Return to Transcripts main page


Photo Surfaces of Chauvin Trial, Trial Juror Wearing BLM T- Shirt at D.C. March; American Woman Shares Story of Losing Grandpa to COVID in India; Subway Collapses in Mexico City Killing at Least 24. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired May 4, 2021 - 15:30   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: A juror who served on the Derek Chauvin murder trial is now defending a decision after this picture of him surfaced online. Now, he was wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt that said, "get your knee off our necks," a reference to George Floyd's death.

Brandon Mitchell told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he does not even remember wearing the T-shirt and that it was taken during last year's march on Washington. He did not confirm nor deny the authenticity of the picture to CNN.

Jury consultant and attorney Alan Tuerkheimer joins me now. Alan, thanks for being with us. Let me first read these two questions that were on the questionnaire sent to potential jurors before selection.

First, did you or someone close to you participate in any of the demonstrations or marches against police brutality that took place in Minneapolis after George Floyd's death? March on Washington was obviously in Washington. He answered no.

Second question. Other than what you have already described above, have you or anyone close to you participated in protests about police use of force or police brutality?

He answered -- replied no to that. Are his answers problematic and could there be grounds for appeal?

ALAN TUERKHEIMER, JURY CONSULTANT AND ATTORNEY: There could be grounds for an appeal. But more has to be known about what he was thinking and how he really conceived of that question and what went on. So it's not clear exactly.

But just a no answer from that question doesn't mean that there's going to be conviction tossed or a mistrial. I think more has to be learned about what he did and what he was thinking when he answered the question because you're in court, you're answering questions and his mind might not have been a protest and it sounds like he said it that wasn't about police brutality or excess force. So some of that has to be fleshed out before we can make some more overarching conclusions about what's going to happen.

BLACKWELL: Yes. He said that this was 100 percent not about George Floyd. Instead, a commemoration, 57th anniversary of the March on Washington. Here though is the Reverend Al Sharpton announcing that March on Washington. Let's listen.


REV. AL SHARPTON, PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: When we going back this August 28th to restore and recommit that dream. To stand up because just like in one era, we had to fight slavery, another era we had to fight Jim Crow, another era we dealt with voting rights. This is the era to deal with policing and criminal justice.


BLACKWELL: So in announcing the march, he said it's the era to deal with policing and criminal justice. And by the way, he announced it at George Floyd's funeral. Floyd's family led physically the march. They spoke there as well.

When a judge is making these considerations over his state of mind and what he knew, does that play a role in it or is it exclusively what he interpreted that event and that day to be?

TUERKHEIMER: I think the judge has to take into consideration the totality of circumstances. So the judge is going to think about what was the main attraction of people coming to this event, what were they there for, how was it advertised and then who spoke, who was there?

And then he's also going to talk to this juror, most likely, if he convenes a hearing on the evidence that involve witnesses. And then combine the two and say, OK, what is this juror's subjective beliefs about what he did, what did he put on the questionnaire and what did he say during voir dire.


And then he has to decide whether that gives rise to the implication that this juror was less than forthcoming or was not candid about his responses or maybe he was even untruthful trying to get on this jury. But there's a whole range of explanations that it's going to be up to a judge in a subsequent hearing to try to find out what was really going on.

BLACKWELL: When the judge is dealing with a case like this and a verdict that is so consequential, not just for family, for a defendant, but for the country as we saw preparations for potential hung jury or an acquittal, is there an additional degree of sensitivity to deciding or determining that a defendant did not have a fair trial, an impartial jury?

TUERKHEIMER: I think that might be a factor, not a big factor. Because judges all the time make these determinations or at least they have to weigh certain balances. Now, the jury and the decision is sacrosanct. And the judge never wants to -- including Cahill -- he's not going to want to second guess a jury's decision.

But at the same time he has to think about the defendant's rights and whether Mr. Chauvin's right to a fair and impartial jury was violated by what happened here with this juror and some of the responses on his questionnaire, or I should say lack thereof, and what ultimately transpired.

But there is precedence for this. So it's not exactly clear how this is going to shake out.

BLACKWELL: All right. Alan Tuerkheimer thanks so much for your time and insight.



CAMEROTA: OK, Victor, next, the human toll of the world's worst COVID outbreak. A young woman who just lost her grandfather in India will share the ordeal that she and her family went through trying to keep him alive.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: India is in the middle of a COVID nightmare. 357,000 new cases in just the past 24 hours. More than 3,400 deaths. Our CNN reporters have been able to bring you the apocalyptic scenarios that families there are facing in videos like this.

But for millions of Americans with relatives in India, it's a split screen reality. Catastrophic pictures in India while, of course, the U.S. slowly returns to life.

Avani Singh is one of them. She joins us now, her grandfather died on Sunday in a New Delhi hospital after she spent days around the clock trying to save his life.

Avani thanks so much for being here. We're so sorry for your loss.


CAMEROTA: I know how hard you struggled to get him the help that he needed. Just tell us what that daily struggle was for you from all of these thousands of miles away.

SINGH: Yes, it started about two weeks ago when he was first diagnosed with COVID. Two weeks ago it wasn't as bad as it is today, but it was still pretty challenging just to find him a doctor who would see him via Zoom and then sort of that's just when it began of everyday it was trying to find something else.

It was trying to find oxygen. It was trying to get him admitted to a hospital. We found a hospital that had beds but they didn't have oxygen so you would have to bring your own oxygen. Just every day it was a different challenge trying to sort of supplement what the hospitals didn't have. Whether that was remdesivir, which is a life- saving drug, oxygen, et cetera. And so my mom and I, you know, would connect every night at 10:00 p.m. here, which is when it's, you know, 6:00 a.m. in India and we would start the phone calls to try to figure out, who could we call that might be able to help us?

CAMEROTA: And so is that how it's working right now in India, that if you have a sick relative, they're telling you to find your own remdesivir, for you to find your own plasma donors, for you to find your own oxygen?

SINGH: That's correct. And so it was a scramble to try to find oxygen. I mean, that's just not something we think about in the United States. Where would you even get oxygen? And so, it was sort of figuring out, all right, well, who has oxygen? There was a Gurdwara which is Sikh temple, sort of, of worship and they were giving out oxygen.

So we had my uncle drive around to try to find oxygen. It was constantly tracking leads. Trying to find them. I think on several occasions my uncle clocked 100 miles per day trying to find remdesivir around New Delhi

And so the hospitals were wonderful and did what they could, but unfortunately, they were vastly sort of you know at capacity and really needed extra support. So I am glad that the United States is sending aid. I just hope it's not too late.

CAMEROTA: We're looking at these beautiful pictures of you and your family with your grandfather and I know he was in his 90s, but he looks healthy. And I know that you report that he was spry and healthy. Is it your belief that if he were not in India, he could have survived this?

SINGH: It is the doctor's belief. So the doctor had said that, had it not been for COVID, he would have at least made it to his 100th birthday. His mom lived to 104. It was his hope to come to America for his 100th birthday. So I know that to be true from what the doctors have shared that he was otherwise in healthy shape. And so you know, he didn't die from anything else except for COVID. And so we definitely feel like we lost time.

You know, everyone is greedy and wants as much time as you can get, even though he was 94 and lived a good life. But we definitely wanted as much time as we can get just because he was such a wonderful grandfather and person who survived the 1947 partition in Pakistan and India. So to survive such violent events and then to go in a way that was just so unnecessary is really devastating.

And to not be there, to be able to say good-bye. You know, I had always envisioned -- I'm very close with my grandpa and I see him at least once a year. And I'd always envisioned that when I got that call, I would go to India, I'd say good-bye and be part of the funeral rites. That's just not possible.


So I watched my uncle, you know, show us his body on WhatsApp last night to confirm that it was him. We were on WhatsApp video, my family and my uncle, as the ambulance took him to the one crematorium that would take COVID bodies. We sat there on WhatsApp with my uncle as he waited for his turn for the body to be burned. Where there were over 30 bodies at that one crematorium. So we know the death toll is vastly undercounted, so it's devastating.

CAMEROTA: It's sounds really, really hard. And so we were talking about that split screen for you, living here in America as life is returning to normal and yet trying to deal with saving your grandfather -- attempting to -- in India. What do you want Americans to know about this?

SINGH: Sorry, you cut out there. I think it was what do you want people to know?

CAMEROTA: Yes, here in America where we think, OK, COVID is behind us and we're getting back to normal. What do you want us to know about what's happening in India?

SINGH: Hello.

CAMEROTA: Have I lost you, Avani? That was Avani Singh --

SINGH: I'm sorry. Did you cut out there?

CAMEROTA: I did. Avani, can you hear me? I think we've lost her. That was Avani Singh telling us about her grandfather and how she desperately tried to save his life -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Yes, let's remember although these numbers are heartbreaking, there's a family connected to each one of these people in India and parts of the world, all across the world. So Avani Singh, thank you so much for that story.

Let's talk now about the 23 people who are dead, several more injured. A subway overpass collapsed on to traffic in Mexico City. Next a live report on how this happened and what's happening now.



BLACKWELL: At least 24 people have died and dozens more are hurt in Mexico City. An overpass collapsed on to a busy street while a full subway train was traveling across it. A surveillance footage captured the moment there. Even though dust and debris you can see the train. Just a little bit of a light there dangling over the road.

CNN international correspondent Matt Rivers is live at the scene of that disaster. Search-and-rescue operation has now turned into a cleanup effort, Matt. What do they know about what caused this?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, so far, Victor, they don't know much other than there is a lot of work to do for these investigators over the next days and weeks to figure this out because people here in Mexico City are frankly outraged over what's happened.

Before we talk about that investigation, let me give you the latest on what we know about what happened here. 24 people now confirmed dead as a result of this incident. That number could rise further because you have nearly 70 people still hospitalized in this area as a result of injuries sustained when the train was crossing that overpass behind me, and it collapsed around 10:30 P.M. last night.

We got here right around 12:30 a.m., 1:00 a.m. local time, and what we've seen is a steady progression. What started with hundreds of first responders going through the wreckage has now turned into this. I can show you what the scene looks like now. They've managed to remove both train cars that collapsed. But you can see they had to bring in these massive cranes, and behind that crane there you can see that kind of slope. That was the overpass. That is what collapsed, and that's where the trains were for most of the day.

It really made first responders work a lot more difficult because they had to go through those train cars in a very precarious situation to see if they could find anyone inside. Several -- excuse me -- several people died at a hospital near here, but the majority of people actually died here on the scene. There are reports of children being involved, but we're not sure if they are among the dead or just among the injured.

And quickly, just about this investigation moving forward, this is subway line in Mexico City that was only inaugurated in 2012, and yet it has had consistent structural problems since then. There was an earthquake here in 2017. Many locals in this neighborhood feel like the damage that was done to this line wasn't properly repaired. In fact, we spoke to a policeman who lives in this area. He said it was commonly known that this line was not the safest.

Some people in this region were definitely thinking that something like this could happen, Victor, and here we are today, something city officials are going to have to account for in the days and weeks ahead.

BLACKWELL: Matt Rivers for us there in Mexico City. Thank you, Matt.

CAMEROTA: OK, Victor. This just into CNN. A hot mic reportedly catches House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy saying how he really feels about Congresswoman Liz Cheney. We have that next.



BLACKWELL: Just into CNN. Some clarity about how House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy really feels about top Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney. So just before an interview on Fox News this morning, McCarthy reportedly was caught on a hot mic speaking to a host off air. And apparently, he said this.

Quote, I think she's got real problems, I've had it with her. I've lost confidence.

CAMEROTA: Axios first reported that quote. Now, Victor, that's different than what he said on the air. You'll remember on the air he said that he'd heard from other Republican members who were concerned about her leadership. He didn't say that's how he really feels.

McCarthy could hold this vote on removing her from leadership if that's what the members want as early as next week. But I mean, Victor, haven't we all learned the lesson. The mic is always hot, OK.

BLACKWELL: The mic is always hot. But you know, this is an important thing because let's remember. This is not about policy. This is about whether or not Congresswoman or Representative Cheney will just go along with the lie that the election was stolen. He says she has real problems, that he's had it with her, that he's lost confidence. She's the one who is telling the truth here.

CAMEROTA: And she is not backing down as we have seen.


CAMEROTA: In fact, she is repeating her feelings about Donald Trump.

BLACKWELL: All right, The Lead with Jake Tapper starts right now.