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Fourth Night of Protests After Daunte Wright Killing; Defense Focuses on Floyd's Cause of Death in Chauvin Trial; Biden to Begin U.S. Troop Withdrawal on May 1; CDC Advisers Put Off Decision on Johnson & Johnson Vaccine for Now; France to Administer Johnson & Johnson Vaccine as Planned. Aired 4-4:30a ET
Aired April 15, 2021 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Protesters gather for a fourth night to demonstrate over the killing of Daunte Wright. The police officer involved will appear in court later today.
After 20 years, $2 trillion and more than 2,300 American lives lost, President Biden says now is the time to end America's longest war.
And the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is stuck on pause after an emergency review came and went with no new recommendations.
Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to all of you watching here in the United States, Canada and around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, for a fourth night demanding justice following the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright. The crowd was largely peaceful, but once a nighttime curfew set in demonstrators threw fireworks and bottles at police. Police used flash banks and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. The protest was declared an unlawful assembly and some two dozen people were arrested. More than 3,000 National Guard troops have been activated across the Twin Cities area.
Now CNN has been on the streets of Brooklyn Center every night following the unrest. Law enforcement officials say the tension was easing Wednesday after the arrest of the officer who shot Wright. Still, protesters were dug in ahead of the curfew Wednesday night as Sara Sidner reports.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Early on the crowd being a bit more angry earlier and you're seeing sort of the exchange that happens. Somebody there firing less than lethal rubber bullets. We have seen several people hit with those bullets, we have also seen people -- you can see there, they're spraying pepper spray just over the fence. There is a lot of folks, the very front, closer than normal right up on to the fence who have umbrellas, you can see those black umbrellas and now you will see bottles being thrown. And now they are firing again the rubber bullets, the rubber bullets
are quite large, they leave a big mark and they hurt, but they're meant to push people back and that's what you're hearing fired. You're also seeing bottles being thrown, every now and then there is a rock being thrown. I'm going to bring you here. Come with me we're going to just show you what they've done. Because this is a much smaller crowd, frankly, than yesterday and the day before, but if I can get around here, I can show you what some of the protesters have done to try and get close enough to yell at police but not get hit with the rubber bullets.
If you look just there you will see they have put up makeshift barriers, the barricades, to try to hide behind those to keep themselves from getting hit because this is really, really, really, really close. And if you get hit with a rubber bullet right here it is going to probably do more than hurt. They really leave large bruises and sometimes if you're close enough they can break a bone. So the bottom line is folks are planning on being out here after curfew, you are seeing a little bit of that back and forth going on now. A lot of pepper spray and now you've seen a flashbang.
BRUNHUBER: These latest protests began just hours after the ex-officer involved was arrested and charged with second degree manslaughter. Kim Potter has been released from jail on bond. Now she's expected to make her first court appearance later today via Zoom.
Fencing and barricades have been put up around Potter's house and two police officers and cars were seen in the driveway. If convicted the former officer could face up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.
Attorney Benjamin Crump says Daunte Wright's family appreciates that the district attorney is seeking justice, but nothing will bring him back. Crump says everything was wrong with the traffic stop that resulted in his death from start to finish.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR DAUNTE WRIGHT'S FAMILY: It boggles the mind why she would pull him over in the first place or is it the rules are set aside when you are really being targeted for driving while black.
Because when you get down to the crux of the matter, when you look at what this officer did, she overpoliced from every point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Just ten miles away from where Daunte Wright was shot and killed the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin is under way. On Wednesday, the defense called its own medical expert who pushed a series of alternate theories for what caused George Floyd's death. CNN's Omar Jimenez is following the trial from Minneapolis. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Day two of defense witnesses in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, and the topic shifted from use of force to cause of death for George Floyd.
ERIC NELSON, ATTORNEY FOR DEREK CHAUVIN: Did you form, in your opinion, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, what you thought was the principal cause of Mr. Floyd's death?
DR. DAVID FOWLER, FORMER MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER: Yes.
NELSON: And what is that?
FOWLER: Cardiac arrhythmia, due to his hypertensive, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease during restraint.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): In other words, a bad heart while being restrained by police, no mention of asphyxiation, as other doctors have testified, or low levels of oxygen brought on by being chest down on the street handcuffed with the weight of three officers.
Dr. David Fowler went on to testify about several possible contributing factors to George Floyd's death.
FOWLER: So, we have a heart that's vulnerable because it's too big. There are certain drugs that are present in his system that make it -- put it at risk of an arrhythmia.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): He added the potential for carbon monoxide from the squad car's exhaust.
FOWLER: It is an extremely toxic gas.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): Fowler also testified that the force applied by the knee of Chauvin would not have directly impacted George Floyd's ability to survive.
NELSON: Is it your opinion that Mr. Chauvin's knee in any way impacted the structures of Mr. Floyd neck?
FOWLER: No, it did not. None of the vital structures were in the area where the knee appeared to be from the videos.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): But outside of this trial, Dr. David Fowler faces his own legal issues, among others, accused in a federal lawsuit filed of covering up police responsibility in the 2018 death of 19- year-old Anton Black in Maryland and falsely attributing the cause of death to a heart condition, bipolar disorder and/or other natural causes, thereby blaming the victim for his own death and obscuring official responsibility, according to the complaint.
A representative from Fowler's legal team told CNN: Our case is in litigation and we cannot comment.
Back in this trial, during cross-examination, prosecutors pushed back on the doctor's assertions.
JERRY BLACKWELL, MINNESOTA PROSECUTOR: It's a yes-or-no question.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): They specifically focused on the cause of death, the central argument in this trial.
BLACKWELL: If a person dies as a result of low oxygen, that person's also going to die ultimately of a fatal arrhythmia, right?
FOWLER: Correct. Every one of us in this room will have a fatal arrhythmia at some point.
BLACKWELL: Right because that's kind of how you go.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): Taking the witness to a familiar bottom line.
BLACKWELL: Do you feel that Mr. Floyd should have been given immediate emergency attention to try to reverse the cardiac arrest?
FOWLER: As a physician I would agree.
BLACKWELL: Are you critical of the fact that he wasn't given immediate emergency care when he went into cardiac arrest?
FOWLER: As a physician I would agree.
JIMENEZ: And by all accounts jurors were taking lots of notes during Dr. Fowler's testimony. I should mention they did not hear in court about his prior controversy but nonetheless they were engaged, even talking to each other at points during side bars.
And for the defense overall this was really a chance to counter medical expert after medical expert, prosecutors brought to the stand at really a critical time for the defense, trying to make an impression on jurors in this final lead up to closing arguments expected to now just be days away.
Omar Jimenez, CNN, Minneapolis.
BRUNHUBER: Now one question keeps coming up after these deaths, is police reform the answer? One Democratic lawmaker says no. Instead representative Rashida Tlaib wants policing to be stopped all together calling it inherently and intentionally racist, but her fellow progressive Senator Bernie Sanders tells CNN that isn't the solution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): No, I don't. I think that what we need to do is to understand that there needs to be major, major police reform all across this country. We are tired of seeing the same thing week after week and year after year. We do not want to see innocent African-Americans shot in cold blood.
So I think that is an area that needs significant amount of work and I hope that Congress begins work on that immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: U.S. troops will begin leaving Afghanistan in just over two weeks with a total draw down by September 11th -- the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. After announcing the withdrawal President Biden visited Arlington National Cemetery the final resting place for U.S. troops killed in combat. The cost of America's longest running war have been staggering, $2 trillion over two decades and more than 2,000 American servicemen and women killed. President Biden says the prolonged conflict is no longer aligned with American priorities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I concluded that it's time to end America's longest war. We went to Afghanistan because of a horrific attack that happened 20 years ago. That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021.
We cannot continue the cycle of extending our expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create ideal conditions for the withdrawal and expecting a different result. I'm now the fourth United States president to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan, two Republicans, two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: NATO's secretary general says the troop withdrawal isn't the end but the beginning of a new way of working with Afghanistan. He says allies must turn from combat forces to diplomacy, economic tools and humanitarian aid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: Our draw down will be orderly, coordinated and deliberate. We plan to complete the draw down for all our troops within a few months. Any Taliban attacks on our troops during this period will be met with a forceful response.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stood alongside the NATO secretary general and reiterated the importance of the moment for the U.S./NATO alliance. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States and our allies will coordinate closely on our next steps. We have always said, as the secretary general noted, that our plan was in together, adjust together, out together. And today we began to hammer out what out together looks like. We will withdraw our troops responsibly, deliberately, safely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: CNN's international security editor Nick Paton Walsh is live this hour in Kabul. Nick, now that we have a bit more details about the timeline and so on, what's been the reaction there to this decision and what this will mean for Afghans?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Well President Ghani was gracious in the tweets he put out immediately after his phone call with President Joe Biden saying that they respected the U.S. decision to withdraw their troops here and they would do all they can to ensure a smooth transition.
The government here has been very clear, it thinks it can as it has been in the past years maintain security. But I think privately there is a recognition that things will be extremely tough if not potentially victorious to some degree for the Taliban if there is not some sense of international assistance moving forward.
But if you listen to what Joe Biden actually said, there is quite a lot of scope for U.S. assistance to continue in the months ahead. He did say they would continue funding Afghan security forces, that's a vital thing here, frankly, throughout which much of it would stop. There was a suggestion possibly that if the U.S. forces or their partners, which includes the Afghans, were attacked during this withdrawal period that the U.S. would respond. That could potentially mean air strikes if the Taliban move forward at some point.
So a lot potentially the U.S. can still do in these forthcoming months. And you have to also realize that the key element in this is the Taliban's reaction. So far publicly it has not been good. It has persistently said that it will not attend peace talks in Istanbul on Saturday week. Which the Biden administration hopes will kick start moves towards a transitional government which may eventually lead to a new constitution and the ultimate political resolution in all of this.
And in fact, yesterday the head of the Biden speech it said that the U.S. had 16 days to get out. So while the troops, Biden said, will start withdrawing on May 1st they won't all be out by then as the Taliban demand. We'll see this slow process over the months ahead during which diplomacy could succeed or fail or we could see an escalation in violence here, possibly against American targets, that's not to be excluded, as we see that withdrawal begin to take place.
But listening to Joe Biden talk there, Kim, from an American perspective there's quite a lot of logic behind his decision. The Americans have tried everything here. They've tried surging to over 100,000 troops. They've tried just a counterterrorism mission. They've tried peace talks as well, and still at this point with 2,500 troops here they are seeing, it's fair to say even by U.S. treasury assessment, al-Qaeda gaining strength and also the Taliban doing well on the battlefield, too. So if those 2,500 troops aren't stopping that the only real choice you have is to send more, you won't do that again because you tried that ten years ago.
So what's the only thing the U.S. hasn't tried left and that's leaving. And that also may have a dynamic here to some degree to actually enable an Afghan-brokered peace. Most Afghan officials, I have to say I've spoken to, don't think that's the likely forthcoming move here, that the Taliban aren't to trust a worthy negotiating partner, and in fact we will see a return to violence here in what's called the fighting season in the warmer summer months ahead. But great uncertainty, yet more after the many decades of war and an increase in violence in recent years -- Kim.
BRUNHUBER: All right. Appreciate the reporting. Thanks so much from Kabul, Afghanistan. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh.
An emergency review of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine didn't deliver many answers. We will explain why the vaccine is still on pause and what has regulators so concerned.
And the question of which vaccine to use is dividing Europe and confusing Europeans. We're live in Paris when we come back. Stay with us.
BRUNHUBER: The Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine will remain on hold for now. A CDC advisory committee said more time is needed to investigate a possible link to severe and very rare blood clots. Nearly 7 million Americans have received the vaccine yet only six people have reported this issue. Nick Watt explains why the CDC advisers are delaying their decision.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Johnson & Johnson's one-shot vaccine remains on pause.
DR. TOM SHIMABUKURO, CDC: In the coming weeks we are going to gather more information.
DR. JEFF DUCHIN, INFECTIOUS DISEASES SOCIETY OF AMERICA: It should not be interpreted as a signal that there is an increased concern, but a desire to better characterize the risk.
WATT (voice-over): This pause also provides time to advise physicians on how to treat these clots and to advise the public of what to watch out for. SHIMABUKURO: Five of these six cases really headache is the initial
WATT (voice-over): Johnson & Johnson believes the benefits outweigh the potential risks.
DR. ARAN MAREE, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, JANSSEN PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES OF JOHNSON & JOHNSON: Based on the current data the overall benefit/risk profile for our vaccine is positive across the population for which it's authorized.
WATT (voice-over): Note, those clots reported in just .00008 percent of people who got the Johnson & Johnson shot. Also not a single case of this kind of clot after the more than 182 million doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines administered. All right, more brighter side.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our vaccination program is accelerating.
WATT (voice-over): Now averaging nearly 3.4 million people dozed every day. Pfizer has boosted production. Says they will now deliver 220 million doses by May's end.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I know Moderna is on track and we're working with Moderna to do everything we can to accelerate those doses.
WATT (voice-over): Today is day 450 since the first confirmed COVID-19 case in this country and we're now averaging over 70,000 new cases a day, up 10 percent in just a week.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Hospital admissions also continue to increase.
WATT (voice-over): Just look at that line climb, that's hospitalizations in Michigan where a doc posted this after an ER shift.
DR. ROB DAVIDSON: We're like five times the number of inpatients in COVID than we had just a few weeks ago. Our hospital is full. We've got to do better, folks. The light is there at the end of the tunnel, but we are just not going to get there unless we do all of it.
WATT (voice-over): Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.
BRUNHUBER: The European Medicines Agency is expected to issue a recommendation on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week, but for now regulators say the benefits still outweigh the risks. Sweden and Spain have both received the vaccine but aren't administering it yet. France is. French health authorities say they have 200,000 Johnson & Johnson doses on hand and intend to use them. Denmark hasn't made its mind up yet about Johnson & Johnson but announced Wednesday that it's removing Oxford/AstraZeneca from its vaccine program.
Let's go now to CNN's Melissa Bell who is live in Paris for us. Melissa, you know, we've talked about there's so much chaos over vaccine rollouts in Europe, obviously this latest uncertainty over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine won't help.
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Well, more uncertainty over vaccine that was really considered crucial, Kim, to try to help European countries try to improve their vaccine rollout strategies and campaigns. Remember that it was shortfalls in the first quarter that were blamed by the European Commission for the slow pace of the vaccine rollout here in Europe. 107 million doses were delivered overall then.
But the commission had said, look, we're going to get 360 million doses overall of those four vaccines already approved by the European Medicines Agency and that will help us to achieve our targets. Now this news, the suspension of the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson, a real blow to that when you consider that it was 200 million doses of those Johnson & Johnson that the EU was expecting the second dose -- second quarter. So more than half of those crucial doses it was expected and that it expected could really help it improve its vaccine rollout.
As you say, Denmark has announced that it will not be using the AstraZeneca vaccine in the end, it was one of the first countries to suspend its rollout over fears of blood clots even as other countries have picked up the rollout of that vaccine. Again, Denmark saying it simply doesn't need to.
It is the European country that is faring the best, Kim, in terms of its vaccine rollout, 8 percent of its population vaccinated so far, that is the best performer in the EU.
In the rest of Europe, as you say here in France, they say that there's 200,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson they will be delivering and along the same lines as they've been delivering the AstraZeneca. That is to people over 55, over those very rare cases of blood clots in younger populations.
But all eyes very much on the European Medicines Agency next week to try to see what its verdict will be beyond its recommendation to far that the benefits outweigh the risks. It's actual conclusion once it's investigated these fears of blood clots in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it will be delivering that verdict next week. All eyes very much in Europe on that since it was those crucial doses that were really expected to help make things better here in Europe. And remember, the target is 70 percent of the EU population vaccinated by the summer. That depends to a great extent on Johnson & Johnson being rolled out as planned -- Kim.
BRUNHUBER: Yes, all right, we'll be following that for sure. Thanks so much, Melissa Bell in Paris.
British researchers say they've moved into phase two in a pioneering trial looking into mixing and matching vaccine doses. They are also expanding the trial to now include four coronavirus shots instead of just two.
CNN's Cyril Vanier is standing by in London. Cyril, so testing the ability to mix and match, take us through the process and especially why this might be so important.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is a world first. It's a major scientific trial that's under way here in the U.K., Kim, to test whether you can combine vaccines in a two-dose regimen. So for instance, get a first dose of AstraZeneca and a second dose of Pfizer. And those combinations are actually going to increase because Moderna and Novavax are now part of the trial. So just imagine the combinations you can have with four vaccines in there.
The point of this is that number one, there are encouraging early signs, even though we don't have definitive results, that combining vaccines could actually improve the overall immune response in vaccine recipients. But for the moment that research has been done on mice and that is why this entire trial is currently taking place, and results expected this summer.
The second potential advantage is that it could greatly facilitate vaccine rollouts across the world. Because imagine if you can just administer the first dose of your vaccines without necessarily earmarking those second doses and having them sit in a fridge to make sure that they're available for the recipients of the first doses and imagine if you can no longer be as dependent on the supply and delivery of specific vaccine brands. Because you now have the ability to mix and match and combine. And not only does it not hurt the efficacy and safety of the vaccine, but, as I said, it might actually increase and improve immune response.
So those are the two clear advantages that this might have. Now, for the moment, it is not an official policy in very many countries at all, it doesn't happen here in the U.K., it doesn't happen in the U.S. where the Centers for Disease Control say for the moment they are not interchangeable.
It is happening, however. It's going to start to happen in France. Mostly under duress because remember that the AstraZeneca vaccine in France has been ruled out for under 55s, over fears of rare but serious blood clots, and because some people had already received a first dose of AstraZeneca under 55, what the French health authority announced last week is those people will be receiving a second dose, a booster jab of a different brand. So there will be some real world data to rely on in addition to this U.K. trial currently under way.
BRUNHUBER: Interesting to see the results of that real world experiment as you say. Cyril Vanier in London, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
The police officer involved in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright has been charged but that didn't stop hundreds of protesters from gathering outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department for a fourth night. We will have more from Minnesota in a moment. Stay with us.