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CNN NEWSROOM

Biden Unveils Executive Actions on Guns Control; Ninth Day of Testimony in Derek Chauvin Murder Trial. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired April 8, 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]

DR. MARTIN TOBIN, PULMONOLOGIST: But they're all coming to the same point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, you paid particularly attention. You've told us to the first five minutes and three seconds of the subdual on the ground.

TOBIN: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you would characterize Mr. Floyd's oxygen levels during the first five minutes and three minutes that Mr. Chauvin was top of him?

TOBIN: We know his oxygen levels were enough to keep his brain alive. And the reason we know that is because he continued to speak over that time. We know that he made various vocal sounds for four minutes, 51 seconds, from the time that knee is placed on the neck. And that's telling us partly that he's speaking. But the big thing is it's telling us, because you can't speak without a brain being active. And so we know there is oxygen getting to his brain for whenever he is making an attempt to speak.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWSROOM (voice over): It looks like we jumped into another sidebar. Let me bring in Laura Coates again and as well as Chief Ramsey.

Laura, what do you think the impact is of hearing Dr. Tobin on the jury and the graphic imagery that we've been seeing throughout?

LAURA COATES, SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This is the definition of persuasive, compelling and damning testimony. You have somebody through his tone, his cadence, his expertise, coming across as extraordinarily credible, having composites, having evidence in terms of the form of exhibits that are very able to be understood by the jurors in small, digestible bites. He has described a torturous scene.

He's asked for the jury to follow along his own physical demonstrations. Put your hands here. Follow along this area to the point where the defense had to object to alert the jury, you don't have to follow along with what he's doing. Obviously, they were. And imagine how compelling it is them to have this described. I mean, you're introducing elements of, what did he say, 91-plus pounds of pressure on the neck of George Floyd, manipulation of handcuffs. The jury they must be thinking, not only was there kneeling, but you mean there was actually movement by the officers to continue in this sort of torturous event? This is damning.

I don't know how the defense, other than having sidebars and trying to derail, can guard against or defend against this.

BOLDUAN: The control room just told me they are taking their 20- minute break right now.

Chief, I saw you shaking your head. Your thoughts?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I don't know. Nelson will earn whatever money he's getting when he tries to cross- examination this particular witness. This is the most compelling witness that I have certainly heard in a -- in fact, I can't think of any more compelling.

BOLDUAN: What is it about Dr. Tobin?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, he is just so -- I mean, one, his age, so you know he's been around a long time. But it's the way in which he speaks. He's very soft spoken. He's not trying to make this into anything bigger than what it is. He is communicating with the jury and he's putting it in terms so simple that you're not trying to digest something that is really beyond your ability to really be able to comprehend.

And you get the sense that this isn't just the knee on the neck and just a death that occurred, as Laura said. It was torture. I mean, this went on for an extended period of time. His life was slowly slip away from him. And he is able to demonstrate that step by step by step.

And, look, before I thought it was going to be the medical examiner's testimony, I'm telling you, this is it right here. This is -- this is going to be very, very difficult for anybody to overcome. I mean, it is what it is. This guy is unbelievable.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And I agree -- I was really struck as well, Chief, as well, Laura, because it wasn't just a knee on a neck is what this doctor is describing. It's the cement. It's the pavement. It's the positioning of how -- of the hand. It's the knee on -- I was surprised the knee directly on the neck when his face was down was actually a better position because there was a ligament -- I mean, these types of things I've never even considered in the many times we've looked at the videos of George Floyd's death.

I was --

RAMSEY: Manipulation of handcuffs.

BOLDUAN: Exactly, Chief. It is really saddening that knuckle on the tire, I can't get that image out of my head, Laura. COATES: No. I mean, I -- I actually had to pause and rewind for a second. I thought, did I hear that correctly, that he was reduced to having to use his knuckles, his finger, his shoulder eventually? I found myself trying to manipulate my own body to try to follow along.

[11:35:02]

That's exactly what you want to happen as a prosecutor. You want these jurors to be so enthralled that they're trying to put themselves literally into the position that no one wants to be in, which is into the body of somebody who has died at the hands now, they're alleging, of course, by these officers.

But also, up until now, the defense has had -- which is not necessarily -- not an easy task at all, but they've had to defend against a video through the eyes of laymen, through bystanders, through a nine-year-old, through a 911 dispatcher who was removed (ph), through an off duty firefighter, through use of force experts looking at it after the fact.

Now, they have to defend against this through the eyes of an expert who is looking at these from very different angles, not just what we were looking at all along, but now the idea of about the actual ligaments in the neck, about the positioning of the officer.

We're learning as well that there was not even a boot on the ground by the officer, so you had the maximum pressure exerted. All of these things, it shows you how important the jury composition is going to be too, Kate, because, remember, you've got chemists on this jury. You've got other people on the jury who -- their love language may, in fact, be the descriptive, demonstrative exhibits.

And so the prosecution has to look at this and say, which witness is going to resonate the most? This methodical cadence, the demeanor of an expert, this is all part and parcel. And, remember, he is not paid. He said I'll do this for free.

RAMSEY: That's right.

COATES: This is really compelling.

BOLDUAN: And I come from a family of doctors and I have never understood the hypopharynx before ever until this witness is on the stand, I have to say.

And, Chief, you got to this earlier, but this ties together the whole concept of what we've seen and what we've heard in testimony in days prior of excessive use of force. This was not -- this was not department policy. And you understand through just the position of a boot, the position of a handcuff, the pressure on a hand, where your knee is placed on the neck and the back via impact of that really drives home how critical proper training is, why these policies are in place for a department.

RAMSEY: Well, that's right. You have to learn and unfortunately you have to learn from something like this. But the whole time I'm listening to this and I'm thinking, you know, we talk about positional asphyxia, we talk about handcuffing positions but we don't really talk about what is this really doing to the suspect and how dangerous is it. How important is it that you stop that as quickly as possible so that person can resume, you know, normal breathing and so forth?

This could be invaluable in helping officers really understand even something like manipulating handcuffs and things like that. All these things have an impact. And I think that there is an opportunity here.

Going back to something said earlier that impacted Laura with, you know, the hands near the tire and so forth, the first thing I thought about is that old saying that if you're falling off a cliff, you would grab a blade of grass. I mean, that's how desperate he was to just try to breathe. Do something that wouldn't help but you try anything.

And, listen, I think that is so impactful. You'd be hard pressed not to have that affect you in some way if you're sitting as a juror or anyone else who is watching this right now.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And they're only through two of the four contributing -- major contributing factors that Dr. Tobin has highlighted as what contributed to the low oxygen level, which was how he died, Laura. So they're not done.

RAMSEY: No.

COATES: No, they're not done. And you're so right when you talk about that, Kate, the idea of -- remember, they articulated it was the knee on the neck. It was the knee on the back and side. It was the prone position. It also was, of course, the handcuff combined with the actual street which, to use the phrase, the idea of being between a rock and a hard place, with every moment during this testimony.

And, again, I go back to why witnesses are so important and their delivery can be so impactful. Because it's the way in which he is not only a disinterested party. He doesn't work for the Minneapolis Police Department. He's not a member of the Floyd family.

BOLDUAN: He seems to be a world renowned pulmonologist. He doesn't need this.

COATES: Yes. He actually had to -- and I'm sure from more than one person in the world, when Mr. Blackwell asked him what pulmonology was, I'm sure he's had to explain that quite a bit over the course of his career, even though it should be obvious to people. It's not.

And so having him come out the gate and say, well, I'm actually an expert in respiration and the lungs and chest cavity. And you have this visual in your mind in that moment of, wait, these are all the different areas, of course, that are going to be impacted here, what a perfect expert.

[11:40:02]

And, remember, the autopsy report has yet to be introduced. We haven't heard from the medical examiner. They are setting and laying the foundation right now with this expertise the way that Charles is speaking about that is going to make it very difficult for the jurors to view this through the lens of anything other than this sounds like from the testimony absolute torture to a human being.

And you hear the testimony of those bystanders who one of them actually said, but he's a human though. He's a human though. That's got to be lingering in their minds.

BOLDUAN: Yes, thank you both.

RAMSEY: Can I just add something just very quickly?

BOLDUAN: Of course, Chief, go ahead.

RAMSEY: Again, they'll play the drug angle. You'll be hard pressed to say that that was not a substantial cause of his death after this testimony and that's all they need.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Thank you both.

A 20-minute break, we will absolutely take you right back into Minneapolis into the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, as we've been watching some very, very compelling testimony today from this medical witness.

Coming up, we're going to -- as we are awaiting for that to resume, we're also moments away from hearing from President Biden. He is going to be unveiling his first executive actions to combat gun violence. We're going to take you live to the White House. That's coming up in minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:45:00]

BOLDUAN: Going to go to Washington now. We are standing by to go to the White House, where moments from now, President Biden is expected to announce executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence.

He is also expected to nominate a new director to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, as we often know it and call it.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond joins me from the White House with much more on this. Jeremy, what are we learning about all this?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, moments from now, we will be hearing from President Biden directly if the rose garden here at the White House alongside the attorney general, Merrick Garland, where we expect the president and the attorney general to announce a series of measures that they are taking via executive action to try and address gun violence in America, just less than three weeks after those back to back shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, Colorado, after which, of course, the president said he was going to take action. Now, we are seeing what that action looks like. One of those executive actions is going to be aimed at the so-called ghost guns, which are self made or self assembled firearms that are not regulated as firearms. A senior official declined to say whether this measure would go so far as to actually make these regulated as firearms. But the goal here being to try and limit the circulation of these types of weapons.

Similar restrictions aimed as well at these pistol-stabilizing braces, which are similar to the one used by the shooter in Boulder, Colorado, where he was able to essentially take a pistol and have that be modified into something more akin to a short barrel rifle.

There will also be model red flag laws proposed by the Department of Justice for state legislatures to be able to consider those red flag laws, of course, were also mentioned a lot in the wake of the shooting in Parkland, Florida.

We do expect to see gun control advocates alongside the president, as well as lawmakers, as he makes these announcements. And he is also going to be announcing that he is nominating a new head of the ATF, a gun control advocate and former ATF agent at that. His name is David Chipman. And his nomination is, of course, groundbreaking in the sense that putting a gun control advocate at the head of this agency that regulates firearms.

But, of course, it will be controversial and it will face opposition from Republicans given that David Chipman worked for -- was a senior policy adviser to Gabby Giffords, the former congresswoman who was shot back in 2011, her gun control advocacy group. He has advocated, for example, for an assault weapons ban.

But all of these is to say, Kate, these are the first steps that President Biden says he's taking on gun control. And they are limited steps at that. They are not as expansive as some of the things that he talked about on the campaign trail when he vowed on day one to send a bill to Congress, for example, to address the liability protections for gun makers.

We are still waiting to see whether that legislation will come from the White House. And, of course, he would like to see congressional action, but given the slim Democratic majority, the existence of the filibuster, none of that is happening any time soon. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Yes, showing once again the limited power that, well, any president has when it comes to pushing gun safety legislation without Congress, gun safety regulations. Jeremy, thank you so much for standing by for President Biden. Jeremy Diamond is there for us.

We're also standing by again for the testimony in the Derek Chauvin trial to resume with one of the most compelling witnesses yet still on the stand. We're going to take you back to the courtroom when it does start back up. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:50:00] BOLDUAN: Welcome back. You're looking at a live picture of the White House. Any moment, we are expecting to hear from President Biden, who will be coming to the rose garden, as Jeremy Diamond laid out moment ago, to announce his first executive actions to try to combat gun violence.

We are also -- the court proceedings -- we're going to take you back to Minneapolis. The court proceeding in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin has just picked back up. Let's listen in.

JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: -- in Mr. Floyd's neck?

TOBIN: Correct?

BLACKWELL: And -- and why was the time period after the first five minutes and three seconds less significant to you?

TOBIN: Because at that point where he extended his leg, what we see happening at the point, we see that happening is at 24:21, that is when he has suffered brain injury. We see and we can tell from the movement of his leg that the level of oxygen in his brain has caused what we call a myoclonic seizure-type activity. They're just medical terms but basically it means that he has kicked out his leg in an extension form, that he has straightened out his leg, and that is something we see as clinicians in patients when they suffer brain injury as a result of a low level of oxygen.

BLACKWELL: We'll talk about that more in a moment, Dr. Tobin. But is it significant to you whether Mr. Chauvin moved his knee off of Mr. Floyd's neck after Mr. Floyd was unconscious?

TOBIN: No. I mean, it -- the movement happens around at different times. But, obviously, the key thing is everything up to the time that we see the hypoxia, the brain injury that's occurring. And where officer Chauvin moved his knee after that really is not going to have material impact on the case.

BLACKWELL: Would you help the ladies and gentlemen of the jury understand that if Mr. Chauvin is applying pressure on the side of the neck, as we see here in Exhibit 943, how does that translate into narrowing of the hypopharynx?

TOBIN: Again, it's going depend on what is the orientation of Officer Chauvin's body, what is the orientation of his leg and then also in particular into what is the orientation of Mr. Floyd.

[11:55:07]

Where exactly is the orientation of Mr. Floyd's head? Because if it's the ligament is underneath Officer Chauvin's knee, there's going to be very little compression of the hypopharynx in this region. Then if it it moves to the side and Officer Chauvin's weight is coming down on the side of Mr. Floyd's neck, then you're going to get --

BOLDUAN: All right. We're going to break away from the trial here. We're going to head to the rose garden with President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as the attorney general.

KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Over the course of my career, I have seen gun violence up close. I have looked at autopsy photographs. I have seen with my own two eyes what a bullet can do to the human body. I have held hands with the hands of parents who have lost a child. I have seen children who were traumatized by the loss of a parent or sibling. And I have fought my entire career to end this violence and to pass reasonable gun safety laws.

Time and again, as progress has stalled, we have all asked, what are we waiting for? Because we aren't waiting for a tragedy, I know that. We've had more tragedy than we can bear. We aren't waiting for solutions either because the solutions exist. They already exist.

People on both sides of the aisle want action. Real people on both sides of the aisle want action. So all that is left is the will and the courage to act.

And President Joe Biden has the will and the courage to act.

As a United States senator, Joe Biden took on the gun lobby not once but twice and he won. In 1993, he worked to pass the Brady Handgun Violation Prevention Act. This law established a background check system and has kept more than 3 million firearms out of the hands of dangerous people.

A year later, he worked to pass another law to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines for ten years. And as Vice President, Joe Biden led the Obama/Biden administration's efforts to reduce gun violence.

In fact, we were just reminiscing that he and I talked back then about his work because I was attorney general at the time of California. And his work resulted in nearly two dozen actions from narrowing the gun show loophole to expanding funding for mental health services.

And as you will hear in a moment, President Joe Biden is a leader with great will, great determination and even greater empathy. He has seen the grief of all of those who have lost a loved one to gun violence. It is for them, for all of us, that he will never, ever give up on this fight.

And it is now my great honor to introduce the president of the United States, Joe Biden.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Thank you, Kamala, Madam Vice President. Thank you very much.

You know, we're joined today by the attorney general, Merrick Garland, who I've asked to prioritize gun violence. It's also good to see the second gentleman who is here and it's good to see the first lady, Dr. Jill Biden who cares deeply about this issue as well. And I look out there and I see so many members of Congress who've led in this fight, so many of you who have never given up, so many of you are absolutely determined of (INAUDIBLE) and others are to get this done. We got a long way to go. It seems like we always have a long way to go. But I also today we're taking steps to confront not just the gun crisis but what is actually a public health crisis.

[12:00:07]