PoliticsNation, Thursday, April 30th, 2015
Read the transcript from the Thursday show
Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: April 30, 2015
Guest: Paul Butler, Eugene O`Donnell, Cornell William Brooks, Lawrence
Kobilinsky; Eugene O`Donnell; Mary Koch
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, ed. And thanks for you
for tuning in. I`m live tonight in Baltimore with breaking news.
Right now, we`re seeing the first protests since police handed findings
from their investigation to the state`s attorney. We`re also hearing for
the first time from the passenger, Dante Alan, who shared the police van
with Freddie Gray. He spoke to WBLAL`s Jane Miller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Alan did not know a man was already in the
van. Freddie Gray was on the right side, Alan was loaded on to the left
side. A solid divider separated them. In an interview, Alan described
what he heard. Once you got in the van, what did you hear?
DANTE ALAN, WITH FREDDIE GRAY IN THE SAME VAN: When I got in the van, I
didn`t hear nothing. It was a smooth rob. We went straight to the police
station. All I heard was like a little banging for about four seconds.
You know what I mean? I just heard a little banging, you know, just little
-- you know what I mean, boom, boom, just little banging.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Sources have told us that by the time Alan
was loaded, Gray was unresponsive. You can see officers at that stop
looking into Gray`s side of the van with its doors fully open.
ALAN: When we got to the police station, they said he didn`t have no pulse
or nothing. They calling his name, Mr. Gray, Mr. Gray, and he wasn`t
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This follows a controversial new report in "the Washington
Post," which claims that same passenger told police he heard Gray
intentionally trying to injure himself. Also today, police revealing
they`ve learned about an additional stop that the police van made after
Freddie Gray`s arrest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The second stop has been revealed to us during the
course of our investigation and was previously unknown to us. We
discovered this new stop based on our thorough and comprehensive and
ongoing review of all CCTV cameras and privately owned cameras and in fact,
this new stop has been -- was discovered from a privately owned camera.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The police reports are not being made public. But a local
Washington, D.C., station, WJLA, is citing anonymous law enforcement
sources, who say Gray`s injury was caused inside the van, when he slammed
into the back of the van. It also claims a bolt on the van matches an
injury on Gray`s head.
We`ve got team coverage across Baltimore tonight and we expect a police
briefing within the hour.
Joining me now is MSNBC national correspondent, Joy Reid, who`s on the
ground with protesters tonight. Joy, what is going on where you are?
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST, THE REID REPORT: Well, Rev., this was a protest that
actually converged from both east Baltimore and west Baltimore. The two
neighborhood both launching simultaneous marches that then converged and
the entire team came down to city hall. Hundreds of people out here in
city hall. How are y`all doing? We`ll walk through a little bit and let`s
see if we can talk to a couple of people. Let`s stop here. May I ask you
what brought you here today?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justice! That`s it. Just justice.
REID: And for you, what does that mean? What do you want to see in terms
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See them polices go down, because they were wrong for
what they did.
REID: And do you feel like the process so far has been fair?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not at all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They aren`t gone down yet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like they putting all the attention on the
burning down and all of that, but at the end of the day, you cannot bring
Freddie back. You can all come and make Baltimore spanking brand-new. You
have enough money to do that. You cannot bring this man`s life back at
all. Never. You can`t bring that back. So it`s not only about just
Freddie Gray, there are a lot of Freddie Grays everywhere in America and
everybody`s tired of it. We`re tired of it. It`s never going to be no
justice. The system never was made to be justice for us. It was never
made like that. So it`s never going to be. If this is what takes for all
y`all to be here, this what it takes, this right here, for the destruction
of Baltimore to happen, don`t act like Baltimore is spanking brand-new.
Y`all took all of that. When we tried to, y`all still wanted to take it
away. It`s only going to get worse.
REID: Yes. And Rev., I think you can hear -- thank you very much. Thank
And I think you can hear the passion. This is what we`ve been hearing all
day, Rev. People are very passionate and angry, but everyone was peaceful.
As they were marching was, we love Baltimore, we want peace. That was the
chant all the crowd was doing as they got here. Very passionate and angry,
but a very peaceful gathering here at city hall.
SHARPTON: You`re right, Joy, I`ve heard that all over Baltimore today.
Joy, stay with us. I want to bring in MSNBC`s Trymaine Lee.
Trymaine, what do you see?
TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: How you doing, Rev.?
So there are hundreds of people gathered here in front of city hall, and
even in the midst of all the latest developments, folks said, we don`t know
what to trust until the investigation is final. One thing they said they
do know, and they said over and over again, is that Freddie Gray is dead
and he didn`t need to be. And so they go back to that origin al stop.
People don`t understand what he was initially detained for in the first
place. They say that he made eye contact with police and ran from there.
They say that is not illegal.
So their concern is more than whatever is happening now in terms of the
leaks, is like, why was Freddie Gray stopped in the first place. They
still don`t have clear, concise answers to why that young man is dead.
SHARPTON: Now, I`ve heard over and over again, no one can go into the van
until you first deal with why was he in the van? Why was he in custody?
Whatever happened, it happened while he when he was in custody? And it
does not seem to be a real answer as to why he was in custody in the first
LEE: And that`s the part that concerns folks, especially with the
revelation from police today that there was this stop that no one knew
about, that apparently, you have to glean that investigators didn`t know
that their fellow officers actually made this additional stop. And that it
took a private camera to be obtained to get that, you know, information.
And so people are troubled by the fact that surrounding this mysterious
injury, this mysterious fatal injury, there`s this gap in time, that
somehow has not been explained.
SHARPTON: All right, Trymaine, stay with us. Trymaine is with us for the
Joining me now is great family attorney, Mary Koch. Thank you, first of
all, for being here, Attorney Koch.
MARY KOCH, GRAY`S FAMILY ATTORNEY: You`re welcome. Thank you for having
SHARPTON: Now, the other prisoner in the van says he heard light banging,
light banging. That`s very different from what was reported in "the
Washington Post." what`s the family`s reaction to all of these reports?
KOCH: The family`s reaction to all of these reports is that right now.
There are a lot of rumors swirling around. There is contradictory evidence
swirling around. We`ve had no opportunity to review the evidence to verify
it. So the family really is in a posture where they are waiting to see
what the actual evidence is, what the actual statements are, what the
prosecutors now has in her possession and to see what actually happened, at
least as far as the evidence shows, before they make any statements or
judgments about where this case is going right now.
SHARPTON: Attorney Koch, who would have given "the Washington Post" the
police report that Freddie Gray was trying to hurt himself?
KOCH: Well, what has been reported was that somehow -- that that was an
affidavit that was attached to a request for a search and seizure warrant
for certain evidence that the police wanted to seize and review. It would
be in very limited hands. The search and seizure warrant would be in the
hands of the police officers. From there, with you know, normally the
normal course is is that the police officers draft, sign the search and
seizure warrant, present it to a judge, depending on the time of day and
the location and execution of the warrant, that warrant is then signed.
Oftentimes, warrants are left at the scene, but my understanding is this
was a sealed warrant, so really, it would be limited, I can only -- the
only people I can think of right now who would have had access to the
warrant are the police officers and the judge.
SHARPTON: Now, another report from a local Washington, D.C., station says
law enforcement sources told them Freddie Gray`s head injury matches a bump
in the back of the van. Is the family aware of this report?
KOCH: I`m sorry, with it`s a little bit loud. Could you repeat that for
SHARPTON: We have another report from a Washington, D.C. station that says
that law enforcement sources told them, Freddie Gray`s head injury matches
a bump in the back of the van. Is the family aware of this report?
KOCH: You know, we talked to the family on an ongoing basis and what the
family is really not interested in right now is what other people outside
of the police department and the state`s attorney`s office are reporting,
because right now none of that is confirmed, it`s innuendo, they`re relying
on us as their legal team to find -- to get to the bottom of this and to
review the evidence that the state`s attorney`s office hopefully will
eventually release. So they really don`t pay attention to that. They
leave it to us, to investigate, and to come back to them, and talk to them
about what`s going on with this case.
SHARPTON: Now, other reports say Freddie Gray could have been having
seizures in the back of the police van. Does he have any medical history
that would suggest that`s possible?
KOCH: I have not -- I am not aware of any such information. Again, you
know, for some reason, people feel it necessary to feel the gaps where we
have no information with information that is nothing more than speculation
and rumor. And so I don`t know where that information comes from. I can,
at this point, verify it or deny it, except to say, I have no knowledge
that that`s true.
SHARPTON: Now, let`s go back to what you said, that it was reported today
that the van carrying Freddie Gray made another stop that they had not
previously known about. What`s your take on that?
KOCH: My take on that is that highly unusual. And it raises sort of the
hairs on the back of my neck, in terms of the investigation of this case,
because typically what happens in a situation is, the wagon man is by
himself, driving the transport vehicle. And so it`s highly unusual that he
would not have some kind of radio communication with other officers to
indicate to them what he was doing and why he was doing that, because he
would need, potentially, you would expect, some support and for people to
know what was going on. I find it highly unusual that there would be a
stop captured and no radio transmissions to correlate to that stop. But,
again, we need to see what that evidence is. Go ahead. I`m sorry.
SHARPTON: Now the police today -- the police said today they turned over
their findings to the state`s attorney, who`s conducting her own
investigation. Is the family confident in the state`s attorney?
KOCH: The family has no reason to doubt that Miss Mosby and her staff will
do their very best to get to the bottom of all of this, to sift through the
evidence, to evaluate the evidence, to, you know, honestly evaluate it.
It`s going to be a question of, how much of the evidence actually got to
the state`s attorney, whether or not there`s additional information that
needs to be gathered, but they have full faith in that Miss Mosby will do
her job and do her job appropriately.
SHARPTON: How soon do they expect a decision on charges?
KOCH: You know, our position has always been, and when I say, "our
position," and I`m speaking for the family, is that we don`t put a time
limit on it. What we want is we want a fair, thorough investigation and
evaluation of the evidence and that the appropriate decision be based on
that evidence, so any resulting arrest that comes from that are solid at
trial and solid on appeal, if it gets that far. And that we want to ensure
that there is justice for Freddie. And that every citizen in Baltimore
feels when this investigation is done, that this case was treated
SHARPTON: Mary Koch, lawyer for the Gray family, thank you for your time
KOCH: Thank you so much for having me.
SHARPTON: Now I want to bring in Eugene O`Donnell, professor of law and
police study at John Jay College of criminal justice.
Eugene, what`s your reaction from hearing from the other passenger in the
van, who says he didn`t hear much, just a, quote, "little banging." What`s
your reaction to that?
EUGENE O`DONNELL, PROFESSOR, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: It
underscore was the attorney just said wisely, which is, there`s a long way
to go here, even though it seems like we`ve waited a long time, but that
there`s inconsistencies, it`s not "law & order" or CSI, that we`re all used
to hearing stories that don`t necessarily comport. And at the end of the
day, the prosecutor is feverishly working to get this story sorted out.
And in this era of cameras, it`s even more complicated and I think that`s
why they`re even more cautious. Because I don`t think they don`t want to
come down endorsing a set of facts and then find out after the fact that
there`s a camera that depicts something inconsistent with what they`re
vouching for. So I think that`s one of the reasons why there`s major
caution going on about giving us details.
SHARPTON: What is your reaction to the fact that we`re now hearing there
was another stop that we did not hear of before? That they actually made a
stop while Gray was in the van.
O`DONNELL: The absolutely minimum here, minimum, is a mistake that the
department`s already acknowledged, so we`re working from that, which is
they didn`t get this guy medical care, and working up from the absolutely
minimum is the possibility that they were interviewed and didn`t say
anything about the stop, because they know that they didn`t care to take
care of him. And then beyond that, there`s darker possibilities of an
assault that actually happened.
But, again, I think this is why the timeline, second-to-second, moment-to-
moment, is crucial, and why we simply, in the middle of this ten days or
so, we don`t know nearly as much as we need to know. Obviously, the
medical evidence is going to be crucial and there`s quite a distance to go
And what the attorney said, if ultimately, this is a crime, in all
honestly, having been a prosecutor, you know that in the interest of
justice, giving out more information can undermine a successful
prosecution, if this ultimately becomes a criminal matter. You can do that
to the detriment of a successful prosecution, giving out information too
SHARPTON: Eugene, please stay with me. Eugene will be with us for the
hour. We`re following the protests here in Baltimore tonight, as we head
again toward a police briefing in just a few minutes.
And later, who is Baltimore`s state`s attorney? Marilyn Mosby will oversee
the Freddie Gray investigation. Today, she made some news about another
investigation, and there`s also a protest in Philadelphia. We`ll be right
back. A big news night, so stay with us.
KEVIN DAVIS, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, BALTIMORE POLICE DEPARTMENT: The second
stop has been revealed to us during the course of our investigation and was
previously unknown to us. We discovered this new stop based on our
thorough and comprehensive and ongoing review of all CCTV cameras and
privately owned cameras. And in fact, this new stop was discovered from a
privately owned camera.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Baltimore police today revealing the van carrying Freddie Gray
made another stop that we hadn`t known about. So what happened there and
why did it take this long for investigators to find out about it?
And the other big question of the day, what did the other prisoner in that
van hear? "The Washington Post" reported that the second man told
investigators that he could hear Gray, quote, "trying to injure himself."
But as we mentioned earlier, WBAL`s Jane Miller spoke with the second
prisoner in the van, and he told her something different.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN: When I got in the van, I didn`t hear nothing. It was a smooth ride.
We went straight to the police station. All I heard was like a little
banging for like four seconds. You know what I mean? I just heard little
banging, you know, just little -- you know what I mean? Boom, boom, just
little banging. Just little banging.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Baltimore city councilman, Nick Mosby, who
represents Freddie Gray`s neighborhood. Thank you for being here,
NICK MOSBY, BALTIMORE CITY COUNCILMAN: Thanks for having me on, Reverend.
SHARPTON: The second man in the van, councilman, saying he just heard a
little bit of noise. What`s your reaction?
MOSBY: It`s interesting. I mean, I think it`s different than what we`ve
heard before. And it`s concerning. I mean, I think the biggest thing that
came out today was, I think the police talked about, there was an
additional stop that the only reason that they knew about it was from a
private cell phone camera. That`s the type of stuff that folks want to
know about and hear about and it makes folks even more suspicious. I mean,
the one thing that always takes most people back to is why Freddie Gray,
why was he a suspect, why was he chased, why was he detained is and
ultimately arrested and not really provided with the information to the
public why he laid in a shock trauma bed. Many people look at this 25-
year-old young man, seemingly healthy, and they just don`t understand how a
turn of events can happen so quickly.
SHARPTON: I`m hearing everywhere of meetings today and down in the street,
people saying that we still don`t know, weeks later, why he was taken into
custody in the first place. As the councilman of the district where
Freddie Gray lived, how does that strike you that weeks later, we still
don`t understand why he was in police custody, less know what happened in
police custody, but why he was even the there, in the van in police
custody, in the first place.
MOSBY: Reverend Al, you`re exactly right. If you know, you know, I came
out with "the Baltimore Sun" a couple weeks ago asking those exact
questions. See, it`s that basic fundamental information that allows the
community to be a part of the process, but when you do not provide it and
if you don`t have transparency for basic information, like, why was he a
suspect, why was he chased, why was he arrested, folks have a huge amount
of skepticism with the process and that further exacerbates the trust of
the community, the trust of the investigation with the police department.
And I think that that was the catalyst to a lot of the initial protests and
unrest in this city.
SHARPTON: Now, it corresponds with the claims we`ve heard for years in
Baltimore, and frankly, around the country, that people are being stopped
for no reason. And I think we don`t know where the investigation will
lead, but I think that is what has, in many ways, raised a lot of
passionate and real concern, is that maybe he did nothing that caused an
arrest, and maybe he was stopped like so many have claimed around the
country, they`re just stopped for being young black males.
MOSBY: That`s right, Reverend Al. We know that African-American men are
disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system. And, you know,
we talk about the war on drugs. It`s really the war on urban America,
specifically young African-American men. And you know, the one thing that
I`ll say, Reverend Al, "the Baltimore sun" did an article a couple weeks
back, and they basically detailed all the civilian complaints over the past
six years and how the city paid out $11 million for those complaints.
Paying our taxpayers money to deal with cops that are habitually causing
issues in our community.
This is really a turning point in the city of Baltimore. We have to
develop policies that really put teeth into going after the focuses who
aren`t doing right in our communities. At the end of the day, there`s a
large percentage, I would say probably 90, 95 percent of the folks on the
police force who are doing the right job.
But unfortunately, that small percentage are really driving the perception
in the community and exacerbating the distrust. And in order to have a
quality criminal justice system, you need to have community involvement,
and we simply do not have it in west Baltimore and all throughout urban
SHARPTON: Now, I`ve heard all over the city today and in the summon
meeting we had with national civil rights leaders, that there is a need for
structural change. What can be done legislatively? You all remember the
city council. What can the legislature in the city council and the state
do to deal with this issue?
MOSBY: I would say three things. First, body cameras. We need body
cameras. The city council passed a body camera bill to have it on every
single officer. The mayor vetoed it and said that she wants to do more of
a pilot. So we`re rolling out a pilot of about 100, but I think we need to
increase that. I think we need to go into these areas hardest hit by these
complaints and all officers wear body cameras.
Also based off this, I think we need to put cameras in all vans. You know,
all of the police vans, the paddy wagons should have cameras. Secondly,
the law enforcement bill of rights needs to be looked into. Right now in
the state of Maryland, a police officer can go ten days without having to,
you know, provide any testimony associated with a complaint.
And lastly and thoroughly, we need to develop a way of ensuring that the
officers who are committing these crimes habitually are dealt with, meaning
they`re no longer police officers. If I did something wrong on my job, I
would be punished for it.
Councilman, please stand by. Stay with me.
Joining me now on the phone is Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky, a forensic
scientist and professor at John Jay College of criminal justice. Thank you
for being here, Dr. Kobilinsky.
LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST (via phone): Sure, good evening.
SHARPTON: Could someone -- I need to know this -- could someone have
broken their own neck like this? Is it physically possible?
KOBILINSKY: No. I would say that it is not possible. You would need to
exert a very strong force, an impact in a particular area that would affect
the vertebrae and fracture them. I think, I would say, that certainly, in
the van, if he were alone, he could not create those fractures.
SHARPTON: Now, there`s a local TV station, Doctor, in Washington, claiming
that a head injury on Freddie Gray matches a bump in the van. What do you
make of that?
KOBILINSKY: You know, I think there are two issues here. I think the --
we know about the fractured three vertebrae, we know about the spinal cord
that was severed about 80 percent. And I think given what we have observed
when they dragged him to the van, it seems to me that the initial injury
occurred during the struggle with the police, during that takedown, perhaps
a knee on the neck. I mean, that could, theoretically, have damaged the
vertebrae. And I think there may have been an incomplete or partial
severance of the cord.
But I think that when he was brought into the van, I think that any kind of
action on his part, whether it was bending of the head, a rotation or a
flexion or an extension of the head, any of those types of activities would
have severed the cord even further.
So I think it was a two-step situation. I think the initial injury to the
vertebrae happened before he entered the van and the severance of the cord
was exacerbated and continued in the van. That would explain, I think, the
observations that we`ve all made.
SHARPTON: Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky, thank you for your time.
Much more of today`s breaking news ahead. We`re expecting a police
briefing just a few minutes away. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: We`re back with the breaking news out of Baltimore. The
Baltimore police have turned over their Freddie Gray death report. The
state`s attorney, Marilyn Mosby, will now decide if officers will be
charged in the Freddie Gray case.
Today, her statement said, quote, "we have been briefed regularly,
throughout their process while simultaneously conducting our own
independent investigation, into the death of Freddie Gray. While we have
and will continue to leverage the information received by the department,
we are not relying solely on their findings, but rather the facts that we
have gathered and verifies."
News today, her office is conducting an independent investigation. She has
not released a timetable.
Joining me now is Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor and professor of
law at Georgetown university. Thank you for being here, Paul.
PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It`s great to be here, Reverend.
SHARPTON: What`s the state attorney doing now? Where does she go from
BUTLER: I think she`s looking at two potential crimes. One, homicide,
whether we`re talking about murder or something that`s premeditated, not
likely. Voluntary manslaughter, certainly. But Al, as importantly, she`s
thinking about obstruction of justice. Because some of what we`re seeing
suggests a cover-up. You know, this news, first of all, about the police
report that said that Mr. Gray was arrested without force, that`s a big
lie. That`s evident from the videotape. And now again, there`s reason to
be concerned about why this second stop wasn`t reported. It looks like
officers are trying to hide something, and again that raises a prosecutor`s
SHARPTON: Now, there`s no timetable given. How much time do you think?
BUTLER: You know, really, as long as it takes. We`ve heard that she`s
already started this investigation. You know, people are going want to to
make sure that she`s objective. Sometimes there are concerns that, because
prosecutors have to work very closely with the police, that they don`t
investigate them as carefully. There`s already some issues raised with
the fact that both of her parents are police officers, her grandfather was
a police officer, doesn`t mean that she can`t be fair and objective, but it
does mean that she is going to be especially concerned about the appearance
of justice. So, now she`s thinking about the grand jury, using that to do
a complete investigation. She wants the forensics, she wants the lab
reports from the medical examiners, and most importantly, she`s got to get
one of these six officers to talk. Because one of these people know
exactly what happened in that van.
SHARPTON: Now, her father and grandfather were police officers, yet she
has been known to deal with police cases in the past, in her career, and
she`s married to a councilman, who has raised a lot of questions,
Councilman Mosby, around police. She has her own investigation going. Is
BUTLER: No, it`s not. Because, again, sometimes there are concerns about
whether the police, how effective they are at investigating their own, so
whenever you have a case like this, you definitely want to have other
investigators who might be a little bit more objective. And again, the
police standard is low, to arrest, it`s probable cause. If this case goes
to a jury, she`s going to have to persuade beyond a reasonable doubt. So,
again, she wants to get people in the grand jury to lock in their
testimony, to see if she`s got a criminal case.
SHARPTON: You said to the grand jury. Do you think this will go to a
BUTLER: Reverend, I think it`s got to. Again, we`ve got to be so
concerned about these year of entrenched, almost warfare between at least
the way the citizens of Baltimore feel, so the grand jury has owl of this
subpoena power, they can get evidence, like these clothes that the police
officers were wearing that day, which apparently they don`t want to give up
on their own, and that makes us suspicious. We`ve heard about a search
warrant for those clothes. So the grand jury can look at all of this
information. Their legal adviser is the prosecutor she`s not in the room
when they vote. The grand jury is composed of citizens of the district of
-- citizens of Baltimore. And again, we know these citizens. They`re
going to look at this evidence, but they`ve got this history with the
police. So while it`s tough to bring charges against a police officer in
any jurisdiction, if you`re a prosecutor and you`ve got to bring charges
against a police officer, Baltimore is where you want to be.
SHARPTON: Now, here`s what we know about the state`s attorney. We talked
about some of it. But she`s 35 years old, took office just this past
January. She comes, as I said, from a long line of police officers, she`s
married to a councilman. Is she ready for the spotlight, Paul?
BUTLER: You know, she`s the youngest head prosecutor in the country, so
you know, this is a big deal for her. She`s in the public spotlight,
probably, in a way that she never imagined. She`s only been in office
since November. You know, it`s ironic, but it`s one thing that Baltimore
prosecutors are good at, it`s homicide prosecutions. Because,
unfortunately, they do more than most prosecutors. So, they know how to do
an investigation. These experienced prosecutors in her office, they can do
the hard work, you know, the question that the citizens of Baltimore will
have is does she have is the political will to go wherever the charges
lead? And for that, we just have to wait and see.
SHARPTON: Thank you, Paul Butler. Let`s go back to Joy Reid, our national
correspondent at MSNBC, we are waiting a police press conference. Joy,
what`s going on?
JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the rain has dampened a
little bit of the enthusiasm out here. I think people are still
passionate, but we had a downpour that kind of cleared this space in front
of City Hall a little bit, but there are still people here who are a part
of these protests, Rev. And we did talk to a few people that were standing
near us earlier, and I asked the question, whether or not, A, people expect
there to be indictments. The answer was essentially no. And whether
people expect there to be what they would believe to be justice for Freddie
Gray. A lot of pessimism on that score.
I think all the of the leaks that are coming out of the Police Department,
whether they`re showing up in a local news outlet here whether they`re in
the Washington Post, they just increased people`s cynicism. The people
that we`re talking with are extremely angry, they`re very passionate,
they`re peaceful and they want this protest, this movement to continue.
And people keep saying this is just going to build. But there`s not a lot
of faith at this point in the process. And people don`t necessarily
believe that charges will be filed or if filed, that they will result in
any sort of successful prosecution of any of these officers.
SHARPTON: Joy, stay with me. Let`s go back to Eugene O`Donnell. Eugene,
what do we need to hear from police tonight? What does the community need
EUGENE O`DONNELL, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: The greatest
extent of disclosure they can, and I think it`s really vital that we all
agree that when somebody dies in police -- in a state`s custody, that what
American wouldn`t be horrified not to be able to know what happened. We
can all be together on that. And I think that`s what they really need to
try to impart. That they`re doing everything to the maximum extent that
they can, but I would definitely caution, in all fairness here, the
inconsistencies that ultimately, if you give one story and another story
emerges, that is the lifeblood of criminal defense, if there is a
prosecution. So you -- they`re sort of damned if they do and damned if
they don`t, in that sense. If you give a lot of information and that turns
out to be inconsistent, you`re gifting potentially the defense here. So,
this is the tight --
SHARPTON: How do they deal with all of these conflicting leaks, one
station having law enforcement sources tell them one thing, another saying
something opposite, and the actual witness that is quoted is saying that,
no, that is not what I`m saying at all. How do the police handle that in
O`DONNELL: It`s awfully crucial that they try to keep this information
within a cadre, a small number of people, if they can, because leaks are
obviously undermining of confidence. And it`s not about who they help or
don`t help, but the community hears that and says, why is this selective
information being leaked, and we`re running in different directions then,
and that undermines the trust that people will have. We already have a lot
of different accounts here. And you know, as long as they`re not endorsing
it publicly, but they should be absolutely telling their people, there
should be a gag order on unofficial disclosure of information, especially
once a grand jury enters the case, too, there could be sanctions, criminal
sanctions for disclosing grand jury material. And they need to try to
expedite that process as well.
SHARPTON: Now, we heard mention about the law enforcement bill of rights
and that police in Maryland have ten days before they have to say
anything. Is that usual around the country, because many people, including
yours truly, have objected to that, but is that a Maryland thing or is that
something we hear around the country?
O`DONNELL: They have a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and
probably would be advised to use that in this case, just generically. But
you know, you probably you know Reverend in New York, there was a 48-hour
rule and that was eliminated.
O`DONNELL: And theoretically, the officers, you know, have to speak. So -
- but you do have a law enforcement bill of rights. Can I just say,
because I think when we`re talking about consensus issues, you know, a lot
of people rode this tough on crime stuff to high office. We had a mayor do
that here in New York City. We really created an issue where arrest is not
a big deal. Could we all be on the same page going forward, taking away
somebody`s freedom is a very big fundamental deal. You were around for
this, Rev, in the `80s and the `90s. There were people running nonstop on
this, you know, what`s the difference if you lock up a few people and
they`re innocent? We should put that now to rest. And it is a
fundamentally huge issue to take anybody`s freedom in this country and if
anybody says otherwise, should be corrected on that. And public policy is
based on that has to be looked at. And I think, again, hopefully it`s not
more than a few dozen people who don`t see that squarely as something we
need to fix now.
SHARPTON: I agree with you wholeheartedly. Everyone, stay with me. We`ll
take a break. We`ll be right back. We`re waiting on this police briefing.
SHARPTON: We are awaiting a police briefing.
Joining me now is NBC News national correspondent Peter Alexander. The
state attorney has their report, what can we expect now, Peter?
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Reverend Al, I
think what we`re anticipating, and certainly people hear with this
community right now, the rain has come and gone, but the protesters have
not left. They`re still demanding answers and accountability. And while
they won`t be paying attention to what is said immediately during this news
conference, that information is certainly trickling down here. As they
look to try to get more information about what happened here. There`s
sincere frustration and there is fear that because they were initially
under the impression that this information would be released publicly, that
the report would be released publicly tomorrow, about what may, in fact,
happen tomorrow, as people recognize that that`s not the case, we spoke to
pastors in this community, and others who have been going into the schools,
the high schools, many of those students were involved in the
confrontations that took place on Monday, to try to calm the situation, to
diffuse that situation.
The White House is telling us that it`s played a role in this process as
well. It`s been reaching out to celebrities and to athletes, who have
strong ties to this community, among them, Ray Lewis and Carmelo Anthony,
in hopes that they will be a part of the process of diffusing the
situation. This protest here, we saw the NBA Star Carmelo Anthony was
presence. But again, these folks wait to see what information they will
hear. But frankly there`s frustrations that they`re not going to get the
answers they want right away.
SHARPTON: And frustrations are then exacerbated by false looks or false
attention given that this report tomorrow would be public and it was handed
over today as not public. And then all these conflicting leaks that we`re
getting. All of this seems to exacerbate the situation rather than calm
ALEXANDER: Rev, I think you`re exactly right. To give you a sense where
our reporting stands right now, law enforcement sources late today tell our
NBC station here in Baltimore, WBAL, that Freddie Gray`s catastrophic
injuries, the injuries that ultimately cost him his life, took place inside
that police van, not during the videotaped arrest. That`s one of the
details that people are hoping --
SHARPTON: Peter, let me stop you --
ALEXANDER: And here we go.
SHARPTON: Here we go with the police briefing.
COMMISSIONER ANTHONY BATTS, BALTIMORE POLICE DEPARTMENT: Good evening, as
everyone has come in, we wanted to share some information and answer a few
questions. My name is Commissioner Batts Baltimore Police Department. To
my left, I`d like to introduce General Singh of the National Guard. And to
my right, Colonel Pallozzi as state troopers. As we have moved through
this week, when we have large incidents like this, and we have agencies
that come in, we fall into a unified command. We put out mutual aid, law
enforcement, and the National Guard are used to doing this, it`s pretty
normal for us. It`s nothing that`s out of the norm. What we go into is an
incident command system. The way that it`s structured right now, I am the
incident commander, which means I have to give the directions on where we
go. However with the general and the colonel, we are working as a very
We just finished meeting with the governor and the mayor, with my two
partners at both of my sides, we are the policy directors of this event.
So the mayor, the governor, the colonel, the general, and myself, we walk
through plans from day to day, we come to an agreement and then we give it
to the operators to put into effect as a whole. I would like to thank the
general for her support, is would like to thank the colonel for his
support. We`ve had a seamless operation, we`ve had a strong team, we`ve
used each other`s expertise in what we`re doing to move this program
forward, and as you see, we`ve had two very good days of conduct that have
taken place in our city. What is have to say for myself and the mayor and
also the governor, is that we`re extremely pleased and happy and applaud
the citizens and residents of the city of Baltimore in their activities.
They`re coming out showing what Baltimore is really all about, which is
helping each other, standing strong, in the grip that the city is really
made of, so I would like to applaud all of them, the pastors, the mothers,
the men of 300 and on and on and on, and I`ll stop, because I`ll miss
someone, but we`re extremely pleased along those lines. What I would like
to caution, because we`ve had two days of quiet and the city has become
stable and settled itself down, we have residents and businesspeople who
were saying, can we take the curfew away, things are settled, can you kind
of retract some of the curfew ordinance? I would say this, although we`ve
had two days of peace and quiet, we still have a weekend to make it
through. I ask for your patience, I ask for your understanding, as we move
We have two very large marches that are going to take place throughout the
weekend. And in very short notice, as I walked in, I was instructed and
told that we have a lot more protests that are popping up by the minute.
And even if we didn`t, we have other cities that have large protests that
their activities impact our city too. So, at this point, we`re going to
stay stable. We have built out plans for each day, the policy group went
through what we`re doing today. The policy group went through what we`re
doing on Friday, Saturday, and through the weekend as a whole. Again, I
want to reinforce that the curfew will be on throughout the weekend. The
curfew starts at 10:00. We will be enforcing a curfew throughout the
weekend, until the governor and the mayor and my allied partners come
together and make a decision on how long that will go, and that will depend
on activities throughout the weekend.
And our operational plan is based in a couple different sections. We have
a modular concept, which means we can shape and move with the activities
that are taking place. It`s team based, whether the state police, our
allied agencies, and I forgot to thank them, we have a lot of allied
agencies here from other states, from the state of Maryland, also, so we
would like to thank them. So, that`s team based. We tailor our response
to the events on the ground that`s taken place, so we can adapt very
quickly to address issues that are out there. And the issues will be --
the response to those issues in the districts will be led by the district
commanders who usually patrol those areas, who know it best, supported by
the National Guard and supported by the police and our allied agencies. We
just wanted to get before you and to share with you that our focus is on
security, a single focus is on security to the city of Baltimore. Standing
tall as a unified force, under the guidance of the mayor and the governor
of the state, coming together, under the mutual aid and the incident
command system. Is there any questions that we can answer for you today?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Does this mean that the guard will be here until further
notice -- (INAUDIBLE).
BATTS: Right now, we`re going to focus on getting through the weekend.
And General, is there anything you would like to follow up on that?
GEN. LINDA SINGH, COMMANDER, MARYLAND NATIONAL GUARD: Yes, so as the
commissioner said, so we are following the incident command system. And so
what that does, is it provides a very structured way that we are to exit.
And that is actually based on what is the need were the local community.
And that will be determined by the leadership, and when I say the
leadership, that`s the leadership that you see in front of us, that`s the
mayor and the governor. We will make the decision based on what the
activities are, that are going on within the community. We will not just
all at once pull out. It`s usually gradual.
Because we also have to take care of making sure that we`re getting our
folks back to where they need to be. And so, it`s just like any other
operation, just like you would see typically for snowstorm or anything
else, you know, we come in and we`re working with you until we make sure
that everything is settled and then we can actually go back to normal
operations. And as I just want to remind you, that for the National Guard,
it`s different than, you know, what you would see if you`re talking, you
know, if it was activity duty or something else. When we pull out, we go
back to our armories, we put our equipment up, and then the folks actually
come back to their homes. So if they`re living within the city, they`re
still coming back to the city. So, it`s not like we`re just living the
communities in total. We`re all here resident within Maryland. So we`re
going back to our communities.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Commissioner, can you respond to this leaked information
about Freddie Gray possibly dying (audio gap) --
SHARPTON: All right. So we`re not bringing (audio gap) --
Earlier today, we had a summit of civil rights leaders, national civil
rights leaders, that we helped to convene and local pastors and local youth
activists and others. I want to bring in the president of the NAACP, who
partnered with me on this. He was with us at the meeting of the national
civil rights leaders. Cornell William Brooks, and he was with us today, at
the summit. Mr. Brooks, how do you respond to the summit today? The mayor
came and spoke to us and others.
CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, NAACP PRESIDENT: Well, good evening, Reverend
Sharpton. I think it was a very helpful and constructive gathering of
faith leaders, community leaders, and the mayor. It was a collective
statement of solidarity. That is to say that now, particularly in the
midst of this moment of crisis, now`s not the time for finger pointing, but
rather an occasion for hand-holding, the linking of arms in solidarity and
in unity. Because when you have a community that`s grieving, when you have
a community that is in a desperate search for answers and justice, now is
the precise moment where we all need to stand together. The governor, the
mayor, prosecutors, police officers, neighborhood associations, the whole
length and breadth of Baltimore as a community. Sp. that`s what I would
say about the meeting.
SHARPTON: Now, one of the things that struck me, is that I asked one of
the youth gang members to address the crowd of leaders and he made a very
striking point that they have not been heard, which is why I wanted him
there. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Listening to our struggle. And that`s what needs to be
done. Y`all need to hear our struggle. It`s not the struggle of 40 years
ago. It`s not the struggle of 50 years ago, 60 years ago. We don`t have
them. So, our struggle was totally different and the first thing someone
says when we try to express our struggle is, I understand. How can you
understand me, you haven`t even heard me talk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Isn`t that what we`re hearing a lot, is that a lot of the young
people do not feel that they have been given a chance to talk. That many
of them do not want to be destructive. In fact, they`re trying to help
keep the peace, but they feel unheard and unheeded, Mr. Brooks.
BROOKS: Absolutely. Not just here in Baltimore, but across the country.
We have a generation of young people who have grown up in the era of mass
incarceration. They live with the reality that African-Americans --
SHARPTON: Let me ask you to hold one minute, Mr. Brooks. I want to go
back quickly to the police briefing, because something is coming up. Let
me go back.
BATTS: -- coming against them have the right to use equal force.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It seems like a lot of is hinging on this weekend, if
I`m correct, but if it goes smoothly, the past couple of days seem to de-
escalate with the three peaceful protests that was yesterday that came down
City Hall. If you find that over the weekend, these are peaceful, limited
arrests, everything is fine, are you at a place then to start scaling back
as far as the curfew is concerned? And again, it goes back to maybe
pulling out of the National Guard. I`m curious where your thought process
BATTS: Well, part of the policy group there again, led by the mayor and
the governor, and the colonel and the general and myself, we meet on a
daily basis and we have those discussions to evaluate if we need to
continue. So although we`re looking at this weekend, we -- every day, we
go over our plans and the plans for the future dates. So, it`s a day-to-
day evaluation. Can I stand by for one second? General, did you want to -
SINGH: Well, yes, there`s one thing I wanted to actually be able to bring
up. And this really gets back to the community support. So, there are two
websites that I really want to point you to. The first is
marylandunites.org. Right? That`s the first one. And then the second one
is, onebaltimore.org. And the reason why I bring those up is those sites
have a lot of useful information out there. Please go out and take a look
at them, so that you can get access to a lot of, I think, things that`s
very valuable for us, for being able to get back to normalcy. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The only thing I would add quickly is that, you know,
statewide law enforcement or law enforcement partners from across the
state, from Garrett County, to Berlin, Maryland, all of the big counties
that have been here in support, we care about the citizens of Baltimore,
and the state police, we like to have a saying, a statewide approach with a
local focus. You know, normally the state police is not in the city of
Baltimore on patrol, but we are here in support of all the citizens in the
state of Maryland, and particularly the citizens of Baltimore right now.
And I`ll close with what I did yesterday, and please, please, observe the
curfew, make it easier on all of us, we want this to end peacefully, and
we`ve allowed all the peaceful protests to happen. We want that to happen.
People have a right to express their opinion. We support that. But when
the curfew hits. It is hard for a few -- we want to enforce it, we have to
enforce it. But when people go home like they did the past few nights, we
did not have that problem. Thank you.
BATTS: Thank you, everyone.
SHARPTON: Let me go back to Cornell Brooks, president of the NAACP. We`ve
just heard the police say that the curfew will stay through the weekend.
This earlier today, we discussed at the summit of National Civil Rights
Leaders, the mayors and others. A couple of hundred leaders of faith
leaders in the city, and youth and gang members. And I think Mr. Brooks,
that the key message we want is that nothing can be achieved unless there`s
BROOKS: Absolutely. I think one of the thing that`s encouraging is when
you`re seeing young people and older people coming together around a
commitment to non-violent protests. Because at the end of the day, let`s
bear this in mind. When we have buildings burning, stores being destroyed
in these already-impoverish communities, we have to ask ourselves this
question. Six months from now, where will mothers find shoes for their
children? Where will seniors find precipitation drugs? The fact of the
matter is we have to protect and preserve not the buildings primarily, but
the people who need the businesses and the people who live in these
communities. That`s critically important. And I like to believe, when
we`ve seen so many citizens of Baltimore clean streets that they did not
litter, shore up buildings and businesses that they did not burn, I like
to believe that the overwhelming majority of citizens in this city are
going to do their best to keep the peace.
SHARPTON: Thank you so much.
BROOKS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: I thank you, again. And let me say, I want to thank all of my
guests for helping to report this story tonight. It`s very important, as
we see people of all races marching through the streets of Baltimore and in
other cities around the country, as we have seen a litany of cases around
the country, this is a national crisis of dealing with how police and
communities must deal, must be held accountable, and must be transparent,
and ultimately help each other solve this problem. And that is why today`s
summit was important, and more importantly, it is why we need to hear young
people and we need to hear people, whether their conclusions are right or
wrong, or whether we agree or not, they need to be heard.
And factored in to how we solve this problem. We need to stop talking at
each other and start talking to each other and build a system that has
equal protection under the law and whoever violates the law, even if it`s
law enforcement, they must be held accountable. If they have not violated,
then we must accept where evidence leads. That`s what this family has said
they want. That`s what families around the country say. That`s what we as
a nation must do to become the perfect union that we all dream of.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton in Baltimore. "HARDBALL" starts
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