'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: April 8, 2015
Guest: Eugene O`Donnell, Justin Bamberg, Nelson Rivers, LaDoris Cordell,
Barney Frank, Alan Dershowitz, Jonathan Capehart
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence
Good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Good evening, Rachel, thank you
very much Rachel --
MADDOW: Thanks, cheers.
O`DONNELL: "NBC News" and MSNBC have obtained exclusive interviews with
the man who recorded this video that we showed you last night of the
killing of Walter Scott.
The man who recorded the video is 23-year-old Feidin Santana. He is from
the Dominican Republic and he was on his way to work at a barbershop at
9:30 a.m. on Saturday.
As you`re about to hear, he said that he knew how important his video was,
and he actually considered erasing it because he feared for his life.
Here is MSNBC`S Craig Melvin`s interview with Feidin Santana.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRAIG MELVIN, JOURNALIST: Walk me through, what did you see and what did
FEIDIN SANTANA, BARBER & EYEWITNESS TO WALTER SCOTT`S MURDER: What I saw,
well, as you can see in the video, the shooting, you know, after the victim
-- was that, before the video, I was walking to my job, I was walking to my
job and I witnessed Mr. Scott coming out on -- I would say out of some --
out of far -- coming out -- out of far, you know.
MELVIN: He had a --
SANTANA: Running --
Yes, running to me, you know, and then I saw maybe five seconds later, I
saw a cop after him, chasing him, you know, yelling to stop him.
And my first thought, you know that -- I thought you know that something
would happen about this, so I just went to the scene to see, you know,
what`s going on.
When I saw him, you know, that they were on the floor. Say they put -- he
might -- recently -- not just fell down or maybe tackled by the police, so
I just saw, you know, the police was -- he was down and the police was up
trying to get control of him.
I approached to the scene when I see, you know, that the police was punch -
- pushing him with taser and --
MELVIN: So you saw the police taser --
SANTANA: Yes, that`s --
MELVIN: A taser?
SANTANA: Yes, you can hear the sound, you know --
MELVIN: OK --
SANTANA: Before I started -- in the video, and I just decided to take my
phone out, you know, maybe to try that -- the cop, to see he was cursing
over there, standing there, you know, and I started recording.
And that`s when everything happened, you know, over there.
MELVIN: So you`re watching this, and what`s going through your mind?
SANTANA: I mean, the scene?
MELVIN: Yes, the scene.
SANTANA: Well, I just say, never expect this, you know, to come out this
way. Never, you know, never thought that the police would shoot him.
You know, like on the scene, like I said, the man was running away from the
police, he -- I believe that he maybe was scared of the taser, you know,
maybe, like it hurts, like teary -- taser and he just was looking for a way
to get away from the police.
And I guess they were -- it`s very -- it was very -- you know, in fact,
enough for me. You know, really --
MELVIN: Did you hear the officer say anything before he fired the shots?
SANTANA: No, not really, he just said, you know, before they got on the
ground, he was saying stop, that`s what he did.
And after that, after he shoot, he just say, you know -- I think fired, I
think fired, you know, and that he was on the ground, Mr. Scott was on the
MELVIN: Did you hear Mr. Scott say anything during all of this?
SANTANA: No, nothing, like I say, I saw, you know, I had seen him -- I --
maybe yelling you know, because he was hurt by the taser.
MELVIN: At the -- at the end of the video that you shot, you see the
officer put something down.
SANTANA: I saw that now on the video. I never -- I didn`t catch that part
when the -- he dropped, I don`t know when he dropped.
I did notice, you know, that he went back where he was standing over --
when he was, you know, with Mr. Scott, he did pick something up.
I never saw him, you know, that he dropped, I just saw, you know, when he
picked it up and pick it up again on the scene -- on the -- beside the
MELVIN: But you can tell what it was that he picked up?
SANTANA: No, not on the victim`s side, I would say. But yes -- but over
there, I knew it was a taser when he went back again, you know, to get the
You know, whenever I saw, you know, that he dropped the taser, I guess I --
well, he -- I guess I saw that he picked something up, I didn`t know what
MELVIN: After you filmed this video on your cell phone --
SANTANA: Yes --
MELVIN: Then what did you do with it?
SANTANA: After I film, you know, there was -- at the time, kind of
thoughts, you know, in my head -- I just decide -- like I say, maybe I
might -- I won`t deny that I knew, you know, the magnitude of this and I
tried to -- I even thought about erasing the video.
SANTANA: I didn`t know, I felt that my life, you know, with this
information might be -- like I say, in danger.
And I tried to -- you know, I thought about erasing the video and just
getting out of the community, you know, Charleston, you know, and living
MELVIN: Leaving town?
SANTANA: Yes --
MELVIN: Because you were that scared?
SANTANA: Yes, I knew like I said, I knew that like signs, you see the -- I
saw the video, I knew that the cop didn`t do -- did -- didn`t do it the
right way -- the right thing.
And like I say, I feel, yes, kind of scared about that -- about that.
MELVIN: But you decided instead of deleting the video, you decided to do
SANTANA: I decided -- I look at the police report, you know, I went home,
after finished working, I went home, like I say -- and so I was -- people
went to the barber shop, you know, talking about what happened and over
there, next to my house because it`s right there.
And I saw the police report, I read it, it wasn`t like that, like the way
they were saying.
MELVIN: You read the police report?
SANTANA: Yes, and I saw in the news, you know, and I said, no, this is not
the right -- this is not what happened. And I had you know, a friend of
mine and I showed the video to him, and so I tell him what I witnessed.
And he was -- agreed with me, so you know, he told me think about, you
know, what you want to do with this, like I say, and I just put myself in
the position of the family.
You know, that I know if I would have a family member, like I say I want to
know -- I didn`t -- I couldn`t tell what was going to be the decision in
this case if the police would be charged or not.
But I want them to have this and do something about it, because I know if I
wouldn`t give it to them, nothing would happen.
MELVIN: I understand at one point, you also went to the police, is that
MELVIN: And what did you tell them and what did they tell you?
SANTANA: Well, in the video -- I said that it wasn`t abuse in the video, I
said a couple of times. And after that they just get like frustrated, you
know, maybe mad about it.
And when everybody was there, they told me to leave the scene. And I --
MELVIN: Who told you to leave the scene?
SANTANA: One of the police told me to leave -- to leave the scene because
he say that someone was coming over here, so, you know, I don`t like -- I
don`t really catch it at that time, you know --
MELVIN: He said to get away from here?
SANTANA: Yes, like to get --
MELVIN: But he didn`t know that you shot the video?
SANTANA: No, the position I had the video, he wasn`t -- like I say, I
didn`t have it in a position that people would tell, you know, that I`m
At the moment when the victim was down, you know, I had it with me in a
position, like I say, I didn`t really try to catch the video the way I did,
I was just witnessing with my eyes, you know, and just the phone -- let the
phone, you know, do the work.
And yes, I say to the officers, you know, that it wasn`t abuse, that I
witnessed everything and I had a recorder with me.
One of them asked me -- asked me, you know, if that was true, and he said
to wait there. And like I said, he went there, when he say that, I just --
I knew what was going -- that maybe, you know, something happened --
MELVIN: You got scared? --
SANTANA: Yes, I just, you know, (INAUDIBLE), that wasn`t my work already,
you know, working, and I just run out of there. Like I say, I was -- I
knew that they were looking for me.
Maybe they were -- they were looking, you know, for me for this information
because I tell them, you know, that I have that information in my
MELVIN: Are you still scared?
SANTANA: Yes, like I say, but I`m -- I feel -- I feel, you know, like I
did the right thing with the family, and I believe that this can help other
people, you know, this to -- like I said, to not do this kind of stuff.
Like I say, nobody is, you know -- nobody have the right to take the life
of, you know, nobody, like I say, without -- for no reason, you know.
MELVIN: If you had not captured all of this on your cell phone, what do
you think would have happened?
SANTANA: Nothing would have happened.
MELVIN: You don`t think --
SANTANA: I don`t think nothing -- I don`t -- I don`t think nothing would
have happened. And then like I say, that`s why I took my -- the decision
of turning to the family.
MELVIN: What makes you say that? What makes you so sure that nothing would
SANTANA: That`s why I saw the report, the police report, you know, and I
saw that it was going the wrong way. You know, it was going the wrong way,
like I say.
And that`s something that maybe, I can`t be mad, you know, like I say,
because it wasn`t like that. That wasn`t the way I saw it.
You know, I didn`t know the police would be charged, you know, this, I
don`t know, like I say, that I didn`t know what was going to happen, but I
just did that to their family.
MELVIN: I want to go back to just Saturday. Did you -- did you see the
officer administer CPR? Did you see the officer try to do anything to save
SANTANA: When you say officer, are you talking the officer -- which
MELVIN: The officer who shot him?
SANTANA: No. I saw, you know, that he tried to see the -- his --
MELVIN: Check his pulse?
SANTANA: Yes --
MELVIN: Check the pulse --
SANTANA: Check the pulse, yes.
MELVIN: And at what point did you see the officer handcuff him?
SANTANA: Oh, yes, I saw -- I saw, you know, after he went down, he yell at
him, you know, like -- so -- he allowed him, you know, to get arrested.
You know, he yelled at him, you know, that, put your hands in the back, I
remember very well, you know.
MELVIN: But when he screamed to put your hands on your back at that point,
is his body limp? I mean, is he -- is he moving, is he making any sounds?
SANTANA: When that happened, I think he was unconscious, you know, when
that happened. I don`t think, you know, it wouldn`t occur -- there was no
need, you know, to do that.
But like I say, maybe the police saw a different way.
MELVIN: And after he handcuffed him, what did the officer then do?
SANTANA: After he handcuffed him, he just went to get the taser. He went
MELVIN: He went to pick up the taser?
MELVIN: Can you -- did you see him call in shots fired or?
MELVIN: You heard him say, shots fired?
SANTANA: Yes, that was --
MELVIN: Who was --
SANTANA: Before arresting the victim.
MELVIN: OK, did you hear anything else?
SANTANA: No, that`s all I heard.
MELVIN: Were there other people around who saw this with you?
SANTANA: I don`t think so. I don`t think so.
MELVIN: You just happened to be there?
MELVIN: And that`s the way you go to work every day?
SANTANA: It was the way, yes.
MELVIN: You say it was --
SANTANA: It was --
MELVIN: You`re not -- you`re not going that way anymore?
SANTANA: I don`t think so.
MELVIN: Anything you want to add, anything I didn`t ask you?
SANTANA: Well, like I say, this is, you know, a very complicated
situation. And I`m from Dominican Republic, and in Dominican Republic, we
look to the authority of the United States.
You know, we follow over here, you know, what they -- the way -- this trend
over here, you know, the people like I say.
And not just Dominican Republic, I`ll say that all Hispanic countries, you
know and all over the world.
MELVIN: You look up to us?
SANTANA: Yes, and I don`t think, you know, this is a good way to -- you
know, for us to see this, you know.
MELVIN: What do you hope happens because you captured that scene on your
cellphone, what do you want to come from this?
SANTANA: Well, I hope, like I say, I`m putting myself out here, you know,
just -- like I say, to talk and to express, you know, that this cannot be
happening, not just in North Charleston, but in the whole nation; I would
say in the whole -- in the whole world.
You know, this needs to -- you know, and the cops taking advantage of their
power to the minority and to the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That video doesn`t tell the whole story of what happened at
what is now being called a murder scene. We`ll take a look at the police
reports that were released today and the questions that they raise.
We`ll also discuss what the police in North Charleston have done right this
week, that`s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANTANA: I knew, you know, the magnitude of this, and I tried to -- I even
thought about erasing the video and --
SANTANA: I know, I felt that my life, you know, with this information
might be, like I say, in danger.
And I tried to -- you know, I thought about erasing the video and just
getting out of the community, you know, Charleston, you know, and living
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We`re joined now by Msnbc`s Chris Hayes in North Charleston,
Justin Bamberg, one of the attorneys for Walter Scott`s family, Eugene
O`Donnell, professor of law in police studies, J&J College and a former
And here in New York, Jonathan Capehart, a columnist for "The Washington
Post" and an Msnbc contributor.
Chris Hayes, the situation there tonight is striking when we compare it to
the last incident like this that got such heavy coverage in Ferguson,
It seems there is complete calm there in that city, and it seems as though
the way the police have handled this situation since the video emerged is
part of why it`s so calm there.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC: Yes, that`s right, I mean there was a rally at the
steps of the city hall, just a few minutes ago. Still folks actually down
there, but maybe about 20, 25, fairly subdued.
You do not see the just sheer outrage and frustration that you saw in
Ferguson. And I think there`s two reasons for that. One is that the
officer in question is charged with murder.
He was denied bail, he is behind bars. He is going to face a jury if he
doesn`t plea, and the justice system is going to prosecute him like for
first -- that committing a criminal act.
And that is, you know, that is what justice in the micro sense looks like.
I think that the same, you know, had that been the case obviously in
Ferguson, it would be a very different story.
It is a very different place than Ferguson. I mean Ferguson, as the DOJ
report showed us, shares many things with many communities across the
But is an outlier empirically in terms of the number of summons, the
disproportionate nature of traffic stops and all that.
That said, just in talking to people here today, I`ve heard some complaints
about disproportionate policing of black communities here, disproportionate
political power held by old white people in the community as opposed to
younger black folks that do echo Ferguson.
But it`s just a completely different situation, it`s often the context of
what this place is and what we have seen the justice system do in the 24
hours-plus since the tape came out.
O`DONNELL: We just heard Mr. Santana describe his fears in having this
videotape and approaching the police with this videotape that he knew was
Actually saying he feared for his life. Let`s listen to what the mayor
said about the importance of this video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR KEITH SUMMEY, NORTH CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: Without the video,
and that was the only witness there was actually was the gentleman with --
that was making the video.
It would be difficult to ascertain exactly what did occur. We want to
thank the young person that came forward with the video, because it has
helped us resolve the issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Justin Bamberg, there is the mayor thanking Mr. Santana for
coming forward with the video. We just saw Mr. Santana talking about how
afraid he was to be -- to even be in possession of this video.
Were his fears justified?
JUSTIN BAMBERG, LAWYER: I think his fears are reasonable. What he
witnessed is unfathomable to the minds and imaginations for many, if not
most of the people living in the state of South Carolina and in our
To witness an officer gun-down Mr. Scott in cold blood in the fashion and
with the heartless -- the heartless nature that he did, would lead I
believe anyone to suspect that there could be retaliation if you were to
step forward and say that, yes, I caught it on tape and yes, you were
So I understand how he feels, and I do not blame him.
O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, it would be nice to think that confidently,
that we live in a country where if someone like this walks into a police
station and says, hey, I have a video of one of your officers who just shot
and killed someone, you might want to see this.
It`d be nice to think that there would be absolutely no possibility of that
video disappearing after you handed it over to whatever officer took it
there at the desk.
But obviously Mr. Santana didn`t have that confidence.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, JOURNALIST & COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: No, as he
said in the -- in the interview, that they said, well, hold on a minute,
and he got scared and within a minute, he was back at work.
He decided to get the hell out of there. I mean in a situation like this,
it`s understandable, he tried to do the right thing. He went -- he tried
to go to the police after reading the police reports about how this wasn`t
And even then he knew that he was not in the right place. And he went and
he took the video, and maybe Mr. Bamberg can correct me.
Mr. Santana took the video either to the "New York Times" and the local
paper there or took it to the lawyers and then they got it out to the
But you know, if I were in Mr. Santana`s place, I don`t know if I would go
to the police department that hired the person who just shot this person in
I might go to the FBI or to the Feds, some third party. But what he did
here is absolutely heroic.
O`DONNELL: Eugene O`Donnell, as a law enforcement officer, put yourself in
a position of someone walking into the station house with a video like
this. How should that person be received?
EUGENE O`DONNELL, PROFESSOR OF LAW IN POLICE STUDIES, J&J COLLEGE & FORMER
NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT OFFICER: I mean it`s --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They should be received --
O`DONNELL: I exactly --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With --
O`DONNELL: Let me -- let me get this from Eugene O`Donnell here, so --
O`DONNELL: I had the same reaction that Mr. Santana had, Lawrence, when I
saw that, I said this is not America, it should never be tolerated.
Whatever conversations we want to have about law enforcement, this should
focus our attention, and so absolutely there needs to be mechanisms for the
truth to come out.
And clearly here, there may be not a viable case without the video,
although if you look at these reports, you have to say that the reports
look demonstrably screwy and inconsistent --
O`DONNELL: Eugene, we`re going to look -- we`re going to look at the
O`DONNELL: And not reliable --
O`DONNELL: Right after the break, now, but just before we go, I want to
get this last word from you, Eugene, about this.
After a career behind the badge, do you understand the way Mr. Santana felt
and how fearful he was to even be in -- and by the way, fearful of police,
that`s who he was fearful of.
Just to be in possession of --
O`DONNELL: I do --
O`DONNELL: This video.
O`DONNELL: I do. We trained officers in countries where this was -- I
mean I travelled in countries where when you look at the police, you
thought there was absolutely no way you could rely on them to be fair or
just, and so you definitely want to see America as a beacon and this is a
bad -- a bad example of that, for sure.
O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to take a quick break right here. These
are the police reports that were released today, these raised more
questions than they answer, we`re going to come right back with that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDDIE DRIGGERS, POLICE CHIEF, NORTH CHARLESTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: There
are questions that I have in my mind that I can`t answer right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Up next, why those answers are not in these police reports.
O`DONNELL: North Charleston police released all of the incident reports of
the shooting of Walter Scott today, and there is not one word in any of
these reports that indicates any doubt about officer Michael Slager`s
version of why he shot and killed Walter Scott.
Officer Slager did not write an incident report himself, but a sergeant who
responded to the scene and heard radio traffic provided the basic narrative
of the incident report.
"I heard officer Slager advise the dispatch in the direction of travel and
the description of a black male wearing a blue hat and a blue jeans.
I discontinued my traffic stop and proceeded to officer Slager`s location.
While en route to the incident location, officer Slager advised that he
deployed his taser and request for backup units and seconds later, shots
fired and subject is down, he took my taser.
Officer Habersham checked out on scene and EMS was requested. Officer
Bain(ph) advised he was out with officer Slager`s vehicle and have the
I arrived on scene and observed officer Habersham was administering first
aid to the driver, I exited my vehicle and assisted officer Habersham with
first aid and CPR to the driver.
We continued to perform first aid and CRP until EMS arrived on the scene, a
perimeter was established around both the driver`s vehicle and the incident
SLED was notified and responded to the incident location to assume control
of the investigation."
Chris Hayes, the account that appeared in the local paper down there after
the police issued a press release, what`s -- which was a kind of cleaned up
version of that description of the event.
Again, cast absolutely no doubt on that basic narrative of threatened and
threatened by the taser and shooting in defense of that threat by the
Is there -- this is the question everyone has been asking. Is there
suggestion that there was going to be more digging down there by the local
media or by anyone to try to go deeper into this case if this video not
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": The one thing -- I mean, it is
obviously impossible to say what would have happened. The one thing I will
say is this. South Carolina does have a fairly unique protocol, and I
think a good one, which is that SLED, which is referred to in that police
report, the State Law Enforcement Division, automatically investigates
officer involved shooting.
So at the very least it is not the case that the police department that has
employed, trained, worked with, come to trust, you know, love, be friends
with the officer in question, are the ones that are going to investigate
what happened. There will be some independent entity.
My sense is that an autopsy would have been conducted as a matter of course
for SLED and that autopsy would have, one presumes, found eight entry
wounds in the back of this man, and that would have been a red flag. What
would have been done with that? Would the autopsy have been conducted? It
appears that it probably would have having talked to someone today who is
familiar with how SLED went around about this process.
So it is possible that SLED would have come to that moment and there would
have been some sort of accounting. Now again who knows? And who knows
what would have been done with that. It did seem that there wasn`t -- this
was not a -- it was a big story. It got covered on the local news, it got
covered by the local paper when it happened on Saturday. It`s not every
day in this town that there`s an officer involved shooting, the police
officer shoots and kills someone.
At the same time, I think that story would have stuck until the autopsy,
and even at the autopsy, I mean, the question you have to ask yourself, I`m
working on a story right now that we`re reporting out, somewhere else in
the country in which the police account and the autopsy diverge. We`re
trying to sort of get to the bottom of it. But it hasn`t become a big
story. So it`s possible that it wouldn`t have exploded.
O`DONNELL: Well, Eugene and I -- O`Donnell and I will not belabor the
point of how many versions of stories there are in police reports that are
used to justify shots found in the back. We don`t have time for that right
now but believe me, they have narratives that get around that. I want to
read the most important -- what may be the most important page of the
incident report. It`s the fifth page of the report. It`s an amendment
added by Officer Habersham.
He -- we will see him on the video. He was the first officer to respond to
the scene. He`s the first officer to get there to the body that`s lying
there. There he is, there`s Officer Habersham right there. He`s there
when Officer Slager approaches the body for the first time. Here is what -
he -- here is the entirety of his report.
"On April 4th, 2015, I, Officer Habersham, responded to the empty lot
behind Mega Pond in reference to the above incident. I Habersham attempted
to render aid to the victim by applying pressure to the gunshot wounds and
directing the best route for EMS and Fire to take to get to the victim
Justin Bamberg, there`s not one word of what we might consider eyewitness
testimony by Officer Habersham of events occurring at the scene once he got
there. There`s no description there of any movements by Officer Slager,
any picking up or dropping of objects by Officer Slager, as has been
discussed. That is all we have about what happened at that scene.
JUSTIN BAMBERG, ATTORNEY FOR WALTER SCOTT FAMILY: Yes, sir. When I looked
at the incident reports, what they may as well say is -- in my opinion, see
no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. There are a lot of questions that
need to be answered and gaps that need to be filled in terms of from the
officer`s perspectives, what exactly happened, what did these officers who
were on the scene, what did they hear, did they hear multiple shots? What
did they see? Did they see a physical altercation?
Did they see the victim running away? Did they see the victim get shot in
his back? There are just -- there are so many questions and -- we need
answers, and we are going to work until we get to the bottom of exactly
what happened out there. But we already know and the video shows that.
O`DONNELL: But, you know, Eugene O`Donnell, you`ve read more police
reports than any of us here. And these are pretty disappointing in terms
of being information about the situation.
I want to go another point, though, about Mr. Santana. He says that an
officer on the scene told him to leave. Now right there you have a scene
that`s being mismanaged since there are obviously people there who might be
witnesses. Your job there is to find out who the witnesses might be, isn`t
EUGENE O`DONNELL, FORMER NYPD OFFICER: Unequivocally. I mean, in the
absence of a video, and we saw this in the Zimmerman case also. You have
to get precision and detail and a timeline and you have to see at the end,
is this plausible or implausible. And that`s only gotten with precision.
These reports are ripe with imprecision and hearsay, and really I`ve -- and
really give somebody who is claiming something that`s not true too much
wiggle room to be able to do that.
O`DONNELL: Quickly, Jonathan Capehart?
CAPEHART: I have a question for Attorney Bamberg.
And, Attorney Bamberg, how much confidence would you have had in SLED had
this video not surfaced?
BAMBERG: Had the video not surfaced, and I will say this, is that
throughout the course of the investigation, thus far, SLED has been in
contact with us in terms of keeping an open line of communication. I like
to think that they would have done their job. There are a lot of awesome
SLED officers. But the video was key.
O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes, Justin Bamberg and Jonathan Capehart, thank you
all for joining me tonight.
Up next, what police in North Charleston have gotten right after that video
O`DONNELL: Officer Michael Slager who shot and killed Walter Scott was
fired from the police department today. He`s being held without bail. But
the mayor of North Charleston announced today that the city will extend a
very important consideration to Officer Slager`s wife, who is eight months
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR KEITH SUMMEY, NORTH CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: The officer that was
terminated, his wife is eight months pregnant. And while she -- he`s been
terminated, the city is going to continue to cover the insurance on her for
the baby until after the baby is born. We think that is the humane thing
for us to do, and we`re going to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Reverend Nelson Rivers, vice president of
Religious Affairs and External Relations, National Action Network, and
LaDoris Cordell, the first black woman appointed to the bench in northern
California, independent police auditor for the city of San Jose.
Can we begin by agreeing that the city has done the right thing in
extending that health insurance for a woman who`s eight months pregnant?
REV. NELSON RIVERS, CHARITY MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH: Yes, I would agree.
O`DONNELL: Very simple humane move. In addition to that, the body cameras,
it`s another item we haven`t mentioned. Every officer there is now going
to have a body camera. I don`t think they were prior to that video coming
out, but now they are.
RIVERS: Well, there`s two parts. There`s a senator in South Carolina,
Senator Marlon Kimpson, who`s been pushing a bill to get body cameras all
over the state. And the bill was going nowhere. But he did get a grant
for North Charleston to get 100 cameras a little while ago. And they were
ordered according to what the mayor told me today and then they decided
after the video, after this, that everyone needed a body camera, which is
what was said from the beginning.
And so now, 251 body cameras will be in North Charleston, according to the
mayor, for every officer who has any kind of duty outside of the desk. And
that`s a good thing. It also came because of a lot of people putting
pressure on a lot of folk and South Carolina still has not moved on the
bill. But now the city of North Charleston, because of this, I think, and
also it`s the -- the third largest city in the state.
My church is there. I live there. I grew up in the area. Was NAACP
president, National Action Network vice president. And a lot of things
that occurred to bring this about, I think, from where the city, so you`re
right, they did some things right this week.
We learned on Sunday, Lawrence, I went to the place where Mr. Scott was
killed on Sunday for a prayer vigil, Easter Sunday. He was known by
members of my church, and they put -- quickly, one of the things you did in
the earlier segment is how fast the narrative was, the standard gangster
deserved to die kind of a thing. But people said no, that`s not -- that`s
not Walter. You can`t be talking about Walter.
When I went to the scene, that changed and it changed my mind, it made me
understand it was not true. The report was not true.
O`DONNELL: But, Doris Cordell, what do you think the police have done
right this week in stipulating after that video was revealed?
JUDGE LADORIS CORDELL, SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA INDEPENDENT POLICE AUDITOR:
Well, one of the things you`ve brought up is the body cameras. I mean,
this shooting should convince even the skeptics now that when there is a
police officer involved shooting that the shooting -- this is no longer can
be justified by the observer. This is now -- it`s in the eye -- not in the
eye of the beholder, which is the police officer, it`s in the eye of the
In addition, what`s missing, there has to be a protocol. A set of
procedures that spells out exactly when officers are to turn the cameras on
and off. That protocol should be made public and put online so you can
have the best cameras in the world. If you don`t have a protocol that is
clear, they`re not going to be any use at all. So that`s critical.
I do want to point out one thing that people have been talking about is
that, you know, we have police reports. It`s really important to know that
in the police academy, officers are trained how to write police reports.
They`re to be detailed. They`re in chronological order. I`ve taken a look
at these incident reports. I have never seen incident reports like these.
And I say that in a negative fashion in that whenever there is a homicide,
this is a homicide, police reports, they`re usually 50, 60 pages of
I have never seen such reports where each officer wrote two sentences or
the lead officer wrote 15 sentences and that`s it. And they`re almost
identical, if you look at some of these passages in these incident reports.
So that`s something they`ve done wrong. There`s something very wrong with
O`DONNELL: And with this really bad shooting, not one word of doubt in
those police reports. I`m sorry, we`re out of time tonight.
Reverend Nelson Rivers, thank you very much.
RIVERS: Thank you very much.
O`DONNELL: LaDoris Cordell, thank you also.
Coming up, the reaction of the survivors of the Boston marathon bombing
after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty on 30 counts.
Former congressman Barney Frank from Boston will join us as well as
Professor Alan Dershowitz.
O`DONNELL: Some of the victims of the Boston marathon bombing had very
emotional reactions today to the verdict reached in that case.
And the next question before that jury is should Dzhokhar Tsarnaev be put
to death? That`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: After 11 hours of deliberation, a federal court jury found
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty on 30 counts, guilty on 30 counts of charges he
faced for carrying out the Boston marathon bombing with his brother
Tamerlan. For 17 of the counts, the death penalty is a possible sentence
including count one, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction
resulting in death, in which the jury found Tsarnaev specifically
responsible for the deaths of Krystle Marie Campbell, Officer Sean Collier,
Lingzi Lu, and Martin Richard.
Martin Richard`s family released this statement today. "The Richard family
would like to take law enforcement and the Department of Justice for their
efforts in this matter. The Richard family has no comment on the verdict.
We ask that you respect the family`s privacy especially their young
children during this time."
The family of MIT police officer, Sean Collier, said, "While today`s
verdict can never bring Sean back, we are thankful that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
will be held accountable for the evil that he brought to so many families.
Rebekah Gregory, who lost her leg in the bombings, spoke outside her Texas
home after the verdict was announced.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REBEKAH GREGORY, BOSTON BOMBING SURVIVOR: I don`t believe that there will
ever be justice brought to this no matter if he does get the death penalty
or he remains in prison for the rest of his life. I do believe, however,
that he should be held accountable for his actions, and I`m very thankful
for each of the jury members that are making him do that.
I may be standing on one fake leg, but I`m standing here stronger than
ever, because someone tried to destroy me, and he failed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, two Boston areas observers of that trial,
former Massachusetts congressman, Barney Frank, and professor emeritus at
Harvard Law School, Alan Dershowitz.
Congressman Frank, it strikes me that this verdict is a success of sorts
for the kind of surveillance that we have out there that we never really
expected to be living with, that we could be recorded on video everywhere
we go, including, for example, just walking down Boylston Street.
BARNEY FRANK, FORMER MASSACHUSETTS REPRESENTATIVE: Absolutely, Lawrence.
In the face of terrible tragedy, there were two arguments in favor of
cameras and surveillance, and some of my friends, people who are worried
about privacy, I think need to take this into account. You would have -- I
think that cop would have completely gotten away with murder and you would
not have gotten Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
So I think this is very important affirmation that we need to, A, fund
these things well and do them well, and do them in the right way. This is
-- this is an argument in favor of surveillance point to point.
O`DONNELL: Professor Dershowitz, there were some hasty calls when this
arrest was made about let`s have military tribunals for him, get this out
of the courthouse, the courthouse can`t handle this.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, this is a great success for the
American justice system. And a great tribute to the citizens of Boston.
We were devastated, we were destroyed. Everybody has friends who were
hurt. And yet Boston presented this trial as a model. You know, you could
argue about the death penalty or not, but he got a fair trial. He had a
superb set of lawyers who presented the best defense, good prosecutors,
good jurors. And they came to a just verdict. You don`t need military
tribunals that aren`t really courts to bring about justice in America.
O`DONNELL: Let`s get to what is going to be the next phase, which is the
death penalty question.
Congressman Frank, what is your view of that?
FRANK: Well, I am opposed to the death penalty and have been. But I want
to differentiate. I have never joined in the kind of sympathy for people
who were facing the death penalty. To be honest, this is a terrible human
being and he clearly, one of the important things here is not simply that
there`s accountability, but that this terrible person is never going to be
in the position to hurt another person, whether he`s killed or in prison
That`s a very important thing to accomplish. I do not favor the death
penalty, not because of any sympathy for him. I disagree with those who
say well, it`s inevitably brutalizing to execute people. We have the
possibility. And I just do not think, we`ve seen cases where there was
error, and so you can`t say OK, I`m against the death penalty in general
because there was a possibility.
But this one is so bad I`m going to do it. The other thing, I think we
always got to be clear. We`re not debating the death penalty versus
nothing. We are talking about in this case, I believe this will happen.
Life in prison with no possibility of parole. And here the American
justice system, which is better than some of the Europeans, where the
maximum sentence could be 20, 30 years, 40 years, not very much in terms of
what`s justified for a guy this young.
So I am not in favor of the death penalty as a matter of principle, and the
principle being that we can make mistakes and shouldn`t do anything
irrevocable when there are alternatives that are almost as good. Locking
this monster away for the rest of his life so he never harm anybody else
seems to me an adequate punishment.
O`DONNELL: All right. We`re going to take a quick break here. When we
come back, we got Professor Dershowitz`s reaction to the death penalty
issue in this case. We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: We`re back with Barney Frank and Alan Dershowitz.
Professor Dershowitz, a poll says 62 percent of Bostonians think he should
get life without parole. Only 27 percent want the death penalty. But
there`s that strange hurdle that the jury has to get over where they have
to say we can apply the death penalty, which in effect sounds like you end
up with a jury, in Boston anyway, that is not representative of the
DERSHOWITZ: I think the framers of the Constitution would be turning over
in their graves like this. Jurors were supposed to represent the views of
the community. Not the views of the pro-death penalty part of the
community. It also brings about religious discrimination. For example,
Catholic Church and the archbishops that have announced opposition to the
death penalty. Does that mean that religious Catholics can`t serve on the
jury or Jews who oppose the death penalty, or protestants who come from
It`s a very skewed system. And also because we have the same jury deciding
guilt and innocence gives the prosecution an upper hand in the guilt phase.
Not in this case, because here it was obvious but in a close case.
Sometimes prosecutors seek the death penalty only to get rid of jurors who
are scrupulous and against the death penalty if they know they get a much
more pro prosecution jury. That`s why the whole death penalty process is
O`DONNELL: We have an incredible record in Boston life about this. And
that is the letter that Ted Kennedy wrote to the judge, the sentencing
judge in the trial of Sirhan Sirhan. And Ted Kennedy wrote to that judge
saying, "My brother was a man of love and sentiment and compassion. He
would not have wanted his death to be a cause for the taking of another
Barney Frank, that was an extraordinary model of how --
FRANK: It was, but I have to tell you, I disagreed with it some, with my
enormous respect. I am against the death penalty, as I said, for systemic
reasons because there are cases where you make a mistake. But I do not
feel any sympathy or any -- it does not bother me that this guy will be
executed if he is, for him personally. Again, I disagree with the policy.
But no, I -- this man is not an object of any sympathy. I don`t think that
-- and I think it is very important that he be confined forever, and I do
think it`s important to make that distinction.
It`s a bad idea for a fallible society that`s going to make a certain
number amount of mistakes to do one thing something that is irrevocable
when there are options. But that should not be confused with any
(INAUDIBLE) this poor guy.
O`DONNELL: Professor Dershowitz.
DERSHOWITZ: Well, I agree with the systemic argument, but a lot of the
victims in this case, if I asked, would say they don`t want the death
penalty. I think that`s a relevant factor as well.
O`DONNELL: What about the victims who would say we do want it?
DERSHOWITZ: I know, and that`s -- you need unanimity to get a death
O`DONNELL: That`s an important legal point. I just want to --
FRANK: Some of the victims are dead. We don`t know what the victims would
DERSHOWITZ: Of course. Right. Of course. What John Kennedy --
O`DONNELL: Just make that important legal point. This jury has to be
unanimous on the death penalty.
DERSHOWITZ: That`s right. If you get one juror who opposes it, I know
Judy Clarke as a lawyer, she`s going to be focusing on two or three jurors.
And she`s not going to expect a unanimous life imprisonment. All she`s
looking for is two or three.
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Barney. Quickly.
FRANK: Yes. People who think oh, if he doesn`t get the death penalty
America is soft. Listen, life in prison without parole, and I`m sure that
will be enforced, is a far tougher sentence appropriately than you`d get in
almost any other Western nation.
O`DONNELL: Barney Frank and Alan Dershowitz, thank you both for this
incredible conversation tonight. Thank you.
Chris Hayes is up next.
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