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Decision Expected on Charges in Police Killing of Daunte Wright; Soon, Defense to Call More Witness in Chauvin Trial; Soon, CDC Advisory Panel Holds Emergency Meeting Today on J&J Vaccine. Aired 10- 10:30a ET

Aired April 14, 2021 - 10:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: Top of the hour. A good Wednesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

Any moment, the family of Daunte Wright and the community reeling over his death could find out if charges will be filed against the now former officer who shot and killed him. Prosecutor says he hopes to make that decision today.

The former officer, Kim Potter pictured on the right, and her police chief, both chose to resign as tension grows there. It was the chief who claimed Potter accidentally shot Wright to death when she mistook her firearm for a taser.

Also, just minutes from now and just a few miles away from where that shooting took place, testimony will resume in the Derek Chauvin murder trial into the death of George Floyd. One defense witness already told jurors that he thinks Chauvin's use of force was justified.

We begin first, however, with the death of Daunte Wright. Adrienne Broaddus is in Brooklyn Center just outside Minneapolis.

Adrienne, I mean, how likely do you expect a decision on charges will come today?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, I can tell you that decision will come sooner than what we've typically seen in the past. It's been three days since the officer shot and killed Kim Potter. The prosecuting attorney said he would make a charging decision today.

Meanwhile, this is what we have learned about Potter. We already know she was an officer here with the Brooklyn Center Police Department. She had been with the force 26 years. And according to The Star Tribune, on that day, she shot and killed Daunte Wright. She was training a rookie cop.

She's been with the department since 1995 and she worked as a field training officer. We know field training officers are typically paired with rookie officers for about six months or so. They're like a mentor. They show them the ropes, they show them how things should go.

Last night, hundreds of people were here. They gathered for a protest. Some stayed well beyond the curfew. About 60 people were arrested, but there were some powerful moments while those protesters were here. A group of people knelt in the middle of the street for more than nine minutes. That was symbolic. That was their way of showing and demonstrating how uncomfortable it must have been for George Floyd to be under Derek Chauvin's knee for that long.

And keep in mind, it's Minnesota, it was snowing yesterday. Sometimes it snows in April. But that was a symbolic moment.

Earlier in the day, members of Daunte Wright's family met face-to-face with George Floyd's family. They are now in a fraternity or a group, you can say, that no one wants to be in. They have a common thread. And here is what someone from the Wright family had to say.


NAISHA WRIGHT, DAUNTE WRIGHT'S AUNT: My nephew was 20. Did you all not see my little great nephew? Did you all not see that beautiful baby? He is fatherless, not over a mistake, of a murder. That's murder.

Say his name.

CROWD: Daunte Wright.

WRIGHT: Say his name.

CROWD: Daunte Wright.


BROADDUS: Meanwhile, the family is having a tough time accepting that officer shot him accidentally. They're having a tough time accepting she meant to grab her taser, as the former chief mentioned.


And even though she resigned, the mayor here says he has not accepted her resignation. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Well, if there is a decision on charges, we'll bring those to you as they happen. Adrienne Broaddus, thanks very much.

Just minutes from now, as well, we will hear from more defense witnesses in the Derek Chauvin murder trial. CNN's Josh Campbell is following the trial in Minneapolis. Where will the defense pick up today? They started with a use of force expert yesterday to contradict the many experts and fellow police officers that the prosecution brought. What's next for the defense?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Hey, my friend. Well, there is already a lot going on in court this morning already. There was a motion brought up by the defense asking the judge to acquit Derek Chauvin. This is a routine motion that happens in nearly every single trial. The judge denied that. So this prosecution will continue.

And we're also expecting to hear shortly -- we could be hearing from one of the occupants of that vehicle that was in with George Floyd, this is a man named Maurice Hall, who we know we reported on earlier, he said he did not want to testify, he did not want to incriminate himself potentially. And so what the judge did earlier last week was basically extend that and want to have additional discussions with prosecutors and with the defense.

We expect now that that witness will take the stand at some point today, we're expecting. And then he will invoke his Fifth Amendment right, so that could happen.

And also the court hasn't been telegraphing what specific witnesses will be coming down but we are expecting that the defense will offer their own medical expert. This is likely going to be the former medical examiner for the state of Maryland in order to try to refute some of that damning testimony that we've already seen from prosecutors. Just a parade of witnesses, medical experts, who talked about what caused George Floyd's death, saying that it was the action of that officer. So now we're expecting the defense to bring their own witnesses to try to counter some of that.

And just real quickly, a couple of strategies that we've seen thus far has been first trying to shift the blame away from Chauvin and on to George Floyd himself. There's been a talk within the past day, witnesses brought by the defense about George Floyd's past drug use, trying to set this idea in the minds of the jury that that is to blame, and then also this idea of the crowd. Was this officer distracted? Is that why he kneeled on George Floyd for so long, he was possibly distracted by this crowd?

Whether the jury will buy all that, we don't yet know, but we're expecting additional witnesses again as the defense tries to refute some of those damning testimony that we've seen. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Josh Campbell there, thanks very much. As we noted, once the trial resumes, we'll bring it to you live.

Joining me now to discuss, CNN Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates and Charles Ramsey, CNN Law Enforcement Analyst.

Charles, if I could begin with you just on the Daunte Wright case and the community and the police department's reaction there, things have been notably transparent and fast-moving there just in terms of things like, for instance, releasing the body cam video very quickly, no long dispute over it, amid resignations from the officer and mayor involved -- rather chief involved, though not accepted by the mayor. I just wonder, do you see that community there trying to react differently in light of the public outcry, different than we've seen other communities react?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMETN ANALYST: Well, I mean, I hope so. I hope that as much information is possible without damaging the case can be released in all these cases. I think it's important. I think it's part of transparency, to release as much as you possibly can very quickly. And they did that part in Brooklyn.

That body cam video was released very quickly. And, certainly, you can't always count on resignations and things of that nature, but that did take place in a very short period of time. And now, we're hearing that perhaps charges will be placed. And my only caution there and my hope, and I'm sure it's the case, but making sure there's no rush when it comes to actually filing charges. At least have enough information about the case and have done enough work to actually know that that's the proper thing to do.

And I'm not saying it's not in this case. But I want to make sure that there's not a rush to judgment without having thoroughly reviewed it. I think that's the responsibility of a prosecutor to do that.

SCIUTTO: Understood. Laura Coates, so shifting now to George Floyd, the Derek Chauvin trial related to George Floyd's killing, that's going to begin momentarily and we'll bring that to you live. You have the defense here. Yesterday, they brought a use of force expert not involved in this particular case but someone who has served in police. Now, they're going to bring in another medical expert, again, not involved in this case, who is going to attempt to contradict some of the prosecution's medical experts here.

I just wonder, in a courtroom, right, because it seems the prosecution's advantage here, they have folks who commanded Chauvin, the police chief, et cetera, saying that ain't right, what happened there does not follow training. Defense called in folks who come from outside but still contradict their assessment.


I mean, in a courtroom, what generally wins out?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know that old phrase, quality over quantity. Well, when you have the prosecution's case that has quality witnesses, quality law enforcement experts and medical examiners and the like who are all testifying about what they actually know to be the policy. What they actually know to be the use of force continuum, not just in Minnesota but across the country for best practices, you think about the breadth and the quantity and the quality.

Compare that to one use of force expert yesterday who had some very nonsensical claims, including putting someone in the prone position and handcuffed on the ground was not somehow a use of force, not having to consistently reassess the amount of force you're actually using. This idea here of bringing in witnesses who are not going to give the concessions that will actually increase their credibility, we'll make arguments that are so counter to logic, common sense and all of the things the prosecution has already put forth is going to be very, very difficult.

In terms of medical experts though, remember what they're up against, a pulmonologist, a forensic pathologist, a cardiologist, a medical examiner, all of whom said the same thing when it came to the prosecution's case, that George Floyd died, not of a drug overdose, not of a heart attack, but instead of the cessation, the stopping of his heart and lungs as a result of the restraints used by police. They're going to have to have an expert coming in who is going to have to rethink and reinstruct and re-inform and reeducate a jury on how the respiratory system works, how the heart works, how you have the notion of how the medical examiner actually performs an autopsy.

This is no small lift. And to-date, this defense case has done nothing to move the needle towards reasonable doubt in favor of Derek Chauvin.

SCIUTTO: And you've noted before that the prosecution's burden is just to prove that the pressure on the neck, the restraint, et cetera, was a substantial cause, not the only cause of his death. Laura Coates, Charles Ramsey, please hang on. The trial is going to begin momentary.

But we do have this breaking news into CNN. We are learning that the mastermind behind the largest Ponzi scheme in world history, Bernie Madoff, has died in prison. CNN's Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans, she's covered this scandal from the beginning, she is back with me.

You've covered this extensively, enormous repercussions of this for his own family, certainly, but many thousands of investors who lost a lot. Tell us what you know about the circumstances of his death?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's just such a sad and tragic story, died at 82 years old. The Bureau of Prisons tells us he was in Butner, North Carolina serving a sentence for 150 years.

A couple of years ago, recently, he had asked to be let out because he was near end stage renal failure, and that we have the COVID but he was declined. So we're told he died of natural causes.

But the life of this man, just stunning, the extent of the deceit and the lies, going back maybe to the beginning of his career in the mid- 1970s. He styled himself as the wizard of Wall Street. But, really, his name is synonymous with fraud and the biggest fraud we've ever seen, the Ponzi scheme that he perfected just so widespread.

And it brought in people like Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick and our former colleague, Larry King, and many, many others, who invested money with him and got a steady, dependable 8 to 10 percent return. And then when they withdraw out of those accounts, he will get new clients to payout.

So there never was an account. He had made up out of thin air these accounts for people. And everything went along, I mean, there was big demand to have Bernie manage your money until 2008, the financial crisis, Jim. Remember? And some of these clients started asking to pull out money to cover losses elsewhere, and he didn't have the money. The whole thing went up in smoke.

Really sad too, one of sons died of cancer, another one took his own life. So it's a family tragic. It's a tragedy for all of those victims, thousands of them who lost money and were building a retirement that didn't even exist.

SCIUTTO: It was another big lie. People believed it. They lost their futures as a result of it, enormous impact.

ROMANS: Now he's gone.

SCIUTTO: Now he's gone. Christine Romans, thanks very much.

Well, we will take you inside the courtroom the moment testimony resumes in the Derek Chauvin murder trial. That's just minutes away. Please stay with.



SCIUTTO: Soon, CDC vaccine advisers will review at least six but rare and severe cases of blood clots in people who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, that out of some 6.8 million doses administered. Right now, the use of that shot has been temporarily paused. That language is key, temporary and a pause here in the U.S. Dr. Anthony Fauci says that is not necessarily a bad thing.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If there's a concern about hesitancy out there, the fact that this was done would, in my mind, underscore and confirm how seriously we take safety, even though it's a rare event. So if anybody has got a doubt that they may or may not be taking safety very seriously, I think this is an affirmation that safety is a primary consideration when it comes to the FDA and the CDC. That's why it was done and that's why it's a pause. It isn't a cancellation. It's a pause.


SCIUTTO: CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me with more.

Sanjay, officially, it's a pause, right?


But you know well that for some, the doubts linger, right, even if, for instance, the FDA would reverse this in a couple days and say, it's okay, the benefits outweigh the risks. I just wonder, based on all you've learned, and I know you've been speaking to a lot of people here as well involved, did they make the right call?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I do, just to answer that question clearly, Jim. I do think it's still the right call. I understand there's pluses and minuses here. But just as a reporter, to some extent, covering this story but also similar stories of outbreaks around the world, Jim, on Monday or Tuesday morning, if you at the beginning of your program said the headline is that a 45- year-old woman died after receiving a vaccine, and that was the headline and it wasn't coming contextualized, the way this is contextualized with the plan in place, we're going to take a pause, perhaps that would have been even worse in terms of fostering vaccine hesitancy.

I'm not saying this won't have an impact on people's willingness to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. I think it will. But I think that this is a more sort of methodical sort of approach to this, and we'll see what they come up with, Jim. I mean, they're going to look at these six women. Is there something that tied them together? Is there some common denominator here? They're going to remind people of the best way to treat these sorts of specific blood clots because it's a little different. You have a situation where you're both clotting and potentially bleeding at the same time.

We've also got to take a close look at the numbers, Jim. Let me show you this. We just put these numbers together. You're quite correct, that there's been about 7 million or so people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but how many of those people were actually women between the ages of 18 and 48 or 18 and 49, a smaller number, right? So if you do the math there, the risk is about 1 in 200,000 vaccinations, still way, way rarer than if you were actually to get COVID in that age group. You have a one in 6,500 chance of actually dying in those situations.

My point is though, you have got to compare the numbers, the apples to apples, and that's what they're going to be doing at this meeting and hopefully coming up with some quick conclusion. You don't want this to linger.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it's an important distinction, right, so not one-in-a- million for the people in that age group. That said, greater than 30 percent -- 30 percent more likely that those people would die of COVID-19 than have these consequences here.

The White House says that this will not significantly affect efforts to vaccinate Americans, which have been proceeding well, right, and ahead even with the promises the Biden administration made. Do Moderna -- can Moderna and Pfizer's vaccine production and the delivery fill in the gaps from a pause in J&J?

GUPTA: I think there's no question. And, again, that's just looking at numbers here. We know how much of the vaccine of Moderna and Pfizer, how it's being released. We know the timetable that will get to hundreds of millions of doses by the end of July. There should be more than enough to vaccinate certainly every adult in the United States and a lot of adolescents as well. That's sort of the timetable.

One way to look at it, maybe this will make more sense to people is, basically, right now, is that one out of every 17 shots being administered was a Johnson & Johnson shot, so a much smaller percentage. And even pre-pause, Jim, the numbers were to go down from Johnson & Johnson because there was some manufacturing concerns, unrelated to this clotting concern. So I don't think that it's going to make a big difference overall.

It was a valuable shot for transient populations, people who are unlikely or less likely to show up for their second shot. So they're going to have to come up with strategies to address that. But, overall, not a huge impact.

SCIUTTO: Big picture, the battle, of course, now, is with the relaxation, the mitigation efforts that helped keep people from getting infected, but we're already seeing consequences of those being lifted prematurely, if you look at a state like Michigan. And then on the other side, the positive benefit of an acceleration in vaccination in the country, those are two contradict contradictory forces. I wonder what you think is winning out right now.

GUPTA: It's an interesting way to think about this as this race. But I think it's an appropriate metaphor. I mean, I'm optimistic. I think we are going to -- ultimately, the vaccines will win the race. It's just a question of how much we're going to hamstring ourselves as we're going towards the finish line or towards some sort of finish line. We could be going a lot faster if we kept the public health practices in place as we got there. That's the irony.

Jim, I showed you pictures of rave parties in Wuhan at the end of last summer. I mean, we could have been in a much different -- they didn't have a vaccine, they didn't have any magical therapeutic, they were in a much different position.


So, in some ways, we're having the exact same conversation now that we had a year ago. The difference is now we have the vaccines in our tool belt. But we're still constantly slowing ourselves down.

We'll still get there, and I think the vaccines will dramatically bring down death rates because vulnerable populations have been vaccinated. But I think it's just a shame that there are still going to be so many people who get sick in this time period.

I'm from Michigan, Jim. I talked to my colleagues up there. Their ICUs are filling up again. They're stopping elective surgery again because they need to essentially become COVID hospitals. That has a ripple effect, a negative ripple effect. This doesn't need to happen. So the vaccines are wonderful. They'll help us win this race, but not as quickly as it otherwise could have.

SCIUTTO: Yes. If only -- imagine last year, if only the medical advice based on data had not become a political football, right, things like masks and so on, if only? Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks very much.

GUPTA: You got it, Jim. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Just ahead, sex, drugs, late night parties. CNN speaking to women who provided troubling new details involving embattled Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz. We're going to have a live report next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)