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Video of Police in Greene Case; Vaccinations Down Nearly 50 Percent; Prince William and Harry Blast BBC. Aired 9:30-10a ET.

Aired May 21, 2021 - 09:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, the mother of Ronald Greene, a black man who died just over two years ago after an encounter with Louisiana State Police following a high-speed chase, is now speaking out. She's calling her son's death murder, saying police didn't tell the truth, right, Poppy?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Family members say police originally told them he died in a car crash, but the preliminary report makes no mention of his cause of death being related to a car accident. And this all is coming after disturbing new video of this was uncovered by the Associated Press. It shows officers beating Greene, Tasing him and dragging him.

Before we play this video for you, we want to warn you, it is very graphic, and it's really difficult to watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground! Get on the ground!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taser, Taser, Taser.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands behind your back. Hand behind your back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You better not move.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got blood all over me (ph). I hope this guy ain't got (EXPLETIVE DELETED) AIDS.


SCIUTTO: Those are the sounds of a human being. Sounds of a human being. Can barely listen to it.

HARLOW: Nick, the moaning continued for nine minutes. He was left on the ground for nine minutes and there was no medical aid rendered. And now his mother is speaking out. What is she saying?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no part of that video can you see state troopers try to render aid to Ronald Greene. And that video, guys, is just so difficult to watch and to listen to, especially so early in the morning.

And we know that the family maintains that initially they were told by state police that their loved one died after a car crash going through the windshield and hitting a tree. The mother, who was on CNN last night, believes that this is all part of a cover-up, from the governor on down to the state police. And though this happened more than two years ago, you could still see just how visibly shaken he is after -- or she is, rather, after what happened.


MONA HARDIN, RONALD GREENE'S MOTHER: From that first time reviewing it, I -- I relived it. Every day since then. The fact that it was a cover-up. It's been a nightmare. We have not properly grieved. But we need to hold these people accountable. Someone needs to pay. Someone needs to go to jail for this. This is murder what happened to my son Ronnie.


VALENCIA: Ronald Greene's mother says that what we're watching on that video amounts to premeditated murder. And though this incident happened back in 2019, the public and the family saw it for the very first time this week after the Associated Press just did a phenomenal job at uncovering this in three brief video clips.

And it shows Ronald Greene being repeatedly punched, Tased and even dragged through the dirt. The family says that they've had a tough time watching this and they're still not sure if they've been able to process -- fully process the death of Ronald Greene.

I did reach out to the Louisiana State Police and asked if they have anything new, if they are maintaining what they've been saying since the very beginning. They said they cannot comment. They're under a gag order because this case is under federal review. A state official, however, Jim and Poppy, did tell me that criminal investigators for the Louisiana State Police were on scene that night of the incident. The family attorneys, though, they say they don't buy it. They think this is part of a cover-up.

Jim. Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Goodness, it's difficult to watch when you don't know the person involved, imagine being his mother.


SCIUTTO: Nick Valencia, thanks so much.

VALENCIA: You bet.

SCIUTTO: Joining us now to discuss is Anthony Barksdale, former acting Baltimore police commissioner.

And, Mr. Barksdale, I'm sure you had a similar just kind of guttural reaction to watching that. The police, according to the family, told them that Greene died in a car accident. And I'm going to read from the official report that they gave after this. And it says that Greene was taken into custody after resisting arrest and a struggle with troopers. A short time later, Greene became unresponsive, transported to Glenwood Medical Center, died en route.

Are there any penalties either legally or administratively for officers filing what is at least a misleading report, possibly a false report, in describing the circumstances of this?


ANTHONY BARKSDALE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: A false report by a police officer should lead to their termination. That's plain and simple. If you can't trust your officers to tell the truth in a written statement or verbal statement to their supervisors, to their executives, to the citizens who count on them and believe in them by doing what's right, then they shouldn't be on the job. And I agree with the mother that there's been a lack of accountability and that must be corrected immediately.

HARLOW: Commissioner Barksdale, you heard in no uncertain terms Ronald Greene's mother, she called him Ronnie, and you can see and feel her pain in that interview.


HARLOW: She says, unequivocally, this is murder. Does it look like that to you?

BARKSDALE: Looks like a murder to me. It looks like a murder to me. We went past the point where Mr. Greene is a suspect and then because of the actions of the troopers, he then becomes a victim.

They took a use of force. They made an excessive use of force and then went beyond an excessive use of force. When you handcuff, when you shackle someone, it's over. There are no more punches. You're not standing on top of them. You take care of that person. They're in your custody. You're everything. You're -- you're -- they are like a baby. They're a child and you better take care of them.

What we saw was a clear lack of concern of the well-being of Mr. Greene, and it led to his death. So I agree with her. I feel that it is a homicide. If you want to try to sort it out to murder or manslaughter, you want to play those games, I'll stick with calling it a murder.

SCIUTTO: There is a common thread to some of these instances, when you look at an interaction like this. He fled arrest. The police have an argument to make an arrest here but then how do you make that arrest, right? Well, what calls for the use of what ended up being deadly force, right? I mean you look at a case like Daunte Wright, you know, that was a case where they said Tase and used a gun. But, again, it was stopping for a traffic issue at the time.

And I just wonder, since we keep coming to this place on these interactions, these encounters, what -- is there a fix, right, to adjust when and where and how often police feel they have the right or the need to use -- to use, if not deadly force, something close to deadly force, something that could end up that way?

BARKSDALE: Each situation is different. Officers, although they receive training, their perception of what's going on may be different. But what can't be different is the standards and accountability that they're held to for their actions. So what I believe is that if you don't follow the training, if you don't follow the law, then you pay the penalty.

In this case, I believe, going on a case-by-case basis, the solution, the answer, what's right to restore some type of faith in law enforcement there is that those that participated that night go to jail. I am saying that's the type of accountability that it's going to take to get this type of stuff to stop.


HARLOW: It's not just Ronald Greene, right? As one of our colleagues on the show, Nick Malan (ph) points out to me this morning, it's Ronald Greene, it's George Floyd, it's Breonna Taylor, it's Laquan McDonald, it's Walter Scott, all people, black people, whose police reports have not reflected what the video actually showed.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes.

HARLOW: Commissioner Barksdale, thank you.

Well, on to COVID. There is good news, and there is bad news on the vaccine front. New information on the effort to get shots into Americans' arms, ahead.



SCIUTTO: New vaccinations per day across the U.S. are now dropping, but new data does show a surge among children. According to the CDC, about one in 12 children between the ages of 12 and 15 have received now at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, just approved a couple of weeks ago for this age group. That is nearly 1.4 million school- aged children. That's some progress.

HARLOW: And more evidence vaccines are working really well. The weekly COVID test positivity rate is under 5 percent, the lowest it's been since the start of this pandemic. With us now is Dr. Jay Varkey, an associate professor of medicine at

Emory University, assisted by Batman behind you, as our viewers will see in a moment. Always -- with a thank you sign, appropriately.

Dr. Varkey, so the pace of vaccinations, according to CDC data, is down 50 percent from its peak in April, but there's that surge we just mentioned in 12 to 15-year-olds.

How should we read this?


I -- you know, I think we should read it as this next phase of the pandemic. And, again, I applaud all of the tween and teenagers that are stepping up and rolling up their sleeves, and their parents for supporting their decision.

As you know, I've got two kids in that age bracket and both of them volunteered for a study and were vaccinated earlier this spring.


It's been heartwarming to see their classmates, their friends roll up their sleeves and get their shot, returning back to a new normal. It's also the reason why I'm taking an SUV full of vaccinated teenage boys tomorrow paddle boarding for my son's birthday.

This is their shot to being teenagers. And by rolling up their sleeves, they actually help protect their parents, their teachers, their classmates and their communities.

SCIUTTO: Yes, those stories like that are great because it -- you just hear about a few of them every day, right, folks doing stuff that they weren't able to do before. And, listen, that's one of the benefits, right, of being vaccinated.

All right, so the numbers nationally stand today, 48 percent of the U.S. population received at least one dose. We're up above 38 percent now for folks who are fully vaccinated. But we're slowing down, right? Does the slowdown endanger getting to that key point of herd immunity? What's your view?

VARKEY: It does, but I would -- I would say that rather than set the target an arbitrary measure of herd immunity, I think we just keep going, Jim, is that each vaccination gets us closer to a new normal. It gets us back to less restrictions and more freedoms.

And, again, just to give you an example, it also prevents and decreases the chances of another overwhelming wave. Just as an example, just a few months ago, in January, at my hospital, at Emery University Hospital, we had 140 people in the hospital with COVID, over a third of which were critically ill in the ICU. This morning we have seven.

This is what vaccination can do. And, again, the more we can vaccinate, the more immunity we get in the community, we can crowd out the ability for this virus to kind of pick apart vulnerable communities. So we just -- we just have to keep going.

HARLOW: Yes. Seven in the ICU or seven in the hospital total?

VARKEY: Seven in the hospital total.


HARLOW: Wow. Wow.

SCIUTTO: That's amazing.

HARLOW: You have the CEOs, the Pfizer CEO, pledging 2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to low and middle income countries but it's over the next 18 months and -- and I'm not using that time frame to be critical. I understand there's a -- you know, how fast can you make these things. I'm just wondering, is it soon enough? Like, do more of these companies need to be producing more with aid from governments to get to these countries sooner?

VARKEY: Absolutely, Poppy. It's, you know, as much as we're trying to -- trying to make vaccination available in our communities across the country, it's important to realize that, like any pandemic, this is a worldwide issue and infections that occur anywhere on the globe are a threat to continue the pandemic.

So it's -- I think it's important for us to step up and to support industry, to do this among our elected officials and within public health, to try and make sure that we make these available globally because, again, we are blessed in the United States to have widespread vaccination available but that's not the case for most of the world. And I think the more we're able to support that effort, the better for all.

HARLOW: Dr. Varkey, thanks very much.

SCIUTTO: Well, Dr. Varkey, that is fascinating stuff.

And, you know what, like we -- we always say, Poppy and I, that, listen, there's still serious stuff with this pandemic, but every day there's something that gives you a sign of hope.

HARLOW: Jim's better at that.


HARLOW: He's Mr. Glass Half Full and reminds us of that every day.

Thank you, Doctor.

VARKEY: Absolutely. Thanks, guys.

HARLOW: All right, well, Prince William and Harry blaming their -- so much of what their mother had to endure on a decades-old BBC interview. The damning report on how we now know she was deceived into giving that interview, next.



HARLOW: Welcome back.

This morning, Prince William and Harry both blasting the BBC, accusing the broadcaster of contributing to their late mother's fear, isolation, and even eventual death after a report found that a BBC journalist deceived Princess Diana into giving that famous 1995 interview.

SCIUTTO: In that interview, Diana detailed the breakdown of her relationship with Prince Charles.

CNN anchor and royal correspondent Max Foster joins us now.

I mean this is just diabolical journalistic practices here that Bashir did to get this interview, but, you know, even more moving is William saying this led to deep personal damage for Diana and her marriage.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so there is that fundamental deception that Martin Bashir carried out to convince Diana's brother to basically introduce Bashir to Diana. So that was one problem. Everyone accepts that that was a massive breach of BBC guidelines and journalistic guidelines, as you say.

But Prince William is particularly concerned about the fact that this was then covered up by the BBC. So Diana never knew that she had faced this deception.

Just listen to the powerful words from Prince William speaking last night.


PRINCE WILLIAM: It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC's failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia, and isolation that I remember from those final years with her.


FOSTER: The BBC has given an unreserved apology but Prince Harry not happy either. This is what he said. Our mother lost her life because of this and nothing has changed. By protecting her legacy, we protect everyone, and uphold the dignity with which she lived her life. Let's remember who she was and what she stood for.

Prince Harry utterly scarred, as William was, by Diana's death. And he's also been speaking in a program to broadcast on Apple today to Oprah Winfrey again about how he turns to drink and even drugs in those years after Diana's death.



PRINCE HARRY: I was willing to drink. I was willing to take drugs. I was willing to try and do the things that made me feel less like I was feeling. But I slowly became aware that, OK, I wasn't drinking Monday to Friday, but I would probably drink a week's worth in one day, on a Friday or a Saturday night.


FOSTER: He, again, repeated his concerns as well that Meghan wasn't protected when she was a working royal in that program.

So there's so much that comes out of Diana's experience, the (INAUDIBLE) interview, and her death. And I have to say, most pointedly probably is Diana's brother, Charles, drawing a direct link between the (INAUDIBLE) interview and her death. So a huge amount of pressure on the BBC today and the police are actually looking into the new evidence.


SCIUTTO: Goodness. Police involvement.

Max Foster, thanks so much for bringing us the latest.

And we'll be right back.