Guest: Evan Kolhmann, Walid Phares, John Timoney, Steve Pomerantz, Rod
Wheeler, Cyril Wecht, Warren Riley, Rodney Monroe, Howard Marks, Jenny
Hoff, Jeffrey Laskey, Phillis Shorter, Daniel Shorter, Sharron Nicole
Redman, Michael Schiavone
RITA COSBY, HOST: Breaking news tonight, two big stories that we're following. New York City under its most specific threat of a terrorist attack ever. Is the warning enough to thwart an attack? And how credible is this threat?
And the other story, a nightmare confirmed. Police identify the body found miles away from where a college student vanished. It is Taylor Behl.
Plus, we'll tell you why a beauty queen acquitted of murder is now suing the victim's family. You may be surprised as to why.
But first, breaking news out of New York tonight involving a big terrorism threat. The city's mayor and top officials announce what they call a credible threat against the New York City transit system, and they warn the terrorists might try to use backpacks or even a baby carriage to get explosives onto a subway train.
NBC's Mike Taibbi is live in Manhattan now with the very latest details. Mike, what are you hearing?
MIKE TAIBBI, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rita, right now, it's pretty quiet in the city, as you can see. The theater hour is already under way. But we're hearing that the mayor and the federal officials to whom you referred are still doing the work of trying to assess the credibility of the single source who provided the information about this threat, very specific information, as you just alluded to, about the time period, the next few days or the week—coming week or so, and the method. You talked about a baby carriage or personal conveyance, like a briefcase. All of that kind of information, the mayor said, which doesn't come to the attention of the intelligence community all that often, which left him, he said, with no choice but to go public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG ®, NEW YORK CITY: This is the first time that we have had a threat with this level of specificity. The commissioner has been updating me on it throughout the week. I believe we have an obligation to share information with the public, as long as it doesn't jeopardize their safety.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAIBBI: All right. So what's happening now throughout the subway system? There are the searches, the random searches of individuals and their backpacks, or whatever they're carrying, that have been ongoing ever since the London subway attacks back in July. They're going to increase in frequency. There's going to be a heightened visibility for New York's cops, both uniformed and plainclothes cops, and of course, the undercovers, who people won't see.
What to do about it? Mayor Bloomberg said his New York, fellow New Yorkers, do what you've been doing. Live the way you've been living. Take the subway. He, New York's billionaire mayor, says he'll continue to take the subway, as he always has, home tonight and back to work tomorrow morning, and that his fellow New Yorkers should do the same thing. Only, if they see something, they should say something, something suspicious, they should say something to someone because, as he put it, if we're talking about the possibility of a terrorist threat, we cannot ever say that it's over. We no longer live in a time where we can say it's over—
COSBY: Mike, what's the mood of the passengers tonight, now that they're hearing this news—real briefly.
TAIBBI: Well, they're New Yorkers here, you know? One guy said to us before, Listen, tomorrow night, there's a Yankee game, a play-off game against the Anaheim Angels, Los Angeles Angels. I'm going to go up there. I'm going to take the subway, as I always have. And that's what you're going to hear from New Yorkers. Yes, they're aware of this. They've been hearing this for a long time. Don't forget, New York has been at the highest state of alert ever since 9/11, unlike any other city in the country. So that's where New Yorkers stand, and they're saying what we expect they would say—Rita.
COSBY: Yes, they're resilient. Mike, thank you very much.
Officials told us tonight that the terror threat came from an overseas source in Iraq. So the big question is, Is it tied to al Qaeda? Joining us now live is Evan Kohlmann and also Walid Phares, both experts in the Middle East and also terrorism.
Evan, what do you know about the single source?
EVAN KOHLMANN, TERRORISM EXPERT: Well, so far, what it appears to be is a joint FBI/CIA raid, perhaps south of Baghdad, on an unidentified insurgent location, upon which at least two or more insurgents were taken into custody. And apparently, at the very moment that they were taken into custody, or shortly thereafter, there was some indication given by one of these individuals that perhaps there was a terrorist plot. Or at least, this is supposedly the story that's filtering out right now.
Is it al Qaeda? Well, certainly, there's at least some reason to suspect that this may have been tied to an al Qaeda cell. Certainly, al Qaeda is the driving force right now behind a lot of the violence that we see remaining in the insurgency. but that being said, that's not the only group in Iraq that has directly threatened the U.S. homeland. The Islamic Army in Iraq, which is a group that is indirectly affiliated with al Qaeda, has worked with them in the past, has issued exactly such a threat.
Now, is this plot credible? Is it really the work of Iraqi insurgents? It's really hard to tell right now. It seems to be that the New York authorities are acting with an abundance of caution, rather than specific information that would make them think that there are terrorist operatives, that perhaps tomorrow or the next day, are planning on carrying out an imminent act of terrorism.
COSBY: Walid, how credible?
WALID PHARES, TERRORISM EXPERT: Well, I think the government will tell us if the evidence is credible or not. What we have right now is, as my colleague mentioned, an information that tells us that, possibly, this could be the work of either al Qaeda or the their allies. But there is a context, meaning in the chat rooms, as visited after July, there was a lot of talk among the jihadists both with al Qaeda and the other Salafists, who have drawn lessons from London. They believe that they can repeat this, basically, against another subway system, including in New York.
Now, after Bali, the other dimension came, meaning to strike again, against the same target. There was a lot of talk over the past few days that attacking other cities—infidel cities, they call them—including New York, will be something that would be a major victory. So if you combine the lessons from London and the lessons from Bali, you may see the political intention of al Qaeda. Of course, the evidence would have to be provided by government, at the end of the day.
COSBY: You know, and Evan, I think Walid makes some good points. Also, the timing, let's talk—it's the Jewish holidays, Ramadan. I also got from one of my intelligence sources talked about some of the chatter on the Web sites that I know both of you look at quite a bit, talking about this letter on the Web site, it's talking about “the mountain of the skulls,” that was sort of an inference and a sort of a cue sign before the Bali bombings. Have you seen that, as well?
KOHLMANN: Well, I think the timing here is significant, but not necessarily because of the Jewish holidays or necessarily even because of Ramadan. But more importantly, what's going on right now in far-away conflict zones that are directly related to the war on terrorism, particularly Afghanistan and Iraq—what we're witnessing in those two places right now is a desperate backlash by al Qaeda militants and their allies to show that they're still viable, to show that they're still around and active.
And they've been waging a very serious campaign of violence for the last two or three months, trying to up the level of hostility and conflict. We've seen the bombings in London. We've seen the bombings in Bali and in Egypt. I think it's only right that we should expect that such groups would also try mount attacks here in the United States.
Now, is this an attack? We don't know yet. But certainly, there is a desire among these groups to carry out plots exactly like this. We've known that since Madrid. Ever since Madrid, terrorist groups around the world of various different sites, shapes and sizes have been looking at Madrid, have been looking at London and saying, This is easy to replicate. This causes a tremendous reaction. It's terribly effective. Let's get involved in this. And that's why you see an abundance of caution on the part of U.S. officials, particularly here in New York.
COSBY: Yes, absolutely. And Walid, what does this say about the
coordination and how complex? You know, what we're hearing is 19 possible
· you know, operatives using maybe suitcase bombs, using maybe even baby strollers. That's a pretty, you know, well-thought-out operation.
PHARES: Well, this indicates that the government and the authorities, both probably the United States and their allies around the world, including in Iraq, have more information to lead them to believe that a mobilization has to take place.
But there are two lessons here, at least, Rita. The first one is that it is not necessarily that Iraqi insurgents, friends and allies will be the ones who carry these attacks. There may be other groups in the United States, certainly, possibly in New York, as well, who would carry those attacks or who are planning because they think that this would help them in Iraq and also around the world, as well.
COSBY: Great points, both of you. Thank you very much. We appreciate it.
Now let's talk about security and how telling the public may actually help stop any planned attack. LIVE AND DIRECT tonight from Washington, D.C., is Steve Pomerantz. He's former chief of FBI counterterrorism unit. And also, from Miami, police chief John Timoney. He used to be deputy NYPD commissioner.
Let me start with you, Chief Timoney. What kind of force do you think we're going to see now from the police department? We heard that there's going to be obvious ones and some plainclothes ones.
JOHN TIMONEY, MIAMI POLICE CHIEF: Yes, I mean, the NYPD is very fortunate to have a big police department and Ray Kelly in charge. And so you're going to see additional obvious uniformed personnel throughout the subway systems, with dogs, with chemical detecting devices. But also, there'll be a great deal of plainclothes officers. He'll probably use some of the narcotic squads, some of the detective divisions to be in plainclothes in and around the subways, on the subways, on the platforms, at the stations, clearly, over the next week. He's just going to ramp it up.
They're already at a heightened state since 9/11. He'll probably take it to the next step, certainly for the next week or so.
COSBY: You know, Steve, how complex is it, if this threat is correct? And of course, New York officials aren't taking any chances. But if it is a credible threat, how do you go up against an enemy like this? I mean, we're talking about bombs in a suitcase or baby carriages. These are common items people carry every day.
STEVE POMERANTZ, FORMER CHIEF FBI COUNTERTERRORISM: Yes, it's a very
difficult equation. You know, making this announcement, doing what they've
done, says several things. I mean, clearly, the worst concern, the worst
outcome is to have information and not issue an alert. So you don't want -
· you certainly don't want to do that. But you have to recognize at some level, when you do this, you compromise the investigation to some extent. Assuming there is a plot, assuming there are people out there who are ready, willing and able to carry out this kind of a terrorist attack, they have now been warned. So the effort to detect them and stop them by arresting them before they attempt to carry out this attack is now greatly complicated.
But again, sometimes the information is specific enough, credible enough that you really have no choice. And obviously, that's what occurred in this particular instance. Very difficult decision, with lots of different complexities, but one that sometimes has to be made this way.
COSBY: And Chief Timoney, on the flip side, could it also help, in the sense now the public's alert, maybe there's some tip that's out there?
TIMONEY: Oh, absolutely. I mean, there are only so many police officers you can pout subways and on stations. But on a daily basis in New York City, there are 4.5 million passengers. And as Mayor Bloomberg correctly stated tonight, you know, if you see it, give us a call. If you see something suspicious, unattended packages, somebody acting strange, give us a call, call 301 or 911 and let the professionals handle it.
COSBY: And real quick, Steve, how complex is it, if you've got, indeed, 19 operatives? You're looking at different coordinated attacks, they're trying to, quote, you know, “emulate” London, where it was at different subway stations. This is a tough act to keep an eye on.
POMERANTZ: Yes, very difficult. I'm sure whatever their initial source was, whatever their initial information, they are working 24/7 to round that out, to get more information, to follow all the leads that they can, that comes out of that initial information. And it has to be—in order for them to have done this notification, there has to be some substance. It's not just a particular singular source of unknown reliability. They wouldn't have taken that step. So they have some information which they can follow up, and I'm sure they are, between the New York City Police Department and the FBI, working diligently to do that.
COSBY: You bring up some good points. And in fact, everybody, thank you both, gentlemen, very much.
We're going to a lot more details on the subway threat ahead with New York congressman Peter King. I'll ask him if there's one more source. He, in fact, is now chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and he was personally alerted by the New York City police commissioner about this threat just a few hours ago.
And also, the shocking developments in the case of missing college student Taylor Behl.
And that's not all. We have a lot on our show tonight, everybody.
Take a look.
Still ahead: A beauty queen accused of murder is set free by the courts, but the family of her dead boyfriend is not letting go. Find out how both sides are taking aim in this family feud.
And rape, murder, mayhem. We heard stories of the worst atrocities inside New Orleans's hurricane shelters, but how much of it really happened? I'll ask the new New Orleans police chief.
And shock in law. One woman is fighting to get the electro-weapons outlawed. But find out why cops say it could save lives. Could it have saved this cop's life? It's ahead on LIVE AND DIRECT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RODNEY MONROE, RICHMOND, VIRGINIA, POLICE CHIEF: The remains that were recovered here in Mathews County on yesterday's date have been positively identified as that of Taylor Behl, the missing student from Virginia Commonwealth University.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: That sad news was announced just a few hours ago. And dental records were used to identify Taylor's body, found buried off a dirt path in rural Virginia. Reporter Ashley Wharton of NBC affiliate WWBT in Richmond joins me now again live from Mathews County tonight with the latest details. Ashley, bring us up to speed on how they make that determination.
ASHLEY WHARTON, WWBT-TV: Well, Rita, yes, some major developments down here in Mathews County today. As you just heard, earlier this afternoon, police, confirming that that body found just a few miles away from here is that of 17-year-old VCU student Taylor Behl. What we don't know at this point is how long Taylor had been there, how she got to this location. And of course, what we all want to know, Who is responsible for her death?
But all eyes are certainly on 38-year-old Richmond photographer Ben Fawley. We know an ex-girlfriend of his is from Mathews. Her family's property is very close to the land where Taylor was found. And we also know that police found pictures of that exact location on Fawley's Web site.
Police say the challenge with this crime scene is that Taylor's body was left in a ravine, where it was exposed to the elements and animal life. Tonight, Virginia's chief medical examiner has all of Taylor's remains. We're told they were able to make a positive identification through her dental records. But it is way too early to know for sure how she died. Richmond police chief Rodney Monroe said the task force remains focused on processing this crime scene but is confident that this case will be wrapped up very soon, calling their investigation, quote, “very targeted.”
So Rita, all of us here certainly expecting charges to be filed at any time. And I'm sure that you've heard today was Taylor's mother, Janet Pelasara's, birthday. So certainly, not the news she was hoping to receive.
COSBY: What a sad birthday. Ashley, thank you very much. We appreciate your reports.
And joining me now is forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht and also former homicide detective Rod Wheeler.
Rod, does it seem like the noose is closing in on Ben Fawley? I mean, there's all these ties, it seems like, to this area.
ROD WHEELER, FORMER HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: You're exactly right, Rita. Unfortunately, this case had a tragic ending. As you know, Rita, you and I both have been all over this case since the beginning, trying to find out exactly what happened to Taylor, trying to—and hoping to bring her back home alive. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
But I must say, my hat goes off to the Richmond Police Department, and of course, Chief Rodney Monroe. They've done a great job, as far as tracking these guys down. They're gathering evidence now. And I'll tell you, they're doing everything possible to bring these guys to justice. And they need to lock these guys up and throw the keys away.
COSBY: And Rod, it sounds like they're close. I mean, you know the language better than anybody. He was basically saying, We expect charges soon. Didn't say that there was someone else on the loose. If you read all that, it sounds like they got their guys in custody, or guy in custody. We know Ben Fawley is in custody and another skateboarder.
WHEELER: Absolutely, Rita. I've been knowing Chief Monroe a long time, and I can tell you, just from listening to his press conference today, he's pretty confident that they got the man that they were looking for. And I can tell you that they're gathering all kinds of evidence now. Rita, there's a lot of evidence, a lot of physical evidence, as you well know, that's tying this guy directly to this crime, including the fact that he failed a polygraph exam earlier this week. They're going to put all of this information together. They're going to present it before the grand jury, which by the way, has already been set. And they're going to try to get this guy indicted right away.
COSBY: Now, Dr. Wecht, how long is it going to take to determine cause of death, if ever?
DR. CYRIL WECHT, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Well, the examination started today and will continue tomorrow. I think that it is quite likely that they will not be able to come up with a definitive anatomical cause of death.
COSBY: Now, why do you think that?
WECHT: Well, the soft tissues will have decomposed. And unless there are significant blunt force injuries, specifically fractures, then you can't pick up things like suffocation. You can't even pick up strangulation in a younger person because the cartilaginous structures in the neck decompose quickly, too. And even if there were a fracture, you would not be able to detect it, if she has been dead for the duration of time that she has been missing.
COSBY: That's my next question. How long is it going to—how long would it take to determine, A, if that's the crime scene, and B, how long she's been there?
WECHT: Well, I don't think that they'll be able to determine specifically if that's the crime scene, but that will come from the interrogation of the suspects. They'll not be able to determine, like is depicted in fiction, exactly when she was there. But they certainly will be able to say whether it's most likely a case in which the time of death is most consistent with the time of her disappearance, rather than, you know, just a couple of days or a few days ago.
COSBY: All right, both of you, thank you very much. And please keep us posted. Especially, Rod, I know you're all over the story, too. Thank you.
And a programing note, everybody. Now, this Sunday night, “DATELINE” NBC takes you inside the investigation into what happened to Taylor Behl. Be sure to watch an all new “DATELINE” this Sunday night at 7:00 PM Eastern Time on your local NBC station.
And now we're going to move on to New Orleans and the enormous difficulties of restoring law and order to the battered and very chaotic city, this as we're hearing new reports that more victims of crime committed right after Hurricane Katrina are now coming forward.
Joining us now in one of his first TV interviews is the city's new acting police superintendent, Warren Riley. Chief Riley, good to have you with us. You've got a tough job, huh?
WARREN RILEY, ACTING NEW ORLEANS POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: Yes, very tough. Thanks for having me on.
COSBY: No, we're delighted to have you on, sir. I know that, you know, you've got your hands full. First of all, let me ask you about these new reports of people coming forward, or at least that we're hearing about them, that there were maybe some rapes, there were some of these incidents. Are you looking into this? And how far is that investigation along?
RILEY: And again, what's—what was your question? I'm sorry. I didn't hear you.
COSBY: The question is more about rapes and other things. We've been hearing some reports, there was some word today, there's a report out that at least 18 people have come forward, some of them alleging rapes, calling counseling centers. Have you heard about these incidences? Are you looking into that?
RILEY: No, I have not heard about that, but if that does, in fact—if that is a fact and they come forward, we certainly will investigate it.
COSBY: You've—and now, what about, also, incident of cops looting?
How troubling is that? And where does that stand?
RILEY: Well, certainly, it's troubling. But the facts are, we have 13 officers now under investigation for looting. There may be a handful more. We're looking for additional evidence. We're looking for videos. But that's a small segment of this department. But those who did, in fact, do that, if it is true, will be severely punished. We can tell you that.
COSBY: You know, you've got a tough job on your hands. I know that the last count I was hearing, 400 officers were still sort of MIA. Is that still the case? And if that is, how tough of a job is that for you not to have a full force?
RILEY: Well, right now, we have 1,400 -- a little more than 1,450 officers that are working. Of that, there are 249 that's the list that was AWOL, or absent without leave. We're reviewing that list. Some of these officers were not there the first three or four days of the hurricane because they were stranded on rooftops or in attics. Some were working on other assignments. We had no communication, so they could not report where they were. And then we have some others that just were not there for the storm. And those officers who were not there will face severe consequences.
COSBY: Now, you replaced Eddie Compass, who, of course, was the chief. We interviewed him many times when we were there in New Orleans. You know, there are a lot of stories about him not getting along with the mayor. That's, of course, critical. What kind of relationship do you have with Mayor Nagin?
RILEY: We have a professional relationship. It's a good professional relationship, and it's been that way for the last three years.
COSBY: What's the biggest challenge you face right now?
RILEY: Well, we have, obviously, morale issues with the officers, and a sense of keeping them focused. I mean, 80 percent of our department lost their homes, 80 percent of us, our families are away from us right now. So those are very difficult times.
Other challenges, the re-entry or the repopulation of the city certainly will be a challenge in two phases. One is that we have not had a real population here for the last six weeks. We have to readjust to that. The other side of it is we have to be as professional and show the utmost concern for our citizens because our citizens who return will be very emotional because there are some things that they're not quite prepared to see, but they need to be here to see it. So we're trying to deal with that, as well, making sure that we support our citizens when they come back.
COSBY: Well, I know that you guys did a good job. I was very impressed with your force when I was there in New Orleans. And we wish you lots of luck doing your job ahead. Thank you very much.
RILEY: Well, thank you so much.
COSBY: Thank you very much, Chief. We're glad you're with us. Thank you so much.
And still ahead, everybody: Cops say taser guns save lives, that a jolt is safer than a bullet. So why is there a lawsuit aiming to curb them? Stay tuned.
And next, we've got the latest on the breaking story out of New York, what the mayor calls the most credible threat ever on a terror attack on the city. It's in the subway system. Stay tuned, everybody.
COSBY: And let's turn back to the two big stories that we are following for you this night. First, New York's transit system is now on heightened alert, this after officials announced just a few hours ago what they called the most specific terrorist threat received to date.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MIKE BLOOMBERG ®, NEW YORK CITY: It was more specific as to timing, and some of the sources had more information that would lead one to believe that it was not the kind of thing that appears in the intelligence community every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: And joining me now live on the phone is New York congressman Peter King, who is also chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. Congressman, let me ask you first, how serious of a threat do you believe this is?
REP. PETER KING (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I think it's a threat that has to be taken seriously. As Commissioner Kelly said and Mayor Bloomberg said, a large number of specifics were given as to type of attack, where, dates, things such as that. And if it's a valid threat, then obviously, this would be, you know, catastrophic, if it was carried through.
Now, it's being checked out. It may turn out in the end that it is not a real threat. Having said that, I think—I'm convinced that Commissioner Kelly did the exact correct thing in deploying his police, in taking action. And the mayor did the right thing in making it known to the public. This would be too serious not to act on.
COSBY: Well, that's what I want to ask you, because the federal authorities tonight, especially those in the Homeland Security department, seem to be sort of sending a different message, saying they doubt it's credible. And then, on the other hand, we hear from New York authorities who say, “Look, we've got to take this seriously.”
Are we getting mixed messages?
KING: If that quote is accurate, we are getting mixed messages. Because to me, there's enough of a threat here that we'd be wrong not to take it seriously, especially in the post-9/11 era, in a place such as New York, which has been targeted so many times before.
Ray Kelly is doing exactly the right thing. And really, I'm disappointed in whoever the federal—who the anonymous federal officials are who are attempting to speak here against Ray Kelly. Ray Kelly is not saying this is definitely going to happen. What he's saying is, it's serious enough that he would be remiss in not taking action. I agree with him completely.
COSBY: And God forbid something did happen. Good point. And what would you say to citizens tonight who are nervous about taking the subway, whether it's tonight or tomorrow morning or the next week?
KING: Well, you know, it's up to them. Now, I have members of my own family. They've asked me—you know, they're going to be taking the subway. If I were in New York, I would take the subway. Mayor Bloomberg is going to take the subway.
But, again, one of the purposes of giving out the information is to let people decide for themselves. But the fact that Ray Kelly is on the job—you know, it's better to be safe than sorry. Because this threat was so specific, it also gives the police the opportunity also to take specific action. So that is also a plus.
COSBY: Absolutely. Congressman King, thank you for joining us. I know it's a busy night. We appreciate it.
And of course, the other big story that we're following tonight is coming out of Virginia. Police identified Taylor Behl's body today, more than one month after the college freshman disappeared. Her remains were found buried off a dirt road on a private farm about 70 miles east of Richmond, Virginia.
And joining me now live is Richmond Police Chief Rodney Monroe. Chief Monroe, what kind of things are you looking for at the scene? What kind of clues, as to whether it was a crime scene, or how long she's been there?
RODNEY MONROE, RICHMOND POLICE CHIEF: Well, those are quite (INAUDIBLE) things that we're initially looking for. It was a rather large scene that had to be processed very meticulously. We were able to do that. We were able to complete that today. The remains have been sent up to the state medical examination office for a complete analysis.
COSBY: When do you think an arrest—you used the language that it doesn't seem like there's another suspect on the loose, someone to that effect, that there's not someone else out there, the community doesn't need to be worried. That gives me the sense you've got your man or men.
MONROE: Well, you know, right now, we are very focused in a particular area. And we're very target-specific, as it relates to how we're going to proceed in the coming weeks with this investigation.
COSBY: Now, I know Ben Fawley, of course, who's sort of the lead suspect. A lot of folks have been talking about the photographer who dated Taylor Behl at one point. One of this photographs was shown to this ex-girlfriend, from what I understand. And I think you talked about this in your news conference.
How did that photograph come to be? How did everybody know to look at that photograph? What signaled that?
MONROE: Well, you know, during the past week, our mode of operation had moved toward identifying locations that Taylor may have visited, identifying locations that people could give us some idea of where they were and whether or not it necessitated us visiting those locations. And that's pretty much what led us to this location.
It was a picture. We had someone to identify that location. And we took it upon ourselves to go search that location and the results are what we're faced with now.
COSBY: Based on what you know at this moment, sir, do you believe it's one person responsible? I'm obviously not going to ask you whom, but do you believe it's one or more than one person responsible?
MONROE: At this moment, our focus is towards one individual.
COSBY: And do you believe it could be wrapped up very soon?
MONROE: It is my hope that we can wrap up this case up fairly soon.
COSBY: I hope so, too. Chief, thank you very much. We appreciate you being with us tonight.
MONROE: Thank you.
COSBY: Thank you very much.
And Joe Scarborough is the host of “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY,” also my friend. And the show is going to be coming up at the top of the hour.
Joe, I know you continue to watch the new Supreme Court nominee. Tell us about what you're focusing on.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: Well, I'll tell you what. It's hard not to focus on how many conservatives, really movement conservatives, the bedrock of the party, are very angered by the selection of Harriet Miers. And they do not believe that she's qualified to be on the Supreme Court. They've been complaining about it on the Hill bitterly for the past several days.
Add to that the whispers out of Washington tonight that Karl Rove may be facing a possible indictment. It's all over the place. I know you've heard it on the Hill, as I have, too.
The White House has a lot to worry about tonight. And they're certainly going to be watching these two developments. Expect both of these stories to continue to develop throughout the night and throughout the rest of this week. And we'll be covering it tonight on “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.”
COSBY: And, yes, that's interesting. He went to voluntarily testify, which is fascinating, that technique. Joe, thank you very much.
And, everybody, stay tuned for “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” right at the top of the hour, right here on MSNBC.
And still ahead, everybody, cops say Tasers can save people's lives. So why is there a major suit that could stop them from being used? Stay tuned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... if you do not leave right now, you will go to jail.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On what grounds?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You must understand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On what grounds?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On failing to dispense during an incident.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: There's some new claims of police violence at the same college tailgating site where an undercover cop was killed by a fellow police officer. We've been talking about that a lot. We've been telling you about the incident two weeks ago at the University of Central Florida, where Officer Mario Jenkins was shot and killed while trying to catch underage drinkers.
Now, a new lawsuit claims that Orlando police used excessive force when they Tasered a female student at that same site two years ago. And the whole incident, as you can see, was caught on tape.
We're joined now by Howard Marks. He's the attorney for the plaintiff, Heather Hull.
Mr. Marks, tell us why your client was Tasered after all?
HOWARD MARKS, ATTORNEY FOR ALLEGED TASER VICTIM: My client was Tasered, really, we believe, for no purpose. She was thrown to the ground by the Orlando Police Department. She was on the ground not resisting arrest. And two police officers were standing over her. And there was two Tasers, one into her side and one directly into her abdomen. They put the taser directly onto her stomach and Tasered her.
COSBY: What kind of injuries did she have?
MARKS: She injured her shoulder pretty severely. She injured her arm. She has permanent scars on her body. This is a beautiful, young, 23-year-old UCF student that was simply minding her own business.
There was concern because one of her friends had been thrown to the ground, went over to check out the situation, and she was essentially body-blocked to the ground by the Orlando Police Department officers. The two officers at that point in time stood over her, and took their guns out, and shot her directly into the stomach and into the side.
COSBY: Now, we did Orlando police for a comment. They would not comment about this case. What kind of damages are you seeking?
MARKS: Well, we're seeking damages. Certainly, she's had some emotional distress in this matter and she's had some physical injuries in this matter. We're also...
COSBY: What kind of money are you asking for?
MARKS: We're just asking for not a specific amount. The jurisdictional amount is $15,000. We're going to leave that up to a jury.
We're also asking a jury to determine whether or not the Orlando Police Department constitutionally used their Tasers. It's has become in central Florida a situation where Tasers are used as a weapon of first choice. And it should not be a weapon of first choice for the Orlando Police Department.
If you review the video, you can see Orlando Police Department officers standing around with Tasers in their hand threatening students who are actually videotaping the incident. If they didn't stop videotaping, they were going to use a Taser on them.
This is not the purpose of the Taser and not the correct use of a Taser. And we believe it's unconstitutional policy by the Orlando Police Department. We're also seeking the court to declare that the policy is unconstitutional.
COSBY: Yes, we're looking at these shots where they were coming up right towards the guy who is filming, or the woman who's filming this. What is the deal at these tailgating parties? I mean, first, we had this story of Mario Jenkins, this undercover officer. He was shot by another cop.
What are you seeing, in terms of what's happening at these UCF tailgating parties, that things are just getting out of control?
MARKS: Well, the Officer Jenkins matter, obviously, was a tragic event. I mean, I don't think UCF is much different than any other university. They do have tailgating parties. It's outside of the Orlando Citrus Bowl.
It's my understanding that the police were trying to target some underage drinking. My client clearly was overage. She was 23. There's really no allegations that she was drinking or threatening, you know, any of the police officers at all.
I mean, obviously, the police officers have a right to be there and to control the situation, like they have at any particular football game, but I don't think it's anything different going on at UCF than anywhere else in the country.
COSBY: All right, Mr. Marks, keep us posted on your case. Thank you.
And so what is it like to be Tasered? Joining us now is reporter Jenny Hoff from the Austin affiliate, KXAN, who was Tasered for a recent report.
Jenny, we're going to show some video where you actually get Tasered.
What did it feel like?
JENNY HOFF, KXAN-TV REPORTER: Well, it feels like every muscle in your body literally spasms. You lose complete control of your body.
I mean, it's only for a couple of seconds, but at that time it almost takes you up off your feet. Now, I had two officers holding me at that time, holding me up. But it really just—it's like you're a flopping fish.
Every muscle in your body spasms. You lose control. But you're completely coherent at the time. Your mind is conscious of what's going on, but your body can't do anything about it.
COSBY: You know, you talk about sort of the after-effects. Again, how long did they last? And did you feel something in your system for a long time after that?
HOFF: Well, I didn't. I was actually Tasered twice. Our camera went off the first time...
COSBY: You're a brave woman.
HOFF: I kind of really wasn't in a clear state of mind, I think, the second time. But the camera went off the first time. So afterwards—I mean, you do recover pretty quickly.
I would say, immediately afterwards, if I were wanting to fight police or wanting to fight somebody, I could fight back. But at that moment, no, you're incapacitated. You can't do anything.
COSBY: Well, you know, of course, we asked the Taser Corporation for a statement. And I want to show that, if I could, real quick.
It says, “If citizens take a look at an officer's duty belt, they will clearly see that Taser technology is a more humane and safer alternative for use-of-force options. Or do citizens want to go back to the caveman days of using batons as clubs?”
Based on your own personal experience, do you feel like you're safe?
Did you get a different perspective?
HOFF: Well, I'm just going to say that I will definitely never fight police, if I'm in an opportunity or in a circumstance where they are coming after me and they say, “We're going to Taser you,” I'll stop. No, I don't ever want to experience that again.
COSBY: You know, there's a case in your community, a guy named
Michael Clark, died after police used a Taser and pepper spray on him. How
has that changed the perceptions—we're looking at a picture of him here
· in the community?
HOFF: Well, I mean, Tasers have always been a controversial issue. We have done many stories on them. The ACLU thinks that they are not used humanely.
Many people have arguments against them. Of course, many people believe in them. They think it's better than using deadly force.
In our community, right now, there has not been a lot of uproar about what happened with Michael Clark. But we're going to see, once the autopsy reports are released, exactly what caused his death. We don't know if the Tasers caused them at this time.
COSBY: All right, Jenny, thank you very much. Brave woman. We appreciate it. Thanks a lot.
And coming up, a beauty queen acquitted of murder is now facing a legal assault by the family of her murdered boyfriend. Now, she is firing back. You got to hear about this one. It's coming up next.
COSBY: Is it a case of fatal beauty? A former beauty queen charged with killing her boyfriend. Sharron Nicole Redmond only held her title of Miss Savannah for four months before being charged with a crime.
In March, though, a jury acquitted Redmond of killing Kevin Shorter, claiming self-defense. Shorter's family is now suing Redmond for wrongful death. Redmond fired back with a lawsuit of her own.
LIVE & DIRECT tonight from Atlanta is Sharron Nicole Redmond, who likes to go by the name Nikki. And also with us is her attorney, Michael Schiavone.
Let me start with you, Nikki. Why the lawsuit? You were acquitted.
Why not just leave it?
SHARRON NICOLE REDMOND, ACQUITTED OF KILLING BOYFRIEND: The thing about it is, I never intended from the onset of this case to villainize or attack the character of Kevin Shorter. However, it's also not my responsibility to defend the character, either.
And what's right and true is what's right and true. And it needs to be told. And it needs to be what stands and what's put forth. And so, if I'm going to be attacked on a legal front, then I'm also going to have to fight back in the same manner.
COSBY: Now, why did you stick around with him? Because I've heard some reports that he was abusive, that he wasn't appropriate to you. Why did you stay with him?
REDMOND: Well, Rita, on many levels, love is blind. But also, when there's an inherent fear created in you on the part of that person that greater harm or even imminent faithful harm will come to you from that person, you tend to deal with what's going on in your relationship and feel like it may be better for your health and for your wellbeing to stay.
COSBY: Now, let me show—this is one of the comments in the lawsuit. I want to show a quote from the lawsuit itself. It says, “The defendant,” meaning you, “stated to Kevin Shorter, 'I've got something for you.' The defendant reached inside of her car and removed a .40-caliber pistol from the front seat and pointed it directly at Kevin Shorter.”
Why did you have a gun in the first place? And why were you pointing it at him?
REDMOND: I did not point the gun at Kevin Shorter.
COSBY: Were you just happening to be wheeling it around for the fun of it?
REDMOND: I wasn't wheeling it around. I had the gun in my car. I was being stopped by a man who was formally convicted of killing his mother. And it was at Kevin's suggestion and force that I purchased the gun.
I'm a law-abiding citizen. I have a constitutional right to bear arms in this country. So in that form, I was breaking no law.
At the point that the gun became involved in a situation with Kevin was where there was an imminent threat of danger to my life coming from Kevin in the form of him going to acquire his weapon.
COSBY: Let me bring your attorney in, Michael Schiavone. Do you believe your client has a case?
MICHAEL SCHIAVONE, ATTORNEY: There's no question she has a case. You know, this is not a situation where Nikki filed suit against Kevin Shorter. Unfortunately, Kevin's parents decided to file this civil suit which, frankly, a civil suit is all about money.
This case was litigated in a court of law. Everybody had an opportunity to present their evidence. A jury of 12 people in this community found that my client acted in self-defense.
Clearly, she was not the aggressor. If anybody would be entitled to damages, it would be Nikki Redmond. But we had to counterclaim because the Shorter family decided to file suit in this particular case and bring Nikki back into court.
COSBY: All right. Well, both of you, thank you very much.
We're now going to go to the other side. Joining me now live are Phyllis and Daniel Shorter. They're Kevin Shorter's mother and father. And also here tonight is Jeffrey Laskey. He's the Shorter family attorney.
Let me bring in first—Daniel, what kind of a son did you have?
DANIEL SHORTER, FATHER OF KEVIN SHORTER: My son was a wonderful person. He never had any violence. He was brought up in a religious home. He was taught to treat everybody right and never to harm anybody.
Everyone loved him. He was just like a little teddy bear. People just loved him all over the place.
COSBY: Now, Phyllis, you know, we just heard some of the allegation that, you know, he was abusing Nikki and other things. Is it possible your son had whole other side that maybe you just never saw, Phyllis?
PHYLLIS SHORTER, KEVIN SHORTER'S MOTHER: No, it is not possible for Kevin to have another side that would be possible for him to be abusive, because he was not brought up in an abusive home. He was brought up in a home with unconditional love. He's never seen his dad abuse me or I abuse his father.
And our son was taught about peace. He was taught scripture. He was raised up in a religious home with plenty of love. We would surround him with love and affection, and we cherish our children because they're our greatest assets.
No, I will not ever believe Kevin was ever abusive.
COSBY: Now, Mr. Shorter, why go after now this countersuit? Because the jury has spoken. The jury acquitted Nikki.
D. SHORTER: Well, I feel like that this thing—I want to just speak for my son to clear his name. He's been called all type of drug dealers and all the stuff like that. You know, we just want to clear his name and show what type of person he were.
He was the type of person where he loved the Lord. He go to church. He stay in church all the time. And he was just a lovely person. And he just loved people. He just loved to be around people.
And I just can't express the love that he had for people, that he had from his mother and his father. So we just...
COSBY: Mr. Laskey—I'm sorry, let me bring in Mr. Laskey, if I could, just real quick, for time. I want to make sure I get to you, sir, too. When do you think this will go to trial? And what is the lawsuit, in your sense, trying to prove? Just real briefly.
JEFFREY LASKEY, SHORTER FAMILY ATTORNEY: We're going to go to trial hopefully in the spring of next year. And the Shorters really do want to clear Kevin's name, Rita. And they also want to make sure that Nikki Redmond never profits one penny from killing Kevin Shorter.
All we heard about were book deals and movie deals after the acquittal. And the Shorters want to make sure that no one ever profits from killing another human being.
COSBY: All right. That's got to have to be the last word.
Everybody, thank you. Keep us all posted. We appreciate it.
And still ahead, everybody, an update on the warning that terrorists may try to use baby carriages and backpacks to hide bombs in the New York subway system. The latest details on this latest threat, coming up.
COSBY: And the latest on our breaking news tonight, a terror threat against the New York City subways. It was announced publicly just a few hours ago.
Let's now go live to NBC's Michelle Franzen, live in New York City—
MICHELLE FRANZEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is right.
Security has been stepped up at mass transit systems around New York City.
Police say that they have heightened security to the levels that it was following the London bombing attacks. Now, you may remember that bomb-sniffing dogs were brought out, as well as random bag searches were first introduced here in New York City.
Those random bag searches are back tonight, and that is because the FBI has gone to the New York City police. And they have let them know details about what they call a credible and specific threat of bombing subways in the next coming week.
Now, what makes this different from previous threats? It's specific on time. It's specific on its method. And it is specific about naming subways. And that is directly, specifically, why the city wanted to let the public know.
They are also asking the city to go about its daily lives, go about their daily lives, and that is because this threat has not been corroborated, even though they deem it to be credible.
So, again, security stepped up in and around New York City. And it will remain so until the FBI can work out details on that threat.
I'm Michelle Franzen in New York. Rita, back to you.
COSBY: And, Michelle, really briefly, more visible officers out there, too? I know they're talking about plain clothes. But more visible officers, real fast?
FRANZEN: Uniformed officers, most definitely, and behind the scenes stepped up security.
COSBY: All right, Michelle, thank you very much. We appreciate you bringing us the latest there on the latest terror threat, as officials try to sort through how credible it is or isn't tonight.
And that does it for me here on LIVE & DIRECT tonight, everybody. I'm Rita Cosby. Be sure not to touch that dial, because my pal, Joe Scarborough, is coming up right now. “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” starts as we speak—Joe?
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: All right. Thanks so much, Rita.
Tonight's top headline: FEMA foul-ups, Supreme Court civil wars, and possible White House indictments spell nothing but trouble for President Bush.
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