Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Prosecution and Defense Rest in Chauvin Trial; Ex-Minnesota Officer in Court. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 15, 2021 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:02]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL A. BOLTON, INSPECTOR GENERAL, UNITED STATES CAPITOL POLICE: Our feeling is that -- well, that anything that you give a police officer can be misused, if it's misused, can cause life-altering injuries and/or death.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Were you able to identify who gave that order?

BOLTON: It was an assistant deputy chief.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: We're going to continue to stay on top of that hearing.

In the meantime, thank you for being with me.

NEWSROOM continues with Brooke Baldwin right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: You are watching CNN on this Thursday. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me.

Just a short time from now, the former police officer accused of killing Daunte Wright will make her first court appearance via Zoom. Kimberly Potter served 26 years with the Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police.

And then, on Sunday, police say Potter grabbed her gun, right, instead of her Taser, and shot Wright, a 20-year-old father, during this traffic stop. Court documents indicate another officer on the scene tried to arrest Wright on a misdemeanor weapons charge, and then Wright pulled away, jumping back into the driver's seat. And that is when Potter fired her weapon.

A prosecutor in an outside county is now overseeing the case that has charged Potter with second-degree manslaughter. And the criminal complaint says this. Let me quote: "Kimberly Ann Potter caused the death of Daunte Demetrius Wright by her culpable negligence, whereby Kimberly Potter created an unreasonable risk and consciously took a chance of causing death or great bodily harm to Daunte Demetrius Wright."

Let's go straight to our correspondent Adrienne Broaddus. She is there live at Brooklyn Center, where this hearing is about to get under way.

And so, Adrienne, let's just start there. And then I want to hear about the family members speaking out. But so, this former officer, she is now on bail, correct?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She is.

Hours after she was booked into the Hennepin County jail, which is about eight minutes or eight miles away from the police station where she built her career, she bonded out. She goes before a Hennepin County judge within the next hour.

And it will not be in person. It's a virtual hearing, because keep in mind, Brooke, and those of you watching and listening, we are still in the middle of a pandemic. So she will appear before Zoom. And it's likely that initial hearing will be about 10 minutes or so. The judge will go over the criminal complaint, likely read the criminal complaint to her, and also reiterate she has been charged with second- degree manslaughter.

Here in the state of Minnesota, that charge carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years behind bars. Meanwhile, Brooke, you might also notice behind me the scene looks a little different.

I'm going to ask our photographer, Jake, to pan over and give you a picture. A crew with the city is here right now installing another layer of fencing. The protests overnight were much smaller than what we have seen in previous nights. But this is another layer of protection.

And it's also a way, they hope, to keep that lane open to incoming and ongoing traffic. When the protesters arrive here, they take over this entire area, and nobody can get through. To my left, there is an apartment building. The corner at the end is the bus stop. Yes, that's where children get picked up for school every morning.

So, imagine, at night, small children are inside of the apartment complex here. Small children are inside of the homes behind the complex, asking their parents, what's happening? What's going on? Why are these people chanting and how come I'm having trouble breathing?

We did hear from law enforcement who said there have been some medical situations here, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Community on edge, understandably so. And that, of course, as you astutely pointed out, includes the children.

Adrienne, thank you.

Let's get some analysis.

CNN legal analyst Elie Honig is joining me, a former federal prosecutor. Also joining us, CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey, who used to lead the police forces both in Philadelphia and in Washington.

And, Elie, just starting with you looking ahead to this -- this initial appearance, Kim Potter over Zoom. What should we expect to see?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Brooke, so, part of this is just a formality. The judge will advise Kim Potter of the charges against her. If she wants, he will read it to her. The judge also will advise Potter of her rights, her right to remain silent, her right to hire an attorney, her right to a trial by jury.

The two interesting things I'm going to be watching for in the next few hours and days, one, will the prosecutors look to add or upgrade charges? That happened in the Derek Chauvin case. He was initially charged with third-degree murder and this same manslaughter charge that's against Potter here, and then, a few days later, prosecutors added a more serious second-degree murder charge.

And, two, will there be any signs or indications of whether Potter is even open to the idea of a guilty plea, or whether the prosecutors are willing to give her a guilty plea?

[14:05:02]

BALDWIN: Chief to you.

As Adrienne was rightly pointing out, the walls being added in this community. Tensions are high. Just lift the veil for us. What is happening at the Brooklyn Center Police Department right now, and with other officers involved? And, just as a reminder, former Officer Potter is out on bail.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, I'm sure they're preparing for more demonstrations tonight. In addition to that, they have got to have an eye on the Chauvin trial, because, again, that could impact them there in Brooklyn.

So, I'm sure there's a lot of preparation, I'm sure that there's a lot of assistance coming from the state and other surrounding jurisdictions. So, that's pretty much what they're doing right now, is just preparing for whatever may come their way in terms of additional protests, although I was glad to see that yesterday's protests, they didn't have quite as many people as they had the night before, after she was charged.

BALDWIN: Let's go back to the body-cam video where you hear then Officer Potter shouting, as she was trained to do, "Taser, Taser, Taser."

And, Elie, I want you to reiterate your point that something can be accidental, but negligent at the same time, right?

HONIG: Yes, absolutely.

So, that's right. Even if this was an accident, Brooke -- and that's not determined conclusively, but there is some indication the body-cam video that this was accidental -- it can still be what we call culpably negligent under the law. That's the manslaughter charge that this officer, former officer, is faced with.

So, the example is, if somebody were to be severely impaired, alcohol or otherwise, and get behind the wheel of a car, and then, God forbid, hit somebody and hurt that person, that would be an accident. The person didn't intend to hit and injure or kill the person.

However, to get behind the wheel in a severely impaired condition is, I believe, clearly to take a culpable risk, to take an unacceptable risk, what we call culpable negligence. So, something can be accidental and also culpably negligent.

BALDWIN: And, also, when you -- Chief, one of the family members of Daunte Wright, it was such a powerful visual, was holding up what a Taser looks like vs. a firearm.

And when you think of Tasers, they're either bright yellow or they have a bright yellow handle. As you pointed out, officers are supposed to be wearing them on their non-dominant hip. There is training on how to differentiate between a Taser and a firearm.

But, clearly, that wasn't enough. What do you think needs to change, if a 26-year veteran officer does this?

Oh, hang on one second. The mother of Daunte Wright is speaking. Let's listen.

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF DAUNTE WRIGHT: Talk about who your child was, who Daunte was. Talk about who Daunte was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want to...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (OFF-MIKE)

CRUMP: His sister will talk about her brother, Daunte. This is the little sister, Destiny.

Just tell them who your brother was. Take your time.

DESTINY WRIGHT, SISTER OF DAUNTE WRIGHT: My brother, he was the most delightful person I have ever met.

Like, you can -- he was just -- he was everything, everything, his smile, his jokes, his -- everything about him. And she took that from us. And I'm very disappointed, very disappointed.

CRUMP: Anybody else want (OFF-MIKE)

OK.

Have an uncle who wants to say something.

The family has started a GoFundMe account, if people want to help. It's -- and I will have Adna (ph) give it to...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: GoFundMe.com/DaunteWright.

CRUMP: It's going to be on Thursday at 12:00 noon Central Standard Time at this church.

Reverend Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

CRUMP: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: His sister's name?

CRUMP: Destiny.

You want to say your whole name...

BALDWIN: All right, we just wanted to listen back and forth to the sister, the mother.

But the point about -- it sounds like the funeral is set for next Thursday.

But, Chief, back to you. And I saw Ben Crump had the photo of the yellow Taser. If a 26-year police veteran can do this, do you think something needs to change?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, the training right now for Tasers is pretty intensive. It really is. I don't know what else can be done.

[14:10:00]

After the Oscar Grant shooting back in 2009 in Oakland, that's when departments really switched toward a couple things, one, moving towards the brightly colored Tasers, and also carrying them on the opposite side from your firearm, in a cross-draw-type fashion, so that you couldn't really make a mistake, having both weapons on the same size.

But they look different. They feel different, different weights. So I don't know how she wound up doing that. Maybe it was the stress of the moment. And this is a small department. I don't know how often they're confronted with stressful situations.

Not trying to make an excuse for her, but I have no idea. But it was negligent. And there's no excuse for it. It should not have happened. There were numerous tactical errors, too, by the way, that really set up the scenario, when they first took him out of the car, instead of walking into the back, trying to handcuff him right next to the driver's door.

It became very tempting for someone to try to jump back in and pull off. They didn't turn off the ignition once he was out of the car. So, there were several things that happen that need correcting, believe me, and should not have happened. And all that led up to the shooting.

But the shooting should never have happened. BALDWIN: I appreciate you pointing all of that out.

And, Elie, do you think there's any chance that a plea deal could be struck in this case?

HONIG: So, Brooke, the vast majority of all criminal cases do end up pleading guilty and not going to trial. However, in this case, if I'm the prosecutor, I am absolutely not accepting any guilty plea that does not include jail.

I don't think the public would accept that. I think the public expects that this former officer spend some time in jail. It's also, conversely, a really big deal for a former police officer to agree to a sentence, to agree to a plea that will send her to jail.

So I don't see a lot of common ground at this point for a potential plea. I think we could well see a trial here.

BALDWIN: OK, Elie, Commissioner, stay with me.

I want to talk about the other big trial happening now, a big day in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin. The prosecution and defense have both rested. And the judge gives a mistrial warning earlier today over a prosecution witness. We have to talk about that.

Also, a heated exchange at a House subcommittee meeting between Congressman Jim Jordan and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): What measure, what standard, what objective outcome do we have to reach before -- before Americans get their liberty and freedoms back?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: You're indicating liberty and freedom. I look at it as a public health measure to prevent people from dying and going to the hospital.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Also, the Biden administration getting tough on Russia. They say the U.S. now faces a -- quote -- "national emergency."

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:17:05]

BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Reminder, we are standing by for the very first court appearance of Kimberly Potter. That should begin about 15 minutes from now. She is the former police officer, 26-year veteran police officer, Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. She is charged in Sunday's shooting death of Daunte Wright during that traffic stop. She is charged with second-degree manslaughter and is currently out on

bail. Brooklyn Center police say she shot Wright when she grabbed her firearm, instead of her Taser. And we will bring you all the details from that Zoom appearance as soon as we get them.

But I want to get us now to the Derek Chauvin murder trial. The prosecution and the defense now have officially rested, but not before Chauvin himself, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd, decided to invoke his Fifth Amendment right choosing not to testify.

Joining me now, CNN's Josh Campbell outside of the courthouse.

And, Josh, I mean, I know they all come back into that courtroom on Monday. But, this weekend, that jury has a whole lot to process.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: They certainly do.

And after hearing from so many different witnesses, it's clear that members of this jury are hearing competing theories of this case. We heard from a number of prosecution witnesses, very damning testimony from medical experts, saying that the cause of death in this case was the -- was the action of that officer, Derek Chauvin, on George Floyd.

They also heard from police use of force experts talking about what they saw on that video was not within department policy. And, of course, when the defense got their opportunity to make their case, it was a complete 180. They were trying to bring up additional theories about what may have happened, everything from possible drug use by George Floyd, to heart disease, to this idea that maybe this idling police car, its exhaust was at play.

So, as you say, a lot to think about here. We're expecting closing arguments to take place on Monday. Now, today, also, we heard Derek Chauvin, his own voice. He was asked by the judge in a series of questions and questioned by his own lawyer about whether he wanted to actually testify in this trial. Take a listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC NELSON, ATTORNEY FOR DEREK CHAUVIN: I have advised you, and we have gone back and forth on the matter would be kind of an understatement, right?

DEREK CHAUVIN, DEFENDANT: Yes, it is.

NELSON: But after briefly meeting last night, we had some further discussion. Agreed?

CHAUVIN: Correct?

NELSON: And have you made a decision today whether you intend to testify, or whether you intend to invoke your Fifth Amendment privilege?

CHAUVIN: I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today. NELSON: OK.

PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA, JUDGE: Mr. Chauvin, I'm going to (OFF-MIKE) directly, because the decision whether or not to testify -- let me take this off -- is entirely yours. In other words, it's a personal right.

Mr. Nelson makes a lot of the decisions in trial, but one he cannot make for you is whether or not you testify. And he can give you advice. And you can take that advice or reject that advice.

[14:20:11]

But the decision, ultimately, has to be yours, and not his. Is this your decision not to testify?

CHAUVIN: It is, Your Honor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMPBELL: Now, we are finished with all the witnesses in this case, and the jury will not be hearing from Derek Chauvin.

We expect closing arguments from both the prosecution and the defense to take place on Monday. Then the jury will be sequestered for the duration of their deliberation. And, of course, we never know how long juries will take. We don't know what that dynamic will be inside the room, how many questions they will have, and whether all of them will unanimously come to some type of decision.

It's interesting, though. The last thing that they heard from the judge before they went on the weekend recess is, the judge said that, next week, you will have to pack a suitcase, as you are sequestered. If you're wondering about how long it's going to take, plan for long, hope for short -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Josh, thank you.

Back with me, Elie Honig and Commissioner Ramsey.

And so, Elie, just first to you. Closing arguments Monday. Who do you think has presented the strongest case?

HONIG: Well, I think the prosecution has to be very happy with how their cases come in so far.

If you divide it into sort of the three major components, you had your eyewitnesses and your videos. There's really essentially no dispute about what happened on the street that day, then the use of force, highlighted by the police chief. Other senior members of the Minneapolis P.D. made very clear that Chauvin's actions were unacceptable, abusive, excessive.

And then, finally, the medical causation. We heard from four or five medical experts who said, of course Derek Chauvin's actions were a major cause. The only thing I want people to keep in mind, though, is, A, you never know what a jury is going to do. A jury is just 12 human beings. They are unpredictable. And, B, this is not like an athletic contest, where it's who scored more points, because the prosecution always bears that burden of proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt. That's the standard here.

BALDWIN: Chief, what do you make of Chauvin not testifying?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, I think he made the right decision for himself, because he would have been ripped to shreds on cross-examination by the prosecution.

I mean, they demonstrated for the last two weeks their skill at questioning witnesses on cross-examination. He would have opened himself up not only for this incident, but for other issues in his background. So, from his point of view, I don't see what he could have gained from testifying, because how do you justify his actions, I mean, nine minutes and 29 seconds on a guy who's not resisting?

If this had been a short duration, something that occurred rapidly, where you can start the split-second decision-type thing, or even a minute or two of wrestling with an individual -- that's not the case here. And I -- you just can't justify it.

And so he's better off not testifying, although the prosecution probably wished he would, because they would give him a good opportunity there. But someone asked me earlier, is Chauvin worried? I would imagine so. But there are three other officers that were at the scene that day that should be worried as well.

BALDWIN: Appreciate that point.

Elie, let's go back to the big moment today, when the prosecution tried to admit this new evidence about the level of carbon monoxide in George Floyd's blood.

And just remember, the defense's expert witness yesterday suggested that it was the exhaust from the police car, the squad car right there, that played a role in his death. And the judge allowed the prosecution to bring back Dr. Tobin, but he said -- quote -- "If he even hints that there are test results that the jury has not heard of, it's going to be a mistrial.

Big moment. Explain this to the viewers.

HONIG: Yes.

So, the bottom line point here is there are no surprises at trial. More specifically, the prosecution does not get to surprise the defendant at trial. You have an obligation as a prosecutor to turn over to the defendant all of your evidence in advance, so they can know what's coming, so they can prepare for it.

We heard the testimony yesterday about the carbon monoxide. The prosecution today said, actually, we have recently tested George Floyd's blood, or it's recently been retested, and it conclusively disproves the carbon monoxide theory.

The judge said, too bad, too late. You should have done that long ago. The defendant should have known about this long ago. You can't spring it on them now. Instead, the judge allowed them to recall Dr. Tobin, who gave still effective testimony. He said, in my opinion, it's very unlikely.

That's not as good as a blood test that conclusively disproves it, though, but that's an important feature of our trial process here, no surprises for the defendant.

BALDWIN: But, Commissioner, in your 40 years in policing, have you ever heard of anyone suffering from carbon monoxide after being arrested near a squad car?

RAMSEY: I haven't.

I mean, the only time I have -- and I was in homicide for a while. Obviously, with suicides, that's something that occurs or accidental -- people in a house with a faulty furnace or something.

[14:25:00]

But as far as during an arrest, normally, a person is not even on the ground long enough to have any kind of effect from carbon monoxide. So, this is highly unusual. Is it impossible? Nothing's impossible.

I have not heard of it.

BALDWIN: Elie, quickly, closing arguments beginning Monday. What do you expect?

HONIG: If you're the prosecution, you have to bring the jury back.

Time moves very slowly in trial. This case is only two-and-a-half weeks old, but it feels like it started six months ago. And so you have to bring the jury back to that street, to those witnesses, to those videos, common sense.

If you're the prosecution, you're saying, you, members of the jury, can and must use your common sense here. That's what it all comes down to.

BALDWIN: And then last question again to you.

What's the rough rule of thumb in terms of expecting a verdict?

(LAUGHTER)

HONIG: I chuckle because I have seen juries come back in 45 minutes with a verdict, and I have seen juries go two weeks without a verdict.

So, there's no way to tell. I'm guessing -- if I had to guess, we will see a verdict by the end of next week.

BALDWIN: All right. Elie, Commissioner, thank you so much.

Coming up here: Congressman Jim Jordan is on the attack today, berating Dr. Anthony Fauci in his House hearing on COVID. We will show you what happened when Congresswoman Maxine Waters stepped up to shut it down.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:30:00]