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FBI Opens Civil Rights Investigation into Andrew Brown Shooting; D.C. Bar Owner Pushes Proof of Vaccination as Way to Fully Reopen; U.S. Navy Fires Warning Shots at Iranian Ships in Persian Gulf. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired April 27, 2021 - 15:30   ET




VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: The FBI is now opening a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. He was killed by Sheriff's deputies in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, six days ago. And today the family released the results of an independent autopsy. Now the results show that the 42-year-old father was shot five times, once in the back of the head.


WAYNE KENDALL, BROWN FAMILY'S ATTORNEY: Mr. Brown had his arms up on the steering wheel of the vehicle that he was in -- located in. And what happened was that there were five -- four bullet wounds -- excuse me -- four bullet wounds to his right arm.

These bullet wounds, according to the autopsy, were more or less glancing shots. They were not fatal shots. So, he was able to back up as these shots were coming into the vehicle. He was able to back up, turn the vehicle around, spin off across a vacant lot. And at that time, he was hit in the back of the head here, and that is the fatal bullet wound.


BLACKWELL: Now a group of media outlets, including CNN, are asking a judge to release the full body cam footage, the state and the sheriff. And they say that they will follow the judge's order.

Derrick Johnson is president and CEO of the NAACP. Sir, thank you, for being with us. Let me start with your reaction to the breaking news, the opening of the FBI civil rights investigation.

DERRICK JOHNSON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: Well, it is important that police officers are held accountable or at least the family have a good sense of what happened -- happened in this case. Think about it. Since the George Floyd incident, we've had a rash of police-involved killings and harassments. Since the Derek Chauvin trial, we've had Brooklyn Center, Columbus, Ohio, Chicago, Illinois. Now this. We must hold officers accountable. We must increase the transparency. And this jurisdiction must release that tape.

BLACKWELL: I want to ask you more about the other incidents that you just mentioned. But first more on this specific incident. The North Carolina Attorney General in its most recent statement, the one that we can find, that was Saturday, here we are on Tuesday after what we saw from county officials there.


And Josh Stein said of the investigation that he is, quote, ready to assist should the D.A. request our help. You've called on the office to do more, be more proactive. What do you want to hear and see from the state?

JOHNSON: Well, I think we have surpassed just the state. I think it's time for the Department of Justice to open up a clear investigation. We are in a state of crisis across the country when it comes to police accountability, particularly, when it involved African-Americans and specific African-American men.

We have to elevate the level of safety in our community. This is about trusting law enforcement agencies and having safe communities. Meaning many communities don't feel safe and lack any trust of law enforcement officers and our agencies.

BLACKWELL: Elizabeth City -- to get to your earlier point -- is in pain. And we saw and heard some of that at the news conference today in reference to the autopsy. Brooklyn Center is in pain, still Minneapolis, and you know the list of cities. What is the residual impact, if you believe there is some, from what we're seeing in Elizabeth City and how this is being handled on the other communities, and really the rest of the country that is watching this?

JOHNSON: Well, African-Americans have said for decades that law enforcement agencies, in particular officers who are harassing, injuring and killing us across the country. Rodney King video proved the case. George Floyd video required us to step up at this moment. This is our Selma, Alabama, moment.

This is an opportunity for this nation to provide a different level of accountability on rogue officers. This is also an opportunity for police officers who are good cops to stand up and speak out against what they know to be the truth. Far too many people who are unarmed are being killed at the hands of police officers.

BLACKWELL: We're a week out from the Derek Chauvin guilty verdict and there were plenty of people on that day who were saying that this is a new day. This is the ushering in of a new moment for justice, and here we are now having this conversation about a North Carolina and Andrew Brown, Jr. What do you believe about this era? Is this a new day or was that just one day?

JOHNSON: Well, we are at an inflection point. What we witnessed a week ago was justice with the bar to get to justice required a video, eyewitness, broad daylight, the State Attorney General stepping in, taking over from the local D.A., who refused to do anything, peaceful protests in the streets, riots in the streets, only to find guilty what all of us seem to be true.

Now the new day require us as a nation to pass federal policy, to move legislation that has already passed out of the House through the Senate for the president to sign, to increase accountability, to create a national database of policeman's conduct to allow for African-American communities to build trust and feel safe.

BLACKWELL: President and CEO of the NAACP, Derrick Johnson, thank you.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: OK. Next, West Virginia now offering a $100 savings bond to anyone 35 or under who gets a COVID vaccine. And the perks of getting your shot are just starting to add up around the country. So we'll talk to a Washington, D.C., bar owner who says he wants to open back up for fully vaccinated people and staff at full capacity. We'll tell you his plan.



CAMEROTA: In West Virginia it pays to be vaccinated. On Monday, the state's governor announced that residents 35 and under will get a $100 savings bond if they get vaccinated against COVID-19. In Alaska, one small town is requiring vaccinations to shop at local stores. Some businesses also giving out other perks. Budweiser, for instance, Victor, will offer free beer.

BLACKWELL: What did you call my name for?

CAMEROTA: For proof of vaccine. I thought you might be interested in these next ones.

BLACKWELL: Not a beer drinker.

CAMEROTA: OK. How about this? Nathan's is dishing out free hot dogs.


CAMEROTA: No. All right, I'll move on. Here you go, in New York, weed, a group called Joints for Jabs is handing out pot to vaccinated adults. OK. That was last week.


CAMEROTA: And several baseball teams are offering sections specifically for vaccinated fans. Our next guest is the owner of a popular bar in Washington, D.C. he says he's considering requiring proof of double vaccination to come back to his bar for staff and patrons alike. Joining me now is Bill Duggan. You can go away, Victor. And he's the owner of Madison's -- sorry. He's the owner of Madame's Organ. So, Bill, listen, both Victor and I were talking about how much we

like your bar when it's open.


BILL DUGGAN, OWNER, MADAME'S ORGAN BLUES BAR: Wow. That's pretty cool. I count only myself at times.

CAMEROTA: Yes. No, it's a great place. But I mean the Mayor of D.C. says that you are going to be able to reopen, OK, at 25 percent capacity. Why isn't that good enough for you? Why do you want all of your patrons and staff to be fully vaccinated before you open?

DUGGAN: Well, two things. Actually, a friend of mine, the owner or the manager of the 930 Club here in town says there's only one thing worse than being totally closed and that's to be partially open. The bars just don't work for people in this industry. We have musicians, staff.


You know, it's a pretty tough business to begin with. And so when you start getting into these tiny steps, and the mayor is offering 25 percent with no mention of people being vaccinated, how to stay safe other than stay away from one another.

Well, I'd much rather be one foot away from somebody who's fully vaccinated than six or eight feet away from people that we have no idea where they've come from or what they've been exposed to.

So it's I think we're especially in debt for your story of giving away $100 in West Virginia, now I'm going to have to start offering a shot.

But what we're doing across the (INAUDIBLE) nothing. I think it will be an incentive for people to get out and get the vaccine. That's just my (INAUDIBLE).

But music venues throughout the city, I've been in touch with pretty of much all of them over the past week and they're all on board for something like this. We're looking for some feedback. So far, the city has made these restrictions without any input from the music industry whatsoever here in Washington. And we're actually closer to Virginia where they're open, where they don't have these restrictions than we are other parts of Washington, D.C.


DUGGAN: And unfortunately in that situation, people kind of choose to go across the river to hear their music. And I'm afraid that they're going to change their habits and start going there. We're a very small city relatively.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I hear your point. I mean I think that you make a good point. You would rather 100 percent open, fully open, if you know everybody is fully vaccinated than 25 percent open where you don't know who's who. I think that makes sense. But I'm sure you guys have some experience with fake IDs, occasionally

attempted to be used at the bar. How would you prove that somebody's fully vaccinated?

DUGGAN: Well, let's look at the downside. Someone fakes their vaccine card. And they come in around fully vaccinated people.

Who's at risk? The faker and any other fakers at that point. I mean our doormen right now check IDs from all around the world. They check driver's licenses from all around the country, passports from all around the world. You know, they're pretty adept at looking for a face. But in the case where somebody gets through, if somebody got through with a fake passport, I mean passport but a vaccination card, essentially, they're the only ones that are at risk.

So it just doesn't make sense. And I think we can incentivize people to be safe. And after everyone here, we spent the past, over the past year now, doing everything that was asked of us, all with the promise that when we get the vaccine we can go back to normal or the case of this bar, back to being abnormal.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Good point.

DUGGAN: You have to give people something. And right now we're getting not a lot.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I hear you. I hear your frustration. And so we only have a few seconds left. Has the Mayor responded to your pitch to let your bar do this?

DUGGAN: The Mayor responded even crazier. She said she wouldn't even consider this until we apply for a waiver in Washington, D.C., apply for a waiver to have live music through the Department of Homeland Security.

I'm sorry, we're not a terrorist organization. We're a blues bar. And so hopefully we'll get the Mayor at least start a conversation and looking at this. She's saying they'll revisit this issue in the coming months. Well, I have neighbors that don't have months, some don't have weeks. In this past week I actually saw two being evicted for nonpayment of the rent. So some don't even have days.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. We hate to hear that. Bill, we've got to go. Thank you very much. Please keep us posted on what happens with Madame's Organ. Yes, we hear you and we know what a frustrating time it's been for all owners of bars and restaurants and the staff. We'll check back in with you.

BLACKWELL: Just into CNN, a U.S. Navy ship was forced to fire warning shots after what they say was a second recent incident of the Iranian Navy harassing U.S. personnel in the Persian Gulf. We're live at the Pentagon with details.


[15:50:00] BLACKWELL: The U.S. military has had another run-in with the Iran's navy in the Persian Gulf. This is the second time in about a month.

CNN's Pentagon correspondent Oren Liebermann is following the developments and this time the U.S. Navy had to fire a warning shot. Tell us about that.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: And this occurred as two U.S. ships, a U.S. Navy patrol craft and U.S. Coast Guard cutter were operating in the international waters of the Persian Gulf. A spokeswoman for the Fifth Fleet says three Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fast in-shore attack craft came very close to the American ship, within 68 yards, so much shorter than a football field. And essentially began harassing those and operating in a way that was unsafe and risking collision.

After multiple bridge-to-bridge warnings the spokeswoman says the U.S. Navy Firebolt fired a warning shot after which the Iranian ships backed off to what was described as safe distance.

Not the first time that this has happened. Just earlier this month on April 2nd four ships from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy pretty much did the same thing, coming to within 70 yards. So very close to the same distance there and that lasted three hours, this harassment of two U.S. Coast Guard cutters operating in the Persian Gulf.

The context here is crucial. The first time this happened back on April 2nd it was the announcement that the U.S. and Iran would have indirect talks in relation to Iran's nuclear program so as the diplomacy pushed forward or at least tried to Iran's IRGC Navy appeared to get more aggressive.

And it happened again just yesterday as a third round of talks was announced in Vienna about the nuclear program.


Iran's IRGC Navy once again more aggressive.

CAMEROTA: Oren Liebermann, thank you, very much for that report.

OK. So minutes from now CNN will release results of a new poll on the Chauvin verdict, Race and Policing in America. Stay with us for that.


BLACKWELL: President Biden will give his first address to a joint session of Congress tomorrow, the first ever in the middle of a pandemic, and that has forced Senate Democrats to organize a lottery for tickets to be in the chamber.