Return to Transcripts main page


Day 6 of Witness Testimony in Derek Chauvin's Murder Trial; Minneapolis Police Chief: Officers Are Trained in De-Escalation Techniques; E.R. Doctor: I Felt Heart Attack "Less Likely" Cause of Cardiac Arrest; Biden Delivers Easter Message Amid Covid Surge, Push for Massive Infrastructure Bill; Research: Nearly 40,000 Kids Have Lost Parent to Covid; Michigan Expands Vaccine Eligibility to Ages 16 & Older; U.S. Averaging 3 Million-Plus Doses into Arms Every Day. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired April 5, 2021 - 13:30   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: And the fact that right there at the end, what we've been hearing about for the last several minutes, is about de- escalation, Laura, and whether that can include use of force, or not. That was a really interesting point.

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It is, Erica, for a variety of reasons. When we're talking about the use of force as a continuum, constantly having to reassess the level of force that you need to use in order to restrain or subdue a resisting, non-compliant suspect.

But on that continuum, of course, are going to be a variety of tactics, verbal threat of use of force, the brandishing of a weapon, the idea of handcuffing, the idea of recognizing that perhaps crisis intervention needs to come into play here and using non-physical force to subdue.

And you still have that line in the sand eventually, Erica, about going from the reasonable use of force on that continuum, and the conversion of it to criminal assault.

You have a witness, who you're not going to be able to undermine in the way they tried to last week, Lieutenant Zimmerman, talking about the tenure of this officer, in a bit of a condescending, patronizing way.

This is a chief of police for a reason. He has extraordinary experience across all of the different spectrums of the force.

And he is able to say and reject any thought that, suddenly, somehow there was no training in this issue or, even worse, that they were trained to kill in this manner.

HILL: In the immediate aftermath of George Floyd's death, the chief fired Chauvin and released a rather damning statement. I want to read part of that for you both right now.

He said, the death, quote, "was not due to a lack of training." The training was there. Chauvin knew what he was doing. The officers knew what was happening. One intentionally caused it and the others failed to prevent it. This was murder. It wasn't a lack of training."

Cedric, at the time, I think everybody sort of took a pause when they saw that statement.

Hearing from the chief this morning and looking back on those words, what are you taking away from what we've heard so far this morning?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That was a very strong statement then. And I still believe that the chief stands that it's a very strong statement now.

If you look at the testimony over the last hour with Chief Arradondo, what you will notice, all of us noticed, and have heard, someone who has a 30-plus year career.

He came up from the bottom of that organization as a cadet right up to chief of police. He is smart. He is a very articulate with his thoughts and his thinking process. He is one that presents himself as being very confident.

And, in addition to that, he's very well-respected across this country as a chief of police.

I think the testimony that you heard and what he's standing on, and the policies that he helped adopt and write over the last number of years really speaks to his credibility.

And as you just heard Laura say, it's going to be very, very difficult to undermine a person of his stature and his credibility, and his authenticity in his testimony this morning, which is huge.

HILL: There's so much of what we have heard from him that was about the interaction with the community.

And, in fact, he sort of ended on that note in his last answer there, that this may be the first and only opportunity that any officer has to interact with whoever the member of the community is, that they are meeting in that moment.

Recognizing he was talking about that they may not be having their best day.

Laura, setting that out there, talking about the way each officer should approach each interaction, with not only the people who may have called or the person who may have called, but those around them in the moment, that stood out to me as well.

COATES: It does, Erica. And I go back to the comments of that mixed martial artist fighter who talked about, I called the police on the police. I didn't see a human connection between the people on the scene. I needed help some other way. There was a clear indication here, throughout the testimony, that they

believe that these officers somehow were acting in a rogue manner, that they were not upholding what people believed to be what should happen in these interactions.

And so there was some divide even then. There was a realization even then of the constant imploring to please do something that is coming back right now.

But you know what's interesting here, Erica, this might be the first day in this trial that we have not heard from the star witness in this Derek Chauvin trial.

The star witness is the video. The star witness is a photograph of Floyd. The star witness is the realization and the continual reminder, after two days off for this jury, only a half day on Friday, of what's happening here.

I suspect they're going to have this chief of police revisit that, revisit what -- why he made the statement he did. Why there was the swift firing. Why this was, in his mind, murder.

One final point here. One of the statements he made, and what you read, was it was intentional. Remember, Derek Chauvin is being charged with unintentional murder.

It does not mean that he did not intend to act. Unintentional murder means you did not intend to kill, but you intended to perform the action and behavior that caused the death.


It's a legal nuance, but the jury will have to be made aware of it in jury instructions.

HILL: As we look at this, just a quick question on the training itself, because I've been learning so much this morning about what the required training is and the ongoing training officers go through.

The chief said they spend $4 million a year on training.

Cedric, how does that compare with other departments around the country? Is that on par?

ALEXANDER: Yes, pretty much. And if you look at the size of that city, over 400,000, you have 700-plus police officers he's reporting he has to date.

And so when you think about training -- and it's a variety of different training they go through every year. And they have to meet that POST qualification, that peace officer and standards qualification training for 700-and-some officers.

And that's firearms training, that's de-escalation training, that's bias training. That is a lot of different training. Those at work that traffic, those at work in special victims, homicide or investigators who get certain specialized training.

So when you put it in that context, it does involve a great deal of training in order for that police department to maintain its certification and force members to maintain their certification as well.

HILL: As I mentioned prior to hearing from Chief Arradondo this morning, we heard from the E.R. doctor who tried to revive George Floyd to save him when he arrived at the hospital.

He was asked very specifically about what information he did, did not have. Take a listen.


DR. BRADFORD LANGENFELD, E.R. PHYSICIAN WHO PRONOUNCED GEORGE FLOYD DEAD: There was no obvious, significant external trauma that would have suggested that he suffered anything that could produce bleeding sufficient to lead to a cardiac arrest.

And so, based on the history that was available to me, I felt that hypoxia was one of the more likely possibilities.

JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: And hypoxia has an explanation for his cardiac arrest, meaning oxygen insufficiency?


BLACKWELL: Was your leading theory then for the cause of Mr. Floyd's cardiac arrest oxygen deficiency?

LANGENFELD: That was one of the more likely possibilities. I felt that, at the time, based on the information I had, it was more likely than the other possibilities.

BLACKWELL: And, Doctor, is there another name for death by oxygen deficiency?



HILL: So he's talking about the asphyxia there. And that's my fault. I was referencing another moment. But I'm going to paraphrase it. I want to get context around that.

He was asked about information he was giving about a possible overdose. He wasn't given the information there was a possible overdose. Paramedics didn't say they thought he had a heart attack.

And he wasn't given any information about CPR being given or attempted on scene from either the officers there or the bystanders.

Cedric, looking at the training and the idea of what sort of tools did these officers have in their toolbox, what training did they have, there was a sense that they were trying to make the point that maybe police officers should have given aid.

I mean, would that be part of your training? How and when to administer aid?

ALEXANDER: Well, certainly. And I think it's very clear to all of us who saw that video, Erica, at the moment that George Floyd stopped breathing, they should have known at that point something was very seriously wrong.

Even Officer Lane mentioned to Chauvin, is that shouldn't we turn him over, and Chauvin said no. So there was their opportunity to do CPR, whatever was necessary.

But of course, if we take into account the fact that his knee should have never been in his neck to begin with, that's what's important here.

But the moment that it gave the appearance that he lost consciousness under that knee, and clearly by those officers that were there, it appears that they should have, at that time, introduced CPR.

HILL: We're going to have to leave it there for now. The clock is ticking.

But, Laura Coates, Cedric Alexander, we will be picking it up again soon. Thank you as always for your insight and your expertise.

ALEXANDER: Thank you.

HILL: Moments ago, President Biden delivering an Easter message amid a surge in new COVID infections. All this comes as a record number of people are also traveling, many of them for the holiday or spring break.

There is progress, though, on the vaccine front. The U.S. now administering an average of more than three million doses a day.


We're going to speak with the doctor about all of what we're seeing, just ahead.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As we celebrate the renewal of this season, we know that longed-for dawn is almost here.

We will rebuild our nation. We will reengage and reimagine what we can be. We'll remember that, with faith, hope and love, anything is possible.


HILL: President Biden there delivering Easter Monday remarks from the White House.

Now, normally today, of course, there would be the traditional Easter egg roll at the White House. Cancelled, though, this year for the second year in a row due to COVID concerns.

These remarks come as new coronavirus cases surge in spots around the country and as President Biden prepares for battle to get that massive infrastructure bill through Congress.

CNN's Phil Mattingly is at the White House.

So, Phil, what more are we hearing from the president today.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think if you listen to the remarks that the president had at the Easter ceremony, it's very scaled back. And it underscores the fact that coronavirus is interspersed with everything this administration is doing.

Yes, their next big legislative agenda item is an infrastructure package. And it is a sweeping one. A once-in-a-generation investment.

On the structure side, about $2.2 trillion expected in total when the two-part plan is fully released by mid-April, over $4 trillion.

But part of the reason you hear from White House officials of why they're willing to go so big is because of what they've seen in the wake of the pandemic, or during the pandemic.

The fragility in the U.S. economy in areas where, over the course of last several decades, they view this as underinvestment.

Republicans are very clear. They are opposed to the sweeping plan. They're opposed to the way the Biden administration proposes to pay for that plan, largely on the back of a corporate rate increase, corporate taxes going up across the board in several different factors.

The president, well, he's responding to the critique that a lot of the plan isn't about core infrastructure. Take a listen.


BIDEN: I find it interesting that when the Republicans put forward an infrastructure plan, they thought everything from broadband to dealing with other things -- were infrastructure. So it's interesting how their definition has changed.


MATTINGLY: A lot of the critique goes to the fact it's not just roads and bridges and waterways and ports. It's also $400 billion for home care infrastructure, $174 billion for a new fleet of electric vehicles. The White House making clear that is part of what they view as kind of

this broad infrastructure umbrella.

One thing to keep in mind, though, Erica -- and I think this is extremely important -- the White House has made clear, publicly and behind the scenes, they are going to seek Republican support for this package.

But they also know this is likely to move Democrat only. And that is why all eyes remain on moderate Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin, who is already coming out today saying he's opposed to the increase of the corporate rate from 21 percent to 28 percent. He wants it around 25 percent.

Bottom line here, there's a lot of work on the legislative side to be done over the course of the next several months -- Erica?

HILL: That is for sure.

Phil Mattingly, appreciate it as always. Thank you.

Up next, a disturbing new study finds nearly 40,000 children have now lost at least one parent to COVID-19. We'll take a look at that.

Plus, there is progress when it comes to vaccines. An infectious disease expert is with us next.


HILL: The TSA says six million people traveled through U.S. airports over the weekend. Travel continuing to increase right along with new fears of a COVID surge.

Let's look at some other coronavirus updates from around the country.


DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Elizabeth Cohen. A new study shows that since February of last year, nearly 40,000 children in the United States lost a parent to COVID-19. That means that for every 13 COVID deaths in the United States, a child lost a parent.


Now, about three-quarters of those children wear adolescents and about a quarter under the age of 10.

Black children were disproportionately affected. Those children represent about 14 percent of the population but about 20 percent of the children who lost a parent to COVID.

The study authors urged services to help these children as they grieve the loss of their parents.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Polo Sandoval, in Detroit, where if you live in the state of Michigan and are age 16 and up, you can finally get the vaccine appointment. So head to one of the mass vaccination locations and get the shot in the arm that you've been waiting for.

The state of Michigan expanding eligibility today along with five other states, including Tennessee, Idaho, Iowa, Florida and Nevada as well.

Here in Michigan, it can't come soon enough as authorities have been scrambling to try to contain the most recent spike in new COVID infections.

In fact, over the weekend, the totals number of new infections surpassing 8,400. The last time we saw that number was early December.


HILL: Well, the U.S. is now averaging more than three million COVID vaccine shots a day, according to the latest CDC data. And nearly a third of the population has had at least one dose.

But you partner that boost in vaccinations with concerns from experts that there are not enough people vaccinated in this country, which is, of course, spiking more fears of a surge.

Dr. Ken Sepkowitz, is a deputy physician and chief at Memorial Sloan Kettering and professor of medicine and infectious diseases at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Doctor, there doesn't seem to be agreement at this point where we stand when it comes to a next wave. Take a listen.


DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH & POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: At this time, we really are in a category 5 hurricane status with regard to the rest of the world.

In terms of the United States, we are at the beginning of this surge. We haven't even really begun to see it yet.

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: I don't think it's going to be a true fourth wave. I think we have delayed the point at which we can get this behind this for the summer. But we haven't forestalled the opportunity.

I think with the rate of vaccination that we're having right now - we're vaccinating, like you said, four million people a day -- I think that's probably going to reach five million people a day.


HILL: In your view, what's the reality? Where do we stand in terms of a, quote, "new surge?" DR. KEN SEPKOWITZ, DEPUTY PHYSICIAN AND CHIEF, MEMORIAL SLOAN

KETTERING & PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, WEILL CORNELL MEDICAL COLLEGE: Right now, the world -- the globe is in a surge, for sure. Call it a wave, whatever. The U.S. has an uptick. And we are playing with language here, the difference between an uptake and a wave and a surge.

The U.S. is thinking about getting into trouble for a decrease, which had been going on for about six weeks, after the Christmas through Inauguration Day surge. It was coming down.

We've lost the reduction day to day. We have flattened out. It's not sure which way it's going to go. My hunch is it's going to go up but not as bad as the January wave.

Whether or not, in the retrospect, we say that was an wave or whether we say that was an uptick, I don't know. I don't think it's going to be a disaster. But we're not on Easy Street at all.

HILL: As we look at vaccinations, we know these numbers are rising. There's a push for maybe to use all the doses we have out there to get as many vaccinated as possible with the first shot, deal with the second shot afterwards to really try to blunt the variants.

Do you think that is a smart option?

SEPKOWITZ: Yes. Right now, if, indeed, the stockpile -- which I don't think we know how many they have in the bank, so to speak -- if the stockpile is running low, then, yes, I think we ought to optimize pretty good vaccination protection for more people than super-duper for few people.

If, however, the vaccine stockpile isn't so sparse, if the cupboard is not bare, I think we plough ahead with what we are doing.

HILL: Where do you


HILL: And where do you stand when it comes to vaccine passports? I mean, talk about a new football being thrown around at this point. It looks like something that will likely come more from the private sector.

Are you concerned about this conversation and what it could do to people who may be still a bit hesitant when it comes to vaccination?

SEPKOWITZ: I think we have hit an inflection point in the epidemic now where we have gone from a public health crisis to an individual health decision.

It used to be, I wore my mask to protect you. I would get my vaccine to protect you. But now the population is getting pretty immune. We're nowhere near herd immunity.

But the decision now is on individuals not to get vaccinated. If that person doesn't want to get vaccinated and still wants to go a

Mets game, that's an individual decision. The other people at that game will be comfortable if they're vaccinated, uncomfortable if they are not vaccinated.

But now that we have -- everyone can make a choice about being protected, I think it's a very different decision.

I like the idea of the passport in terms of identifying people. We do it all the time in a less politicized quarter.

HILL: Yes.


SEPKOWITZ: You can't go to college without being vaccinated from meningococcus. You can't go to Mecca on hajj unless you've been vaccinated for the same bacteria.

So we've used this in a zillion different places. It's a political football now. It's kind of a pointless, you know, from everybody gets one (ph) sort of thing.

HILL: Unfortunately, too many things have become political, especially when it comes to basic science and COVID.

Doctor, always appreciate your insight. Thank you.

SEPKOWITZ: Thank you very much.

HILL: Day six of testimony in the Derek Chauvin trial. The Minneapolis police chief expected to be back on the stand in about half an hour when court returns from a lunch break. We'll bring you the latest, live, as soon as it resumes.

Our coverage continues with Brooke Baldwin on the other side of this break.