tv CNN Newsroom With Poppy Harlow CNN September 12, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
3:00 eastern, noon pacific. i'm poppy harlow in new york. we begin with politics. first up this hour, republican presidential candidate front-runner donald trump telling cnn just last hour he is ready for wednesday's presidential primary debate. the current front-runner just wrapped up an event in iowa speaking to reporters following a campaign rally. here's what he said. >> said last time that -- anything different? >> my whole life is preparation for a debate. you know, if you think about it, what's preparing for a debate? there are a million different things. my whole life is preparation for a debate. i want to talk about a lot of different things. there are so many things you can talking about.
they can talk obamacare, they can talk -- but we're really talking about in my opinion, security, the military, of what i really know a lot about. i think one of the biggest surprises will be, if i win, how good i'll be at national security. how good i'll be at the border. i think it will be a big, big, big surprise for people. >> so it sounds like donald trump wants to talk foreign policy. national security at the debate. you see him right there all lined up. the candidates you will see this week, the cnn's debate, gop presidential primary debate. this wednesday night, september 16th. 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. eastern only right here on cnn. top story we are following here today, a former tennis star who is tackled, body slammed, and then arrested in a case of mistaken identity says he wants to change the way that some police deal with the public. he now has video to make his case. you see it playing there behind me. newly released surveillance
video which shows james blake standing in front of a manhattan hotel this week when suddenly a plain clothesed officer rushes at him, grabs him by the arm and neck and pulls him facedown on the sidewalk. nypd commissioner later apologized explain that blake looked so much like the suspect the police were looking for in this credit card fraud investigation a he could have been his, quote, twin brother. blake says while he does appreciate that apology, it is not enough. he is planning to meet with the police department this as it comes to light the officer who arrested him has been accused of excess i force multiple times before. earlier today james blake spoke with our don lemon about the change he wants to see out of this incident and whether or not he thinks this is at all motivated by race. >> you're looking at that video. is it hard to look at? >> you know, i've seen it a few times now. they talk about being desensitized when you see something a lot. i'm definitely not at that point. it still strikes a nerve.
it's still so frustrating and angering to see how vulnerable i was and what he did with that. and to be a police officer you are given a lot of rights and you're given certain powers. then to abuse them is just wrong in my opinion. >> do you relive it? >> i've relived it quite a few times, yeah. >> how so? >> just thinking about what could have happened, what i could have done differently, what i should have done. and what i'm glad i didn't do. i'm very glad that i rookd at it at an instance write thought it was someone coming up, rushing me to give me a hug or something positive. and that left me completely passive. i think about what could have happened and i think about how scary it would have been had i put my arms up, done the normal human reaction of someone coming at you to defend myself. seemed like this person had an agenda with how this was going to go down. if i had any sort of resistance i wonder what could have happened and if instead of having a bump and a bruise, i would have broken bone or concussion or even worse. >> you may not be here.
sadly, to say that, but that's the reality of it. >> yeah. that to me makes me feel like it's obviously a negative situation but up trying to think about a lot of positives and one of those is that i completely didn't resist. the first words out of my mouth is i'm 100% cooperating. that was to put my hands behind my back and do whatever he said. >> did you do that because of what you had seen in the media? >> you saw the eric gardner video. >> yeah. i was aware of that in the media, a lot of times the reason for things going wrong, the claim is that there was miscommunication. they thought someone was resisting, they thought he was reaching for something, they thought something was going on. just a complete miscommunication. i made sure there was no miscommunication. 100% cooperating. >> having dealt with a situation similar to that, you're in shock. it's so shocking. at first you thought you were getting a hug. i had a situation where i thought i was getting mugged. people say these things happen. they don't happen very often. do you think they happen more often they we think they do? >> sadly i think they happen a
lot more often. i think it's from a minority of the police force. there's the majority that are doing great police work that are true publicer is vans keeping the public safe and doing the job the way they're supposed to. unfortunately the media attention is given to this very dangerous minority that is out there with a badge and using that as shield to do whatever they want. and i also think it happens more often because this never would have been filed as report. if i hadn't gone to the press, superior officers would never have known anything went on. that is extremely scary. you wonder how many times this happens without anyone knowing. >> you don't know. >> right. >> again, we don't know how often it happens. i think even though the records are not clear, it still happens to black and brown people more than it happens to any other -- sdais tickically, proportionate. it's not because people commit more times, it happens to black and brown, especially men, more often than anyone else.
the police commissioner doesn't believe it has anything to do with the race. here's he is on cnn's "new day". take a look. >> sorry. race has nothing at all to do with this. if you look at the photograph of the suspect it looks like the twin brother of mr. blake. so let's put that nonsense to rest right now. race has nothing to do with this. >> so he says race has nothing to do with it. your mom says, i'm glad he took the path of least resistance, she said. it could have gotten really ugly. you don't think about them being black until this throws it back on you. she thinks it has something to do with race. he doesn't. do you? >> i think the race issue is a huge issue. i don't think it's appropriate for this incident because i think this incident needs to be more about the force and the fact that this can't be used in these kind of police officers can't be encouraged to be back out on the streets. i think the issue of race is a bigger one for a whole different interview.
i don't want to muddy this situation, muddy this incident that really needs to create change in the police brutality, in the account it of these police officers with the racial issue. i think there's probably -- there probably is a gray area with bill bratton being so clear one way and my mom being so clear the other way. i'm sure there is a gray area. and somewhere in the middle that we could talk about but i think that's for a really different discussion. >> you think it's excessive force, that is the main issue when it comes to this. >> yes. >> and the officer has been investigated several times for excessive force and lawsuits have been filed. are you planning on filing a lawsuit? >> we haven't decided. i have an attorney and we haven't decided how we're going to go about it. the plan is to speak with commissioner bratton and mayor de blasio and really do it on civil terms and make sure we're trying to make a positive change and if we come up with solutions, then we don't need to take it to court. if we're not happy what w. what
they're proposing, if we don't think they're doing enough to make this right, then we may have to consider a lawsuit. we haven't made that decision yet. >> the former police commissioner ray kelly was on smir c talking about the procedure and protocol when it comes to identity theft or for cellphone or what have you and here's what he said. let's listen. >> quite frankly, i'm perplexed by it. this is a type of arrest against credit card fraud. you go up and introduce yourself to the individual, at least you want to talk to or you're doing to arrest. also was apparently with four other police officers. i don't see the rest of the team. so i mean, it looks -- it is what it is. what it seems to be, which to me is an over reaction. >> so he is saying, he's a former police commissioner saying it's aen overreaction. the current police department saying that is standard operating procedure. that's how you do it. what do you think? and they're saying $29 million
they said to try to, you know, to help in situations like this. what do you think? >> i think ray kelly isn't looking to keep his job anymore. he's gone so he can speak the truth. i think that is the truth. everyone can see that video and they can see that that just doesn't make sense when you're investigating a non-violent crime. supposed non-violent criminal that isn't running, isn't showing any sane ign of resisti. it really is completely unnecessary. and i don't know why a commissioner bratton or anyone would try to spin it any other way because i don't see the value in protecting someone that does wrong because i think that tarnishes the image of the badge. i have the utmost respect for the new york police department and most would be considered heros in my mind. if you have someone out there having this kind of rogue justice, they're tarnishing that image and they don't deserve to be in the same sentence of the nypd. >> at no point did he say i'm a new york city police officer, i'm detaining you for this --
nothing? >> no, i was detained for around ten minutes, 10 to 15 minutes and at no point was the word police uttered, officer, nypd, nothing. i had no idea to the point where after i was done and the -- i was calling someone else and they -- i told them what happened. they said, you should change your credit cards, get them canceled, and i might have just been a victim of identity theft because someone just took advantage of me and they never even said they were law enforcement or showed me a badge or identified themselves. i didn't get a name. i never got a badge number. it made me start thinking, oh, my god, did i just get scammed out of this because i had never heard the word police from any of them. >> there's a certain degree of comfort and confidence with which one walks through society. when i walk out of this building, i'm an american citizen. i'm going to be safe. the police are here to protect me. has that changed at all for you? >> it's still pretty new, but, you know, i definitely feel cautious right now. and i definitely, for the most
part of my life, i felt like the police were publicer is vans and they were here to help and keep you safe. and i don't want this to ruin it. right now it's still pretty raw. i'm still thinking about it a lot. i'm still rerunning it in my head at night. of course i'm going to be a little more hesitant but i hope it doesn't change my opinion. and by the commissioner, by the mayor, by the police force doing the right thing, getting this guy off the street, making positive change to make sure the police force is held accountable, i think we'll slowly restore my faith in every police officer. >> you got an apology from the police commissioner, the highest of the police commissioner, from the mayor of the city. not everybody -- imagine the people this happens to and we know it does happen to other people. they don't get that. >> i respect that gesture. i appreciate it. it's nice to get a call from the mayor of new york city on your cellphone looking to apologize to you. but this guy has five civilian xhants as well. i'm sure those people have not gotten that same call.
i think there needs to be an active apology to all of those people that don't have the stature that i have, that don't have the voice i have. that's why i feel like this is so necessary for me to talk about because i have this voice and so many people that this happens to, they don't get that. and i've gotten e-mails and texts and people that have told me this happened to me, this is also something that happened to my friend, this happened to my father, this happened to my brother. none of them get pub apologies like that. they deserve to get the same treatment i'm getting. >> you say i'm determined to use my voice to turn this unfortunate incident as a catalyst of change in the relationship between the police and public they serve. if that's not through a lawsuit, or maybe it is, how does that work? >> well, like i said, i want to see change. i want to see this not happen. that was my first reaction once i realized i needed to spike up about this is i scant imagine this happening to someone i care about and i don't want to go through this again. i don't want to go through it personally and i don't want to see it happen to anyone around me. i know there's a lot of people out there that feels the same
way. we need to find a way to stop this from happening. i'm sure tomorrow this will happen somewhere. i don't want that to be the case. i don't want it to be swept under the rug and said, it happens once in a while but we're going to move past it with a one time. i don't want a lawsuit that says here's $5 million, go away and we're not going to talk about this again. i want to keep talking about this. i want to open a dialogue with commissioner bratton, with mayor de blasio about real solutions, about accountability, this isn't going to happen and these type of police officers are no longer able to do this. >> what do you say to that officer? >> first i think i would say is you took advantage of me in a very vulnerable situation and in doing so you hurt my family. i want him to know that this isn't just hurting me and every time he's done this or would do this, it hurts a whole family. and that's not fair. that's not fair to use your badge to do that because you've got that badge and you're supposed to treat that with respect and with honor the way we're supposed to respect and honor it. i don't think he deserves -- i
would say to him i don't think he deserves to ever have that badge again. >> you think he should lose his job? >> i do think he should lose this job over this. i don't think this is the right job for him. to take that kind of a tone and that kind of an attitude towards this situation, a non-violent criminal, if i had been the criminal i still think this is excessive and it shouldn't have happened the way it did. and i just don't think that's the right position for him to be in. he's abusing that power that he has. >> james blake, it's a pleasure. >> thanks. >> best of luck to you. >> fascinating interview by my colleague don lemon. we're going to talk more about this coming up, including what disciplinary action the officer in this case could face. and more prior complaints of excessive force by the officer you're looking at has some people asking why was he still allowed to work these cases? milk has 8 grams of high-quality protein.
my colleague don lemon interview james blake, the former tennis star slammed to the ground as a. he describes what happened to him as, quote, rogue justice noting the officer involved faces prior complaints about excessive force. cnn's sanchez is with me and looking into the officer's past and also with us for more analogies cnn legal analyst danny. what do we know about the prior complaints? i know there are at least two of excessive force. "new york times" is saying three. pattern of detained without explanation and mistreated despite complying. >> right. officer james frascatore has at least two civil suits against him for separate incidents alleging excessive force. they both happened in 2013 in new york. he was apparently one of eight
officers charge with racially of profiling a suspect, putting him in handcuffs, then beating him and directing racial slur toward him. in another case he was one of five officers accused of beating someone up who was riding their bicycle on a sidewalk. that was in queens. interestingly, cnn has. learned that the city of new york just yesterday has decided to try and settle these lawsuits before going to court obviously. trying to set with these accusers. of course, you heard james blake earlier, this officer could be facing a third lawsuit now. they haven't decided whether or not they're going to pursue one. cnn has reached out to officer frascatore but he's yet to respond. >> how long ago did these other two cases of alleged excessive force happen? >> in 2013. >> it's been years and he's been on the street working these cases. >> in august of last year the other one earlier this year. so he has been on the street working these cases with this litigation. >> why now is he assigned to desk duty? this officer, after the blake case the public case, he gets
desk duty. these other two cases, some of them pretty violent. >> right. >> allegations. >> that's the big question. the internal affairs investigation of course is on going. he's had his gun taken away, badge taken away as well. he's waiting to see what happens with this case. >> stay with us. i want to bring in danny. can we talk a little bit more about that because i think that's surprising. after this very public case of alleged excessive force you see the video right there, you know, mistaken identity. this officer is put on desk duty. but these other two cases where these allegations of use of excessive force against others, you know, use of racial slurs were used, he's still allowed to be on the street doing his job day to day. why would that be? >> well, with each allegation, you have to look at it, whether they're substantiated or unsubstantiated. whether it's determined that those are valid accusations. if they are, well, then, yeah, that raises the question whether or not this guy should be still out there on the street or if he
should be disciplined or even terminated. so it does raise that question. but the other side of that coin is that police officers presubsequently have complaints lodged against them all the time. after all, they are in the very unique business of being authorized to go out on to the street and lay their hands on people. and those people will eventually usually be prosecuted. so it's no surprise that police find themselves commonly on the other end of the complaint about their conduct. so there has to be a very exacting investigation process. but the mere fact that an officer has had a complaint lodged against him does not necessarily mean that there is wrong doing or that there's some -- that their conduct in general is suspect. they are in the business of being -- having complaints lodged against them. so it's not like other jobs. police officers occupy a very unique position in our jurisprudence and in our employment sector.
so for that reason, complaints against them should be at least substantiated before we act on them. >> absolutely. we'll see whether or not blake is going to bring a case against this officer or the department in this situation. he says he and his attorney have not decided yet. thank you very much, danny. boris, thank you as well. coming up next, i'm going to be joined by the former nypd commissioner who served in the police department here in new york for more than 40 years. ray kelly joins me next. i'll get his take on what happened. we have three chevy's here. alright. i want you to place this award on the podium next to the vehicle that you think was ranked highest in initial quality by j.d. power. hmm. can i look around at them? sure. umm. highest ranking in initial quality. it's gotta be this one. this is it. you are wrong. really? actually it's all three. you tricked me. j.d. power ranked the malibu, silverado half-ton and equinox highest in initial quality in their segments. that's impressive! i'm very surprised! i am. i'm very surprised.
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with pg&e's business energy check-up. former tennis star james blake calling for police reform after he was tackled to the ground this week by a police officer in a case of mistaken identity right here in new york city. who better to talk to about this than the former commissioner of the new york city police department ray kaelly. author of the book you see on your screen "vigilance, my life serving america and protecting its empire city." new book just out. congratulation on the book. >> thank you. >> i do want to start first with this case. look, you've said it's not right what happened, the way he was treated. he says this points to -- blake says this points to structural change that is needed in the nypd. is he right? >> i think -- look, we have -- the department makes 400,000
arrests a year. 23 million citizen contacts. some of these are not going to go well. the vast majority of contacts, vast majority of arrests go peacefully. so this is an aberration, as i said, i don't see why this level of force was needed for this type of arrest. i don't know what this officer's experience is. people may have resisted him in the past, what have you. but in this particular instance, it seems to not be appropriate. >> he was plain clothes. tackled him to the ground. james blake says you wonder how many times it's happened without anyone knowing, because he's famous we all know and we're talking about it. >> yeah. >> does this point to change needed? >> well, that's the problem. because the videos, suspicions confirmed in a lot of people's minds, a-ha, we saw this. how many times has it happened in the past. i understand that. from my own experience over 40 years in the department, i think
cops do great work every day. i think they do great work throughout america. i think they're generally underappreciated. when you see an abhorrent act like this this is unfortunate. >> in my interview with don lemon today he said so many cops are hero, good guy, good women, but this shouldn't happen. >> the video is out there. >> the video the out there. he wants new york city, the mayor, commissioner bratton to put more money, more resource behind retraining. they responded saying the city has invested nearly $29 million to refrain approximately 22,000 uniformed service members with thousands more to be refrained in the coming months. is that progress? are those the steps that need to be taken or do we need more? >> you can always have more training. you know, you have to get people out on the street, of course. but training is good. i think on my watch we did a lot
of very effective training. if you can get more training done, fine. >> why not. >> more power to them. >> one more thing and break and the book and more. officer frascatore, he's been put on desk assignment after this incident. but he is an a. defendant in at least two other cases alleging excessive force. one of those cases much more excess i force than we see here in this video. but he was still for two years after that on the street, you know, doing his job. why on desk assignment now, commissioner? >> allegations. allegations have to be investigated. police officers -- >> still being investigated? >> due process. this will be investigated. the other case will be investigated. as the lawyer you had on here said, cops receive a lot of allegations. a lot of them false allegations. just so they back off. you arrest somebody, they will make an allegation. i don't know if these cases were substantiated or not. i don't know if they were dismissed. >> he got put on desk duty right after this one. >> this matter, yeah. >> is that because it's on
video, we're all talk ak it? >> sure. you have to make judgments on it. we're on cnn talking about it. >> we are. >> the department had to take some action. >> they with me commissioner ray kelly. we will talk next about his book. we're also going to talk about why the murder rate in so many really big cities across america continues to rise. what is driving that, next. staying in rhythm... it's how i try to live... how i stay active. so i need nutrition... that won't weigh me down. for the nutrition you want without the calories you don't... introducing boost 100 calories. each delicious snack size drink gives you... 25 vitamins and minerals and 10 grams of protein. so it's big in nutrition and small in calories. i'm not about to swim in the slow lane. stay strong. stay active with boost®. and when you bundle your home and auto insurance through progressive, you'll save a bundle! [ laughs ] jamie. right. make a bad bundle joke, a buck goes in the jar.
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former nypd commissioner ray kelly is still with us. he's out with his new book. thank you for being here. i do want to start with this uptick in murder rates nationwide. when you look at the numbers, violent crimes, murders, are up 8% in new york. nonviolent crimes are down. murders across major u.s. cities are way up, cities like milwaukee, baltimore, st. louis. it's not happening everywhere. you see a decline in l.a., for example. in phoenix. but you have talked about a ferguson effect. is that what's driving this?
>> i think so. maybe other factors. but i think generally speaking that is what's fueling it. police officers are not engaging the way they've engaged in the past. crime is down significantly in this country for the last two decades. i've said i think it's smarter policing. better use of technology. those sorts of things. proactive policing. police engaging. police initiatives, if you will. i think as a result of ferguson, ferguson effect, there's been several incidents, terrible. the shooting of walter scott in north carolina, those type of incidents have had a chilling effect on police initiative, if you will. >> so what do you do about that? >> i think it will take some time. and i think, quite frankly, the adoption of body cameras will help. >> universal. >> in that regard. as much as you reasonable can do. i was initially a little hesitant about them but after
you see some of these events, you know, basically it's the way to go to raise the community trust, if you will. >> you write in the final chapter of this book, this is a watershed time for mod den policing. you also say, quote, there is too much anxiety, too little trust, and far too much misunderstanding on all sides. where do we go from here on that front? >> well, you know, police chiefs, police departments constantly strive to have better relations with communities. they're doing that every day. being a police officer is a tough job. it's become much more complex. much more demanding. but they are attempting every day to get better relations. it's the nature of policing. police are the bearers of bad news, they use force, as we saw, they use deadly force when someone passes away, the police are notify you. they give you traffic summonses. there's always going to be some
potential for friction. you know? people are not going to love the police. what you want is mutual respect. >> we also saw though what some of the police did in those first protests went all night in ferguson. you say america needs to largely be demilitarized in terms of the police force. >> yeah. >> what did those images that we saw in this streets of ferguson, what did that do to breaking that trust? >> well, the officers were bad. no question about it. military style, vehicles, inappropriate for policing, for, you know, community policing. this was done with the best of intentions in the 1990s. a lot of excess military equipment. what do we do with it? give it to the police departments. i can see it used for natural disaster, should be kept perhaps by the state or maybe by a county but not for normal police work. it just doesn't look appropriate. even the military uniforms that some of the police departments
used there, i think were not appropriate. just added fuel to the fire. >> it did. but let's talk about this recent gal lum poluop poll that i thin telling. it shows confidence in police in the united states reached its lowest level since 1993. 1993 is a year when the national murder rate was double what it was in 2013. >> yeah. >> so why is that? >> because of, i think, the focus on some horrific events, as you said. the shooting in charleston, south carolina, eric garner case, mcase michael brown's case. darren wilson, the police officer, i mention it in the book. was totally exonerated yet he didn't even get one day with that story because the justice department added its own report about the city of ferguson. >> also found some -- as you would agree, some huge problems, rampant issues within the
ferguson police department. >> true. but darren wilson in essence lost his job and can't get hired again. his life is pretty well ruined as well. >> i want to talk about stop and frisk. it is something that you pushed very hard during your time as commissioner. it is something that we've seen a c-change in in this city in new york city under mayor bill de blasio and commissioner bratton. you write about that as well extensively in the book. you say, new york city mayor de blasio shrugged and walked away from a routine and useful policing tool snatching law enforcement defeat from the jaws of legal victory. police -- people will lose their lives as a result. bratton responds and he says, crime is way down without stop and frisk. you know, complaints to our review board are the lowest they've been in 14 years. >> murders are up and shootings are up. >> what do you predict? >> those are the crimes we're concerned about. and the vick tips for the most part are young men of color. those are the people that are
being killed. not only here in new york on the streets of america. >> what do you predict we'll see? >> crime rates are up. as we go forward here with police not engaging in that accepted practice, that violent crime will go up. i think the department had 40,000 stops recorded last year. there are several hundred thousand radio calls of suspicious activity alone in this city. 12 million calls in the 911 system. 23 million contacts, as we said. everything is bigger here. so 40,000 stops, recorded stops, is very, very small given the suspicious activity that you get in the city of 8.4 million people. >> one more thing. september 11th, 14 years since even in yesterday. >> right. >> are we safer now? >> sure. sure. we're much safer but as so many people said, we're not safe. we live in a dangerous world. we see these lone wolf individuals. people who are motivated, who
are recruited, who are radicalized on the internet just watching very sophisticated videos who decide to kill people in their own country. so i think we're going to face that threat for a long time to come. >> thank you so much, commissioner. thanks for your service to the city. good read. i'm almost done with it. thank you for being with us. we'll be right back. when i had my first child i was just really amazed how hard it was to care for a newborn. it's epotion ali very exhausting.
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concerns of an increase military build-up in syria. president obama warning moscow against propping up the assad regime. russia denies the allegations saying, look, this is all part of our effort, the international effort to defeat isis. saying air strikes alone will not do it. when you look at this, obviously tensions are increasing between the u.s. and russia over this. you had secretary of state jrk calling russia's foreign minister sergei lavrov saying it couldes ask late into a conflict. those are words. any action expected between the united states and russia, policiwise? >> well, at this point, poppy, i don't think so. but i think you can really get an indication of the level of concern by looking at the level of response that we've seen over the past week since the first reports were coming out that russia was ramping up presence in syria. as you referenced, secretary of state john kerry speaking twice on the phone this week with his russian counterpart.
also hearing from strong words coming from president obama who yesterday really spoke out for the first time about this and really sent a big warning sign to russia basically coming out more bluntly than administration officials have all week, connecting the dots saying almost point blank that they believe that these actions are for russia to help prop up the government of assad. here's how president obama put it just yesterday. >> it appears now that assad is worried enough that he's inviting russian advisers in and russian equipment in. and that won't change our core strategy, which is to continue to put pressure on isil in iraq and syria, but we are going to be engaging russia to let them know that you can't continue to double down on a strategy that's doomed a failure. >> both president obama and russian president vladimir putin
will be in new york later this month. they are both attending the u.n. general assembly. there is no meeting scheduled between the two leaders yet, poppy, but of course that's always something that they can sit down and discuss this. of course this being the major point of topic of discussion during those meetings. >> absolutely. the world will be watching very closely. thank you. just ahead, scientific breakthrough. some of what we know about human evolution being literally rewritten based on a new discovery in south africa. we are back with the leading scientist on the case next. iflike i love shrimp, red lobster's endless shrimp... ...is kind of a big deal. it's finally back, with as much shrimp as you want, any way you want 'em. one taste of these new pineapple habanero coconut shrimp bites, and i already want more. they even brought back wood-grilled teriyaki shrimp! yeah, you heard me: teriyaki. and really: what's not to love about... ...buttery garlic shrimp scampi? here, the sweet, spicy, crispy
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a new species of human ancestors called homo naledi had the brain the size of an orange, stood about five feet tall and incredibly appears to have buried its dead, a behavior previously thought to be really limited to humans. the man who led the team on this amazing find, professor lee berger, joins me from johannesburg, south africa. thank you for being with me, sir. >> good afternoon. >> can you walk us through how significant, how big of a find this is? >> well, every time we find even a small fragment of one of these human relatives, it's a big deal. they are, well, until recently, perhaps the rarest sought after objects on earth. normally our field is fragments. in this discovery, homo naledi, we discovered the largest assemblage of primitive human relatives ever discovered on the continent of africa. 1,500 remains, 15 individuals
but of course, it's a new species. we named it homo naledi on the 10th of september and of course, we believe they were deliberately disposing of their dead in this chamber that's why there are so many there. >> this was found as i read it, in sort of a crack through a cave, some people were spelunking through caves, some some bones. you guys went through really a rigorous two years, very dangerous work trying to remove all of these bones. what was the piece of the puzzle, professor, that told you a-ha, this is huge? >> we knew almost from the beginning. firstly, you are quite right, the crack to get into these, you have to remember the beginning of what we call a chute is already 60 feet under ground. and the crack is 7 1/2 inches wide. so that our explorers had to be very small and very skilled to
get down that crack. they went down 60 feet. as soon as material started coming back, way back in november of 2013, as it came out of this cave we knew we had something very special. by the end of the week we discovered more individual fossils of these early human relatives that had been discovered at the richest sites in africa. we were astounded by the abundance. we had a new species by about may of last year. >> so can we talk just before i let you go about what this means for sort of theories of human evolution, what this changes and what stays the same. >> actually, i have one of them here. this is a cast of one of them. what it actually, you can actually see how small they are, how small the head is, but what it tells us is that human evolution is a lot more complex than we thought. we thought we had it figured out 15 years ago, it was a simple
ordered origin from one species to the next to the next. now we know it's incredible and complex and now what we really know is we need more explorers in the field making discoveries. >> i think we certainly do. thank you to you and your team for this. i will change the way we all learn about evolution for quite a long time. thank you so much. >> my pleasure. just four days until the gop debate only right here on cnn. the candidates are certainly on the trail making the most of every single minute. we will take you live to iowa, where donald trump told reporters why he is not one bit worried about the upcoming debate. i don't want to live with the uncertainties of hep c.
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