tv NBC Nightly News NBC November 25, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
they're still expensive. on our broadcast tonight, from ferguson, missouri, the decision that set off a wave across the country. here in ferguson, fears realized. a community in flames. chaos and anger in the streets. the wave of protests stretching from coast to coast as police departments hope for a peaceful night ahead. plus, inside this grand jury. the evidence. what they heard and saw that ended with no charges. why this grand jury proceeding was so different from others, as the prosecutor now comes under fire. also tonight, the other big story. a big storm about to hit at the worst possible time. a thanksgiving travel nightmare for millions of americans. "nightly news" from ferguson begins now. >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with brian
williams, reporting tonight from ferguson, missouri. and good evening on a cold night here in ferguson, missouri. the epicenter of it all last night. it was along this very stretch of roadway that the finding of a grand jury was converted to violence that raged here last night. and make no mistake, it was urban combat. there are still shell casings here underfoot. a police commander said last night that first volley of tear gas they fired was because officers encountered so many guns within the crowd they were worried they may not make it out of there. some of the protesters then turned to forceable entry. nen the looting and the fires started. cars and businesses mostly. 25 structures torched in all. 82 arrests were made last night. all of it because a grand jury did not return an indictment against the white police officer who shot and killed michael brown, an unarmed black teenager.
there were protests in other cities last night as well, but nothing like this. and tonight we know more about the grand jury proceeding and the toll from what happened here. even as right now ferguson police are gearing up to protect their headquarters should there be more violence. we begin our coverage here with nbc's miguel almaguer. miguel, good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening. on several city blocks across this city and including this block right here, you can smell smoke in the air. many buildings are still smoldering tonight. the street behind me, this neighborhood has been shut down. police not allowing the public in because they are concerned what buildings haven't been looted, will be attacked tonight. protesters say they are ready. police are also braced for conflict. tonight in ferguson, the cleanup. >> hope it don't happen again tonight. >> reporter: a broken city on edge, bracing for more protests and possibly more violence. crowds spilled into the streets just before 8:00 p.m. last night. tension even before the grand
jury's decision became public. >> they determined that no probable cause exists to file any charge against officer wilson and returned a no true bill on each of the five indictments. >> reporter: the emotion, too much for michael brown's mother. the family had called for peace. but brown's stepfather, who later apologized, had a different message. crowds swelled into the hundreds. chaos, destruction, steps from police headquarters. >> you will be subject to arrest. >> reporter: the nation watched. president obama urged restraint. >> but i join michael's parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully. >> reporter: violence erupted in the heart of ferguson. so did gunfire. more than 150 shots reported. what we're hearing now is a
succession of gunshots one after the other, and they're getting closer to this direction where police are barricaded. businesses looted in august were hit again. more than a dozen burned to the ground. some owners, with a window to the violence, refused to leave. >> i'm just here protecting the property, you know. it's a shame. it really is, on both sides. >> reporter: police cruisers were torched. dozens arrested. >> sir, i didn't do anything. >> our community has to take responsibility for what happened tonight. for what happened tonight as far as tearing our community apart. >> reporter: there were demonstrations and arrests across the country. hundreds marched in chicago. in california, freeways were shut down. while in new york, the police commissioner, splattered with fake blood, called for restraint. today -- >> we are mike brown! >> reporter: more protests. the missouri governor announced more backup for police.
2,200 national guard troops in the region. a community splintered and one family heartbroken. >> a lot of emotions all over the place. i don't know what to feel. you know. i'm just -- i'm just hurt. i'm empty. >> reporter: tonight police and the national guard are standing by at the ready. protesters say they'll move in. brian, this community bracing again. >> miguel almaguer who was in the thick of it last night. miguel, thanks, as always. when the prosecutor announced the grand jury's decision last night his office also released a trove of documents related to this case. thousands of pages of evidence and testimony to the grand jury with details and claims about the shooting that we had never heard before now. nbc's ron allen was in the courtroom for the announcement and has our report on that tonight. >> reporter: police officer darren wilson in newly released hospital pictures with bruises
on his head and face. the images among thousands of court records, hundreds of hours of testimony, forensic reports, witness interviews made public by prosecutors insisting they gave the grand jury every piece of evidence available before it decided not to indict wilson for shooting and killing michael brown. >> their burden was to determine, based upon all of the evidence, if probable cause exists to believe a crime was committed and that darren wilson is the person who committed that crime. >> reporter: according to court transcripts, wilson testified for four hours, telling grand jurors in their altercation, brown looked like a demon. the officer adding he felt like a 5-year-old holding on the hulk hogan as brown, who was 6'5", 280 pounds, grabbed wilson's gun through the window of his police suv. wilson said brown had control of the gun. two shots were fired, one wounding brown's hand. forensic reports say his blood was in the car and on the officer's uniform. documents show most witnesses say brown ran from the car and stopped.
brown's family claims he had his hands up to surrender. but witness number ten told the panel he saw brown charging the police officer. legal observers say having officer wilson testify and releasing what are usually guarded grand jury documents to the public are unusual steps. >> the prosecutor, who is supposed to be representing the victim, provides information that is favorable, useful to the defendant. we didn't have a victim in this case. we had the defendant presented as the victim. >> this process is broken. >> reporter: and the brown family's lawyers, who have insisted there's enough evidence to charge the officer, condemned prosecutors for allowing wilson to appear without being cross-examined. >> where was it vetted -- where was his veracity ever challenged? where was his credibility ever challenged when you watch those four hours that he got to give his speech to this grand jury? >> here's what we know for
certain. the grand jury agreed with officer wilson. they believe that the forensic evidence and the witness testimony supported his position that he was reasonably fearful for his life. >> reporter: in a televised interview tonight wilson says that brown threw the first punch. he says that he tried to shoot me with my own gun. i thought i was going to be dead. it was the first time that wilson ever fired his own service revolver. tonight on the street corner, some of the aftermath, ferguson still smoldering, this corner, these buildings reduced to rubble. brian, back to you. >> ron allen about a half mile down the road from us here. ron, thanks. last night in the skies overhead arriving commercial flights were turned away from the st. louis airport due to the threat of stray gunfire into the skies. something we're used to seeing in places like baghdad. and the vests and helmets our personnel brought here are exactly those that we wore in baghdad.
this violence was sparked by the widespread feeling that justice wasn't done here. people are asking all day long if there's any other remedy, federal or otherwise, which brings us to our justice correspondent, pete williams. and pete, is there any such thing as a do-over in this case? >> no, this can't be undone or redone. the state criminal case is closed. and the way the grand jury was conducted was very unusual because prosecutors don't normally give grand jurors both sides of a case. but the federal government is still investigating the shooting to see if there's enough evidence to prosecute officer wilson for violating michael brown's civil rights. even so, to bring a federal case, the justice department would have to show the police officer used excessive force, willfully, meaning on purpose, with the knowledge that it was wrong. federal prosecutors did bring just such a charge in 1991 against l.a. police officers for beating rodney king. but they had videotape to help prove their case. there's no video of what happened in ferguson. the federal government would, in essence, have to prove that
officer wilson did not think he was in danger and that would be very difficult. the family of michael brown could still bring a civil lawsuit against officer wilson, which would have a lower standard of proof than in a criminal case. and the justice department is also investigating the entire ferguson police department, which could lead to court orders changing how it conducts itself. brian? >> pete williams in our d.c. newsroom with that tonight. pete, thanks. all of this terrible violence, of course, is happening during thanksgiving week in our country. and because families are starting to gather, hoping to gather in just two days' time, there is another major story deserving our attention tonight. the winter storm that will climb along the east coast tomorrow and just by doing so, will affect travel nationally. our report on that from nbc's tom costello. >> yeah, i got it. 4107 there, too. >> reporter: at the united airlines command center in chicago, the pressure is on. >> i've got a newark/chicago flight that's coming in through
the weather right now. >> reporter: 4600 flights today, 377,000 passengers and a poorly timed storm. >> we've got flexibility, we've got spare aircraft, spare crews. >> reporter: nationwide the system will be tested over the next few days with 5 million of us in the air. starting tomorrow, the military is opening up restricted air space for commercial flights over thanksgiving. >> more highways in the sky that we can move planes through to get people to their destination efficiently. >> reporter: already tonight the major carriers are waiving ticket change fees for passengers trying to avoid the storm. on the ground and in the storm's crosshairs, i-95, that critical artery on the east coast. just as 41 million americans hit the road this week. >> reporting live from maryland. >> reporter: taking no chances, the sands family left a day early for north carolina. >> hopefully we beat the weather and we'll get there safely. >> reporter: outside boston sherry schneider and her kids were heading out after rebooking
to avoid the storm. >> we changed our flight to leave one day early. we beat the crowds and we beat the storm. if you're flying, the expert advice tonight, when checking in online, provide your e-mail and phone number to receive flight updates. and keep an eye on flight aware's map for cancellations. this sunday and monday are expected to be among the busiest air travel days of the entire year. united airlines alone is adding 125 red-eye flights just to accommodate everybody hoping to get them home and back to school and work on monday. brian? >> tom costello, national airport in washington. tom, thanks. once again tonight meteorologist janice huff is in the weather center with an update on the reach of this storm. janice, good evening. >> it's already starting down in north florida. jacksonville seeing flooding rains coming down at the rate of three inches an hour. and yes, it will stretch from north florida, up the eastern seaboard in the next 24 hours. that heavy rain band will move north towards eastern north
carolina from wilmington up to norfolk, virginia, maybe as much as 3 to 4 inches of rain tomorrow morning. then snow begins. over the mountains of west virginia through washington, d.c., around new york city, north and west towards boston. some of these areas may receive more than a foot of snow from the berkshires, parts of southern new england and back into the lower hudson valley of new york. safe travels to you and everyone, brian. >> all right, you do the same, janice huff in the weather center, thanks. we'll take a break. still ahead tonight, what it felt like here in ferguson for those who just want to live their lives in peace and set a good example for those coming up. and some of the day's other news, including sweeping changes from the feds coming soon to a theater near you.
you we are back from here in ferguson, missouri, which was last night the scene of so much violence. race is a big issue here. african-americans make up close to 70% of the population, yet they are way more likely to get stopped while behind the wheel, more likely to get searched and the local police department is overwhelmingly white. for the young black men we met at a local church here today, despite being academic and sports standouts, their lives, they say, are marked by perception and fear. they say they now see their responsibility for the future. we were watching last night from out east, felt a certain way to us.
what's it like to watch that happen? >> it's definitely terrible to see. it's a tragedy. but you know, it's always a way you can bring light to a situation like that. >> how? >> just praying. to beat the statistic. >> of the five of you, how many of you feel judged? how many of you feel feared on sight when people see you? >> i do. >> show of hands? how do you think you're viewed by the world, the outside world, versus who you know you are? >> i know i'm a good individual. and i have all intentions on being great and being a good person in life, but sometimes i feel like i'm -- people are scared of us, you know. just off of statistics. it's all stressful. we -- there's a lot of things we do to make a better name for
ourself that isn't put in the media rather than, you know what i mean? >> that takes a lot of inner strength, to know you're okay and to also know at the same time you're judged every day for reasons you cannot change. >> and on a level, despite this burden that we're bearing consistently on a daily basis, we're expected that this burden is supposed to be something, okay, you can be sad, you can be disheartened, angry for a certain period of time. but after a while, it's time to move on, okay, to allow us not to feel those very real human emotions and then when they're expressed in a reactionary way like we saw last night, we're viewed as uncivilized. whereas when riots and things like that happen from a different demographic for a different reason, for a sports game, for a college party, it's viewed as, oh, those college kids are just doing what they
do. but when a group of people feel sincerely that their humanity is being ignored and they respond, then it's viewed as barbaric and it's viewed as savage opposed to people who are sincerely in a state of hopelessness. >> i guess for the future, we just have to not necessarily forget what happened last night or earlier on in august, but we have to remember what happened but also learn from it and to do it right next time if there is a next time. hopefully there won't be a next time. in order to change the system, we must become the system, and in order to not have police officers profile us, we have to become police officers. or if we don't like the laws that are being made, we have to become congressmen and lawmakers so -- >> a lot of folks here in shock today at what has happened to their town. a lot of it was done by people in this town. our thanks to jarrett, corey,
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if you want the individual attention and expertise your financial needs deserve, this is your time. this is your private bank. to some of our other news tonight. two minnesota men are charged with trying to aid isis, but only one of them is in custody following his arrest at a minneapolis airport in may. the other man slipped out of the country to turkey that same month, apparently. he's believed to be still overseas. just last month the fbi estimated about a dozen or so americans have joined terrorist groups in and around syria. the food and drug administration today announced sweeping changes coming soon to chain restaurants, movie theaters, amusement parks, coffee shops and vending machines all across our country. all kinds of places where we eat what we're not supposed to. there are now going to be calorie counts visible before you order.
some cities already have these rules in place, but this is the feds. now they're going nationwide. they're hoping people eat healthier and menus and selections get healthier as well over time. a sign of our times. a story about the passage of time, in fact. the countdown clock at cape canaveral that so many of us grew up watching in the foreground of all those nasa rocket launches during the manned space program. it was the t-minus clock often followed by "and holding" as the countdown froze with any anomaly. another word we all learned back then. after seeing off every mission since apollo 12, including 135 shuttle launches, they just don't have the parts to fix it anymore. so it's being replaced. and let's hope there are future manned mission launches to count down to. we are back with our successful search for some good news around here in ferguson, missouri.
the entrance to the lincoln tunnel on one of the heaviest travel nights of the year. at this point in our broadcast, we like to end on good news. there's never been a greater need for it tonight. here we are two days from thanksgiving standing here in what has become at least last night an urban war zone, and this community will come together. it has to. so whether it's sweeping up glass or checking in on a neighbor, it is starting. the ferguson library put out a call on social media today saying, all children are welcome there, as they put it, for wifi, water, rest and knowledge. they've had a staggering spike in donations, they tell us, in just 24 hours. and remember, schools remain closed here, so they play a vital role right now. and back at christ the king church, where we met with those young men today, volunteer church members were there today putting together the annual turkey baskets. proof that good works go on during an epic bad stretch here in ferguson. that is our broadcast on this
tuesday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams reporting tonight from ferguson, missouri. we hope to see you back home in new york tomorrow night. goodnight. up for another night of protests. police in oakland and cities across the country getting ready for what could be another very long night. good evening and thanks for joining us. i'm jessica aguirre. >> and i'm raj mathai. different tactics and hopefully some different results. hundreds of police officers already on the streets of oakland, along with dozens of protesters. these are live pictures from oakland from our nbc chopper. this city really reflecting many cities across the country, upset in the wake of the michael brown grand jury decision.
we want to show you some pictures now from ferguson, missouri, where it is now about 8:00 p.m. midwest time. you can see the police lined up. they've dramatically increased the amount of national guard troops this evening. and this is what it looked like last night, from seattle to new york, emotional and polarizing, all at once. more protesters are planned for tonight. many already in progress. nbc bay area's jodi hernandez joins us from oakland, right in front of the police department. jodi? >> reporter: raj, people here in oakland are still very fired up about what happened in missouri and they are once again out on the street, expressing themselves. in fact, they are headed right this way, toward the oakland police department, and you can see dozens of police officers in riot gear are standing at the ready. they are hoping not to see a repeat of what he saw last night. several oakland business owners spent the day cleaning up the