tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC April 8, 2015 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT
we are following breaking news this hour. nearly two years after the boston marathon bombing, 21-year-old dzhokhar tsarnaev has been found guilty of crimes that left four dead and over 260 wounded. the jury returned with its verdict. he was found guilty on all 30 counts for his involvement in the 2013 bombings. 17 of those counts carry the death penalty, including conspiracy and using a weapon of mass destruction. >> i would have been more frustrated if he had shown it because throughout this whole thing he's been -- to use my word -- arrogant walking in and
out of the courtroom. it is not something you'll ever be over. there will be always be something that brings it back to the forefront, but we're all going to move on with our lives and get back to some sense of normalcy when this is all done. so closure, i don't think so because it is forever a part of our life. >> as the verdict was read, tsarnaev kept his hands folded in front of him and looked down at the table. defense lawyers conceded that he was involved in the bombings. instead their defense focused on the fact that sartsarnaev was a junior brother influenced by his older brother tamerlan. the same jury will decide next week whether dzhokhar tsarnaev will face life in prison without
parole or the death penalty. what has been the consensus of victims coming out of the courthouse after these 30 guilty counts? >> i spoke with one victim who didn't attend the trial. we were going to talk to her at length. we were unable to make that happened. she was surprised that the jury didn't come back yesterday. a lot of these victims were just as surprised they went into a second day to deliberate. these 30 guilty counts are not all that surprising. what happens next now gets very personal. i spoke to one victim yesterday who said the reason she showed up to this trial was that this was a personal thing for her, closure, just like karen said here. she did not want to speak publicly. this gets very personal for the jurors the 12 men and women who found him guilty on all counts
because their life is in their hands. now the defense strategy all along has been to put tamerlan tsarnaev on trial. i suspect the focus of the defense positioning will be here that if not for tamerlan none of this happens. the jury essentially rejected that tragedy saying no he was just as responsible, just as culpable as his brother, who lost his life in that firefight. i think one of the things that left a lot of people shaking their heads about this whole tragedy was the evidence that was presented in court. dzhokhar tsarnaev 20 minutes after the bombing was at the grocery store buying milk.
a lot of folks here in massachusetts happy that this first phase is over. there is no capital punishment in the state system here. >> but it is a federal trial of course. attorney general eric holder has given this jury the ability to find -- to punish him by the death penalty. thank you for your time. thanks for the update ron. let me bring in john henry brown, who has represented a number of defendants in high profile cases, including serial killer ted bundy. as someone who is familiar with the strategy here do you think the defense was expecting guilty across the board and does that suggest to you that their strategy may be flawed or weak in the sentencing phase? >> not at all. the most important thing as a defense lawyer in a capital case is not to lose credibility with the jury. one of the biggest mistakes made
by lawyers in these kinds of cases is making some kind of presentation during the guilt phase, which undermines your creditability for the penalty phase. i think the strategy has been good. i think judy clarke is the best criminal defense attorney in the country at this point. it is a challenge. all of these are. i did a death penalty case where there were 13 victims. i was able to save that person's life, but you have to be consistent. you have to have the trust of the jury and you have to not present anything that's not credible. >> it sounds like it's almost sort of an emotional dance with the jury to keep them focused on the crime, but also on the character of the person of dzhokhar tsarnaev who has been
found guilty, to not lose their trust in a way throughout the trial. how does the testimony and the evidence that is presented differ in this second sentencing phase from the earlier extended trial? >> well knowing the challenge involved on the defense side, i would assume it's going to be very consistent. my guess will be there's going to be a lot of testimony from experts, psychiatrists, psychologists, other people who will say it is not uncommon for an older brother to influence a younger brother. the sniper case ten years ago in the washington, d.c. area -- i can't remember the name of it. >> yep. >> the young man in that case was spared the death penalty, so i don't think it's a hard sell to convince people a younger person can be influenced by an older person particularly if it is his brother and particularly
this very radical philosophy. >> attorney john henry brown, thank you for your time. we will be calling you throughout the weeks ahead. i want to bring in former mayor of boston, ray flynn, and attorney john q. kelly. mayor flynn, let me first talk to you just about your reaction to the 30 guilty counts today or 30 guilty charges and the upcoming penalty phase of this. how do you feel today? >> well this was a long nightmare for the families of the victims, obviously, but it was also a nightmare for the people of the city of boston. i don't think we'll ever forget what happened on that infamous day. we'll remember the victims and we'll pray for them. i'm glad it's over but it won't be over for the families, of course. they'll always deal with this in their own heart. i just hope that terrorists,
potential terrorists understand that this unites a community. it unitses a city. it doesn't divide america. boston became stronger. america stood taller. that's what happens when terrorists try to inflict their hatred on people like the people of boston and the united states. >> to the next phase, as we were talking with john henry brown, he mentioned john lee mohammed in the sniper case. how much does precedent matter in something like this given the heinous act that was committed in the city of boston? but how much do other cases of mass murder come into play in the sentencing phase? >> i don't think much except they give you an indication of the lenience of other juries. i don't think the jury is going to be sympathetic to the devil
made me do it argument. i don't think they're going to feel any sympathy at all in the penalty phase. >> you sound skeptical that his life will be spared. >> i think his life will be spared. i think the jury is going to say if he gets the death penalty, he's going to get the platform he wants, he's going to be viewed as a martyr. i think the jury will say if he put him away for the rest of his life it will be a much more severe punishment for this guy in the long run and we'll never hear from him again. >> same outcome, but a very different strategy. the defense says the devil made me do it. he was under the influence of his brother. but again, same outcome. >> i think the defense has the edge here going into the penalty phase. >> mayor, in terms of the city of boston we've looked at different polling numbers on
where the city wants this to go. do you have personal feelings of what you would like to see in the sentencing phase? >> i've always been opposed to the death penalty, but in this case i would love to see the family's point of view be taken into consideration. they're the ones that are most effected. they're the ones that are going to be constantly in pain. they're good people. i've followed this trial very closely. my family was at the site of the bombing at the time. i'm a runner myself. i think we ought to give consideration to how the families here hear their point of view and then the jury can make their decision. >> it is worth noting, john as the mayor points out the death penalty is not policy in massachusetts,but because this is a federal trial, they have permission.
how unusual is that? >> unusually, but clearly appropriate under these circumstances. i don't think there wasn't one member of the jury after all 30 counts were rattled off that didn't want to lean over to the victims and say what do you want us to do what more can we do for you. >> mr. mayor, let me ask you one question in closing. i know this has opened up a series of painful memories for the residents of boston. do you think in the end, though that has been more cathartic than it has been painful? >> adversity brings people together. tragedy brings people together and this was the ultimate tragedy. and i knew a number of the families, the richard family and i've talked to them recently. i know the pain they went through, but i think they took
great comfort in getting the support they did from the citizens of boston their neighbors and they're church. adversity brings people together at the same time there's enormous pain and grief. >> thank you both for your time and thoughts. coming up we'll have more on the guilty verdict in the boston bombing trial. i'll speak with former boston congressman barney frank. and police have fired the officer seen in this video. that officer is facing murder charges for shooting and killing a black resident during a routine traffic stop. i'll get reaction to all of that from the mother of eric garner who was killed when a new york city police officer put him in a chokehold. that is next on "now." many little things that we learned were really the biggest things. through it all, we saved and had a retirement plan. and someone who listened and helped us along the way.
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and a video again. today in south carolina a white police officer was charged with murder after a video showed the officer firing eight shots and killing an apparently unarmed black man as he was running away. 33-year-old michael slager said he feared for his life because the man identified as 50-year-old walter scott took his stun gun and used his taser during a traffic stop on tuesday. the video of the shooting appears to tell a very different story. as a warning, this video is disturbing. [ shots ] this afternoon while activists began to gather the police chief announced the officer had been terminated from the police force. >> we do not condone wrong. doesn't matter who it is. this has been a horrible tragedy
within our community. i have watched the video, and i was sickened by what i saw. >> the mayor also announced the city had ordered a body camera for every officer in the police department. that press conference came just hours after officials including the mayor visited walter scott's family. were it not for the video, the killing of his son would probably been swept under the rug. >> i thank god that this young man, whoever it was, had the video because i was telling some of my friends the other day that god has my back. because when i saw it i fell to my feet. my heart was broken. the way i saw it on the film the way he was shooting that gun, it looked like he was trying to kill a deer or something running through the woods. >> appearing in a north charleston courtroom for the first time yesterday, officer slager was denied bail.
if convicted, he could face up to life in prison and the death penalty. joining me now is gwynn carr, mother of eric garner and my other guests. it is a painful moment for the country, for people who care about justice, but as someone who saw her own son go down in a video at the hands of police what's your reaction to this? >> well when i first saw this video, it just brought tears to my eyes. i couldn't believe it's happening again, and it was like my own son being killed again. just to watch the police just -- it was a slaughter what they did to this man. those nightmares just came back to me when i seen this. and i immediately thought of the family because i know what my
family went through when this first happened to my son. we was totally devastated, and it was like without the help of god, i don't know how we made it through that. >> the parents of walter scott talk about -- there was a period up until this video surfaced -- there was a lot of questioning about whether walter scott had brought this upon himself. >> yes. >> tell me a little bit of what that period was like for as there was swirling doubt over whether there was a tussle or whether or not this was somehow justified. >> the same deja vu all over again. >> all over again. >> they did the same to my son. when this first happened before we even knew there was a video, they had a completely different story. it was nothing like what actually happened. they had it out that they was trying to arrest him and he had
a heart attack. it was confirmed by each police officer who was there on the scene, and this is the way it would have went without the video. >> what do you make of the police reaction? the officer has been charged with murder. he's been fired from the police force. how do you grade the police response in charleston? >> that's a great step in the right direction because, okay he should be charged with murder. it's as plain as day. the guy is running away from him, and he's not one shot but continuous shots. you could have stopped him -- you shouldn't have even been shooting at him, not with the guy running away from you. you should have been beenchasing him maybe, just to stop him. we are not animals. we are human beings and we
should be treated as such. >> i want to bring in ron and dot. dot, i know you're in south carolina. what's been the response in the community in the hours since this video first surfaced? >> first, it's been real sadness. it's been shock, and it's awfully -- almost disbelief. the community is pretty upset about this and rightly so. i do want to pause sympathy for the family and the brown family and the scott family now. this community is now torn apart because of what we have been alleging all along in police behavior that without evidence such as a video, it goes unchecked. >> beyond the heinous act of killing an unarmed man, there are several thoughts. the placement of the object next
to the victim -- if we can roll the tape so everyone can see what we're talking about. the police officer walks over and drops something next to the victim's body. when you see that what is your assessment? >> you have to see that in context of the original story that this cop gave. the cop, in order to justify the shooting, said there was a close encounter with mr. scott. they were wrestling over a taser. scott had the taser in his hand and was about to tase the police officer and the officer was forced to fire in self-defense. that was the story they put out originally. most people accepted that story because, hey, it's the cops why would they lie. it was only after the video came out that we saw the basic narrative was a lie and what the cop is doing there is what is commonly known as flaking in new york. he plants the gun next to the
suspect in order to corroborate his story. >> after walter scott is laying on the ground immobile the officer walks over to him and handcuffs him. can we play that sound? this is something that routinely happens. this is police procedure. that's right is that right? >> it's one of the ugliest things that cops do after someone has been shot. it is routine to cuff a suspect whether someone is dead or not. probably would be better public relations if they didn't do that, but the best public relations would be not to shoot the guy in the back in the first place then lie about it. >> did eric garner die in handcuffs? >> he did die in handcuffs. my son was a heavy person and the way they handcuffed him -- they never gave him cpr.
they just -- they treated him worse than a dog. when i seen the video, i just couldn't look at it nowhere just like they have this man in handcuffs after death. why would that put this man in handcuffs. >> dot to your point, there is a lot of questioning that the naacp has done of the charleston police department. you accused the police department of racial profiling and excessive tickets of minorities. south carolina officers were exonerated in more than 200 shootings. is there movement to revisit some of those shootings in light of what has happened today? >> i would hope that this would be the result of the killing of mr. brown -- i mean mr. scott, that we will have the justice department in now and they will go back and look at some of the
cases. we have had a recent killing that we believe that evidence was planted in that. we've had where video existed and by the time the video was released that parts of the video had been edited out. we have had a serious problem. the racial profiling has not only been done but had been publicly condoned that this is the way we do the policing. as long as that continues, these are the actions that empowers officers that are not of goodwill. they will continue to treat -- i agree with gwynn. what we see on this tape as with her son is tantamount to predatory behavior on african-american men, and they are treated like animals in terms of the way they're being shot killed and for the most part they have been getting away with it. >> yes. >> we are really grateful for
this. >> beyond the shooting there's the cpr issue. this man is now on the ground. there is a lot of debate. i think we can play this tape as to whether the officers really offered him life-saving assistance. this was in the immediate aftermath. from a legal point of view what do you see happening here? >> simply they're handcuffing him. it's not clear whether he is dead or alive or any degree of cpr would have helped him. very, very different in this case from the eric garner case because there had there been adequate life-saving support -- one of the many hanging around actually intervened to help him, he may well have survived that encounter. i don't think this encounter was survivable. >> it always feels terrible to see these videos. do you think things are changing? >> well if they're not, we got
to make a change because this cannot keep happening to our people of color, our latino brothers. today i was just on a panel at the national action network convention about police brutality. some of the things that came up -- you know first of all, it leaves the families devastated. it's not only the actual victim. we all become victims once something like this happens. without addressing police misconduct we're going to continue to have this happen over and over again, so not only here, not only in north carolina, in ferguson but all
over. we have to address this issue. we can't keep having our brothers killed like this. >> and i will say it is not a south carolina problem. it's not a missouri problem. it is an american problem. >> exactly. >> regardless of what color you are. >> exactly. >> thank you guys all for your time. >> yes. coming up, i will speak with "the new york times" who first obtained that cell phone video, the one that broke open walter scott's case. plus, are body cameras the answer? all of that is ahead on "now."
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federal jury found dzhokhar tsarnaev guilty on all 30 counts for his involvement in the boston marathon bombings almost two years ago. the trial now moves to the sentencing phase. they'll decide whether he faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole. joining me now is mike barnicle and former congressman author of "frank a life in politics a great society to same-sex marriage" frank. how are you feeling? >> it's inconceivable that there could have been any other decision. it seems to me his defense attorney understood that. it is god to have it over and give people some sense that they
get -- not satisfaction. there's no replacement for people who were killed whom you love, or who were injured, but this is not going unpunished. the verdict was obviously a foregone conclusion as it should have been. >> there's a lot of talk about this elusive closure. sentence is going to factor into them having closure one or way another. for the city of boston or the people you have talked to is this a period for the end of the sentence as far as this chapter? >> i think closure is an overworked and almost useless word when it comes to events like this. you never get over the loss of life or the trauma of losing a limb or the trauma of what happened that particular day, which is a unique day in boston
and england. it is patriot's day. there was no question there was going to be a multiple series of guilty verdicts here. in a sense, you put the statute aside. now comes the death penalty phase of the trial. now you're relying on human nature. you have 12 human beings that go to work every morning. they have in their hands life or death of a 21-year-old terrorist. and judy clarke the defense lawyer, did a magnificent job in terms of making sure that jury did not loathe the defense. >> congressman, to the point mike is making about death penalty and the weight that is on this jury's shoulders, this is not law in massachusetts. it is being considered in this case because of a federal permission. talk to me a little bit about
how you think bostonians are grappling with the idea of the death penalty being carried out in their state or imposed in their state? >> i want to make one point first because it is our responsibility to bring tough issues to the fore. a lot of people in america have become very critical of law enforcement, enforcement, of excessive cameras. if not for the cameras, this crime would not have been solved. i think people need to consider there's the balance here between the legitimate needs of law enforcement and safety and privacy. this is a good argument for the cameras, although i know people get nervous about them. as to the death penalty, we're massachusetts. we're part of the country. i personally have never voted for the death penalty. i agree about the death penalty as a general public policy
because you can never be certain. that does not give me the slightest sympathy for someone like tsarnaev. >> would you support it in this case? >> no because i am against it in general, but it is based on my view that you cannot in a civilized society go case by case. you have to have a general rule and the test to believe in that rule is something as awful as this but i do say there's sometimes sympathy -- for the dead man walking. in order to be opposed to the policy without in the slightest having sympathy from the individual. as far as bostonians are concerned, there's a certain sophistication here. it is true even if a state doesn't like federal policy we are one country. this is a >> to the congressman's point,
the closed circuit television cameras were very pivotal in bringing these guys to trial. we have tried a terrorist on domestic soil. >> there's also the cell phone pinging. the car they took from the kidnapped victim and the victim escaped. his cell phone was in the car and they tracked that car all the way to watertown, massachusetts, about 12 miles from where the kidnapping occurred with the guy with the car and they knew exactly who was in the car and where it was going. there's another factor that barney just alluded to. the verdict of the jury today, again, is not surprising. again the capital punishment phase is going to be really interesting is because the defense, back to judy clarke who did a terrific job, there's nothing more cruel, if you can
conceive of it at at the age of 21 even though he is a terrorist, but going forward if he is sentenced to mandatory life in prison with no parole at the super max in florence colorado. that's a 21-year-old individual sentenced to 23 hours a day in a single solitaire cell. no human encounters. one hour outside. that's wow. >> it is a serious sentence. life without parole is seen as an afterthought when you talk about the death penalty. thank you for your time and thoughts. coming up will video of walter scott's killing in south carolina end the debate over
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with police body cameras have exposed unprecedented instances of police violence against unarmed citizens. >> you have seen the video of a university of virginia student struggling while being arrested on the street. >> i go to uva. >> to alabama where the fbi is investigating an incident involving an officer and a grandfather visiting from india that left the 57-year-old partially paralyzed. >> the 23-year-old said he raised his hands and willingly surrendered to the police when he says the police officer kneed and punched him. >> jason fleeing down a flight of stairs before long beach police officers shoot and kill him. >> get out of the car. get out of the car.
get on the ground. get on the ground! >> i just got my license. >> this weekend city and state leaders watched this lapel video of a man being taken down with a taser, bean bags, pellets. >> a white police officer in south carolina now faces murder charges for shooting and killing an unarmed african-american man. >> when i saw it, i fell to my feet and my heart was broken. i said oh no. it can't be. when i saw it i just couldn't take it anymore. >> how did that shocking cell phone video of walter scott's killing make it into the public eye? i'll talk with the reporter next.
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of north charleston police officer michael slager shooting and killing resident michael scott, south carolina was one of 15 states considering a bill requiring police to wear body cameras while on duty. joining me now is public advocate for new york city la letitia james and michael schmidt. is this video a line in the sand? are we going to look back and say remember when police didn't wear body cameras? >> they provide transparency and accountable for police officers when they engage in any sort of objective record of police/civilian encounters. we would not be in this position but for the camera that was worn by this gentlemen, but it is critically important that police officers capture these street encounters throughout this nation. i think it would go a long way improving police and community
relations and go a long way in preventing anything like this from happening. >> it is worth noting this is not footage today that we're seeing. walter scott's footage is from a bystander. who saw something happening and held down the record button. how did this come to fruition? >> what happened was the family was given the video on monday and they immediately said we need to get this to the authorities in south carolina. there's a special law enforcement division that's investigating and they immediately gave it to them. they immediately gave them the copy and then within less than 24 hours you see charges. i have never seen something charged as quickly as this in one of these cases. think about ferguson. it was a long grand jury process that went on for a very long time. right before we were even able to post the video online they had announced that they had
charged the officer and it really deescalated it locally. it's kind of an interesting thing here because the drama of what's going to happen to the officer is over. >> the family presumably knows who shot the provide, right? >> yes. >> did you have to verify the authenticity of this at some point? >> it was a difficult thing for us. so we got this video. it looks really interesting. it's very compelling but how do you know that it's real. we did the best that we could. i'm not going to get into everything but we sent someone to the scene. we sent them the video. someone that worked for us and we said hey, look. take a look around. does this look like what's on the video? how does this matchup? we did that and that longalong with other things we did gave us a certain level of confidence. >> to that degree of the public coming in and being aware of what's going on -- it is a
heartening thing that somebody took it upon themselves to shoot the video, but it also tells you something about society. somebody starts shooting thinking something is going to go wrong. >> we see more and more of this particularly in the city of new york where more individuals are picking up the cameras and following the police. when they feel there is police injustice or wrongdoing they automatically tape. what this does, this unfortunate incident -- and my heart goes out to the family -- it underscores the importance of police reforms. we have seen this over and over again. michael brown, akai gurley eric garner. what we need to do is get back
to community policing not only in the city of new york but across this nation to provide some sort of trust and confidence in the police force. >> i looked at my new york"new york times" today, michael. >> most of these cases you only have the officer. >> just one narrative. >> the first narrative that came out from the police were based on what the officer said and they were providing his account of what happened. if you were reading it these initial reports out of north charleston okay. it's a little curious. it doesn't get national attention. one of the witnesses was dead. >> in fairness there was the family of walter scott who said
this doesn't sound right. this isn't a guy who was violent. why aren't we listening enough to the families of the victims? >> we give the benefit of doubt to law enforcement all across this nation. this narrative we have heard over and over again where police officers tend to say individuals, they were in fear for their life and that's why they decided to use lethal force. it is a national discussion about officers who rely on lethal uses of force as opposed to other force. i do know in north charleston that implemented body camera. what we need to do is have a national discussion about nonlethal uses of force. >> thank you guys both for your time. that is all for us today. "the ed show" is coming up next.
good evening, americans, and welcome to "the ed show" live from new york. let's get to work. tonight, rand's hillary plan. >> there's a lot of stuff there that is, i think, is going to shake the confidence of americans. >> plus big money and mayor 1% wins in chicago. >> mayor emmanuel must govern and not ruled. >> and the latest on the officer involved shooting in south carolina. >> what if there was no witness to come forward? >> thank you, lord. >> good to have you with us tonight, folks. thanks for watching. did you hear that comment from rand paul? there just a lot of stuff there. he's out with his campaign strategy. he plans to