Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Chauvin Jury Deliberates. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 20, 2021 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Alisyn Camerota, joined by Victor Blackwell.

Here's what is happening right now.

The jury in the Derek Chauvin murder trial has entered their 10th hour of deliberations. They're trying to decide a verdict on three charges against the former Minneapolis police officer. As far as we know, they have not asked the judge any questions.

As a precautionary measure, National Guard troops have been deployed in downtown Minneapolis. And the Twin Cities are not alone. Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., many cities across the U.S. are preparing for any and all reactions.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: And President Biden called the family of George Floyd last night. He weighed in with his hopes for the verdict, now that the jury has been sequestered.

Let's get right to Minneapolis, where 12 of Chauvin's peers, five men, seven women, four black, six white, two multiracial, are considering three weeks of testimony from dozens of witnesses, hours of evidence. And their decisions must be unanimous.

CNN's Sara Sidner joins us live from outside the courthouse.

Sara, we have not heard much about the jurors. What do we know about their process so far?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, it's been very quiet. But that is likely because they are looking over evidence and trying to come to a decision.

They started last night, actually. Between 4:00 and 8:00, they deliberated. And they started at 8:00 this morning, local time, and have been deliberating all day. We expect there to be a lunch break. We expect them probably to work until about 8:00 tonight as well. That's a 12-hour day, but the jury serious about going through the evidence and looking through, trying to come to some sort of agreement.

I want to give you just a look, a little bit of the scene here. This is just inside the plaza, where the Government Center, the Hennepin County Government Center, is. And inside there is the court.

And you will notice the amount of protective gear that they have out here. You have got barricades, you have got fences, you have got barbed wire and razor wire. But you also have a lot of protests in many different ways.

There are only a few people out there now, but you will see words written all over this place. This is the latest young man, black man, to die in this area just outside of Minneapolis, Daunte Wright. You also have George Floyd written all over this city. And you have that nine minutes and 29 seconds, which you heard over and over again, the jury heard over and over again, the length of time that Officer Derek Chauvin was on George Floyd's neck with his knee.

And so everyone in this town is, of course, talking about this. I think most people in the country are wondering how this jury is going to go.

We do want to talk to a gentleman who is here. He is originally from Chicago. And he's come to speak to us a little bit about his experience. He was in prison for 32 years. His name is Darrell Jones. And he was wrongly convicted. And so that was overturned, and with help of The Innocence Project.

You spent most of your life in prison. Why are you here? What drew you to this place at this time, where we're dealing with a case that really is a seminal case, potentially, for policing in America?

DARRELL JONES, WRONGFULLY CONVICTED: Well, besides the fact that we all are here for George Floyd and his family, I actually flew here for you, because I watched on television.

I think, when we have an opportunity to speak and to say something, we put ourselves in situations where other people may think we're being ignorant. And this is a black-white issue. And this is really what's going on in this country.

And you were doing an interview that night on the street. And the brother was telling you: "You won't do it now. You won't do it live."

And here you are telling him: "Yes, I will. Let's do it now."

And instead of that, he's telling you what's wrong with the media. He had an opportunity to speak. We have to use that opportunity. We have to say something. We can't allow anyone to manipulate the idea of the media, to manipulate the idea of who we should speak to at all.

So, that's what made me come look for you. I don't want that to be a secret.

SIDNER: Can I ask you what it means to be here at this moment as a person who was wrongfully convicted? And we're watching the process.

Do you think that December had a fair trial?

JONES: Not only do I think he had a trial, but I'll tell you more about that.

He is the only one having a fair trial. See, when I went to prison and across the country, men and women are in prison. We don't have the resources he has? My case wasn't all over the news. No bunch of reporters were caring.

[14:05:04]

When you're poor, they don't come. I didn't get the resource of a bunch of investigators, everything he got. He is America's fair trial. I question that. We should look at that and say, this man actually got one, when he is in a position, right, he is in a position to have every resource behind him.

The judge is being watched. Everything's being watched.

SIDNER: The entire country is watching this.

JONES: The entire country. There is a fair trial.

SIDNER: And that's something that he talked about.

So, you heard the words of someone who has been through this process. He feels like it was fair. And now we are all waiting for the jury to come back with their decision.

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKWELL: We certainly are.

Sara Sidner for us there in Minneapolis, thanks so much.

Let's discuss this now with CNN legal analyst Areva Martin, also a civil rights attorney, and with us, Suja Thomas. She is a law professor at the University of Illinois and author of "The Missing American Jury."

Welcome to you both.

Areva, let me start with you.

We are now in hour 10 of deliberations, no verdict yet. Understandable. But we don't know -- typically, we hear when the jury goes to take a lunch break or if there's a question. Would you have expected to hear something from, something about the jury now, in the absence of a verdict?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Not really, Victor.

There is a lot of information that this your jury has to go through. And what we know from listening to the judge and watching the trial is that, in the deliberation room, they actually have computers. And unlike the old days, when they would have boxes and boxes of evidence, paper evidence that they would have to go through, they now have computers. And there is a screen, and there'll be able to go through digitally all of the evidence that was presented during this trial. We know there were well over 40 witnesses that testified and tons and tons of exhibits, as well as a substantial amount of video evidence.

So, these jurors understand the gravity, the weight of the decision that they are making. And I think they're going to be very thoughtful about this process. And those of us in the public, those of us in the media, we're going to have to exercise some patience while they go through this deliberative process.

CAMEROTA: Professor Thomas, you have spent decades studying juries.

And so let's just remind people of the makeup of this jury. It's obviously racially diverse. There are seven women. There are five men. There are about three people in their 20s, their 30s, their 40s. But I want to dive into juror number 10.

And just look at what her life experience is for a second. She's a nurse. We know a little bit about each of these jurors. So, about juror number 10, she's a nurse. She works with patients who are on ventilators. In other words, she knows about the neck. She knows about airways.

Is she allowed to use her life experience to help her make a decision here? And what do you see in the makeup of this jury?

SUJA THOMAS, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS: Yes, absolutely.

She is allowed to use her personal experiences, like anyone else on the jury. And so the beautiful thing about this jury is that it is a very diverse jury in an area of the country that isn't that diverse. And those -- all of those people are going to bring to the conversation a different perspective.

And so that particular nurse that you mentioned, she's going to have a perspective on medicine, and she's not going to be able to leave that behind her. She's not going to be the medical expert. She's going to have been told not to use her medical expertise in particular, because they have evidence before them.

But every single juror is going to use their personal experiences, which is why it's a great thing to have 12 people from the community come together and decide this case.

BLACKWELL: Yes, Professor, listen, we know that there is no correlation between the length of trial and length of deliberation, right?

The O.J. Simpson trial was 11 months, and the jury deliberated for four hours. But is there some correlation between length of deliberation and the verdict; the further we get out from that first day of deliberation, a not-guilty verdict is more likely?

THOMAS: Right now, I think it's so early. Like Areva said. Right now, they're kind of just getting their bearings. They probably took a straw poll to see what each of them thought about each of the charges.

They're getting a sense about each of the charges and what's common to them and what's not common to them. So, right now, it's so early that anything that they're doing is really they need to do in order to kind of understand the charges and understand the evidence.

When we get to maybe next week sometime, even though there were two- plus weeks of testimony and evidence, I think maybe, when we get to next week, you're starting to think about whether there's some disagreement among the jurors about the charges.

But, right now, I think they are just earnestly looking at the charges and looking at the evidence.

[14:10:02]

CAMEROTA: Areva, let's look at the charges. Let's remind everybody of what the jurors are deliberating on.

So, there's the charge of second-degree unintentional murder, carries 40 years. Third-degree murder carries 25 years, second-degree manslaughter.

Is the biggest question that all of these jurors have to decide is what caused George Floyd's death?

MARTIN: Well, that definitely, Alisyn, is one of the big questions.

But the other big question is excessive use of force, because we know police officers in our system enjoy certain privileges that other individuals don't. They get to act under the color of law. They get to use a level of force against civilians.

And if that force is deemed justified, they are not liable for injuries to civilians, including the death of a civilian. So, a huge question in this case is, was that level of force, was kneeling on George Floyd's back and neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, was that an excessive use of force, as been defined, or the issue of reasonableness of force, as it has been defined by the Supreme Court?

So, that whole question -- and we heard the defense attorney, I think he used the word reasonable police officer somewhere between 100 and 118 times, I heard someone say. So, he really wanted those jurors to hone in on this notion.

But we heard the prosecutors say, reasonable is as reasonable does, and that just because someone calls something reasonable doesn't make it reasonable. And, in fact, the prosecution said what we saw was excessive, illegal conduct, not policing, but murder, by Derek Chauvin.

BLACKWELL: Professor Thomas, I did this at the top of the show, and we described the profiles of these jurors.

We talk about race. We talk about gender. We don't talk enough about age. And we have got six jurors here who are millennials, under the age of 40. Is that, in this case, maybe more significant than it would be in another? Or how do you approach the age of these jurors as related to the other elements of their profiles?

THOMAS: I think age is and an aspect of all of us.

And so, when you're younger, you're going to have less experience in life. But every single one of those jurors has unique experience. And so they're going to bring that to the deliberation. So, I don't -- I don't -- I think that, in the deliberations, what tends to happen, sometimes, is that when people have more experience, they may be looked at sort of more prominently and people might be listened to more.

But, at the end of the day, as was mentioned earlier, it has to be a unanimous decision to convict. It has to be a unanimous decision to acquit. So everyone's vote counts.

CAMEROTA: Areva Martin, Suja Thomas, thank you both very much for all of the expertise. Great to see you.

MARTIN: Thanks, Alisyn. Good to see you.

CAMEROTA: So, while the jury deliberates, President Biden is weighing in on the trial and his hopes for the verdict. So we're going to bring you live to the White House.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

Plus, as the nation anxiously watches the Minneapolis courtroom, we're hearing from the family of George Floyd. His cousin, Shareeduh Tate, joins us now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:17:43]

CAMEROTA: As we await a verdict, President Biden is sharing his thoughts on Derek Chauvin's trial, and he's doing it just one day after the judge said he wished elected officials would stop commenting on the trial.

BLACKWELL: Well, today, reporters asked the president about his phone call to the Floyd family after George Floyd's brother Philonise revealed a few details of their conversation.

Here was the president a short time ago responding to a question from our Kaitlan Collins.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have come to know George's family, not just in passing. I have spent time with them, spent time with his little daughter, Gianna. You should see this beautiful child.

I can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they're feeling. And so I waited until the jury was sequestered. And I called. They're a good family.

And they're calling for peace and tranquility, no matter what that verdict is. I'm praying the verdict is the right verdict, which is -- I think it's overwhelming, in my view. I wouldn't say that unless the jury was sequestered now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Kaitlan Collins with us now from the White House.

So, Kaitlan, the White House explaining more about what the president meant there. He said overwhelming, in his view.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they won't say specifically what he meant was overwhelming.

But it was pretty clear that he was indicating he believed the evidence was overwhelming. And, of course, it's highly unusual to have a president weigh in, in this way, as President Biden did earlier.

And he himself even acknowledged that there in those comments, saying he waited to do so until the jury was sequestered, now that they are doing their deliberations and that has happened.

And this is really the first time we have seen him weigh in to this degree on what he believes the outcome of this trial should be. And so, of course, it did raise questions for President Biden's aides earlier today. Some of the questions and some of the calls that he's made are for peaceful protest and pointing to what the Floyd family has also said.

And so the question of whether or not he can encourage people to still accept the outcome of whatever this verdict may be, this is what Jen Psaki told us earlier in the Briefing Room.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: His position is that he believes there should be space for peaceful protest. He's been consistent in that. That will be his point of view regardless the outcome.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:20:02]

COLLINS: So, he not only said that he wanted to wait to weigh in on what he believes the outcome of this should be until the jury was sequestered.

He also said he waited for -- to even call the George Floyd family, George Floyd's family, until they had actually been sequestered and those negotiations, those deliberations within the jury were ongoing. That's when he made that phone call to George Floyd's brother last night, we are told.

CAMEROTA: OK, Kaitlan, thank you very much for that reporting from the White House.

Shareeduh Tate is one of George Floyd's cousins. And she is the president of the George Floyd Foundation.

Shareeduh, great to see you. Thanks so much for joining us. I know that this is a fraught time for your family.

Were you -- was your family surprised to hear from President Biden in that phone call?

SHAREEDUH TATE, COUSIN OF GEORGE FLOYD: I have to say, I was not present at the time of the phone call.

But I don't think that any of us would be surprised, because President Biden has been supportive of us since the very beginning. I think you heard he did meet with us prior to the services for George on last year.

And so he has consistently been a support. So his phone call was definitely not a surprise.

CAMEROTA: I mean, the fact that the president of the United States has taken a personal interest in your family's case, and the fact that, yesterday, he said, as you just heard, that he finds, I guess, the evidence overwhelming, what does that do for your family?

TATE: Well, it's just like any anyone else who has shown us tremendous support. I mean, we have support from the president, but we also have it from people all over the world.

And I think he's just saying what every other person is saying who has seen that video. It's clearly a murder.

CAMEROTA: The jury has been deliberating. They're entering their 10th hour. What does that do for your family as you wait?

TATE: Well, I think we have waited for some time to reach this point.

And so every minute that we have to wait to hear the verdict is obviously something that we're waiting in deep anticipation. But I don't think it's been a very long time at this point. So, right now, I think it's -- I still feel favorable that we will get the outcome that we pray for. I think the prosecution did a tremendous job of doing -- presenting the case.

And so now we just have to wait.

CAMEROTA: If it's not -- if there's not a conviction, has your family allowed itself to imagine where you would go from there?

TATE: I think we have allowed ourselves to be able to see it from all perspectives.

Obviously, we all have consistently said that we wanted a guilty verdict. But I have been quoted as saying that I'm pessimistically optimistic for that outcome. We have seen similar scenarios through -- play out before, where we reach this stage and we don't end up with that -- with the verdict that we want.

We are committed to still doing the work that's necessary to make sure there's a change that takes place, regardless to the outcome. So, we have braced ourselves, we have prepared ourselves, and we're leaning deeply on our faith to be able to guide us, regardless to what the decision is.

CAMEROTA: I'm sure that you know about the controversy surrounding Congresswoman Maxine Waters and what she said. She basically said that, if there wasn't a conviction, that she felt that there should have to in the streets be more confrontation.

And then, yesterday, Judge Cahill, the judge in this case, talked about that, responded. So let me just play that for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA, JUDGE: I'll give you the Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: What did the family think about that when he said that?

TATE: I mean, it wasn't a surprise to me.

I think, when you talk about whatever it is that they might be able to use to try to get an appeal if there is a conviction is not really any sort of surprise. So, I mean, I think Judge Cahill stated what most of us would have expected him to say.

CAMEROTA: But do you wish the public officials would hold their tongue during this process?

TATE: I think this is a topic that, sometimes, it's overwhelming for people.

And I think their emotions get the best of them. Watching somebody being murdered and wanting to see justice in the end is something that sometimes makes people make statements that perhaps may be taken as out of turn. I think they're humans, just like the rest of us. And so, of course, we don't want anybody to say anything that might be detrimental. And we would hope that.

[14:25:00]

But we reserve making judgments about that, because we understand the seriousness and how it's impacted so many people.

CAMEROTA: I can imagine that this entire trial has been excruciating to relive, particularly, obviously, the videotape and having to see it be playing -- played over and over again.

Some of our legal analysts made a lot about what the defense attorney did yesterday, taking a very long time to sort of relitigate the case. I mean, he took hours in his closing arguments. How did the family respond? Was there a particularly hard part yesterday?

TATE: Not particularly

I mean, I just -- I felt like it was a bit much. And I think, probably, for me, it was just a sort of a testament to the fact that what he -- he was trying to grasp at straws and try to make sure that he can impress upon any juror to think that there was some reasonable doubt there.

So I thought it was a bit lengthy. It should have been far less. I didn't think anything different came out of it. In fact, I thought some of the video footage that was shown actually was in favor. So I didn't think much of it at all, actually. I just was glad when it was over.

CAMEROTA: Last, Shareeduh, obviously, so many people across the country are bracing for whatever this verdict will be.

And, as you know, there are protesters who are planning for an outcome that they don't like .What do you want to say to them?

TATE: I think the messaging is the same that it's always been.

I mean, we obviously don't want anything outside of a peaceful outcome. But we are understanding of why so many people are outraged and why they're angry and why they feel like they may need to do something more, because they don't feel that the peaceful protests have garnered any sort of positive outcome.

But, again, our position has always been the same.

CAMEROTA: Shareeduh Tate, thank you for your time. We really appreciate you.

TATE: Thank you for having me.

CAMEROTA: We have a programming note.

Vice President Kamala Harris is going to sit down with CNN's Dana Bash as she nears her first 100 days on the job. They will discuss the pandemic, gun violence and immigration. This is an exclusive interview on "THE SITUATION ROOM."

So, do not miss it today at 6:00 Eastern.

It is happening again, Victor, as we speak.

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKWELL: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKWELL: This time, it's happening at a New York supermarket, a deadly shooting.

We will take you to the scene, as police are still searching for that shooter -- next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:30:00]