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Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin Guilty on All Three Charges; President Biden Weighs in on the Verdict; Ohio Police Officer Fatally Shoots Teen Girl Holding Knife; U.S. Likely to Reach Tipping Point on Vaccine Enthusiasm in 2 to 4 Weeks; George Floyd's Family Pleased with Court's Verdict But Saddened At the Same Time. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired April 21, 2021 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:39]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Sciutto.

We use the word historic often. Possibly too often. But this is a verdict that will echo through time in this country. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all three charges. The nation was watching. The world was watching.

The headline in the "Minnesota Star Tribune" this morning reads simply, "Convicted." And for his family, that conviction sends a powerful message about the need for lasting change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: I'm not just fighting for George anymore. I'm fighting for everybody around this world.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: As the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told all of us decades ago, justice for black people will not flow into society merely from court decisions. And you heard over and over yesterday following this verdict, this moment is where the work begins.

Former Minneapolis police chief Derek Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison. He was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. And after the verdict was read, he was handcuffed and escorted to a Minnesota prison. That is where he will await sentencing. That will come in eight weeks.

Let's begin this hour with our guest. Adrienne Broaddus joins us of course in Minneapolis.

So, Adrienne, let's start there. Explain what happens now. ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a big waiting game,

but I do want to let you and our viewers know, you know, Derek Chauvin spent a great deal of his career putting people in jail. And today he is in prison. And we've learned he's on what's called administrative segregation. And that's for his safety. That means he's in a unit all alone. He is segregated from the general population.

And this is the state's most secure unit. He will remain there as we wait for the next steps. You asked about the next steps. Let's take a look. The Floyd family has gotten used to waiting, and the wait continues. Judge Cahill will determine those sentencing charges in about eight weeks. And the judge will use the state guidelines to consider the prosecutor's motion for increase in sentence due to certain factors.

You ask, what are those certain factors? We're talking about aggravating factors. For example, Floyd was particularly vulnerable. Floyd was treated with particularly cruelty. Chauvin abused his position of authority, and Chauvin committed the crimes as part of a group of three or more offenders. And children were present when the crime was committed. We heard from some of those children during the first week of the trial as they testified.

Today we heard from George Floyd's brother. And he says he doesn't want this to happen to any other family again. Listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FLOYD: What happened to my brother, it was a crime. He was tortured to death. I don't want any more George Floyds. I don't want there to be any more Daunte Wrights. I don't want there to be any more Ahmaud Arberys. We should be able to go, walk free and not be killed because of the shade of our skin color.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

BROADDUS: And we are here, so many believe, because of the courage Darnella Frazier showed that Memorial Day when she started filming with her cell phone -- Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Yes. This was caught on tape and that had tremendous impact here.

Adrienne Broaddus, thanks very much.

Well, we know President Biden was watching the verdict as it was delivered in the White House. And he is now hoping that the guilty verdict could help propel the nation towards policing reform. Here's what he told the Floyd family in the moments just after the verdict.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Feel better now. Nothing is going to make it all better but at least, God, now there's some justice. We're going to get a lot more done. We're going to get police -- we're going to do a lot. We're going to stay at it until we get it done.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: So let's talk about what it takes to get it done. Jeremy Diamond is at the White House. And that is clearly the president's hope. But there is a lot of reporting, even from some senior Democratic aides this morning that this verdict may actually lessen the urgency, if you will, among some in Congress to actually get it done.

[09:05:07]

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that certainly is a question and something on the minds of lawmakers on Capitol Hill as well as White House officials here. But either way, President Biden made very clear yesterday that he certainly hopes to use this verdict as an opportunity to move towards more systemic change.

We saw the president holding these two ideas in his hands at the same time yesterday as he was speaking about what he called murder in the full light of day. He talked about the fact that on the one hand, this was some measure of accountability. Some measure of justice. But these verdicts are too rare. And that is why he is talking about the fact that this case could be a giant step forward on the long march toward justice.

We heard him specifically call for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act which the House has already passed along party lines with Democrats supporting that measure. In the Senate that hasn't gone up for a vote yet but the White House is using this moment to try and push for the Senate to take that up.

We also heard from the Vice President Kamala Harris. Not only the first woman to be vice president but the first black person to be vice president. And that was notable for her to be able to speak to this moment as the only vice president to ever be a person of color. Listen to what she said yesterday as she talked about feeling the sigh of relief. She talked about the fact that this was a measure of justice but not the same as equal justice and that all Americans ultimately need to be involved in the push for change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here's the truth about racial injustice. It is not just a black America problem or a people of color problem. It is a problem for every American. It is keeping us from fulfilling the promise of liberty and justice for all. And it is holding our nation back from realizing our full potential.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

DIAMOND: And that George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would ban chokeholds, it would ban no-knock warrants and take a number of other steps to try and institute a national police misconduct registry. That is now a top focus for the White House, pushing that legislation in the Senate -- Jim, Poppy. HARLOW: Jeremy, thank you so much.

Let's bring in Joey Jackson, a criminal defense attorney, and Laura Jarrett, anchor of "EARLY START," and a former litigation attorney as well.

Good to have you both.

Laura, let me begin with you on the sentencing here actually because it's notable that these aggravating factors could play to a higher sentence for Chauvin and the prosecution made it very clear in those two memos during the course of all of this, that they believed because of these factors that Adrienne just outlined, he deserves an even higher sentence. What could that mean?

LAURA JARRETT CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Poppy, I think it's really important that folks temper expectations on what Chauvin is realistically facing here in terms of sentencing.

HARLOW: OK.

JARRETT: We talk about 40 years. That is a maximum under the statute. He is not going to serve anywhere close to that. He's likely facing somewhere more in the range of 12 to 15 years. And the reason for that is because you use the sentencing guidelines. And you look at those sentencing guidelines and you just say, OK, let's look at the fact that he doesn't have any criminal history and when it comes to the law, that makes a big difference.

So that's why he's going to be sentenced somewhere in the range closer to 12 to 15. Those aggravating factors, they matter. And the judge may apply them. He may not. We've seen a lot of rulings in this case where the judge didn't side for the prosecution. And he may not on those aggravating factors here.

But really important to realize, say we start with those 12 1/2 years, what he's facing for that top charge, murder in the second degree, and he has all those other two charges. He's going to be serving them concurrently which means all of the time is served together. So it's not as if he faces, you know, block to block to block of years there. He's going to be facing just one chunk of time for all those three charges.

SCIUTTO: Yes, the guidelines, I believe, point to 12 1/2 years or 150 months based on having zero convictions in the past.

Joey Jackson, you've been involved in a lot of trials here. Chauvin chose the judge rather than the jury to do this on the expectation that a judge would be potentially less emotional, right? Follow those guidelines to a T. Based on what we know about aggravating factors and how they influence sentences, for instance, the fact that children were present, that he abused his position of authority, these are among those aggravating factors.

How do you see the math coming together here? JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, good morning to you, Jim,

Poppy and Laura. I see the math coming together in a very compelling way. I think Laura is absolutely right with regard to tempering expectations. Right? However, in the event that the judge does his duty, and I think he will, I mean, this jury spoke volumes as to what they believe. They spoke volumes as to what conduct they observed. And they punished that conduct.

[09:10:01]

They punished the excessive force and we saw that with the assault that they concluded which led to the death. They punished the lack of humanity that Chauvin had with regard to his dealing with George Floyd. You know, how could you, said the jury. In addition to that, they punished the fact that there are all types of rules, regulations, policies and procedures, all of which were violated.

Let's remember the chief who came in there and said the sanctity of life is everything. These are not our values. Let's remember Zimmerman, who's the senior most officer who came in there and said, you know what, guess what, we don't do this.

Why do I bring these things up, Jim? Because they're relevant to your question. The fact is, is that since this jury spoke, the judge now has to speak. And I think those aggravating factors play out in a very significant way. There were children around saying stop. You know, many testified. One saying, who is 9, saying I was so sad and so mad because I couldn't do anything. What else? He was particularly vulnerable, that is George Floyd.

He's laying in a prone position face down, right? Chest down. He's in handcuffs and you treat him like that? What else? You were particularly cruel with respect to your dealings with him. What else? There were three other officers there who could have assisted you in that regard and that's an aggravating factor. And finally, you abuse your position of trust and authority.

And so, again, while we don't know what a judge will do, judges carry the weight. It's the judge's decision alone. I think this judge has every reason to give this particular defendant the statutory maximum because of those aggravating factors which were very present here.

HARLOW: Laura, let's not forget what this follows in the state of Minnesota, right? In the last five years, we have their images. And I'm going to read their names off to you. These are four black men who have been killed at the hands of police. Their names are Travis Jordan, Thurman Belvins, Philando Castille, Jamar Clark. And all of those police officers either face no charges or acquittal in the case of Philando Castille.

So I think you can understand it when the Minnesota Governor Tim Walz says this last night to Anderson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. TIM WALZ (D-MN): When you were asking folks what they expected of this, if you asked white Minnesotans, they thought it would be an absolute conviction. If you asked black Minnesotans, their history showed them that it wouldn't be and so I think for a state I'm incredibly proud of.

We ranked near the top in so many things. Well-being, life expectancy, home ownership, education. Unless you're black. And that has been laid bare to the world, and I think for many of us, it's a feeling like, OK, this happened. Now the work really begins.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Right? And it is, the work begins and the sentencing is incredibly important in that. Not just the verdict.

JARRETT: It is because it goes to what I think you're hearing more and more these days, which is about accountability and not about justice. Right? The idea of being here. That George Floyd is gone. His family can never get him back. So there is no justice in this case. That's what I think you heard from Keith Ellison, the attorney general, yesterday trying to convey that sentiment. But it doesn't mean that the officer who did it shouldn't be held accountable.

And that's what the jury has done here. But I think it's about more than just one case. And that's why I'm interested to see what is the Justice Department do here? We know that Merrick Garland is going to speak later this morning. We don't know what he'll say, but we also know that the prior attorney general had considered opening a pattern and practice investigation.

You mentioned those four other people in Minnesota. The question is, is there something more systemic going on here that the Justice Department should look at beyond just individual cases and officers? Is there something unconstitutional in the way that they're doing this?

HARLOW: Right. Which is what they did in Chicago. The question is, what actually changed, even when they implemented rules, et cetera?

SCIUTTO: Joey, do you see a pattern here that the Justice Department could delve into and remedy?

JACKSON: I see a lot here. The first thing is, is that just speaking to the verdict itself, I think it's important about the deterrent effect that this sends. This is a shockwave to anyone wearing a badge. And look, people are out there. Our law enforcement officials, God bless them, they are serving us with dignity every day. To those however who transgress, the Justice Department that says stop and I think the federal Justice Department will look into that evaluate that and do something about it. It's about time.

SCIUTTO: And we'll see if Congress does.

Laura Jarrett, Joey Jackson, thanks so much to both of you.

This morning, there are new tensions, new questions over another police-involved shooting that happened remarkably just moments before the Chauvin verdict came down. This time in Columbus, Ohio. And we should note the circumstances very different from the Floyd killing. In this case, a police officer shot and killed 16-year-old Makiyah Bryant. This after police claim she was trying to cut two other people and the video does show her holding a knife at the time of the shooting.

HARLOW: Right. It's notable that this video was released just hours after she was shot and killed. It shows the officer firing four shots at Makiyah Bryant as she appears to lunge with a knife in her hand at another young woman. Obviously, I want to warn you it's disturbing.

[09:15:00]

So --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

HARLOW: Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, what's going on? What's going on? Hey! Get down! Get down! Get down! Get down!

(GUNFIRE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: The officer involved in this, the one who fired those four shots, has been placed on leave. City officials are pleading with the public to be patient during the investigation. Our Ryan Young is in Columbus this morning. What can you tell us?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, obviously, this is a tough story, guys. You think about this, a 16-year-old being shot and killed, so many questions about this. And to note that video being put out so soon, that might be because of social media making such a narrative and pushing this so hard that police felt like they had to release some of the video.

The body cameras sort of showing the position that the police officer was in. If we show the video when you slow it down, you can actually see a knife, and what we're told is that police officer saw that knife being raised toward another person during that fight and felt like he had to save and protect that other life.

Now this, obviously, became another hash-tag moment across the country. People started protesting. The mayor and city officials started making quick progress to make statements about this and releasing that video. But take a listen to a witness who has had a chance to change their mind about what happened. They were talking on "NEW DAY" today about what they saw in this video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IRA GRAHAM, WITNESSED THE SHOOTING OF A TEENAGER: I think it's a little bit different than the other instances we've seen in these police shootings, in that it appears as though Makiyah was in the process of trying to stab a teenager, and that could have led to the death of the teenager. So I really wish these young people would think twice before they do things, and they would learn better skills for handling conflict resolution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: Jim and Poppy, Makiyah, 16 years old, apparently, she's the one who called police because there was word that she was being jumped by the two other teenagers, but when the officer arrived, he saw that knife going up according to police, and then he opened fire. Now that officer has been put on paid administrative leave as this investigation continues. But that's standard in any police-involved shooting. So many questions --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

YOUNG: Right now about policing in America. You can understand the sensitivity in this, but you obviously can understand why an officer would want to save another life as well.

SCIUTTO: Right, Ryan, you've looked at this video, I have too. And the video does show a knife in the hand of the victim here, does it not?

YOUNG: It does. And --

SCIUTTO: OK --

YOUNG: Of course, it's not the clearest video ever, but it does look like that knife is going backwards when that officer is firing.

SCIUTTO: Understood.

HARLOW: Ryan, thank you, in Columbus for us this morning. Well, what a moment for the family of George Floyd with accountability served. But now what? Now is when the work begins. Will it actually mean meaningful change? One of his family members joins us. Also, as Ryan just talked about, policing in America, what conversations are happening right now in police departments across the country, and will Congress act?

SCIUTTO: And is the U.S. on the verge of a tipping point when it comes to getting all Americans or close to all Americans vaccinated? Why those efforts might face a challenge or two. We'll have an update.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:20:00]

HARLOW: What an emotional and long-awaited morning for the family of George Floyd. Today, they wake up to accountability with convictions on all three charges against ex-officer Derek Chauvin.

SCIUTTO: But that does not change the fact, of course, that their beloved brother, father and cousin is gone, taken from them far too soon. We're joined now by George Floyd's cousin, Tera Brown, she's also director of the George Floyd Foundation. Tera, it's great to have you back on the program.

TERA BROWN, COUSIN OF GEORGE FLOYD: Thank you, thank you for having me.

SCIUTTO: You know, when we spoke last week, you told me that you were hopeful. You were hopeful that the trial and the verdict would bring positive change. And I wonder this morning as you wake up, digesting this news, do you feel the same way, and what kind of change?

BROWN: I do still feel the same way. You know, the -- having that, you know, conviction and having him, all three guilty on all three was -- we didn't expect that. So that was like a huge victory. And, obviously, another layer of justice that we've been asking for since this whole journey started.

But we do know that there's still work to be done because unless there is change, this is going to continue. Accountability is exactly what we've gotten. But it won't -- it sends a message, but we also need to have the laws change, so we're going to continue our efforts to get the George Floyd Policing Reform Act passed for -- at the federal level and hopefully the state level as well.

[09:25:00]

HARLOW: Tera, I was so struck listening to Courteney Ross, she called him Floyd, so, I'll call him Floyd here -- Floyd's girlfriend, and what she told our Miguel Marquez yesterday just moments before the verdict came down. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COURTENEY ROSS, GEORGE FLOYD'S GIRLFRIEND: It's a first step in a long road to recovery. We have a lot of work to do in Minneapolis, but I believe Floyd came here for a reason. This is a sacred land, and we need to start respecting that again. And I know that, that is what he would want.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: She's hopeful. I mean, hopeful for that change you were just calling for. What do you think your cousin would think of this moment and this movement?

BROWN: I think that he is probably very proud of -- proud of the efforts that we've put into this. He's probably very proud of -- well, I know he's proud of, you know, this victory that we were able to celebrate on yesterday. I can see him, you know, smiling down on us and just being very proud of us.

SCIUTTO: Tera, Derek Chauvin chose not to speak in his own defense in the trial. And this is a difficult question, but I wonder, if you had the opportunity to speak to him, what would you say? BROWN: That's a good question. And I guess I really had not even

considered what I would say to him or to have questions for him because just, you know, being able to -- you know, from different times I've been inside the courtroom and observing him, I really didn't observe much emotion or remorse or anything. So I don't expect to get anything from him, even if I had questions. So, I don't think there would be an answer that would satisfy, you know, the hurt and the pain that I've suffered from this. So, I don't really have a question. I don't have any questions I would ask him. I don't think so.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: You just talked about Congress and acting. I know you want them to act and the act, the legislation is right before them. Do you believe they will?

BROWN: I believe that it is -- it is possible. I know that right now, this movement has momentum, and I think if we continue to push for this and, you know, really hold our local leaders as well as our politicians accountable to the change that they say they're going to give to us, and we just need to hold them accountable and keep our voices out there, remain active. And I do think it is possible for this to happen. I do.

SCIUTTO: Well, Tera Brown, we wish you, we wish your family the best in these days and weeks. We know you have a lot to process here. But let's keep talking because we're going to be watching for change as well.

BROWN: Absolutely. We're going to keep the efforts going, so we appreciate your support. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Tera Brown, thanks so much. Still ahead this hour, what is next for the three other former officers involved in the killing of George Floyd, remember they face charges, too. We're going to be live on that, next.

HARLOW: We are also moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street, stock futures lower this morning, a wobbling over the spike in coronavirus infections across the globe and new variants. Also, expenses are rising for many retail and consumer goods as a result of increased demand and pressure on global supply chains. Investors closely watching all of it. We'll be right back.

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