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CDC Advisers to Discuss How to Move Forward with J&J Vaccine; Demand Grows for Body Cam Footage of Andrew Brown Jr. Shooting; Police Release New Video in Ma'Khia Bryant Fatal Shooting; Camden County, New Jersey Reimagines Policing to Focus on Sanctity and Preservation of Life; CDC to Hear About New Blood Clot Cases Linked to J&J Vaccine; Study: People Diagnosed with COVID Face Greater Risk of Death, Ongoing Health Problems Six Months After Diagnosis. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired April 23, 2021 - 09:00   ET



BERMAN: Coverage continues right now.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: It is Friday. Good morning, everyone. So glad you're with us. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Just a couple of hours from now, critical meeting on the future of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. CDC officials will meet today to decide if they will lift the pause potentially with some new restrictions and guidance. This as two new possible blood clot cases -- though that's a very tiny, tiny percentage of the millions of doses that have been issues -- are now being investigated.

Will that new information impact the decision? Doctors have been telling us most of the week including Dr. Fauci that they are likely to reinstitute, reapprove use of the vaccine.

HARLOW: Also today outrage growing as communities demand answers in several police-involved killings in North Carolina. Calls for authorities there to release body camera video after the shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. Deputies say they were serving a warrant when it happened. Now officials say they need a court order to just release the footage so the public can actually see what happened and witnesses say Brown was driving away when he was shot and killed.

And in Ohio, we are now learning more about what led to 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant's killing. New dash camera video you'll see it right ahead. But let's begin this hour with exactly what Jim mentioned and that is the fate of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us this morning.

So, today, we'll know, bottom line, right?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We should know at least what the CDC committee of advisers recommends, and that is usually what's accepted by the CDC. And I can tell you, having spoken with sources, that this vaccine will stay in circulation. They are not going to take it out of distribution. That is what sources are telling me. So let's take a look sort of at the big picture here.

So the vaccine will continue to be used, according to sources, but they could put a warning on there about the small number of cases of blood clots so that if you choose J&J's vaccine over Moderna or Pfizer you know that these blood clots have happened.

Also it's possible there could be a restriction on who will get the vaccine. For example, they might tell people under 50, don't get this vaccine because the cases have all been in people under the age of 50. So that's also a possibility.

Let's take a look at these cases. Seven cases of blood clots in the brain were discussed last week. Six in the rollout. One in the clinical trial last fall. Again, all people under the age of 50. There are likely to be more cases reported today when the CDC advisers sit down and meet. And the Texas Department of Health already reported an additional one last week. A woman who was in the hospital.

So we are likely to hear about more cases but not many, many more cases. It will still most likely be a very small number. And that's why they are going to leave this in distribution and probably tell people, hey, you know what, if you want to take this vaccine, you should know that this happened -- Poppy, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Elizabeth, just briefly in the simplest terms, compare the number of cases where there were problems to the number of lives saved in a population this size for those who would take the vaccine because it's really -- vastly different. In order of magnitude different, isn't it?

COHEN: Absolutely. So at this point what we know, it's approximately one in a million people who got this shot had these blood clots but I think you have to say another sentence here. You don't have to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. A reasonable person could look at this and say well, it's only one in a million, but I have Pfizer and Moderna. I can take those. Those have not been linked to blood clots.

Just to be safe, I'm going to get one of the other ones. That would be a reasonable decision. Another person might make the reasonable decision, you know what, this is just one shot. I prefer one shot over two shots, which is what Moderna and Pfizer are. And so I'm willing to take that risk. Reasonable people can make different decisions.

SCIUTTO: And the risk of dying from COVID, if you were to catch it, unvaccinated compared to the risk of these blood clot cases, again much higher and it has to factor into those decisions.

Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much.

We turn now to the demand for transparency now in North Carolina. This following a deputy involved shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. There's a picture there.

HARLOW: Our Brian Todd is live again this morning for us in Elizabeth City where there is outrage, understandably, because they don't -- they just don't have transparency. They haven't seen the footage and apparently the law there is they cannot release the body camera footage without a court order. Is that right?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, that is right. That's what they're saying. That's what the DA is saying here. That's what the sheriff is saying here, and it's getting everyone here increasingly frustrated. The family of Andrew Brown getting more and more frustrated by the day that this video footage has not been released. The community getting more frustrated. So until that court order comes, until we see this video, we rely on the accounts of witnesses.

My team and I caught up with some witnesses in the neighborhood who saw and heard the incident unfolding on Wednesday.


One of them was Demetria Williams who came upon the scene after she says she heard one shot fired, then came right up on the scene and observed this unfolding as Andrew Brown apparently tried to drive away. This is what she had to say.


DEMETRIA WILLIAMS, WITNESS: I heard one shot. And I got up and ran down here. By the time I got here, they was standing behind his car. He was trying to get away. They stood behind him. I couldn't tell you who shot him. I couldn't do that. But one of the officers, or maybe a couple shot him because it was 14 shell casings right here.

TODD: Do you know how many deputies were here?

WILLIAMS: Oh, my god, behind him? Whoa. I want to say it was about four or five.


TODD: Now again, that's one witness' account and the sheriff's office has, in fact, confirmed there were multiple deputies on the scene but the exact number of deputies is not clear at this point. They've not really given that specific information. So we'll wait to get that information from the sheriff's office as well.

We do know from the family who's spoken to the DA that there are three sheriff's deputies who were on administrative leave. And that there were multiple deputies involved in the shooting. So, again, the community getting more and more frustrated. We were out with them last night as they were protesting, marching through the streets of Elizabeth City, very peacefully. They marched from intersection to intersection and blocked intersections.

Their strategy is to kind of disrupt business and commerce here in a peaceful way. They did that the last couple of nights. But, you know, again, the community getting more and more frustrated that this video footage, this body camera footage has not been released.

Now here is what the local district attorney Andrew Womble and the Pasquotank County attorney R. Michael Cox have said about the release of the footage. They released a statement yesterday saying, quote, "We know people want to see the body camera footage. It is reasonable for people to ask to see it because such video can help provide key context about what happened in incidents like this."

However, under North Carolina law, police body-worn camera footage is not a public record and cannot be released to the press or public without a court order. They have said, however, that they were going to try to arrange for the family of Andrew Brown to see that footage. We do not know yet if the family has viewed that footage -- Poppy and Jim.

HARLOW: Brian Todd, we appreciate you very much being on the ground in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, for us.

Now let's go to Columbus, Ohio, where an apparent escalating argument over a messy home led to -- up to what ended in a police-involved shooting in the death of 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant.

SCIUTTO: There is some new body cam footage that has now been released prior to the moment of the stabbing, attempted stabbing and shooting. Athena Jones is there covering this.

What did we learn from the new body cam footage?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Jim. Just first, I want to ask you for your forgiveness. A work crew just showed up behind us. We can't really ignore that news, but in this new footage released it was actually from a police cruiser. Police cruisers arriving on the scene after the incident had already taken place. They don't really shed a lot of new light. You really just see the back of a police car.

But I want to point out the contrast here between what's going on here in Columbus, Ohio, and what you heard Brian Todd talking about just now. The police are releasing this footage. They released two more videos from body camera footage the day after this shooting all in an effort to show their attempted transparency. But the most important video remains the first set of videos that Columbus PD put out in about 5 1/2 hours after the incident occurred on Tuesday afternoon.

That is the fastest this department has ever been able to share the video and that is because, as we've heard from the mayor, as we've heard from the interim police chief, they believe the important thing is to make sure they can share as much information as possible with the public as quickly as possible. And so, yes, these new videos are coming out. They don't shed a lot of light on the story but they do show that the police department wants to make sure they provide all the information they can and again, it's especially important in this case because there was video circulating on social media that began to kind of set a narrative in the immediate aftermath of this shooting, and so they've been kind of playing catch up to release footage on what actually happened.

This is the latest set of footage that they released but it doesn't shed a whole lot of new light. In the meantime, though, my colleague Jason Carroll was able to speak with Paula Bryant, that is the mother of Ma'Khia Bryant. Here's some of what she had to say.


PAULA BRYANT, MA'KHIA BRYANT'S MOTHER: My heart is broken. My heart is really broken right now. I had a beautiful baby. She was taken from me. She was taken from me.


JONES: So clearly a mother still in a great deal of pain. Everyone involved agrees that this was a tragedy.


Meanwhile, the officer, Nicholas Reardon who shot Ma'Khia Bryant is on paid leave while an independent investigation is being carried out. He was hired by the Columbus Police Department in 2019 -- Jim, Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Athena Jones, thanks very much.

I'm joined now by Captain Kevin Lutz of the Camden County Police Department in New Jersey. His department, one of the most progressive in the country, made new big changes in the last several years to respond to this.

Captain, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.


SCIUTTO: So you spoke specifically as an illustration of a November 2015 incident where a man pulled out a steak knife at a restaurant. Officers responded, surrounded him, mitigated the threat but did not fire based on their training to de-escalate or attempt to de-escalate incidents like this. And later you said that five, six, seven years ago, prior to this training, that most definitely would have ended in a police-involved shooting.

I just wonder, these are tough decisions for cops to make in that moment with the, you know, you need to protect themselves but also others, as we saw in the instance of the Ma'Khia Bryant shooting. How do you teach cops to make that decision in that crucial moment?

LUTZ: Well, you know, we look at that video as a shining example of the tangible result of the training that we've given our officers. We teach them to recognize threat levels, to differentiate between a possible threat and an imminent threat, and to, at the end of the day, the most important thing is to place a tremendous value on the sanctity of life.

As an administration within this police department, we support using time as a tactic. We want to ensure that our officers are responding to situations and that we're not creating officer-created jeopardy type situations where we insert ourselves into that scenario and had we been removed from that particular scenario or perhaps we drew a line in the sand that you're forcing that deadly force encounter.

You look at this video in particular, and the officers recognize that this individual basically just wanted us to leave him alone. We allowed that to unfold for a certain period of time. Ultimately there was a taser deployment and he was placed into custody without a loss of life. We're proud of that.

SCIUTTO: It's a remarkable scene to watch. And as you were speaking, Captain, we played that video, so viewers who might not be familiar can see, because you can imagine the circumstances where the cops would say, well, we were justified in using force. But they took a risk to themselves, right, in responding in the way that they did.

Listen, every case is different. So I know this is a difficult question, but when you look at the circumstances of the shooting of Ma'Khia Bryant in which there wasn't just a knife but appeared that she was threatening someone else with it, do you believe the officer in that case could have avoided the use of deadly force?

LUTZ: Well, to be honest, I don't know enough about that case in particular to speak on it definitively. I can tell you what we do here at our police department is prepare our officers to deal with conflict. If we want them to exhaust all options prior to the application of deadly force, and if and when a threat is imminent, if and when someone else's life is in imminent danger that we're going to support their decision, as long as it's in line with the training and the policy that we've delivered to them.

SCIUTTO: Yes, that's right. I mean, the expression we were speaking to another former police officer yesterday who brought up this idea of IDOL, immediate defense of life, as one circumstance. You know, does the police feel that they have to act to defend someone else's life or perhaps their own.

I just wonder big picture, and again, I don't want to put you on the spot because each incident is different and you're not the officer on the scene so you can't make a judgment for that officer, but big picture, when you look at the broad swath of these police-involved shootings, do you believe that police too often err on the side of using violence rather than attempting to de-escalate as you've trained your officers to do?

LUTZ: Well, I think de-escalation has taken on many forms over the years. We've had the privilege of working alongside the Police Executive Research Forum and a number of other agencies across the country to come up with what we believe to be the most effective training that we can deliver to our cops today. Integrating, communication, assessment and tactics, ICAT is the acronym.

This training brings what was traditionally taught in silos as far as communication skills, tactics and a number of other things, ultimately culminating in practical application and practical training. ICAT brings all that together.

Here in the state of New Jersey, this training is soon to be mandated statewide. And we believe ICAT is an example of the training that should be taught all across the country.

[09:15:00] All right, just briefly, do you find that as a result of these changes

you've made, that you've increased the trust between police and members of the community?

LUTZ: We do, and we've had a very unique situation here in Camden. We were able to form our new police department that's responsible for policing within Camden City. Years of distrust with our community led to that transformation. And in our eight years in existence, it's truly amazing the amount of capital we've gained within the community. The trust, the outreach, the transparency. We train our officers to be a fabric of the community. They do that. And we believe that our community has responded in a way that has really helped us drive down violence and continued to build this for many years to come.

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, we appreciate the effort you're doing and the risks you're taking. Captain Kevin Lutz, thanks very much.

LUTZ: Thank you. Thank you brother.

POPPY HARLOW, CO-ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Jim, I'm so glad we had him on. And that interview I've been -- I think it was five years ago I spent time in Camden as they were making these changes, and it's remarkable what you can do when there's a will there, and leadership that made really important changes. All right, we have a lot of --

SCIUTTO: And risks taken --

HARLOW: Yes --

SCIUTTO: I mean --

HARLOW: Totally --

SCIUTTO: For these officers --

HARLOW: Yes --

SCIUTTO: Involved and for the community --

HARLOW: Yes. You're totally right. OK, so still to come, the future of the J&J COVID vaccine is on the line as the CDC holds a critical meeting today. Will the U.S. allow it back to the market but maybe with new restrictions? We'll see. And a new study finds people who had COVID, even a milder case, actually face a greater risk of death in the six months after. We'll explain, ahead.

SCIUTTO: And President Biden set to speak any minute now as he looks to once again make the U.S. a leader in the fight against the climate crisis.



SCIUTTO: So, this morning, an independent vaccine advisory panel for the CDC will hold a critical meeting to decide whether to end the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. We are, Poppy, expecting good news on this.

HARLOW: Yes, they are expected to go over the latest findings after seven reports of rare blood clots in people who received the vaccine. Dr. Megan Ranney is with us, emergency physician at Brown University. Good morning to you, it's great to have you. I want you to respond to what we just heard the head of the NIH, Dr. Francis Collins say this morning about the pause. Here he is.


FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: One of the reasons I think it's been good to have this pause is to get everybody apprised of that so that all physicians know that this is something to watch out for and can be prepared to treat it appropriately if it should happen again in the future.


HARLOW: The thinking is for physicians don't give a certain type of treatment medication to people who have had this vaccine because it can increase the blood clotting. He thinks the pause is good. My question to you, is, if it comes back to market, are people going to take it?


MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY: That is the question. I do agree with him that the pause was worthwhile for two reasons. The first is, making physicians like me aware that this happens. When people are coming into the ER now, telling me that they have headaches or severe belly pain a couple of weeks after the J&J vaccine, I now have a different set of things to look for than I would have two weeks ago. It also changes how I treat clots if I find them. So, that was the first important reason for the pause.

The second is to allow us to identify any additional cases outside of those six, plus the one in the trial that were initially found. I'm waiting to hear the data that the Council on Immunization Practices is reviewing, but from what I've heard, they have not found a lot of additional cases which is a very good thing. So when they lift the pause, which is what all of us are expecting is going to happen, will people get the vaccine? I sure hope so. There are some groups for whom J&J is absolutely the best choice, and the risk from it is so minuscule compared to the risk of catching COVID. The nice thing is though we have those two other vaccines for everyone else.


RANNEY: So Moderna and Pfizer are perfectly safe, have no warnings and are available to everyone right now across the United States?

SCIUTTO: Yes, it bears repeating that the risk of the side effects like the clots minuscule compared to the benefit in terms of preventing against bad cases of COVID. Fact is, this has impacted the vaccination efforts in this country. Daily vaccination rates have slowed somewhat, not dramatically. I think we have a graphic to represent this since the pause. The average per day now down below 3 million, we'll put that up on the screen in a moment. And based in part on some communities saying that this is because of the J&J pause. How significant is the impact and can the U.S. make up that lost time?

RANNEY: So, I don't think that the decrease in vaccinations actually is due to the J&J pause. We have more than enough Moderna and Pfizer for everyone in the country. We were already seeing that there were some areas of the country that were just encountering tremendous hesitancy or trouble getting vaccines in arms. Georgia and Alabama really lead that list, but across the U.S., we've seen an 11 percent decrease in the number of vaccines in arms in the last week. What I think that is, is that the people who wanted the vaccine most have more or less had the chance to get it, and so now we're doing the harder ground game as my friend Steven Stack(ph) who is a public health practitioner or commissioner in Kentucky has said.

We're doing the ground game of getting the vaccines to the people who may not rush out to sign up, who may not be first in line. This is the tough part of the vaccine effort ahead.


SCIUTTO: Yes, let's hope that the pause doesn't add to those fears or that hesitancy. Dr. Megan Ranney, thanks very much.

RANNEY: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Soon, in just minutes, in fact, President Biden will urge world leaders to help in the fight against climate change. And he says there's a big economic benefit here creating green jobs.


HARLOW: In just a few minutes, President Biden will speak at the second day of his Virtual Climate Summit. This morning's session highlights some of the economic benefits fighting the climate crisis can bring. Of course, big one, job creation.

SCIUTTO: CNN White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond here. And Jeremy, that's a key part of the president's message today, right?