Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Defense Cross-Examines LAPD Use-of-Force Expert; Day 8 of Witness Testimony in Derek Chauvin Murder Trial; CDC Director: UK Variant is Now Dominant COVID Strain in the U.S.; Continuing Coverage of the Derek Chauvin Trial; Biden on Pandemic: "We're Not at the Finish Line;" CDC Director: Youth Sports, Day Cares Contributing to COVID Clusters; WH: U.S. Will Approach Half of All Adults Partly Vaccinated by This Weekend; CNN Analysis: Timeline for Vaccinating Adults Varies Greatly Between States; CNN Analysis: Willing Adults in Some States May Be Waiting All Year for Vaccine. Aired 11:30a-12p ET.

Aired April 7, 2021 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:30:00]

SGT. JODY STIGER, HIRED PROSECUTION EXPERT ON USE OF FORCE: It depends on the circumstances.

ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right. A handcuffed suspect can continue to present a risk?

STIGER: Based on that person's actions, yes.

NELSON: Right. And so once you're in a -- have a suspect in the prone position and they continue to kick, it may require more force than if they were compliant, right?

STIGER: Yes. That's why we have devices like the hobble.

NELSON: Right. Now, initially during this instant, you would agree that Mr. Floyd continued to make certain protestations about his inability to breathe, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: And he was saying lots of other things like that he was in pain and that he was hurting, correct?

STIGER: Correct.

NELSON: And an officer, as reasonable officer, they need to communicate with each other, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: A reasonable officer is going to rely on information this is fellow officer tells him, right? STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: A reasonable officer, again, is going to take into consideration what the suspect is saying, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: And compare that against the actions, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: And at a point during the exchange initially, officers are going to kind of talk and figure out what's going to happen next, right?

STIGER: They should, yes.

NELSON: What has just happened, right? Why are we involved here? What's going to happen next and you -- you can sometimes take time to formulate options and decisions, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: In the scene of an arrest, even -- even just in the immediate kind of wing span, that can be very chaotic, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: People can be talking to each other; people can be talking over each other, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: The suspect may be saying something, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: Bystanders may be saying some things, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: In the chaos it's easy to miss some things, right?

STIGER: In certain instances, yes, depending on the severity of what's going on.

NELSON: I'd like to publish part of the body worn camera. It's Officer King's body worn camera, starting at 20:21:01.

UNKNOWN: (Inaudible), can you see it?

NELSON: Yes.

PETER CAHILL, JUDGE IN CHAUVIN TRIAL: Any objection?

STEVE SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: No objection. NELSON: I'd like you to see if you can tell me what Mr. Floyd says in this instance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE FLOYD, VICTIM: (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NELSON: Did you hear what he said?

STIGER: No, I couldn't make it out.

NELSON: Does it sound like he says, "I ate too many drugs." Listen again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FLOYD: (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STIGER: I can't make that out, no.

NELSON: OK. So in the chaos of the situation, things can be missed, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: You would agree that Mr. -- at one point during the exchange, Mr. Floyd was advised that he was under arrest, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: In fact, that happened a couple of times, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: Now, at the point they have Mr. Floyd on the ground, you would agree and you're aware that officers called for EMS, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: It's reasonable for an officer to call EMS, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: If there is an injury, right, or some need?

STIGER: Or a complaint of injury or some discomfort or medical emergency, yes.

NELSON: And you understand that in this particular instance very shortly after Mr. Floyd was on the ground, officers called for EMS?

[11:35:00] STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: They called for --

STIGER: I believe initially for his injury to his head.

NELSON: To his face or mouth injury, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: And they called in a -- they called EMS in a non emergent situation, right?

STIGER: Correct.

NELSON: And that happened at 8:19 in 49 seconds. Code 2, EMS, for a mouth injury, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: And this occurred at the point when officers were discussing whether or not to use the hobble restraint on Mr. Floyd, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: And ultimately officers did not use the hobble restraint, right?

STIGER: Correct.

NELSON: A hobble restraint would generally require officers to consider calling EMS, right, according to Minneapolis Police Department policy?

STIGER: Yes, according to Minneapolis Police Department.

NELSON: And it may be different in other jurisdictions, right?

STIGER: Correct.

NELSON: So as officers are discussing and ultimately they decide, you agree, that they decide not to use the hobble device?

STIGER: Yes, they did not use their hobble device.

NELSON: And we talked a little bit earlier about the de-escalation component of things, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: A decision to use or to not use a higher form of force that you may have been authorized to use can actually be a de-escalation technique, agreed?

STIGER: In certain, instances, yes.

NELSON: Right. So officers making a decision not to increase the level of force can be viewed as a de-escalation technique?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: Now again, we've talked a lot about the need for reassessment and kind of things as they come -- come -- reassessment -- and officers need to continue to take in information, process it, figure things out, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: They have to, as a part of that process, continue to attempt to deescalate, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: Would you agree that an officer saying things like relax, take a deep breath, you know, that's a way of trying to calm somebody, right?

STIGER: Yes. It's -- if -- it's not going with other actions. I mean you can say relax, calm down. But if you're punching somebody that's when -- relax and calm down.

NELSON: Right. But if you have someone restrained and they're complaining I can't breathe but they're speaking, they're still moving, they're still talking; you may say, hey man, relax. Calm down, take a deep breath, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: We're going to be -- right. As a way of reassuring that person we've -- we've got -- got you, right?

STIGER: Yes, that you are listening or you're -- you can understand what they're trying to communicate to you.

NELSON: Right. And ultimately, again, officers in this reassessment process, in this case, reassessed the need for -- for a quicker EMS response, right?

STIGER: Yes, after I believe their initial call for the injury, then they -- they ask for a quicker response.

NELSON: Right. It's stepping it up, I guess is the -- is the quote, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: They increased the priority of the call from a Code 2 to a Code 3, which in Minneapolis means get here with your lights and sirens, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: As a part of your analysis, again, at any level did you consider -- did you consider what the average 9-1-1 or EMS response time is?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: Do you have that information?

STIGER: Not for Minneapolis, no. But I know just on average typically usually it's between like five and seven minutes.

NELSON: OK. And that's not specific to Minneapolis, right.

STIGER: Correct.

NELSON: And it obviously depends upon certain circumstances, right?

STIGER: Correct.

NELSON: If there's a -- say a fire house three blocks away, it may be 90 seconds --

STIGER: Correct.

NELSON: -- or a minute even, right?

STIGER: Correct.

NELSON: And sometimes is all of the ambulances are busy --

STIGER: Right.

NELSON: -- and all of the fire trucks are busy, it could be much longer, right?

STIGER: Yes. One could go to the wrong location.

NELSON: Yes. Or they go to the wrong location, right. That happens sometimes.

STIGER: Yes, it's happened to me.

NELSON: So part of the analysis that a reasonable police officer is making is I got EMS coming, right, how long should I expect them to be here? How long -- they're -- they're considering that.

[11:40:00]

NELSON: They're taking that into their analysis.

STIGER: Yes, they should.

NELSON: Now at the point that they stepped up the analysis or stepped up EMS to Code 3, would you agree that that's about the time that people began to congregate?

STIGER: I would have to look at the video again but I -- yes, that's probably around the same time. NELSON: Right. So if EMS was stepped up at 20:21 -- 8:21 and 35 seconds, it's about 90 seconds after the initial call and Ms. Frazier is seen coming into the area at 20:21 and roughly 17 seconds. It's about the same period of time, right?

STIGER: Is Ms. Frazier the --

NELSON: The bystander with the video, yes.

STIGER: OK.

NELSON: She's the bystander who started recording, right.

STIGER: OK.

NELSON: So she started recording at about this same time, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: And she was concerned about what she saw, agreed?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: And again, based on your review of all of the body cameras, Ms. Frazier, she wasn't saying anything initially, right?

STIGER: I don't believe she was, no.

NELSON: She was simply there recording, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: She was not in any way interfering with what the police were doing, right?

STIGER: Right.

NELSON: But more people started coming together, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: And there was another gentleman that was there before actually as they were attempting to put him into the car, right?

STIGER: The older gentleman, yes.

NELSON: The older gentleman. And the -- I believe -- and correct me if I'm wrong, do you participate in a training or present a training or have anything to do with a training called awful but lawful or lawful but awful, something like that?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: And -- so you would agree the general concept is sometimes the use of force, it looks really bad, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: And sometimes it may be so -- it may be caught on video, right, and it looks bad, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: But it's still lawful?

STIGER: Yes, it's based on that Department's policies or based on that state's law. (INAUDIBLE) I did a presentation to -- for -- at a conference for that.

NELSON: OK. So the police use of force has a tendency at times to attract observers, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: And in the course of your career, I'm assuming at the very beginning of your career, there -- not every single person was walking around with a video camera, 24 hours a day, seven days a week with it in their hand, right?

STIGER: No, but in Los Angeles, it was right after Rodney King so you did have people walking around with video cameras. There was actually one gentleman that actually was known for doing it.

NELSON: Right. And so it -- it's become in the more recent history as the smart phone has become as prevalent as it is, a more common experience. It's not just one guy driving around looking for cops arresting people.

STIGER: Correct.

NELSON: Any single person could be -- any single person could be a potential videographer of police interaction, right?

STIGER: Yes, it's become a pretty common practice.

NELSON: And in fact, officers themselves now where cameras, right?

STIGER: Yes, most.

NELSON: And in the city of Minneapolis, every uniformed police officer wears a body worn camera, or they're supposed to, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: And those cameras are supposed to be running when they have interactions with citizens, peaceful or not peaceful, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: There's a limitation to cameras though, right?

STIGER: Yes, there is.

NELSON: The camera only sees what the camera sees, right?

STIGER: In certain instances, yes?

NELSON: Meaning anything outside of its field of view is not observable to the camera.

STIGER: Correct.

NELSON: And certainly the officer -- or certainly cameras can't -- they don't have a feeling or a sensation, right?

STIGER: Yes.

NELSON: You can't -- you can't determine what someone -- the -- the tension in their body, right, based on a camera?

STIGER: Specifically are you referring to --

NELSON: If someone is struggling, right, and you've got them handcuffed, they can still be tense but not really look very tense, right?

STIGER: I would disagree with that.

NELSON: OK. So the camera would be able to pick up whether someone is having a particular sensory experience?

STIGER: Yes, it can.

UNKNOWN: Counsel, side bar.

(END LIVE EVENT)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: OK, another quick sidebar in the court room in Minneapolis.

[11:45:00]

Let me bring in Laura Coates and Chief Ramsey once again.

Laura, if I could just get your quick take on what is the defense attorney getting, building towards getting at here?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: They're trying to build that this essentially -- that it was subjective that the officer -- everything is not in the training book and he was being nimble and flexible and he believed that when he approached the scene that there was a need for -- for more force than normally necessary for an alleged counterfeit bill.

Because he's already learned that officers could not control George Floyd and put him in the back of the squad car. They're also trying to suggest that the power dynamic at play, the size of George Floyd, relative to Derek Chauvin, compelled him to use more force.

And this phrase of hey, awful but lawful, that things look bad but this is actually what officers are trained to do. It still goes against everything we've heard through testimony so far though.

BOLDUAN: Right. I mean that's -- as has been noted and is worth restating, Chief, this is an unusual -- this is an unusual trial in many regards. But one thing that is unusual about it is how many current and former police officers have testified essentially against Derek Chauvin, saying that he has used excessive force. What he did was outside the bounds of policy.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, that's because it was. And I mean we're not disputing or no one is disputing the initial use of force. I mean they talked about the information Chauvin received in route to the -- to the scene.

Well, when he got to the scene, Floyd was already handcuffed and he was near the patrol car. And so, you know, that should have automatically kind of lowered the temperature as far as he was concerned of any -- any risk or -- or threat that he may have perceived on his way there.

Certainly using force to get him in the car, again, nobody's disputing that. But once he's back out of the car and in a prone position and he ceases to resist; that's the problem, that's the issue. And of course the defense counsel is beating around all that to try to muddy the waters a little bit.

But I don't think he's being very successful other than just being successful in dragging out the testimony. But I don't think he's being very effective in terms of really changing anyone's mind about whether or not the use of force in this case was reasonable or was it excessive. And I just -- I just don't see it happening, yet.

BOLDUAN: Control room did tell me that the judge did announce a 20 minute break. So we're going to --

RAMSEY: Right.

BOLDUAN: -- we're going to pick back up shortly. Two more things I'd like to get at with you guys. Chief, as I mentioned, I believe it is now eight current or former officers who have taken the stand to testify against Chauvin. How rare is this?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean it's not as rare as people want to believe. I mean this is a televised criminal trial. We don't get many of those just in general. Most testimony occurs in policing during an arbitration hearing. That's when a chief would testify if they fired or suspended an individual.

A commander would testify, someone from internal affairs would testify. And -- but that's all behind closed doors. And so it happens all the time but it's just not public when it happens. And so this notion that no one ever talks or speaks against another police officer is just simply not true.

Now it doesn't happen as often as it should, granted. There are times when cops see things and they do not report it, there's no question about that. But I think that in terms of testifying, it happens more often than you would think.

BOLDUAN: Laura, something just happened in the cross examination I wanted to get just your take one. When the defense attorney -- when Chauvin's attorney introduced a part of body cam video and he asked the use of force expert if he could -- what George Floyd was saying in that moment.

The -- Stiger could not decipher and he said multiple times; "I can't make that out, I can't make that out." But then the attorney himself said did you hear Floyd there say, "I ate too many drugs," I thought -- I almost -- look, I'm no expert, I almost would have expected there to be an object to that.

COATES: Did you hear me, from where I am, standing up and pounding on the table to say objection because it's exactly what the prosecution should have done in that moment. Here's why, the idea that you're going to introduce testimony through the actual attorneys is not what you're entitled to do.

The judge will often tell the jurors at the beginning instructions and again at the end that the -- that the counsel -- the attorney statements are not testimony. That's the witnesses. The idea here of him trying to introduce what his interpretation of what was said, the idea of well, did you hear him say that he ate too many drugs, are you sure, you repeat it again.

And again, Stiger was -- was not willing to say what he did not understandably hear or was not audible in that way.

[11:50:00]

But in doing so, it lingers. And again, the prosecutors have to be very careful about what lingers. You and I and everyone on the outside of that court room are reflecting on this or thinking about what's happening. But if you're the jury and that's out there, on redirect it's got to be addressed immediately.

BOLDUAN: This is so fascinating. Twenty minute break, we will be getting you back to Minneapolis as soon as -- as this testimony continues, you can definitely expect once the defense wraps. So there will be some redirect coming with this witness on the stand. Thank you both so much. We have much more ahead for us.

Coming up, we have the CDC director saying that U.K. variant, the variant first identified -- the coronavirus variant first identified in the U.K. is now the most dominant strain of COVID in the United States. Coming up next, how it could impact another possible surge in cases.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

The country is in a race against time right now as COVID variants are spreading rapidly and cases are on the rise again in certain states. President Biden is urging the country at this very moment not to let down its guard. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: The virus is spreading because we have too many people who've seen the end in sight, think we're at the finish line already. Let me be deadly earnest with you, we aren't at the finish line.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Biden's warning there comes as the CDC director just moments ago at the White House briefing said that the U.K. variant is now the most prevalent strain in the United States. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: The B117 variant is now the most common lineage circulating in the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: For more on this, let me bring in CNN's senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen. Elizabeth, what else did we learn from the White House briefing today?

[11:55:00]

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know it's related to what Dr. Walensky just said. When she's talking about the B117 variant, also known as the U.K. variant, being so prevalent now in the U.S., many times its young people that are getting that variant.

And she talked about outbreaks that are being seen among young people, let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALENSKY: Trends are increasing in both case numbers and hospitalizations. Across the country we are hearing reports of clusters of cases associated with day care centers and youth sports.

Hospitals are seeing more and more younger adults, those in their 30s and 40s admitted with severe disease.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: You know, Kate, to repeat what we've been saying for many months now, you know, COVID doesn't affect young people as much as it affects older people. But still it does affect young people. Young people can get sick either in the immediate sense when they're acutely ill with COVID or later they can get a syndrome that can really be quite horrible.

So what Dr. Walensky is saying here is look, we're seeing these outbreaks, let's remain vigilant, and remember, children at this point cannot get vaccinated. Kate. BOLDUAN: And that's exactly right. And we are -- on the good news front we are -- do continue to see millions of shots in arms every day. But a new CNN analysis makes it very clear that not every state is -- is seeing this at the same pace. What are you finding?

COHEN: Right. The differences are huge at how quickly states are vaccinating their population. So let's take a look at some neighbors that came up in this CNN analysis.

If you look at the daily rate for full vaccinations; in New York everyday they're fully vaccinating 950 out of 100,000 in the population. So in other words, these are all equalized by 100,000. In North Dakota that number is only 570. And Georgia and Alabama it's less than 300.

So we can see that states are moving along at very different rates. Also let's take a look at how -- part of that is because not everyone wants to get vaccinated. And so for example in Massachusetts and Vermont, 92 percent of people want to get vaccinated. In Georgia that number is only 75 percent. In North Dakota it's 58 percent.

So then that begs the question, all right, when will we see entire states being vaccinated. So when we look at the question when could all willing residents be vaccinated, New York and North Dakota, June; Vermont, early July; Georgia, November. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Elizabeth, thank you so much for the update. We're going to head back to Minneapolis very soon. The murder trial of a former police officer, Derek Chauvin will resume. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:00:00]