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Justice Department Launces Probe into Minneapolis Police; Video Shows Officer Fatally Shooting Knife-Wielding Teen; Biden Touts 200 Million Vaccinations Since He Took Office; Russia Cracks Down on Navalny Protesters; China's Xi to Address Virtual Climate Summit. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired April 22, 2021 - 04:00   ET




MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The investigation I am announcing today will assess whether the Minneapolis police department engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, including during protests.


KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: The Justice Department launches a probe into policing practices in Minneapolis following the conviction of an ex-officer in George Floyd's death.

President Biden touts 200 million vaccine doses given out since he took office.

And in other parts of the world, conditions are critical. India has just reported the highest daily increases of cases in the world since the pandemic began.

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.

The U.S. Justice Department has now opened a sweeping civil investigation into the policing practices of the Minneapolis Police Department. That announcement from the Attorney General comes one day after former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd.


GARLAND: The investigation I am announcing today will assess whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, including during protests. The investigation will also assess whether the MPD engages in discriminatory conduct and whether its treatment of those with behavioral health disabilities is unlawful.


BRUNHUBER: This investigation comes in the wake of a verdict welcomed by many across the U.S., and now Derek Chauvin sits in a maximum security prison in Minnesota after his conviction. The latest now from CNN's Omar Jimenez.



OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With a guilty verdict on all three charges, Derek Chauvin went from former Minneapolis police officer to convicted murderer, whose new reality is now a prison cell, similar to this one, separate from the general population and at a state prison about 25 miles outside of Minneapolis, while in the city, celebrations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can finally breathe.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): From a community that didn't think a conviction was possible and to a George Floyd family that knows the work is unfinished.

PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: We have to stick together and continue to fight, because this world is a place that we are supposed to be united and stand together.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): A mentality from the streets of Minneapolis to the White House.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This can be our first shot at dealing with genuine systemic racism.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): And part of that, residents and local leaders hope, can come from the Department of Justice, now launching a probe into practices at the Minneapolis Police Department.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey welcomes the investigation as an opportunity to continue working toward deep change and accountability in the Minneapolis Police Department.

While the head of the City Council, which has tried multiple times to dismantle the police department, hopes the DOJ uses the full weight of its authority to hold the Minneapolis Police Department accountable for any and all abuses of power.

Meanwhile, Chauvin, with his bail revoked, awaits sentencing, expected in early June, as the judge weighs a number of factors, including aggravating factors, like George Floyd being treated with particular cruelty, the presence of children when the crimes were committed, and, separately, state sentencing guidelines.

The guidelines for someone with no criminal history like Chauvin are up to 15 years for second and third-degree murder, and up to roughly four years for second-degree manslaughter. But prosecutors are asking for a tougher sentence, bolstered by those aggravating factors, which could increase Chauvin's time behind bars, all of it part of the continuing legacy of George Floyd.

TERA BROWN, GEORGE FLOYD'S COUSIN: I can see him, you know, smiling down on us and just being very, very proud of us.

P. FLOYD: It is not about black. It's not about white. It's not about Asian. It's only one race. And that's the human race. And the world let it be known that we all can breathe again because justice for George means freedom for all.


JIMENEZ: Now, a persisting chant we have heard amid the celebrations is one down, three to go. And of course, that's looking ahead to the other three officers charged in this case, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, all facing charges of aiding and abetting second degree manslaughter and aiding and abetting second degree murder and all three are out on bail.

Now, in the months after George Floyd's death the use of force incidents by Minneapolis police actually dropped according to a CNN analysis, but then spiked late last year and black people were the subjects of those use of force incidents at a highly disproportionate rate indicative of the work that people here still feel needs to be done.

Omar Jimenez, CNN, Minneapolis.


BRUNHUBER: Now, as Omar mentioned, even with the guilty verdict activists are still demanding police reform. With a long road ahead George Floyd's sister spoke with CNN and had this message to those who may be afraid that their loved ones could face the same fate as her brother. Listen to this.


BRIDGETT FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S SISTER: To the families that have been through this, that are going through this, keep the faith. Keep the faith and hold on and pray because prayer changes things. And I want to also let the families know that did not get justice for their loved ones, George Floyd, my brother, sacrificed his life that day and we not only got justice yesterday for him, but we got justice for all families, all families, that did not get justice for their loved ones and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.


BRUNHUBER: A case that unfolded in Ohio as the Chauvin verdict was coming down in Minnesota is drawing national attention. Body camera footage shows an officer shooting and killing a black teenager who was lunging at people with a knife. The circumstances may be unique, but the conversation about police accountability is forcing authorities to prioritize transparency. Athena Jones has more on the investigation. I'm warning, her report is graphic.


ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): New videos released in the case of Ma'Khia Bryant, a 16-year old teenager black girl in Columbus, Ohio shot by police after they say she attempted to stab two people with a knife.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got -- it's these grown girls over here trying to fight us. Trying to stab us. One of them is trying to put her hands on our Grandma. Get in here now.

JONES (voice-over): Upon receiving a chaotic 911 call, officers were dispatched to the scene. Police say they still don't know the identity of the caller. Police bodycam footage shows Officer Nicholas Reardon approached a group of individuals in the driveway outside a home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's going on? Hey, what's going on? Hey, hey, hey, hey. Get down, get down, get down, get down.

JONES (voice-over): The video shows Bryant appearing to push one person to the ground, and then lunging at another person in pink, with would appears to be a knife in her hand. Officer Reardon then fired four shots killing Bryant. Franklin County Children Services, says Bryant was a foster child in the County's care.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She came after me.

JONES: Tonight, newly released bodycam videos from two additional officers show the moments after the shooting as well. Officers can be seen performing life-saving measures on Bryant and sealing off the scene. Officer Reardon, who police identified as firing the fatal shots, has been a member of the Columbus Police Department since 2019. Police say he is on paid administrative leave while an independent investigation takes place.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said the killing was a failure of the community.

MAYOR ANDREW GINTHER (D), COLUMBUS, OH: The fact that we had a 16- year-old girl armed and involved with physical violence with other folks in that community, that's something for us to look in the mirror and to say what are we doing or not doing?

JONES: The shooting happened about 30 minutes before the guilty verdict was delivered for the murder of George Floyd at a time when police use of force around the nation and in Columbus specifically is under renewed scrutiny.

GINTHER: And we'll be sharing more in the hours, days, weeks ahead that doesn't compromise the investigation because it's critically important for us, for the public to have the information that we have so we can be as transparent as possible.

JONES: Now CNN has reached out to Officer Reardon and the police union but has not heard back. And one more thing that's important to note here, both the mayor and interim police chief are really stressing transparency. The police department worked swiftly last night to release that initial police bodycam footage as Chief Michael Woods says his goal is to share as much information with the public as possible as quickly as possible. This was especially important last night because you had video shot by bystanders that had already begun circulating on social media sparking an outrage.

Athena Jones, CNN, Columbus, Ohio.



BRUNHUBER: And the president of the Columbus, Ohio City Council spoke to CNN, Shannon Harden stressed the importance of the independent investigation and the need to respect that process, even in the face of community anger.


SHANNON HARDIN, PRESIDENT, COLUMBUS CITY COUNCIL: I have shed more tears today than I have in any other day of my term of serving this city. So the anger and the frustration is real and it's understandable and, you know, what we have seen over the last days with this body camera video is interaction that tragically took the life of Ma'Khia, but the important thing is that we have an independent investigation.

So it's not about you or am I answering the question, should he have used a different weapon or not. We will have an investigation to look into those things and candidly I can't really speak on how I feel on that because there is an independent investigation and the worst thing that I would want to do is in any way jeopardize those findings.


BRUNHUBER: Ohio has a police reform bill in the works designed to increase training on how to deescalate situations and add accountability for police. It would also create databases for use of force incidents and officer discipline. The state's Republican Governor Mike DeWine announced the bill Wednesday saying there is a lot to learn from the tragedies of George Floyd's death. DeWine has been pursuing some form of police reform for at least a year.

And in Washington bipartisan talks on a police reform bill are picking up pace. They lead Senate Republican negotiator says he's now proposing shifting the burden of accountability from individual police officers to police departments.

But one Democratic lawmakers told CNN's Erin Burnette that rogue officers still need to be held responsible for their actions.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): We have to criminalize the choke hold and other types of tactics such as the knee to the neck. I think we're going to do that. We have to change the standard for use of force and make one that is put into place nationally so that the use of deadly force is a matter of last resort and de-escalation tactics are required in the first instance. That's something that I think we can do.

We need a national database so that rogue police officers who have been brutal, who have been violent, who have engaged in excessive use of force can't just jump from one police department to another police department without any visibility into that officer's prior behavior.


BRUNHUBER: U.S. President Joe Biden is touting 200 million vaccinations since he took office in January. Addressing the country on Wednesday Biden reported more than a quarter of Americans are now fully vaccinated, but clearly more work is needed. CNN's Nick Watt reports.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today we did it. Today we hit 200 million shots on the 92nd day in office.

NICK WATT (voice over): And in just a couple of weeks vaccine supply may outstrip demand in the U.S. -- so says a just published report. That is both good news.

BIDEN: Some experts say that the rapid vaccination effort has already saved tens of thousands of American lives.

WATT (voice over): And it's bad news. Just over a quarter of Americans are now fully vaccinated. That needs to maybe triple to reach herd immunity, it could be close. Only 61 percent of adults said they had or want the shot although that poll is a month old.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Obviously, there is an element of vaccine hesitancy or concern that we need to address.

BIDEN: I'm calling on every employer, large and small in every state to give employees the time off they need with pay to get vaccinated.

The IRS is posting instructions for how employers can get reimbursed for the cost ...

WATT (voice over): South Dakota just joined the handful of others banning state or local government from mandating vaccine passports to prove inoculation.

KATHY BLACKWELL, RESTAURANT OWNER: Anybody who wants to come in my business, I would never ask them those questions. I think everybody has their own rights and we want to keep our rights.

WATT (voice over): And the actual virus, red is bad, means case counts are climbing and there's not much red on that map right now. Still, on average nearly 64,000 new cases are reported every day.

BIDEN: We all need to mask up until the number of cases goes down.

WATT (voice over): And the rest of the world really matters. Last week globally the most cases ever recorded in a week, says the W.H.O., and just look at that line in India. Cases and deaths are soaring.

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.



BRUNHUBER: Americans planning to vacation in another country this summer may need to reconsider. The U.S. State Department is adding more than 100 countries to its do not travel list because of the risk of COVID-19. They include Canada, Mexico, the U.K., France, Italy and Spain. The recommendations aren't mandatory and health experts say fully vaccinated people can travel safely within the U.S. at low risk.

For the first time in more than two decades Atlanta's airport is no longer the world's busiest. Hartsfield-Jackson fell a notch to number two thanks to the pandemic's disruption of air travel. Atlanta is expected to return to the top spot when vacations pick up but for now the most passengers are passing through Guangzhou in China. Nearly 44 million last year according to Airports Council International. Rounding out the top five, Chengdu, China, Dallas-Fort Worth in Texas and Shenzhen, China.

India has posted a tragic world record in new daily COVID cases. The health care system there is collapsing as a second coronavirus wave tears through the country. We will have the details coming up.

Plus, Russian security forces crack down across the country on protests in support of Alexey Navalny. We're live in Moscow after the break. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: Protesters in Russia say it's a fight for the future as tens of thousands of people marched in 85 cities in support of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny. The numbers though weren't as high as organizers had hoped.

And in Mexico -- in Moscow, rather, they cheered for Navalny's wife Yulia. Others were critical of President Vladimir Putin and what they call his abuse of power. And in the far east city of Vladivostok they chanted "Russia without Putin." neither 1,500 people were arrested. The protests were planned to coincide with Putin's annual address to the nation where he warned other countries not to interfere in Russia's domestic affairs.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Whoever organizes any provocations to threaten our core security will regret this like they have never regretted anything before. I hope that no one will get an idea to cross a so-called red line in regards to Russia. And where this red line lies we will determine ourselves in each specific case.


BRUNHUBER: Let's head live to Moscow and CNN's Fred Pleitgen. Fred let's start with what we heard there, Putin's warning to the West. What do you make of his message and what he didn't say, notably not mentioning Navalny?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He certainly didn't, but I think you're absolutely right, I think it was a clear warning to any sort of Western nations who are trying to put pressure on Russia not of course necessarily about Alexey Navalny but in general about some of Russia's actions, especially ones that we've seen recently.

Of course, the West has shown itself to be concerned about some of the military moves that Russia is making on Ukraine's border in the southwest of Russia also in the Black Sea as well. Also some of the things pertaining, for instance, to Belarus and the support for Alexander Lukashenko there was interesting. Because during that speech Vladimir Putin singled out the case of Alexander Lukashenko. And he there said, look, whether he like Lukashenko or not he believes that the West was trying to get rid of him and obviously, Russia says that that is absolutely something that they are not going to allow.

So clearly putting out some red lines there. And it was quite interesting also because Vladimir Putin said that if those red lines cross that then Russia's response would be asymmetrical, swift and also very tough.

So certainly, some pretty tough talk there from the Russian leader. And by the way, Kim, those remarks were made just before he started talking about Russia's nuclear arsenal, some of the new weapons that Russia is developing and already has in its arsenal. So certainly, you can see that Vladimir Putin clearly trying to show that he is going to be tough against any countries trying to put pressure on the Russian federation.

Then of course you had what he didn't mention as you said, Alexey Navalny -- the case of Alexey Navalny. And it was quite a big turnout actually. A lot of these protests across the country might not have been as big as the protesters -- or as the organizers had billed beforehand but certainly a sizable crowd in Moscow.

I was at that demonstration pretty much the entire time as it was going on. Security forces here in Moscow pretty subdued I have to say. There were a lot of them especially around the area of the Kremlin but certainly not detaining as many people as we've seen in the past. Different scene though in Moscow's second city in St. Petersburg, where there were a lot of detentions and certainly also police using some club there as well -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right, thanks so much. Fred Pleitgen in Moscow, appreciate it.

President Biden hopes to reestablish the United States as a global leader on climate change when he hosts a virtual summit in the coming hours. Many Western powers already are pledging deep cuts to their carbon emissions. The European Union announced that it aims to reduce emissions by 55 percent by the end of this decade. The U.K. has set a target of 78 percent reduced emissions by the year 2035. And Biden is expected to announce a U.S. goal of cutting carbon emissions in half by 2030.

Now, China has repeatedly been singled out for his heavy reliance on coal and other fossil fuels. In fact it's the world's number one carbon emitter. So there is great interest in what President Xi Jinping will say when he addresses the summit. CNN's Steven Jiang is in Beijing. So Steven, any idea of what we are expected to hear from President Xi.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well Kim, President Xi is expected to say that to tackle an issue like global climate change you have to have a multilateral approach instead of letting any single government dominate its agenda. Now, his mere attendance is actually already very noteworthy because it's considered a good will gesture from Beijing to Washington that the Chinese leadership is at least willing to carve out a special lane for cooperation at a time of growing tensions between the two governments in a whole range of areas from trade to security to human rights.

But his attendance is also seen as a challenge from China to a U.S.- led agenda on this issue, especially from Beijing's perspective the U.S. has all but lost its moral high ground on this issue after four years of Trump. But of course the Chinese have been saying that they are only willing to participate in these kind of talks when they're being treated as an equal of the U.S. and they are not going to make any unilateral concessions to satisfy U.S. demands.

There of course, having calls from Washington for China to accelerate it pace of carbon emission reductions. On top of its already very ambitious goals of peaking its emissions by 2030 and becoming carbon neutral by 2060, but the Chinese, of course, have said they are going to stick to their own targets and road maps and also actively working with other partners including U.S. allies like France and Germany. And Mr. Xi is expected to drive home the point when it comes to tackling the climate issue they have to really need a new global order based on multilateralism and justice instead of in his words hegemony and coercion -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, we're keeping an eye on this for sure. Thanks so much. Steven Jiang live in Beijing.

And join CNN for a climate town hall on climate policy as senior Biden administration officials will answer questions on how President Joe Biden plans to remake U.S. climate policy. That's on Friday night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, Saturday morning at 10:00 in Hong Kong.

And Joe Biden could become the first sitting U.S. president to declare the massacre of more than a million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire a genocide. The move could further fray relations with Turkey but would fulfill a promise Mr. Biden made during his campaign. Both Presidents Trump and Obama avoided the term to avoid angering Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. President Biden hasn't spoken with him since taking office. Turkey argues Turkish Muslims and Armenian Christians died in violence during World War I and the death toll is inflated.

All right, we have this just in from Hong Kong. Investigative journalist Bao Choy has been found guilty of making false statements after searching a public database to expose details of an attack on pro-democracy activists and uncovering possible government wrongdoing in the crack downs of the 2019 protests. And Choy could face up to six months in prison. Now the case has sent a chill through journalism in Hong Kong, and it shows how press freedom there is at risk. And again to repeat, just in investigative journalist Bao Choy has been found guilty in Hong Kong.

Well for many people, the reaction to the Derek Chauvin verdict was a relief, of justice served, but a Fox News host is convinced something else motivated the jurors and he built a false narrative to support it.

Plus a missing submarine off the coast of Bali may have been located but Indonesia's Navy fears it's at a depth far greater than the sub was designed for. We'll have a live update just ahead. Stay with us.