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Heated Exchange With Dr. Fauci on Capitol Hill; Prosecution and Defense Rest in Chauvin Trial; Ex-Minnesota Officer in Court. Aired 3- 3:30p ET
Aired April 15, 2021 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: According to police, Potter grabbed her gun, instead of her Taser, and shot Wright, a 20-year-old father, during a traffic stop, shot and killed him.
Court documents say another officer on the scene tried to arrest Wright on a misdemeanor weapons charge. Wright pulled away, jumping into the driver's seat, and then Potter fired.
A prosecutor and an outside county is now overseeing this whole case, and they have charged Potter with second-degree manslaughter. Of course, that could get upgraded.
According to the criminal complaint, it is this -- 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."
CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is live in Brooklyn Center.
And, Adrienne, before you give us just the latest on this Zoom hearing, it's my understanding Daunte Wright's family just spoke. What did they say about this charge that Kim Potter faces?
ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The family is saying the charge isn't enough. They say it's a step in the right direction, but they want to see more serious charges, specifically, a murder charge.
Now, the family gathered inside of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church. That church is in the heart of North Minneapolis, not here in Brooklyn Center, but on the city's North Side. And we heard the family speak so passionately. Keep in mind, they're still grieving the death of the 20-year-old.
But while they grieve, they are making sure they stand up and propel their message. The message that they're repeating over and over is police accountability. Listen in to what they had to say. And then I will tell you about that hearing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATIE WRIGHT, MOTHER OF DAUNTE WRIGHT: Everybody keeps saying justice. But, unfortunately, there's never going to be justice for us. The justice would bring our son home to us, knocking on the door with his big smile, coming in the house, sitting down, eating dinner with us, going out to lunch, playing with his 1-year-old, almost 2-year-old son, giving him a kiss before he walks out the door.
So, there -- justice isn't even a word to me. I do want accountability, 100 percent accountability.
DESTINY WRIGHT, SISTER OF DAUNTE WRIGHT: His smile, his jokes, his -- everything about him. And she took that from us. And I'm very disappointed, very disappointed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't have him back. So, why should she get back in her life?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROADDUS: The family once again reminding the community, reminding members of law enforcement who might be listening what they believe that officers stole from them.
And that officer that they're talking about, 48-year-old Kim Potter. She appeared in court today for her first initial hearing. Now, this hearing took place on Zoom, because, Brooke, as you mentioned, we are in the middle of a pandemic.
The hearing only lasted about four minutes and 30 seconds. Normally, during hearings like this, the judge will read the criminal complaint, which you highlighted at the beginning of the show, Brooke. But that didn't happen today. Potter waived to have the criminal complaint read.
Now, for those of you watching and listening at home, Minnesota is experiencing something groundbreaking when you talk about the case involving Derek Chauvin. Cameras were in -- are or have been allowed inside of the courtroom for the Chauvin trial. But that is a first here in Minnesota.
Because of rules in Minnesota, all parties must agree to have cameras inside of the courtroom. And, today, the attorney representing Kim Potter objected. But, interestingly, the prosecuting attorney from Washington County was in favor of having the cameras inside of the courtroom.
Of course, we asked to be there. We asked to be inside. But that didn't happen. She appeared via Zoom today, her hair down. And she only spoke once, answering "Yes, I am," an answer to the judge if she was present -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Adrienne, thank you.
Let's jump into analysis. CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey, CNN legal analyst Elie Honig back with me.
Elie, to Adrienne's reporting, Kim Potter just had her first court appearance via Zoom. What happens next?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, so a couple key things.
First, the prosecution has to turn over what we call discovery, meaning you have to turn over all your evidence, so the defendant can see it and can prepare for trial. Then we will enter into this phase where the prosecution and defense may engage in guilty plea talks. We will see if there's any room there. We will see if there's any place that they can come together.
We talked about it before. I don't see the prosecutor taking a guilty plea in this case unless it involves significant jail time -- and then ultimately will be at trial. How long does that take? It varies case by case. But, remember, the Derek Chauvin case, they got that thing from charge to trial in about 10 months, which sounds like a reasonable time frame here.
BALDWIN: Commissioner, again, when you go back to the body-cam video, you hear this officer yelling "Taser, Taser Taser," the former police chief said this happened on accident.
Tell that to the -- Daunte Wright's family, right? They just lost their loved one. Do you think -- just logistically, should the shape of a Taser be different than a firearm? What could change here?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, the shape of a Taser is actually different from a firearm, if you are familiar with firearms, although I guess you could argue the handle and so forth somewhat resemble.
But the differences are significant enough where you shouldn't make a mistake. Plus, there's something called muscle memory that is part of your training, when you over and over again -- I mean, you're getting ready to reach for your gun, you don't have to look down and see where it is.
You know where it is, because you have done that before. The same should apply with a Taser. If you're carrying it on the opposite side, if your mind says Taser, that's the way you reach in order to get it. And so I don't know what happened here. I mean, it's a high-stress situation. Maybe she hasn't been in many of those types of situations.
It is a suburban department. I don't know what the crime rate looks like. But there's only 49 cops, so it can't be that much. And so I'm not trying to make excuses. But I just don't get it. It's not a question of shape a guns and that sort of thing. It just shouldn't have happened.
BALDWIN: You heard, Elie, the Wright family saying they believe this charge is a step in the right direction. Do you think -- as you have pointed out, like the Derek Chauvin case, how they ultimately upcharged him, could that happen with her?
HONIG: That can always happen. It's always a possibility. Prosecutors, once they lodge the initial complaint, always have the ability to upgrade a charge or downgrade a charge as the investigation proceeds.
That said, I think we probably have most of the relevant evidence here in that body camera footage. It's an example of why body camera videos are so important. And the key legal concept here is culpable negligence.
It doesn't matter legally, under that statute, whether the officer intended to kill or not. What matters is, did she create an unreasonable risk by drawing anything in the first place -- and that may even have not been warranted -- and then by making the mistake Commissioner Ramsey was talking about, mistaking the gun and the Taser for one another?
BALDWIN: Commissioner Ramsey, let's go back to your point that Brooklyn Center, it's this smaller suburban police force. Maybe she'd never been in this kind of situation before. We don't know, right?
But I was watching the back-and-forth between this new acting police chief, who was asked by one of the activists: You don't live in our community -- black activist -- you don't live in our community. Are you at least going to bring your family to the swimming pool in our community this summer?
Can you just speak to why this matters?
RAMSEY: Well, I mean, it matters to a lot of people.
But, I mean, listen, I have experienced one department, Chicago, which is where I'm from, that they had a -- has a residency requirement, where you have to live in the city. I have been in D.C. and Philadelphia. Philly originally had a residency requirement. They have recently just gotten rid of it.
And so there's arguments on both sides. But the reality is, to be a good police officer doesn't mean that you have to actually live or be from a particular community. I mean, the quality of your service, the way in which you interact with the residents and so forth, you can build relationships and not necessarily be from there.
But, apparently, it's a much larger problem, perhaps, that they have there, when people are raising that issue that they don't feel like the officers are a part of their community at all. And that is problematic.
BALDWIN: Elie, last question.
Do you think there is a chance that a plea deal could be struck here?
HONIG: This seems like an unlikely case for a plea. Like I said, if you're a prosecutor, you have to put her behind bars. I mean, that's just -- in terms of justice, I don't think you can accept a probation plea here. I don't think the public will accept that.
It's a big deal for any person to go to prison, especially for someone who's a 26-year veteran of the police force. So this could end up at trial.
Elie, Commissioner, stay with me. I have got more questions for you with regard to the other trial happening just down the road, right, in Minneapolis.
We're live in Minneapolis, as razor wire is now going up around the police headquarters in anticipation of a verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial at some point, potentially even next week. Closing arguments are set to start Monday.
Also ahead, the body-cam video of the police shooting of this 13-year- old boy in Chicago, it is set to be released this hour. And the mayor says she saw no evidence the boy tried to shoot at police.
Plus, breaking news on the COVID front. The Pfizer CEO is now saying folks who are fully vaccinated, right, you have gotten your two Pfizer shots, will likely need a third booster shot at some point this year. We will get you all those details.
You're watching CNN's special live coverage.
BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN.
I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.
The jury in this Derek Chauvin trial heard their final hours of testimony today. The prosecution and the defense have now 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.
The jury will return Monday for closing arguments and then, of course, deliberations.
And CNN's Josh Campbell is live outside of that courthouse.
And, Josh, this jury has a lot to think about this weekend, on into next.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: They certainly do.
And they have heard from all of the witnesses in this case. They have received every piece of evidence that will be permitted for them to use as they deliberate.
Now, they're on this long weekend. We expect that closing arguments in this trial will begin on Monday. And then they will move to deliberation. During that process, they will be sequestered, as they work to possibly render a verdict in this case.
Now, I want to show you what the city is doing in the meantime. I just shot this video two blocks from us. There is razor wire that's now being put up, I'm told, at all five police precincts here in Minneapolis. This is -- the one you're seeing is the temporary home of the Third Precinct, which, of course, was set on fire and burned last May during some of those violent protests after the death of George Floyd.
But you see the authorities leaving nothing to chance, out of an abundance of caution, as the city waits to see what this verdict will be, authorities certainly on edge -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Josh Campbell, thank you.
Let's analyze all of this with Elie Honig and Commissioner Ramsey.
And, Elie, since we know both sides have rested, and, as Josh pointed out, we will hear closing arguments Monday, up and to this point, in your opinion, who has presented the strongest case?
HONIG: So, if I'm the prosecutor at this point, I'm satisfied, I'm maybe more than satisfied with how the case has come in.
The main thing you want to avoid as a prosecutor is surprises. It seems this case went to plan. The eyewitnesses were not only rock- solid and clear, but I think made a real emotional impact on the jury. I thought the experts, both on the medical causation and the excessive force, were about as clear and engaged with the jury as really any expert witnesses I have ever seen in court.
And, finally, we have to remember, exhibit A in this case has been, is, and will be the videotape. The videotape is the thing. I am more than comfortable, if I'm a prosecutor, giving my evidence to the jury and letting them do their job.
BALDWIN: Chief, what do you make of this former police officer on trial here not testifying?
RAMSEY: Well, I mean, from his perspective, it's probably the best move he could make.
He would be totally shredded by the prosecution on cross-examination. There's no upside for him, because he's not going to draw any sympathy at all from the jury, I don't believe, because there's no way he can justify what he did. I mean, this wasn't a spur-of-the-moment action or even a short-term one-minute or two-minutes struggle.
I mean, this was nine minutes and 29 seconds, almost half of which the suspect was not even moving. He wasn't resisting. So, how do you justify that? Plus, you have had the police chief say that's not within policy or training, and the head trainer saying that it's not within policy or training, as well as other witnesses that have come forward.
So, I don't know how he overcomes that through testimony. All he can do is open himself up by taking the stand, not only in this case, but also his past history.
BALDWIN: Elie, just looking at the last 24, 48 hours, I mean, there is now a possibility that this case could come down to carbon monoxide poisoning. And all the defense needs is one juror to have any doubt.
HONIG: Yes, it's wild that it could come down to that.
This was the theory that we heard from the defense medical expert yesterday, that one of the contributing causes was carbon monoxide.
That said, I think the cross-examination that we saw the prosecutor do of that medical expert yesterday really undid that damage and then some, because the prosecutor, Mr. Blackwell, got up and asked the expert, what data do you have to support that? What science do you have? Do you have blood measurements? Do you have ambient air measurements?
And the answer was no, no, no. So, if I'm a juror, and if I'm arguing this to the jury, as a prosecutor, I say, he can have his opinions all he wants, but he's got no data, he's got no facts to back it up. And you, as a jury, are entitled to reject it if you don't find that it has support.
So, the carbon monoxide thing was a little bit of a curveball that came in at the end. But, if I'm the prosecutor, ultimately, I'm confident that's something I can address with the jury at closing.
BALDWIN: Chief, what do you think of his carbon monoxide curveball? And have you ever heard of this being an issue with anyone being arrested in and around a squad car in your career?
RAMSEY: I haven't heard of it in terms of an arrest. The only time I have heard of it is obviously suicide or accidental death from a faulty furnace or something like that, but not during the course of an arrest.
And that's not to say it may never have happened somewhere. I'm not aware of it. And I have been around an awful long time. But that is not something I'm familiar with.
BALDWIN: Elie, what can we expect from closing arguments on Monday?
HONIG: So, closing arguments that are a big task, right?
We have seen a lot of evidence, dozens of witnesses here. And they have to be fairly compact. You can't give a two-day-long closing argument. The judge wouldn't allow them.
The prosecution has to bring the focus back to what happened that day on the street, has to use that video, has to appeal to the jury's sense of just common sense and decency. That is allowed. That is part of the jury process.
On the defense side, you don't have to beat the prosecution. You don't have to outscore the prosecution. All you have to do is create reasonable doubt, even in one juror, gets you a hung jury, which would mean the trial can be redone.
But if you're the defendant, that's really what you're aiming for. You're trying to just hook one juror who has just that moment of thinking, gee, I'm not so sure.
BALDWIN: I'm going to ask you a question. I know you don't have a crystal ball.
But just, on all of your years of experience, roughly when do you think we might see a verdict? And just what is it like waiting for the verdict?
HONIG: I want our viewers to be prepared. It is nerve-racking, because what happens is, the parties finish their closing, the jury goes into this closed room.
We will not see what they're doing in that room. And the only communications we and the judge and the public are going to have are notes. They will literally write notes and fold them and hand them to a courtroom deputy. And the judge will read those notes.
And some of them may be questions about the law. Some of them may be ordering what they want for lunch. And one of them will say: We have a verdict.
When will that happen? We don't know. I think -- I have seen juries deliberate for hours, for days.
One thing to keep in mind, though, they are sequestered. They don't get to go home until they're done. And so I think that will push them towards a quicker verdict. I think we will have a verdict by the end of next week.
BALDWIN: Elie, thank you. Commissioner Ramsey, thank you. We will talk again.
Meantime, coming up next: It got quite heated on Capitol Hill today between Congressman Jim Jordan here, Republican, and Dr. Anthony Fauci over when this country can open up again after this pandemic.
(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: You have got to see this back-and-forth here.
Republican Congressman Jim Jordan really got into it with Dr. Anthony Fauci this afternoon, arguing with him over COVID restrictions. The congressman wanted a precise answer on when those restrictions would end here during this pandemic, while Dr. Fauci was pushing back. He wanted to stick to the science, stick to the numbers on the current spread of the virus.
So, I'm going to play the whole exchange for you. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JORDAN: We had 15 days to slow the spread, turned in one year of lost liberty.
What metrics, what measures, what has to happen before Americans get more freedoms?
FAUCI: My message, Congressman Jordan, is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can to get the level of infection in this country low that it is no longer a threat.
That is when. And I believe, when that happens, you will see--
JORDAN: What determines when?
FAUCI: I'm sorry.
JORDAN: What? What measure? What -- are we just going to continue this forever? Or when does--
JORDAN: When does -- when do we get to the point?
What measure, what standard, what objective outcome do we have to reach before -- before Americans get their liberty and freedoms back?
FAUCI: 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.
JORDAN: You don't think Americans' liberties have been threatened the last year, Dr. Fauci? They have been assaulted. Their liberties have.
FAUCI: I don't look at this as a liberty thing, Congressman Jordan.
JORDAN: Well, that's obvious.
FAUCI: I look at this as a public health thing.
I disagree with you on that.
JORDAN: You think the Constitution is suspended during a virus, during a pandemic? It's certainly not.
FAUCI: This will end, for sure, when we get the level of infection very low. It is now at such a high level, there's a threat again of major surges.
JORDAN: Dr. Fauci, Dr. Fauci, over the last year, Americans' First Amendment rights have been completely attacked. Your right to go to church, your right to assemble, your right to petition your government, freedom of the press, freedom of speech have all been assaulted, I mean, for a year now.
Americans haven't been able to go to church. Even today, when they go to church, they're limited in the size of worshipers who can meet. Your right to assemble? Oh, my goodness. We had a curfew last fall in Ohio. You had to be in your home at 10:00. In Pennsylvania, you had to be in your home.
When you're in your home, you had to wear a mask. In Vermont, when you're in your home, you didn't have to wear a mask, Dr. Fauci, because you weren't allowed to have people over to your house.
FAUCI: Yes, Congressman Jordan--
JORDAN: Your ability to petition your government--
JORDAN: For a year, for a year, American citizens haven't been able to come to their Capitol to petition their government, to talk to their representatives.
And freedom of the press, these very pictures that Representative Scalise just showed you and talked about, guess what? The press isn't allowed in those facilities. The press is not. The Biden administration will not let the press in there.
And, certainly, freedom of speech? I mean, freedom of -- the governor of our third largest state meets with physicians, and that's -- that video is censored because they dare to disagree with Dr. Fauci?
So, I just want to know, when do Americans get their First Amendment liberties back?
FAUCI: You know, I don't think anything was censored because they felt they couldn't disagree with me.
I think you're -- you're making this a personal thing. And it isn't.
JORDAN: It's not a personal thing. FAUCI: No, you are. That is exactly what you're doing.
JORDAN: No, your recommendations carry a lot of weight, Dr. Fauci.
JORDAN: We just had the chair of the Financial Services Committee said she loves you and you're the greatest thing in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will the gentleman yield?