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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Video Of California Police Shooting Released, Reveals Deadly Shooting; City Settled Shooting Lawsuit for $4.7 Million; Cosby Show Actor: "Of Course Bill Cosby Is Guilty." Aired 12:30-12:51p ET
Aired July 15, 2015 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN GUEST HOST: Welcome back to Legal View. A federal judge has released dashcam video of a deadly police shooting in California. It happened in 2013 and it is footage of the Gardena Police Department that they didn't want the public to see.
There are two recordings that I'm going to show you, they show the shooting from different angles. Both of these videos come from dash cameras mounted in two patrol cars.
The video show police demanding three unarmed men mistakenly suspected of stealing a bicycle to put their hands up. When Ricardo Diaz Zeferino reached for his hat and then drops his hands to his side two officers open fire. He died from the bullet wounds one of his friends who was also shot did survive.
The video we're about to show you is graphic. And you're going to see someone being shot multiple times. So if you do not want to see this, please turn away.
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HARLOW: All right that was one angle of the shooting. Now I want you to see the other angle from the other police dash camera. Again, a warning, this video is disturbing.
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HARLOW: In unsealing the video just this week, U.S. District Judge Steven Wilson said the public had an interest in seeing the recordings especially after the city settled a lawsuit over the shooting paying $4.7 million to the family of the man who was shot and killed.
Let's talk about it.
Joining me on the phone is Gardena Police Chief Ed Medrano. Thank you for being with me chief. ED MEDRANO, GARDENA POLICE CHIEF: Thank you for having me.
HARLOW: What was your reaction when you first saw this video?
MEDRANO: I think it's the same reaction most people had. It is shocking to watch. And it's a difficult thing to see someone being shot very clearly from two angles.
HARLOW: Your department, the city, fought very hard to keep this video under seal, to make sure that it was not released to the public. The judge ultimately deciding that the public does have an interest in it, saying that the defendant, you guys, argument back fires.
So you're saying the fact that they spent the city's money presumably derived from taxes only strengthens the public's interest in seeing the video. Why did you not want this video released?
MEDRANO: Well, first off, the video was released to everyone who has an interest at the party. The district attorney's office, investigators, the plaintiffs' attorneys, our defense attorneys, everyone who had an interest in the video saw the video.
Our concern here is, now as technology moves forward and the deployment of body worn cameras is exploding across the country. What are the rules for showing this video? What are the rules for releasing all these -- all of this information that we're going to gather?
The law hasn't been established and we're concerned that, you know, innocent victims, witnesses are going to have their information released to the public who may not want that information released. And I'm concerned about the trust factor that's going to occur between the citizens we serve and the fact that they know that they're being recorded at all times.
HARLOW: Are you also concerned about how your officers will operate if they think every time I do anything it will, and can be released to the public?
MEDRANO: You know, what most people don't know is for 15 years we've had a mandatory audio recording policy. And over the decade we've had these cameras in our cars.
We're fully supportive of that in just in fact last council meeting we approved the issue all of our officers spotting one video.
I support the use of this video. My concern is how we balance the public's interest to know as well as the privacy interests of the public. And that was the big issue behind our decision to fight this.
This case has been going on for two years. We knew about it, my community knew about it. We were not trying to hide those things. What are the bigger issues here that we have to talk about as a country and law enforcement about what should be released?
HARLOW: Chief, do you believe from watching the video in the multiple angles of it that these officers followed protocol? That they did was what they were supposed to do?
MEDRANO: This investigation was conducted by outside agency, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department as well as the District Attorney's Office. And these officers had to make split-second decisions.
And they acted within policy, although it's tragic. They were the wrong people, we understand that. But officers don't have a lot of time. These people were suspected of being -- of robbing someone from their bicycle. That's the information the officers had. And it's unfortunate they were the wrong people but they have to make decisions in microseconds.
[12:35:11] HARLOW: So you're saying you do believe that they were justified given the situation.
Let me ask you where these officers are now? Two officers fired upon this man and ultimately killed him. Are they back on the streets?
MEDRANO: Actually, the justification from that came from the District Attorney's Office who rendered the opinion of the shooting was justified, not the Gardena Police Department. And yes, it is actually three officers involved and they are all back on duty.
HARLOW: All right, Chief Ed Medrona, thank you sir for joining me to talk about this.
MEDRONA: Thank you for having me. Thank you.
HARLOW: You're welcome.
We're going to have a lot more in this story. We're going to get the legal view on this case.
Coming up, it's next.
HARLOW: All right, you just heard the Gardena California Police Chief talk about newly released video whom just came out this week of a deadly police shooting in his jurisdiction.
We want to show you that video one more time, before I do though, I want to warn you, it is hard to watch this very graphic
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HARLOW: Let's talk about it with Georgetown Law Professor Paul Butler, also with us CNN Law Enforcement Analyst, Retired NYPD Detective Harry Houck.
Thank you gentlemen for being here. Let me begin with this, I want to read it and then get your reaction. This is in of the D.A. statement deciding not to charge these officers "They the officers saw Diaz reaching to his right side waistband. But withheld their fire and gave him additional commands after Diaz reached into is left pocket and continued to advance forward towards cuff, dropping his hands once again after being told he will be shot if he did so, the officers responded with deadly force in reasonable fear for their lives and cuff's life."
[12:40:25] Harry, to you, were the officers justified here?
HARRY HOUCK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes.
HOUCK: And let me tell you why. First of all, you know, we can't, by looking at the video you can't just watch the video once and come up with an analysis.
You got to watch it several times from several different angles. And as you can see, that the other two people that he is with had their hands up and they are listening to the police 100 percent. This man does not.
This indicates to you as a police officer you are now perceiving a threat, that that man that he trying to find some way to attack the officers.
All right, that's the only conclusion you can come to it because I know you, me and counselor here, all right, would probably do whatever the police officers tell you to do.
At one time, he also moved his left hand towards his pocket and they did not shoot him. All right, he came forward. All right, the officers from one angle saw the right hand go down to the side, the hat coming off. I have had guys with 25-caliber automatics in their hats. I've had with them in their hair.
As an officer now, you are perceiving that threat. And once you perceive that threat, when somebody is not listening to your commands, then your life may now be in danger. And there's case law on the way these officers acted also.
HARLOW: They do mention that in the D.A.'s moment, they cite in cases.
Paul to you, you say this seems reckless and you say, you know, this could be a manslaughter charge or even a murder charge.
PAUL BUTLER, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN LAW SCHOOL: Poppy, there's a reason that the city fought tooth and nail from to prevent the public from seeing this video and settle this case for $5 million.
It looks bad because it is bad. And I disagree with Harry. You can believe your eyes. What that video depicts is a man taking off his hat and then raising his arms and at that point he's shot. Guess what? The police are not allowed to execute people because they take off their hat. They can't even shoot people simply because they disobey orders.
It was a chaotic situation, a lot of people were screaming at this young man. The police can only justifiably use deadly force if they are reasonably believe that their life is in danger.
We don't see that on this video. I think that these men need to be these officers need to be held accountable.
HARLOW: Well, the case -- has been settled, right?
HARLOW: And so, but what we have seen, Harry, is a change in the police department. They have instituted an overhaul. Every officers going to have to, are body cameras. Also they've instituted these new tactical maneuvers and they call them cover techniques to slow down fast-moving events. So, they're changing things.
HOUCK: Well that is one thing that I didn't notice, the officers did leave themselves wide open for a possible attack by not taking cover. All right, but that was a tactics if they decided to use that that specific moment, whether it was right or wrong, it's not criminal, all right.
Second of all you've got here and if I can Poppy here a case law Martinez versus the County of Los Angeles. An officer may reasonably use deadly force when he confronts a suspect in close proximities whose actions indicate intent to attack?
Now what actions are intent to attack? You're not listening to my commands. The other two are. So I have to assume as a police officer I'm perceiving the threat, not you, counselor. All right, these officers are perceiving the threat. And once he perceives that threat in believes his life is know in danger, that officer was -- fair to act.
BUTLER: This young man was actually a victim. He was trying to help his brother whose bicycle has been stolen. He was explaining to the police "You got the wrong guys." Again, the police have to exercise due diligence. They have to be reasonable. Is it reasonable to think that because someone is explaining to you "You got the wrong guy," and I'm going to, you know, I can take off my hat that the police can shoot?
Now, when people -- when officers, sworn officers, are licensed to kill they have to exercise better judgment.
HARLOW: Well, now the video is out there for everyone to watch and a lot of discussion going on around it.
Thank you very much, gentlemen, I appreciate the tragic scenario all around.
Up next, another colleague turns on Bill Cosby. One of his fellow actors on that famous show explains why he now believes those upsetting incredibly, incredibly horrific allegations.
[12:48:09] HARLOW: Allegations that Bill Cosby is a serial rapist have shocked many of his fans and his colleagues. And now a new article from a former actor on the Cosby Show is certainly making waves.
Joseph C. Phillips played the husband of character Denise Huxtable for several seasons of the show. This morning, Phillips sat down with CNN's Alisyn Camerota on New Day and talked about why he is sure Cosby is guilty.
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ALISYN CAMEROTA, CO-ANCHOR OF CNN'S NEW DAY: Playing around is very different than rape.
JOSEPH C. PHILLIPS, COSBY SHOW ACTOR: Oh yes.
CAMEROTA: And so now you have worked your way around. What allowed you to finally believe that it may be possible that he was capable of sexual assault?
PHILLIPS: Well I'm going to say two things. The first thing is that particularly back then, at 28-years-old and everything changing in my life. And still there's a part of me today that wonders about men who have incredible fame, power, money and the number of women that approach them and offer themselves. I was...
CAMEROTA: You saw that?
PHILLIPS: Well, it happened to me. I was low man on the totem pole on the Cosby Show. And overnight there were women coming out of the woodwork.
I was single so it's bit different. But I began to wonder, can any man say no every single time? So I think I gave him a pass on that.
Now flash forward many years, I had -- I think like a lot of people. I was really giving Bill the benefit of the doubt. This was not the man that I knew. This was not the man that I worked with. He may have had other faults but he certainly was not drugging people and raping them.
And then I had a conversation with an old friend, bumped into her, hadn't talked to her in a couple of years. I just thought, hey, he used to be, like, your mentor or something.
CAMEROTA: Was she an actress? [12:50:00] PHILLIPS: Yeah, and I don't want to say too much about her.
CAMEROTA: Yeah, sure. So she -- he was a mentor to her?
PHILLIPS: Yes and...
CAMEROTA: What did she say?
PHILLIPS: ... for two hours she sat in my car, crying, telling me her story. All of the details.
And at that moment something changed for me. She turned to me and she said, she wiped her face and she said, "Do you believe me?" And I said "Yes, I believe you." And that was the change and I had to look with sober eyes at what was going on.
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HARLOW: Phillips not the only one changing their stance on Cosby. Whoopi Goldberg, who has defended him in the past said this.
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WHOOPI GOLDBERG: What we've learned is there's no recourse for these women except what they're doing. If this is to be tried in the court of public opinion, I've got to say, all of the information that's out there kind of points to guilt.
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HARLOW: All right that will do it for us, thanks so much for being with me today.
We're going to take you now to Washington. You are looking at live pictures of the White House, we are minutes away from President Obama's press conference after that signing of the historic deal with Iran.
Wolf Blitzer brings you that as soon as it begins. Wolf, straight ahead after a quick break.