tv NBC Nightly News NBC December 4, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
puck at tonight's sharks game. >> that's exciting, exciting news. on the broadcast tonight, the fallout. what the grand jury in the eric garner case heard and saw that led to the decision not to indict. and with new protests tonight, the feds launch a new investigation. hostage crisis. terrorists threatening to kill an american after a bold u.s. mission failed to rescue him. flu shot warning. why you might still catch the flu anyway even if you got the vaccine this year. and ready to fly. behind the scenes for the ultimate high wire act airing here tonight "peter pan" live. "nightly news" begins now. good evening.
i'm lester holt sitting in tonight for brian. it would seem to be the justice system itself on trial in the aftermath of yesterday's grand jury decision in new york to not indict a policeman in the choking death of eric garner during his arrest. on the heels of an identical decision to the ferguson, missouri, shooting of michael brown, emotions are running high. we can show you the picture from just a short time ago in lower manhattan as crowds once again fill the streets. emotions are running high on both sides, those who believe the system was all but rigged to fail and those who think it worked exactly the way it was intended. tonight we're learning about what the grand jury in the garner case had to work with to reach its decision. and while there's been no evidence in either case that the use of force by police was racially motivated, calls for racial justice grew louder today as the u.s. department of justice launched its own investigation into the garner case. we have it all covered tonight. we start here in new york where as we mentioned demonstrators are once again on the move.
nbc's stephanie gosk is on the ground with them. stephanie, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, lester. well, right now there's an estimated 5,000 people in this crowd. and if last night was any indication at some point they're going to be on the move. and there have been police officers gathering here in preparation for that moment. one of the things that's been angering this crowd is the skre si secrecy of the grand jury process. they were hoping that all of that evidence would be released today. instead all they got was a trickle. the video of the new york city police officers' deadly altercation with eric garner was one of four shown to a grand jury according to a document released today by the staten island d.a.'s office. unlike the ferguson case which was released in its entirety, the court allowed the disclosure of only limited details. the grand jury sat for nine weeks, was given 60 exhibits of evidence and heard from 50 witnesses including 22 civilians. eric garner's friend taisha allen was one of them.
she took this video presented to the grand jury. >> i just took out my camera and started recording because it was unbelievable how they jumped on him. >> reporter: is that what you testified to the grand jury? >> yes, i did. and i told them exactly what i saw. i told them exactly what they said. >> this fight ain't over. >> reporter: the grand jury decision shocked and enraged garner's widow. >> i just dropped my phone and just started bawling. i started crying. because it's not fair. it's not fair. >> reporter: protesters called for justice in the streets of new york last night. shutting down the west side highway, scuffling with police and trying to disrupt the rockefeller center christmas tree lighting. the videos demonstrators say should have been enough proof for indictment. >> leave me alone! >> reporter: the altercation begins with garner arguing with police. moments later he is taken down in what many including the medical examiner have called a chokehold. garner repeats "i can't breathe" eleven times.
the new york city police patrol guide says officers will not use chokeholds, described as any pressure to the throat or windpipe that may prevent or hinder breathing. today the head of the police officer's union said there was no chokehold and garner would still be alive if he hadn't resisted arrest. >> while bringing that person to the ground, they said, yes, we can't breathe. but the police officers did what they're supposed to do at that time. if you're speaking, you can breathe. >> reporter: this afternoon mayor de blasio committed to retraining the nypd. despite that promise protesters are back on the streets again tonight. unlike the protests in ferguson, these have been mostly peaceful. minimal destruction but maximum disruption. and right now they're only just beginning, lester. >> stephanie gosk tonight. thanks. the police officer at the center of this storm is not out of legal trouble yet.
however, although the state grand jury in new york decided not to bring charges against him, as we noted a moment ago there's now a federal investigation underway. it will be completely separate looking at a different legal issue. we get more from our justice correspondent pete williams. [ bleep ]. >> reporter: the cell phone video of eric garner's arrest is one reason why a federal case in his death appears more likely than in the death of michael brown in missouri. a former justice department prosecutor expects the garner case will go to federal grand jury. >> the videotape we've all seen over and over is just gut wrenching. it's clear that something very wrong happened on the sidewalk. >> reporter: the video is a clear record unlike in ferguson where witness accounts varied widely. >> we have a powerful witness and that's the video. >> reporter: garner was held in an apparent chokehold, a practice banned by the new york police department 21 years ago. unlike in ferguson there was no suggestion garner was going for a gun. the state grand jury look at whether the officer violated new york law. the federal investigation
instead will look specifically at whether the officer used excessive force. it will be led by loretta lynch, the u.s. attorney in brooklyn nominated to be the next attorney general. she led the successful 1998 civil rights prosecution of new york police officers who brutalized a haitian immigrant. a decade ago a federal civil rights case brought a conviction of a new york policeman who'd been acquitted in the state trial for putting a chokehold on anthony biaz who later died. and today the jus hit department and the city of cleveland agreed on changes to policing there. attorney general eric holder said a 19-month investigation revealed a pattern of officers using unnecessary force. just 12 days ago as that investigation was ending, a 12-year-old boy with an air pistol was shot and killed by police. though the federal investigation of eric garner's death is just beginning, indications are it will move quickly perhaps with the conclusion by early next year. lester. >> pete williams tonight, thanks. we are learning about a
failed rescue attempt by u.s. special forces to free an american being held hostage by al qaeda in yemen. the revelation comes as his captors released a video today threatening to kill him while his family released a video of their own pleading for his life. we get the latest tonight from our pentagon correspondent jim miklaszewski. >> reporter: it's one more chilling video. an american held hostage by islamic terrorists pleading for his life. >> my name is luke somers. i'm 33 years old. i was born in england, but i carry american citizenship and have lived in america for most of my life. >> reporter: a photo journalist, somers was kidnapped by al qaeda terrorists in yemen's capital more than a year ago and was the target of a daring u.s. military rescue mission just last week. u.s. officials say in the predawn darkness a pair of helicopters with two dozen navy s.e.a.l.s landed in a remote area of northeastern yemen.
the american commandos sprinted a couple of miles to a cave where it was thought somers was being held. the americans took the al qaeda captors by surprise, rapidly killed all seven and rescued eight hostages. but luke somers wasn't there. he had apparently been moved from that location only days before the rescue mission. a week later al qaeda released this hostage video. similar to recent videos from isis terrorists in syria. back home outside seattle in a video message to al qaeda his brother jordan and mother paula appealed for luke's release. >> he's a good person. and he's only been trying to do good things for the yemeni population. >> please show mercy and give us the opportunity to see our luke again. he is all that we have. >> reporter: al qaeda in yemen is already considered the most serious terrorist threat to the u.s. homeland. and that's certainly the case tonight for at least one american. jim miklaszewski, nbc news, the pentagon. the cdc has issued a warning tonight about the flu virus now
spreading throughout the country. it has mutated, meaning the mist millions of people got to protect themselves won't provide nearly as much protection as usual. we get our report tonight from our chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman. >> reporter: every year the flu puts as many as 200,000 people in the hospital. that's why the cdc warned today that a strain of the flu virus mutated this year making the current vaccine less effective. >> well, we know that the flu virus can mutate. it's very wily. >> reporter: it's too late to make a new vaccine for this season, so people who think they may be getting the flu should see their doctor right away. >> there are medications to treat the flu. so even if you've been vaccinated, if you get the flu, especially if you're at high risk of severe disease, talk to your doctor about getting treated. >> reporter: the most effective drugs, tamiflu and relenza. they work best in the first 48 hours of getting sick.
flu symptoms are much more severe than the common cold, can include fever, muscle aches and usually a cough. those most at risk of getting seriously ill with the flu, children younger than 5 years of age, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with medical conditions like asthma and heart disease. although this year's flu vaccine may not be as effective as ones in years passed, it's still your best protection against getting sick and the serious complications that can follow. dr. nancy snyderman, nbc news, new york. tonight residents across california are dealing with mudslides and storm damage after dozens of high water rescues today. days of torrential rain taking a heavy toll. our report tonight from nbc's jacob rascon. >> reporter: it was almost inevitable the days of torrential rain would lead to this, the community of gilman hot springs partially buried in a sea of mud. >> crews are on scene right now cleaning up the mess. look at that white suv.
>> reporter: so deep and so thick it took half a day for bulldozers to even reach this car. its driver, like dozens of others nearby, had to be rescued. >> there was just this huge like crash and the whole house shook. >> reporter: there were homes smothered by trees, children stuck on a bus who had to be carried away, and farm animals left without pasture. this storm system seen from space stretches nearly the entire west coast. it was all a surprise for the new england patriots as they prepared to play the san diego chargers on sunday tweeting, looking more like new england weather than san diego weather today. and in yosemite a milestone in a historic drought. yosemite falls starting to fall again. jacob rascon, nbc news, los angeles. los angeles police say they're ready to investigate any allegations against bill cosby regardless of the statute of limitations.
but the comedian tonight is firing back against a lawsuit filed earlier this week that claims he sexually assaulted a minor 40 years ago. our report from nbc's joe fryer. >> reporter: in legal papers filed today, bill cosby's attorneys call the lawsuit against him meritless and unsupported claiming it was filed immediately after mr. cosby rejected the plaintiff's outrageous demand for money in order not to make her allegations public. >> this looks to me like bill cosby is getting ready to wage war in a court of law. >> reporter: cosby is accused of sexually assaulting the plaintiff, judy huth, in 1974 when she was 15 years old after meeting him at a park where he was filming a movie, she says he took her to the playboy mansion. she says cosby told her to lie about her age and gave her alcohol. according to her suit she emerged from a bathroom and found cosby sitting on a bed. quote, he asked her to sit beside him. he then proceeded to sexually
molest her. in today's court filing, cosby's attorneys claim huth tried to sell her story to the tabloids nine years ago. this is important, cosby's attorneys argue, because in order to file a claim, huff must argue her psychological injury or illness had been repressed and was only discovered within the last three years. the huth suit alleges she only recently realized the lasting damage caused by cosby. cosby has never been charged with any crime. more than 20 women have now come forward with allegations including 3 who spoke publicly yesterday. >> for years i did not tell anyone about what he had done to me because i was afraid. >> reporter: most of the accusers do not have the option to sue because of the statute of limitations. with one suit now working through the courts, cosby is fighting back. joe fryer, nbc news, los angeles. still ahead tonight, a dramatic takedown caught on camera. police storm a suspect in the killing of an american teacher overseas.
the murder was only part of her plan to terrorize. our report tonight from chief foreign correspondent richard engel. >> reporter: emirate police dubbed her the ghost, but today they said they caught her. releasing dramatic police video and laying out their evidence she murdered an american teacher and tried to kill more u.s. citizens. key to their case, surveillance video. here, the suspect is seen monday heading to a shopping mall bathroom. inside american teacher ibolya ryan who moved to abu dhabi with her twin sons. friend nora field talked with her there. >> she was so positive all the time and helpful and a great friend. we did feel safe there. i think there's some fear now. >> reporter: witnesses at the mall say they heard screams as ryan was stabbed to death. then the ghost fled, but she wasn't finished. in her bag police say is a bomb.
she wheeled it into a nearby apartment building, placed a homemade explosive in front of an american doctor's apartment and then left the building, suitcase empty. the police strung all the video together even adding dramatic music to what came next, the takedown. emirate police raiding a home, arresting suspects, finding suspected bomb making materials. and taking the ghost into custody, her image blurred by police. terrorism and even crime are extremely rare in abu dhabi, but this kind of lone wolf attack poses a growing threat. and the 'em emirates show will be caught quickly. richard engel, nbc news, new york. we are back in a moment with massive storm moving ashore right now, potentially catastrophic damage in a place already so hard hit.
a powerful super typhoon is on a collision course tonight with the philippines. this is the view of the swirling mass from space. it is expected to make landfall some time this weekend packing winds as high as 156 miles per hour. and it will bring with it torrential rain and the potential for widespread flooding and mudslides. nasa will try again tomorrow for the first-ever test flight of its new orien spacecraft. hopes one day to send astronauts to mars. this morning's attempt was called off due to high winds and a valve issue that will carry orien into space. a rare bright spot in washington tonight. take a look. >> five, four, three, two, one. [ cheers and applause ] >> the national christmas tree all lit up. tom hanks and rita wilson on hand joining the obama family to
flip a switch. our cameras even caught the president dancing doing the dad shuffle with santa. this was the scene just outside our studios last night as the rockefeller center christmas tree lit up the plaza. tens of thousands in the crowd watching the "today" show gang and some famous guests do the honors. when we come back, just before the curtain goes up, a neverland. we'll take you behind the scenes of nbc's "peter pan live."
finally tonight, for any parent who's ever taken a day off work or cut out early to attend a child's school play, you'll understand why our friend brian is not here tonight. he's busy doing his most important job, being a dad. as you probably heard, brian's daughter allison stars tonight in "peter pan live." and as nbc's harry smith tells us, it's a role she's been preparing for her entire life. >> reporter: once not along ago this was the aircraft plant a place that built jets and lunar modules. now as a sound stage, it is still helping people fly. "peter pan live" will be broadcast from here in bethpage, long island, tonight. and 26-year-old allison williams will star and be our guide to
neverland. >> and these red pieces of tape are everything to me. they're my marks. it's important i hit these marks because i fly from them. >> reporter: nbc has more than a little experience with the boy who wouldn't grow up. broadway legend mary martin starred as peter pan several times from 1955 to 1960. if alison williams watched the vhs tape of that show once, she watched it a thousand times. how old were you? >> it's kind of before i remember, so probably like 2 1/2 or 3. >> reporter: and you were that kid plopped down in front of the tv. >> yep. >> reporter: over and over again? >> over and over again. i was peter pan. >> reporter: and there's proof. her mother's parents willing abetted. >> my grandfather was captain hook and my grandmother was wendy. she used to sew my shadow on.
that was the way to get me to take a bath. if you would take a bath, i'll sew on your shadow. all right. you have a deal. you have a deal, wendy. so that was my life. i lived in neverland. >> reporter: fast forward and a yale drama grad and "girls" co-star would fly for real. and crow too. her father's mother would have been fit to bust. >> she was a performer. she was incredible. stage presence. definitely be thinking that. i'm going to try to crow loudly enough for grandma to hear me. ♪ i won't grow up >> reporter: so we'll sing along tonight with the songs we know and wipe away a tear or two at the parts that touch us most. and we will be pulling for a young actress from connecticut whose dream has come true. ♪ in never neverland >> reporter: harry smith, nbc news, new york. >> so brian said today he'll be
watching the live broadcast with family close enough to the production as to burst through the stage door the moment the credits role. "peter pan live" starring allison williams and christopher walken as hook airs tonight at 8:00/7:00 central. brian will be back tomorrow. i'm lester holt. nbc bay area news starts now. >> that could have been my father. that could have been any of my friends, and nothing happened. >> right now at 6:00, bay area college students expressing their anger as police brace for a night of unrest. in oakland, one demonstration is under way and another one is good thursday evening. thank you for joining us. je aguirre. >> and i'm raj mathai. a lot of disappointment and anger in this country this
evening, and people are doing something about it. nationwide protests sparked this time by a white new york police officer cleared in) the chokehd this is washington, d.c. right now. yñ protest from new york city, washington, and of course in our own backyard in oakland. also, there is one last night. these are live look now from our nbc chopper in oakland. right now they started at frank agawa plaza. protesters are heading toward west oakland. not sure what their game plan is tonight. from oakland with more. >> i want to hear out there that black lives matter. >> black lives matter! >> reporter: what is happening is a÷:q( peaceful shutdown and protest of the golden bear campus. >> they spoke before a large crowd. solidarity of the people with ferguson, with the people of new york. >> reporter: in the name of michael brown, now eric