tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN December 3, 2014 1:00pm-2:01pm PST
indict the police officer in the case of eric garner. i will be back tomorrow. in the meantime, stay right here. jake tapper and "the lead" start jake tapper and "the lead" start right now. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we'll start with breaking news in the national lead. another grand jury has decided not to indict a police officer and this comes just one week after that decision not to charge officer darren wilson in the death of michael brown in ferguson, missouri. today it's no indictment for a white new york police officer in the choking death of an unarmed black man named eric garner. the grand jury had this cell phone video to help them see exactly what happened. eric garner died when officer daniel pentalio put him in a choke hold. the 43-year-old said he could not breathe and his death was
caused by physical restraint. we heard from officer pentalia from his facebook page. quote, i became a police officer to help people and to protect those who could not protect themselves. it is never my intention to harm anyone and i feel very bad about the death of mr. garner. my family and i include him and his family in our prayers and i hope that they will accept my personal condolences for their loss. within the hour we expect to hear from new york city mayor bill de blasio. we will bring that to you live. eric garner who suffered from asthma was stopped for selling illegal cigarettes on the hospital and pronounced dead, and in support, and police brutality in the black community, alexander field has been closely following this case and he joins me live on the phone from the boro of staten island and what are you hearing
from the folks gathering there. how many people are there? >> a couple of dozen people have been out here and they heard that the grand jury would be no indictment and there are groups of several demonstrators and they're saying don't shoot and i can't breathe holding their hands up in the air and i can't breathe. as you know referencing that video that so many of us saw of eric garner after he was wrestled down on to the sidewalk and he told police officers that pushed him down to the ground, i can't breathe, i can't breathe. the demonstrators are gathering together in the last hour or so. some people hugging each other. this is a moment that's very much on the mind. these people have been waiting for a decision here. a lot of people were certainly hoping for an indictment. others felt it wasn't likely or not expected and we anticipated that they might be out in the streets in anticipation.
they would step up their police presence where demonstrations were likely. jake, i can tell you that we have seen police cruisers out here and we've seen police vehicles carrying barricades and they've been visible in the neighborhood and we don't see any particularly concentrated visible police force in the area where the demonstrators are right now and that's largely because all that they're doing is something that they were anticipated to do. >> do we have any idea, any sense of why the grand jury chose not to indict? >> reporter: jake, we don't, and frankly, we won't and that's because of the laws here in new york state. the grand jury falling under state laws here and it's different from state to state, it is not permitted to disclose the details of what took place during the grand jury proceedings. we know they started meeting on september 29th and we know they were out today, december 23rd
and it is a panel of 23 people and we won't know the gender, the racial makeup or any of the things that were discussed and it might be confusing to people and we're coming off the heels of that highly-watched decision from the grand jury in ferguson, missouri, but that has different laws. they have sunshine laws that allows for the disclosure of grand jury evidence as well as grand jury testimony. it simply doesn't exist here and that's why i heard prosecutors say that he won't be speaking and he won't be having a press conference. however, we do know that mayor bill de blasio will be speaking in a short while. he's headed to staten island now and we're hoping that state leaders, activists and elected officials are talking to them before he addresses the public and this is something that went on in the days leading up to this decision, jake. the mayor and top nypd brass were meeting with local officials to coordinate how they
would respond to indict or not to indict. >> thank you so much. we're going to come back to you in a bit. for some analysis right now, i want to bring in jeffrey toobin and sunny host in, both cnn analysts and prosecutors. >> are you surprised by the grand jury's decision? >> unlike in ferguson, we don't have access to all of the evidence in front of the grand jury. so i don't want to be too categorical in what i think because i don't have all of the facts, but obviously we do have this video and we do know that he was arrested for just about the most minor crime in the state of new york which is not selling illegal cigarettes and not selling pot and not selling any contraband, but selling regular old cigarette, but not collecting taxes on it. an incredibly minor offense. so-called lucies. that's what those cigarettes are known as. so here you have a situation
where this guy is arrested for this very minor crime and somehow he winds up dead and the only thing we heard from him was not offensive statements at the police, not taunting the police, but i can't breathe. so it certainly seems like an indictment might have been possible or justifiable in this case, but i just don't want to be too sure about that because i don't have all the evidence in front of me. >> sunny, the incident was caught on tape and we're showing the tape right now officer pantaleo seemed to use a maneuver that the new york police department guideline, patrol guidelines have banned for more than 21 years and it clearly says not to use choke holds or anything that could obstruct breathing. knowing that, knowing that the police caused his death, how could there not be enough
evidence to at least bring this to trial. >> i'm going to go further than my good friend jeff toobin is willing to go. i'm stunned by this decision. i look at the facts as we know them, right, jake? he is unarmed. he was choked with a choke hold which is a banned practice. he says 11 times i cannot breathe. the medical examiner rules it a homici homicide. it is all on video, we watch him die, but there is no indictment. i don't think we need to see what happened in front of the grand jury to know that, clearly, there's enough probable cause, and i think what it does is it calls into question what happened in front of the grand jury. i'm stunned. especially, not only as a former prosecutor, but quite frankly as a native new yorker because when i was in ferguson i have to tell you, i was thinking, you know,
this wouldn't happen in my hometown of new york. this would not happen with the nypd, and i am -- i think people should be sickened by this. i think they should be concerned. i think what we are seeing now is a pattern and practice by police officers all over the country, and i used to think that body cameras on police officers, quite frankly would make a difference, but again, as i said, it is all on video and there's still no indictment. >> jeffrey, the district attorney in this case issued a statement moments ago reaffirming what you just said saying he's prohibited from releasing the evidence presented to the grand jury unlike was the situation in ferguson. does this create, there are a lot of ramifications to what happened yesterday, i suspect. is one of them a question about
whether grand jury proceedings need to be more transparent? >> absolutely. that is one question that's raised. let me just put this -- since sunny is talking about new york and that's a very important part of the story. for people who aren't from new york which, of course, is most people. staten island is a very distinctive place in new york. >> true. it's the smallest of the five boroughs. it's the whitest of the five boroughs. it is politically the most conservative of the white boroughs -- of the boroughs and it's the only borough represented by a republican in congress. a lot of cops live in staten island. so remember, the grand jury and we don't know its composition specifically, but it was certainly drawn from staten island, and i think the sort of more white, more cop-friendly environment of staten island may have had something to do with
how -- with why this case came out. >> well, sure. we all remember from 9/11 how many heroes of 9/11 the police officers and fire department officials lived in those outer boroughs such as staten island and i guess i'm just wondering, i'm not familiar with the evidence in this case like everyone else who is not on the grand jury, but that videotape is very stunning. there must be more that i'm not comprehending, jeffrey. obviously, this was a very large man, but he doesn't appear to be threaten the officers in any way. what possible reason could there be for there -- for the grand jury to reach a conclusion it did? >> well, just to play out what -- >> this is clearly just devil's advocate please. what the officer's lawyers and supporters have said that eric garner was not a healthy person. he was overweight and he had asthma, and what they say is a
normal arrest turned into an unfortunate death not because of illegal tactics used by the officer, but because of the pre-existing medical conditions of -- of eric garner. that is the argument that's been put out there. given the videotape, it seems like a pretty hard argument to make especially since the -- since eric garner is saying repeatedly that he can't breathe which is the problem that people with asthma have, but that's the context of the defense in this case. >> sunny, obviously, there is another context which is the grand jury decision in ferguson, the shooting of the 12-year-old boy with the bb gun, i believe, in cleveland. a lot of people are very -- i'm sorry. i have to stop. right now the mayor of new york city bill de blasio is taking
questions. >> are you ready and what will the nypd be doing? >> the mayor's comments that we have had quite a bit of time to prepare for the events that will unfold here over the next several days. this is the department that is very well experienced? dealing with demonstrations of all sizes. on an average week we have almost 150 events that we police, and i think is as we referenced yesterday and yesterday's news conference that the events over the last ten days in the city that we had a total of, i think, 31 arrests and multiple events that we will take very forceful and effective action against those that are committing crimes and vandalism and crimes of violence, but at the same time we will seek to allow people to demonstrate and demonstrate peacefully. those that would seek to agitate, we will certainly focus efforts to make sure that the agitation remains within the legal bounds. >> the mayor of new york city
bill de blasio earlier today. we are expecting fresh comments from the mayor of new york city. we'll go back to alexandra field where crowds have started to gather. i don't know if she's prepared for us. alexandra, if you can hear me, i'm wondering if you can describe for us the scene behind you. this is where the death of mr. garner took place. >> that's right. just back in july. we've seen that video. you saw eric garner who was wrestled to the ground in front of a beauty shop. this is the place where people have been coming for the last hour, hour and a half now. they've been gathering them and these are many of them supporters of eric garner who feel that justice was not served when an indictment wasn't handed down and these are people who have seen the video and they don't understand it. they see this is a 43-year-old man who died out here and they don't understand why this is not an indictment.
this is a peaceful crowd and they've been chanting and they've been out here demonstrating saying things like i can't breathe. they've been saying don't shoot. no justice, no peace. this is about anti-violence, but they do want to come out here and express their feelings and they feel they weren't heard by the grand jury that decided not to indict officer pantaleo and that's why they're out here. >> a lot of anger, it's getting heated and there's a lot of passion in people's voices. you see these protesters out here? these demonstrators and what you don't see is a line of police officers and nypd, they were prepared for these demonstrations and they knew these demonstrations would come and they've been telling us over the last week or so, that they would be stepping up the police presence in areas where demonstrations were likely, but we aren't seeing it in a very visible way and that's because, frankly, there's nothing going on here that police officers would need to break up or want to break up. these are passionate people that are feeling that an injustice
was done and they want to come out here and they're expressing their right which is to express their opinion and to make their voices heard right now. we have seen officers that are driving around this area and we do know by the nypd that they're extending duty and people who would normally be on desk assignment into the streets and we have staten island, and this is the home of eric good afternooner and where his friends and loved ones are and these are people that want to speak out and this is manhattan and this is a big night in new york city and it's the annual tree lighting ceremony at rockefeller saernt and it's a big celebration in the city of new york and they want that to be peaceful, as well. they will have a stepped-up presence there tonight, as well. >> can you tell me, what are they chanting behind you? we can't really make it out here? >> reporter: a lot of i can't breathe. i can't breathe. >> the last words. >> reporter: a couple of other chants about no justice, no peace, but i can't breathe. >> the last words of eric garner as captured on the cell phone
and our continuing breaking news coverage of a new york grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer in the death of eric garner. garner died while in a police choke hold back in july. the incident was caught on cell phone video and it spread via social media causing much outrage. while police choke holds are not illegal they were banned by the new york city police department back in the '90s. at the time new york city police commissioner ray kelly said choeshg holds which are potentially lethal and unnecessary will not be routinely used and when an
officer's life was in danger and there were no more safer options and the definition of a choke hold being anything that would obstruct the ability of an individual being taken into custody to breathe. the grand jury's decision also comes on the same day that new york city mayor bill de blasio launched a pilot program, a new body camera program. is it theoretically supposed to cut down on complaints of excessive force by police? of course, now there are questions about what, if anything, will change by videotaping confrontations given the outcome of the garner case and we've heard that complaint. joining me by phone is safety and security expert and former police officer bill stanton. bill, let me just start with the question about choke holds. what exactly is a choke hold? why did the nypd ban their practice 21 years ago? >> well, because many years ago
there was a case when an officer took his night stick and he put it around the neck and he was in back of the assailant and he took the night stick in both hands and squished it into his throat severely cutting off his oxygen flow and that was banned. and hence, that rule of no choke hold. >> one of the things that we see in this video of eric garner's tragic death is that the officer behind him has one arm around his throat and the other arm around eric garner's right arm, is that different from a choke hold or if you obstruct the wind pipe or obstruct the breathing that's considered a choke hold? >> jake, let me answer your question, but first let me build up to it and tell you what i actually saw. i saw a huge individual who was disobeying lawful orders and he wasn't listening to the cop and
he was towering over both those cops initially and in order to subdue him he went behind him and he put an arm around his neck to bring him down and he was holding his hand. my guess was to bring him down to put his hands behind his back and also to prevent him from possibly reaching a weapon. mind you, i'm not defending the police department i'm giving this as an investigator as to what i saw. what i saw were officers trying to subdue a person who was given orders who did not obey those orders. >> you mentioned the possibility of a weapon, but eric garner had no weapon, are you saying that just because police are trained to always suspect that all individuals are having a weapon. >> oh, jake, absolutely. statistically, you go to the
most mundane of calls or domestic disputes. cops get hurt when they bring their guard down. that was a large gentleman. they did not have the opportunity at least not from what i saw from viewing the tapes. they didn't have the opportunity to frisk him so there are many different weapons including biting and hyperteodermic needl and razors and they have families they need to get home to just like everybody else. if a perpetrator is given a lawful order, and if they comply a lot offis dents like these wouldn't have to happen. he was stopped because he was accused of selling loose cigarettes and it wasn't as if he was committing a violent crime, but the accusation that he was selling loose cigarettes and while he was in this choke hold he kept shouting i can't breathe. i can't breathe. >> right. did you count for the amount of seconds that he had his arm
around his neck? >> i did not. >> it was for a brief period of time. i'm not saying who was right and who was wrong, and i'm not saying who was right. i'm saying who was escalating the incident? it is easy for us to say from our armchairs to say what they could have, should have done, but when you have a man of this size getting agitated and he is raging and there is a crowd forming and i've been in that situation, you want to either question him nice and calm or if he's getting agitated and it comes time to put the cuffs on him, get him to the side and the squad car asap. he did not want to do that. he was told to calm down. he was getting agitated. his hands were in a defensive position and obviously the grand jury saw things neither you nor i did and they agreed not to indict. >> mr. stanton, just before i
let you go, so you don't think there was anything excessive about this fatal confrontation? i think in retrospect what needs to be done and if it was a small person and used a taser and a heart attack, would we be having the same conversation? >> what's the answer? he's agitated and let him walk away or do you bring half the precinct to ask him for his i.d.? yes, there may have been issues in retrospect, and retrospect is hindsight, but i don't think this cop should have been indicted. i think it was the right charge and it was right not to bring charges and i think the grand jury did their job and the court of public opinion will put pressure to bring other charges against this officer and i don't think that's right. >> there was a poll earlier this year, i think in august from quinnipiac saying that 61% of new york city voters, i believe
61% thought there should be criminal charges against the police officer. bill stanton, i suspect a lot of people watching this don't necessarily share your views, but i appreciate your coming and sharing them with us and i suspect that's what a lot of police officers think, as well. thank you so much. >> thank you, sir. coming up, this grand jury decision came on the exact day that new york announced its police officers would start a pilot program to wear body cameras. will cameras change anything, though? plus new york city mayor bill de blasio is expected to speak shortly on the grand jury decision. we'll have that live ahead.
welcome back to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we'll continue with our national lead. no indictment in the death of eric garner. a grand jury in new york city has decided not to charge a white new york city police officer in the death of an unarmed african-american man. cell phone video captured this incident and garner died after saying repeatedly i can't breathe. tensions are high in new york in
the aftermath of the grand jury's decision this afternoon. we've just learned that the nypd just requested that all police officers be removed from non-essential court appearances for the next couple of days. joe johns joins us from the district attorney's office in staten island. joe, what is the nypd doing to mobilize ahead of any potential protests to make sure that we don't see in any of new york's five boroughs what we saw in ferguson last week? >> right now the focus is on potential protests. when i got here to this location there was one guy in a store talking about the need to demonstrate over this issue and we didn't even have a decision from the grand jury at that stage. what the police are telling cnn is that they will mobilize and move officers around as demonstrations develop and there are officers, of course, who are on desk jobs.
those officers have been told to be on standby in the event they are needed to handle any of the things that might go on here in new york city. so the question is what is going to go on? i've reached out to a number of the civic leaders and such here in this area and haven't gotten a clear idea on what the plan is now, jake, but that was when the decision came out. >> tonight is the tree lighting in rockefeller center. how is that affecting at all the security plan? is it throwing a wrench into it? is it a target for protesters? >> well, that was a concern from the very start from this day about the fact that the tree lighting was going on at the same time we might get this decision in staten island. we are told that the new york police department will put extra officers on during the tree lighting in case there are demonstrations down there. of course, over at rockefeller center we're just going to have to wait and see. it doesn't look like a
particularly angry situation on staten island at least from the people i talked to and one store owner in particular telling me he's keeping his eyes open and no plans to close at this stage because it appears that people are just going home from work so far. >> joe johns live for us on staten island, new york. >> thank you so much. >> this grand jury's decision comes one week after a somewhat similar announcement in ferguson, missouri and we'll talk to the lawyer for michael brown's family about the growing outrage over this latest grand jury decision. that's coming up on "the lead."
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my nai'm a lineman for pg&e out of the concord service center. i have lived here pretty much my whole life. i have been married for twelve years. i have 3 kids. i love living here and i love working in my hometown. at pg&e we are always working to upgrade reliability to meet the demands of the customers. i'm there to do the safest job possible - not only for them, but everybody, myself included that lives in the community. i'm very proud to do the work that i do and say that i am a lineman for pg&e because it's my hometown. it's a rewarding feeling. welcome back to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we will continue with our breaking news out of new york city where a grand jury has announced it will not indict a police officer in the choke hold death of eric garner, the unarmed african-american man whose arrest was caught on cell
phone video. here he is shown being put into that choke hold by a white police officer saying repeatedly, i can't breathe. i can't breathe before he died. joining me now is attorney benjamin crump who we've had on the show many times representing michael brown's family and that's why we had you scheduled, but now you are going to get involved with this case, the chief attorney for the garner family is jonathan moore, but you will work with him. >> i am already working on them on the gurley case and he's a great lawyer and been practicing for over 37 years and if anybody can educate people about how fair or unfair this system is it's jonathan. >> let's talk about this. what's your reaction? obviously, a lot of people are very upset and they see the video and they don't understand how it would even go to trial. my reaction is i'm upset not just as an african-american attorney, but as an attorney and an officer of the court.
people keep looking to us any saying you see how unfair it is. it's getting more difficult to defend the system when they see things with their own eyes when mr. garner is not being aggressive and not posing a threat to them and they say why does this not at least go to a trial by jury like the american constitution? why are police officers always given special treatment and not held accountable especially in minority communities? >> we just had a guest from the former nypd police officer who said in his view, what he saw was a large guy resisting what the police were telling him to do. >> who knows what he had in his pockets? the police were not trying to kill him. they were trying to subdue him. what's your response? >> jake, can you imagine if we didn't have this video what their story would be?
a lot of people on that social media are saying it don't make a difference because they just don't care about us. they don't value our lives. the system is unfair. i disagree with that. i reject that, jake. i think the videos are not the problem. it's good when it's transparent. it's the system. when we see this here, it makes us say we've got to fix this system. this whole system of having the local prosecutors sit in judgment whether to indict police officers or not when they use excessive force and kill people in our community, you can't have them with that symbionic relationship thinking that it will be a different result if we keep doing the same thing over and over. we have to fix this system. i think what we see is going to make people just outraged and not just lawyers and media, but the common man. this here says really? they don't get to go to trial? >> in fact, there were a lot of similar complaints in ferguson
about the fact that maybe the district attorney had too close a working relationship with the police. obviously, they need to have a close, working relationship to prosecute bad guys all of the time. you're suggesting that maybe there should be an independent investigation or an independent look when police are accused, the two senators from new york and kristin jigillibrand and chk schumer. what else needs to happen, do you think, to fix the system? >> moore and i talked right after the decision came, right before and then right after and what he told me, he could aren't believe that the prosecutor had granted immunity to all the officers on there except the one who put the choke hold on. >> isn't that normal, though, to get them to testify? >> no. it's problematic because when you look at the video, the corner who said it was homicide said it was a combination of thing, the choke hold and the pressure on the back and stuff so you don't go give immunity
because then you look down the road and you say he's going to use that as his defense in the criminal case that it wasn't just me, but i'm the only one on the hook. >> let me put you on hold -- no. never mind. in terms of where we go from here, you are working with jonathan moore on a different case and you will work with him on this case, as well. is the family going to bring a civil suit against the state of new york? >> that's up to attorney moore and i'm working on the gurley case where a man was killed on the stairway. that officer had been indicted and then with this track record of ferguson and ohio and new york, i don't know what scenario we can present where an officer will be held accountable for killing a minority or person of color. we haven't seen it. i want to break in right now, if i can. apparently president obama is discussing this issue right now. let's take a listen. >> i'm not interested in talk. i'm interested in action, and i
am absolutely committed as president of the united states to making sure that we have a country in which everybody believes in the core principle that we are equal under the law. [ applause ] >> i just got off the phone with attorney general eric holder and he will have more specific information about the case in information as well as everybody who may be viewing my remarks here today, we are not going to let up until we see a strengthening of the trust and a strengthening of accountability that exists between our communities and law enforcement and i say that as someone who believes that law enforcement lz
an incredibly difficult job that every man and woman in uniform are putting their lives at risk to protect us that they have the right to come home just like we do from our jobs, that there's real crime out there that they've got to tackle day in and day out, but they're only going to be able to do their job effectively if everyone has confidence in the system and right now we're seeing too many instances where people do not have confidence that folks are being treated fairly. and in some cases, those may be misperceptions, but in some cases that's a reality, and it is incumbent upon all of us as americans regardless of race, region, faith that we recognize this is an american problem and not just a black problem or a brown problem or a native american problem, this is an
american problem when anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law that's a problem and it's my job as president to help solve it. [ applause ] >> now, when i visited the nation in montana i was a candidate for this office, and i made it a point to meet with tribal leaders on the campaign trail as often as i could because i wanted to make sure our country did better. >> that's president obama speaking at the white house tribal nations conference and he was interrupting his remarks to the crow nation to talk a bit about what happened with eric garner. mr. crump, i have to -- i sit here, and i wonder what you think when you hear the first african-american president referring to what happened in new york and what happened in ferguson. i've heard a lot of
african-americans criticize president obama for being too tepid on these issues. what do you think? >> think what he said initially in these comments we just can't talk the talk, we have to act where i think more action, there's less people criticized and when you see the attorney general get involved in ferguson, but get involved in new york when you see these unbelievable things happen not only on video, but in the court system. jake, as a lawyer, we have to understand the american justice system is built on the principle of trial by jury, the fourth and 14th amendment, due process. everybody gets equal justice. we know there's no guarantee once you get a trial that you will get the justice that you seek, but you have a chance at justice. the police officers aren't even being indicted and so the garner family, the brown family, they don't even get a chance at justice and that's what is
frustrating to keeping us in ferguson and that's what you're about to see in new york and people are frustrated and it's not equal in our community. >> to play devil's advocate, the grand jury process is not only for police, the grand jury process happens for everyone and these are individuals and these are citizens. i'm playing devil's advocate, mr. crump. >> they can go against what the prosecutor is saying. what's your response to that and again, i'm playing defer il's advocate. >> two things, mr. tapper. >> number one, we see people getting indicted in our community with no evidence at all, no video, and it's an innuendo, it's a hunch and someone said they fill a description and they're indicted and a lot of times they're convicted. that's number one, number two, the grand jury proceeding is so unfair because you can indict a help sandwich if you want it. the grand jury will do whatever the prosecutor wants them to do if they present the evidence in such a way that they don't
get -- if they don't want an indictment, and if they present it in such a way they want an indictment they will get it. the process is broken. the game is fixed before we ever began so we can't have the local prosecutors who got this relationship with the police that they should. >> any time a policeman or policewoman is accused of something it should go to a separate, independent prosecutor, you think? >> if it's going to be fair and impartial. you work with wolf blitzer every day and wolf committed a crime and you were in charge of it. people will say they work every day together. >> he can do anything he wanted. he'd walk. >> well, i just think you get what i'm saying. >> yeah. >> you can't have people who have this relationship, and it's an inherent conflict of interest and these and the officers are star witnesses in many cases. in 20, 30 cases, he's your man. he's building up your credibility. and then you have to sit in judgment of whether or not to
indict him or not. and if you indict him, that kills his credibility, so if you indict him, you lose these 20 or 30 cases, and if you don't indict him, people will say, were you worried about all the other cases? it's an inherent conflict of interest and it's not fair for the citizens of the united states. we have to be fair to everybody, because that's what the american justice system is built on. >> benjamin crump, always a pleasure to talk to you. thank you so much for your time. we'll be right back. coming up, new york police are mobilizing. they're getting ready for potential protests there this evening, to make sure that everything is safe and secure. we'll have new details on that. and we're expecting remarks from the mayor of new york city, coming up. ups is a global company, but most of our employees
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welcome back to "the lead." and our breaking news coverage on the decision by a grand jury to not indict, pardon me, a police officer in the death of eric garner of staten island, new york. we were just looking at a podium and waiting for the mayor of new york city, bill de blasio, to come and speak about the grand jury decision, about the steps that the city of new york is taking to make sure that protests are orderly and safe for all of the citizens of new york city. this decision today comes on a day when we could see some huge crowds in new york city for the tree lighting at rockefeller center. police want to make sure, of course, that if protesters come out in full force, especially for the tree lighting, that they will have some protection and make sure there is order there. cnn's deborah feyerick is live in new york city with more on that. deborah, what are police doing to prepare for people to protest peacefully and make their voices heard and exercise their first amendment and also for people
who want to come see the tree lighting in rockefeller center? >> this is one of the things they were concerned about. but the nypd has made very clear they are not going to allow what happened in ferguson to happen in new york city. they have taken proactive shifts. the day shift police officers will be extended into the evening, specifically around the area of rockefeller center. they want to make sure they have enough police to both protect the crowds, who are turning out, but also to protect the tree lighting itself, make sure that there are no interruptions whatsoever. they will be stationing a lot of police officers in areas that they do believe there will be protests. for example, times square. that's where eric garner's family was supposed to be. in fact, now we're hearing that they will not be making a 5:00 appearance. there'll be heavy police appearance at union square on 14th street and at staten island on the brooklyn bridge. the nypd is used to this kind of thing. they just had a thanksgiving day parade. they do this on new year's eve. so crowd control is one of their specialties. but the nypd is making it very,
very clear that what was seen happening in ferguson is absolutely not going to be happening in new york city. they will allow the protesters to protest peacefully, respectfully, civilly, but they will not let anything get out of control, out of line. they want the demonstrators to be table to voice their anger, but they want to make sure that it doesn't spill out into action. jake? >> deborah feyerick in new york, thank you so much. i want to bring back cnn legal analyst, sunny hostin right now. sunny, i wanted to ask you, you have an interesting perspective. you obviously disagree with the grand jury decision in the eric garner case, but you also are a former prosecutor. you heard benjamin crump, the attorney for michael brown's family earlier on my show saying that he thought that when it comes to grand juries and investigations into whether police committed any crimes, it should not be the local prosecutor. you've had an inside view as a prosecutor. do you agree? >> i do agree. and you're right, i was a prosecutor. and when i was a prosecutor, i was very, very close to my
investigators. i was very close to all of the officers that worked together. in fact, that i work with. in fact, i was assigned to a particular district and i got to know the officers of the sixth district extremely well. i used to go to the christmas party with them. you know, went with ride-alongs with them. and i think it's very difficult when you have established that kind of relationship and you trust the officer to then be asked to present a case against that officer in front of the grand jury. so, you know, there's no question in my mind that there are changes that need to be made, when you're talking about this process, jake. and i think we're seeing it over and over and over again now. there's a problem with the pattern, the practice, and the process. and initially, i used to think, you know, well, body cameras are the answer. but i think it's pretty clear that on video, what we saw was excessive force. i think we saw an overreaction by the police department. i think that was very, very clear that probable cause
exists. and so i think you're going to need a special prosecutor when there are officer-related shootings and deaths. just no question about it. you can't ask police departments to self-report, and quite frankly, you shouldn't have prosecutors that have these kinds of relationships with officers to present cases against them. it just doesn't work. >> and sunny, quickly, if you could, just a quick question, police departments have internal affairs divisions. >> that's right. they do. and they should, right? i mean, you shouldn't have officers investigating other officers. i, quite frankly, think that was a significant problem with the ferguson investigation. because we know that the ferguson chief of police was very involved with leaking the surveillance video, very involved on a day-to-day basis with that initial part of the investigation. so internal affairs officers are generally removed from the general population of police officers and they are situated
that way for a reason. it's just too difficult for police to police themselves. you can't expect clarity there. >> all right. sunny hostin, thank you very much. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. now i'll turn you over to wolf blitzer, he is in "the situation room." happening now, breaking news. no charges. a new york grand jury decides not to indict a white police officer in the death of an unarmed black man, who died after being put in an illegal choke hold. what evidence swayed the jury? bracing for protests. the case sparked demonstrations like this one in august. now officials are on alert as outrage over the grand jury decision appears to be growing. will demonstrations remain peaceful? echoes of ferguson. eerie similarities between the new york case and the case of michael brown. i'll talk about it with the brown family lawyer, benjamin crump. what's his reaction to this latest police killing controversy? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."