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Missouri's Governor Talks to CNN; Police Named Officer Who Shot Teen; Slain Teen Was Robbery Suspect
Aired August 15, 2014 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Are African- Americans treated fairly by police?
GOV. JAY NIXON (D), MISSOURI: I mean, we work very hard to try to make sure that happens. But there are folks, as the captain said, of all races that are -- that have had instances to which -- if we had to do over, you wouldn't do. But, clearly, when you have an incident of this size and it stirs this kind of reaction, then clearly there has a -- there is a deeper wound than just the tragedy of the death of this young man.
TAPPER: What's the --
NIXON: And so, getting to that in the longer term is something I think we all recognize that wound and the need to heal it.
TAPPER: Tell us about the thought process about releasing the name of the officer. Was there a legal obligation to do that or was that done because the community demanded it?
NIXON: It was not my decision. You know, I said a number of days ago that I thought that that information should be out. I'm not going -- there's no real reason to -- for me to comment on that. It wasn't my decision.
TAPPER: Do you have any concerns with the release of the officer's name as some of his supporters and some members of the Ferguson police have expressed that there is reason that his life might be in jeopardy or at least threatened?
NIXON: Well, we've said all along that there should be security around this as we move forward for everybody. Not just all the families and everybody directly involved. So, security's something we're working on. Yes, that clearly could be some challenges there.
But the bottom line is that this information's now out. That's one step. And we'll move forward from there. The defined mission here is to make sure that the person on the ground here with his team is communicating directly, allowing people to speak but keeping the peace right here in Ferguson.
TAPPER: Captain, I saw you approaching some of the young men wearing bandannas on street yesterday? What did you tell them?
JOHNSON: Well, walking behind them, I could hear their anger. And, you know, I kind of went over to talk to them and just have some discussion with them and really ask to give us a chance and to let them know that I've got a son that looks just like them. You know, many of them talked about that they had tattoos and things like that and I told them my son has some tattoos. So, I said, my son's just like you. I said, give us a chance. And I said, you know, there's a new day coming. You -- there's going to be some honest interaction with you. And I said I didn't want to just walk past them. I walked over to them because I wanted to hear what they had to say. They may not have liked it. It may not have been positive. But I thought I needed to go over and hear what they had to say, just to let them know I do respect them. I respect their voice.
TAPPER: I want to the Canfield Green apartment complex yesterday, and I met a man who said he was an eyewitness to the event. He told me his whole story. Police haven't contacted him. Are you confident that this investigation is being done as thoroughly as it needs to be?
NIXON: Well, there are two separate going -- investigations going on. The Justice Department is doing its investigation and the local prosecution is doing there's. I'll defer any questions to them other than to say that I've told everyone that that needs to be a full fair investigation that seeks out all information that's relevant to this so that justice can be served in this matter and that would be a better question to those folks that are running that.
TAPPER: But I'm telling you that five days after the shooting, I met somebody who says he was an eyewitness and police have not contacted him. As governor, don't you have any concerns that maybe this investigation isn't being done as thoroughly as it needs to be done?
NIXON: There are lots of folks on your rolodex you can call and talk about that, that are actually involved in the day to day and the hour to hour work there. In my view, I say that all the relevant witnesses obviously need to be -- have the opportunity to speak and that between the Justice Department and the local prosecutor, you know, they will be working hard over the next days and however long it takes to get all -- to reach out in that way. I know that most those folks have said that they would hope that if folks have something to say, that they reach out to the relevant law enforcement agency so that they know they're available for interviews.
TAPPER: Last question for Captain Johnson. I'm wondering, what's your message to people in Ferguson who think the Ferguson police are not capable of conducting a thorough and fair investigation of what happened?
JOHNSON: Well, the Ferguson Police Department is not conducting an investigation. It's St. Louis County.
NIXON: St. Louis County.
TAPPER: St. Louis County.
JOHNSON: And the FBI are doing that investigation. They are parallel and they will look at both cases. TAPPER: All right, same question, St. Louis County, they're not --
what's your message to people in Ferguson who say St. Louis County is not capable of doing this investigation thoroughly?
JOHNSON: St. Louis County has a lot of fine women and men on their police department, a lot of fine investigators. And like the governor talked about, anybody that is a witness, you can contact them. And if you are a witness and you haven't been in contact, then you see me. Give me your name and number and I will make sure you're put in contact with them. And I will make sure somebody approaches you and gets your name and gets you in touch with the right person. I will do that.
TAPPER: Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. And then, Governor Jay Nixon. Thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate your answering our questions. Wolf Blitzer in D.C., back to you.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Jake. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting from Washington.
Identity revealed but questions remain. Police in Ferguson, Missouri releasing the name of the officer who shot and killed an unarmed teenager. The officer is identified as Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of the force with no history of any disciplinary problems.
Also today, police named Michael Brown as a suspect in a convenience store robbery. It happened only minutes before Brown was killed. Authorities released these images from store surveillance cameras.
Today's dramatic developments follow a night of calm on the streets, peaceful demonstrations. The Missouri State Highway Patrol took over security. Ferguson police were criticized for using smoke bombs, tear gas, rubber pellets the night before. You want to get more details now on the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown as well as the convenience store robbery only moments before the shooting.
CNN's Don Lemon and Correspondent Ana Cabrera, they are both in Ferguson, Missouri for us. Ana, let me start with you. Walk us through the time line of the events. Now the new time line, I should say, that we know about leading up to the death of Michael Brown.
ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I can tell you, it was about 15 minutes from the time that robbery you mentioned was reported until the time we know Michael Brown had already been shot and was found lying on the ground by another officer who arrived at the scene.
So, we're talking about a very short time line. I'll start with the robbery and what we've learned about that situation. Again, a situation that also involved Michael Brown. Two separate incidents that are connected at this reported armed -- or strong armed robbery, I should say. Michael Brown walked into a convenience store. Not this Kwik Trip but nearby the Kwik Trip. And was with his friend, Dorian Johnson, according to the police report, that they apparently picked up some cigars. And when confronted by an employee at that convenience store that they would need to pay for those cigars, the surveillance photos show and the police report says that Michael Brown took this employee by the shirt and shoved him up against a display rack.
He then walked out of the convenience store, according to the report, with those cigars and started heading in the direction of this Kwik Trip where we are currently standing. Around that time, of course, the employee made a 911 call to report what had just happened. And apparently the officer, Darren Wilson, was in the neighborhood. He had responded to a different call of some sort. And so, he then got in his car and started heading towards the Kwik Trip where the suspects were supposed to be heading. Apparently, that's around the time he encountered Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson. That's where the details end. What we do know, though, from the new documents that were just released is that from the time that the officer reportedly encountered Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson until the time another officer arrived on scene after Michael Brown had already been shot was just three minutes.
So, a very quick time line of events here for you, Wolf. And, you know, we're hearing from protesters here some anger regarding that information being released, saying now we know about the robbery which makes Michael Brown look like a suspect. And that, in their words, he is being villainized. And yet he's a shooting victim. And we're not hearing anything about that incident, those details. And so, there's still a lot of frustration about the lack of information in this -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Are the police saying, Ana, why they released these documents at the same time, the documents involving what was called this strong arm robbery, only minutes before he was shot and killed by the police officer at the same time they've released the identity of the police officer?
CABRERA: One, I know they released these documents because the media had requested more information about that reported robbery. There was buzz there had been a robbery before and that maybe the suspect matched the description of Michael Brown. And so, he said he was trying to fulfill that request for the public information. The timing of doing that at the exact same time where he names the officer, we don't know exactly why that timing aligned the way it did.
But I will say, having talked with the police chief, that he wants to put forward as much information he said that he can release. And this is a small town. He hasn't dealt with a lot of these types of investigations. And he said he wanted to make sure he met with his attorneys before releasing the information.
And so, I think there was a lot happening behind the scenes that we just don't know. That's a question we will ask him. He said he's going to hold another media briefing. It's a question and answer session some time later today. He wouldn't take questions during the briefing this morning. And we will ask him that question about the timing specifically -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Ana, thank you very much. Ana Cabrera reporting for us. Releasing the name of the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown was certainly one of the key demands for many of the protesters. But what about the information naming brown as a, quote, "primary suspect" in that convenience store robbery? How likely -- how was that likely to play out? Don Lemon is on streets of Ferguson for us. So, what's the reaction been over these latest developments because they're pretty dramatic now?
DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fishy, suspicious, suspect, that's how people here feel. They feel they're trying to discredit Michael Brown's reputation. They say even if it is him in that surveillance video and those photographs, they don't think the two incidents really do have anything to do with each other, in one sense. In the sense that, yes, maybe it precipitated police stopping him. But it doesn't really have anything to do with someone being killed, an unarmed person being killed. It doesn't justify that, they say.
But, again, they think that his reputation is being besmeared (ph). And they think the timing of the release of these documents and of that information, that Sunshine Law information that they gave out at that press conference a short time ago, a couple of hours ago, they believe that it's suspect. And you heard Ron Johnson, the man who is in charge of this, Captain Ron Johnson from the Missouri Highway Patrol, saying he didn't like the way the information was released. The captain of the Ferguson Police Department, Thomas Jackson, left a lot to be desired, quite frankly, when he talked about the two incidents. He didn't say how they were connected. He just sort of put them out there and then just left it up to everybody's interpretation.
But these people were gathering here earlier, Wolf, listening to the governor and mostly listening to -- very intently, to Ron Johnson at the press conference. They had it on a loud speaker here. And if there is a voice of calm in this neighborhood, in this area, it is really him. Whoever decided to put him in charge really did the right darn thing because he's the man here that can get these -- get people to be calm and get people to have a clear head about them.
Do you guys find the information that the police released suspect at the timing of it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we do. They talked about releasing the information out about the officer would be premature. But the information that we received about the robbery was very premature. We don't know who that fella is in the video because clearly it doesn't look like a teenager named Mike Brown.
LEMON: Now, in the video, they're saying that is the same clothes that you see Mike Brown. You don't believe it is?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That guy -- Mike Brown was laid on the ground, Don, for three to four hours, uncovered.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We clearly see that they aren't -- that that is not the same clothes that he was wearing. That's incorrect. And that's false information. LEMON: Do you think that --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that it took so long for them to do that because they photo shopped it because any time a crime happens, they always show it, you know, the crime. Because that would have gave people a chance to say, OK, do we want to be involved? And if we don't want to be involved with all the tear gas --
LEMON: You're that distrusting of the police here?
CROWD: Yes, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I myself had an incident --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To Mike Brown's mother. To release something like that prematurely about this man being in a strong armed robbery.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's disrespectful to his mother.
LEMON: Let me play devil's advocate here for people that say that -- and I heard this this morning, saying you cannot have it both ways. You cannot say, I want transparency and then when the information comes out, I don't like the information. It should not come out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, no, no. Because it should have come out. If he did a strong armed robbery, that should have come out Sunday or Monday, immediately. Before you call -- before you call people throwing tear gas at the people and things of that nature, you could have eliminated that by showing that video because some people would have --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an initial jay-walking incident.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But, Don, here we go. Do we know that's Mike Brown in the video? Clearly, the footage --
LEMON: Police only say that it is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. So, first of all, the pictures were very clearly blurry and we couldn't see anyone's face. The clothes did not match. Clearly, that was not Mike Brown.
LEMON: Do you think they're trying to discredit him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The initial was jaywalking.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was in the street. It never was a strong armed robbery. His initial -- the police said that.
LEMON: OK, let me just say what happens if there was some confrontation or something in the store --
One at a time. One at a time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the police approached Mike Brown, he was still just a suspect. He wasn't guilty of anything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, it still shouldn't have come to a shooting.
LEMON: That doesn't justify, you're saying --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And, Don, this is America. Don, this is America. This is the land of the free. We're innocent until proven guilty. And Mike Brown didn't have the opportunity to be held accountable for his actions in a court of law. So, he's innocent until proven guilty. And as of right now, we don't know that Mike Brown committed any crime.
LEMON: What do you want to see happen from here? I think the concern is -- you heard --you heard Captain Johnson say -- obviously, you want justice, ma'am, I understand that. But the immediate concern is for violence and for fighting (ph). Now, you won't disrespect not only Mike Brown but also Captain Johnson?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don, last night, when the police presence was out of the way, it -- there was no violence. Police were initiating the violence and they were making the situation more hostile than it already was. People out here peacefully are protesting and just practicing our first amendment rights. And we're trying to find justice for Mike Brown, but we want justice and we want transparency. Not only with the police department but with everyone else that's involved.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I don't think we can have that while Bob McCall (ph) is on this. I think we need to take him off this case. We need to have a special prosecutor that's on this case. We need to take him off this case.
LEMON: Does the information that came out from police change anything in your minds?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No it don't.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, because the principle of the matter is that once he shot him the first time and he put his hands up, you should have stopped -- you should have stopped shooting him then. You still shot him four times after this young man put his hands up. You know what I'm saying?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But, Don, here we go, this is what needs to happen, is that man - Don, this is what needs to happen. That man should have been approached by the officer, arrested, if anything -- if he was suspicious for anything, if they have him on camera. But they did not. They executed him in the street, left him out there three to four hours, and then they said that this may be -- he may be in a strong-arm robbery. They changed the information five days after it. How are we supposed to have trust in the police officers when stories are changing day by day. They're throwing names out. But we have not seen any pictures.
LEMON: All right, guys, thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much, Don.
LEMON: We're going to continue to get through this. Thank you, guys. I really appreciate it. I thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: Hang on one second.
So now you see the reaction here in the community and you see the, Wolf, the real distrust of the police officers and that breakdown, that disconnect that officers have been talking about, that people in the community have been talking about. There's a real disconnect here when it comes to trust among the people who are supposed to protect and serve and the officers who actually protect and serve them.
Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: You know, one quick question, Don. It's fascinating to get that reaction from the folks there with you. I've gone through the documents, I have them here, that the Ferguson Police Department released today. The pictures are blurry. To the best of your knowledge, Don, have they released the actual videotape of what occurred in that convenience store?
LEMON: No, they haven't released the actual videotape. We did hear Tom Jackson saying at the press conference that there was videotape and that he said the videotape would be in the packets. But to the best of my knowledge, they released stills, or pictures, photographs from the videotape and that's what they have. But I think there are video - I think that videotape does exist. We just don't have our hands on it. It has not been released yet, Wolf.
BLITZER: And do we know, have we done a comparison between what the suspect in the convenience store strong-arm robbery, as the police called it, what that suspect was wearing, as opposed to Michael Brown was wearing as he was lying on that street for that long period of time?
LEMON: We have. We have. The reality is, is that it is listed in the police report as to what the suspect in the store was wearing and what the suspect on the ground was wearing. And in both of those, it is consistent. These, obviously, the people who live here, they don't believe that it's consistent. Many people on social media don't believe. But if you look at what the suspect was wearing in the store, how it is described in the police report, and, of course, police, they do make the reports, right, and what was on the ground when he was wearing, it does appear to be consistent at this point but it has not - it has not gone to an image expert. No one has like - no one has gone over the video, gone over the pictures and said, this is a definite match. I think that may be something that we should - we should maybe do ourselves, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, I think we should. Once we get that videotape, we can do a comparison. It's amazing that these people are so, so skeptical of what the police are saying, they're raising the possibility that these photos that were released were photoshopped.
LEMON: And they have (INAUDIBLE) Wolf if you want to hear it, we can?
LEMON: Yes. Yes. They have plenty more to say. If you want to hear it, I -- listen, they will - they have been coming up to me, talking all day. And the thing is, you know, a lot of people were afraid to come here or look - and around the country they were telling me, you know, be careful, it's a dangerous community, what I'm seeing on the news. This isn't a dangerous community. No one here scares me. No one here is violent. People want to be validated. They want to be heard. That's it, they don't want to feel like they're under occupation. They don't want to be intimidated.
And, listen, Wolf, once the police officers, the local police officers, were off the streets yesterday, hardly anything happened. Nothing happened. People were just reaching out to us saying, hey, talk to me, touch me, relate to me. And then last night or this morning, the protests went until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. At one point most of the police officers went home and then the community leaders stayed and just let everybody get it out of their system and no major incidents. Some fireworks. And nothing out of the ordinary of a normal night of whatever, of revelry or just in the town where you have -- where you may have some crime. It was nothing out of the ordinary. It was a very normal night besides people -- it was almost like a World Cup or someone won a championship here, a victory parade. That's what it was like. And not something that's to be feared or scared.
BLITZER: Yes, those are excellent points, Don. And you've got to give that Captain Ron Johnson of the Highway Patrol a lot of credit for easing the tensions and making it so smooth and peaceful last night.
Don, we're going to get back to you.
BLITZER: Don Lemon on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, for us.
Still ahead, now that the police officer has been named, how will this affect the investigation and the security in Ferguson? We're going to speak with an expert. Much more of our special coverage right after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: There have been some dramatic developments in the death of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old teenager who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Just a little while ago, Ferguson police released a lengthy set documents including pictures of what they describe as a strong-arm robbery at a convenience store only moments before that police officer shot and killed Michael Brown. There is also some very, very powerful reaction in Ferguson, not only the release of this document, but also the release of the name of the police officer in question.
Don Lemon is on streets of Ferguson for us.
Don, first of all, I know you have the Brown family attorney with you. I want to get to him in a moment.
But clarify this whole business of the videotape, of what happened in that convenience store. We've all seen the still photos of the alleged strong-arm robbery involving Michael Brown and the clerk in that store that he was allegedly trying to steal some cigars from the convenience store. But as far as the videotape is concerned, you're getting some more information.
LEMON: I am getting more information. As you know, Wolf, we have a very strong vetting system here at CNN. And in the haste of, you know, reporting and new developments, I do want to say that there is videotape that CNN is examining now and that we are vetting it before we put it on the air. I was not aware of that videotape.
What we released immediately were the stills. They were the most easy to verify. But we're going over the videotape and analyzing it, as you and I spoke about now, and so CNN will get that videotape on the air for you as soon as possible, as soon as our experts and our producers have verified that video and vetted it.
But I want to bring in now Anthony Gray. Anthony Gray is getting some new information from his folks.
ANTHONY GRAY, BROWN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Right.
LEMON: But he's here on the ground. He is the Brown family attorney. And we haven't heard from the family or you guys since this new information is released regarding the videotape, regarding the supposed strong-arm robbery. What's the reaction?
GRAY: My reaction is, it has nothing to do with what has touched off a nationwide fury. What we understand Michael Brown Jr. to be doing at the time that he received fatal shots to his body was displaying a universal sign of surrender. And I will point out to you, Don, that some of the most hardened criminals in the world are in jail right now -- Charles Mason, Saddam Hussein -- because they gave the universal sign of surrender. If this part is true from what witnesses are telling us, we don't care what happened before that point. It's completely irrelevant. Taking this as true, and he delivered bullets to this boy's body, at this time, he's guilty of offense that we're going to try to prosecute him for.
LEMON: You realize - your realize Hussein was hanged, right?
GRAY: Well, eventually.
GRAY: But we took him into custody.
GRAY: The United States too him into custody and we took him into custody because he did like this and we didn't shoot and kill him on the spot.
LEMON: How is the family reacting to this information?
GRAY: They're - they're -- I'm expressing their position right now. It doesn't matter what happened prior to him throwing his hands up. What difference does it make what happened minutes or seconds before that? These officers are trained to follow the escalation of the force. Once his hands go up, that's a complete de-escalation of any force that he should be using at that point and he should have followed the threat that was there, which is none when your hands are in the air, if it's true.
LEMON: Do you -- do you find that the timing of the release of this information suspicious?
GRAY: Of course. Of course. There's a lot of information that could be divulged to the public. More than just a name. There' are other details that could be disclosed. These seems, and people were telling me, systemic. It's a systemic way to concoct a version of events and to taint this boy's past rather than look at his future. It's just a way to try to taint the minds of those that are supporting this family. You've got everybody around the world that's wondering what happened. It's a color blind curiosity. Blacks are wondering. Hispanics are wondering. Everybody -- whites are wondering. And my point is, they are trying to distract away from that curiosity and now talk about his past as though that has something to do with him surrendering and being shot.
LEMON: So you think they're trying to discredit him, right?
GRAY: It is - it's no doubt.
LEMON: But - his reputation.
GRAY: And, Don, I'll tell you what, it don't paint him in a good light, does it?
LEMON: But do you think - do you think that this information should not be released because that would not be transparency?
GRAY: All I'm saying is that the timing and what information they choose to release seems to be a part of a systemic effort to assassinate this young man's character. And that's the way it appears to a lot of people. And the reaction that you are seeing from people in the community, and if this reaction gets very intense, I'm going to blame those that released this information. And you can't blame the community for that.
LEMON: Why is that? Why are you saying that?
GRAY: Because, you know, nobody's stupid, Don. They see this information coming out. And you almost have to be, you know, blind, stupid and crazy not to connect the dots between releasing the name and hot on the heels of that wanting to release a still photo that occurred minutes before the shooting, blocks away from the shooting, and had nothing - the officer didn't see the still videos before he fired at the boy. Tell me he saw the video. Tell me he saw the footage. And then based on that, he took some action. So, yes, it's systemic. It's suspicious. And, you know, it just causes people to be more distrustful.
LEMON: It did not, in your estimation, and to many people in the community here, and probably around the world, it did not justify the killing of an unarmed teenager?
GRAY: What justified the killing of a black person, white person, Chinese person, anybody that has their hands up like this, Don? And that's what the witnesses are saying. Yes, they may be mistaken about how many bullets they heard. How many - how many - how many feet was he away? How long did the struggle last? All that little nickel and dime stuff. But everybody's consistent about one thing, that Michael Brown Jr. had his hands up or was raising his hands at the time that the fatal bullets to his body was being delivered by this officer. Let's focus on that. Let's get the investigation on that. Release information pertinent to that because that's what this is all about.
LEMON: As a legal mind, as an attorney, someone with a juris (ph) doctorate, if you were trying this case, what - if this is indeed what happened at a convenience store, would that have any bearing on what happened here on the street?
GRAY: In all fairness, it may provide some kind of context, you know, perhaps, you know, I can see a prosecutor trying to use that - or a defense attorney in this case, trying to use that information to create some context.