louisville Metro Police Department chief announced Tuesday.

Police Chief Robert J. Schroeder addressed a termination letter to Louisville Metro Police Det. Brett Hankison, saying he was taking this action based on the investigation conducted by the department’s public integrity unit, which found violations of the use of deadly force as well as obedience to rules and regulations.

The 26-year-old African American EMT was killed when police broke down the door to her apartment in an attempted drug sting and shot her eight times. 

Schroeder also added that Hankison’s “actions displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly fired ten rounds into the apartment of Breonna Taylor on March 13, 2020.”

There was no immediate comment from Hankison's attorney concerning the termination letter.

7:38 p.m. ET, June 23, 2020

SEC commissioner defends ultimatum over Confederate symbol in Mississippi state flag

From CNN's Josiah Ryan


Greg Sankey, commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, defended his organizations's threat to remove championship events in Mississippi over the state’s flag Confederate symbol, saying he had come to see the ability to rotate campuses as "a lever we could use to encourage change."

"I truly believe we're past the time for change. …We are going into a cycle where we're looking at some future championship sites," Sankey told CNN's Wolf Blitzer today.

"We rotate certain championships between our campuses which are welcoming places and have identified that, if you will, a lever we could use to encourage change because we want our campuses, we want our states ... to be the welcoming environment for our student athletes that we expect," he added.

Sankey went on to say that he has noted a change in how the SEC sees their athletes using their influence to fight for social change.

"I was on a call of our head football coaches ... and one of the coaches observed that our student-athletes, our young people are asking us for support rather than permission," he said.

"Perhaps years ago it was permission but [now] they're looking for support," he said.