PoliticsNation, Monday, September 8th, 2014
Read the transcript from the Monday show
September 8, 2014
Guest: Jim Fassel, Kendall Coffey, Lizz Brown, Stephen A. Smith
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you
for tuning in.
Tonight`s lead, a disturbing and violent video emerges of an NFL player
punching his then fiancee. And is racing new questions on domestic
violence and what the NFL knew.
TMZ sports released the video this morning. You can see Baltimore Ravens
running back Ray Rice and his then fiancee Janay Palmer, go into an
elevator in an Atlantic city casino. You can clearly see they have an
altercation and he then punches her in the face. He knocks her out. She
is down on the ground and appears to be unconscious. And moments later,
Rice drags her body out of the elevator.
This afternoon, the Ravens tweeted they have terminated Ray Rice`s
contract. And moments later, a spokesman for the NFL tweeted, Roger
Goodell has announced that based on new video evidence that became
available today, he has indefinitely suspended Ray Rice.
Back in July, this video was released from a camera outside of the
elevator. Janay Palmer did not press charges. And Rice was given just a
two-day -- or two-game suspension from the NFL.
But today, the emergence of this new video is setting off a fire storm of
controversy and questions, what should the policy be? And what did the NFL
know about this video?
Today, before suspending Rice indefinitely, the NFL released a statement
saying, quote, "that video was not made available to us, and no one in our
office has seen it until today." But that statement directly contradicts
what some sports reporters wrote this summer. So all kinds of questions
tonight. And this NFL story highlights a bigger issue that we have all
over the country.
Joining me now, our MSNBC`s Goldie Taylor and Abby Huntsman and former head
coach of the New York Giants, Jim Fassel. Thanks to all of you for being
ABBY HUNTSMAN, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Thanks, Rev.
JIM FASSEL, FORMER COACH, NEW YORK GIANTS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Coach Fossil, let me go to you first. What`s your reaction to
the suspension? And should the NFL, what should they have done months ago?
Should they have done this months ago?
FASSEL: Well, Reverend, you know, this is all coming out. And I don`t
know anything about who saw it, when they saw it. It`s a sad day. Here`s
a young man that had a clean record, he hadn`t been arrested, as far as I
know. Hadn`t been arrested. Had no drug problems, had nothing. But it is
sad to see what went on in that elevator. I`m sure alcohol was part of it.
But it is sickening to see that. And I think there has to be things done.
Now, the only good news coming out of this whole thing, Reverend, is that
any athlete or actor or anybody else that`s under the spotlight, if they`re
stupid enough to do this again, I think it will have an impact on males
thinking they can attack the female and not suffer serious consequences.
SHARPTON: But what`s disturbing to me, Abby, is the NFL said they didn`t
see the video before today. But people who covered sports reported a much
different story back in July. Veteran Sports Illustrated reporter Peter
King wrote, "There is one other thing I did not write or refer to, and that
is the other videotape the NFL and some Ravens officials have seen from the
security camera inside the elevator at the time of the physical altercation
between Rice and his fiancee". And listen to what ESPN`s Chris Mortensen
said on July 25th. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MORTENSEN, ESPN: We saw the TMZ video of what happened outside, you
know, when he was dragging her out unconscious, and inside the elevator,
I`m told for those who have seen the video, it wasn`t pretty. In fact, she
attacks him, we don`t know the reason why, and he strikes her, strikes her
hard, and her head, according to the sources I`ve spoken with, struck the
rail inside the elevator and she was unconscious.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, that is quite detailed and exactly what we see on this new
tape. So the question is, is the NFL lying now?
HUNTSMAN: It is really hard to imagine that when this happened, and they
were doing a thorough investigation, that they wouldn`t have seen this
video, that is the elevator video, by the way, and that months later, TMZ
of all places, releases this video.
I don`t know whether or not they have seen the video. What I will say
though and I saw it this morning, it`s incredibly sickening to watch what
actually took place inside the elevator. But whether or not they saw that
initial part of the video, what you did see, what they did see, originally,
was her being dragged out and being completely knocked out.
SHARPTON: But they described what happened in the elevator. Somebody had
to see it. How did these reporters describe exactly what was on the tape
if someone hadn`t seen it and told them?
HUNTSMAN: I think what you`re seeing is probably a cover-up here. Right?
Because if they had seen it, obviously they made the decision not to
suspend him, or only for two weeks at that period in time. But my point
is, it doesn`t matter whether they saw that initial, the full video or not.
The video is horrible.
SHARPTON: No doubt about it.
HUNTSMAN: They should have made the decision months ago. No one should be
praising the NFL or the team, by the way, who also have the ability to cut
him off the team months ago, for the decision made today. That should have
been done far longer than right now.
SHARPTON: But, Coach, we don`t know if the NFL hierarchy saw it or not.
It could have been sources. But the sources had to see the video. They
described what was on the video. And the real overriding question is that
if the NFL, for whatever reasons, didn`t see this video, then how did they
make a ruling, if they didn`t see everything?
FASSEL: Well, I think the NFL, a lot of the punishment that I think people
don`t understand, they take the history of the player. Players don`t get
suspended for the year on a first offense of HGH. They don`t do that.
They suspend them for a while. And on a second offense and a third
offense, it gets worse.
Now, I know Roger Goodell personally. I don`t know Ray Rice. The only
thing in my heart of hearts I can say is Roger Goodell is a stand-up guy.
He came out and said he made a mistake. Lot of people won`t do that. He
said that. Now, I got to believe and I could be wrong, but I got to
believe that they hadn`t seen it when he suspended him for two games.
SHARPTON: But should they have seen it?
FASSEL: I just know Roger is a stand-up guy, and he`s a disciplinarian.
SHARPTON: But Goldie, whether they saw it or not, we don`t know. But
should they have insisted on seeing it? Obviously they had to know there
wasn`t was inside the elevator video. Should they have seen it before they
made a ruling? When you look at the fact -- look at some of the other
players who have been suspended from the NFL this year. Just this year
now. Why they were suspended and how long they were told to sit out.
Brandon Meriweather of the Washington Redskins, he was charged with a
helmet to helmet hit in a game against ironically, the Ravens. He was
suspended two games, the same as we saw the suspension here on Rice. Matt
Prater, of the Denver Broncos, charged with violating the league`s
substance abuse policy with alcohol. He was suspended four games, twice as
much as Rice. Josh Gordon, of the Cleveland Browns, he failed a marijuana
test. He was suspended for a whole year.
SHARPTON: Let me go to Goldie, coach. I`ll come back to you.
FASSEL: I`m sorry, I`m sorry.
GOLDIE TAYLOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I`ve always said that if her name was
marijuana, then he would have gotten a much harsher sentence the first time
But let me clear up a few things. There are several infractions that a
player can make that are covered under the player agreement, you know,
under the rules of the players association that they bargained with the
NFL. But then there are some of these things, like domestic violence that
fall into this clear purview the discretion of Roger Goodell, of the
commissioner. And so, he decides how long that sentence is going to be.
He laid out some brand new criteria for us where none seem to have existed
before. I would assert that some criteria should have always existed,
given the number of reports and under reports of domestic violence that
happen across, you know, the NFL and all professional sports. And so, I`ll
kindly of lay that to the side.
The other part of this is, they did not, at the time of the release of
this, give a accurate account of what happened in that elevator. The young
woman didn`t attack him. She deflected his first punch and then he punched
her again until she was knocked out. And so, that`s really, you know, what
we`re seeing on this tape. That amounts to aggravated assault.
And so, you got to ask yourself, why in the world didn`t a DA prosecute him
for that? Why is he eligible for a diversionary program? And then, at the
same time, you know, if the NFL seemed to have known enough about this
tape, they had to have seen it. If they saw it, why was he only given a
I personally don`t believe that no one from the NFL saw it. Too many
characterizations were coming out contemporaneously when all of this went
down. We heard it from top-tier reporters, straight from their mouths, how
it was being characterized by NFL spokesman and people from the Ravens.
SHARPTON: Now Coach, let me go back to you. Goodell did say a week ago he
got it wrong. But look at this. Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers
was arrested on domestic violence charges on August 31st of this year. The
NFL hasn`t taken any action against him, waiting to let it play out. He
even played yesterday. How do we feel about that, coach?
FASSEL: Well, as a coach, long-time coach, and you`re dealing with young
men, OK, they`re not all going to be correct. I go back to the Duke
lacrosse situation where a girl accused players on a lacrosse team of rape.
He kicked them all out of school. He fired the coach. He got rid of
everybody. And then the girl came back and said, no, I didn`t get raped.
I made the story up.
So as a coach, I always believe in letting the authorities, the authorities
that are investigating it and they can get to the truth, let them do their
job, and then I`ll react to it. Unless it`s something very, very, just --
a murder or something.
SHARPTON: But McDonald was arrested.
TAYLOR: The authorities didn`t do their job.
SHARPTON: Duke lacrosse, the authorities did take action. People
(INAUDIBLE), I was above that. I wasn`t. But there was action. But here
you have a guy that was arrested. You have now a whole list of what you do
now on domestic violence. Nothing`s happening to this guy.
HUNTSMAN: No, and the crazy thing here, when you look at the NFL, up until
right now, there`s no real clear policy for dealing with domestic abuse.
Up until now. Now they say, we should look at doing something about that,
which I find a little bit crazy. This is not the first time this has
happened. It`s not the last time it`s going to happen. So to your point
of, how can you look at all the situations that have happened and not treat
them fairly? I mean, it`s really hard to look at this video and look at
how the NFL has handled this, and how the team has handled this. It looks
really bad on all of them.
SHARPTON: Now, the NFL does have a new policy. Roger Goodell wrote team
owners saying a little over a week ago, that he got the suspension wrong.
Now for the first offense, a suspension of six games suspension, no pay.
Second offense, banishment from the NFL for at least a year. And this
policy applies to all personnel, not just the players.
But I think my real concern is the gravity of domestic violence should not
be cheapened, Goldie. This is very serious and I think they should have
seriously looked at everything before they made a ruling here, Goldie.
TAYLOR: We are talking about people`s lives. To delay can cost a life.
Jovan Belcher killed Cassie Perkins last year, shot her seven times. So
we`ve got to be very careful when we say we need to wait until the
authorities do their jobs when we ourselves have a job to do ourselves. I
think they had access to the tape. If they didn`t take advantage of that,
I think that`s malfeasance.
SHARPTON: Well, and I think you`ve got to remember, aside from all of
that, it is a place of business. Kids are watching and look at these as
role models. Domestic violence is a seriously issue. Goldie Taylor, Abby
Huntsman, and coach Jim Fassel, thank you for your time tonight.
HUNTSMAN: Thanks, Rev.
FASSEL: Thank you.
SHARPTON: And be sure to watch Abby on the cycle weekdays at 3:00 a.m.
eastern right here on MSNBC.
Still ahead, much more on the TMZ sports video. We`ll talk to Steven A.
Smith about the league`s response and what pro-football needs to be doing
Also, new witnesses come forth in the Michael Brown shooting. We`ll tell
you what they`re saying and why it could have a huge impact on the grand
And new U.S. air strikes pounding ISIS terrorists in Iraq. President Obama
will soon address the nation about the ISIS threat. But you won`t believe
who Republicans are turning to for advice. We`ll review this blast from
the past next.
SHARPTON: Our social media community is on fire about the Ray Rice news
today. As we mentioned, this TMZ sports video emerged this morning, and
the NFL suspended Rice indefinitely. We want to know what you think. Our
question tonight, should Ray Rice be banned from the NFL for life? Tweet
us at "politicsnation."
Coming up we`ll have your answers and get reaction from ESPN`s Steven A.
SHARPTON: As America debates how to handle the terrorist group ISIS, a new
poll today shows growing support for the president`s plan of action, 76
percent favor additional air strikes, 62 percent support military aid to
forces fighting ISIS. But at the same time, 61 percent oppose putting U.S.
boots on the ground. That`s exactly what the president outlined in his
interview with Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" on NBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not going to be an
announcement about U.S. ground troops. We are going to be, as part of an
international coalition, carrying out air strikes in support of work on the
ground by Iraqi troops, Kurdish troops.
What I want people to understand, though, is that over the course of
months, we are going to be able to not just blunt the momentum of ISIL. We
are going to systematically degrade their capabilities. We`re going to
shrink the territory that they control. And ultimately, we`re going to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Already the plan to defeat ISIS is in motion. On Sunday, the
U.S. broadens military campaign, conducting air strikes to protect the
Haditha dam. In western Iraq, ISIS has been trying to seize the dam, which
supplies power to Baghdad, 148 air strikes have been launched against ISIS
over the last month. Tomorrow, the president will meet with key
congressional leaders. And on Wednesday he`ll lay out his plans for ISIS
in a speech to the nation.
Joining me now, our MSNBC`s military analyst Colonel Jacobs and salon.com
Joan Walsh. Thank you for being here. We`re hearing reports that this air
campaign against ISIS could last years. Is that kind of sustained action
need to defeat them?
COL. JACK JACOBS, MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: Well, the number I heard was
three years, but that grossly underestimates how long it`s probably going
JACOBS: I`m reminded of general McCrystal`s observation some time ago when
he said, it`s going to take a decade in Iraq. And I think that`s probably
a pretty good estimate --
SHARPTON: So you think it could take a decade?
JACOBS: Sure. Don`t forget that what we are doing is not -- it`s not just
our dumping precision guided munitions all over the bad guys. What`s
really important is the seizure and holding of terrain on the ground. And
that`s going to take a coalition of all of the forces inside Iraq,
including a lot of people who don`t like each other very much and have not
worked together, which is why we`re going to have to work very hard to make
sure they all work in concert. But just using air strikes that is just for
support. The real work, the heavy lifting must be done by the Iraqis on
the ground and that`s going to take ten years.
SHARPTON: You know, Joan, there seems to be a lot of support for air
strikes, and yet there`s a lot of support saying no boots on the ground.
Here`s what the president said about the idea of putting boots on the
ground in Iraq and Syria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: You also cannot over the long-term or even the medium term, deal
with this problem by having the United States serially occupy various
countries all around the Middle East. We don`t have the resources. It
puts enormous strains on our military, and at some point, we leave and then
things blow up again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Is this a hard lesson that we learn -- a hard-earned lesson, I
should say, that we learned after a decade in Iraq?
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SALON.COM: Yes, I think it is. And I think,
you now, Colonel Jacobs is right. The problem in Iraq is that there aren`t
groups cooperating, there aren`t not civil institutions, there isn`t that
history and it`s hard from the outside to create it. We can`t occupy a
country semi- permanently. And when you look at Syria, I mean, one thing
that the president said that I don`t know there`s evidence for. He said we
are currently working to shore up moderate rebels inside Syria and I don`t
know how you identify them. And I don`t know how you support them. And
that`s one of the things they think people worry about.
JACOBS: It`s kind of an oxymoron. Rebels are not moderate. Really, from
time to time, we said the same thing about Iran. What we really need to do
is encourage the moderate revolutionaries. Well, moderates are not
revolutionary. And the same thing is true inside Iraq. There`s got to be
some leadership inside the country that can galvanize the disparate forces
SHARPTON: Otherwise, it doesn`t work is your point.
JACOBS: I don`t think it`s going to work.
SHARPTON: Joan, today we`re hearing calls from centers for boots on the
ground. Senator John Isaacs on said we need to put together a wide-ranging
coalition and have our special forces support it. And Senator Lindsay
Graham said, what you`d want to do is to interject special forces into the
kill-the-leader-type operations. Are we about to see a big push from the
right for troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria, Joan?
WALSH: Yes. I think they`d like to see that. And I think this idea of
special forces, you know, I don`t want to be naive. Special forces may
well be operating there. They often don`t telegraph what they`re doing.
And so, for the president to get up and make a speech and say, we have
special forces in there and they`re going to take out the leaders, I don`t
see the utility in that. And special forces can also lead on a very, you
know, (INAUDIBLE) slippery slope to more forces and conventional forces.
So it seems very irresponsible. They`re always asking him to do more.
He`s never doing enough.
SHARPTON: Colonel, let me ask you this. The "New York Times" described
the three-phase plan from the president. First air campaign to roll back
ISIS gains in Iraq. Then training and equipping the Iraqi military, the
Kurdish fighters and Sunni tribes. And the final phase is destroying ISIS
inside of Syria. What are the biggest challenges ahead, Colonel?
JACOBS: The last one. I mean, that really is a big challenge, because
it`s a very tough political decision for the president to make. Don`t
forget, that this country talked for a long time about how Assad must go.
Very bad guy. Need to get rid of him. And all of a sudden the only way
you`re going to be able to get rid of ISIS inside Syria is to wind up being
an ally of Assad or whoever replaces him.
And by the way, not only that, allies of Iran as well. I mean, can you do
that on the ground, you can do that in the air, but doing it politically in
the United States, that`s a very tough road to hoe.
SHARPTON: Joan, I have to ask you this. Don`t look now, but the GOP house
members are meeting tomorrow with Dick Cheney. I mean, we`re already
hearing rhetoric from some of the right that sounds like an echo of the
Bush-Cheney era on foreign policy. I mean, what are we going to hear now?
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: ISIS says they want to go back and reject
modernity, well, I think we should help them. We ought to bomb them back
to the stone age.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: After being counseled by Dick Cheney tomorrow, what are we going
WALSH: You can make sound bites of Neanderthal right wingers saying we
should bomb every imaginable government back to the stone age. I mean,
Colonel Jacobs, you can probably come off the people of the top of your
head. It is incredibly irresponsible and Dick Cheney is the last person
anybody should be listening to on Iraq or Syria.
SHARPTON: I`m going to have to leave it there. Colonel Jack Jacobs and
Joan Walsh. Thank you for your time tonight.
JACOBS: You are welcome.
SHARPTON: Coming up, key developments in the Michael brown investigation.
Two new witnesses come forward. What did they see? And how might it
affect the grand jury? That`s next.
SHARPTON: We`re back with some of the latest headlines from this wild and
whacky political season. Here`s one. Ted Cruz sings "O Canada" on the
Senate floor. That`s unexpected. Here`s another one. Paul Ryan flip
flops and swears off P-90x. And another, local man enjoys a beer with
Mitch McConnell. Wait! Really? If these headlines seem fake to you,
that`s because they are. But that`s exactly what republicans are doing
this election season. Cooking up fake headlines and pretending they`re all
real. Check out the central valley update. It seems legit. The headline
is about a California democrat moving from D.C. in a bid for Congress.
But the whole article attacks the candidate for her donations and
positions. It seems odd until you read the small print at the bottom of
the screen. Paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee.
And that`s not the only dirty trick. Republicans did the same thing with
the Augusta update for a Georgia race. In fact, National Journal reports
the GOP is using this shady tactic to target at least 20 democrats. With
Election Day coming up fast, did republicans think we`d ignore all these
phony news sites? Nice try, but stop the presses, because we gotcha.
SHARPTON: Tomorrow will be one month since the shooting of unarmed teen
Michael Brown. And today, two new witnesses are breaking their silence.
The St. Louis post dispatch got the story from two workers who are
providing a new perspective on the Michael Brown shooting. Both men were
working construction on the apartment complex when they heard a shot. They
gave statements to St. Louis County police and the FBI. But refused to be
identified in the post report.
The worker says he did not see what happened at the officer`s car
initially, but that Officer Darren Wilson chased Brown on foot away from
the car after the initial gunshot and fired at least one more shot in the
direction of Brown as he was fleeing. That Brown stopped, turned around,
put his hands up, and that the officer killed Brown in a barrage of
gunfire. One of them talked to a local TV station last month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I started hearing pop and when I looked over, I see
somebody staggering and running. When he finally caught himself, he threw
his hands up and started screaming, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay. The one
just started shooting. He didn`t say get on the ground. He didn`t say
anything. The first his gun was down, and then walked until he got eight
to ten feet away from him and then shot at him six, seven shots. I heard -
- it seemed like seven. And then he put his gun down. That`s when Michael
stumbled forward I`d say about 25 feet or so and then fell right on his
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This matches up with other accounts we`ve heard from other
witnesses. But unlike them, these two workers are outsiders. They did not
know either Brown or Wilson. And have no ties to Ferguson. Tonight, many
questions remain as we wait for the grand jury. The investigation
Joining me now are Lizz Brown, attorney and columnist for the St. Louis
American. And former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey. Thank you both for
being here, first of all.
KENDALL COFFEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Thanks, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Liz, how important are these witness accounts to this case?
LIZZ BROWN, ST. LOUIS AMERICAN COLUMNIST: I think these accounts are very
important, but it is important to underscore, Reverend, the fact that these
witnesses have been interviewed by the Police Department, the County Police
Department, and the FBI. They have not been interviewed by the grand jury.
And there is no guarantee that they ever will be heard by the grand jury --
SHARPTON: Do you think they will be?
BROWN: I doubt it. Because these are narratives that move in the
direction of indictment. And everything that is being done so far by this
prosecutor has been deferential to the potential defendant, and signaling
to this grand jury, with whom he has a long relationship with, over a
matter of weeks, that we want you not to indict. One of the things that
also came out today was the fact that this grand jury will be deciding what
charges are going to be brought. That`s extraordinary to just hand over to
the grand jury. You decide whether it`s first-degree, you decide whether
it`s second-degree, you decide whether it`s manslaughter. Over the
prosecutor are Bob Mcculloch and his office are agreeing, this is what we
want, we want an indictment, and we want these charges brought. That`s
deferential and other defendants don`t get that kind of deference in a
grand jury hearing.
SHARPTON: Kendall Coffey, you`ve been a U.S. attorney, you`ve prosecuted
cases. Should the grand jury hear this? This is up to the prosecutor. He
can present or not present whatever he wants. Should they put this in-
front of the grand jury, these two witnesses and is it troubling that it`s
open ended that he`s not arguing for specific charges?
KENDALL COFFEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, of course he should. And I
agree with almost everything Lizz has said. Actually, I think he probably
will put one or both of them forward because a lot of this grand jury
process is about cover. But when you`re a prosecutor, you carefully manage
the grand jury process. You make the decisions ultimately. You don`t
throw open any kind of evidence that comes through the door to the grand
jury. And you certainly don`t throw it open in terms of the ultimate
charging decision. So while this might be a process that seemed like it`s
going to get more cover for a prosecutor, it clearly creates less chance of
SHARPTON: Now, Lizz, we`ve heard similar accounts to what these two
witnesses that have just surfaced, from other witnesses. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I witnessed the police chase after the guy. He was
unarmed. He ran for his life. They shot him, and he fell.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The kid body jerked as if he was hit. And after his
body jerked, he turned around, he puts his hands up and the cop just
continues to walk up on him and shoot him until he goes all the way down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: How valuable are these witnesses to this case?
BROWN: They`re extraordinarily valuable. They make the case. We don`t
need to see, this grand jury does not need to see all of the evidence that
is being brought before them in order to make a probable cause
determination about whether or not a trial should be had on this issue.
Every witness seems to say the same thing, that Michael Brown was shot
running away. That`s where it ends. That`s where it ends.
SHARPTON: Now Kendall, the common denominator seems to be every witness
was saying, his hands were up. The worker told the St. Louis Post Dispatch
more details of the shooting after Michael Brown stopped and turned around,
quote, "That Officer Wilson began backing up as he fired at Michael Brown.
And that after the third shot Brown`s hands started going down and he moved
about 25 feet toward Wilson, who kept backing away and firing." The
workers also said he could not tell if Brown`s motion toward Wilson was a
stumble to the ground or, okay, I`m going to get you, you`re already
shooting. What does this mean for Officer Wilson`s claim that he shot in
COFFEY: Well, I think these witnesses are incredibly important, because
they are neutral. They are objective. They`re just guys who happened to
be there at this tragic moment. And they`ll going to be very, very
believable. And one of the things I`d be fascinated to see is what is the
Officer Wilson saying about whether the hands were up? Because if he
denied that in the statements that he`s given, and I`m not saying he`s
going to go in front of the grand jury and let himself interviewed by the
FBI, but he`s given some statements to other police authorities, and if he
in effect is insisting there was a bull rush, or a bull charge, when
witnesses like the ones we`re hearing about today said, absolutely not, and
there seems to be little support of that, all of a sudden you have a self-
defense account that may have some demonstrable faulties and that becomes
some of the most important evidence of guilt if in fact you are falsely
claiming certain facts happened to try to prove your innocence.
SHARPTON: But the witnesses, these two are saying that the movement toward
Wilson was after he was already shot. One says he was shot, that shots
rang out three or four times before he started moving forward.
COFFEY: Absolutely. And that makes it stronger. But there`s some
inconsistency among all the different eyewitnesses as to the movement. All
of them seem to be saying that he was not charging the officer. And if
that`s how the evidence lines up, and I think there`s going to be a very
critical contradiction with what the officer is saying. And again, I`m
pretty confident. We don`t know for a fact what the officer was saying
when he gave his own accounts to other officers, but I seriously doubt that
he said he was putting all these bullets into a man who had his hands
raised and surrendered.
BROWN: But that`s also assuming that these witnesses ever make it to the
grand jury. We don`t -- we don`t know that they will.
SHARPTON: Well, what was the reaction quickly Lizz in the community right
BROWN: Well, the action in the community is the same as it`s always been.
That there has not been an indictment, that there`s deferential treatment
given to this potential defendant Darren Wilson, and that there`s an effort
to make certain that an indictment will not ensue. So the community is
very much watching this because they are concerned and they also believe
that there`s not going to be an indictment issued in this case.
SHARPTON: Well, there hasn`t even been an arrest. You don`t need an
indictment for an arrest.
BROWN: There you go.
SHARPTON: We`ll be watching. There`s supposed to be a meeting tomorrow
night of the city council. We`ll certainly be watching that. Lizz Brown,
Kendall Coffey, thank you both for your time tonight.
BROWN: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Thanks, Reverend.
Still ahead, new questions about the TMZ Sports video and the NFL`s
handling of the Ray Rice scandal. Should they have acted sooner, and
what`s the next step? We`ll talk to Steven A. Smith. Also, justice
delayed, but not denied for the Central Park Five. A big ruling today in
their quest for justice. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: We`re back with more on the shockingly graphic tape that got NFL
player Ray Rice fired today. TMZ Sports released the video this morning.
You can see Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and he`s then fiancee
Janay Palmer, go into an elevator in an Atlantic City casino. You can
clearly see they have an altercation and he then punches her in the face.
He knocks her out. She`s down on the ground, and appears to be
unconscious. And moments later, Rice drags her body out of the elevator.
Joining me now, sports journalist and ESPN first take host Stephen A.
Smith. Stephen, thank you for being here tonight.
STEPHEN A. SMITH, ESPN: Good to be here, Reverend Al. How you doing?
SHARPTON: I`m good. Now, you made some controversial comments when the
story first broke that actually got you suspended. But today you came out
strong and said that Ray Rice should leave the NFL voluntarily. What`s
your reaction to the Ravens and NFL suspending him now?
SMITH: Well, first of all, it`s entirely appropriate, number one. Number
two, even back then, I`ve always said that a man has no business putting
his hands on a woman that I`ve been consisted on that position. And I`ve
never deviated from that in my life as -- raised by five women. Let me say
this. When you consider the video, if a picture is worth a thousand words,
then a video clearly is worth about a hundred million. Because to see that
video, to see this individual strike his then fiancee in that fashion, it
doesn`t surprise me at all that ultimately that they didn`t even get
halfway through before the Baltimore Ravens waived him, cut him, and the
NFL indefinitely suspended him. It was definitely an appropriate decision,
it was something that was long overdue, because a lot of people find it
very, very difficult to believe that the NBA -- I`m sorry. The NFL and the
Baltimore Ravens did not have access to this video beforehand. They say
they did not see that until this morning.
SHARPTON: What do you think? Do you think they didn`t see it? And if
they didn`t see it, should they have waited until they saw it before they
SMITH: I think they should have waited until they saw it before they gave
the decision. It`s incredibly appropriate for me to say that they have to
have seen it when they`re categorically denying that they didn`t see it
until today. What I will say however is that people out there who are but
suspicious that Ray`s the proverbial -- was saying, excuse me, this is a
multibillion-dollar establishment, you have former and present law
enforcement officials who work under your umbrella, you definitely go
beyond the pale to find out what guys are doing off the court. You seem to
find out --
SHARPTON: And there were reports that said, no one was on the -- and came
out exactly than --
SMITH: ESPN`s very own Adam Schefter alluded to that. Peter King for NBC,
I mean, these are two individuals who are iconic figures in terms of be on
report is on the National Football League. I`m telling you right now, if
you`re going to beat your money on somebody and what they have to say.
Adam Schefter and Peter King, it doesn`t give much better than --
SHARPTON: Several NFL players tweeted about Ray Rice after seeing this
video. Chris Harris, Jr. tweeted, "The NFL should have zero tolerance for
domestic violence, there`s never reason for any man to be violent toward
any woman.` TJ Lang tweeted, "Two games disturbing." And Terrence
Knighton sent several tweets saying that, "Man should be thrown out of the
NFL and thrown into jail. Shame on those deciding his punishment. And as
players, we must speak up, stand up for what is right. I don`t give a damn
who you are and how much money you make, no place for this."
SMITH: Well, definitely it`s appropriate that they would send such tweets.
But they`ve had ample opportunities to send those tweets earlier than
today. That`s number one. Number two, and importantly, now it`s going to
be incumbent upon everybody to see what the Players Association is going to
do because certainly this is not decision that should be appealed, it`s not
something that should be forth. And I think the NFL Players Association
would do themselves a disservice to even try to fight this. But again,
this is a multibillion dollars establishment that you never know what
somebody is going to do, or whether an organization is going to do. So, it
remains to be seen.
SHARPTON: This is important because it`s bigger than Ray Rice, bigger than
SMITH: Yes, sir.
SHARPTON: We`re talking about the gravity of what domestic violence means
in our society.
SMITH: Well, first of all, you`ve always been somebody that spoken against
domestic violence. That`s been your history, it`s been a part of my
history. I`ve been in this business 22 years to be exact and obviously
I`ve always been a staunch advocate against domestic violence. There`s no
excuse for a man to put his hands on a woman especially in this day and
age. You`ve got to walk away more so now than ever before. The spotlight
is on you and appropriately so.
Because it`s clearly something that should have attention brought to it. A
lot of women out there been complaining about the plight of domestic
violence for quite some time. And far too many individual males have been
getting away with it. I think that day is rapidly coming to an end to be
quite honest with you. And I think this is a step in the right direction,
not just for the National Football League, but professional sports
altogether and society as a whole.
SHARPTON: We asked our social media community today if Ray Rice should be
banned from the NFL for life. Here`s some of the responses we got,
Leslie says, "Ray Rice belongs in jail, forget banning him from the NFL."
Vern writes, "I think Ray Rice should be suspended six games only, because
terminating him takes money and livelihood from kids and wife."
Michael says, "Rice should not be suspended for life, but a year with no
play or pay will send a powerful message."
SMITH: I tend to lean towards Michael, I think a year-long suspension is
appropriate and the reason I say that as opposed to banning him for the NFL
for life. Consider the fact that there are people, whether it`s vehicle
manslaughter, in the case of Donte Stallworth, you know, ultimately was
driving behind the wheel -- and ended up killing an individual, Leonard
Little, that name comes to mind, somebody died because of their actions.
You have to take that into consideration. In the case of Michael Vick,
even though he`s been an absolute, you know, resurrected his life and his
career to whether he has, he deserved to be applauded for that, but he did,
you know, maim and kill and electrocute dogs and served 18 times in a
federal penitentiary but he was still allowed to come back in the NFL. And
we`re all, not only receptive towards Michael Vick, we applaud the man he
has become with efforts to the humane society, et cetera et cetera.
So as a society as in the professional sports world has shown that indeed
people can resurrect themselves and make amends. I don`t think Ray Rice
should be perceived as a finish product, but today is obviously a very,
very bad day. This year is obviously a very bad year because being cut by
the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by Roger Goodell definitely
ensures that he will not play NFL football for the 2014 season. And I
don`t think there`s a soul alive who would argue with that kind of ruling.
But to say he should never play football again, that`s a different story
SHARPTON: Stephen A. Smith, really great having you here. Thanks for your
SMITH: Thank you.
SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: Twenty five years ago a great injustice was committed here in
New York. An injustice that sent shock waves across America. But now it`s
finally being corrected. That`s next.
SHARPTON: Finally tonight, justice delayed, but not denied for the Central
Park Five. A federal judge has signed off on a $41 million settlement for
the five men once falsely accused of beating and raping a female jogger in
Central Park back in 1989. The agreement awards the five Black and Latino
plaintiffs about $1 million each for each year of jail time the men served.
And it brings to conclusion years of bitter legal battles over the men`s
arrests. It stemmed from that one night over two decades ago when the five
teens were accused and quickly arrested at the scene of the crime. They
said they did nothing wrong. Under relentless police interrogation, the
teenagers confessed to the crime but almost immediately recanted. The
young men were convicted and they all spent years in prison, but they
didn`t do the crime. I spoke with them in December of 2012 about the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were telling, you know, everybody`s families that
all you got to do is say this and we`ll let your sons go home. You know.
This amount of tricknology (ph) that they were using was so devious that it
caused even our parents at the point of saying, you know what, maybe if we
just go along with it, we`ll be able to get out of here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Twenty five years ago, America was different. New York City was
different. But now we see there`s beginning to see some change. I was
among those that stood up for these boys. I watched one do 13 years and
come out and work for us for three years. I`m glad to see them get
compensated. But no one can give you 13 years back. No one can give them
the time back. We must continue to do better.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton, "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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