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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

California Murder, Kidnapping Suspect May Have Explosives; Truth about Weed; Escape from Syria; Controversial Police Shooting Caught on Camera; Heavy Rains Unleash Deadly Midwest Flooding

Aired August 8, 2013 - 20:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, breaking news in the search for an alleged killer and the young woman he's believed to be holding.

Also tonight, Dr. Sanjay Gupta's bold claim that we've been systematically misled for 70 years about the medical value of marijuana. Why he abandoned everything he knew about it.

Later, Anderson hears one man's harrowing account of capture and captivity in one of the deadliest war zones on earth. Held in Syria for 81 days.

But we begin tonight with the breaking news in the search for James DiMaggio and the stakes that just keep rising. Not only as he's suspected of kidnapping 16-year-old Hannah Anderson and possibly her 8-year-old brother Ethan. Not only is he wanted for the murder of her mother. Not only do authorities suspect he's hiding out in some of the most remote parts of the west and northwest, but they are now proceeding on the very real possibility, they say, he might be armed with explosives.

This is a fast-moving story. Paul Vercammen has been on top of it from the very beginning. He's joining us now with the latest.

What is the latest, Paul?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, authorities telling me, Wolf, just a short time ago, that they have strong reason to believe that DiMaggio may be armed with homemade bombs and along those lines they are cautioning both citizens and law enforcement officers to make sure they stay away from the suspect's vehicle. They say it's a very real possibility that he has now booby trapped that vehicle with some sort of improvised explosive devices. So that's the latest on that front -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I know officials are also saying the suspect could be hunkered down in a really rural area somewhere. What makes them believe that?

VERCAMMEN: Well, strong fear here that he does have camping skills, if you will, that he is an outdoors man. There were those two sightings yesterday, allegedly in part of California that's in the extreme northeast part of the state, in Alturas, and then also across the border in Oregon. The sheriff in that county telling me today that it was an 18-year-old maid who spotted what she believes was the suspect's vehicle and he was saying one difficult thing about his county, there has been no sign of that vehicle since. There are many, many, many rural roads in which he could hide.

And also, Wolf, I just need to add that it was just a short time ago that we understand the Federales in Mexico also complying, going to issue that Amber Alert for all bordering Mexican states and to interior states that would include Sinaloa and Baja Saur -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I understand he also has had another run-in -- previous run ins with the law. What can you tell us about that?

VERCAMMEN: Well, we started digging. We found that in Montgomery County, Texas, that's near Houston, this was 18 years ago, we have a booking photo of him when he was just 22 years old. He was basically charged with and then convicted of fleeing from a police officer. What's interesting about this is in that police report at one point they said he was going down a rural or a dirt road somewhere around 60 or 70 miles per hour.

This sort of seems to lend credence to this fear that perhaps he's using rural roads to get himself in and around, you know, northern California, Oregon, Nevada or Washington. There is an Amber Alert issued, Wolf, for all three -- four now of those states.

BLITZER: Paul Vercammen, we'll stay in close touch. Thank you.

Of all the things that makes this story so troubling is the notion that the fugitive was once a friend and that someone so close, someone so trusted, could become the kind of monster that James DiMaggio allegedly has become.

Brett Anderson spoke about it earlier today with "NEW DAY's" Chris Cuomo.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN'S NEW DAY: Explain the relationship between your family, your kids, their mother and Mr. DiMaggio.

BRETT ANDERSON, FATHER OF MISSING 16-YEAR-OLD HANNAH ANDERSON: Mr. DiMaggio came into our lives about six months before Hannah was born. He and I had a very close relationship over the years, and we've done many, many things throughout the years together, and he's basically became like part of our family.

He was always around and we always did stuff together as a family. Sometimes he took the kids camping, but we were just very good friends.

CUOMO: This is your buddy. You know him. Was there --

ANDERSON: Yes. CUOMO: -- ever anything about him that you found suspicious? I know the easy answer is no because you wouldn't have him around your family, but searching your history now, was there anything there?

ANDERSON: You know, I have come up blank. I have been through every scenario in my brain. There was nothing ever to show any indication of this. He -- everybody you can even talk to loved him. He would give you the shirt off his back and he was there to help at any time you called, and nothing ever like this indicated anything.

CUOMO: We have heard these rumors, as have you, that your 16-year-old daughter Hannah had become uncomfortable around him. He'd expressed that he had a crush. We don't know the context, we don't know what really happened, but had you heard anything about that until now?

ANDERSON: I have not heard anything about that. If I had heard something about that or my wife had heard something about that, it would have been cut off.

CUOMO: Please, if you can, tell us about what made these kids so special to you.

ANDERSON: Ethan wore his heart on his sleeve. He would give -- do anything for anybody, loved everybody. He was just my buddy.

Hannah was just a beautiful, beautiful girl, very, very good student. Hundreds and hundreds of friends. And there is nothing bad to say about my kids.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: If anyone knows what Brett Anderson is going through right now it's John Walsh. On July 27th, 1981, his only child Adam was abducted. Two weeks later his body was found. He's been fighting on behalf of children like Adam and parents like himself ever since. And John is joining us now.

John, thanks for coming in as you always do for us. This father, we just heard of, he's obviously trying to get the word out at times speaking directly to the suspect, other times to his daughter. Is that exactly what he should be doing at this point?

JOHN WALSH, CHILD SAFETY ADVOCATE: Exactly, Wolf. I've tried to reach out to Brett today, left my unlisted number with his advisors, and if he would call me, I would welcome talking to him. He's doing exactly the right thing. Pretty soon, if his daughter is not found alive and we're all praying that this creep will let her go, she'll just become another poster of a missing child when she drops off the news circle -- news cycle.

He's got to get up. He's got to stay up. He's got to do every media interview he can. Hopefully somebody will see that car or that girl. We've gotten back lots of missing children because the public can make such a difference.

BLITZER: Clearly, this suspect, John, this man DiMaggio, is very close to the family. The kids actually called him uncle. Should it be a surprise that someone so close to this family could possibly have done these things?

WALSH: I don't think anybody should be surprised and it's another horrible lesson. Look at Ariel Castro. His daughter's best friend was Gina DeJesus who he kidnapped at 14 year old. I mean, this is a guy that he knew his 14-year-old victim and his daughter was her best friend.

Just -- I've done hundreds of cases of live-in boyfriends, step daddies, you name it, that have pretended that they were friends of the family, pretended they were interested in the mother, and hurt the children or took the children. So I don't think people should be surprised. I think people should realize that if this guy could kill an 8-year-old boy and kill an unarmed woman that he was friends with for 10 plus years, he's dangerous and that he has to be caught before he hurts Hannah.

BLITZER: If the DiMaggio, this guy, had developed an actual crush on this 16-year-old girl Hannah, as a friend of hers says he did, what does that tell you, if anything, about her chances for survival?

WALSH: Well, that's hopeful. If he's obsessed, if he's so obsessed that he kills an 8-year-old boy, and as I mentioned, Hanna's mother, to get at her, I hope he's still got her. I hope he's still obsessed with her. I hope he's treating her right and he doesn't decide like so many nutcases, well, I'll kill her, I'll kill myself, we'll be in paradise together or I'll kill her and leave her in the woods somewhere, and they'll never catch me, I'm better off alone.

I hope none of those things are going through his mind. I hope he realizes that he should do the right thing. Gives this girl -- if he loves her and so obsessed with her, give her back, bring her back, turn yourself in. I think it's very hopeful that he was obsessed with -- that he is obsessed with this girl.

BLITZER: Is there a window of time, and you know this subject very, very well, John, when the chances are better than a child who's been abducted might be found?

WALSH: Absolutely, Wolf. The first four hours are crucial. That's why the Amber alert is so great. It took six years to get the emergency broadcasting system in Congress to vote the Amber Alert as a nationwide program. In those years 550 kids plus have been found within the first six or seven hours. Four hours are crucial. So that window is getting smaller, but now that they issued an Amber Alert because we've caught guys in Mexico, I've caught over the last 25 years about 50 guys in Mexico who have easily crossed that border.

You only got to drive into Mexico. He may have tried to make everybody think he's in that dessert in the northeast because he's a survivalist, but he may have gone south, thinking that no one is looking for him. But thank god the Federales are issuing that Amber Alert because we've caught guys in Mexico that were spotted by tourist. That's a good thing.

BLITZER: You totally reject the criticism some have for the whole Amber Alert system. You say it's really critically important.

WALSH: Oh, my god, if your niece or granddaughter or your child was missing, you should beg for the Amber Alert. Look at the success of it, 550 plus children since 2005. Some people are disturbed because their phone goes off, then take it off your cell phone, opt out of it. But my god, it has saved people's lives.

The Amber Alert is wonderful. You've got the Emergency Broadcasting System that warns us of tornados and hurricanes. Aren't children more important than a hurricane warning? Amber Alerts are fantastic.

BLITZER: Excellent advice from John Walsh as usual. John, thanks very much for joining us.

WALSH: Thank you for having me.

BLITZER: And just ahead Dr. Sanjay Gupta's stunning conclusion after nearly a year of reporting. He now says Americans have been misled for decades about medical marijuana. Sanjay will join us to talk about his provocative new documentary entitled "Weed."

Also, a photojournalist nightmare in Syria. He was abducted in April, held by rebels for 81 days. Anderson spoke with him about what he endured and how he escaped.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A CNN documentary airing this weekend may make you rethink what you thought you knew about pot. Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta spent nearly a year investigating the impact of marijuana on the body. He lays it out in his findings in the documentary entitled "Weed".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: People are lighting up all over the country. They call it the green rush. Marijuana has moved out of the back alleys and into the open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy cannabis, you all.

GUPTA: In some states it's legal to grow, to sell, to smoke, and marijuana could be legalized in a city near you. So easy to get and many think so harmless, but when the smoke clears, is marijuana bad for you? Or could pot actually be good for you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The answer to that question, wasn't it all what Sanjay expected? In fact he says he was not only stunned by what he discovered he now admits he was flat-out wrong about weed in the past.

For nearly 45 years marijuana has been classified as a Schedule 1 substance. In a CNN.com article, though, today Sanjay wrote this, "We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that." Dr. Gupta is joining us right now.

Sanjay, you were very critical of medical marijuana for a long time. You changed your mind. Tell us why.

GUPTA: You know, there is a few different reasons but, you know, I'll just preface by saying, look, I didn't dig deep enough. I didn't look far enough. I didn't look in other countries, smaller labs. I didn't listen to the chorus of patients, legitimate patients, who are getting relief from this, from marijuana when nothing else worked for them.

But let me say, Wolf, you know, if you were to look through the medical journals right now about articles regarding medical marijuana, you'd find lots of them, up to 20,000 articles. The vast majority, more than 90 percent, are designed to look at harm, the problems with marijuana, medicinal marijuana. And less than 10 percent, around 6 percent actually to look at the benefits. And I think it paints a very distorted picture.

And it's part of the systematic misleading. When you look at the Schedule 1 classification of marijuana, that's all you know. What you hear is that it is a -- it is one of the most dangerous substances out there. It is a -- it is a drug of high abuse, and it has a drug that has no medical applications.

And what I learned after you did -- after you do some of this digging is that none of that is true. It is not a -- it is not a higher drug of abuse as compared to drugs that are scheduled lower. It does have medical applications and I think that that was part of what made me turn around. But a lot of this was about the patients, again, who were using this as a legitimate medicine, legitimate patients and getting really, really objective relief.

BLITZER: You also say, Sanjay, there's a lot of hypocrisy out there when it comes to marijuana. What do you mean by that?

GUPTA: Well, part of it is that, you know, look, we think that -- we say that this has no medical applications whatsoever, and yet there are lots of studies out there that are now showing the medical benefit even if some of those studies are done outside this country. It's classified as a Schedule 1 substance, to give you some context, Wolf, cocaine is classified as a Schedule 2 substance.

Let me tell you something else that I find very interesting. We haven't talked about this much but the United States, through its own Department of Health and Human Services, actually has a patent on marijuana as an anti-oxidant and neuro-protectant in the brain. So on one hand they say it has no medical application. On the other hand they say we have a patent on it as a medical application.

So, you know, look, I think journalists are trained to hate hypocrisy, Wolf, no matter what side you're on or what you're thinking about. This is hypocrisy.

BLITZER: It's a good point. I know you did a lot of research for this documentary that will air this weekend. Is there concrete evidence, though, concrete scientific evidence, that medical marijuana works better at treating certain medical conditions than pharmaceutical drugs?

GUPTA: I believe so. And I've seen examples of it. First of all, I've seen the studies. So this isn't just anecdotal information, anecdotal knowledge anymore. There are studies to back this up. But I think I'll give you a couple of quick examples with regard to something known as neuropathic pain. Neuropathy. That can be that sort of pins and needles, sort of feeling burning lancinating, as my patients have described it, feeling in your limbs, it can be very hard to treat.

And the way that we often treat it now in this country is to use medications like narcotics, you know, poppy derivatives such morphine, Dilaudid, Oxycontin. We know that marijuana can actually have a significant benefit towards this sort of pain. Sometimes it can work, not only work, but it can work when those other medications didn't work.

And there's something else that I think makes this very, very relevant, Wolf, and that is when you talk about these narcotic pills, someone dies of an accidental overdose in this country every 19 minutes from taking these prescription-type pills. When we did our research we could not find any evidence of a death from marijuana overdose.

So you have a drug that works, you have a drug that may work better than what else is out there. And you have a drug that from a critical safety profile appears to be safer.

BLITZER: Amazing information. Sanjay, a lot of the documentary that will air this weekend focus in on medical marijuana to be sure, but what about when it comes to recreational use of marijuana? Just for the fun of it or the pleasure of it, what did you find out about that?

GUPTA: Well, look, you know, I mean, I think for the -- my purposes and for this documentary we draw a distinction between the two. I mean, we're looking at medicinal marijuana. Recreational, I think, is -- in a different bucket.

Let me say a couple of things since you raised the question. First of all, you know, in no way do I think that, you know, recreational use for kids or for adolescents, or even for people's whose brain is still developing, probably up to age about 25, it could be more detrimental in those people.

I mean, I have kids. I think about this. I know they're going to watch this years from now. So, you know, I think that's a very important to state. But if you're going to ask about the moral equivalence, you know, marijuana versus alcohol that which always comes up, marijuana is less addictive, about 9 percent or so addiction. That is -- agreed upon number. Alcohol probably closer to 15 percent.

But the withdrawal from marijuana, insomnia, sometimes nausea, with alcohol the withdrawal can be life threatening. I've seen this, again, as a physician. It can be terrible. And again I don't know of any documented case of someone dying of an overdose on marijuana, yet it does happen with alcohol. So, you know, I mean, I hate to draw the moral equivalence because I think it's not that relevant, the argument.

The argument about medicinal marijuana should stand on its own but this always comes up, and that's what I would say about it.

BLITZER: Powerful information from Dr. Sanjay Gupta as usual. Sanjay, you've done a great job. Thanks very much for joining us.

GUPTA: Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

BLITZER: An important note to our viewers, "Weed" is a fascinating, fascinating documentary. It will air right here on CNN, Sunday, 8:00 and 11:00 p.m. Eastern. You will want to see it and read Sanjay's article on CNN.com. A very powerful article, as well.

Up next, Anderson talks to a man who knows what it's like to face danger in war zones but never faced anything like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN ALPEYRIE, PHOTOJOURNALIST, POLARIS IMAGES: There was a checkpoint, all wearing ski masks, machine guns, they stopped the car, they dragged me out, put me on my knees, handcuffed me, and then blindfolded me and pretended to execute me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Claims today from a pair of Syrian rebel groups. They say they attacked the dictator Bashar al-Assad's motorcade as he headed for morning prayers, celebrating the end of Ramadan. The government denies it but if the claims are true, it would be a rare close call for Assad who made an appearance at a Damascus mosque this morning.

His forces meantime reportedly killed 62 rebel fighters yesterday. In fact, no end to the killing which according to the United Nations and the Red Cross has now taken more than 100,000 lives. The regime has done most of the large-scale killing, however, Syria is now full of lots of shadowy, violent insurgent groups, some of them are hostile to more than just the regime.

According to the group, Reporters without Borders, at least 15 journalists have now disappeared in Syria. For 81 days one of those individuals was a photographer. Jonathan Alpeyrie. He was freed just two weeks ago. This week he spoke with Anderson about his ordeal and his narrow escape from death.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: How did this ordeal begin? When did you first realize, OK, I'm in trouble here? ALPEYRIE: Well, I mean, very quickly as soon as the trap was set up. So they set up a checkpoint. And I was in the car with two of my fixers and two rebel soldiers who are in on it as well.

COOPER: A fixer is somebody you hire locally to help you translate, to help you get around?

ALPEYRIE: Yes, he does everything. He gets me around. He translates and he's supposed to have very good contacts as well to get you to the places and get the pictures that you need.

COOPER: Had you been there before?

ALPEYRIE: Not -- in Syria, yes, twice, but mostly in the north through Turkey, but near Damascus, it was my first time.

COOPER: So this is the first time you're working with those fixers.

ALPEYRIE: Yes.

COOPER: OK.

ALPEYRIE: But I had good contacts in Lebanon and that chain of command led to him and I worked with him for about a week before we're captured.

COOPER: So there was roadblock. And what happened?

ALPEYRIE: Yes. Basically so we're driving with these other guys in the car, in pickup truck. And there was a checkpoint. They're all wearing ski masks, machine guns, they stopped the car. They dragged me out, put me on my knees, handcuffed me and then blindfolded me and pretended to execute me. So they put me on my knees like this and then shoot their guns.

COOPER: What's going through your mind then?

ALPEYRIE: It's almost unreal. You don't think it's happening to you because it's very quick and when they try to execute you, makes you break your will to maybe fight back or ran, something like that. So you don't believe that's happening to you.

COOPER: Was this a setup? I mean, do you think you were set up to be apprehended?

ALPEYRIE: Yes, you know, a lot of my sources and, you know, some of the Secret Service, both American and French, have led to this conclusion that I was set up by one of my two fixers. They knew I was coming to the southern part of the front line so they set it up and then they captured me.

And everybody else that was with me was released very quickly afterwards. So it was just me at the end that was held captive, not -- not anybody else.

COOPER: So they pretend to execute you. And then what happened? ALPEYRIE: Then they grabbed me, put me in the car and had their machine guns on the back of my neck and I was, you know, held down like this, and we drove for about a couple of minutes to a house. They dragged me out and they basically emptied my pockets and they took everything I had. Put me back in the car and drove to another location, took about probably, five, 10 minutes, and then I was in the house, and they put me in a small room.

I was in my belly, with the handcuff in the back, blindfolded and that's how my first three weeks of captivity started in this house.

COOPER: Always in that room?

ALPEYRIE: Yes, always in that room except when I need to go to the bathroom, which was once a day and the rest of the time I was blindfolded attached to a bed under heavy shelling at some point. The government is nearby with helicopters or artillery fire, rockets, and stuff like that.

And after this three weeks I was moved to another location about 500 yards away, another house and I had more freedom there.

COOPER: Were they friendly to you?

ALPEYRIE: The first couple of weeks no. Like sometimes they would walk by and kick me or just laugh, make fun of me, stuff like that. Once I was interrogated by a couple of people and they came with knives, put it here on my throat telling me I was part of the CIA or the FBI and I think that was meant to break me mentally and admit to it. But I never did. I said I'm a journalist. You can easily find that out and make your research, and you'll find out.

COOPER: So they didn't know who you were in advance?

ALPEYRIE: No, I don't think it really mattered. All they knew is that I was a Western journalist and I was good opportunity for them for financial return.

COOPER: And that's what this was about, it's about money?

ALPEYRIE: Yes. It's about money.

COOPER: You were moved to a second house. You said that you had a little bit more freedom there?

ALPEYRIE: Yes, the first week I was chained, yes, chains, chained me to a window and after that week, for some reason, that completely disappeared and I was allowed to go outside the house. And there was some sort of backyard surrounded by walls. And I could walk around like this.

COOPER: This went on for 81 days?

ALPEYRIE: Yes.

COOPER: How do you get through that? I mean, what do you -- mentally, how do you do it?

ALPEYRIE: One of the ways that I make things better for myself is to forget everything from back home like my family, my friends, my life. I just -- that was very difficult. That was usually not successful at it but just try to -- told myself my life before that's over and this is my life and I have to deal with it.

COOPER: Yes, I know you can't say much about how you were actually freed but what can you say?

ALPEYRIE: I was freed partially by somebody close to the regime, by Bashar Assad's regime, who has -- who had an interest to find me because originally he was looking for other journalists that have been missing in the area and out of pure luck, they found me and he got in touch with some of the people were holding me and they said well, we don't have these two journalists but we have another journalist, a French one. Are you interested? Do you want him? And they started negotiating money. I think they wanted $700,000 originally and I think it was brought down to $450,000.

COOPER: You spent a lot of time in war zones in your career. How is Syria different?

ALPEYRIE: Syria, in all the wars I've covered, Syria has always been the scariest for me and partially because the shelling is so intense. The Syrian Army has been trained by the Russians and Russians fight differently than we do. They are much more brutal by their -- let's say their urban warfare, which is in direct tradition with World War II.

So they would -- for example, when Khrushchev fell, I was captive and, you know, our situation got much worse after that, they should shell one specific area heavily and then the rebels were either destroyed, scattered and leave the area and then Hezbollah and (INAUDIBLE) move in, and that's how they closed in. And that's -- I mean, that's by itself a very scary perspective to be heavily shelled like this by government forces.

COOPER: You got out just two weeks ago.

ALPEYRIE: Yes, about two weeks ago. Yes.

COOPER: What it's like being back? I mean, life has gone on, you know, over the last 81 days for most people has been probably pretty average.

ALPEYRIE: The same. I feel distance, you know, those people who were close to me, but I think that seems to be a normal reaction to things. You're right, you know, you walk down the street and people, you know, have their lives and their problems, and you put everything back into perspectives. So in that sense, I would like to say there are -- there's positive to what happened to me.

And one of it is that now I look back towards things, maybe that's not important. That's OK. I'll just let that go, you know, but before I might be angry about it. It's not -- it's not important. So you really take life differently.

COOPER: You get a perspective on your life?

ALPEYRIE: Exactly.

COOPER: Would you go back?

ALPEYRIE: No, I mean -- no, I would not go back. Would I cover another war? I would like to. That's in me. But Syria, I got very lucky to be -- I'm very lucky to be alive and I will not try my luck again and go back inside, and I think if I did, people would know and they'll capture me again.

COOPER: I'm so glad you're out. Thank you for talking tonight.

ALPEYRIE: Thank you for having me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Coming up, a controversial shooting by police all caught on camera. So why did police in Miami Beach fire more than 100 shots at a reckless driver after he stopped his car, killing the driver and injuring four bystanders? The case has been under investigation for two years. The family still waiting for answers. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The latest on dangerous and deadly flash flooding. We're going to show you where the water is rising when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: There are big questions about police in Miami Beach tonight after two separate cases that left people dead. Just two days ago a teenager died in police custody after he was tasered by officers. The police version is that 18-year-old Israel Hernandez ran from officers after he was caught spray painting graffiti and they tasered him after he ignored their commands to stop.

Hernandez's friends say after officers tasered him, they laughed and high-fived each other as Hernandez laid motionless on the ground. That death is now under investigation.

Miami Police Departments are also under scrutiny just last month. The Justice Department found a pattern of excessive use of force after studying police shootings over four years ending in 2011. Another shooting getting a close look right now, the death of a reckless driver who police fired more than 100 shots at after, after he stopped his car.

That investigation has been going on now for two years. The question is, what's taking so long to determine if police did use excessive force?

Jason Carroll reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The controversial shooting captured on cell phone video shows the last moments of Raymond Herisse's life on May 30th, 2011.

Several shots are heard as Hialeah, Florida, police officers try to stop Herisse's reckless driving.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Silver Hyundai almost ran over a Hialeah cop.

CARROLL: The video shows him heading down Collins Avenue in South Beach, Miami. He comes to a stop. He's then surrounded by several Miami Beach Police officers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my god, they are going to kill this man.

CARROLL: The street is crowded by onlookers enjoying Urban Beach Week, an annual hip-hop event. A second bystander's cell phone captures what happens next. Police start shooting, firing more than 100 bullets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my god, he got to be dead now.

CARROLL: Scanner traffic picks up the chaos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where's the subject? Where's the subject?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the vehicle.

CARROLL: Four bystanders are hurt, Herisse is killed, hit 16 times by police gunfire.

CHARLINE HERISSE, SISTER: We think about it all the time. Just relive and to rethink about how my brother left us is very painful, and in order for us to move on just a little, just to go on and -- we need some kind of closure.

CARROLL: The Herisse family is still waiting for closure questioning why two years later the investigation is still not complete. And what triggered the police to shoot when the video shows Herisse had stopped his car.

Alex Bello, president of the Miami Beach Paternal Order of Police, points out an autopsy reveal that Herisse was driving drunk and he says a gun was later found in Herisse's car. Bello adds, whether he put his hand underneath his seat to grab the gun, something happened that caused them all to react at the same time. The family attorney is not buying it.

MARWAN PORTER, HERISSE FAMILY ATTORNEY: There was a gun residue test that was performed on the weapon that gun had not been shot, period. So any suggestion that he was shooting a gun has gone out the window.

CARROLL (on camera): What do you think is happening here?

ROGENY HERISSE, SISTER: I think they are trying to make it seem like it was an accident or his fault but really it was them who did all this and then did most of the damage and they're trying to hide it.

C. HERISSE: They definitely used excessive force, definitely.

CARROLL (voice-over): Scanner traffic shows police immediately tried to get a handle on how many bystanders were shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a man down at the Delores Hotel.

CARROLL: That man was Cedric Perkins.

CEDRIC PERKINS, BYSTANDER HIT BY POLICE GUNFIRE: I seen the blood and realized I was shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got another hit on the hip.

CARROLL: And that was Carlson St. Louis.

(On camera): Where were you standing? Right over here?

CARLSON ST. LOUIS, BYSTANDER HIT BY POLICE GUNFIRE: Yes, basically I was walking over here and comes over here. I knew something was wrong because I fell so that's when I looked and I seen like a little bullet wound here right here and I see blood just gushing out of my hip.

CARROLL (voice-over): Both Carlson and Perkins say police were careless while they face mounting medical bills. Carlson has a metal rod and screws holding his hip together, Perkins still has a bullet lodged in his chest.

PERKINS: It feels like an ongoing cramp in my chest all day long.

JASMINE RAND, PERKINS' ATTORNEY: We're really looking to the police for clarity. We want a full investigation report and we want charges brought against the police officers.

CARROLL (on camera): Neither the Miami Beach Police or the Hialeah Police would comment on camera citing the ongoing investigation which has now been turned over to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office.

(Voice-over): A spokesman there would only give a statement saying their job is to determine, is there or is there not a crime. He went on to say the lengthy investigation is due to processing so much evidence collected over a wide area, saying the crime scene was blocks and blocks long.

In the meantime, the bystanders caught up in the shooting still wait for financial help for their injuries, and the Herisse family still waits for answers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm cry any time. I never finish cry. I'm asleep, I wake up, cry.

C. HERISSE: We'll continue to fight until we get something from them. Some kind of answer, until we get closure.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: And Jason Carroll is joining us now.

Jason, what do we know about possible lawsuits by the family or by any of those innocent bystanders?

CARROLL: Boy, I can tell you, you know, the Herisse family still very upset over what happened. You heard from the sister, you heard from mother there, as well. They have filed a civil suit against the Miami Beach Police Department and we also know that at least two of the four bystanders that were caught up in that shooting, they planning to file civil suits as well.

And also tonight, Wolf, I should tell you that the mayor of the city of Miami Beach released a statement to CNN saying, in part, "The city has been diligently working on enhancing policies and procedures throughout the organization to try to restore the public trust" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jason. Thanks very much. Jason Carroll with some excellent reporting.

Just ahead, flash flooding across the nation's midsection. Dozens of people had to be rescued from their homes. Why the danger isn't over yet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: New indictments against two friends of the Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The charges they face and the prison time if convicted, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The nation's midsection got the last thing it needed today, more rain, torrential downpours that caused dangerous flash flooding turning roads into rivers and neighborhoods into lakes.

A Missouri woman was killed while driving across a bridge. Dozens of people across the region had to be rescued from their home, some taking refuge on their roofs.

Meantime, powerful wildfires are forcing evacuations in the west. The Silver Fire in Southern California has burned at least 11,000 acres and forced more than 1,000 evacuations. One person has suffered severe burns.

Chad Myers is joining us now with the latest.

Chad, let's start with the extreme floods that we're seeing, what, in about a dozen states. What's the latest?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, this front, stationary front, like a stationary bike, has been from Colorado down into Tennessee for six days.

I'm going to back you up to Saturday night. Here's the rain that came through Saturday night and Sunday. Here is Monday. Here comes Tuesday. Right along the same front. Here is Wednesday, another batch. And every time you get this called training, every time you get a storm to come by, it is piled up in the same spots.

These orange, red, pink and purple spots four to 10 inches of rainfall, and in some sports, Branson, Missouri picked up eight inches of rain in 12 hours. Even my parents north of here by about 10 miles in Georgia picked up three inches today in 45 minutes. That's the flooding rainfall that just can't soak in. The ground can't take it that quickly -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Chad, what about California where wildfires are threatening as many as, what, 600 homes, 1500 people have been forced to flee. Are weather conditions helping contain all of this?

MYERS: You know, we're going to have rain in the northeast. We love to spread that around. No weather help at all in the west.

Look at the gusts right over the fire. I mean, we're talking Palm Springs and just off to the east and Banning 32 mile per hour gusts. This is taking those embers and sending those embers for miles, so the firefighters think they might have a line, they might have a handle and all of a sudden two miles farther down the wind, we have another fire popping up. This is a mess out there and this weather doesn't get better for many, many days.

Right now the winds are down to about 12, gusting to about 20. Later on tonight they'll probably go all the way down to zero but this thing is only 10 percent contained. Look at this for the rest of the week, 94, 96, 98, only gets worse from here.

BLITZER: Yes. That's pretty brutal.

All right, Chad. Thanks very much.

MYERS: You're welcome, Wolf.

BLITZER: So let's get the latest now on some of the other stories we're following.

Isha Sesay has the "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, two friends of Boston marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have been indicted on obstruction of justice charges. The friends are both 19 years old and are accused of helping Tsarnaev by taking things out of his dorm room after the bombing. They could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

This year's Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients include former President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Gloria Steinem and Loretta Lynn. The White House announced the list of 16 honorees today. President Obama will give the awards later this year.

A man in Minnesota stepped into the spotlight today to claim his part of the $448 million Powerball jackpot. Paul White had one of three winning tickets, the two others were sold in New Jersey. Those winners haven't come forward today.

And Wolf, check this out with me. A group of friends caught a 920- pound blue fin tuna off the coast of Cape Cod. One of the fishermen said it dragged them around the ocean for three hours and it took them all -- all four of them to finally reel it in. Apparently they sold their catch for about 4,000 bucks.

BLITZER: Isha, do you do a lot of fishing?

SESAY: I believe not enough. No, I don't -- I don't make time for that, do you?

BLITZER: No, I'm not a fisherman myself but I did fly fishing out in Colorado once. I was not very good at it but, you know, a lot of people love it.

SESAY: Yes, a lot of people -- I know you like your basketball, though.

BLITZER: I do. I'm not a very good player, but I like to watch it. All right, Isha, thanks very much.

Coming up, a tiny town reelects an even tinier mayor. "The RidicuList" is next.

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BLITZER: It's "RidicuList" time and tonight we have a story of a small town politics and a pint-sized mayor.

Here is Anderson.

COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList." Right now when you heard the word mayor, scandal may be the first thing that comes to mind. There is some strong accusation against the mayor of San Diego of course and New York mayor candidate Anthony Weiner had some, well, issues, as you know. That's why now more than ever I'm pleased to report that at least one town in this country has it all figured out when it comes to choosing a mayor.

That town is Dorset, Minnesota, population 22 -- 28 when the minister and his family are in town. Dorset just had its mayoral election and the people in town were pretty excited about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like the incumbent mayor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His stance on ice cream and things like that is hard to beat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: You heard right. The incumbent mayor has a stance on ice cream because he's 4 years old. The town citizens do cast ballots but after that it's pretty much left up to chance. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The mayor of Dorset is pulled out of a hat. We're rooting for you, Robert.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Robert Tuffs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's right, 4-year-old Bobby Tuffs has been elected to a second term as mayor. He was 3 when he became mayor last year, he turns 5 in October. And he's already a pro at speaking with the local media.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you give a big WCCO welcome and hello to Mayor Bobby Tuffs?

(APPLAUSE)

BOBBY TUFFS, 4-YEAR-OLD MAYOR: And I got lots of walleyes but I ain't caught one bass.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's right, Mayor Tuffs is a fishing affionado as we learned when he was interviewed during his first term.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your favorite kind of bait? What do all the fish bite on out here?

TUFFS: Leeches, worms, minnows.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your favorite kind of fish to catch?

TUFFS: Walleyes, bass, (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw you eating that (INAUDIBLE) quite a bit. Can you describe to me what it tastes like?

TUFFS: It tastes like fish poop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Fish poop. At the tender age of four Mayor Tuffs has already developed quite a knack for dealing with other power players, television executives, for instance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're the mayor of Dorset? This guy is the mayor of a TV station.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you, buddy. Good to see you.

TUFFS: Up high.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Up high. Yes.

TUFFS: To the side. To the other side. Down low. Too slow.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And probably most importantly, there is no chance that Mayor Tuffs will be caught at any kind of, shall we say, personal impropriety.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly how many girlfriends do you have?

TUFFS: Like one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what's her name?

TUFFS: Sofia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Now if you're going to pick a name out of a hat to choose your mayor you could do a lot worse than a 4-year-old fisherman with a preschool sweetheart. He'll always have the official endorsement of the "RidicuList."

BLITZER: That kid very nice. That's it for this edition of 360.

Thanks for watching. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts right now.