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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Protesters Outside Baltimore Police Station. Aired 7-8:00p ET
Aired April 21, 2015 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:08] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news. Protests erupting right now over the mysterious death of a black man who died days after his arrest. His spine broken. Was it police brutality? This is not the first time the Baltimore police department has been under fire. More than 100 alleged cases of police brutality in three years, an OUTFRONT investigation tonight, and more breaking news with America's showdown with Iran. American war ships on the move tonight. Will it clear the nuclear deal? Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news. By the thousands, protesters at this hour are taking to the streets. They're calling for justice for Freddie Gray. That's a 25-year-old black man who died days after being arrested by white police officers. He had been in a coma. Gray's family says police severed his spine. We're showing you right now live pictures of the protests in Baltimore at 7:00 Eastern. These protesters, as we said, thousands at this hour, calling for an end to police brutality. They're also holding signs that read "Black Lives Matter." The crowds at this moment making their way to the site where gray was originally taken into custody. At that time, police dragged him into a van. He was screaming in pain. Let me play that for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FREDDIE GRAY, DIED FROM SPINAL INJURY: Ahh! (bleep) Ahh!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The outrage has been building ever since this video of Gray's arrest was made public, and tonight, we can report that the Justice Department has now launched a civil rights investigation into Gray's death. Miguel Marquez begins our coverage this hour in Baltimore. He's with the protesters tonight. Miguel, what are you seeing right now?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very much with the protesters. These young men are incredibly angry about everything happening here. Literally.
As you can see, there's a lot of emotion running through the streets here. We are now moving on to North Street, which is a very big avenue here in Baltimore. Thousands, perhaps 2,000 people, they marched first to the Western District Police Station, and then they marched over to the area where Mr. Gray was taken into custody. The last time he was seen standing, basically, he fell into a coma shortly after and died seven days later. There's one small group of protesters here. There are several hundred more coming up behind us on other streets. And as you can see, they have shut down traffic in this area of Baltimore. So far, police showing great restraint. But what they're asking for is for all six of those -- all six of those police officers who were named today to be charged with first degree murder. They say that they are going to march on the city hall on Thursday. And that at that point -- a little impossible here. But at that point, they will take over city hall until they get those individuals arrested.
BURNETT: Now Miguel, I don't know how well you can hear me.
MARQUEZ: Extraordinarily unhappy.
BURNETT: Extraordinarily. And I mean, you have them talking about him being murdered. They're walking by you. Look, they're yelling the f-bomb left right and center here to your cameras. I mean, what's the tone? The anger is very palpable I will say. Right? This is not as calm as people might have expected.
MARQUEZ: This is Gilmore homes section of West Baltimore. It is a very tough neighborhood. You see burned out houses everywhere. You see a lot of poverty everywhere. You see food security, people can't afford to eat in this neighborhood. There is great, great anger and frustration, and they feel that the police force in this neighborhood doesn't stand up for their rights, only knows how to arrest them. In the case of Freddie Gray, for instance, the police say that he made eye contact with police and then fled, and that's what caused them to go after him. In any other city in any other town, not probable cause, but in this neighborhood of Baltimore, it is, and the people in this neighborhood. Hello, I met you last night. The people in this neighborhood are sick and tired of it and they want it to stop. This episode, for all the terrible, awful things that have happened in this area, Freddie Gray has lit a fuse, has been a lightning rod for this neighborhood -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Miguel Marquez, and Miguel is out with those protesters, we'll going to be checking in with Miguel throughout the hours. He said, obviously, a very depressed area of Baltimore. But as we said, protesters gathering by the thousands, and as you could hear with Miguel, they are extremely angry.
I want to bring in now Jason Downs OUTFRONT, he's an attorney for Freddie Gray's family. Jason, let me just put the question first to you. You know, Miguel is out on the streets right now with protesters. They're angry. They're talking about Freddie Gray being murdered, they're talking about him being killed. You know, they're yelling f-you, they're extremely angry. All right? When you hear that happening, does that concern you? Is that a kind of thing you want to hear right now? Or is that not a kind of thing you want to hear right now?
JASON DOWNS, ATTORNEY FOR FREDDIE GRAY'S FAMILY: Well, it's the kind of thing that shows just how frustrated and fed up this community is with interactions between the police and the citizens of this community. They are frustrated. They are also fearful of the police. So the fact that they are carrying these signs, the fact that they are chanting, it's a sign of just how frustrated they really are.
BURNETT: Are you concerned, though, about the tone? I mean, are you worried? I would imagine you want this to remain peaceful? Very much so, right?
DOWNS: Well, my concern lies with the family of Freddie Gray. There's a mother right now who is concerned with burying her son. There's no mother that should have to bury her son. There's a fiancee right now that wanted to spend the rest of her life with Freddie Gray and at this point right now she has to bury her future husband. So, my concern lies right now with the family of Freddie Gray.
BURNETT: Now, we were going to be joined by the public information officer from the Baltimore Police Department. He cancelled on us last moment. Obviously, they're dealing with the protests right now. That could be part of the reason why. I was going to be talking to him about why they say no force was used. He obviously is not here to make his case. But you know that his point of view, that the commissioner for the Baltimore's police department's point of view is that police didn't use lethal force on Freddie Gray. Are you going to be able to come up with the proof that they did, that they did this, that they severed his spine and cause Freddie Gray to die?
DOWNS: Well, there's no question that there was force used. If you look at the police report, they have the audacity to say that there was no force used in the arrest of Freddie Gray, that he was arrested without force, he was arrested without incident. And if you look at the video footage, it squarely contradicts that. There's a man screaming in pain after he was arrested. So, there was clearly some force used. He wasn't screaming for no reason. He was screaming because there was force used at least by that point where he's screaming on the video footage.
BURNETT: All right. So, let me show you that video footage because there's one specific thing that they refer to that I think is important for our viewers to see especially as this is something now getting national attention. These protesters gathering by the thousands tonight. The country is watching. When you look at the video of Mr. Gray being placed into the video, police point to this specific frame right here. This is him standing on the back of the van. Right? So they had to drag him, it looked like his legs were not functioning. Then he's standing on the back of the van. They say that this video frame that we're looking at clearly shows Gray using his legs to get into the van? Do you agree with that? Is it possible that Gray was just refusing to cooperate with police before? And that's why it looked like they had to drag him with legs that were not working?
DOWNS: Well, I can't see the video that you're referring to but I have certainly seen all of the video footage, so I'm aware of what you're referring to.
DOWNS: And it is no question that Mr. Gray is screaming in agony and screaming in pain. We don't know exactly what happened to Mr. Gray's legs. The only people that know exactly what happened to his legs are the officers that were handling Mr. Gray, and those officers need to answer the questions as to what exactly happened to his legs. How did he get taken down? How was he actually placed to the ground? And why was he screaming in such pain on that video footage? The only people who know the answers to that question are the police officers involved.
BURNETT: And that's my question to you. Because eyewitness testimony, we have some eyewitnesses saying Gray was tased. Another eyewitness said an officer had a knee in Gray's back, that he was put in a position like a pretzel that they say was something that would have contributed to the severing of his spine. But as we have all seen in Ferguson, proven in court, oftentimes, eyewitness testimony is not accurate. No one is intending to lie. It's just sometimes what we saw is not what we actually think we saw. Do you acknowledge some of these eyewitness accounts may not be correct, Jason?
DOWNS: What's really important here is we don't have to only rely on eyewitness testimony. We are able to also rely on what we can clearly see and clearly hear in the video footage. We can clearly see a man whose legs appear not to be functional. We can clearly see a man that is in pain, so we don't have to solely rely on eyewitness testimony. We can certainly rely on the video footage and we can also rely on the fact that the video footage contradicts the police report that says that there was no force used in the arrest of Mr. Gray and that is squarely contradicted by the fact that Mr. Gray is screaming in agony at the point where he's being placed in the police van.
[19:05:01] BURNETT: And Jason, in terms of what happened in that police van, we know that the driver of that van said that they needed an additional unit for him. And then they said that around 8:59 on the clock. That they needed an additional unit. It wasn't until 9:54 at least according to the timeline we have that a call was actually made for a medic. Do you have any sense of what happened in that 25- minute timeframe? I have a screen up for our viewers to see. 8:59 a.m., additional unit was called. The medic was not called until 9:24. Does that gap concern you or is that something which could be explained?
DOWNS: The gap is tremendously disturbing. Mr. Gray was unlawfully arrested just a few short blocks from the western district, we're talking four or five blocks away, at best a six-minute walk. So, in a police van, it's a two-minute drive or less. There should have been no reason whatsoever that Mr. Gray wasn't at least transported to the Western District, and the fact that it took so long for the police to call for medical help, that is of great concern.
BURNETT: Gray's family, I know is going to be at the protest tonight. That's our understanding, Jason, unless you tell me otherwise. As you know, our reporter, you just heard him, you know, being yelled f-you, repeatedly, now that was, you know, a few people in one area. Possibly just a few bad actors. Right? But nonetheless, that just what happened to happen live on television for the entire country to see. What is the family's message to the thousands of people who are gathering tonight in Baltimore to protest?
DOWNS: The family is grief stricken right now. They are concerned with burying Mr. Gray. At this point, what their concern is how they're going to bury their son, how they're going to bury their brother. And are these officers going to be brought to justice. That's their primary concern at this juncture.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. Jason Downs, I really appreciate your time, sir, tonight. Thank you.
And OUTFRONT next, our coverage continues of those protests in Baltimore live tonight. Thousands gathering. This is not the first time the Police Department in Baltimore has been under fire. A tense standoff, and we have a report OUTFRONT tonight.
Plus, breaking international news. American war ships in a showdown with Iran. Could it escalate?
[19:15:56] BURNETT: And our breaking news tonight. Protests erupting in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray, that is the young black man who suffered a severe spinal cord injury while he was in police custody. He went into a coma. He died days later. Right now, we're looking at live pictures, we have thousands of people gathering in Baltimore. Right now, they're marching by the thousands towards the exact site where Gray was originally taken into custody in a police van. I'll show you this key cell phone video again. This is Gray. He's screaming here as he's dragged by police.
Suzanne Malveaux is OUTFRONT outside the Baltimore Police Department. And Suzanne, we just saw Miguel obviously in a very tough neighborhood. There were people yelling expletives, f-u, there were some pushing going on, perhaps of his cameraman. What are you seeing?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we were seeing earlier today is they started where Miguel was and then they headed down the street, just two and a half, three blocks from where we are, this is the western police district. And this is where the crowd gathered. There was an incredible amount of emotion that we saw over the course of several hours because you had the mother and the father of Freddie Gray here, and the pastor who was expressing a lot of emotion. What I saw here was a lot of people who were chanting together, raising their hands, saying this is not a sign of weakness or surrender but really a sign of strength.
They wanted a moment of silence for Freddie Gray. I asked many people who were here, why are you here? I saw mothers with their little babies in strollers. Young boys on bicycles. It was like the whole community came out together to make a statement. One person said it is because I'm black. Simply because I am black, and this should not happen to someone like this, to Freddie Gray. That everybody matters here. There's a different story for different folks. A lot of people saying that hey, maybe there is a racial component to it. There are other people saying, you know, what? We have had problems with African-American police as well. That this is a police brutality case. Either way, what you're seeing here and what we saw earlier was a lot of frustration, a lot of anger, and a lot of passion about the relationship that this community has with its police department.
And I had a chance, Erin, to talk to the attorney of the family, William Murphy and he says one of the most frustrating things today, if you can imagine, is really talking to the mother and talking to the father. Thinking that they're going to have an autopsy report delivered to them to get information about how it is that their son died, and to think that perhaps they would, too, get the body of Freddie Gray. That has not happened. So, this is something that they feel is even more hurtful to the community. Now, we are learning that it's going to be on Thursday. They're going to make their presence known at city hall. Once again, it will be the parents and the pastor and the community coming together to try to convey this message that they want this investigation speed up. They're also going to be doing their own investigation. But this is something that is really boiling. It's hard to be patient, and this community expressed that today.
BURNETT: All right, Suzanne, thank you very much.
And OUTFRONT now, retired NYPD Detective Harry Houck, CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill, professor at Morehouse, host for BET News and HuffPost Live.
Let me start with you Marc. Suzanne just used the word boiling over. We just saw that when you looked at our Miguel Marquez on the street.
MARC LAMONT HILL, HOST OF BET NEWS AND HUFFPOST LIVE: Absolutely.
BURNETT: I mean, we saw that. And you and I were both looking at each other. Could this turn into something else? I mean, these young me were incredibly angry.
BURNETT: They were yelling f-u. I mean, this is a boiling point.
HILL: It's a boiling point. And obviously, we don't want to see violence, not just against CNN cameramen, but against anybody. That's not our in goal.
HILL: As a nation I would hope. But we have to understand these men and women are profoundly frustrated. They're angry. This is not an isolated occurrence. If you talk to young men in Baltimore or D.C. or Harlem or watch in Philadelphia or anywhere else, you hear these stories constantly. And the rare occasion that you get a videotaped incident is where you can sort of get some sort of legitimacy to a claim you have been making for a long time.
BURNETT: And Harry, you know, I spoke to one of the attorneys for Freddie Gray's attorney yesterday. I asked him the question about race. He said, yes, race played a role in this. And of course, when you look at the images, you have a young black men and you have white police in the shot. That's the picture that you're looking at.
HARRY HOUCK, RETIRED NYPD DETECTIVE: Yes.
BURNETT: I mean, that doesn't in and of itself say that race is involved, but to a lot of people, they feel it viscerally, that it is.
[19:20:12] HOUCK: Right. Well, that's because attorneys like him are putting that information out there. There is no indication that race is involved at all. It's a black neighborhood. High-crime neighborhood. We're not going to go around looking for white guys to stop when there's none there. I mean, come on, these officers -- it appears that the officers had reasonable suspicion to make that stop. When they made the stop, last night when I was on another show last night, they were talking about, we had a forensic pathologist who was there.
HOUCK: I asked him specifically, I said, if an officer put his knee on that man's neck, would that cause the injury that this man sustained? He says, no, it would have to be some kind of blunt force trauma to sustain an injury to his neck. And as you can see in that video where the officers had him down. There's a small wall behind that. Okay, maybe when the officers took him down, the back of his head hit that wall.
HOUCK: It might have been accidentally. I don't know.
Well, we don't know that.
HILL: Yes. I'm asking if it's plausible.
HOUCK: I don't know. It's definitely plausible. You know, but --
BURNETT: Right, but if they did -- to the point Marc is kind of getting at.
HOUCK: It would take that kind of blow. That's what I'm saying.
BURNETT: Okay. I hear your point. But I also hear Marc's.
HOUCK: Oh, yes, it's possible.
BURNETT: Marc, if they were to have done that, slammed his head into the wall to get him to shut up or whatever they were trying to do, would that classify as police brutality?
HOUCK: I would say yes, if he was handcuffed.
HILL: Even if you weren't handcuffed --
BURNETT: One at a time.
HOUCK: I think basically what's happened is that, you know, they're involved in the struggle. You know, this is just all speculation on my part here because none of us know the facts that happened in this case. Although it is a little disturbing, you have a 20-minute gap there when the vehicle was stopped, you know, before they made it to the station house. I'm wondering what's going on. When they picked him up off the ground, you could see he could not walk. But then, when he was up on the van, he was standing by himself there.
BURNETT: And that's the police reporting too. That's the frame that I showed his attorney just a few moments ago.
BURNETT: They're saying, well, look, when he's being dragged down the street, he can't move his legs at all, as you see right there in that picture but then when he's on the edge of the van, he's standing up.
HILL: Well, that's exactly right. And that's my point. There are a lot of --
BURNETT: It could be the injury happened in the van with the cops, right?
HILL: Absolutely. There are a lot of gaps and yes, we don't know what's in the officers' heads. Right? You don't never know what's in the officers' heads or anybody else's. You can never say this person -- unless they're saying I'm doing this because you're black. But police never grab your head and slam it into a wall and say, I'm doing it because you're black. They have to break your spine and say, I'm doing this because you're black. But there are high --
HOUCK: But you can't make an assumption it's because he's black. He's stopped in a black neighborhood. Who else are you going to stop? It's a high crime area.
HILL: But that presumes somebody has to get beaten or abused in a high-crime neighborhood. Even if everybody is black, you can still just not abuse people.
HOUCK: I agree with you 100 percent. I don't think he should be abused.
HILL: Right. But this is suggesting he may have been.
HOUCK: Well, we don't know yet. Well, we don't know yet.
HILL: Right. He just had a rare spinal meltdown in the middle --
HOUCK: Apparently not, but it might have happened during the takedown. It's a possibility this happened during the takedown. All right? But I am concerned about the 20 minutes, all right?
HILL: You should be. It could happen.
BURNETT: Twenty five minutes where they said they needed help.
HOUCK: Had it been a blow with something like a night stick or some kind of instrument to be able sustain the injuries he did.
HILL: Yes. And you don't find it curious that even in high- crime white neighborhoods, this stuff never happen to the level of regularity.
HOUCK: Of course, it does, but we don't hear about it.
HILL: It doesn't. White guys aren't just turning up dead from police at the same rate that -- every measurable statistic says otherwise.
HOUCK: Well, when you're looking at high crime areas, black like New York, I mean, who commits most of the crimes here in New York City?
HILL: The question --
HOUCK: All right. Thank you very much.
BURNETT: That doesn't justify violence against them, right?
HILL: You're mixing apples with oranges.
HOUCK: Let me be clear. I'm not justifying any violence to get some point. All right?
HILL: The number of people who commit the crime has nothing to do with the number of people who die at the hands of law enforcement. Even if every black person in America committed a crime, they still shouldn't be murdered by the police with their hands-up. They're still shouldn't be murdered handcuffs.
HOUCK: I agree with you 100 percent.
HILL: Right. So, according to criminality a black people is a red herring. That's not the point at all. The question here is what -- HOUCK: It's just a talking point for your view. That's all it
really is. There's no real statistics that actually tell you that white police officers are racist against black men.
HILL: But that's not the argument I'm making.
HOUCK: It sort of is the argument you're making.
HILL: I'm fully capable of making the argument that I'm making. The argument that I'm making here is that black people die at the hands of law enforcement at a disproportionately high rate. I don't -- if the officers black or white. This isn't about white officers versus black people. It's about a police force that tends to over criminalize and overly use brutality against black bodies. That's the concern.
HOUCK: There are far more instances where white officers are involved with black criminals. That's why the number is so high. That is why. These officers aren't out there murdering people like you say.
HILL: I didn't say that at all. I didn't say, we've had one murder --
HOUCK: We've had one murder, all right?
HILL: This month. This month.
HOUCK: In North Charleston.
HILL: This month.
HOUCK: What I'm saying, out of the millions and millions of instances of police officers --
BURNETT: But part of that is because we're actually now getting the stuff caught on video.
[19:25:20] BURNETT: Three years ago, we didn't have that. Now, we're seeing it --
HILL: He's suggesting the only person who died at the hands of law enforcement in the way that can legally defined as murder is the one we happened to catch on tape. I'm not willing to accept that.
HOUCK: No, that's your answer, that's not mine.
HILL: You said we only had one --
HOUCK: We had one.
HILL: On tape. HOUCK: We've got to go --
HILL: Let me ask you honestly, do you think that's the only time that happened? Let me ask you.
HOUCK: I cannot look at other cases right now. We're sitting here and I'm talking about this case. Listen. I don't have statistics in front of me.
HILL: But you need them to make claims about what black and white people are doing.
HOUCK: You don't have them either.
HILL: I do have them. That's what I'm appealing to. I just told you that black people --
HOUCK: Where are they? You're just saying that. I want to see --
HILL: This is all verifiable.
HOUCK: Can I see them, please?
HILL: All right. I'll pull them out of my pocket. But let me ask you a question.
HOUCK: All right. Thank you very much.
HILL: Do you think that the case in Charleston is the only incident of that sort?
HOUCK: It's the only one I have seen.
HILL: But I'm asking your opinion, do you think it's only one of that sort? That's a yes or no question.
HOUCK: I don't know. I don't know. You're making it -- no, you're making an assumption on your part.
HILL: I'm looking at the trail of dead black people at the hands of law enforcement.
HOUCK: Show me case by case, please. I can't say it.
HILL: We have one right now.
HOUCK: I don't want to go by assumptions. Right now, we do not --
BURNETT: Does it bother you, Harry. Look, I see both of your points here, but Harry, let me just say, does it bother you that just in the past few months, right? We have seen Eric Garner, we have seen Mike Brown, we have seen the case in North Charleston, now we see Freddie Gray. HOUCK: Brown and Garner, the officers acted correctly. No
criminal charges against them. All right? So, that case is out of the window. All right?
HILL: It's not out of the window.
HOUCK: It is out. As much as I'm concerned even the grand jury --
HILL: No, but the fact is we keep dying. We keep dying of things that are preventable. You think Eric Garner was not preventable?
HOUCK: What was the catalyst for all these? What are the catalyst?
HILL: Police officers who use -- police who use excessive force.
HOUCK: Resisting arrest.
HILL: That is not the catalyst.
HOUCK: That is the catalyst.
HILL: That's absurd. That's absurd.
BURNETT: And that right there, we're going to keep you both here. But that right there is the key of this. How do you see it? Right? Is this resisting arrest or is this excessive force. And that is the key that we have to figure out, the big debate out there. All right. We're going to pause. Both are going to be staying with me as our live coverage continues. You're looking at live pictures right now of Baltimore where thousands are gathering right now to protest the death of Freddie Gray. An eyewitness to what happened to Freddie Gray says the Baltimore man looked like a pretzel when the police arrested him. We're going to be speaking to him and speak to his spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department. He's trying to get on for us despite these protests. He's going to answer these questions about excessive force directly here on this program tonight, as these crowds grow. We are live. We'll be right back.
[19:31:55] BURNETT: And we're following the breaking news tonight. Protests and anger in Baltimore tonight over the death of Freddie Gray. This is what you're seeing live in Baltimore. The 25- year-old black man, Freddie Gray, died after being arrested by white police officers. Gray's family says police severed his spine.
We have been showing you the protests throughout this hour live. They're passionate. They're incredibly angry.
As you saw with our Miguel Marquez, they say this is a history of police brutality. You saw earlier, though, some very angry men, here, much calmer, mixed crowd, young children. The Justice Department today said they're launching a civil rights investigation after this video was released.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
BURNETT: That is Freddie Gray. You can see him here. His legs appear to not fully be working. Maybe his left leg there, a little bit, but they're dragging him up. And you can hear him screaming in pain.
And then he gets put in a police van.
Miguel Marquez is out -- back with us OUTFRONT. He's with the protesters live.
Miguel, where you were just a few moments ago was very tense. There was shoving of you and your cameraman, a lot of swearing.
Now, what are you seeing?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was very intense. Look, it was very intense. They're marching now back to the police station, to the western district where Mr. Gray was meant to be taken immediately after arrest, but it took time to get there.
You can hear the motorcycles in the distance. That's one thing that is happening here, where they have motorcycles popping wheelies through the crowd, which really motivates them. The crowd has fallen to about 200 people, but all of this, all of this anger we saw earlier was not directed at me. It was directed at the police, and the story they say about how Mr. Gray died, it doesn't add up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When does it become illegal to walk while you're black?
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Tonight, anger grows. Questions about the city of Baltimore's version of events in the arrest and death of 25- year-old Freddie Gray.
MAYOR STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE, CITY OF BALTIMORE: Mr. Gray was put in the van. You know, he was dragged a bit, but then you see him using his legs to get into the van, so we know that he was able-bodied when he was in the van.
MARQUEZ: It is this video the mayor is referring to. But calling Freddie Gray able bodied?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That boy's leg look broke. His leg broke. You're dragging him like that.
MARQUEZ: As Gray is loaded into the van, he appears to be moving on his own. The man who shot this video does not want to be identified, says before he started recording, police were physically aggressive with Freddie Gray.
WITNESS: They had Freddie Gray bent up into what I would like to call a pretzel type of move, where they had the heels of his feet to his back, and then he was still in handcuffs, and then they had the knee like in the back of his neck.
MARQUEZ: Harold Perry lives across the street. He heard Gray's initial encounter with police.
HAROLD PERRY, WITNESS TO INCIDENT: I heard the young man screaming, "Get off my neck. Get off my neck. You're hurting my neck." And then two cars pulled up shortly after that. One car door slammed and then another.
[19:35:01] And they must have went to him, and he started hollering and screaming a little louder. And the police said, "Shut the F up."
MARQUEZ: Police say its officers were not rough with Gray before he went into the van, just over 40 minutes later, though, an ambulance was called, Gray having trouble speaking and breathing. The man who shot this video says Gray may have been moving before being placed in the van, but he was anything but OK.
WITNESS: You could see that he was in obvious pain. And then as the video shows, you know, you can see that his legs were inoperable, like he couldn't use them.
MARQUEZ: This is the sort of stuff we're seeing on the street. I'm going to pan off here. Motorcycles that are going down the center of the protesters here. Popping wheelies for much of that time as well. Rather dangerous, but the Baltimore police aren't doing anything to stop it at this point. They're letting these protesters get this out of their systems.
We're about a block now from the western district police station where I suspect they're going to plant themselves and stay for some time -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Miguel, thank you very much. We're going to go back to Miguel as more develops in Baltimore.
Right now, though, I want to go to a man at the center of this, Captain Eric Kowalczyk, the Baltimore Police Department spokesman.
I appreciate you taking the time, sir. I know it's hard. You were going to be with us at the top of the program. You're dealing with this protest. I appreciate you coming on the show.
Let me just get straight to this. They're gathering tonight outside the police department. What do you have to say to these protesters now gathering? At least we understand 1,000 or more.
CAPT. ERIC KOWALCZYK, BALTIMORE POLICE DEPARTMENT : We hear you. The frustration in the crowd is palpable. We understand why people are concerned and why people are upset. The police commissioner said it yesterday. The deputy commissioner said it yesterday. We expect people to be upset and have the ability to voice their frustration.
The city has a history of peaceful protests. We expect that these protests will be peaceful as well. We're asking people to stay peaceful, and we're going to let people voice their frustrations.
We have an obligation as an organization to make sure that we conduct a thorough, fair, and transparent investigation.
BURNETT: So --
KOWALCZYK: But the people are concerned and we get that, and we're going to let them voice that concern.
BURNETT: All right. So let me get to some of the concerns that they say that they're angry about. This video that we have shown that you hear Freddie Gray, you hear him crying out in pain, is what is appears clear that's what he's crying out in. His legs don't appear to be moving. You have heard this many times now, Eric. Then he's put into the van.
Your colleague, the deputy commissioner, says there's no evidence force was used against Gray. Can you say that for a fact? It certainly seems at some point there was force used.
KOWALCZYK: So, we're going to follow the facts of this investigation wherever they go. We have promised to be open and transparent. We have that obligation to the Gray family to get to the truth of what happened here and we're not going to be dissuaded by emotion. We're going to follow the facts where they go.
The deputy commissioner said that no force was used. All the evidence we have at this time indicates there was no force used, there was no bruising, there was no indication of any sort of broken bones. However, that investigation is still ongoing.
So, if there are witnesses out there that have information that we haven't had a chance to talk to yet, if there are people out there that have video we haven't had a chance to talk to yet, we're encouraging them to come forward. We want to follow the truth wherever it takes us.
BURNETT: So let me try to understand, though, because obviously, when he was running down the street, he was an able bodied 25-year-old man. Sure, he had a rap sheet, he had drug arrests, right, his issues, but he was able bodied. He ends up in a coma with a severed spine and he died. So, something clearly happened.
So I'm just trying to understand -- I know you're doing a full investigation.
KOWALCZYK: You know, Erin, that's what we want to get to.
BURNETT: Right, I get it. I'm not saying you're not doing the investigation. I'm just trying to -- to understand why you seem to be so sure at this point that there's no evidence of force, because clearly, something horrific happened to this young man. KOWALCZYK: And that's exactly what we want to find out. Look,
the previous history in all of that aside, this is a family that has lost a member of their family. And we have an obligation to them. We have an obligation to our city to get to the truth, to find out exactly what happened here. We have preliminary examinations that show that there was no use of force. We have done investigations --
BURNETT: Is that an autopsy that we haven't seen yet in the media that you're referring to?
KOWALCZYK: The deputy police commissioner talked yesterday about the preliminary results from the autopsy that was done that showed there was no bruising, that there was no broken bones.
But I don't want to get away from the fact that there's a family that is in pain. There's a community that is in pain, that we're listening to, that we're absolutely committed to allow to protest peacefully, to voice their frustration, and we need to let that community know that we hear their concerns, and that we're working as diligently to find out what happened here. And that at the end of our investigation, independent of anything else that's happening, we have asked an independent review board to come in to look at the facts of the case, to look at what happened prior to our contact with Mr. Gray, to find out all the facts and circumstances.
[19:40:12] And while we're in this process, and can think this is important, we're not waiting for the investigation to be complete and we're not waiting for an independent review board to come in as we identify policies and procedures that we're concerned about.
KOWALCZYK: We're working to change them. The police commissioner started that yesterday in the press conference when he announced we're changing the way in which we handle people who are injured and people who are transported by our investigation.
BURNETT: Let me get to the issue of transport. There's a lots of questions here on the use of force that haven't been answered. But on the transport issue, 8:59 a.m., the driver of that van says they need to call an additional unit. According to the timeline that we have, at least at this point, that we have, Eric, we understand that a call for a medic was not made until 9:24. You have a 25-minute period of time go by in which the call was not made.
What do you say to that?
KOWALCZYK: Absolutely. And as the police commissioner said yesterday, that's a concern for us. That's something that we're looking at. Obviously, there is an investigation and I want to be careful about how we move forward, but that's clearly a concern.
That's clearly something that the police commissioner spoke to yesterday. It's part of the reason why we're examining our policies and the procedures we have. We want to see where mistakes were made and how we can address them to insure they don't happen again. That's part of the retraining that the police commissioner ordered to happen across the agency yesterday.
BURNETT: All right. Eric, thank you very much. Eric Kowalczyk, as we said, the Baltimore police spokesman answering some of our questions. Obviously, many, many questions we still need answers to tonight.
OUTFRONT next, our breaking news in Baltimore continues.
[19:45:48] BURNETT: We have breaking news. The protests right now are getting bigger in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray. This is a picture here, as we said, this is live television, everyone. Our camera getting its focus.
This is right outside of the police department in Baltimore. They have a barrier. Our reporters have saying the police have been standing back. Protesters in some parts of town, it has been rough, but they have been standing back and letting them protest. You heard the police on our show say they're going to let them have their say.
Obviously, Freddie Gray is the 25-year-old man who was taken into police custody, severed spinal cord at some point. And this is the unclear thing as to how it happened, but he did die in a coma after a few days.
Tonight, the Justice Department has said it's investigating Gray's death. Gray, of course, screaming as he was dragged by police in that video that we have shown you. This is what is causing those crowds to be so angry, the young men you saw earlier this hour with our Miguel Marquez on the streets, who were so extremely angry.
Joining me now is Barbara Lee, currently a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. She's the former chair of the caucus.
Congresswoman, thank you very much for taking the time to be with us tonight.
REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: My pleasure.
BURNETT: You know, our Miguel Marquez was on the street amidst some of the protesters, some of the young men who were very angry just a few moments ago. They were pushing his cameraman, they were yelling so many f-yous, we can't actually replay it. This was happening in one area. I know that is the last thing you want to see. How concerning is that, though, at this hour?
LEE: Well, first, let me just say my thoughts and my prayers go out to Freddie Gray's family and the entire city and community of Baltimore. This is a tragedy that is beyond even being able to convey my sympathy to Freddie's family and friends.
You know, black lives do matter. It looks like in many instances, black lives don't matter. I think it's very important to recognize that the federal government issued data very recently showing that African-American men were shot 21 more times than white men. That's a shame and disgrace.
I'm glad that the federal government will be conducting a federal investigation. That needs to happen. Protests are extremely important now. It's important that they remain peaceful, but I have to tell you, I come from Oakland, California, where Oscar Grant, a brilliant young man, was gunned down several years ago. You may have seen the film, "Fruitvale Station". The other young African-American men around the country are being gunned down, unarmed young men.
It's time to really come to grips with the fact that in this country, we have to really have criminal justice reform, police reform, and allow the peaceful protests to move forward because that's the only way change will occur.
Fifty years ago, it was young people who were protesting in Selma. My colleague Congressman John Lewis was one of those. And it was the police and dogs and the -- you know, the state troopers who tried to prevent the marches. So, we're 50 years later. There's a lot of work to be done.
Black lives do matter and it's about time the entire country understands this, and young people need to realize that they are going to be part of this change. The street heat is absolutely necessary. It's got to be peaceful, and once again, this is such another sad day.
BURNETT: All right. Congresswoman Lee, I appreciate your time very much.
Congresswoman Lee referring to the street heat, as she called it, in Baltimore. We're seeing the heat right now get hotter, more and more people gathering.
OUTFRONT next, more of our breaking news coverage as protesters and police in Baltimore are facing off. More tense situations. We'll be there live in a moment.
We'll be right back.
[19:53:31] BURNETT: All right. Breaking news: these are live pictures of what we're seeing in Baltimore. Thousands are gathering, more and more people. This is the crush of people outside of the Baltimore police department.
And we have reporters around the city as people are marching from different peoples, converging here. Some of them much more angry, and raucous than others. Moments ago they were chanting "hell no, we won't go."
Back with me now, retired NYPD detective Harry Houck, Marc Lamont Hill, professor at Morehouse, host for BET News and "HuffPostLive". Marc, the Baltimore police department I would say just came on
the show, all right, and they said, we're doing a full investigation, we're going to let the people protest tonight, we're not going to interfere, but every piece of evidence we have so far, including a preliminary autopsy, which they have not released, but they themselves have seen, shows that there was no force.
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is the most absurd analysis I've ever seen. First of all, to say we have to do an investigation and we don't have the facts yet and say no force was used and is a contradiction. And to say that there's no evidence of force being used is absurd. The evidence is the fact that this young man is dead, the evidence is the fact that this young man was able to run from them a few minutes ago, according to their claim, and a few minutes later he can't walk.
There is evidence of force. We don't know where the force came from or how it occurred, but there is evidence of force.
BURNETT: And you would agree with that? He was running and they caught him?
HARRY HOUCK, RETIRED NYPD DETECTIVE: Exactly. Somehow this man sustained his injury which eventually killed him. The problem is that we're all going on assumptions now, OK?
Let's not go on assumptions, all right? We don't want to be convicted or neither would I want to be convicted on assumptions, all right?
[19:55:03] Let's wait until the evidence comes out, let's wait until the end of the investigation, and once we know all the facts and we talk. I want -- personally, I want to see the autopsy report.
BURNETT: Right. We all do.
Now there are a lot of people out there chanting, black lives matter. This is -- this is a black protest. Every single person out there tonight is African-American, Marc.
HILL: Most of them.
BURNETT: And that is pretty much what you are seeing.
Just the point blank question to both of you, would this happen, Marc, if that young man were white and not black?
HILL: I'm going to field the statistics as a social scientist, it is 21 times less likely that it would have happened if he were white, based on empirical fact. I don't know what's on the officer's heads. But these things keep happening with black people. That's all, that seems to be an observable fact.
BURNETT: Harry? HOUCK: Well, like I said before, because the crime in certain
areas why it is so high. I mean, I don't think there is evidence to bear that out at all.
HILL: There is.
BURNETT: Twenty-times times, that is from the Justice Department.
HILL: Look at the Stanford study.
HOUCK: I agree with that.
I'm not going to go on a Stanford study, where you put a bunch of legals sitting around.
HOUCK: But is that really evidence here?
Listen, I'm a man that goes by the facts and goes by the evidence, all right? We have to look at each individual case, look at the facts in each and every one of these cases, and then make our statements from that.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to both of you, and we'll be right back.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you for joining us.
Our breaking news, protests erupting tonight in Baltimore continues now with Anderson.