Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: December 4, 2014
Guest: Kendall Coffey; Marq Claxton; Faith Jenkins; Susan Karten, Zack
Reed, Paul Henderson, Marc Morial
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you
for tuning in.
Tonight`s lead, you are looking at live photos of a protest in downtown New
York City after a grand jury declined to indict the officer who used a
chokehold on Eric Garner.
All over the country, peaceful protests have erupted calling for change.
And it comes as we`re learning more about the officer`s grand jury
testimony and what he said behind closed doors, including his claim he
didn`t place a chokehold on Eric Garner.
"The New York Times" reporting quote "it was never supposed to be a
chokehold," the officer testified. "It was a wrestling move." And quote
officer Pantaleo testified that when he put his hands on Mr. Garner, he was
employing a maneuver taught to him at the police academy.
Remember, the medical examiner found Eric Garner`s death was a homicide
caused in part by a chokehold, a move banned by the NYPD. Today the
officer`s attorney explained it this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STUART LONDON, OFFICER PANTALEO`S ATTORNEY: When they go to the ground,
although his arm is technically around the neck, the crook of his neck is
not putting any pressure on any portion of his neck at all. He stabilizes
himself. Puts his hand on his head to avoid him from any injury from any
of the other officers, as well as to avoid him -- to avoid Mr. Garner from
either biting or spitting at anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So that`s the claim. Eric Garner was a threat to bite or spit,
even though he was surrounded by five officers and saying I can`t breathe.
The "Times" also reports the officer, quote, "insisted that he tried to
disengage as quickly as he could." Well, here`s what the video shows.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC GARNER, 43-YEAR-OLD: I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe. I can`t
breathe. I can`t breathe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once again, police beating up on people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back up and get on the steps.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This case has become a rallying cry across the country,
especially here in New York where protesters under way. There`s videotape
showing what happened. Here is what this comes down to.
I believe the system needs to be fixed. From the beginning, I called for
federal intervention. There`s a conflict with loyal prosecutors dealing
with local police. A prosecutor depends on the local police for all of
their cases. This is a national crisis and there must be a national
Joining me now, former prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst judge Faith
Jenkins, Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky, a forensic scientist and professor at
John Jay college of criminal justice, and Marq Claxton, former New York
police officer and director of the black law enforcement alliance. Thank
you all for being here.
FAITH JENKINS, FORMER CRIMINAL PROSECUTOR: Sure. Thanks, Rev.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
SHARPTON: faith, is the system broken?
JENKINS: Obviously, when it doesn`t work, there`s a problem with the
process. And it`s time for us to re-examine the process. And the officer
can say it was a wrestling move, it wasn`t a chokehold. He can describe it
however he wants to describe it. The medical examiner said it was a
chokehold. Eric Garner said 11 times --
SHARPTON: And it was a cause of death.
JENKINS: It was a cause of death. Eric Garner said 11 times he could not
breathe and that officer continued to apply pressure. And even when he
finally released his neck, what was the purpose of him mashing his head
down into the concrete appearing to apply all of his body pressure on his
head, despite being subdued and surrounded by all of those police officers.
Every time you show the video, I look at it and say it`s just shameful.
SHARPTON: Now Dr. Kobilinsky, "the Times" also reported the officer said
he heard Eric Garner say, I can`t breathe as judge Faith just quoted. But
they say quote "at the same time Mr. Garner`s ability to speak," the
officer testified, "suggested that he could, in fact, could breathe."
Dr., what`s your read on that?
DR. LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, PROFESSOR, JOHN JAY COLLEGE: I think if the
airway was completely obstructed, he could not speak. You can`t get air
through the vocal cord so you can`t speak. If the airway is partially
obstructed or if there was compression on the chest or other things,
essentially you would have a lot of trouble breathing, but you could speak.
SHARPTON: You could speak?
KOBILINSKY: You could speak.
SHARPTON: So what are they suggesting? That he shouldn`t said I can only
breathe 10 percent?
KOBILINSKY: Frankly, I think if you have somebody in that situation and he
says I can`t breathe, police should be rendering first aid, CPR, and
calling EMS for a quick response.
SHARPTON: Now Marq Claxton, I also see the report saying that he
disengaged as quickly as he can. But we see on the video, they are sitting
on top of him, pressing him down to the ground. Does that -- you were a
police officer for many years here in New York, is that an immediate
MARQ CLAXTON, FORMER NYPD OFFICER; Absolutely not. As a matter of fact,
Reverend Sharpton, much of what is coming out of the attorney`s mouth and
some of the written statements even by Pantaleo, it`s more a case of, are
you going to believe me or your lying eyes. I mean, we`ve seen what
occurred there. We`ve seen quite clearly that there was a stranglehold and
a choke being applied. And it really is insulting to everyone`s
intelligence and it`s an insult to professional policing to come up with
these excuses and rationalizations for what we all saw and what is obvious
and known and been established by scientific fact.
SHARPTON: What was the cause of death, Dr. Kobilinsky?
KOBILINSKY: Well, I believe -- I haven`t seen the autopsy report.
Unfortunately, it hasn`t been released yet. But I do believe that the
medical examiner talked about a couple of things. First of all, the
chokehold. Secondly, the prone position. They could have been what we
call a positional asphyxia. And thirdly, compression of the chest, also
known as burking.
The way people normally breathe is the muscles of the diaphragm as well as
the muscles within the ribs, what they do is they raise the chest up and
outward. That causes an expansion of the chest cavity and the lungs open
up, and air comes in. If you prevent the chest from expanding and moving
upward, you can`t breathe. You have a big problem. You can go unconscious
in a matter of seconds. Death -- irreversible brain death can occur in a
matter of five, six minutes.
SHARPTON: Faith, given that, did the prosecutor look at this? I mean, how
could all of this not be raised to the grand jury or the fact that it`s
secret and we don`t know what was raised is part of why I think it`s
JENKINS: We don`t know exactly --
SHARPTON: We do know, let me just say this, we know the grand jury, 23
members of the grand jury sat nine weeks, heard 50 witnesses, 60 exhibits.
The judge released that today. But do we need more transparency than that?
JENKINS: This is not enough information. People deserve -- first of all,
his family deserves an explanation. And then people deserve an explanation
when you can look at that kind of egregious behavior taking place in broad
daylight on the streets of this city by the people who are supposed to
protect and serve, people deserve an explanation because that video, and
we`ve had cases before where we`ve had video evidence, look at Rodney King.
We`ve had other cases. But in that case there was at least an indictment
and Rodney King lived. Eric Garner is dead.
SHARPTON: (INAUDIBLE) lived and there was a federal guidance (ph). Is
that officer is still in jail?
JENKINS: And what you just said about those witnesses, what did those
witnesses say? All of those exhibits, what did they show? That`s what we
need to know.
SHARPTON: And why did it take four months if it was that simple.
But Doctor, he says it wasn`t a chokehold. I mean, this is the new line.
He says it was a wrestling maneuver.
KOBILINSKY: There are different kinds of chokeholds. There`s a chokehold
where the airway is blocked. There`s a chokehold which compresses the
jugular and corroded arteries which prevents blood from rushing to the
brain and there is a combination of the two.
But then you have other kinds of holds which are meant to take somebody
down, a wrestling hold, Jujitsu, all of these difference types of combat
use different holds around the neck. But essentially if you stop somebody
from breathing or you stop blood from flowing to the brain, that person is
going to become unconscious in seconds. And his life is in danger. If
they use --
SHARPTON: And it`s a chokehold?
KOBILINSKY: If they use a chokehold at the level of the larynx, you can
break the hyoid bone in the creek way cartilage, you can just crush the
larynx. It`s not good.
SHARPTON: Marq Claxton, the officer Pantaleo has reportedly been the
subject of civil rights lawsuits before. This is the officer in question
here. In an incident from February 2012, he was accused of making a false
arrest and incarceration. The case remains open. In March of 2012, he was
accused of an illegal strip search. The NYPD settled the suit for $30,000.
You`re an officer. You have been on the streets. This guy has had some
accusations before. Now he comes, despite the medical examiner and says it
wasn`t a chokehold. He`s allowed to go in the grand jury. There is no
adversarial opposition there. How do you, as one that has been on the
streets as a police in New York, assess this?
This guy, on tape, taking down, five guys around, and kept holding him
while he was saying, I can`t breathe. Is that normal or necessary
policing, Marq Claxton?
CLAXTON: That is not normal nor is it necessary. And Rev., please allow
me to take the adversarial position and tell you that both the attorney who
indicated that that wasn`t a chokehold and the officer indicated that in
the grand jury, they are both liars. So let`s be clear about that right
off the bat.
In addition to that, there is no training in the NYPD because chokeholds
are expressly prohibited and have been since 1993. So there is no active
or ongoing training in NYPD that allows or promotes wrapping your arm
around someone`s neck for the obvious dangers. This occurred with Anthony
Baez several years ago. And from that point forward, chokeholds are
illegal. And that was a chokehold.
And something else that disturbs me greatly and it may come into play when
talking about these other allegations that exist, is the lack of
supervision, the lack of punishment. There`s no penalty effective and
quick penalty for when officers are committing offenses against civilians.
That`s problematic. And you can`t move forward without there being a
penalty. There has to be a carrot and then there has to be stick. And
someone has to be willing to use that stick.
SHARPTON: Faith, I`m out of time, but we talked needs to be more
transparency, understand all the officers were given immunity but Pantaleo.
JENKINS: We still don`t know the reason for that.
SHARPTON: And that`s unusual.
JENKINS: There is no explanation. All those officers stood by and some of
them actually participated and the rest of them stood by. His supervisor
was there. What is the reason? Why were they given immunity? Especially
now that this officer wasn`t indicted with this evidence.
SHARPTON: I feel the system is broken. We need to fix it.
Faith Jenkins, Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky and Marq Claxton, thank you for your
JENKINS: Sure. Thank you.
SHARPTON: Straight ahead, will there are federal charges against the
officer? An investigation is under way.
And protests under way in New York city and across the nation. This is the
scene in Baltimore. Protests happening there as well.
Also in Chicago, people filling the streets to march for justice.
SHARPTON: We`re back with live pictures of peaceful protests under way
here in New York city and around the country.
People want their voices heard. It is also dominating social media.
Here`s a photo posted from Penn State University showing the school`s
president and students. That photo sparked posted tweets that`s all over
social media. You can see the spike in Eric Garner related hash tags.
There is still U.S. trends more than 24 hours later. And that made sure
this case got into national coverage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Latin America, Europe and Asia all covering the New York
protests and the case.
Juanita wrote to us saying, I`m so proud of the people in New York standing
together, black and white.
I am, too. Coming up, we`ll discuss what`s next in the federal
investigation of the Garner case. But keep the conversation going on our
facebook or tweet us @politicsnation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Our prosecutors will conduct an
independent, thorough, fair and expeditious investigation. You`ve all seen
the video of Mr. Garner`s arrest. His death, of course, was a tragedy.
All lives must be valued.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: A federal investigation is under way. Will the officer be
charged? Here`s part of what investigators will look at. Eric Garner was
unarmed. The officer used a chokehold banned by the police department.
Garner says he couldn`t breathe 11 times. The medical examiner ruled his
death a homicide. And the entire altercation is on tape. There`s a high
bar for federal charges. But we have seen it before.
In the Rodney King case, the officers were acquitted by a jury in state
court. But a federal grand jury returned an indictment for violating civil
rights. And 20 years ago here in New York, Anthony Baez was killed when an
officer used a chokehold on him during an attempted arrest. The officer
was found not guilty at trial but later convicted on federal charges of
violating -- for violating civil rights. So where does this federal
investigation go and what might a federal case look like?
Joining me now are former U.S. attorney Kendall Coffey and attorney Susan
Karten who represented Anthony Baez`s family here in New York city during
Susan, you were in the middle of a very similar case, historic case. I
remember well having come to rallies, came out here a couple of times.
Does it seem to you that we`ve seen this before and that we`re sitting here
in 2014 doing the same thing?
SUSAN KARTEN, ATTORNEY: Reverend, I can`t believe it`s 18 years later and
we`re still talking about this. When we were involved in the Baez case
where it was very similar, Anthony Baez was playing football in front of
his home and the football hit officer Livoti`s car who was also represented
by the same attorney as Mr. Pantaleo. And the officer got out of the car
and started screaming and yelling at the Baez family brothers and telling
them to move off the block. And one thing led to another and all of the
sudden Anthony Baez was in a chokehold. He has not committed a crime. And
he was on the ground screaming for his life. His father was screaming that
he had asthma and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
There were many officers that was there as well. And what I think this
case is going to come down to for the feds is what those other officers who
were there who should have been charged as well, who shouldn`t have been
given immunity, what they said in that grand jury. Because the minute they
were given immunity, you now have all of these officers coming together,
giving their story, and it`s very hard for a dead man to speak. So I think
that`s partially what the feds are going to be concentrating on.
SHARPTON: In a minute I want to ask you the key on how you broke through
But Kendall, I want to go to something before I let Susan respond to that.
I mentioned these cases a moment ago. Federal prosecutors brought charges
in the Rodney King case after the state jury acquitted, they brought cases
in Anthony Baez`s case after a state judge acquitted and they brought
charges in the case of Abner Louima (ph) after the local prosecutor turned
the case over to them. Why is it necessary for federal authorities to get
KENDALL COFFEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, I think they traditionally get
involved because local police and local prosecutors work together very
closely. They are like part of the same brotherhood and sisterhood and
there a lot of positives about that. But when it comes to an excessive
force case, there`s no prosecution, local prosecution office in America
that has enthusiasm for those cases.
So the result is their feeling from their comrades, their teammates, a lot
of institutional pressure to be very reluctant to pull the trigger on
cases. That means many times the ball has handed off to the feds. And
often, local prosecutors to live with that because they much rather the
U.S. attorney`s office be dealing with it than a local elected prosecutor
who has to work every day with the men and women in the police force.
SHARPTON: Susan, you know, we were talking about the Anthony Baez case
that you represented. There are so many similarities between that case and
Eric Garner`s. I want to play a part of the "Today" show from 1995 when
his family was interviewed. Let`s watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Baez was playing touch football with his
brothers late one night when the football hit a police car. Officer Livoti
tried to break up the game, and it ended up in a struggle with Baez.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Demonstrate what you saw the officer do to your
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I saw him do on the opposite side over there
because I was on the sidewalk. I saw the officer came around behind him
and brought him back look this, taking him down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I mean, it`s almost eerie, 18 years later we`re seeing this same
kind of thing. What did you do to break through this blue wall and to get
a federal indictment?
KARTEN: Well, immediately after the non -- the acquittal of officer
Livoti, and remember the judge in that case was judge Judy`s husband, Judge
SHARPTON: And he went to trial. This is a public trial.
KARTEN: Exactly. He had an indictment. It went to trial and it was a
nonjury trial because that is what police officer usually do. They take a
judge. But Judge Sheinlin said from the bench, and this was the key, there
was a nest of perjury. And this was my beef with the DA was that they put
in all these witnesses, 50, 60 witnesses. It`s not the amount of
witnesses. It`s the quality of the witnesses. It`s how you present it.
It`s what questions you ask to get the indictment.
And I believe that these DAs just put everything up, throw it up on the
wall and then people say, well, you know, we can`t tell what two officers
said this, one lay person said that and you`ll never get an indictment that
So what we did is immediately after Judge Sheinlin acquitted officer
Livoti, we walked to Mary Joe white`s office --
SHARPTON: Who was the U.S. attorney at the time.
KARTEN: -- who was a U.S. attorney and be demanded a federal
investigation. And they did an amazing investigation. They spoke to
everybody. They made those cops come in there. And once they started
separating out the cops, the real true story came out.
SHARPTON: So the federal investigation many of us have been calling for is
really what you did 18 years ago successfully, after an acquittal.
KARTEN: After an acquittal.
SHARPTON: Kendall, how high is the bar, though, to get a federal
indictment or even a serious federal grand jury. Again, let me play the
tape. And as I play the tape, explain how high the bar is and where we
have an opportunity to at least have a federal grand jury look at this if
at all, in your opinion. Kendall?
COFFEY: Yes. I`m listening closely.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
SHARPTON: Walk me through as we look at this tape. How high is the bar to
get a federal indictment or federal grand jury?
COFFEY: Here`s the standard. It`s not as some have suggested anything to
do with an analysis on the spot of the constitution. Nor is the civil
rights crime require any proof of racism. What this has to be shown is an
intentionality with respect to the use of excessive force. And unless a
jury has a reasonable doubt, certainly must a prosecute for probable cause,
thinks there`s no probable cause, that there was an improper chokehold
causing the death.
Now remember, we know the coroner said death resulted from the compression
of the throat, the neck and the chest. We know that in his final words he
kept saying, I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe. So I think there`s more
than enough probable cause to show that an illegal chokehold was being used
and that it caused the death. If that was done intentionally which
obviously, there`s considerable evidence, then that could satisfy the
SHARPTON: So excessive force. You don`t even have to prove race or bias.
Kendall Coffey, Susan Karten, thank you for time tonight.
KARTEN: Thank you.
COFFEY: Thanks, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, stunning revelations about the rookie officer who
shot and killed a 12-year-old boy in Cleveland. Tamir Rice didn`t have to
die. And there are new questions tonight.
Also, we`re following those protests in New York and around the country.
Can the demonstrations lead to real change? Stay with us.
SHARPTON: From the Garner protests here in New York to an investigation in
Cleveland, we`re learning new details about the Cleveland police officer
who shot and killed a 12-year-old in less than two seconds. Why his former
police department didn`t want him to carry a gun, and why Attorney General
Eric Holder says, Cleveland police engage in excessive force. Next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The shooting death of 12-year-old
Tamir Rice in Cleveland had really raised urgent national questions and has
sparked an important conversation about the sense of trust that must exist
between law enforcement and the communities that they serve and protect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Attorney General Eric Holder in Cleveland today talking about
Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy shot and killed by police while holding a
pellet gun. He was laid to rest yesterday on the same day the Eric Garner
decision stunned the nation. Two more tragedies that are reshaping how
Americans think about our criminal justice system. Tonight we`re learning
new details about the rookie officer who in under two seconds fired the
fatal shots that killed Tamir Rice. Police claim the officer somehow gave
proper warning in those two seconds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEPUTY CHIEF ED TOMBA, CLEVELAND POLICE DEPARTMENT: Yes, three commands
were given to show your hands by Officer Loehmann as he pulled up to the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: But today, disturbing revelations about Officer Loehmann`s
experience and training. A new report shows that his old boss found him
unfit for duty in 2012. From a small town police force in Ohio. He said
Loehmann was weepy and distracted during a handgun training and that his
performance was dismal. He went on to write about Loehmann`s inability to
perform basic functions and emotionally function. And he said, quote, "he
would not be able to substantially cope or make good decisions during or
resulting from any other stressful situation." Cleveland police admit they
never reviewed this personnel file before hiring the officer. But it
raises serious questions about Officer Loehmann`s judgment. On this video,
Tamir Rice is clearly pointing and playing with a pellet gun. Someone
called 911 and so the police had to respond. But is what happened when the
police arrived that is so troubling. Shooting Tamir Rice in under two
seconds and now this officer`s history is adding disturbing details to what
Joining me now, Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed and legal analyst
veteran prosecutor Paul Henderson. Thank you both for being here tonight.
PAUL HENDERSON, PROSECUTOR: Thanks for having us, Reverend.
COUNCILMAN ZACK REED, CLEVELAND, OHIO: Thank you for having me, Rev.
SHARPTON: Councilman Reed, what do you make of what we`re learning about
this officer today?
REED: Well, a lot of things were dropped. I mean, clearly we did not do
our homework on this officer. Clearly if we had done our homework on this
officer, we would not have hired this officer. Goes back to what Malcom X
here. He said, you have good cops, you have bad cops and you have cops
that don`t deserve to be on the force both physically, mentally and this is
what we`ve got. We have a cop that should not have been on the force
mentally because he could not perform the duties of what police officers
are supposed to do.
SHARPTON: Paul, how can his background, the officer`s background play into
this case? The grand jury made meat on this.
HENDERSON: The grand jury made meat on this. And this issue is absolutely
relevant in terms of allowing someone to use deadly force when there have
been these issues in the past that were either ignored are not followed up
upon. The mayor himself invited the federal government to come and
continue an investigation and you mentioned this earlier about the use of
excessive force and the background but also the secondary issue is the lack
of follow-up about internal incidents and discipline actions that weren`t
followed up upon. And this dovetails directly into that with a lack of
accountability for the officers that are being hired specifically when they
are putting them in a position 20 use deadly force in the community. This
is absolutely relevant. And I think we`ll going to see more closer
scrutiny from the federal government and this incident as well specifically
SHARPTON: Councilman Reed, it`s not only this officer. The Cleveland
plain dealer reported late today that the city paid out $100,000 to settle
an excessive force lawsuit earlier this year involving the other officer in
the Tamir Rice case. A six-year veteran who was driving the police car.
So, are there serious questions about both officers involved in this case,
REED: I don`t think it`s just these two officers. I think what the
federal government said in their report, and as a matter of fact, I just
left the U.S. attorney`s office here in the Northern Ohio to come on to
your show. And they talked about the word pattern. It`s not just these
two officers, Reverend. It`s a pattern of officers over the years of using
excessive force to do their job. They have to use force in some occasions,
but to continue as the government has said, a pattern of excessive force
has got the federal government to now say we`re going to put a monitor in
Cleveland because you clearly in Cleveland don`t know how to do this job on
your own and, therefore, we need an independent monitor to come in, look at
and evaluate your training, your officers, policies and procedures because,
clearly, you aren`t doing it right in the city of Cleveland.
SHARPTON: Is there pleasure Councilman Reed for a grand jury on Tamir`s
REED: I don`t think there has to be pressure. I think that the
circumstances that led to a 12-year-old boy standing up and an officer
within two seconds shooting him beckons that a grand jury has to look at it
and come back with a right decision.
SHARPTON: All right. But there`s my point of tension, Paul, because if
they were operating, the police, with a pattern, can this prosecutor who
did nothing about that pattern and work with his police, can he conduct
that grand jury, or do we need an outside prosecutor or the federal
government, just like the Attorney General put a monitor in over police.
They weren`t hand and glove.
HENDERSON: That is correct. And keep in mind that the prosecutor always
has an independent option to file charges independently of the grand jury.
The grand jury is just a tool of the prosecutor. But a prosecutor can
always just charge that initially if he or she makes a determination that a
crime has occurred and it doesn`t necessarily have to go through this grand
jury process that we`re seeing again and again being challenged as a
subjective interpretation and a different measurement of accountability
when they involve the potential of police misconduct and communities of
color involving death of African-American men and that`s the exact same
situation. So, we could see a grand jury but we could just as easily see a
prosecutor charge that officer independently.
SHARPTON: And what`s stunning to me about this Councilman, I mean, 12-
year-old young man killed, young boy killed, it was stunning. Many of us
around the country just couldn`t believe it. But now we find out the
background of the officer that shot and killed him, and they didn`t read
the personnel file? I mean, this is unthinkable.
REED: It`s startling. It`s startling. And now it has led us to change
the policy that we`re going to start looking at every personnel file, but
we should have been doing that all long.
SHARPTON: So was it the policy that you didn`t have to read the stuff?
REED: We didn`t have to read it. We didn`t have to read it. So now we`ve
changed the policy in light of what we`ve done here to allow a rogue police
officer. You understand Reverend, this police officer said he quit that
police force before he got fired and came to Cleveland because he wanted
some action. I mean, what kind of mind-set to say he wants the action?
SHARPTON: Well, Paul --
HENDERSON: That`s a real problem.
SHARPTON: You are a veteran prosecutor.
SHARPTON: Just knowing what you know from seeing the video, just from
seeing the video, how would you prosecute this case?
HENDERSON: Look, I have real concerns. And one of the things that we
haven`t really been discussing is that Ohio is an open carry state. And so
that means that you are allowed, if you have a permit, to have a gun in the
public. The fact that the decision was made so quickly without an
assessment as to whether this individual was over the age of 18, without
the question as to whether or not he may have had a permit, without an
assessment of whether or not he was using that gun inappropriately and
threatening either the officer or someone else, that`s the real issue. So
I would focus in on the timeline and split decisions like this get made all
the time. But the fact that this split decision in less than two seconds
ended up with this 12-year-old with not a real gunshot without an
evaluation of those factors is the very thing that I would present either
to a jury or to a grand jury when I made a determination as to whether or
not a crime had been committed by this officer. The federal issue of this
pattern and practice in the past associated with a community in Cleveland
specifically the communities of color, it`s a whole separate issue but I
think is what may open the city and that department of the civil liability
which is a whole separate track from the criminal accountability that a
prosecutor`s decision is going to make.
SHARPTON: Councilman Zack Reed and Paul Henderson, thank you both for your
HENDERSON: Thanks, Reverend.
REED: Thank you so much for having us, Rev.
SHARPTON: Straight ahead, a national call for change. Right now, peaceful
protests are under way here in New York and around the country. The fight
for change, next.
SHARPTON: The decision not to indict an officer in the killing of Eric
Garner has sparked outrage across the country. And we`re now seeing
peaceful protests in Chicago, Baltimore and here in New York City. And
another day of protests showed there`s a national push for change.
President Obama is pushing to revamp how police are trained, and how they
interact with the communities they serve.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Too many Americans feel deep
unfairness when it comes to the gap between our professed ideals and how
laws are applied on a day-to-day basis. And big challenges like these
should galvanize our country. Big challenges like these should unite us
around an opportunity that brings us together rather than pulling us apart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The President is calling for millions of dollars to fund body
cameras for police. But there are many other potential reforms.
Everything from improved training to electronically tracking police
weapons. It`s clear something has to change.
Joining me now is Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League.
Thank you for being here.
MARC MORIAL, PRES., NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Reverend, thank you.
SHARPTON: Mark, we`ve been dealing with these issues for a long time. But
as we said in our national leaders meeting today, now more Americans are
aware of it than ever before. Are we at a tipping point?
MORIAL: We are at a tipping point and the President`s message around
unifying the nation, the protesters and the activists call to action. The
crystallization that this is not just about Eric Garner in New York or
about Michael Brown in Ferguson, but it is about them because they`ve
helped to motivate, if you will, this movement. But it`s about Tamir Rice
and Marlene Pinnock and all of these incidents. So, now this has a new
national dimension. With, I believe, the President with the task force you
and I had a chance to participate in the announcement of that, creating an
opportunity for there to be solid recommendations around police reform.
SHARPTON: Now you mentioned two cases that we`ve been involved in and the
whole nation has been watching. But the FBI says, there was 461
justifiable shootings by police last year. That`s the most in two decades.
Even more disturbing is the fact that these numbers may be underreported,
since not all police departments supplied this data. How can we even
address the problem when we don`t know what the real numbers are, Marc?
MORIAL: Well, you know, those numbers give us at least, Reverend, a
starting point. A place to start. We know that there were reported by
local police departments 461, if you will, shootings by citizens -- of
citizens by police. I think what I would say is that we need to ensure
that the data, the information and the numbers being reported are, indeed,
accurate and perhaps what needs to be done is those numbers that need to be
reviewed and audited to determine in fact if they really were justifiable,
but in some cases, they were challenged. And I might add this. A system
of accountability is one of the most important deterrents. If officers
engage in illegal use of force and they pay a price for it, it sends a
message to others. That`s how our system works in this country.
SHARPTON: And in that light, what is it that you and I and others are
saying? Because we clearly are not anti-police. All police are not bad.
Most are not bad. What we`re saying -- what are we saying about the
process? What do we want? We`re marching on December 13th. What do we
MORIAL: We want effective policing. We want respectable policing. We
want policing that has a working relationship with communities around the
aims of public safety. But what we`re saying is that next year needs to be
a year committed to action on justice and jobs. What we`re saying is,
let`s get together on the 13th in Washington, D.C., for a national march
which brings all interests. The coalition of the committed to justice
together and in the beginning of 2015, let`s come together for an historic
civil rights and social justice leaders summit in Washington, D.C., to
ensure that we`ve sustained momentum and we continue to make good
SHARPTON: Body cameras have come up both with the president, the mayor
here in New York. During a test program in California, the use of force by
officers dropped by 60 percent after they started using body cams. And
complaints against officers were down 88 percent. It sound like programs
like these can have a real impact on how police and civilians interact.
MORIAL: I strongly support body cameras.
SHARPTON: You used to be a mayor.
MORIAL: And let me tell you, body cameras and dashboard cameras, had they
been available? The way they`re available in the `90s, I would have
readily embraced it. Because it gives you just yet another tool. By
itself it doesn`t solve the problem that we`re talking about. But what it
does, it creates a tool of accountability. And it eliminates some of the
guesswork about what happened in an interaction between police and
SHARPTON: You used to be mayor of New Orleans, and your father before you.
So you know how grand juries work, policing work. And you know the
relationship between prosecutors and police on a local level. How can that
work? We have such an --
MORIAL: Well, the relationship between prosecutors and police is hand in
glove. They have to work together. Because the prosecutors prosecute the
arrests and the cases made by the local police department. So, to a great
extent you have to create a separate independent mechanism to hold police
officers accountable. We see a broken system, but it`s expected. The
history of state prosecutors, prosecuting police officers for misconduct is
not a good record in this country. The federal government`s record is
better. It`s why in the Garner case and also in the Michael Brown case, we
support what Attorney General Holder has done and that is proceed
independently with a federal investigation.
SHARPTON: Marc Morial, president of the Urban League. Thank you for your
time tonight, Marc.
MORIAL: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Still ahead -- the human toll of the policing crisis in this
country. It`s not just the victims. It`s the shattered lives left behind.
You`re watching a special edition of POLITICS NATION as the country rises
up against this injustice. Stay with me.
SHARPTON: From the beginning of the Eric Garner case I`ve said how struck
I was about how Mr. Garner`s basic humanity was trampled on. The human
cost in the Garner case and the other cases. I`ll talk about that next.
SHARPTON: Finally tonight, understanding the human cost of the injustice
in America. The people hurt most and the futures ripped away. The death
of Eric Garner leaves a deep void in a family forced to grieve for the rest
of their lives. Hid death leaves behind a wife and four children. Michael
Brown, Jr. was just 18 years old. What do his parents tell his three
younger siblings about his death? Last week just before Thanksgiving, I
asked Michael Brown`s mother about her first holiday without her son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESLEY MCSPADDEN, MOTHER OF MICHAEL BROWN, JR.: I don`t even want to think
about tomorrow being Thanksgiving. It`s just Thursday. I don`t plan to
celebrate, because I can`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was laid to rest just yesterday.
Just yesterday his parents and sisters will never see him finish the sixth
grade. Akai Gurley was 28-years-old when he was shot and killed by police
in a Brooklyn stairwell. His two children lost their father forever. Four
different stories from four different parts of the country, all with the
same result. And their families will never be the same. Yes, they have
families. Yes, they were somebody`s child, somebody`s father, somebody`s
brother. They will never, ever be the same. And until we all start caring
for each other beyond the headlines, I talked to many people that I fought
for with 25 years ago because until you can feel inside the pain of saying,
we need to care about fellow Americans, then you are, and I am not who we
ought to be yet.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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PoliticsNation, Thursday, December 4th, 2014
Show: POLITICS NATION