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What Next For Officer Darren Wilson?
Aired November 27, 2014 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Brianna Keilar, thank you so much. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Thanks for being with me on this Thursday.
Let's begin in Ferguson, Missouri. And new details today on how the officer at the heart of the most controversial case in the country right now as really stayed the out of sight. Now that a grand jury has not indicted Darren Wilson, we are learning more about how the 28- year-old policeman got by for the last three months, moving frequently, house to house to house, hiding his face. You know, it was back in mid-August when his name was revealed as the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed unarmed teenager, Michael Brown Jr.
Darren Wilson's attorney spoke to CNN's Don Lemon about the moment Wilson learned the public first knew his name.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEIL BRUNTRAGER, FERGUSON OFFICER'S ATTORNEY: You know, when the news broke, one of the things that happened was some of the local media went to the house that they lived in. He literally, literally had to leave that house within three hours. His front yard, he was cutting the grass when he found out. He had to leave the grass, literally, half mowed and he had to go into hiding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's talk about that hiding with Sara Sidner. She's live in a snow-covered Ferguson, Missouri. And let's begin with that. I mean, how has this police officer, how has he managed the fly below the radar for all this time?
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting, you know, to hear a little bit about how he's been dealing with this all along? And of course, we've been hearing a lot from Michael Brown's family and their sorrow and their anger and frustration, pointed towards Officer Wilson and the police department as a whole. But now we're starting to hear the details of Officer Wilson's life and what we went through.
We do know one thing. He did come out in public at some point, because he managed to get married during all of this. But listen to how he's been living his life. He's basically in seclusion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRUNTRAGER: He has had to learn to live in a way that makes his completely unnoticeable. And so, as a consequence of that, you know, there were several techniques that he utilizes to make that happen. And it's an odd way to live your life. But for him, it's all about his family and all about safety because there are death threats out against him. There are bounties that have been placed upon his life. I hope none of that is true, I hope it's just vitriol, but you have to take it seriously, Don. You have to. And as a consequence, for the last 90-plus days, he's lived like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: And we've heard, you know, a couple of the protesters talking about taking his life and some disturbing things in the streets, we also know this. There's been a lot of discussion about whether Officer Wilson can return to this department, now that he's not been indicted.
The police department has said in the past, so has the mayor, that his safety would likely be, obviously, a real big concern. We heard from Wilson's attorney, who said that it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when he is going to department from the Ferguson police department -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: So we have that. And we'll talk about that with two lawyers in just a second, really, if he can ever be a police officer anywhere next. But can you also just tell me where you are? Do I see charred cars behind you?
SIDNER: Yes, you know, I wanted to talk to you a little bit about that. I'm not sure if you remember this, but you probably do. There was a shot from a helicopter of burning cars. That was Monday night. Some of those cars are police cars and some were right here. This is actually Delwood. We're not very far from Ferguson. We're still on West Florissant, just another community nearby.
This was a lot where they sold cars. And you can see what's happened to them. There is a long line of these cars that are here, burnt out shells now. What you'll also notice is on the back of them, if I can get my photographer to get you a look at what's written on the back, that is likely from the bomb and arson unit, who is investigating what happened here and investigating the situation that has certainly disturbed a lot of people, the looting, the burning, the destruction. And so there is an investigation going on, trying to figure out who is actually responsible.
And in talking to some of the residents and some of the business owners here, there is an extreme amount of frustration --frustration, of course, with the criminals who did this, not with the peaceful protesters themselves. And frustration with the National Guard, saying, where were you when this all started going down? Weren't you here to protect us? A lot of frustration all the way around -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Yes, I remember a woman at the mayor's news conference, a woman who lives in Ferguson, saying, my heart bleeds for my hometown just because of the destruction you show us.
Sara Sidner, thank you very, very much for coming out on this holiday.
And you know, to Sara's original point, it is about the future of this police officer. We also know that Darren Wilson's attorneys confirm that he know his police career is just about to end. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNTRAGER: He is on paid leave right now. And there are discussions that are going forward with the department to separate from the department, in an amicable fashion. We're talking about it. Realistically, Don, he can't go back to being a police officer. He knows that. There's no illusion about any of this. But it's the way in which he leaves. That's really important to him on a lot of different levels. But it's not a question of if, it's a question of when.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: With me now, criminal defense attorneys John Manuelian and Diana Aizman, who is also a prosecutor. Welcome to both of you. Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you for joining me.
JOHN MANUELIAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Happy thanksgiving. Thank you.
DIANA AIZMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Happy Thanksgiving.
BALDWIN: Let's talk about Officer Darren Wilson, right? And you hear his attorneys saying, you know, it's not if, but when he leaves Ferguson police, and also just sort of this impossibility of him ever becoming a police officer.
I mean, Diana first to you. What city would hire him, knowing it wouldn't only just be his own life, but also putting fellow officers' lives as risk?
AIZMAN: That's exactly right, and that's why he won't be hired in any major metropolitan area. Unfortunately, he's created a situation for himself where he is a target. He's got a bounty and these protests are happening all over the country --
BALDWIN: Do you think he could go to a small town?
AIZMAN: I don't think so. I think that no matter what, he's become such a public figure now, and it's so dangerous, not only for him, but any officer that he's involved, that it's just not safe for him. It's not safe for him to have a career in law enforcement if he's going to be on patrol.
BALDWIN: All right. So forget law enforcement, on patrol, John. I mean, in your experience, when you have someone who's either, you know, acquitted, cleared of wrongdoing, not indicted in this case in a grand jury, how often do you see him or her, you know, eventually easing back into the life they once knew? A, is it possible? B, how long does it really take?
MANUELIAN: Well, from a layperson's perspective, if you're convicted of a crime or acquitted f a crime, there is a chance you can go back and find a job somewhere in the private sector. The problem is, Officer Wilson is in the public sector, the government sector, and that's going to require background checks and it's going to require other things such as safety issues.
Is this guy going to be in harm's way? I think Diana's right. He should not be a police officer. He should look into some other area of practice or maybe some other governmental area, but in this case, I think it would be best to see that Officer Wilson's career is now officially over.
BALDWIN: I believe one of his reporters was telling Don last night, you know, if he goes on to be a police officer, I think his first assignment will be called to a dark alley where he will be executed. That's what his attorneys are saying him. Just talk about a reality check.
Let me share some reporting. This is from the Associated Press. And so, this is what they have as far as some of the grand jury witnesses changed their stories. One witness admitting to mental disorder and that she has, quote "has trouble distinguishing the truth from other things she has read online." That's one witness. Another witness, according to the Associated Press, told the FBI, he saw Brown get shot in the back, but they be he later admitted to the grand jury, he actually hadn't seen that part of the shooting at all. You know, we have heard this week, in the wake of the decision from the grand jury, New York mayor, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani's, you know, strong words, saying these witnesses in altering their stories, should be prosecuted for perjury.
Diana, do you agree?
AIZMAN: I think that perjury requires an intent element that they're going to have trouble proving here. Obviously, it was a very emotional situation. It was probably pretty traumatic for the people that witnessed it. And so, maybe they thought they saw something or believed something that they saw was true, but they are genuinely confusing their memories with something that they may have heard later, that diluted that memory.
BALDWIN: And then, John, I know a lot of Wilson's supporters, they're pointing their finger at Dorian Johnson, right? He was the friend, he was there. He was the eyewitness. He'd been in the convenience store. We know Dorian Johnson was the first to say that it was Brown who had his hands up, a version of events that the grand jury apparently didn't believe. You know, Dorian Johnson still, he was on with Erin Burnett the other night, and he said, my story is true, I'm telling the truth. What do you make of that?
MANUELIAN: Brooke, I've reviewed some of the grand jury transcripts. I've gone through some of what the witnesses have said. And some of the witnesses actually corroborate Dorian Johnson's testimony. But what I take issue with is, why did this prosecutor allow an affirmative defense during the grand jury proceeding? It never happens. I've never heard of a prosecutor inviting a police officer to explain himself in front of the grand jury.
And I think that's what Ferguson has a problem with. I think they have a problem, because this officer was afforded certain due process rights that typically, most people aren't entitled to. And it's the appearance of impropriety that is upsetting the community. And I think that is what I have to take issue with at this point.
BALDWIN: Explaining himself, and critics are saying, not being challenged enough.
John Manuelian and Diana Aizman, thank you both very much. I appreciate both of your perspectives today.
Let's move along, because coming up next on CNN, this NFL player, incredible piece, writing down his emotions on the situation in Ferguson in his thoughts, had everyone talking. Hear why he says he's sympathetic to both sides here of the story and why he is embarrassed. That's coming up.
Plus, one of the men who helped perform that independent autopsy on Michael Brown is now being called a fraud. CNN challenges him face to face. That's coming up here from Elizabeth Cohen. .
And as you celebrate today, remember, the best part of coming home.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
BALDWIN: You are watching CNN on this thanksgiving. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
You know, so much has been written and said about and parsed apart about this grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown back in August. But one man's words have really resonated.
NFL tight end, Benjamin Watson, plays for the New Orleans Saints. He has posted his thoughts on facebook. Paragraph after paragraph here, pouring his heart out. I'm just going to read two graphs for you. This is part of what he's written.
I'm angry because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes. And then he continues on, goes through this full range of emotions, explains each one from frustrated to fearful to sympathetic. He writes, I'm sympathetic because I wasn't there, so I don't know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self-defense like any of us would in the circumstance. He goes on, now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. Or maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led him to eventually murdering the young man to prove a point. Just wanted to talk about this today with CNN commentator, Lz
Granderson, who is joining me now.
Let me just say, Lz, I was in touch with Benjamin today. He's a little busy with some football practice down in New Orleans. But, you know, he was saying to me, he's just been incredibly overwhelmed by all the thousands and thousands of shares and likes on facebook, of this post. And I'm wondering, you are, you know, just back home from Ferguson, what is it about his posts, do you think, just so resonated with so many Americans?
LZ GRANDERSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think he did, first of all, he's a well-known football player and football. And football is the most popular sport in the country, so I think that's part one. Part two, he did a very good job of communicating his feelings, the raw emotions that you were saying of both sides of this very divisive issue. And so, he got us of where you stand personally. First, there's something in his post you could identify. And third, the very last end of his post talked about the faith, talked about the bible and talked about sin. There are a lot of Christians in this nation that also identify with that part of the post.
BALDWIN: It sounds like, though, you know, you having been if Ferguson, seeing this with your own eyes, talking with so many different people, you were saying to me that one of your biggest takeaways, now having sort of having this 20,000-foot view is the lack of empathy on both sides of this equation. Yes?
GRANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. If you go back and look at Gallup polls, the last 20 to 30 years, in terms of the way that racial relations are viewed in this country, there's a divide along racial lines. White view race that we're not doing so bad and black people view it differently.
You know, the biggest gap in between the two races occur during 2007 at the height of President Obama's campaign, the highest number of white people thought race relations were fantastic, and the lowest point of black people thought that race relations were fantastic in the last 30 years, the same event interpreted two different ways. That's what I'm talking about, about the lack of empathy between the two races. We aren't seeing the same things.
BALDWIN: I mean, we could do an entire show on how that should change, how the heck you could fix it. But I'm also looking at you, you know, thinking, let me just put this to you as a parent, right? Because anytime I'm having parents on the show, I'm very cognizant of children, your teenage son, for example, Isaiah, right, Lz, I mean, he's old enough to understand what's happening. He's not itty-bitty. He's a teenager. But how has he internalized this? And how have you talked to him about this, and about the issue you just bring up?
GRANDERSON: The most important things all parents need, you know this as well, is that it's not what you say, it's what you do. You know, if a parent lives their lives in one of openness and kindheartedness, of diversity and embracing the tolerance of other people who are different than them, then your children will pick up on it. And if you don't live your life in that way, children will pick up on that as well.
And so, the most important thing that I do and I think any parent can do, that if you're very upset about this, is yes, you can talk to your child, but you have to live your life in a way that you want your child to live their lives.
And so if you want them to see people as people, you know, so to speak, then you have to live your life in the same way. Because it doesn't really matter what you tell a teenager, they're going to mimic what you do.
BALDWIN: Teach by showing. Lz Granderson, always love having you on. Happy Thanksgiving, my friend. I really appreciate it.
GRANDERSON: Happy Thanksgiving to you too, thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
And as we mentioned, we will be talking live to Saints player Benjamin Watson tomorrow during the show. So do not miss it. We'll get more of his thoughts from that phenomenal post on facebook.
Just ahead, is your plane at risk of being hit by a drone? Apparently there's a rise in incidents and the federal government is now playing catch-up.
Plus, as you eat dessert, maybe pie for lunch, whatever, don't judge with your families tonight, pies in Colorado, apparently, are not your typical ones.
Think -- well, you see the picture behind me -- marijuana! Personal serving sizes and snickerdoodles. Don't miss this.
BALDWIN: To all of the men and women serving our country today, yesterday, and in the years to come, we just wanted to pay tribute today on this thanksgiving with video showing absolutely the best part about coming home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice-over): Wellborn gave her daughter the best present ever. Mother and daughter reunited again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm overwhelmed right now. She just looked really shocked when I saw her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tap and say, Alacazam! Now, is this your card?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joy, there are no words that can express my thanks for the sacrifices you've made for our family in the past year. Have fun tonight. I love you and miss you, and promise I'll be home soon. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, we've got a special surprise for you.
Fans, please welcome back petty officer Cook, who has just returned from Afghanistan!
BALDWIN: I can never get enough of that.
And for our troops who are spending thanksgiving protecting the country currently, they enjoyed this holiday surprise, a personal call from the commander in-chief. You can see him here, President Obama who wished them a happy thanksgiving.
Back here at home, in Colorado, a very different kind of feast is on the verge. Food retailers are getting ready to start selling snacks made with one very strong ingredient -- marijuana. And remember, folks, legal.
Here is CNN's investigations correspondent, Chris Frates.
CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You might have heard about that "New York Times" columnist, Maureen Dowd, who came to Colorado, ate a marijuana candy bar and freaked out. Well, today I'm in Denver at the aptly named Sweet Grass Kitchen.
What are those?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just some candy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of the pot variety.
FRATES: Where they're making edibles much more consumer friendly. Let's go in the kitchen and find out what they're doing.
You don't see this in every bakery. What are we looking at?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Sweetgrass kitchen's grow.
FRATES: So how many pounds of weed will you be able to harvest from this entire room?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So this room alone can produce anywhere from 40 to 50 pounds.
FRATES: How many baked goods can you make out of that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So if we're focusing on just our single-serving products, it might make 10,000.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So now you're going to see the finished products.
FRATES: That is probably the most weed I've ever seen in my life. Can I hold it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
FRATES: I don't think I've ever held a pound of weed. That's amazing.
So what are we doing here today?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are about to make pumpkin pie crust first with our canibutter (ph).
FRATES: So that's weed butter?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Weed butter. Here are our recreational products, our Snickerdoodle (ph) peanut curt cookies which are single serving, 10 milligrams each. Keep you like smoking a whole time. And then here we have, believe it or not, chocolate chip cookies and here are our Brownies.
FRATES: So, it's not like the pot Brownies your college roommate maybe made?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely not.
FRATES: You're kind of on the forefront of single serving.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Edibles can go overboard if you consume too much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She said we ate way too much. (INAUDIBLE)
FRATES: What I like to call dowding, after Maureen Dowd. And that's the kind of concern you're talking about.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly.
FRATES: So this all kind of started with a chocolate chip cookie, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It did, yes.
FRATES: So what happened?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I studied to be a school teacher.
FRATES: A recent college graduate, can't find a job, and you're like, my friends lake my weed cookies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, pretty much.
FRATES: So you needed a kitchen?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did.
FRATES: And what did you decide to do? How did you build it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My kitchen is very unconventional. What I chose is actually a race car trailer.
FRATES: Which is what we have right here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
If I could do that, then, you know, if you change your mind or the laws change and you realize that, you know, you're breaking the rule by allowing me to be in your facility, I can move.
FRATES: Describe the feeling that somebody gets after eating one of your cookies or products?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First, you'll feel very happy. It's very relaxed. It's more of a body high.
FRATES: Among your friends, are you the Betty Crocker of weed? Do they expect that you are going to come to the pot luck with your cookies and Brownies?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
BALDWIN: Chris Frates, having a little bit of fun in Colorado. Appreciate it, Frates.
And America's sky, more crowded than ever, especially in New York where planes were reportedly having these close calls with drones, what the FAA is doing about that.
Also ahead, Michael Brown's parents speaking to CNN. It's an incredibly emotional interview. You have Michael Brown Senior calling Officer Darren Wilson a murder. That interview, after this quick break.