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CNN NEWSROOM

Chauvin Guilty on All Counts in Killing of George Floyd. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired April 21, 2021 - 00:00   ET

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


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CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Welcome to CNN's continuing coverage in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder trial. I'm Chris Cuomo along with D. Lemon. We have never seen a case come out this way before. Not a shooting but guilty on all counts, including murder. That was the toll of this trial today.

As you know, it's midnight on the East Coast, 11 pm in Minneapolis. There is a sense of relief on the streets but this is a trial that echoed not just across the country but across the world. And this was the moment of truth.

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JUDGE PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY: We, the jury, in the above entitled manner, as to count one, unintentional second degree murder while committing a felony, find the defendant guilty.

Count two, third-degree murder perpetrating an imminently dangerous act, guilty.

Count three, second degree manslaughter, culpable negligence creating an unreasonable risk, find the defendant guilty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So Derek Chauvin is guilty but he still has to be sentenced. But he is likely to be behind bars for a very long time, convicted on all counts, including murder in the second degree.

Chris, they ran them off, one by one by one by one. The first day, it took four hours. Second day, today, 6.5 hours. Under 11 hours, that jury reached a verdict. That is very quick, considering what was at stake here.

CUOMO: Relatively. It was pretty quick. I think they reviewed all the evidence. It was a good block of time. And if they had the collective agreement that this was something that was so bad that death was the only obvious outcome, this is where they're going to wind up.

I did not think you would get a murder charge in this case. Not that it wasn't warranted or was but we just have never seen it before. And even in shootings, it's so rare. This is a nonshooting. I couldn't even get data to compare it to because we don't really keep data on this.

LEMON: This is the one time where I said, Chris, I thought they would get murder. I thought they would get all three charges guilty in this case. I was very bullish on this case.

And there was one reason, the main reason I was bullish on this case. And that is that video of 9:29. When you think about that, if you're sitting in that jury, if you're a human being and you're looking at everything that happened before, you saw the defense saying, well, showing the video of what happened before he was on the ground.

And we had trouble getting him into the car and he was -- he had enough breath that he could say, I can't breathe. So many times, he had enough breath and the wherewithal to communicate with police officers.

But none of that mattered, 9:29. That is a long time for you to think about what you're doing. We have only been on the air here for three minutes. And imagine that. Triple that time, three, six, nine.

For that amount of time, for me to be able to have you in a prone position, handcuffed and not be able to think about the consequences of my action, I thought that was too much to ask of anybody. And I thought the jury would see right through it and it would take 9:29. That video would be the key and I do believe that it was.

CUOMO: You're right. It had to be because, one, it's a very rare piece of proof. And, two, it had something else that is also something that's unique to this case. Everything you said was going on.

And around it you had the community. You had people creating an echo effect of the obvious, of saying, look at him, he can't breathe. Donald Williams saying, just check his pulse, check his pulse. The first responder showing up, saying, this is really bad.

Did you administer any aid yet.

No?

Why?

LEMON: People there were saying man, he's not breathing. Come on now, let him up.

CUOMO: So as a juror, as you said a human being, not only is it obvious to you but you know it was obvious to people who were there.

You have to ask yourself, why wasn't it obvious to the defendant?

And second degree murder in this iteration of the law is an unintentional murder but it was an intentional assault.

[00:05:00] CUOMO: And because you intended to seriously harm somebody and they died in that event, it becomes murder 2. And then once you have that, the other two were necessarily going to follow.

But of course, there is such desire by everybody here, one, to see, how did the Floyd family, how did they react?

How does the community react?

What does this mean?

What comes next?

All relevant, all real. But I just hope people understand how rare an instance of justice in a court of law this case is. I don't think it has a companion case.

LEMON: You're talking about in the court of law. I think people understand it, I think, in the layman terms, how you, as someone with a jurist doctorate, as an attorney, you see it in a different light, because you know it is the preponderance of evidence or a reasonable doubt.

CUOMO: Look, I think they had a very strong case. I'm just saying you just don't see cops convicted of this.

LEMON: No, you don't see it. But I think people understood it. I think when you saw -- I hate to keep comparing it to this, because I know the cases were different -- but I think the reaction, the way people reacted, I hadn't seen people react to a verdict like that since O.J. Simpson.

I know it's completely different legally. I understand that. It was a different time. But how people were standing there on the plaza, listening, how people were watching on their cell phones, people were at home watching on their televisions. How we were all in the studio, watching it.

And I just remembered the time when I was in the newsroom at WNYW here on Channel 5 when the O.J. Simpson verdict was and how the reaction, the relief of people. OK, again. So don't fault me for this. I know it's two different cases. I'm talking about the reaction here.

And so I think people knew how rare it was because of the celebrating, because they said, justice was finally served. And they knew how rare it was because, look, now, Chris, you and I are sitting here talking. We've been talking for six, seven minutes.

We haven't said unrest. We haven't said protest. We haven't said riot, we haven't said loot, we haven't said fire, haven't said let's go to breaking news to our reporter on the scene. I think people know how rare it is. And they're holding their breaths, their collective breaths. We all are to see what happens next.

Because, as I told you in the opening of my show, the closing of your show earlier, that this is -- that -- it's tough because we know there is going to be another time, right?

This is going to, something, a police shooting is going to happen again. And we're going to have to analyze it. And the nation is going to have to go through it. And so we'll see what happens with the next one.

But I think right now people are holding their breaths and they're saying this is a step towards justice. It may not be full justice but it's a step toward accountability.

CUOMO: It's absolutely accountability on its face. I think I agree with Professor West.

LEMON: What?

CUOMO: Which part?

LEMON: You named every jazz musician and singer.

CUOMO: I'll never question him on music. But the idea that what is one step versus what is the ultimate goal of the journey that you're on. And that you need to see things as they are, call them for what they are, let the system work.

And it did work here. It worked, despite how it began. You have to remember how this case started. They played it as a medical incident when this happened, the original local police department.

Then the governor had the wherewithal to take it from the local authorities, give it to the attorney general, who appointed Keith Ellison, who appointed a special prosecutor. And that's why you are where you are. You may not have been here otherwise.

Now you have, well, what does it mean?

And Professor Cornel West tonight was arguing, this is really important but the long haul of getting to where you want in terms of culture change and legislative change doesn't take the law; it takes another L word, which is love. And you need people to want to be on board for that and to make this something more. There is a long way to go.

LEMON: Let me just read this, if you allow me.

CUOMO: Please.

LEMON: Does this sound anything like what we learned, finally learned in the courtroom?

"May 25th, 2020. Minneapolis, on Monday evening, shortly after 8:00 pm, officers from the Minneapolis Police Department responded to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of forgery in progress.

"Officers were advised that the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence. Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s in the car. He was ordered to step from his car.

"After he got out and he physically resisted officers, officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress."

OK.

Did that happen?

We didn't see that in the video.

"Officers called for an ambulance.

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LEMON: "He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.

"At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has been called to investigate this incident at the request of the Minneapolis Police Department.

"No officers were injured in the incident. Body worn cameras were on and activated during the incident. The go number is -- " and it puts it up there.

Not once did they mention a knee on the neck. Not once did they mention the guy was calling for air, that he couldn't breathe.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: So what does that say about these initial reports that we get from police officers, that we take -- or from police departments around the country, that we take as gospel and even us in the media, we sit here and read them and say, but the officer said this, the officer said that.

Well, how could he?

You know, he resisted and they said that. But, but, but, but, but.

Are they to be believed?

Are they gospel?

CUOMO: My presumption is to believe the police with a trust but verify. That's our job. I hear you. I respect you. Show me the proof. I only know what you show.

Minnesota, this police department, has problems, has issues that have been demonstrated different ways over time. So you have to look at this isolated in one way, which is, this is what they did.

But I'll tell you why it's brazen. It is one thing if you and I decide to come up with a story to explain something that no one else can know the truth about.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: But they knew they had the footage.

LEMON: Multiple cameras, body camera. They know.

CUOMO: They did it any way.

So what was their bet, that you wouldn't care about it and it would kind of go away?

And sure, the local people are complaining.

They always complain, you know what I mean?

Yes, I know what they said. That's not what happened. Now you don't have the video.

Well, now what happens?

I do not mean to sound cynical about the police. I like body camera footage for them and the people they serve.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: There can be no doubt, oh, she or he said I did what?

Check the camera. That's not how it happened. That's why transparency is always key.

But that's how this started, Don. There was no guarantee that we get here. And you say the next time. There are cases bubbling up right now.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: There is a case in Ohio that people are talking about right now.

LEMON: There is a case in Ohio. But as you say, trust but verify. I always like to, before you rile people up with video that you don't know the context to, that we should -- that we have some responsibility to know what was going on.

CUOMO: Sure.

LEMON: Right?

And not necessarily take the initial police report as gospel. But when you have video, you play that video and you let people know what's happening. And this, when you said that, legally, we've never seen this before, that police officer.

CUOMO: Nonshooting situation murder conviction. LEMON: I don't know if you saw me on in the beginning with Jake. Jake

was saying well, it was short. Jake, I don't know. As Black man in America, I've seen this before. And all of the sudden, you know, you think something's going to go one way and it goes another. I sat there.

And usually in these events, you take some notes. But then you say well, OK, look. Once you hear the thing, you say, OK, it's over. And you just talk about the thing, right?

Because you know. I wrote down every juror, when they said juror number 2, yes. Because I want to see if this is actually -- juror number 9, yes, juror 19, yes, 27. All the way through to the end. As you said, I could not believe that it was guilty on all three counts, including the -- not the lesser charge but the higher charge.

CUOMO: There is an assumption when there is a relatively quick turnaround that there must have been agreement. There can also be -- and remember how this business works. It works. Everything is 20-20 hindsight.

So if this had been a mistrial for a hung jury, everybody is, oh, yes, that's always the probability when it's a quick turnaround. And that's true. There is one person or two people who say, no, I see it totally differently and I'll never agree with you and people get frustrated. But usually they communicate that to the judge.

LEMON: The judge would come in. You hear the whole thing in the courtroom. Can you reach an agreement, whatever. When they say they can't, he'll say, go back and try again.

CUOMO: Right. Also, something I remember when you were talk about O.J. the other night. I went home and it was interesting. Mario says, my son, all my kids love Don. He is family. And yes, that's how he felt during O.J.

But he has a different experience. He was listening to it a different way than you are. This matters to people of color in a way because there is an echo effect of it. And that's true about today also.

It's easy for me to say it was a pretty quick turnaround. I don't live with the apprehension that this will happen, it will be one thing to you and it will not be justice but just us once again.

And you will not get this and you have to be suspicious and you have to be -- and also, we've never seen someone get hooked on all three counts, including a murder charge for a nonshooting situation.

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CUOMO: Remember the guy in South Carolina. That's the case that always comes to mind for me. South Carolina, traffic stop; Walter Scott, older individual, winds up trying to run away from the policeman.

He shoots him from behind, lies about it, maybe puts down a drop gun and he didn't know this kid was putting him with a cell phone camera.

And you know what happened in that trial, South Carolina, on the stateside?

Mistrial.

LEMON: Yes. But listen, I understand. Mario, listen, they're right. For us, you know there's --

CUOMO: We get it, by the way.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Our generation, big difference.

LEMON: They do get it. We live in a world that's divided. I don't mean divided always in opposites. Just we see things. We've had different experiences. We see life through different lenses. We've had -- we grew up differently. And one thing that may mean something to you but it may mean something different to me.

So yes. Yes, you are right about that. But in the case of O.J. Simpson, I will just say what I'm talking about is the verdict, as I'm sitting there and I'm watching all of our feeds.

CUOMO: The anticipation and theatrics.

LEMON: The plaza here, the plaza there, the people listening in the barber shops and all of that. And you've seen the videos. And other people saying, I can't believe, this is what?

That was the last time that I saw something like that. And today was just reminiscent of that in that one small aspect. And also the racial divide.

CUOMO: Sure. Former President Obama said the jury did the right thing today.

LEMON: But you know what?

Real quick before we get to the former president. But I do think in one aspect, I may be wrong. I think this was based on race but I do think most whites in this country were on the side of justice.

But in the O.J. Simpson trial, there was a racial division. Whites were, for the most part, thinking one way. Blacks were thinking the other way. But I think most people who were -- they were on the right side of justice on this one.

CUOMO: Yes. That's why I don't conflate the cases.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: Because this was the right outcome on the facts as we saw presented. Former President Obama said they did the right thing. Once again you hit the key element. I wasn't calling out every night that, hey, look at all the white kids

in the crowd, look at all the white people there, because I wanted to simply and only insulate Black outrage from being seen as savagery, which is how it is met by a white audience when the insurrection wasn't met that way. But to say this one was different.

LEMON: This wasn't just Black kids out there. And even in some of the unrest, Chris, that you saw out there -- and I had members of the police department saying, Don, I know people like to say there was unrest and they were rioting and whatever. Most of these are suburban white kids that are out there and part of that as well.

CUOMO: We lived that together. We lived that with Michael Brown. He gets those anarchists and one off white kids with the masks on, whatever that guy's name is, Fawkes, they wear the masks.

And they start trouble, the kid with the skateboard at CNN in Atlanta was bashing in --

LEMON: Well, that's what happens, they bring the skateboards in and they bash in the windows of the cars.

CUOMO: They're opportunists.

LEMON: There are always opportunists out there. We have to separate the rioters from the protesters. And most of the time, as you know, they are peaceful. Everybody is saying oh, the peaceful protests. They are peaceful.

But when darkness falls and the later it gets, there are opportunists, people who take advantage of the situation.

CUOMO: Look, here is what we know. It was that this was such a combination effect of something very obvious and scary to watch and how it affected people from the minority and the majority. If that doesn't stay as a combined effort, I don't know where we get.

LEMON: Can I ask you a question?

CUOMO: Please, please.

LEMON: What do you think -- I asked this question to the mayor, the former mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu.

Do you think the interests of white folks, do you think the interest is going to hold up?

Remember, when George Floyd first happened, there were more people who said -- the polls were high, saying oh, he was murdered. As time has gone on, fewer and fewer people have said that, especially conservatives.

Do you think the interests of white people -- it will keep the interests of white people?

And do you think it's going to be enough for that difference that you and I talk about all the time, in people who really need to do the work to make the change many this country?

CUOMO: It is hard to say yes, because I have never seen that in my lifetime. Pain is personal. You know, drugs have been a scourge in minority communities for a long time. Heroin starts making its way into suburbs. All of a sudden, it's a big deal. Same with meth. Big deal. Pain is personal. It's your kids. It's people you know.

How do you feel the interconnection, the interdependence to people, when you don't have the same experience but you know it's the right thing to do?

It's a hard thing to have. I hope it sustains. I hope lawmakers are pushed to make a mark on this one way or the other, to speak their conscience through legislation, to be measured for it.

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CUOMO: But it's hard to see that that will happen when it never has.

LEMON: I think you're right about that one. But as far as the drugs, the heroin thing was sort of a backwards thing. That was sort of a white kid, suburban thing that went the other way. But also prescription drugs. That started in affluent communities, people who could get prescriptions. And then once the whole addiction to opioids --

CUOMO: But I'm saying heroin, nobody cared.

LEMON: Nobody cared.

CUOMO: Then opioids, now we care.

Why?

Saw our kids. There it is.

LEMON: There you go.

CUOMO: All right. Let's take a break. There is a moment of relief for many, that's fair to say.

Don's question, what will it mean?

Will it be a turning point?

A lawyer for the Floyd family, who now also represents Daunte Wright's family, he talks about the next chapters in this fight ahead.

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LEMON: So as Chris and I have been talking about here, this story just does not end with the conviction of Derek Chauvin, not for the George Floyd family and not for their attorney, who is representing the family of Daunte Wright.

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LEMON: Jeff Storms is going to join me now. He is a counselor here, an attorney.

Thank you so much, Jeff. I appreciate you joining us.

So, sir, if you were just being honest, were you expecting guilty on all three of these counts?

JEFF STORMS, ATTORNEY: You know, we were. And I say that and in some ways I wonder if I say that as a white American, you know. In my mind, with this bouquet of humanity, as Jerry Blackwell put it, watching, all the way down to a 9-year-old girl witnessing what she knew was a murder, in my mind, I just couldn't believe that a jury wouldn't come back with the same result.

But then when I talked to, you know, my Black friends, the Floyd siblings, they were relieved because they didn't have the same trust in the system. And that's so jarring for me for that to be the case in 2021.

LEMON: How does this -- you know, you said when you speak to your Black friends and the family members there, this doesn't end for the family.

How does this case against Chauvin differ from the one that is set for August against the other three officers?

STORMS: Well, you know, I don't know if I can entirely answer that yet, because we need to see what that playing field looks like.

Are there going to be plea deals, how is that case going to be prosecuted?

But you know, Chauvin stood out in the mind for so many Americans because of just that terrible look in his face and the knee on George's neck. So he was really the symbol, I think, that a lot of Americans took away in terms of the problems with policing.

And I don't know if America is going to pay attention as much to the prosecution of the other three officers. But I certainly hope they do because, you know, it's important. Our work is not done here yet.

LEMON: Just one quick question.

If you were representing the other three officers and saw the verdict today, would you be advising them to take some sort of a deal?

What would you be advising them to do?

STORMS: Yes, absolutely. I think if you were watching the verdict today and even before the verdict today, I think it would be wise to be providing that counsel to your clients. I think the evidence is overwhelming. LEMON: You think we'll see that?

STORMS: You know, it's hard to say. You never know what motivations may exist. So at this point in time, there are some very experienced trial lawyers representing those defendants and they may want a day in court for their clients. So I certainly wouldn't bet that we're going see plea deals.

There are some trial lawyers who are paid to try cases and that's probably what they're prepared to do.

LEMON: Jeff Storms, we appreciate it. Thanks for staying up late with us here on the East Coast at least. We really appreciate your time.

STORMS: I appreciate it. Thanks for having me.

LEMON: Thank you.

Chris, that's a very good question.

If you're representing the other officers or you are one of the other officers, might your mindset be different now considering this verdict?

CUOMO: Yes, but you lost a lot of leverage. The incentive for the prosecutors to give you a deal is now considerably less. Look, over 95 percent of cases are settled. Very few go all the way to court, to trial. But they also don't have the same exposure potentially.

LEMON: He was the face of this.

CUOMO: But they do have to feel now, seeing how this jury checked every box along the continuum of intent, they could well be facing trouble they did not anticipate before.

LEMON: At the White House, this is very interesting, to see the president and the vice president both speaking out today. The president addressing the nation after the verdict along with the vice president, Vice President Kamala Harris.

The president is calling on Congress to act on police reform legislation in Floyd's name.

Will this Congress ever work together to do that?

We're right back with our breaking coverage, right after this.

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CUOMO: Today was a big deal. President Biden formally addressed the nation after Derek Chauvin's convictions. He called this moment a giant step forward in the fight against systemic racism, but emphasized we can't stop here.

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JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Systemic racism is a stain on our nation's soul. We can't stop here. In order to deliver real change and reform, we can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this will ever happen or occur again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Like what, who, when, how? Let's discuss. We have Van Jones joining us and Charles Ramsey right now. It's good to have you both with me, and Don, of course.

So when you look at this situation, you can't depend on the court to create policy for how -- what's acceptable, what isn't and why. So what does this conviction mean to you in terms of what you've seen in the past? And what does it suggest about what you need to see going forward?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think it's positive, and I think it's a moment that we can take advantage of. I mean, when you really look at the trial itself and who testified for the prosecution, not just the chief.

I mean, you kind of expect the chief to testify, but not necessarily the rank-and-file. You had officers. You had a lieutenant. You have a sergeant. You know, you had all those people speaking up saying, No, this is not right. This is not part of policy. It's not what we do.

That is a sea change to me, because, you know, until you have a situation where, if an officer is seen doing something on the street that they know -- maybe it's verbal abuse, let's say. I don't want to get too serious here. But in the locker room, some cop pulls him aside and says, Hey, man, we don't do that here. That's a culture change. That's when it starts to happen.

You can write all the policies and have all the training in the world. And until the peer pressure turns around to a point where that's just not accepted, period. That's when you start to really see a difference, in my opinion.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And there's nothing like the peer pressure of we're all going to jail if you keep doing that. So all these things have to move together. You have to have the courts finally doing the right thing, and prosecutors like Keith Ellison doing the right thing. You've got to have that culture change that you're talking about.

But we also have to change policy. You know, one of the things that I'm excited about, you talk to the people on the ground in Minneapolis. They have been trying to fix this thing for a while. They're very smart. They have a proposal called yes for Minneapolis, which the city council could vote on, which actually would create an office of public safety above the police department so they can control when you send in police, when you send in health care, when you send in crisis intervention. They're trying to actually be more sophisticated now about how to meet

the need for public safety and mental health, et cetera. So you're starting to see a sophistication at the grassroots level in Minneapolis. That's important. That should be matched by sophistication in Congress.

The Senate needs to move. The House has already passed everything you need. The Senate right now could ban chokeholds. They could ban -- they could make sure that all cops have a duty to intervene when something like happens. They could create a registry right now for bad cops like Chauvin. Right now, the Senate is doing nothing. Cory Booker is trying to fix that. Tim Scott is trying to fix that.

But you have grassroots sophistication now. The Senate could move now. You could change policy, law and culture, and get something done.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: That's the push. And all of that is very important. That is the push.

JONES: Yes, sir.

LEMON: But I think that what you're saying is very important, because as we talk about any other ism, whether it's sexism or racism. It's not upon -- you know, incumbent upon women to solve sexism. It's not incumbent upon black people to solve racism. And it's not incumbent upon the public to solve the problem of police brutality. It's incumbent upon police to do it.

So you can create all the laws that you want, but as you said, unless police actually put them into practice when there is no camera, whether it's a body camera or from a cell phone, then the big difference, the real difference is not going to be made, Chief Ramsey. I think you're exactly right.

RAMSEY: Most conduct is not criminal.

LEMON: Right.

RAMSEY: So I mean, I agree with Van. I agree with whatever -- But most misconduct is not -- you do. But it's not criminal. And you've got to start with the small stuff and make it clear.

And people know, if you're taking that action on the small stuff, I know what you're going to do if it was something more than that. Something like verbal abuse. Most of those complaints go not sustained.

But if you get the same cop over and over and over again, I mean, at what point in time do you say, Wait a minute, this guy doesn't know how to talk to people. He's not doing things properly. At what point in time?

JONES: And that undermines the safety of police, because now the young people say, well, these guys don't respect us. We don't have to respect them. I do want to point out, you know, my life would have been totally

different, totally different if in 1992, the Rodney King verdict had been handled this way.

You can't understand what it means to be a young person of color as we were, Don, when this verdict came down. It put my life in completely different direction. I spent literally ten years of my life coming out of law school, suing police departments, trying to close juvenile justice centers, because I felt the system was against me personally.

The -- I don't know what's going to happen. You now have a generation of young people who say we marched, and it mattered. We voted for Keith Ellison, and it mattered. They're going to be potentially real change makers for a long time constructively, because they actually got a victory.

We never got a victory, Don. I spent my 20s and my 30s, and we never got this kind of victory.

LEMON: That was my first big story --

JONES: Yes.

LEMON: -- was the Rodney King verdict when I moved here from Louisiana, moved to New York, and I started working at Channel 5 on 202 East 67th Street on the -- on the Upper East Side.

The big thing, which shaped me as a journalist, was the Rodney King verdict, and then shortly after that was the O.J. Simpson verdict.

CUOMO: Why can't we all just get along?

LEMON: Why can't we -- why can't we get along? We've all changed and sort of morphed into why can't we all just get along. But it's why can't we get along, him standing there in front of that podium saying that.

CUOMO: So let's take that. We're going to go to break. When we come back, let's get to the hard part, OK?

Now, this could have been the hard part. This could have never happened, had the Minnesota police had their way in the beginning. Sorry, but it's true. Just go back and look at their original statement.

Now you will have people weaponize this moment and say, Look what they did. Look what it's all about now. And now they're targeting us. And now here it comes. All of the ugliness to play to white fright is real, too, and will be used here.

[00:40:09]

LEMON: It's already happening. It's already happening. It's already happening.

CUOMO: Right on our watch. So let's discuss, right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: So how will this news be relayed and conveyed, and what will it mean? This is the cover of "The Minnesota Star Tribune": "Convicted: Jury Finds Derek Chauvin Guilty of Murder."

Van Jones, Charles Ramsey joining Don and me.

So the step is what does this mean going forward in terms of the larger battle for systemic inequality? Van has been talking about the need. Interesting thing that I learned tonight in trying to contextualize this case, couldn't get data. Couldn't get data.

Twenty-five years ago or so, there was law that mandated that the FBI coordinate with states.

JONES: Right.

CUOMO: But all the FBI does is take what they give him or her.

JONES: Exactly.

CUOMO: There is no rule that departments comply. There is no standard for what is use of force, what is abuse of force. So we had to go to this guy in Bowling Green, who is a professor who tracks it, like, on his own since 2005 to get data. How important is it to measure and track in terms of change?

RAMSEY: Well, it's very important. I mean, you can't fix something if you don't really understand the nature and extent of the problem. And so you need to -- you need to have the data. You need to be able to see what's going on if you're -- if you stand a chance of trying to do anything about it.

Now as long as I've been in policing, it has never -- it's never been, like, mandatory that you report to the FBI.

Now I grew up in the Chicago Police Department, and we used to report to the FBI, because I had to make out reports. If you were injured or if someone else was injured in your custody, you had to make it out. I know other departments that never made it out. And so you never had an accurate count. You never knew what was going on.

Now back in those days, you didn't have the kind of connectivity that we have today and databases and all that sort of thing. But there's no excuse for it. All that stuff should be mandatory, in my opinion.

JONES: I think that's part of why this George Floyd act is so important. The idea of having a registry, being able to collect data. If -- if you don't measure it, it doesn't get done. That's just the bottom line.

LEMON: And it's got to be -- it's going to be mandatory.

JONES: It's got to be mandatory.

LEMON: It has to.

JONES: Now when you have a department under a consent decree, sometimes they do for those purposes. But the vast majority of police departments are not under consent decree.

Van, when you look at the police report, how they reported it out. I mean, are the departments reporting it accurately what happened? Who is going to oversee that part?

JONES: Look, and I think that is something that people need to look at. You a lot of people saying this verdict vindicates the system. It proves the system works. You guys have been complaining and complaining. Sit down, shut up, you got your victory.

No, no, no, no. This proves the opposite. This proves that you have to make the system work.

On its own, the system coughed up a fur ball of a false report from the beginning, and -- and the initial charging from the local prosecutor was terrible. And it took Jay-Z calling the governor. It took people rising up for the governor to give the case to Keith Ellison, who then did a great job.

But none of that happened automatically. It all happened because of extraordinary advocacy from celebrities, grassroots activists, and everybody in between. And so, again, even if we're going to say you want to be able to measure and monitor, it's still going to take a tremendous amount of ongoing community. D

LEMON: Which one of you knows about this? I've heard people say to get these kind of experts, to fly them in.

JONES: Yes.

LEMON: It costs a lot of money.

JONES: A lot of money.

LEMON: Usually states don't have that amount of resources. How did that happen this time?

JONES: It was Keith Ellison.

LEMON: Keith Ellison knew what was at stake?

JONES: Can we brag on Keith Ellison for one second? I've known Keith Ellison since he was a grassroots organizer. And he has this slogan, everybody counts, everybody matters. He's like this, you know, firebrand young guy. And then he ran for Congress with that everybody counts, everybody matters slogan.

He runs for attorney general. Everybody gets behind him. African- American, Muslim, younger guy gets in there. Turns out elections matter. Voting matters. Leadership matters.

He put everything he could on the table to make sure that it happened. And that's how you got the victory. Anything short of that, we would have had the same, you know, sad outcome we've had for what, 20 years, Don? Thirty years?

LEMON: Yes. He said this was -- what did he say, Michael -- this was Michael Jordan, I think he said.

JONES: A team of Michael Jordans.

LEMON: This is a team of Michael Jordans.

JONES: He went and found lawyers that weren't even his lawyers.

LEMON: Everybody I know said states don't have these kinds of resources. Where did they get all of these expert witnesses and so on from? Because you don't see it. But you did see it this time. And that obviously made all the difference.

RAMSEY: Yes, but he now he set a standard. And so what happens the next time or the next time or the next time? So resources have to be made. And it shouldn't be something that you've got to fight for every year. The budget has to be there for AGs or whoever it is to put on a decent case.

LEMON: Back with more of the verdict right after this.

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[05:53:18]

LEMON: There is bittersweet jubilation tonight around the country at Derek Chauvin's murder conviction in the death of George Floyd. CNN political analyst Natasha Alford joins me now.

Natasha, thank you so much for joining. What does this mean for you?

NATASHA ALFORD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I -- I have so many mixed feelings of, you know, just looking at today.

I went into this day with so much cautious optimism. Because for me it was always clear, you know, what happened on camera, what happened to George Floyd, in that he was murdered.

But I think it says a lot that so many black Americans, you know, we were holding their breath. We were prepared to be disappointed.

But I think the bright spot in today is that we saw the courage was finally rewarded, right? For all of those bystanders who stood up, who recorded, who took the witness stand. They actually got the verdict that reflected accountability.

And unfortunately, for people like Eric Garner and Breonna Taylor and their families, they won't have that. So again, it's a mixed -- a mixed day in terms of emotions.

LEMON: Before we continue our conversation, I want you to listen to prosecutor Jerry Blackwell, what he said after the verdict. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: No verdict can bring George Perry Floyd back to us. But this verdict does give a message to his family. That he was somebody, that his life mattered. That all of our lives matter. And that's important.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Is that what this is all about? Seeing the humanity in George Floyd and people who may have -- may brush up against police officers in this society?

ALFORD: It breaks my heart that we have to argue even the humanity of suspects, but particularly black suspects. Right? And we know that we're dehumanized often when we look at basic interactions.

[00:55:10]

I'm thinking of, you know, Lieutenant Nazario out in Virginia. Someone who was serving this country and was treated with such disrespect.

You know, so from those types of interactions, whether it's harassment or literally losing your life, we see that black lives aren't valued in the same way that white lives are. And it's so hard for people to swallow.

But I hope that this case reflects that, you know, even -- even a police officer who thinks he can get away with this, who thinks he can do this blatantly on camera. We're going to call you out. Right? We're going to -- to recognize the humanity of our brothers and sisters.

But I have to say that, you know, when I think about justice, justice is going to be when we don't have to police the police. Right? So we've celebrated the courage of, you know, the young lady, Darnella Frazier, for recording. And all of the people who came together to make this happen. Even the police officers who took the stand and who denounced what Derek Chauvin did.

But why do we have to record? Right? And what happens when we don't record? And when the police provide a different account of what happened. And black victims don't get the benefit of the doubt. There's a ways to go.

But this sent a very clear message that you cannot snuff out our life. So blatantly and think that there won't be consequences, in this case. But now we need justice in the other cases. And so that's why the work is going to continue.

LEMON: I think you're right. It will be a good day if we don't have to police the police. But we'll always have to hold people to account, no matter what the profession.

Natasha Alford, thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

And, you know, Chris, she said something. She said that she was expecting to be disappointed and was not disappointed, I think, as so many people around the country. I mean, even you wouldn't qualify what you said as disappointment. But you didn't think that it would be a guilty plea, at least on the second-degree murder charge. But yet, still, here we are.

CUOMO: Remember, I mean, you know, you had to balance the equities. The video tape it's painfully obvious. The crowd, those elements. And yet, at the same time, when have you ever seen a verdict like this returned?

LEMON: Yes. Much, much more on the verdict. Nationwide implications, as our late-night coverage continues here on CNN.

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