IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

'The Abrams Report' for Dec. 7th

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guests: Yoel Litson, Dr. Joseph Napoli, Dr. Robert Butterworth, Leslie Crocker Snyder, Jeff Hill, Norm Early

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... nexus to terrorism or that indeed any other events are associated with this one.  As a tactical matter, the federal air marshals, as has been reported, did deploy federal air marshals to airports throughout the country in a surveillance mode to see if in fact other events were unfolding.  We have no reports of any other events that would lead back to this isolated event.  Again, the investigation both of the shooting event...


DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Seems we have lost the audio from the press conference that we are listening to here from the special agent in charge of the federal marshals program, also the FBI and the Miami-Dade police.  The headline coming out of that, that the deceased uttered threatening words, something about having a bomb.  He remained noncompliant and that person is now dead.  Let‘s listen. 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Bobby Parker, director of Miami-Dade Police Department. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This man was boarding in Miami?  Is that what you said?  So it was not—he was not come coming from Colombia.  He was boarding here in Miami?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, I can‘t comment on that aspect (UNINTELLIGIBLE). 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Rick Thomas (ph) can speak to that issue. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m sorry.  What was the question, please?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Where this man came from?  He came from...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He flew out from Quito, Ecuador this morning.  He was on board American Airlines flight 932 that arrived here at Miami at 12:04 this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But if he was not armed, what actually triggered the marshals to go after him?  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I can‘t really address that.  Jim, do you want to...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He was holding a backpack and uttered a threat that he had a bomb. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... would you like to say something? 




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He flew in from Quito, Ecuador this morning, cleared Customs and re-boarded I think it‘s American flight 934, headed to Orlando at 2:15 this afternoon. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  So was he a U.S. citizen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The flight this afternoon, American Airlines 934 to Orlando was his departure flight. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Where is this man from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He arrived here from Quito.  He‘s a—our records indicate he is a U.S. citizen. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is there any indication that he suffered from any kind of mental illness or bipolar disorder? 

RICK THOMAS, TSA:  I really can‘t address that.  I don‘t—have any knowledge...


THOMAS:  ... there was one—what was the other question?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... criminal record or anything like that?

THOMAS:  I have no information on it.


THOMAS:  He was traveling with a female; I believe it is his wife.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Ladies and gentlemen, again, this is all in the preliminary stage here and there really aren‘t—we can answer some of these questions but they would be incomplete answers and we run the risk of them being inaccurate.  We only want to give you factual information.  Danny (ph), would you like to add something from the FBI?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  From the FBI standpoint, I‘d just like to add that we‘re looking at this incident to see if there‘s a nexus between terrorism and the incident.  Right now, as Jim Bauer from the federal air marshals said, we don‘t see a nexus, but we‘re not going to make that call right now.  We‘re going to continue to look with our joint terrorism task force resources and any time there‘s an individual that‘s on a plane or is attempting to aboard a plane and he says he has a bomb, we‘re going to be interested in that from a terrorism nexus.  But we don‘t have that information right now.  We‘re still looking.  As Jim said, it‘s still preliminary. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Ladies and gentlemen, we‘ve said all we can really say about the (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How many shots? 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I really don‘t want to have any other comments about the actual shooting itself.  Those facts come out—right now, the Miami-Dade Police Department is investigating that and that‘s all I can give you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Can you say whether he reached into his backpack...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He was carrying a backpack and—when he uttered the threat.  And again his further movements is—are not something I will describe at this point.  Thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What was he doing in Quito...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I have no idea what he was doing in Quito. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What city does this man reside in, do you know?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The incident began inside the aircraft. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did the shooting happen on the air bridge? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Ladies and gentlemen, really we‘ll get—all of that will be revealed eventually, but the Miami-Dade Police Department will be the ones to investigate it and can report all of that...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Policy wise, what is the protocol for an air marshal to actually pull out a gun and shoot?  What needs to be—what does that person... 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well it would be the same for any law enforcement officer and that is when there‘s a threat, a life threat. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It doesn‘t have to be more specific than that (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m not going to crawl into law books right now on all of that either, but again, all of that will be parched out...



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m sorry.  I couldn‘t hear you, sir. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  As the case in any shooting, these federal air marshals have been pulled off the aircraft and are part of the investigation, certainly, certainly.  And we have a policy just as every major police department does not to put a guy back on the plane...



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  In this particular flight, there were two air marshals assigned to it.  Yes sir.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They were still on the airplane.  They were deplaned.  They are being interviewed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t know.  The question was, was he speaking English or Spanish?  I don‘t know.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s really all the time we have for...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... and all the information really quite frankly that we have to offer to you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Would you say this happened according to the air marshal training?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  His hometown, you said he was a U.S. citizen, do you have that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t know his hometown.  No, I‘m sorry. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Again, we‘re dropping into down into things that I don‘t know about and in fact I run a very good risk of giving you bad information.  I would rather give you no information on that...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... A-l-p-i-z-a-r.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Say it again please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A-l-p-i-z-a-r.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.  Thank you all very much. 


ABRAMS:  Almost four hours since the first federal air marshal has fired a weapon on or near a plane since 9/11.  We have gotten the official report about what happened, at least some sketchy details. 

The authorities telling us that the man who we have identified already—

there he is in a picture—is that—do we know—is that with his wife

we don‘t know - yes - OK—there he is with his wife—was on the plane, that he was carrying a back pack.  That he said something about having a bomb and that he was noncompliant. 

Tom Costello has been working the phones for us all day.  All right, Tom, they‘re providing some sketchy details but on background, we‘ve been getting some of those details filled in for us by federal officials. 

TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well the one thing that we learned here that we don‘t know before was that according to these authorities, he boarded in Quito, which of course we had been—Ecuador—which of course we had been led to believe he boarded in Colombia.  So it sounds as if he had already gone through Customs in Miami and then boarded this flight, which originated in Medellin, Colombia, boarded it in Miami, bound essentially to go back home to Orlando. 

Forty-four years old is how old we are old that Rigoberto Alpizar is.  We don‘t know his hometown.  We believe that he currently lives just outside of Orlando and if you‘re just joining us, here is the series of events as we have been told.

They transpired starting just after 2:00 p.m. or so East Coast Time.  He was on board, we are told with his wife, sitting near the rear of the plane on this flight, sitting on the ground in Miami getting ready to depart for Orlando and we are told that they had words.  That it became a heated exchange and he got up to leave. 

In the process of leaving, he was trying to make his way down the aisle, back towards the exit of the airplane and he was running against the oncoming passengers who were trying to board.  At some point, he became agitated it appears and said something about having a bomb.  We‘re not sure where along that route he said that.  Did he say it as he was moving up the aisle?  Did he say it in first-class, but at some point he was approached by federal air marshals who wanted to talk to him. 

He apparently left and started out the plane, out the jet way, near the jet bridge, carrying this backpack and apparently along the way, he said or indicated he had a bomb in that bag.  When the federal air marshals ordered him to stop and drop to the ground, we are told that he refused and in fact turned back around towards them in a menacing fashion or in some sort of a fashion that would indicate he was going to approach them or charge them at the same time, reaching into this bag. 

They obviously took that as a threat.  Two federal air marshals, as you heard, were involved and they shot him or one of the agents shot him dead in the jet way.  That is what we‘re told by our sources all throughout the day.  Now you‘ve heard eyewitnesses who‘ve also said that in fact the wife was screaming, “he is bipolar and he is off his medication,” which might indicate that that was the problem since, as you just heard from the federal authorities, they did not find any explosives whatsoever. 

So this obviously could be a terrible tragedy if somebody with mental illness not taking his medication and obviously saying something that we all have learned since 9/11, you do not joke about having a weapon, having a bomb or having any sort of intention to do any harm to an airplane or the passengers.  They take that very, very seriously and as you can see, it can end in deadly violence.

ABRAMS:  But I think that the important thing to note and we heard this before the press conference, we‘ve now heard it from the press conference, is the fact that they say that even after he said that he was noncompliant...

COSTELLO:  That‘s right.

ABRAMS:  ... is the word that was used. 

COSTELLO:  Yes and as we said, they ordered him on the ground.  He refused.  They ordered him to stop.  He—they say he turned towards them almost in a menacing fashion and reaching into his bag.  They obviously...


COSTELLO:  ... didn‘t know what was in the bag.  They felt they had to fire...

ABRAMS:  Tom, let me just ask you one thing...


ABRAMS:  We‘ve been watching the video of some of those bags that were on the plane what appear to be detonated and we saw...


ABRAMS:  ... someone from the bomb squad walk up to them, they placed them on the tarmac and they were exploding them.  And yet, when you listen to the press conference, it sounded like Mr. Bauer was saying that they had examined the bags and determined there was no bomb in it.  Do we have any sense of whether those bags we saw detonated were in fact his bags?

COSTELLO:  We don‘t know that definitively, but one could assume that those were the suspect bags.  And I presume that anything on board that plane that was suspect was probably searched very carefully and perhaps even detonated it.  But we are assuming that the bags they detonated on the tarmac are in fact his, not wanting to take any chances whatsoever. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Tom Costello, thanks for your work all afternoon. 

Appreciate it.


ABRAMS:  Here‘s what we‘re going to do.  We are going to take a quick break.  When we come become, we‘re going to hear from a witness, a passenger who was on that plane.  We‘re also going to talk to a psychiatrist about whether bipolar disorder could really lead a passenger to do this.  Could someone who has bipolar is not taking their medication, not understand a federal air marshal saying freeze or don‘t move?  It‘s coming up. 


ABRAMS:  Continuing now with our special live coverage of the shooting of a 44-year-old American citizen, coming off an American Airlines plane, shot by a federal air marshal after the man had apparently said something about having a bomb in his backpack and then did not comply with the air marshal‘s instructions.  No we are being told that his wife was also on that plane and that she said, was screaming at some point that he‘s got bipolar disorder and that he had not taken his medication. 

Mary Gardner was a passenger on that plane.  She called into our local affiliate WTVJ only moments after the incident. 



(UNINTELLIGIBLE) there was a lady at the front.  She was calling back and forth, she got a call and she was called off the plane initially.  She got a phone call.  She was frantic.  They got on the plane and all of a sudden after everybody was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) sitting down, her husband ran through the aisles frantically.

She ran after him and all of a sudden, there were about four to five shots that happened.  Everybody was very calm.  Everybody hurried, got down underneath their feet and then all of a sudden mayhem.  She started screaming, crying, hysteria, but I want to say the airline stewardess, the pilots everybody was very, very calm.  People on the plane were very, very calm.  Then they had (UNINTELLIGIBLE) airline pilot—or police that came on. 

Everybody on the plane had to put their hands on their head.  There was you know some certainly moments of tension.  About a half an hour later, the police came on the plane and it was quite scary because they wouldn‘t let you move.  They wouldn‘t let you get anything out of your bags and but overall, I think people handled this very well.  The airlines was very prompt, punctual.  They got there right quick...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mary, are you able to tell—were you able to tell from where you were sitting whether the shots were fired on the plane or on the jet way, if you know?

GARDNER:  It appeared that it was in the first class cabin that the gentleman was shot and...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Were you able to see that with your own eyes?  Did you see the suspect there?


GARDNER:  And I have tried to talk to passengers.  I have not been able to uncover whether or not anybody saw it.  I did try to talk to one of the police.  He was unable to confirm or deny.  I don‘t know whether it was the—I did hear the lady say that her husband was bipolar and he had not had his medication.  So I—you know, I can only speculate but I‘m not sure. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Now Mary, were you able to actually see this couple?  You said you saw the gentleman run through the aisle and then his wife go after him.  Can you give us a description of him?  If you were able to see or—tell us what you heard the two of those individuals talking about if you were able to hear what they were saying.

GARDNER:  I apologize.  I cannot give you a description of the man.  I did see the woman.  I think she was English speaking, blond hair, probably about late 30‘s or early 40‘s...


GARDNER:  ... and she was hysterical. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Were they sitting in coach where you were or were they sitting farther up front in first-class?

GARDNER:  I was in the front of coach.  I was about three rows back and they were in far back of the plane and when everybody was seated, they started—he started running crazily through the aisles when everybody was supposed to be seated.  So we all—and the marshals stood up immediately and tried to follow him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The marshals were on the plane, were they in front or behind you when they began chasing him?

GARDNER:  I was sitting next to an airline pilot, a retired pilot from American.  He identified the marshal for me, so I didn‘t know that.  He just—he saw the marshal stand up immediately and we can only guess it was the marshal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did you hear the man as he ran toward the front of the plane shout anything at all? 

GARDNER:  I‘m sorry? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did you hear the man, the suspect now, who we understand was shot and fatally shot, according to sources talking to Patricia Andre (ph) here at NBC6.  Did you hear that man as he ran toward the front of the aircraft say anything at all?

GARDNER:  I did not hear anything.  I just saw the back of his head.  He was running like he was frantic.  His arms flailing in the air and she running after him and she was screaming, my husband, my husband. 


ABRAMS:  Joining us now is Dave Adams, who is a spokesperson for the Federal Air Marshal Service.  Thank you, Mr. Adams, for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.


ABRAMS:  All right, so look we heard in this press conference about noncompliance on the part of this individual.  Can you give us any more on what that means?  Does it mean he reached for his backpack?  Did he reach into his backpack?

DAVE ADAMS, FEDERAL AIR MARSHAL SERVICE SPOKESMAN:  What happened was the - - when the gentleman was on the jet way, they asked him to drop his bags, drop to the ground and obey their commands as a federal law enforcement officer.  They told him they were police officers.  Drop to your knees.  Drop the bag.  He refused to comply with the commands of the federal air marshals. 

He started walking towards them again with his hand on the bag and at the same time yelling I have a bomb.  The federal air marshals again asked him to drop the bag and to come to his knees.  He failed to comply again, yelling “I have a bomb” and at that point, the federal air marshals discharged their weapon to stop the immediate threat. 

ABRAMS:  OK, so this is an important detail that you‘re providing for us.  Because a lot of people have been asking was he yelling I have a bomb as he was going through the aisle and what exactly did he do?  What you‘re telling us is that he has the backpack, he‘s holding the backpack and he‘s facing the air marshals and saying I‘ve got a bomb? 

ADAMS:  That is correct. 

ABRAMS:  Now, there was some discussion, someone asked in the press conference, did this man speak English, et cetera.  My understanding is that at least one of these air marshals also speaks Spanish in case that was an issue. 

ADAMS:  That is correct.  But I understand that—I don‘t believe at this present time that that was an issue, but that will be part of an ongoing investigation, which is being—the lead investigators of Miami Metro-Dade Police Department and in conjunction with the Federal Air Marshal Service and then the FBI will be looking into this shooting. 

ABRAMS:  So this is all occurring outside of the plane, correct?  This is on the jet way outside of the plane? 

ADAMS:  That is correct.  It is on the jet way and just on the jet way is the subject and also two of our federal air marshals that were onboard that flight. 

ABRAMS:  Do you know had he been yelling—that he had been saying I have a bomb, I have a bomb, as he was walking up the aisle of the plane as well? 

ADAMS:  I don‘t know exactly when the federal air marshals heard the -

he explained that he had a bomb.  But at some point when the marshals were aboard this flight, during the boarding process, he stated he had a bomb in his bag.  So they asked him to leave the plane.  He ran down the jet way and at that point, they told him to stop.

ABRAMS:  Did both air marshals discharge their weapons? 

ADAMS:  Yes, but we don‘t actually divulge how many air marshals were on the flight.  I can reassure you there are more than one. 


ADAMS:  And this is part of a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) security with TSA as far as the federal flight deck officers, the TSA screeners and the air marshals that are protecting the aviation domain. 

ABRAMS:  Just to let you—Jim Bauer did say that there were two air marshals on the plane at the press conference. 



ADAMS:  ... yes there were.

ABRAMS:  OK.  Yes, just wanted to let you know that he announced that at the...


ABRAMS:  ... press conference, so that‘s why I asked the question if both of them discharged their weapons.

ADAMS:  That would be—that is part of our—the internal investigation that is ongoing as we speak. 

ABRAMS:  And so what happens now?  I mean I—Jim Bauer also said these air marshals will not be on a plane tomorrow.  What does that mean?

ADAMS:  Well it‘s typical of any type of law enforcement shooting within law enforcement community.  If an officer discharges his weapon, obviously, they would then be put on administrative duties until the completion of the investigation.  But I can assure you that they follow proper procedures, the training that they received at the academy and also the continuous training they‘ve received at every one of the field offices across the United States.  They follow proper procedures and guidelines within the DHS, deadly force policy.

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you a final question just about that issue.  How do you know that at this point?  And I only ask that because I‘ve been explaining to me people on the air already that the question is not did he ultimately have a bomb.  The question is, what was going on in the minds of the air marshals.  What did they see?  What did they hear?  The ultimate result is really irrelevant.  How do you know that they followed all the proper procedures?

ADAMS:  Well basically they—all I can say is based on the training that these federal air marshals received, I am—I‘m quite confident that they followed the procedures that they receive from our training division.

ABRAMS:  And look, if it happened the way you said it happened, it seems that this will be something of a non-issue. 

ADAMS:  Right.  But again, we have to look at the immediate threat.  The immediate threat was they were told there was a bomb in that bag...

ABRAMS:  Absolutely.

ADAMS:  ... and they had to take the appropriate action to stop that threat. 

ABRAMS:  Absolutely.  And look anyone who‘s going to say, oh, you know it turns out he was this or it turns out he was that, as is the case with any investigation, what turns out to be the case is not the test.  The test is what was said to those officers in that split-second decision that they had to make. 

ADAMS:  Right.  And it‘s part of their instinctive training that they receive how to react to situations like this. 

ABRAMS:  Understood.  Understood.  Dave Adams, thank you very much for taking the time.  Appreciate it. 

ADAMS:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Joining me now Yoel Litson, former El Al security manager and air marshals.  El Al, they sure know how to do it at El Al. 

All right, so you know I‘ve heard people from El Al saying there is a no time policy.  Start talking about bombs on the plan on El Al and very shortly, your life may be over. 

YOEL LITSON, FORMER EL AL AIRLINES SECURITY MANAGER:  True and let me just say first that I send my condolences to the victim and his family.  However, I‘d like to say something also.  What was said before is that the result doesn‘t matter.  It really matters what was in the head at the time of the shooting and there are two factors that I would like to discuss.

One would be the intention and obviously, I think we have an intention there because he did scream, according to the information we have, that he had a bomb.  And the second factor would be the means and that would be the bag and according to the information, he had his hand in the bag.  So once you have an intention and the means, I would say that will qualify for a shooting. 

ABRAMS:  El Al has faced issues like this at airports.  I mean we keep saying it‘s the fist time that federal air marshals have dealt with this issue since 9/11.  But El Al has dealt with this around the word, right? 

LITSON:  Well for the last let‘s say decade, we have haven‘t had an issue on the air. 


LITSON:  But we‘ve definitely had some issues on the ground in the last one.  Obviously, everybody remembers it was in Los Angeles. 

ABRAMS:  Right.  That‘s what I—that‘s in particular what I was thinking about, but there have also been incidents in Europe as well...


ABRAMS:  ... at airports, correct? 

LITSON:  That is correct, ‘85, Vienna and there was quite a few more. 

ABRAMS:  And the bottom line is that airports and airplanes are simply treated differently, are they not, than an ordinary public space?

LITSON:  Well obviously they‘re treated differently because if you put 400 and sometimes more into one—in one closed environment then whatever can happen could kill about 400 people at a time.  This is not something you can forget. 

ABRAMS:  Yoel Litson, thanks a lot.  We appreciate your expertise.

LITSON:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  When we come back, we‘ve been hearing a lot about the fact that this man‘s wife was saying that he had a bipolar disorder.  The question:  Would someone who had bipolar disorder, who hadn‘t taken their medication be prone to do something like this?  We‘re going to talk to a doctor who would know.



GARDNER:  I did hear the lady say that her husband was bipolar and he had not had his medication.  So... 


That was an eyewitness, a passenger who was on a plane, talking about the couple that allegedly got in an argument in the back of a plane.  The husband was ultimately shot and killed.  And we just heard from Dave Adams from the Federal Air Marshal Service that the man actually said to the air marshals, I‘ve got a bomb in my bag and was looking at them and that‘s when he was shot. 

So joining me to figure out if this—if bipolar and not taking your medication could lead to this kind of behavior, joined by psychiatrist Dr.  Joseph Napoli and psychologist Dr. Bob Butterworth. 

All right, Dr. Napoli, could it make someone do it?

DR. JOSEPH NAPOLI, PSYCHIATRIST:  Yes, but let me first give my condolences to the man‘s family and I also feel for the passengers on the plane and the air marshals involved.  In regard to someone being bipolar, can they present in this way?  Yes they can.  Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder with very intense emotions, either elevated mood or depression and a person in these intense moods can distort a person‘s judgment, particularly if it‘s an elevated mood and make them act impulsively. 

What I would like to say, of course, is people with mental illness are no more dangerous than someone else in a general population.  So just having the  disorder doesn‘t make a person violent or dangerous, but certainly can interfere with their judgment and the other thing is the person, if indeed he was bipolar and at this point, that‘s what we‘re hearing, I don‘t want to speculate without all the facts but if you have a bipolar disorder, some people with bipolar disorder can have delusions, in which he is believing something that is not true. 

ABRAMS:  And the medication that she says he was not taking, that resolves these sorts of issues, correct? 

NAPOLI:  Yes.  Medication, mood stabilizers do treat this disorder and can control those symptoms and place the disorder in remission. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  So Bob Butterworth, if you know that you have a patient let‘s say who has bipolar, who is taking medication, do you offer any very specific advice to that person if he or she is going to be traveling on a long trip? 

DR. ROBERT BUTTERWORTH, PSYCHOLOGIST:  Well, other than that they have to be taking their medications.  We have to be—there‘s some things we don‘t know yet.  First of all, was he drinking?  Because we know when they‘re off their medication and they start using alcohol, it can really affect the mood and the thinking. 

Secondly, is he afraid to fly?  I mean was he going through some kind of a panic attack?  Was he frantic, I mean and you look at the behavior in this post-mortem in a psychological sense, here he was running up and down the airplane in a frantic way.  I have a bomb. 

Even though he didn‘t have a bomb, did he think he had a bomb?  That‘s the irrational part of the thinking.  So when you have the irrational behavior, you have the irrational thinking, and someone who might be afraid to fly who may also have had some alcohol.  We have really a deadly combination here.

ABRAMS:  And again, we should point out, we don‘t know if there was any alcohol involved.  You‘re just saying if...


ABRAMS:  Right, if there was alcohol involved.

BUTTERWORTH:  If there was.

ABRAMS:  Dr. Napoli, again, if you‘ve got someone who has—look, a lot of people have—how many people in the United States have bipolar disorder?

NAPOLI:  You‘re talking about maybe one to 1.5 percent of the population. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, yes, it‘s very common.  It‘s very common.  I mean I can tell even from being on between 4:00 and 5:00 today, I got a lot of e-mails from people saying you know I suffer from bipolar disorder and you know let‘s be very careful here what you‘re saying about it.  The point that I‘m making, Doctor is that it‘s fairly common and as a result, people deal with it every day without having incidents like this. 

NAPOLI:  That‘s correct and I think that‘s an important thing to emphasize, otherwise people are going to unreasonably be afraid and think that this is the typical thing for this disorder.  There are plenty of people out there that have bipolar disorder that even without their medicine, they wouldn‘t pose a danger and then, of course, there are plenty of people that have their disorder very much under control and are working and doing things despite having this brain disorder. 

ABRAMS:  Go ahead Dr. Butterworth.

BUTTERWORTH:  Dan.  Dan, the thing I‘m wondering about is why did his wife, who probably knew his history, whether or not he had previous situations where he was acting irrationally when he was off medication, why didn‘t she go to the stewardess or the people at the flight and say listen, my husband is acting irrationally.  So you know there‘s no—he may do things that are somewhat inappropriate, but you know we have to watch him...


BUTTERWORTH:  ... rather than just letting this happen.

ABRAMS:  Yes, we just don‘t know how quickly it happened.  I mean it may have just all...


ABRAMS:  ... sounds like it all kind of transpired very quickly and they‘re—so they‘re arguing in the back and the next thing he‘s running...


ABRAMS:  Bottom line is I think this is important to understand and to know but I don‘t know that it‘s going to change anything with regard to evaluating how and what the federal air marshals did at the time.


ABRAMS:  Dr. Napoli and Dr. Butterworth, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 


NAPOLI:  You‘re welcome. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, first Saddam Hussein tells the court to go to hell.  Then today, he refuses to show up.  Is there any way to make sure he‘s not calling the shots? 

Plus, a Colorado mother is suing a 911 dispatcher over her daughter‘s death.  You listen to those 911 calls and it‘s a little disturbing.  Coming up. 


ABRAMS:  Coming up, Saddam Hussein is a no-show at his trial today.  What can the judge do to get things on track?  We‘ll ask a tough judge up next.


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  Saddam Hussein‘s trial continued today.  Come on there...




ABRAMS:  I paused because I wanted to show you the empty chair.  And I was going to pause and say there‘s nobody in that.  It was supposed to be Saddam Hussein.  He was a no-show for his own trial.  This  after telling the trial judge yesterday to go to hell and saying he would not return to what he calls an unjust courtroom. 

Well the trial went forward without Saddam, but the rantings of other defendants continued as two more witnesses testified about the torture, abuse and killings in the 1980‘s.  Joining me now former New York State Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder.  Judge, what can they do to keep the process moving and to make sure that Saddam Hussein doesn‘t take control of the courtroom?

LESLIE CROCKER SNYDER, FORMER NY STATE JUDGE:   Hi Dan.  Well obviously, the judge should be in control of the courtroom at all times.  The problem is here that the judge doesn‘t seem to be willing to make the necessary insertions because I think he thinks has a real public relations problem on the sandwich.

He does.  He wants this trial to be seen by the public and to appear fair.  What he can do—the law there permits him to try the defendant without his being there.  I think what he should have done is exerted control immediately, warn the defendant, have the defendant removed from the courtroom.  We do it in stages. 

You get a warning.  If you don‘t follow the warning, you‘re removed from the courtroom.  You can be brought in shackles and even gagged, but nobody would want to do that I‘m sure.  Then he is told he will have to observe his trial and hear his trial from his cell and that I think would bring order to the courtroom, the same with all the other defendants, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Isn‘t it important though, and when you say the judge take control, that if Saddam Hussein is going to act up, and I know there‘s a concern about, for example, throwing him out of court and this perception being that it‘s not fair, et cetera, but I think there‘s also—there‘s a key perception issue as to who‘s in control there.  And it seems to me that the judge may have to err on the side sometimes saying get out of here.  You start that stuff and you‘re out.  You‘re gone.  To show the judge is in control. 

CROCKER SNYDER:  I couldn‘t agree with you more and that‘s what I was trying to say.  That obviously you have to immediately exert your authority.  When he tells the judge to go to hell, what judge in his or her right mind is going to put up with that...

ABRAMS:  What would you do...


ABRAMS:  ... if in your courtroom a defendant told you to go to hell, what would you do?

CROCKER SNYDER:  I would stop the proceedings immediately.  I would tell him that if he says anything like that again, he‘s out of the trial, he can hear it from a cell and we‘ll proceed without him.  And I‘ve had to do that on a couple of occasions.  What usually happens is the defendant realizes that he‘s not gaining any moment from that and then he asks to come back.  But this guy is a little crazy, as we‘ve seen, and he also isn‘t being put in his place, so he‘s taking control of the courtroom.  Although the judge appears to be good in many ways and to want to be fair, I think he‘s not exerting sufficient control. 

ABRAMS:  Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder thank you very much.  Appreciate it.

CROCKER SNYDER:  Good to see you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, a mother is suing a 911 operator saying her daughter was murdered because the operator wouldn‘t send police to help.  We‘ve got the tape. 

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike.  Our search is in Illinois. 

Authorities would like your help locating Willie Harris.  He‘s 67, 5‘10”, 160, convicted of rape and deviant sexual assault, has not registered with the authorities.  If you‘ve got any information about his whereabouts, please contact the Illinois Sex Offender Registry Team, 888-414-7678.

Be right back.


ABRAMS:  We are back.  A Colorado mother is suing a 911 dispatcher over her daughter‘s death.  Susan Duvall says her daughter, Le Thu Nguyen, would still be alive today if the operator on the other end of not one, but two 911 calls sent police out quicker to rescue her from being kidnapped.  Nguyen was abducted as she arrived at work on July 21, 2001 by her ex-fiance Omar Green, also the father of her two children.

He jumped into her car, made her drive around for a little while, then killed her in Denver City Park.  Her family and friends found her dead in her car days later.  Green was convicted and sentenced to prison for life, but Nguyen‘s mother says it didn‘t have to turn out that way.  She says as soon as 911 was called, police should have been sent out.  Here‘s her call for help. 



DUVALL:  Yes, I‘m calling to report that my daughter has been carjacked by her ex-fiance in the car.

DISPATCHER:  OK, when did this happen?

DUVALL:  Maybe 10 minutes ago.

DISPATCHER:  And how do you know she was carjacked?

DUVALL:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we tried to get a restraining order on him because he tried to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the baby last month and he‘s been (UNINTELLIGIBLE) kind of like stalking her.  She pulled up at work this morning at 9:00 for a 9:00 appointment and was getting ready to park and you know, and he jumped in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) passenger side and all the witnesses over there—I‘m at home.  I‘m her mother.

DISPATCHER:  OK, have you talked to her?

DUVALL:  Who, my daughter?


DUVALL:  No, I called—her work called me and said that he kidnapped her right in front of the store. 

We don‘t know exactly what‘s going on.  We don‘t—I talked to somebody.  She wasn‘t fighting.  She wasn‘t struggling.  She didn‘t yell at anybody. 

Right.  Yes, I think she tried to escape from him, but he still got into the car.

What the problem is, is that he‘s been stalking her and

(UNINTELLIGIBLE) she moved in with me last month because he hit their 4-year-old baby.

DISPATCHER:  Is he known to carry a weapon?

DUVALL:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I don‘t know him as to.  No, I don‘t.  I just know, you know, threatening things that he‘s trying to do to her. 

DISPATCHER:  I mean because a lot of times they end up making back up together.  They end up making up.

DUVALL:  Right.  Well that‘s not this case.  She‘s...

DISPATCHER:  OK.  Well, we don‘t know because we haven‘t talked to her.

DUVALL:  Right.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I just would like to report it because I know she fears for her life. 

(END 911 CALL)

ABRAMS:  Wow.  All right.  That wasn‘t the first call to 911 about the kidnapping.  You heard the 911 operator refer to it there.  Before her mother even called, John Chauvin who saw it all happen made a call, also desperate for the operator to send an officer. 


DISPATCHER:  Aurora 911, is this an emergency?


DISPATCHER:  What‘s going on?

CHAUVIN:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) this black guy jumped into this Asian lady‘s car, like she was squealing away from him.  And then he parked it in the parking lot still (sic).  He‘s still in the car with her.

DISPATCHER:  OK, are they fighting?  Are they yelling, screaming at each other or...

CHAUVIN:  She‘s taking off right now with him still in the car.

DISPATCHER:  OK, but are they yelling and screaming at each other? 

Are they talking?  Are they fighting?

CHAUVIN:  I think he‘s just telling her what to do.

DISPATCHER:  OK, so they‘re taking off right now?

CHAUVIN:  Right.

DISPATCHER:  If they come back in the lot give us a call and let us know, OK?

CHAUVIN:  She‘s just driving around.  Well she stopped again.  It‘s like a red (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

DISPATCHER:  OK, but they‘re not fighting or yelling or anything?

CHAUVIN:  No, but she took off squealing.  I don‘t think she knows him.

DISPATCHER:  OK, well does she seem like she‘s fighting him or anything?

CHAUVIN:  No.  She‘s a little Asian lady...


CHAUVIN:  They‘re pretty reserved.

DISPATCHER:  OK, hold on just a moment.

OK, if they come back, just give us a call and let us know, OK?

CHAUVIN:  OK, would you like the car description?

DISPATCHER:  Well they‘re—they‘re really not, I mean they‘re not fighting, they‘re not yelling, they‘re, they‘re nothing.

CHAUVIN:  He jumped through her window while she was squealing away.

DISPATCHER:  OK, well you think they should be fighting or something.  I mean I can have the officers check the area, but that‘s about—I mean she‘d be fighting or screaming or something if she needed help.

OK, I‘ll have them check on it, but normally if they need help, they‘re going to yell or scream or fight or something.

CHAUVIN:  Right.

DISPATCHER:  So they may have just been playing around.

CHAUVIN:  No, I don‘t think so...

DISPATCHER:  OK, I will have them check the area, OK?

CHAUVIN:  Thank you.


(END 911 CALL)

ABRAMS:  Now she‘s dead.  Joining me now is Jeff Hill, the attorney representing Susan Duvall, who‘s suing the 911-dispatcher over her daughter‘s death and Norm Early joins us, former Denver district attorney.  Thanks to both of you for coming on the program. 

All right, Mr. Hill, before I ask you about the legal issues.  I know the question that so many people are going to be asking me, is what happened to this 911 operator?  Meaning, was she punished?  Was she fired, anything happen to her?

JEFF HILL, CLIENT SUING 911 OPERATOR:  Dan, to the best of our understanding, she is still working.  She was reprimanded but she‘s still working at Aurora 911. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Look, that‘s for another day, the whole—the operating procedure.  But I think in retrospect if you listen to that tape and it‘s a little bit horrifying.  But even though that‘s true and I know that during the trial of Omar Green, a lot of the jurors said, you know, what about the 911 operator.  Why isn‘t there responsibility and I think that that may have been one of the reasons that propelled you to file this lawsuit.  But as a legal matter, it‘s a tough lawsuit, correct? 

HILL:  As a legal matter, it‘s a challenging lawsuit because of Colorado‘s governmental immunity statute.  That statute requires us to show that the 911-operator acted willfully and wantonly.  We think we can do that and we think also for the reasons you described, the jurors‘ reaction to it.  It‘s such a strong case on the facts.  It‘s a case that cries out for justice. 

It‘s morally reprehensible.  The jurors who heard the 911 tapes were outraged, were concerned and reported that to the prosecutor after they rendered their verdict against Mr. Green.

ABRAMS:  You know, Norm Early, it isn‘t morally reprehensible to listen to that tape, but as a legal matter, it seems to me to show that her conduct was willful.  And again, that‘s one of these legal distinctions but it‘s an important one.  It means she can‘t just have been stupid or negligent.  It requires something a lot more than that, right? 

NORM EARLY, FORMER DENVER DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  Yes.  And my heart goes out to the family here.  And we know this case occurred back in 2001 and there‘s been an intervening criminal trial.  But what we‘re talking about in the civil case is willful and wanton, which is not negligent.  It‘s higher than negligent, but it‘s lower than intentional. 

It‘s somewhere in the middle and that her conduct was so abhorrent that she should be punished for it.  But let‘s also understand that her conduct has to be the proximate cause of what happened here and certainly, Mr. Green is the actual proximate cause of what happened here.  So how much did her conduct or lack of conduct in this situation contribute to what Mr. Green did? 

We don‘t know whether he was intent on killing her when he jumped through the window of that car.  This reminds me of the old days, Dan, that you‘ll recall, when domestic violence issues weren‘t handled that well by the criminal justice system.  When if it was a stranger in the same situation as this woman, there might have been greater action and faster action.  The system has gotten better in handling domestic violence cases but it‘s not where it should be yet.

ABRAMS:  Yes and Jeff Hill, see my concern is if this lawsuit does go forward, of course it could lead to a lot of people suing the police and suing 911 and saying they could have done this, they should have done that. 

HILL:  Well, I disagree with that.  We‘re not talking about a simple judgment call here where somebody made an honest, good faith mistake and just turned out to be wrong.  What we‘re talking about here is the operator knowing when Mr. Chauvin calls in, that a man has jumped into Le Thu Nguyen‘s car, knowing that she‘s squealing her tires, knowing that she just appears to be following his orders. 

She says to Mr. Chauvin well maybe they‘re just playing around and Mr.

Chauvin says, no, I don‘t think so.  When she began the call, she asked Mr.  Chauvin is this an emergency and he said I believe it is.  He was an objective credible witness and her response to that was let us know if they come back into the parking lot. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  And Norm, I don‘t mean this as a justification because I don‘t think—I disagree and I‘ll read in a moment from the 911 operator‘s attorney, which I disagree with, but you know my concern is when we—we‘re going to start getting into the business of parsing through every call that went in to the police and talk about, well, they could have done this and they should have done that and we‘re going to start second guessing the police and 911 operators at every turn.

EARLY:  I agree with that, Dan, but this case is complicated by the fact that they sat in the parking a lot together, talking.  Doing something.  Some kind of communication going on between them and that‘s what the 911...


EARLY:  ... operator seemed to get hung up on. 

ABRAMS:  Let me read...

EARLY:  Are they fighting...

ABRAMS:  Yes, let me read...

EARLY:  Go ahead.

ABRAMS:  ... from the operator‘s attorney.  Emergency services call takers and dispatchers are required to make critical judgments under very tight timelines for the purpose of quickly determining whether a particular situation requires a response and if so, the nature and necessary personnel and equipment.  The commitment of emergency services resources in situations that do not warrant them can diminish the availability of these resources for other emergency needs.  Ms. Price utilized her professional judgment and training in an effort to ascertain what would be an appropriate response. 

Mr. Hill, final word. 

HILL:  The problem with that argument is that this was not a split second decision on the 911-operator‘s part.  Mr. Chauvin called in and when Le Thu‘s mother, Susan Duvall called in, it was about 15 minutes later and the police still had not been dispatched. 

ABRAMS:  So please send our condolences to the family.  However you view this case, I don‘t think that her you know behavior can be somehow defensible.  The only question is the legal issues.  But Jeff Hill, Norm Early, thanks a lot. 

HILL:  Thank you. 

EARLY:  Thank you, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Be right back.

EARLY:  Take care.


ABRAMS:  We are out of time with all that breaking news about the shooting on that airplane.  Chris Matthews and “HARDBALL” will have the latest on that from Miami.  See you tomorrow. 


Copy: Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.