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PAULA ZAHN NOW
The Art of Pickpocketing; Who Was Rigoberto Alpizar?; What Really Happened at Miami International Airport?; Tookie Williams' Fate in Governor Schwarzenegger's Hands
Aired December 8, 2005 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody. Paula has the night off. Thanks for joining us.
Tonight, more on the man who was mistaken for a terrorist by federal air marshals. Who was Rigoberto Alpizar?
COLLINS (voice-over): Death on the tarmac -- dramatic new details.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He ran out, turned the corner. It wasn't maybe 15, 20 seconds.
COLLINS: What really happened at Miami International?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard her say, he's bipolar; he doesn't have his medicine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next thing I know, it was crack, crack, crack, crack, crack, crack. It's like six shots.
COLLINS: Tonight the split-second decision that took a life in Miami.
The art of the steal -- incredible hidden video of pickpockets at work.
GREG HUNTER, CNN CONSUMER CORRESPONDENT: He's a pickpocket?
BOB ARNO, PICKPOCKET EXPERT: He's a pickpocket.
HUNTER: He's a pickpocket? He's a pickpocket?
ARNO: So is this one and so this one.
COLLINS: Now you have it; now you don't. And you might not even know.
DETECTIVE CEDRIC MITCHELL, WASHINGTON METRO TRANSIT POLICE: It's probably one of the most under-reported crimes in the country.
COLLINS: How you can avoid being picked clean. SFPD blue. Wait until you see this outrageous video made by San Francisco police.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Egregious, shameful and despicable acts.
COLLINS: Why would officers act so tastelessly on tape?
COLLINS: Tonight, we're still learning new details about the passenger at Miami's airport who was shot and killed by federal marshals.
But several mysteries are still out there. Why did 44-year-old Rigoberto Alpizar claim, as authorities say, he had a bomb? In fact, he was unarmed. Why did he cause a scene on this American Airlines jet yesterday?
Based on eyewitness accounts, we have pieced together this much of what happened. Alpizar and his wife were toward the back of the jet's cabin. Suddenly, he ran up the aisle, pushing people out of the way, heading to the plane's front door. Witnesses say his wife followed him, but turned around, saying her husband was sick and she had to get her bag.
At that point, a man in a Hawaiian shirt ran out of the plane after Alpizar. There was yelling in the jetway, and then a flurry of gunshots. Alpizar lived in a suburb of Orlando, Florida.
And tonight, as John Zarrella reports, his friends, neighbors and relatives are in shock.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF: A day after Rigoberto Alpizar was shot and killed by federal air marshals, family members spoke briefly of their loss, of the man everyone knew as Rigo.
JEANNE JENTSCH, SISTER-IN-LAW OF RIGOBERTO ALPIZAR: "Rigo Alpizar was a loving, gentle and caring husband, uncle, brother, son, and friend. He was born in Costa Rica, and became a proud American citizen several years ago. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him."
ZARRELLA: Friends in this Orlando neighborhood say the way Alpizar reportedly behaved on board an American Airlines plane was totally out of character, was not the man they knew. Here, he was the man who always smiled, jogged, stayed in shape. And he and his wife were never anything but friendly.
SANDY BENTON, NEIGHBOR: He was very kind. I mean, I -- I would let my son go over to his house. And he would cook with Anne and Rigo. And he actually watched their house when they would go on vacation.
ZARRELLA: For the past three years, Alpizar worked in the paint department at this Home Depot, where co-workers described him as -- quote -- "the nicest guy."
Before the Home Depot, Alpizar spent 12 years at this MAB Paints store, where he was said to be always good with customers. The picture painted by those who knew him best is so different from the man Mike Besheara saw. Besheara, a passenger on the American flight to Orlando, saw a panic-stricken man pushing his way through the plane, holding his backpack.
MIKE BESHEARA, PASSENGER: As he ran by, he had it clutched to his chest, and I could see it over his left shoulder. As he ran past me, I was looking to his back. I could the bag on his left shoulder. It was like he had it clutched under his left chin.
ZARRELLA: Alpizar's behavior that led to his death may have been the result of a mental health disorder. According to passengers, his wife said her husband was off his medication, that he was bipolar. Another neighbor says that's hard for her to believe.
EDITH SEQUEIRA, FAMILY FRIEND: He -- I have only seen this -- in 14 years that I have lived here, I have only seen him one other time that he had been in depression. Other than that, I knew he was medicated.
ZARRELLA: The disorder can cause extreme mood changes, and, in this case, may have cost this man his life.
ZARRELLA: Miami-Dade police are continuing their investigation into the shooting and, late this afternoon, issued a statement clarifying some of what happened once Alpizar got to the jetway and was confronted by the air marshals.
In the statement, they say that Alpizar said that he had a bomb and he would use it. The air marshals ordered him to surrender. When he refused, they shot him -- Heidi.
COLLINS: John Zarrella in Miami -- thanks, John.
One of the many questions remaining in this bizarre case, the mental state of the man who was killed -- it touches on one of the toughest split-second decisions a law officer will ever have to make, whether to use deadly force against a disturbed person.
Senior medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta looked into how police are trained to make that call.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Bronx, New York, October 1984 -- when police were called, details were scarce, a dispute over rent payments between a landlord and a 66-year-old ill tenant, Eleanor Bumpurs. The situation didn't even have time to escalate.
By the time police opened Bumpurs' apartment door, she was already brandishing a 10-inch knife.
JENNIFER HUNT, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT HEALTH ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Eleanor Bumpurs, who was probably paranoid and psychotic and thought the police were attacking her, had a knife. And one police officer shot and killed her.
GUPTA: Cases that end like this one are not common. But confrontations between police and the mentally ill are, occurring in between 7 percent to 10 percent of the times police are asked to step in, according to research done at the University of North Carolina.
HUNT: When they arrive at the scene, someone is acting in a behavior that seems bizarre, inappropriate or unusual. And, so, they have to learn how to respond to these calls and interpret these symptoms accurately, so that no one gets hurt.
GUPTA: But interpreting strange behavior is difficult, because there are no precise measures for mental illness, no clear physical symptoms.
KAY REDFIELD JAMISON, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: It's very hard for law enforcement officers always to know whether someone is really a danger or not a danger. You don't have a lot of time to think, and you have got to remove -- to move very rapidly and respond very rapidly and compassionately at the same time.
GUPTA (on camera): How do you anticipate what can't be anticipated? How do you act in a situation that's inherently difficult to pin down? It's exactly what law enforcement programs, like the Georgia Crisis Intervention Team, are trying to do.
(voice-over): I visited the Georgia Crisis Intervention Team performing what they call de-escalation role-playing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have anywhere to stay, but you here to hurt me?
GUPTA: Officers learn to diffuse crisis situations through calm communication with the mentally ill person.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I need my medication. I need a place to stay. I need food to eat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You say you need the -- you need your medication?
GUPTA: The Georgia program aims to be a national model. Officers get 40 hours of training with psychiatrists, clinicians, learning the telltale signs of a whole slew of illnesses, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, even autism.
JANET OLIVA, GEORGIA BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: What we train our officers to do in crisis situations with consumers is to be compassionate, empathetic, understanding, and very, very patient.
GUPTA: Kay Redfield Jamison advises law enforcement officials on dealing with the distraught. She says there are obvious signs that can tip off police they are dealing with a mentally ill patient.
JAMISON: Hallucinating, where you see somebody who is tracking and looking at things that other people aren't looking at, they're probably seeing things that aren't there or hearing voices, acting in an aggressive way, when there doesn't seem to be an obvious threat, talking very rapidly or very loudly.
GUPTA: Jamison says training and role-playing help police rein in mentally ill patients.
HUNT: It's absolutely essential that police officers are trained to recognize signs of mental illness. You have to have officers who can handle such situations.
GUPTA: Whether or not this sort of training would have helped Eleanor Bumpurs or Rigoberto Alpizar, we will never know. But with estimates that one in five Americans will suffer from mental illness some time in their life, it's imperative that law enforcement be able to recognize them.
GUPTA: Police officers oftentimes become the first-responders when the mentally ill find themselves in a crisis. I was really struck. I visited this particular program today. It was modeled on a program out of Memphis that started back in 1988. So, these have been around for some time.
Fourteen cities around the United States have these sort of crisis programs now. They appear to be pretty effective in training police officers to not only be officers, but in -- to some sense, social service workers as well, Heidi. So, they are -- very interesting there.
COLLINS: Yes. Boy, a tough, though, call to make.
COLLINS: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks.
GUPTA: Thank you.
COLLINS: Later in the hour, we have got some videotapes that are causing an uproar. The police officers who made them thought they were funny.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALES: Good morning, Captain. Captain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: A lot of people, from San Francisco's mayor on down, are really disgusted with this stuff. What will happen to the officers who did? I will ask one of them. Also ahead, what could a thief pull out of your pocket? We have some amazing pictures of pickpockets at work, and advice that's essential before you do your holiday shopping.
And, before the top of the hour, Jeanne Moos lets some experts loose on the new movie "King Kong."
COLLINS: Tonight, the fate of convicted murderer Stanley "Tookie" Williams is in the hands of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Williams, who helped found the Crips gang, is scheduled to die next Tuesday for killing four people more than 26 years ago. Today, his lawyers asked the governor for clemency, echoing pleas from a group of Hollywood stars who say Williams now turns young people away from crime.
Ted Rowlands is on the story tonight.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lawyers for Stanley Tookie Williams had little to say after making a plea today to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to spare Williams' life.
PETER FLEMING, ATTORNEY FOR STANLEY TOOKIE WILLIAMS: We will not answer any questions having to do with that meeting or the content of that meeting.
ROWLANDS: Williams is scheduled to die Tuesday by lethal injection at San Quentin state prison, where he's been on death row since 1981. An admitted co-founder of the Crips street gang, Williams was found guilty of four 1979 Southern California murders; Twenty- six-year-old convenience store clerk Albert Owens was shot twice in the back with a .12-gauge shotgun.
Then, four days later, a couple and their daughter were killed during a motel robbery.
JOHN MONAGHAN, PROSECUTOR: The 41-year-old daughter literally had the left side of her head and face blown off. These were extremely brutal crimes, committed against people that simply were defenseless.
PROTESTERS: Save Tookie now.
ROWLANDS: Outside the state capitol today, people gathered to support Williams. It's the latest in a series of rallies in an effort to save his life. Supporters say Stanley Williams is a changed man and, through his work, including nine children's books, he's helped hundreds of young people to stay out of trouble.
Celebrities, including Snoop Dogg, who wrote a song about Williams, and actor Jamie Foxx, who played Williams in the movie "Redemption," have joined the effort to keep him alive. Foxx held a press conference today.
JAMIE FOXX, ACTOR: After we did the movie, 40,000 letters and e- mails from kids saying that we don't want to join gangs.
ROWLANDS: The ex-wife of Albert Owens, the murdered convenience store clerk, issued this statement today, saying: "I, Linda Owens, want to build upon Mr. Williams' peace initiative. I invite Mr. Williams to join me in sending a message to all communities that we should all unite in peace. This position of peace would honor my husband's memory and Mr. Williams' work."
But Owens' stepmother says Stanley Williams should die.
LORA OWENS, STEPMOTHER OF VICTIM OF STANLEY TOOKIE WILLIAMS: I will be standing there in the name of Albert and his father watching that execution.
ROWLANDS: Williams says he regrets his days as a gang member, but maintains his innocence. In an open letter that appeared in newspapers this week, Williams wrote, in part, "If Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger grants me clemency, I will accept it as an obligation to society to spend the rest of my life working to reverse the cycle of youth violence."
If Schwarzenegger grants clemency, he would be the first California governor to do so since Ronald Reagan in 1967. Last week, Schwarzenegger indicated it is a difficult position to be in.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I want to make sure that I make the right decision, because if you are -- dealing here with a person's life.
ROWLANDS: Aides say to expect a decision from Arnold Schwarzenegger at some point this weekend as to whether or not he thinks Stanley Tookie Williams should live or die -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Ted Rowlands, thank you for that.
One of Tookie Williams' victims was Albert Owens. He was 26 years old when he was murdered 26 years ago.
And joining me now is his stepmother, Lora Owens.
Thank you for being with us tonight.
OWENS: Thank you for having me.
COLLINS: We just saw some -- some video there of Jamie Foxx, who is one of many celebrities who have come out to talk about this case. I mean, it's really moving into high gear now. People are rallying his support to live.
How does that make you feel, when you see video like that? OWENS: Well, Jamie Foxx is an actor, and he is accustomed to reading a script, getting into the character, and then putting it down and going home.
You know, this is real life. This isn't some script. I think they abuse their popularity and their access to the media.
COLLINS: In fact, in the past weeks, there's been an awful lot written and aired about Tookie Williams' plight and his redemption.
In fact, I want to go ahead and read you an apology that he issued from his jail cell. Now, this was about eight years ago. This is to children who are forced to live in violent streets.
He said this: "So, today, I apologize to you all. I no longer participate in the so-called gangster lifestyle. And I deeply regret that I ever did. I vow to spend the rest of my life working toward solutions."
You still think he deserves to be executed?
OWENS: I do.
OWENS: I believe he does, because I believe justice for Albert is deserved for him.
I don't believe that Tookie Williams has changed at all. I believe he's just changed his tactics. You see, he may have made an apology to the children, but he didn't stop his gang activity. He just changed the way he does it.
COLLINS: What do you mean when you say that? Is he directing things to happen from behind bars?
OWENS: It seems like he is.
And he can say he wrote some books. He changes his story so often, it's hard to know exactly where he's at. At first, when he started his appeals, he claimed he was brain-damaged. When the appeals were denied, then he comes out with the books. Which story is true?
COLLINS: You said that you wanted to be there for the execution.
OWENS: I don't want to be there.
COLLINS: If it takes place.
OWENS: I have to be there.
OWENS: I believe that my husband, Albert's father, and Albert himself would expect me to be there. You know, sometimes, we do things that are extremely difficult. And that's going to be one of them. But I have to finish this for Albert and for my husband.
COLLINS: Have you considered the possibility that Governor Schwarzenegger will not rule on this the way that you would like him to? I shouldn't say rule, but decide? What will you -- what will you do?
OWENS: You know, if I even thought about that, it would be the same as thinking defeat. And I don't do that. I haven't even considered that at this point.
COLLINS: Lora Owens, thank you for being here tonight.
OWENS: Thanks for having me.
COLLINS: We're going to switch gears in just a moment, but stay with us. What you see in our next story could stop a thief from ruining your holiday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUNTER: He's a pickpocket?
ARNO: He's a pickpocket.
HUNTER: He's a pickpocket? He's a pickpocket?
ARNO: So is this one and so this one. There are four guys.
HUNTER: Four guys here.
COLLINS: Pickpockets are getting really creative. And we have got some hidden cameras to prove it, as well as some advice on how to stay ahead of them.
Later, how far can a boss go in dictating your personal life? We found one who told his employees no smoking, even when they are at home. Is that going too far?
COLLINS: Watch this next report closely, because what you see could save you a whole lot of trouble as you do your holiday shopping. The malls are packed. And right along with shoppers, there are pickpockets, ready to grab your wallet or your purse.
But now consumer correspondent Greg Hunter shows you how to protect yourself from getting ripped off.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) HUNTER (voice-over): Watch this lady very carefully. You are about to witness a crime. Here it comes. Did you see it? Within two seconds, this woman's wallet got picked out from her bag. Here it is again. As the woman walks, the guy on the right distracts her. Then the guy on the left slips his hand into her bag and snags her wallet, right there. It looks like a pretty simple crime, but, in fact, there's a lot to it.
ARNO: Trust me. When it happens to you, you remember it for a long time.
HUNTER: Bob Arno is a former entertainer from Sweden who used to have a pickpocketing stage act. He has perfected his craft so well, he now teaches police officers how to protect against pickpockets.
HUNTER (on camera): What would you call yourself?
ARNO: Basically, I'm a thief hunter. I'm always looking for these guys.
HUNTER (voice-over): Armed with a hidden camera, Arno travels the world trying to catch pickpockets in action.
ARNO: That's me there with those...
HUNTER: He showed me some of his never-before-seen video.
(on camera): So, you are basically setting yourself up to get the video.
ARNO: There's no question that we are setting ourselves up to be the victim. That is how we, most of the time, can catch them.
HUNTER: These aren't actors. These are real crooks.
ARNO: No, nothing. Real crooks.
HUNTER (voice-over): Here, you actually see someone take his wallet.
ARNO: A thief will immediately realize that there's a little gaping here. It stands out. That means you have something heavy in the pocket.
HUNTER: Arno says pickpockets usually work in teams, like this man and woman. One is pretending to shop. The other is stalking his victim. The real shopper has no idea what's about to happen to her. The moment she turns her back, her wallet is swiped, just like that. She doesn't even realize it's gone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey. Hey. Don't you dare put your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) my pocket.
HUNTER: This guy caught a pickpocket while Arno was videotaping. It turns out the crook wasn't alone.
HUNTER (on camera): He's a pickpocket?
ARNO: He's a pickpocket.
HUNTER: He's a pickpocket? He's a pickpocket?
ARNO: So is this one and so this one. There are four guys.
HUNTER: Four guys here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You touch me again, I will kill you.
HUNTER (voice-over): And remember this video? That's Arno's wife, whose wallet was taking while he was videotaping. There were at least two people involved here.
ARNO: If they are slightly out of sync between the two of them, that will never happen.
HUNTER: So, how do you protect yourself? The secret is understanding the crime. And nobody knows it better than 13-year veteran detective Cedric Mitchell of the Metro Transit Police in Washington, D.C.
MITCHELL: It's hard to keep statistics, because, if you're a good pickpocket, the victim never know they were a victim. They think they lost their wallet. So, how do they make a police report? They can't make a police report. So, it's probably one of the most under- reported crimes in the country.
HUNTER (on camera): Most crooks hate a crowd. Pickpockets, just the opposite -- the more people the better it is.
A crowd is a pickpocket's best friend.
MITCHELL: Best friend, partner, partner in crime and don't even realize it.
HUNTER (voice-over): That's because, in a crowd, thieves can get close to you without any questions, like they did to Helen Williams on a jammed escalator three years ago.
HELEN WILLIAMS, VICTIM OF PICKPOCKET: I think I may have felt someone brush against me.
HUNTER (on camera): And you were carrying a purse like -- you were carrying this purse?
WILLIAMS: I was carrying this purse. And the wallet is usually -- usually probably propped up against my items up -- up front, so it was a easy target, very easy for someone to just lift.
HUNTER (voice-over): In a flash, it was gone. She took immediate action.
WILLIAMS: Canceled credit cards. I canceled the checks. I canceled my debit card, my ATM card. And I just knew I -- I would be OK once I got -- I did that.
HUNTER: But the nightmare was just beginning. Within a few weeks, she started receiving bill after bill for purchases she had never made, totalling $10,000. It took about a year to clear it all up.
WILLIAMS: Clothing, toys, food, computers, books.
HUNTER (on camera): They were living on you?
WILLIAMS: Yes, living on me for -- for quite some time. And -- and they got a lot of good things in my name.
HUNTER (voice-over): But Helen played a big role in luring the pickpockets. For one thing, she was carrying an open purse with no zipper. And it was swung behind her, a common mistake.
(on camera): If a lady's purse is hanging in the back, she's in trouble.
ARNO: The minute it's behind -- it depends, of course, on the buckle and so forth. But, on a one to 10, that's a nine for a thief to get into.
HUNTER (voice-over): And it's almost as easy to snatch the purse. Look at what happened to this 76-year-old woman whose handbag was ripped away from her last year.
(on camera): Were you afraid?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, of course. I was trembling. I was scared.
HUNTER: Isabel Manuel's (ph) purse was snatched right here in this Tucson, Arizona, parking lot. She was robbed all right. But this crime was anything but random.
(voice-over): Like pickpockets, this guy took his time to find the perfect victim. He hung around the parking lot, pretending to play a video game. Isabel (ph) and her daughter, Myra (ph), weren't paying any attention to him. And that was a mistake. So, he waited until Myra (ph) sat in the driver's seat and Isabel's back was turned.
(on camera): The door is open. You're doing what?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fixing the bag.
HUNTER: Groceries right there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Groceries, yes.
HUNTER: And the guy comes up behind you and he puts both hand on...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... pulling my bag.
HUNTER: So, he's pulling this. Then what do you do?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I saw him. I -- I don't want to give it to him.
HUNTER: And, so, he's pulling you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
HUNTER: And you're pulling back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) Yes.
(voice-over): After taking that nasty fall, Isabel (ph) is on the mend. The crook was caught and convicted.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now we don't trust anybody anymore.
HUNTER: And Isabel (ph) and Myra (ph) are now on guard every time they go out.
But plenty of people aren't. Walking around our nation's capital, Detective Mitchell and I easily find prime targets for pickpockets.
(on camera): Excuse me, ma'am? Ma'am?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
HUNTER: Hi, I'm Greg Hunter with CNN. How you doing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. Nice to meet you. Very good.
This is Detective Mitchell.
MITCHELL: How you doing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi.
HUNTER: Could we just open your purse to see how easy it is to open?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
HUNTER: And you had your purse behind your back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. HUNTER: Oh, how easy is that?
MITCHELL: Very easy.
HUNTER (voice-over): And look. Her wallet was sitting right on top.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, what should I do?
MITCHELL: What should you do? Carry your purse this way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh.
MITCHELL: Now the flap rests there. There no way I can get into the pocketbook.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, good.
MITCHELL: That's all you have to do.
HUNTER (on camera): And the purse in front and not behind?
MITCHELL: And yes. You can -- if you like to lean -- there you go. Perfect. Now you can -- you can't be a victim.
HUNTER (voice-over): Men, especially if they look like they have money, are also targets.
Where do you carry your wallet?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On my inside pocket.
HUNTER: Inside pocket. Jacket open?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of the time.
HUNTER: Most of the time, jacket's open. So jacket open is bad.
MITCHELL: Jacket open is bad.
MITCHELL: Because it lends myself easier to get into the pocket. So I would get in here and then basically they hold on and they slide it out.
HUNTER: How much did you feel at all?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't feel anything at all.
MITCHELL: You see, if you just button that button right there, you've just safeguarded yourself.
HUNTER: And check out this woman. She's got a backpack. Mitchell says it's too easy for a crook to get into. And he finds things she should leave at home.
MITCHELL: And take all those checkbooks out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
MITCHELL: The more things you carry, checkbooks and credit cards, the more you give them to steal.
HUNTER: How do you feel now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel better because I'm going to do something about it.
HUNTER: So here are a few things to keep in mind. First, be aware of your surroundings. Watch for people hanging out. You know, like that guy in the parking lot playing a video game. That's a warning.
Next, guard your personal space. If someone steps too close to you, make sure you know where your wallet is and your handbag.
And finally, don't carry things like your checkbook or your Social Security card. Helen in our story did just that. And that's the reason why it took a year to clean up that mess. Leave those things at home.
COLLINS: All right. So what do you have here? Some do's and don'ts?
HUNTER: I've got a couple of things pickpockets love and a couple of things pickpockets hate.
Here's what they love. The fanny pack. You know, this is all the rage. It still -- people use it. I used to carry this for years. Don't these just say steal me?
COLLINS: Yes, definitely. Even if you carry it in front?
HUNTER: Even if you carry it in front, because they can distract you and they can stick their hand in there.
Next, the bigger the hole in the bag, the better it is. This came from one of our staff members, Sophie (ph). She carries it, kind of like this. You can stick your hand in and also nice, long, beautiful, comfortable strap and the purse usually is worn behind. That's a no no. You wear the purse in front.
COLLINS: But it's so cute.
HUNTER: Remember. It is cute. They don't just come by and just take your stuff. They stalk you. They size you up.
The other thing is. This is what pickpockets hate. You wear this around your ankle. So you wear that beautiful cute purse. And when it's cold outside and you're shopping, put your I.D. and your credit cards here.
Or, here's the opposite of a fanny pack. It's an inside fanny back. It's made of silk, worn inside the pants.
Last thing, Detective Mitchell said, he says Christmas time? Pickpockets love Christmas time. Why? Because you're carrying your packages and it's just human nature to protect those packages. But a pickpocket, they want you distracted and they want your I.D., they want your credit cards. So protect your I.D. and your credit cards, not your packages.
COLLINS: And leave the checkbook at home, which is one I have to go fix my purse right over there when we're done. Greg Hunter, thank you for that. Some valuable advice tonight.
And now, take a look at this video tape. See if you think it's funny.
This tape and more like it, were meant to be a joke. And, oh, boy, is the cop who made them in trouble.
And later on, Jeanne Moos tries to make some trouble for the new King Kong movie. She found an audience that isn't so computer generated.
COLLINS: Seems like smokers have never had it so tough in this country. More cities are banning tobacco in bars and restaurants, forcing smokers into the cold. Today, the entire state of Washington began one of the toughest smoking bans ever.
You can't even light up on the street if you're within 25 feet of a door or a window. So, what's next? Will smokers be fired? Well actually, that's already happening too. And you're about to meet a boss who treats tobacco like an illegal drug. As Gary Tuchman found, he's won both praise and smoldering resentment.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His personal life mirrors his professional life. Howard Weyers likes to keep himself in shape and is quite adamant about his employees doing the same.
(on-screen): Why is that important?
HOWARD WEYERS, PRESIDENT, WEYCO, INC.: Well, they're going to be more productive.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): And he adds it lowers health insurance rates. That being said, it caused quite a stir when the 71-year-old owner of a company that administers employee benefit plans told his workers they're not allowed to use tobacco, even at home.
(on-screen): Some people might say this is lifestyle discrimination. WEYERS: Life-style assistance.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good afternoon, Weyco.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Howard Weyers's Weyco Company in East Lansing, Michigan, smoking has serious career consequences. Daily random Breathalyzer and urine tobacco tests leaves you suspended for a month. Fail again, you're gone forever.
WEYERS: I think it's good for people. They eliminate that habit because eventually it's going to kill them.
TUCHMAN: New Weyco employees are told about the policy before they start. Workers hired before it began were given 15 months to quit smoking. Veteran employees Cara Stiffler, Anita Epolito and Angie Curvitz (ph) learned that Weyers meant business. All three lost their jobs.
(on-screen): How angry were you when you found out you were gone?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, incredibly. I felt violated.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very angry.
TUCHMAN: Do you believe it happened?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I still don't.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Did Howard Weyers do anything illegal? Not in Michigan, nor in 19 other states, where there is no law preventing an employer from firing employees who smoke, even when they're off the job. Stiffler has smoked for 20 years and wants to quit, but as much as she liked working at Weyco, she wasn't willing to quit under force.
CARA STIFFLER, FORMER WEYCO EMPLOYEE: I was called into the H.R. manager's office, and I had to sign a paper admitting that I was a smoker. I refused to be tested. I signed it, and at that time I was terminated.
TUCHMAN (on-screen): There are other companies that have similar policies, but the rules are often not enforced. Case in point, my employer, Turner Broadcasting, which years ago had a widely ignored no-smoking policy. But here at Weyco, similar ignorance comes at your professional peril.
(voice-over): Many believe such a policy is a slippery slope.
JEREMY GRUBER, LEGAL DIRECTOR, NATIONAL WORK RIGHTS INSTITUTE: I'm sure that an employer could make a very good argument, and has made a very good argument, about not hiring someone who is disabled because they may cost them money.
TUCHMAN: A Michigan state senator says the policy is ridiculous. He's drafted a bill that has so far gone nowhere which would protect employees who want to participate in any legal activity off the job.
VIRG BERNERO, MICHIGAN STATE SENATOR: I think it's a basic American right that, when you leave the workplace, when you punch out, you're on your own time.
TUCHMAN: But Howard Weyers and many other employers say they have the basic American right not to be told how to run their businesses.
WEYERS: Smokers are discriminating against the other employees because of whatever health problems it creates. We all have to pay for it.
TUCHMAN: Weyers says at least 20 employees quit smoking rather than leave his 190-employee company. One of them is Chris Boyd (ph), who had smoked for 10 years when she learned of the new policy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was very emotional when I first heard about the policy. Then after things sank in, I thought about it, my job, smoking? Not a real tough decision.
TUCHMAN (on-screen): So how did you quit?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Weyco offered smoking cessation programs.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Weyco also gives money to employees who reach physical fitness goals.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ready, catch the beat and go. Up, up, down, down.
TUCHMAN: A lifestyle challenge director is on staff who leads an on-site exercise program.
PAM HARB, WEYCO LIFESTYLE CHALLENGE COORDINATOR: When they go through the lifestyle challenge, they can earn up to $110 per month by testing on a six-month basis.
TUCHMAN: Howard Weyers says he won't fire users of alcohol, overweight people, or others who can potentially spend a lot of time at the doctor, but...
(on-screen): If you're worried about healthcare costs, why don't you test the spouses of your employees for tobacco?
WEYERS: We will. We will in December.
TUCHMAN: You're actually going to do that?
TUCHMAN: Test the spouses of people who don't even work for you?
WEYERS: Yes. TUCHMAN: And what happens if they smoke?
WEYERS: They can continue, but it's going to cost their spouse a thousand dollars a year.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Spoken like a man who won't accept any ifs, ands or butts.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, East Lansing, Michigan.
COLLINS: And listen to this. Two of the women who were fired say they weren't even on the company health plan. But Howard Weyers says all employees are treated the same. He says it is an unshakable principle.
And now when we come back, see if you think this video tape is really very funny. This tape and more like it were meant to be a joke. And the cop who made them is now in a whole lot of trouble. We'll tell you about it in just a moment.
COLLINS: We want to go ahead and alert you now to a breaking news story out of Chicago that we are watching. "The Associated Press" and CNN affiliate WFLD are reporting that a plane has slid off the runway at Midway Airport. The details pretty sketchy at this point. But reports are telling us that was a 737 that had 98 people on board.
The plane went off the runway and through an airport fence, apparently. So so far, no reports of injuries. But we should also tell you, the weather in Chicago, if you didn't know it, it is awful. A lot of heavy snow there. So authorities are saying more than 400 incoming and outgoing flights have been canceled at Chicago's airports.
Again, a plane with 98 people on board, we believe it was a 737, went off the runway at Chicago's Midway Airport. It went through a fence and on to the street. The street that surrounds the airport. No reports of injuries so far. Of course, we're going to keep you updated and try to get some pictures for you here just as soon as we can.
Well as he have just mentioned, it's darn cold outside in a lot of different places across this country. And Wall Street is also feeling the chill. Erica Hill explains now why in our Headline News Biz Break.
COLLINS: Good thing. All right, Erica, thank you.
Well you may not believe the video we are about to show you. Pictures that are turning the San Francisco Police Department upside down. In fact, tonight, more than a dozen officers have been suspended.
The videos were shot by a policeman as spoofs, he says, to boost morale. They are filled with stereotypes, both racial and sexual. But they make fun of just about everyone, regardless of their race.
In just a moment, we are going to talk with the officer who made the tapes. But first we want to give you a couple of specific examples. In one, a white officer in a patrol car runs over a black woman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody will come up to you...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a white (BLEEP).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Here's another clip, which really shows the locker room mentality of these videos. It's a take off of "Charlie's Angels" and features one police captain and several other officers, some appearing as transvestites.
The department warned today that several more officers remain under suspicion and under investigation. There are more suspensions, we should say, on the way. The police chief and mayor expressed their outrage over these videos.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF HEATHER FONG, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE: For me as the chief to have to stand here to share with you such egregious, shameful and despicable acts by members of the San Francisco Police Department.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: The officer who made the videos, Andrew Cohen, joins me now from his home in Berkeley and also with me here in New York is Mr. Cohen's attorney, Marty Garvis (ph). Thanks to the both of you for being here. Andrew, I want to start with you. What were you thinking?
ANDREW COHEN, OFFICER, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE: I've heard that a lot today.
COHEN: You have to put this in context. The video was done as a humor video for a Christmas party, and as a roast. Period. Taken out of context, anything goes. You can look at it any way you want to go.
The way you even set it up, has a white officer running over a black woman. Well that isn't the issue. It had nothing to do with a white officer or black woman. It has to do with the officers' characteristics and humor pointed at him for not even noticing it. That's an inside joke. COLLINS: OK, to be fair, but forgive me, Andrew, I also heard what was said that we could not air because of the profanity and there was a direct reference to the race of the officer. She called him a white, blank blank.
COHEN: Right. That was all added to the humor of making fun of this guy, who just totally ignored her. I mean, is it foul-mouthed? Yeah. Is it raunchy? Yeah. No one is denying any of that. But this could have been anybody being, quote, "run over," OK?
The officer, first of all, had no idea at all that he was even being taped, or this was going to be -- a tape of him was going to be used in this manner.
COLLINS: Oh, so you took them all out of context, after you shot all of this? Most of the people who were involved in this had no idea that the video was going to be portrayed this way?
COHEN: Yeah, no, I mean, I showed him soon after, yeah, but he didn't know when he was being interviewed on a serious documentary that I was working on, that footage, when I was with him on the ride- along, interviewing him, he went over a bump, and it looked as if...
COLLINS: Is he mad at you? Is anybody mad at you that appeared in this now, with everything that started?
COHEN: I can only imagine. I can only imagine.
COLLINS: You haven't spoken with anyone in your department?
COHEN: No, no, not really, no.
COLLINS: Let me ask you this, I know you spent quite a bit of time working on this, something like almost two years. It seems a fair question to ask if you couldn't have maybe been using your time a little bit more productively.
COHEN: Well, yeah, two years, because I did it five minutes here and five minutes there. I don't have -- we don't have time to be doing this all the time. And that's to be very -- that's not been told. Everybody thinks that we just do videos on duty. Bayview, Hunter's Point is a very violent area, and we're very, very busy as police officers. The only time we have time to do stuff like this is by grabbing it on a spur of the moment thing in between calls or during lunch or whatever.
COLLINS: All right, well, we're showing quite a bit of the video...
COHEN: So everything is out of context.
COLLINS: ... and I just want to make sure that we're fair to the audience and let them decide for themselves what they think about it. So I want to play another snippet. In this vignette here, an officer pulls over a blonde woman, and very obviously ogles her. So let's go ahead and take a look at this one. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just turn around.
You can go ahead and have a seat. Thanks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Looking at this now, I also have to ask you, Andrew, there were about 20 people involved in the shooting of this video with you. What about those in your department who were not depicted, who did not participate in this? What do you think that does to their reputation and credibility?
COHEN: It's an obvious question. It taints it, and it's horrible. And guess what? Chief Fong should not have exposed this.
COLLINS: OK. So it's Chief Fong, not you. Do you regret doing what you did?
COHEN: I regret putting it on the Web site for the few moments that I did, for the reasons that I did. It was never intended to get out and never did get out. It got out because Chief Fong made it get out.
COLLINS: All right. Andrew Cohen...
COHEN: And now she's tainted the department.
COLLINS: Andrew Cohen, we appreciate your time tonight. I apologize for not being able to get to your attorney. We need to get back to our Chicago story.
We're getting a little bit more information about this breaking news out of Chicago now, where we told you a 737 has gone off the runway. We've since learned this is a Southwest Airlines 737. Happening at Midway Airport. You see the live pictures coming in now from WFLD, one of our affiliates there in Chicago.
That plane is now sitting in the street. As we mentioned earlier, this is a street that goes around the airport. We want to go straight out to CNN's Jonathan Freed in our Chicago bureau to learn a little bit more.
Jonathan, what do you know? Jonathan, can you hear me?
Jonathan is going to be joining us in a minute. We are having a little bit of phone trouble. But he will be bringing us up to speed on this situation. You can see quite a few people in that shot right there. We of course are going to bring more to you just as soon as we have those details.
A movie theater near you is about to get attacked by a giant ape. But, is a computer-generated King Kong convincing enough for these critics?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thumbs up, thumbs down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Stay with us for some more monkey business from Jeanne Moos. And of course, an update on the situation happening at Midway Airport in Chicago. We'll bring it to you right after this.
(INTERRUPTED FOR COVERAGE OF BREAKING NEWS)
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