Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Video Show Violent Encounter During 2019 Traffic Stop; Video Footage, Once Again, Differs from Initial Police Report; January 6 Commission Appears Headed for Defeat in Senate; Sources: Trump Financial Adviser Facing Criminal Probe; Italy Hosts Virtual G20 Health Summit. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired May 21, 2021 - 04:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[04:30:00]

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Now, newly released video shows a violent encounter in 2019 between a black motorist, his name was Ronald Greene, and Louisiana State Police. Initial police reports said Greene died in a car crash while being pursued by police, but the family soon suspected they were not getting the whole story. Well, now portions of video obtained by the Associated Press reveal that Greene was, in fact, repeatedly Tased and beaten by police and later died. CNN's Randi Kaye with our report. We caution you the video is disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

POLICE OFFICER: Let me see your (BLEEP) hands mother (BLEEP). Come here mother (BLEEP)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Ronald Greene is under arrest after taking police on a high speed chase in Monroe, Louisiana. Watch what happens next.

The officers Tased Greene while he is still sitting in his car. He apologizes and repeatedly tells officers he is scared as they try to force him out of the vehicle.

(INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jesus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay, okay. I'm sorry. I'm scared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of the car!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm scared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of the car!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm scared. I'm your brother. I'm scared. KAYE (voice-over): The family's attorney says Greene apologized in an attempt to surrender.

LEE MERRITT, ATTORNEY FOR THE GREENE FAMILY: It's not only what you're seeing, but the sounds that go with it. You can hear him screaming and writhing in pain as he says, "I'm your brother, please stop. I'm sorry. I was just scared."

KAYE (voice over): The incident happened two years ago, but this is newly obtained bodycam video by the Associated Press, which says the entire video is 46 minutes long.

CNN has not reviewed the full video, so we do not know what happened before or in between the three clips the AP released.

This bodycam video shows Greene on the ground being handcuffed. He is face down, yet once again the officers tase him, punch him, even kick him. He is left on the ground face down moaning in pain -- according to the Associated Press -- for more than nine minutes while the officers use sanitizer wipes to get the blood off their hands and faces.

TROOPER: I got blood all over me.

TROOPER: I hope this guy ain't got f**ing AIDS.

KAYE (voice over): The AP says he was not given any aid during the nine minutes he was on the ground. At one point, a police officer is seen stepping on Greene, then roughly dragging Greene by the shackles on his ankles as another officer watches.

This video clip is silent. So it's unclear what's being said or why Greene who is handcuffed on his stomach and in no position to resist is being dragged.

The bodycam footage tells a very different story than how Louisiana State Troopers first described the incident in their 2019 report, which said troopers tried to pull Greene over for a traffic violation, which ended when Greene crashed his car.

Another police report said Greene was taken into custody after resisting arrest and a struggle with Troopers and that he died on the way to the hospital.

A wrongful death suit filed last year by Greene's family says police told his family he had been killed in an auto accident and that one officer said he was killed immediately after hitting a tree. Authorities have refused to make the video public.

These postmortem photos of Greene released on the NAACP Baton Rouge Facebook page show the extent of the injuries Greene suffered during the incident -- abrasions on his skull and bruising across his cheeks.

Ronald Greene's mother told CNN in a statement, "They murdered him." That her son didn't have a chance.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach County, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Now, Greene's family still in shock of course over the brutality seen on that video. An attorney for the family called it murder. Greene's mother spoke with CNN earlier. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MONA HARDIN, RONALD GREEN'S MOTHER: Upon the release of this the other day I had to break away from it. I -- I had to stay focused. The anger that I have, the anxiety, it's gripping, and I don't want to go through that.

[04:35:00]

I have to stay focused because what these guys did to my son and the cover up that pursued and ensued behind all of that, it's -- someone has to stay focused and my family will. What they did to Ronnie, they have to pay the penalties.

Shame on all of you for the fact that the corruption and that you are allowed to continue to hide. And just the fact that when we were there we were lied to in our faces. And they allowed us to continue to go our ways knowing that nothing was going to be done. That deceit, we already know what the state troopers have done, but on all those above them, that's -- that's really painful. These are people who hold high office and it's degrading. Shame on the state of Louisiana. These are the people that you're proud of to hold office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Now, Greene's death while in police custody is now being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Louisiana.

Well once again, video footage has revealed a different account from what police initially describe, and as CNN's Josh Campbell reports, the Ronald Greene case is the latest in a very long list.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): George Floyd, Walter Scott, Breonna Taylor, Laquan McDonald, just a few names of black people dying at the hands of police officers. Police whose initial narratives were found to be inaccurate once video surfaced, telling the real story.

The official police report documenting the arrest of George Floyd simply stated, officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. No mention of Floyd being handcuffed, with a knee on his neck for over nine minutes.

Walter Scott pulled over by Police Officer Michael Slager for a broken taillight in South Carolina in 2015 was shot in the back five times. Slager initially claim he shot Scott because he feared for his life after Scott grabbed his Taser, but video showed Slager shooting him in the back from 17 feet away, according to prosecutors, then dropping his Taser by Scott's body.

CHERYL DORSEY, RETIRED LAPD POLICE SERGEANT: What we see again, time and time again, are officers punishing black folks who run, who don't comply, who don't comply quick enough.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Breonna Taylor, a black EMT, was shot and killed by Louisville police officers in March of last year during a botched raid on her apartment. The initial police report stated there were no injuries and no forced entry. Taylor was shot at least eight times, and police used a battering ram to execute their no-knock warrant.

In Chicago, 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot in 2014 when he walked away if police on a side street while holding a knife. Chicago Officer Jason Van Dyke initially said McDonald raised a knife at him. But at no point on the video that was released over a year later was McDonald seen lifting the knife in the manner Van Dyke described.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: The length of time it took to release the tape, lying in the initial reports by the officers, all of these things, that's part of a cover-up.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Without the emergence of eyewitness cell phone video and the public release of bodycam footage, these officers' stories would remain the final word.

Josh Campbell, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Now momentum has been building in the U.S. Congress to investigate that violent insurrection at the Capitol but at the end of the day the effort still seems likely to get nowhere. We'll explain why when we come back.

Also pressuring Trump's money man, what New York's Attorney General hopes to get from the former president's long-time financial gatekeeper. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be right back.

[04:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Welcome back. A push to set up a commission to investigate the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol appears to be headed for defeat in the Senate. A violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6th -- as I'm sure you will remember -- just as lawmakers were certifying President Joe Biden's election victory. Well, on Wednesday the House passed a bill to create the commission that would get to the bottom of exactly what happened there. That as Ryan Nobles now reports, Senate Republicans are poised to sink that effort.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The bipartisan January 6th commission headed to the Senate may already be dead on arrival.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): After careful consideration, I've made the decision to oppose the House Democrats' slanted and unbalanced proposal for another commission to study the events of January the 6th.

NOBLES (voice-over): In order to pass the Senate, the bill needs the support of ten Republicans and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's opposition is having an impact. While several Republicans say they are considering the bill, like Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Mitt Romney of Utah, many more flatly saying they'll vote no.

In addition, to McConnell, Senators like Roy Blount and Josh Hawley of Missouri, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, who once said he was open to the commission, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, all now in the no column. And the key Republican, Richard Burr, who voted to impeach former President Trump, just added his name to the no list.

But listen to McConnell back in January.

MCCONNELL: The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people.

NOBLES (voice-over): He also promised, quote, a painstaking investigation and a thorough review must now take place and significant changes must follow, tracking with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's change of heart. Their one goal now, put the insurrection behind them and focus on winning in 2022.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I'm looking forward to being speaker in the next Congress.

NOBLES: And now that there's almost no chance of a commission, McCarthy boldly says he would have no problem testifying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be willing to testify about your conversation with Donald Trump on January 6th if you were asked by an outside commission?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Sure. Next question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would?

NOBLES (voice-over): And even though the bill already left the House, Democrats are keeping up the pressure on Republicans who voted no.

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): Either they're pretending to ignore what's happening, or they're living in a world of delusion.

NOBLES (voice-over): Democrats like Tim Ryan of Ohio, accusing the GOP of whitewashing the severity of the insurrection. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warning that even if the Senate turns the measure down, there will still be options to investigate the insurrection.

[04:45:00]

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Let's just give them a chance to do that without hanging something over them about a timetable or other options that exist for the Speaker of the House.

NOBLES: And Republicans are already signaling that they are going to block this measure before it even gets the opportunity to be debated on the Senate floor, readying a filibuster move to block debate on this bill. This despite the fact that there are some Republicans who are open to voting for the legislation if just some minor changes are made. That of course would require negotiation between Democrats and Republicans to make the bill better. At this point those talks don't appear to be planned.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, on Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Pressure seems to be mounting on one of Donald Trump's closest financial advisers. Sources say Allen Weisselberg is facing a criminal tax investigation as well as a probe of his role in The Trump Organization, and it could raise the legal stakes for the former president and his family. CNN's Jessica Schneider with the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The New York Attorney General's office has opened a criminal tax investigation into former president Donald Trump's long-time financial gatekeeper, Allen Weisselberg.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Weisselberg has handled The Trump Organization's finances for 40 years, so trusted he was left in charge of the company when Trump became president.

SHEN DILLON, TRUMP'S TAX ATTORNEY: He has relinquished leadership and management of The Trump Organization to his sons Don and Eric and a long-time Trump executive Allen Weisselberg.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Now investigators will looking into Weisselberg's personal taxes plus his role at The Trump Organization. A way for prosecutors to exert pressure on Weisselberg to convince him to cooperate with the broader investigation into The Trump Organization, raising the legal stakes for Trump and his family sources familiar with the investigation say.

JENNIFER WEISSELBERG, ALLEN WEISSELBERG'S FORMER DAUGHTER-IN-LAW: I think they'll turn on him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why?

WEISSELBERG: I think that his sons have too much criminal liability.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Weisselberg's ex-daughter-in-law Jennifer has been cooperating with investigators and was subpoenaed for documents last month. She divorced Barry Weisselberg, also an employee of The Trump Organization, in 2018.

WEISSELBERG: The way the company -- The Trump Org operates is by compensating you annually in apartments, cars, tuition, for my two children, and in that sense it's difficult to leave.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Prosecutors are exploring whether benefits like those were a substitute for salaried compensation which would lower payroll taxes for the Trump organization, sources say.

LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: New Yorkers, we can spot a con man.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): New York Attorney General Letitia James' investigation happening at the same time Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is digging into Weisselberg's role at The Trump Organization, his personal finances and benefits given to his son Barry. The revelation comes soon after James said her office's civil investigation of The Trump Organization was now criminal. That investigation includes whether the company improperly inflated the value of assets in financial filings, something former Trump attorney Michael Cohen testified to.

MICHAEL COHEN, TRUMP'S FORMER PERSONAL ATTORNEY: It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes. Such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in "Forbes" and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Cohen has met with investigators several times. Trump has previously denied any wrongdoing.

TRUMP: This is just a continuation of the witch-hunt.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): And the former president said in a statement Wednesday, they failed to stop me in Washington, so they turned it over to New York to do their dirty work.

SCHNEIDER: We're also getting new details about the federal investigation of Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. Prosecutors now revealing in new filings that they seized 18 electronic devices from Giuliani and more than one of his employees. We're not learning what else was searched in those filings, but we do know from previous reporting that Giuliani's assistant had her computer seized.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: When we come back here on the program, world leaders will meet virtually today to discuss lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. We're live in Rome with more on what to expect after this.

[04:50:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Italy is hosting a virtual G-20 health summit today alongside the European Commission. Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi said ahead of the event that it will provide a chance to reflect on lessons learned during the pandemic as well as how to improve for the future. CNN's Delia Gallagher is in Rome this morning with more on what to expect. So Delia, good to see you. What are the big agenda items?

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michael, this meeting is going to consist of a lot of speeches, including one from Chinese President Xi Jinping. At the end of the day they are hoping to sign a Rome Declaration of Principles which we will talk about how to avoid future global health pandemics.

Now, Michael, there are a lot of expectations going into this summit that they not just talk about future pandemics, but that they provide some action for the current pandemic, which is still going on, particularly in underdeveloped countries. I mean, this meeting is happening at the end of a week in which we have heard from Kenya that they are shortly running out of vaccines from the executive director of UNICEF which heads the COVAX program of distributing those vaccines in underdeveloped countries. That says richer countries need to help out poorer countries now. Amnesty International saying time is of the essence in places like South America, South Asia and Africa.

And what these groups are looking for, Michael, from this summit are three things in particular.

[04:55:00]

One is money, the act accelerated program for the World Health Organization is short of $18.5 billion just this year and then of course we will also need funding going into other years. As well as vaccine sharing between countries. The U.S. and France have already signed on to that, but they need other countries to sign on to that as well. And a waiver for intellectual property rights in getting the pharmaceutical companies to share their knowledge and technology with underdeveloped countries.

So those are some of the concrete steps that people who are watching this summit are really hopes to hear from these G-20 countries today, Michael. We will have to wait and see if they can step up to those plans -- Michael.

HOLMES: All right. Delia, thanks. Delia Gallagher there in Rome for us.

Some positive news in France where the government says all adults will be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 from May 31st, calling it a powerful acceleration. France's Prime Minister said the date is two weeks earlier than planned. Right now around 41 percent of France's adult population has had at least one dose of a vaccine. That's according to the health ministry. And let's talk about vaccine incentives. How about this one, one town

in Thailand offering cows, yes, cows. A weekly raffle is giving away a live cow, not a dead one, a live one to a vaccinated resident. That's going to happen for every week until the end of the year. A young cow valued at a little more than $300.

The campaign appears to be working as vaccine registrations have increased from hundreds to thousands in just a matter of days. The key to success, a local official says the villages really, really like cows. That's a good incentive.

Anyway, get vaccinated, even if you don't get a cow. I'm Michael Holmes, thanks for spending part of your day with me. You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter @holmesCNN. "EARLY START" up next on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)