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tv   Legal View With Ashleigh Banfield  CNN  December 16, 2014 9:00am-10:01am PST

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brian, always great to have you with us. check out cnnmoney.com. a that's all for us. "legal view" with pamela brown starts right now. hello, everyone. i'm pamela brown in for ashleigh banfield on this tuesday. we begin with breaking news. the firefights are over, the terrorists apparently dead. but the civilized world can barely contain its revulsion over what pakistan is calling a, quote, ghostly act of cowardice against the very heart of the nation. it happened near peshawar. the pakistani taliban are blamed for the deaths of at least 141 people, almost all of them students, children age 12 to 16. many more students are wounded.
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cnn's atika shubert has been following this ordeal from our london bureau. >> reporter: it was just before 12:00 p.m. when a group of gunmen stormed the school after scaling the walls. the pakistan taliban claiming responsibility, calling this a revenge attack after they say pakistan's military launched a major military offensive against them. >> the military runs a number of schools. they call them the army public schools. clearly this was chosen because of its affiliation with the military and also because it was -- there were children there. >> reporter: a taliban spokesman claiming six suicide bombers ordered to attack the school, their goal, to shoot older students. fearly 700 students and staff were in the building when the attack began. the students are aged 10 to 18. over the past few months, the pakistan military has been trying to clear out militants
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along its border with afghanistan through a ground offensive. the campaign has displaced tens of thousands of people and killed over 1,600 militants. >> thank you to atika shubert there. less than a week ago, a pakistani schoolgirl whom the taliban tried to silence two years ago was awarded the nobel peace prize. today, malala yousufzai says she's heartbroken by this senseless and cold-blooded act of terror and that innocent children in school have no place in horror such as this. she goes on to say, i condemn those atrocious and cowardly acts and stand united with the government and armed forces of pakistan whose efforts so far to address this horrific event are commendable. i want to bring in cnn's christiane amanpour. malala praised pakistan's military there. if you would, talk to us about
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this on-again, off-again war between the military and the taliban so we better understand it. >> reporter: we talked to her last week. she was awarded the nobel peace prize. she's the youngest ever and it's for her fight against the taliban. so she knows it better than anything else. but you're right, there is this war inside pakistan as to how best to confront the taliban. and whether in fact they even recognize that these jihadists, these extremists, mostly the taliban, are their biggest threat. pakistan has always saw afghanistan as a big threat or india as a big threat or the united states as a big threat. but actually it is these jihadis. and there are mixed reports about whether pakistan's new army chief gets it. apparently he does get it, that these jihadis are their very big enemy. but he's also been aincludccuse colluding in some of these taliban attacks as have many of the pakistan security agencies over the years, being accused of being way too close to the
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taliban and to these extremists. that is something that's really going to to have to be worked out before this kind of terrorism can be defeated there. >> it is just an atrocity that you cannot comprehend, christiane. and the taliban in pakistan did not hesitate to claim responsibility and to say why it did this. of course, nothing could justify it. what did they say their motive is for what they did? >> reporter: their motive is revenge, they say, plain and simple. they called in a spokesman to cnn to say precisely that. revenge for some of the latest, most recent offensives by the military against the taliban at the behest and the encouragement of the united states. the united states has been trying to get the military to recognize the taliban are a huge threat and to move against them for years now. and this happened with spotty results. we still don't know how this is going to play out. but the taliban have done this for years, schools are their favorite targets.
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and they have been sort of ratcheting this up both in afghanistan and in pakistan. here's the thing about the taliban. in both countries, they are mostly, by and large, militarily defeated really, in terms of a major, major threat, or rather -- but they haven't -- let me reverse that. they have been politically defeated, which is the good news. the majorities of people in afghanistan and pakistan do not support the taliban. but militarily they are showing themselves to be a threat and increasingly a threat both in afghanistan and in pakistan. so that is where the attack has to happen against them. >> and you say that the motive here was revenge, that schools are their favorite target. but in this case, why did the taliban target this particular school, christiane? >> reporter: because it's an army-run school and it's in that area where is the northwest frontier area, very close to the
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afghan border where most of the recent offensives against them have been launched by the pakistan military. so they say that that is a revenge attack. it is grotesque that they use children to play out their war. but this is what they've done. and this is -- it's not the first time. and this probably won't be the last time. it is the most horrendous attack so far. the numbers show it's the worst attack in the last seven years in pakistan. but the numbers may continue to go up. and it truly is a terrible thing that's happened. >> it's devastating. thank you so much, christiane amanpour. we appreciate it. moving now to sydney, a city recovering after a deadly hostage situation. a memorial for the victims is growing and from one photographer, the images he saw will stay with him forever. he was one of the only people allowed to stay in the newsroom right across the street from the lindt cafe. he sat next to a police sniper for hours.
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oh, what a relief it is.
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authorities in sydney are working around the clock
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investigating what happened during the 16-hour siege at the lindt cafe. today prime minister tony abbott and his wife laid flowers at the growing makeshift memorial at martin place. there's been a steady stream of people doing the same as we see in the pictures. authorities have identified the two hostages who were killed. katrina dawson, 38, a mother of three. and tori johnson, 34, the manager of the cafe. the australian broadcasting corporation reported that johnson was trying to wrestle the gun from the hostage-taker. the courier mail says dawson was trying to defend a pregnant colleague. police haven't yet confirmed those reports saying what happened is still under investigation. and the channel 7 newsroom is right across from the lindt cafe, evacuated early on in the siege. but a reporter and cameraman were allowed back in to help authorities. greg parker's cameras captured the horrific scene as the hours went by. and for the first time, he's revealing what was going on behind the lens and what affected him the most. >> reporter: for me, one of the
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hardest things to see was those three women forced to hold that flag up up against the flag and another image of a poor guy in obvious distress with a muzzle of a shotgun in frame being pointed at his head. that was the first time he'd seen a clear threatening pose that the gun was pointed at a bloke's head, in a passive stance up against the glass. >> reporter: greg parker has been around the block a sfew times, he's seen good, also evil. but never this close to home. >> one of our producers had just come back over from the lindt cafe. >> reporter: greg has three cameras, including one with a powerful 600 millimeter lens on the coffee shop windows. when police snipers arrived to take up place in our newsroom --
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>> we were getting something remarkable. the sniper asked if we could stay there and keep giving him continual information what we were seeing behind the glass. they were impressed of the scope of what we were getting from our camera and said, can you stay and keep that shot up for us? >> reporter: it was soon just greg, a police sniper and a police technician in the eerie quiet of an empty newsroom. for 16 hours, greg quietly fed these remarkable, chilling images to police headquarters. >> the guys back in the police command were then asking for specific shots. so we would put on kevlar vests and came down and relocated cameras as they needed them to be, specifically that window that they called window 4, where the flag was being sort of held up was where the gunman was
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continually positioning himself and putting hostages between himself and the window and himself in the door. it was genuinely horrible. in 20 years, it's very rare to come across such upsetting footage. >> reporter: as the world watched the chaos and heartbreak of australia's biggest city grappling to come to grips with terror, greg and the police sniper crouched quietly just meters from the scene. >> for a real long time, it was just him and i, five, six hours making small talk. the situation kept us pretty busy because we were both looking for any opportunity that was going to effect a positive outcome. and then we continually were sort of blown away at just how sad the situation was as it went on and on. we were both just sort of praying that these families -- these people were going to get out. >> reporter: there were little victories. >> every time hostages escaped, we were cheering, high-fiving almost. it was awesome to see. but then the longer it went on,
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the lights went off, signs weren't looking good. and the scene was getting sort of worse by the hour. >> reporter: as the hours ticked by, the gunman's behavior became more erratic. >> we continually saw him moving, almost shoving and walking behind in a really intimidating, angry, kind of threatening manner. it was just horrible to see. you could see him communicating and especially after those guys escaped, he became quite agitated. he was grabbing the hostages and moving them and continually keeping them between the window and himself it seemed. >> reporter: still the entire focus of emergency services was obtaining a peaceful resolution. >> i was in awe of the way they handled it and the patience they showed because they were tried and proven methods of how to get the best possible result. and that was constantly being relayed to us. >> reporter: but their patience ran out with the echo of a single gunshot.
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>> we heard a shot. confirmed hostage down, window 2. six seconds later, we saw the special forces guys breach. it was pretty loud, pretty frightening. it's like nothing i've ever seen before, ever. the moment he crossed the line of taking down a hostage, it was a forced action from police. in my mind and probably anyone else's seeing it, they're not going to sit around and wait for another hostage to have the same fate. >> reporter: after all, greg parker saw on sydney's longest, darkest night, it's the terror on the faces of those victims in the early hours of the siege which will live with him for the rest of his life.
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>> the thing that probably keeps going through my mind the most is the look of just anguish on those faces of those people being forced to stand in that window. but matched with that, the sheer courage of those police officers and the nonstop stories and the info i was getting from the sniper who was telling us how and what to do different things and then to see the way they sort of went in with no fear for their own safety to get people o out, never going to forget that. >> just incredible. the lingering question remains, why did the hostage-taker do this? what was his motive? we'll bring you any updates or answers to those questions as soon as they come in. moving now to another chilling story, this time out of pennsylvania. a dangerous gunman is on the loose at this hour after he allegedly killed his ex-wife and his in-laws. the latest on the intense manhunt next.
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i was out for a bike ride. i didn't think i'd have a heart attack. but i did. i'm mike, and i'm very much alive. now my doctor recommends a bayer aspirin regimen to help prevent another heart attack. be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.
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there is a massive manhunt under way right now in eastern
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pennsylvania for an iraq war veteran suspected of killing six of his former family members. police say 35-year-old bradley william stone killed his ex wife and five of his former in-laws including a 14-year-old girl. and police say he is armed and dangerous. cnn's miguel marquez is live in pennsylvania where a news conference ended just moments ago. miguel, what did you learn? >> reporter: well, we know that they have a new photograph of him and they think this is more likely the way mr. stone looks. this was taken just last month. this photo has been digitally altered to take the beard off because they believe he did shave slightly just before all this happened. it leads to the question of whether or not he planned to kill these individuals and then escape much like eric frein did from this very location, northwest of philadelphia. this entire area is on alert. some of the schools have shut for the day. others on a modified schedule because of concerns over this search.
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the district attorney concluding that press conference telling us that the 17-year-old that was shot, the only survivor out of all this is in serious but stable condition and they still hope he will survive. also that the possible sighting of mr. stone last night does not appear to be valid. they also say that they are going -- they've searched his home, his car and his cell phone. and at this point, they have no idea where he is. all of this, obviously, taking place -- kicking off yesterday after a hung-up 911 call about 4:30 in the morning. police started to investigate then. it led them to three gruesome scenes, six individuals dead, including mr. stone's ex-wife. his ex-wife's mother, the grandmother, the sister-in-law, her husband and the 14-year-old daughter. the only survivor is that 17-year-old who is clinging to life. many, many agencies, including the fbi and s.w.a.t. teams from several surrounding communities here on alert, on the search,
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hoping they can bring this guy in soon. >> miguel, you said the possible sighting last night is seen as not valid according to police. do we know when and where stone was last spotted? >> reporter: the last place that they would know where he was was where some of these murders took place. and it is not clear where he is now. they have searched a very wide area, each of these towns about a half hour apart. so they're not entirely sure where he is now. the last place they saw him, though, at one of those scenes. >> really concerning for the community there. you can imagine thank you so much, miguel marquez. the race for 2016 is on. jeb bush just announced he will actively explore a presidential run. in a facebook posting today, the former florida governor says he made the decision after conversations with him family over thanksgiving about the future of the nation. meantime, sony is asking news organizations, including
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cnn, to stop examining and publicizing the corporate secrets that hackers have made public. the hackers are trying to stop sony from releasing the movie "the interview." aaron sorkin told nbc, there's no value in releasing the e-mails. >> there are certainly times when the press should -- has an obligation to publish things that were stolen. i talk about the pentagon papers but you don't even have to use that as your standard. loosen the standards a little bit. is there anything in these e-mails at all that's in the public interest that points to wrongdoing at the company, that helps anyone in any way? there isn't. there's just gossip there. you can loosen the standards even more, but ultimately you have to dispense with standards entirely in order to be okay with publishing these e-mails. and bill cosby's wife, camille, is defending her husband against the sexual assault allegations against him. here's part of her statement.
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"a different man has been portrayed in the media over the last two months. it is the portrait of a man i do not know. it is also a portrait painted by individuals." bill cosby has declined to comment on the accusations. a former cia official is speaking out on the agency's enhanced interrogation program. he says to understand, you have to consider this is what the cia faced right after 9/11. >> the flomood of the populatios this is more than okay. and by the way, if we ever see another jumper from the 100th floor of a building in new york, he's on you. >> why he's defending the cia's program, up next. like you're underwater?
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public school compound in the northwest city of peshawar and killed at least 141 people, all but nine of them students, children aged 12 to 16. for hours, troops battled terrorists room by room until the attackers themselves were killed but not before they planted explosives which still are being sought out and neutralized at this hour. pakistan is calling the attack a, quote, ghastly act of cowardice. and president obama says terrorists have once again shown their depravity. the grisly revelations in last week's senate report on torture stirred up a lot of debate and outrage. but overall, americans are more okay than not about what they learned. and cia veterans by and large are very okay with it. this was the subject of a fascinating discussion on cnn's "new day." here's my colleague, chris cuomo. >> a majority of people just like you feel comfortable with the brutal interrogation methods
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used by the cia against detainees after the 9/11 attack. 51% of americans find the methods to be justified. only 29% don't agree with them. let's bring in phil mudd. you've been hearing from a lot of people who say, i knew somebody that was in the program. this is different. he is a cnn counterterrorism analyst but he is a former deputy director of the counterterrorism center at the cia. you know what was going on there, good, bad, ugly. and you know who knew. so the first question for you is a softball. what do you think of those poll numbers saying the american people agree with what the cia did and even basically an even split, let's put up, provided intelligence that prevented attacks, yes, 42%, no, 43%. the decision to release the commit report split. right decision, 42%, wrong decision, 43%. what do these numbers mean to
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you, mr. mudd? >> i think the most interesting thing to me is not what these numbers say. we're in 2014 when military diplomatic intelligence efforts have decimated the adversary that murdered 3,000 people 13 years ago. can you imagine this poll if we had done it on september 12th? that was the environment in which cia established a program authorized by the department of justice and the congress. these numbers 13 years later in an environment where we're worried about things like christmas shopping and the decline in the stock market, to me tell me more about what we would have said 13 years ago than even about what we say today. >> is it fair to say that that emotional response to that situation put the cia in a position where it was not completely prepared to do what it was being asked to do and that that led to mistakes? >> sure, i think the cia response to this indicates that and i would agree with that. the intelligence system as anybody -- as traditional intelligence officer will tell you includes three basic components. you collect intelligence.
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that's spies in the field. you disseminate it. you send it to places like the department of state, the pentagon, the white house. and then people like me take this stuff out there, intercepted communications, information from spies and put it together into a narrative, into a story. take a hard left in 2002 when we captured our first detainee. that's abu zubaydah. now in addition to those responsibilities, you create secret prisons overseas and you start interrogating people. it was an area that we weren't familiar with back then. >> the idea of dick cheney coming out and saying, i would do it all again, it was all fine, that is part of the political fight that's going on now because of how this initial report came out. but let me ask you, at no time regardless of whether or not the d.o.j. said it was okay or not, people in and around the program didn't feel like this is too much what we're doing, this is torture what we're doing, no matter what we're being told. none of that common sense hit anybody? >> excuse me, common sense?
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the majority of the american people still saying this is okay. we went to the people who determine what u.s. statutes say. they were clear. i personally spoke to members on both sides of the aisle in the congress. they told me, either, okay, or is this it? in other words, aren't you doing more? the mood of the population is reflected by the american security service. the mood of the population is, this is okay, this is more than okay and by the way, if we ever see another jumper from the 100th floor in a building in new york, it's on you. you want to know what that's like, chris? we were dealt a hand of deuces and we ran the table in the casino. i thought it was great work. >> i saw the jumpers that day. i understand the emotionalism of the situation. no question about that. but that's also not perhaps the best mind to be making decisions, right? we don't want to act at our most emotional -- >> it's the only mind we had, dude. >> the d.o.j. may have said it was okay. but you didn't feel anything going on was over the line, that
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was actual torture by any other definition? >> no, i felt the measures were tough. i knew we would pay someday. by the sort of water cooler at the cia, we talked about it all the time, what we called endgame. we began conversations with the white house saying, when the prisoners we hold no longer have intelligence value, what do we do with them? we are not jailers, we are interrogators and professionals. we knew part of that endgame would be judgments about us and judgments that history would make without living in the time. the biggest problem is not documentary evidence that's reviewed by a congressional committee that never spoke with people like me. it is trying to relive the time in saying, how when you're told by the president, the vice president, the national security council, the department of justice and both sides of the aisle in the congress, how can you relive that moment and say, what you did was wrong? we tried to reflect the will of the people. >> so you're saying your friends ran away from you in the aftermath? why did you do it? you've answered that.
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the next question is, did you tell people what you were doing, did they know? right now, politicians are saying, you either didn't tell us or you went farther than you said you were going. is that true is this is that true? >> we went down to the congress and i was among them. it's not a very complicated briefing. i've done a million briefings in my life. we use flexible walls, chokeholds, open-fingered slaps, sleep deprivation. it's brutal but it's simple. i run down the list, this is what we do. why didn't you ask the people who ran the committees, porter goss said, nobody in this investigation asked me, a former congressman, i was chairman of the committee. yeah, they told me. we could have resolved this question by simply asking the people who were there. >> you're saying the people who needed to know knew and there were no blind spots about the cia. >> yeah. >> the last question is this, you're in the report. and you are used as part of the
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cia machine that was spinning what this program was about to the media to make fit something that it wasn't. is that a fair charge, were you a spine-meister for the cia selling us on a program we didn't really understand? >> let me put you on the hot seat. how long has your show been on the air? >> a year and change. >> you guys doing okay? >> better than that, mudd. >> why are you spinning me? i believed in the program. i believed we were crushing al qaeda, crushing them with human source operations, with signals intercepts, with working with foreign security services, the paramilitary and military operation in afghanistan against the taliban was stunningly successful. and i told the media. i didn't cherry-pick them. i told them all, we are crushing it. nobody in the report ever asked me. i stand by what that report says. hell, yeah, i saw what we did, i believed it. and by the way, here's a dirty secret. i was right. we did crush them.
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>> philip mudd, thank you for coming forward with the candid responses to these questions. >> thank you. >> appreciate you taking the opportunity. >> thank you. >> fascinating discussion there with chris cuomo and phil mudd. other news we're following, you're about to see some surveillance video of a man in a walmart moments before he was shot and killed by police. he is carrying an air rifle that he pulled off a store shelf while shopping. but police shot him on site after receiving a 911 calm and the grand jury didn't indict the police in that shooting. but there's a new surveillance tape that some say shows the cops are trying to cover their tracks in the shooting. we'll play it for you next. stick around. which means it's time for the volkswagen sign-then-drive event. for practically just your signature, you could drive home for the holidays in a german-engineered volkswagen. like the sporty, advanced new jetta... and the 2015 motor trend car of the year all-new golf. if you're wishing for a new volkswagen this season... just about all you need is a finely tuned...
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let's turn to another questionable police killing that's triggering outrage and protest. a man shot and killed by police in an ohio walmart while holding an air rifle. his family announced a short time ago they filed a federal lawsuit against the police and the store. take a look here. this surveillance video from august shows john crawford picking up the air rifle off the shelf in walmart moments before his death. shortly after the shooting, police interrogated crawford's girlfriend. crawford's family says the aggressive questioning proves police were trying to cover up their mistake.
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>> you picked him up. you had your car or something. you understand that we're investigating -- you lie to me and you might be on your way to jail. >> i swear to god. i have a job and a family. >> where did you get this gun? >> sir, i don't know. i swear to god. >> in september, a grand jury decided against charging the officers involved in that shooting. cnn's ana kcabrera is following the story closely. tell us about what they're saying in this lawsuit. >> reporter: the family wants accountability. they have for nearly four months been searching for justice in their son's death. john crawford who was inside that walmart was with his girlfriend.
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they were shopping for materials to go take to a barbecue, items for s'mores. it became a tragedy on both sides. police admit there was no bad guy here. but the family says officers did not do their due diligence when they responded to that walmart. i want to take you back to that day. it was august 5th where you saw that surveillance video of john crawford walking through the store carrying what appeared to be a rifle. that's what a customer said in his 911 call. that this man was carrying a rifle and pointing it at customers. so when police responded they say they confronted crawford, he failed to drop the gun, failed to obey their commands. and that's why they opened fire. police believe that perhaps because he was african-american -- excuse me, the attorney for the family believed perhaps because he was african-american, the police came in with the mindset that he was already dangerous and that they never gave him a chance
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when they confronted him. that's the gist of it, pam. but the family wants justice. they want accountability. listen to the father who spoke today. >> i'm still pursuing justice because to me that is justice. you have to be held accountable. you don't get a pass because you have a sidearm and a shield. >> reporter: again, a grand jury pretty much cleared these officers, did not indict them on any charges. and we do know that the department of justice has also opened its own investigation, is looking into the circumstances surrounding the death of john crawford iii. we'll have to wait and see moving forward what really happens, it's one of several cases sparking action around the country calling for police reforms and accountability. >> so in this case, the family putting the blame on police and on walmart. tell us what police have said in their defense. >> reporter: police essentially have said that they responded
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with as much information as they had and their actions were accordingly. so they received a 911 call from a customer in the store who witnessed a man with what appeared to be a rifle. at the time when they were responding, they did not know that it was a bb gun. they did not know he had picked it up off the shelf. they were under the assumption he had brought that gun into the store with an intention to do harm. we have reached back out to police given the new developments. they have not responded to our request for comment for further defense of what happened in this circumstance. but based on the police report we've read through from what happened today and police questioning, that's their story. >> ana cabrera, thank you very much. let's get to the legal view now. sunny hostin and joey jackson joining me live. great to have you here with us. joey, i'll start with you. as we saw in the video there, police interrogated crawford's girlfriend shortly after the shooting. we heard the officer say, you
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might be on your way to jail. the family is calling this interrogation proof of a cover-up, saying they were trying to coerce her to say something. what is your reaction to it, joey? did police do anything illegal or intens poliagainst police pr? >> here's the thing. i think it calls out for a process which has to be fair, open and reasonable. police have a very difficult job, pam. i get that. i think we all get that. we understand that. but whatever process we have that evaluates that police conduct that determines whether or not their actions were reasonable and there was an imminent threat has to be a process that we can all rely upon. when there's repeated no indictment, no indictment, no indictment to an officer, it begs the question, is there ever going to be an indictment or a scenario where police are found to be accountable for their actions? so i don't know. i wasn't in that grand jury. i'm not sure what occurred. i know that there are 15 members of the grand jury.
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and of that 15, 12 have to conclude that there is enough evidence, probable cause to believe a crime was committed and that an officer committed it. but it raises troubling questions. certainly to the issue of the interrogation, police use all types of forms of interrogation. to be fair to the officer, we have the benefit now of hindsight. he didn't know at the time that the gun was taken from that particular area. but it certainly looks like he's getting her. it's so troubling to watch as she's saying, please, oh, my goodness, i swear -- it's problematic on multiple levels. >> she's visibly emotional as we see in the video. she's crouching down in her chair, putting her hands over her face. sunny, does that make a difference to you that the interrogator in this case didn't realize that crawford picked up the gun at the store? does that change the calculus for you? >> it does. it's surprising to me, though, that he didn't know that during the interrogation because bottom line is the interrogation took
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place after the shooting. so you would think that some sort of preliminary investigation would have taken place, including the fact that they would have looked at the gun. walmart would have realized that it was a stock gun at walmart and would have also, quite frankly, realized that it wasn't a real gun, that it was a bb gun. that is surprising to me. but in terms of an interrogation, i actually don't see anything improper when i look at the interrogation out of context because during an interrogation, sort of all bets are off, as long as you've been read your rights or as long as you understand what the rules are, officers are allowed to lie to people they're interrogating. so they have wide latitude there. but to joey's point, i think the problem is becoming -- and we're seeing it in the protests and we're seeing it in so many of the cases across our country, when you hear about a no indictment case and you see what
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appears to be just a very quick decision being made by the officers here -- we're talking about under four seconds, they shoot this man, it just doesn't really give, i think, the public a lot of confidence in the police or confidence in the process. >> we know in this case in particular the family has now filed a lawsuit. interesting to hear both of your perspectives. thank you so much, sunny and joey. >> thank you, pam. meantime, authorities in north carolina ruled a black teenager's death a suicide but now the mother of lennon lacy believes her son was lynched and the fbi is investigating. his family tells us their story coming up. she inspires you.
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when a black teenager was found hanged in north carolina, local authorities ruled his death a suicide. but his mother believes he was lynched. and now the fbi is investigating. cnn's victor blackwell talked with the teenager's family. >> i look for him and i don't see him. i listen for him and i don't hear him. >> reporter: the last time claudia lacy saw and heard her 17-year-old son lennon lacy was around the time he snapped this selfie. lennon was a high school student in bladenboro, north carolina, and a lineman on the football team focused on a profession football career. >> he was a physically fit, 17-year-old, very athletic, down
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to his food. everything he drank. >> reporter: but lennon had asthma and had to exercise outside at night after the temperature dropped. lennon headed out for a walk the night of august 28th. they never saw him alive again. the next morning -- >> a black male subject hanging from a swing. he hung himself. >> reporter: lennon's body found dangling, covered in fire ants in the center of a mobile home park. >> it's out in the open, there's trailers all around, people work around the clock at these hours of the day. someone should have saw something. but no one has seen anything. >> it was like a dream. it was like i was not seeing what i was seeing. >> reporter: the state medical examiner's officer declared lennon's death a suicide but lennon's mother believes they're wrong. >> he didn't do this to himself. >> reporter: do you believe your son was lynched? >> yes. >> reporter: pierre lacy is
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lennon's brother. >> he may have been strangled somewhere else and then placed there or he was hung there while people were around watching and died. >> reporter: when questioned by state investigators, lennon's mom said he had been depressed because a relative died recently, but not that he suffered from depression. >> you're going to be depressed and upset. >> reporter: his family says he was focused on football and college and distracted by his ex-girlfriend. his mother says 17-year-old lennon had been dating a 31-year-old white woman, the age of consent in north carolina is 16. still some people in this small southern town did not like it. lennon's mother did not like the dramatic age difference. >> i was shocked, disappointed and i also initially told him how i felt, i did not approve of it. >> reporter: in the wake of his hanging, some wondered if he was killed because he was in an interracial relationship. racial tension can often exist just below the surface and here
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it can break through. local news covered a ku klux klan rally in a near county just weeks before lennon's body was found. are there people in this community who didn't like a 17-year-old black male and a 31-year-old white female? >> oh, yes. >> reporter: a teenager was arrested for desecrating lennon's grave. >> there are too many questions and it very well could be a lynching or a staged lynching. we don't know. what we do know is there has to be a serious and full investigation of these matters. >> reporter: the naacp hired forensic pathologist christina roberts to review the case including dr. debra radish's autopsy completed for the state. her first concern? basic physics. lennon was 5'9". the crossbar of the swing set is 7 1/2 feet off the ground. with no swings or anything else found at the scene that lennon could have used, according to the naacp's review, how did he
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get up there? >> his size, his stature does not add up to him being capable of constructing all of this alone in the dark. >> reporter: according to the police report, the caller, a 52-year-old woman, was able to get the 207-pound teen down. >> i need to try to get him down. >> reporter: then seconds later -- >> he's coming down. >> reporter: lacy says she told state investigators the belts used to fashion the noose did not belong to lennon. >> i know every piece and every stitch of clothes this child has. >> reporter: the initial report from the local medical examiner, however, notes that the belts appear to be dog leashes. according to the naacp's review, radish said she thought some
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portion might be missing because there was no secondary cut in either belt, a cut that would have been to take the body down. and lennon's family says he left home that night wearing size 12 air jordans but was found wearing these shoes, the ones that were not with his body when he arrived at the medical examiner's office, according to the naacp review. >> he's going to walk a quarter mile from his house in a pair of shoes that's two sizes two small? this is a 17-year-old black kid with a brand-new part of jordans on. he's going to take those jordans off and just get rid of them and put on some shoes that's not his, don't know where he got them from, no laces in them and continue to walk down this dirt road late at night to a swing set in the middle of a trailer park and hang himself? >> reporter: and there are questions in the naacp review about lennon's death being ruled a suicide. dr. radish noted her determination of manner of death
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in this case as suicide was based on the information she was provided by law enforcement and the local medical examiner. she would have likely called the manner of death pending while awaiting toxicology and investigation. but the local medical examiner had already signed the manner of death as suicide. however, in the summary of the case written the day lennon was found, the local medical examiner asks, did he hang self? will autopsy tell us? and left the conclusion on the manner of death pending. we asked to interview radish who declared the death a suicide. instead, a department spokesperson sent cnn a statement confirming the conversations between roberts and radish in writing, the comments that were released by the naacp were a synopsis of the professional exchange between the naacp's independently retained forensic pathologist and dr. radisch. local police and investigators declined to speak with cnn on camera for this story. >> we don't have confidence in this local group here to be able
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to carry out the depth level of the investigation that needs to be done. >> reporter: now the fbi is reviewing the circumstances surrounding lennon's death. >> that's all i've asked for, what is due rightfully to me and my family, justice, prove to me what happened to my child. >> victor blackwell filed that report. the local police department who initially investigated lennon lacy's death has only 11 members. it called in north carolina state bureau of investigation to help out. that agency did confirm to us it was investigating but had no further comment. thank you so much for watching. appreciate you being here with us on this tuesday. "wolf" starts after a quick break. is most my life. but that hasn't stopped me from modeling. my doctor told me about stelara®. it helps keep my skin clearer. with only 4 doses a year after 2 starter doses... ... stelara® helps me be in season. stelara® may lower your ability to fight infections and increase your risk of infections.
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hello. i'm wolf blitzer. 1:00 p.m. here in washington. 6:00 p.m. in london. 11:00 p.m. in islamabad. 5:00 a.m. wednesday in sydney. wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us. we start with a horrific attack in pakistan with militants on a suicide mission. they slaughtered more than 130 schoolchildren. mostly sons and daughters of military families in the area. our atika shubert has more on the coordinated terror attack and on the innocent victims.

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