The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/04/14
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Chris, it`s been great having you out
there. Amazing reporting, man. Well done. Thank you.
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: Thanks. Thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour as well.
You`ve been seeing these shots as Chris has been out there live in the
streets. We`ve got some further images here.
This is Union Square in downtown Manhattan tonight from just moments
ago. That`s the larger image on the left side of your screen there. You
see a line of protesters there basically in a tense standoff with police
officers on motorcycles. Those protesters then marched through the city,
marching down Broadway, chanting “Hands up, don`t shoot.”
We`ve also got shots from Foley Square. Foley Square is further
downtown, further south in downtown Manhattan. It`s where city hall and
the big judicial buildings and New York police headquarters are located.
There are reportedly something like 5,000 people converging in and
around Foley Square tonight in New York City as we speak. These are images
coming out of Washington, D.C. tonight. Loud and I`ve got to say
relatively cheerful-looking protests in Washington tonight.
We`ve also got some footage out of Chicago, Illinois, tonight.
Hundreds of protesters in downtown Chicago tonight. They`ve been blocking
off some arteries in downtown Chicago.
We`ve also got footage today from Cleveland, Ohio. This is from
earlier today. You can tell because it`s daylight. This is a group of
protesters in Public Square in Cleveland, sitting down in the middle of the
street today blocking traffic there.
Earlier today the attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder,
was in Cleveland to make a pretty big announcement about policing.
And the reason that Eric Holder was in Cleveland today started with
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TV ANCHOR: It is the video that investigators did not want you to
see. Tonight, Channel 3 News has obtained recordings of that November
police chase that ended with the shooting deaths of two unarmed suspects.
Channel 3`s Dave Summers got a copy of the tape.
And, Dave, this video is just unbelievable.
DAVE SUMMERS, REPORTER: Chris, many in the Cleveland community were
astonished at the numbers in this pursuit. Eleven officers firing 137
bullets into the suspect`s car. The city did not release the actual
numbers of officers and police cars involved in the chase.
The tape shows us, though. It is a scene like something out of a
The video is recorded by five rapid transit authority cameras mounted
above bus stops. They`re at 80 Road, Superior, Bellmore, Windemer (ph),
and East 118th Streets.
Suspects passenger Melissa Williams and driver Timothy Russell led the
Moments from now both would be shot more than 20 times each in the
head and chest by 11 officers.
The pursuing police were undercover vice detectives and street
patrols. Sometimes, the pursuit went at a high rate of speed beyond the
posted limit. But it`s not clear from the tapes exactly how fast. It
wound through narrow neighborhood streets, weaving through sometimes dense
At each camera, the chase is recorded. Not a dozen, not two dozen,
but 51 police cars can be counted in this pursuit.
Police protocol is two cars, unless circumstances warrant more.
Before this video, critics were already calling this a frenzy of out-
of-control cops. These pictures will no doubt be used to make their point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That remarkable police chase happened in downtown Cleveland
almost exactly two years ago. You saw from the time stamp there, it was in
late 2012 is when that happened. November 29th, 2012 is the date of the
The car that was being chased definitely was speeding. Nobody knows
why that car was speeding. But neither of the two people in that car were
armed. Nor were they suspected of anything other than speeding.
But nevertheless – they said in that news coverage there was 51 cars.
No, it turns out it was 62 Cleveland police vehicles got involved in that
chase, 62 police vehicles chasing one car, 62 cars. It lasted almost half
an hour. They went at speeds over 100 miles per hour through downtown
Cleveland. When they finally stopped that car that they were chasing,
again, neither of the people in the car were armed. But when they finally
stopped that car, Cleveland police officers fired 137 shots into that
vehicle – 13 different Cleveland police officers fired their guns into
And yes, the two people in that car were killed. Look at the bullet
markers there – 69, 70, 72; 137 shots into the car.
Initially, as you heard from that local news coverage, the police did
what they could to try to keep this under wraps essentially, to try to keep
specifically the video of the chase out of the public domain, but something
like this, you can`t really keep it under wraps and it became a really big
deal in Cleveland really fast for all the obvious reasons.
Less than a week after the shooting, again, 137 shots fired at that
car; 62 police vehicles involved in the chase. Less than a week after that
case and those two people killed by Cleveland police, the city held a
public meeting on it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know you`re saying it`s a delicate situation
and you have to do this and you have to do that. It`s delicate for us too
because our family members were murdered.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re saying it`s ruled a homicide. Will these
charges be brought up on charges, on murder charges?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s the question right there. Why won`t they
be brought up on murder charges?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The officers in that case were not brought up on murder
charges. The medical examiner did rule both of the deaths in the car chase
as a homicide. Five officers were eventually brought up on misdemeanor
charges. Only one officer was brought up on a more serious charge of
voluntary manslaughter. And he was just one of the 13 officers who fired
bullets into that car after that car chase.
But of the 13, the one officer charged with voluntary manslaughter, he
was the only one who reportedly jumped up onto the hood of the car, stood
on the car, stood on the car`s hood, and then fired down through the
windshield into those two unarmed people in the vehicle. So, he was
charged with voluntary manslaughter. He`s pled not guilty. Those charges
After that incident and after the “Cleveland Plain Dealer” published
an expose about a group of six police officers that were accused of
brutalizing 39 different people over a period of two years, and after
another shooting incident in which a Cleveland police sergeant shot at a
man twice who was actually the victim of a crime, a man who was fleeing
from a hostage situation, this guy had escaped a crime and was running
away, a police sergeant shot that man twice even though the man was naked
except for his boxer shorts.
After this litany culminating in a 100-mile-an-hour, 62 police
vehicles, 137 shots fired police car chase, after all of this stuff going
on in Cleveland, finally the city of Cleveland realized that it had a
problem, and the mayor asked the Department of Justice to please come in
and investigate his own police department in the city of Cleveland and what
the heck appears to be wrong with it.
That investigation by the federal Department of Justice was begun last
year. It concluded today, when the city and Attorney General Eric Holder
both signed on to an agreement that will put a special monitor in place to
try to improve that big but apparently pretty terrible police force in
And maybe that will help. One local police departments are terrible
or they do terrible things, often the best source of hope for trying to fix
them is that the federal government might come in to try to make things
But it is worth noting that even as the federal government swoops in
to try to save Cleveland from their terrible police officers right now the
federal government is not doing this for the first time. The federal
government swooped in to try to save Cleveland from its bad police force a
decade ago as well. This is the second major Department of Justice
intervention in the Cleveland police force in a decade. Apparently, the
first one didn`t take. So, they`re trying it again.
And since this more recent intervention started, Cleveland has also
seen the death of Tamir Rice. Last week, after the Michael Brown grand
jury verdict in Ferguson, Missouri, Cleveland was one of the places that
marched to protest the death of Michael Brown like so many cities around
But Cleveland also marched to protest the death of 12-year-old Tamir
Rice, who was killed by Cleveland police while he was playing with a
realistic-looking BB gun in a Cleveland park. He was at the park alone.
He was 12 years old.
The police later released this videotape showing the encounter in
which they killed this boy. The entire interaction, you`ll see, between
this 12-year-old boy and the police officers who killed him, the entire
interaction lasted less than three seconds before the boy was dead. The
police officers pull up, the boy falls over, he`s dead.
Here`s what we`ve learned in the last 24 hours about the two officers
involved in the shooting of that 12-year-old kid. Again, think Cleveland
Police Department, right?
“Cleveland Plain Dealer” reports today that one of the two officers
was the subject of a police brutality complaint that earlier this year
resulted in the city of Cleveland paying out a $100,000 settlement to the
local resident who filed the complaint.
Now, the details of this incident are a little bit crazy but listen to
this. This is according to the “Plain Dealer`s” account. On August 7th,
2010, Tamela Eaton returned to her home in Cleveland to find a car parked
in front of her driveway on Clifton Boulevard. She called Cleveland police
to have a tow truck sent and then she got ready for bed.
Unbeknownst to her, Cleveland police had already been sent to her
neighborhood to find a suspect in a totally unrelated crime. The officers
responding to that call had found a man and a woman walking down the street
in that neighborhood and decided to arrest the man despite his companion
loudly protesting that they should not.
At that point, the original woman, the woman who had called the tow
truck about the car in her driveway and then had gone to bed, she heard
this commotion outside her house, she went outside, and she believed the
officers were there responding to her complaint about the car blocking her
driveway. That woman thought the police officers were arresting this guy
on the sidewalk because she`d called the police about somebody blocking her
driveway. She did not want this man arrested for her complaint about her
That woman, the original woman, then argued with the police officers
about this arrest. According to the lawsuit later filed, the officer then
rushed the woman, placed her in a chokehold, tackled her to the ground,
twisted her wrists, and began hitting her body. The officer`s partner then
rushed over and proceed to punch Tamela Eaton in the face multiple times.
This is a woman who had called the police for help getting a tow truck
because her driveway was blocked. And the helpful Cleveland police force
responded as such.
The city of Cleveland paid $100,000 to that woman to try to make that
lawsuit go away. They made that payment earlier this year, and then on
November 22nd this year, that same officer, the one who rushed her, right
and started punching her, that same officer for whom Cleveland just paid
out $100,000 – that same officer was driving the patrol car when he and
his partner rolled up on 12-year-old Tamir Rice in that park and less than
three seconds later, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was dead.
You want to know about the other officer in that patrol car, the one
who actually fired the shots?
In the media reports about Tamir Rice being killed, that officer`s
routinely been described as a rookie, but he was only a rookie on the
Cleveland police force. He previously had worked for another police force,
a police force in the suburban town of independence, Ohio. Well, yesterday
while Tamir Rice`s family was burying him, the city of Independence, Ohio
released the personnel file for that officer whom they used to employ who
went on to become the Cleveland police officer who killed this 12-year-old
Quoting from that personnel file, listen to this, “Due to his
dangerous loss of composure during live range training and his inability to
manage his personal stress, I do not believe the patrolman shows the
maturity needed to work in our employment. The pattern developing within
our short time frame with the patrolman is that he often feels when he is
told to do something, those instructions are optional. In law enforcement,
there are times when instructions need to be followed to the letter and I`m
under the impression the patrolman under certain circumstances will not
react in the way instructed. I am recommending he be released from the
employment of the city of Independence. I do not believe time nor training
will be able to change or correct these deficiencies.”
So, he was fired from a comparatively small town police department for
immaturity, for not being able to manage personal stress, for losing his
composure around firearms, for not being able to follow basic instructions,
deficiencies so bad that his previous employer, this small town department,
thought that neither training nor allowing the guy to grow up would ever
fix those things. He was inherently unsuited for police work, and so they
let him go.
Those are the circumstances under which he left his last job. And
then the city of Cleveland snapped him up and put him on patrol. And they
snapped him up in part because there apparently has been no policy at the
Cleveland police department that when they hire a new cop they check the
personnel file from that person`s previous job. They`ve never had a policy
of doing that.
That`s one of the new policies they`re going to look into changing now
that the federal government is not exactly taking over but is taking over
the Cleveland Police Department because they`re so terrible. But in the
meantime, that is the cop who killed the 12-year-old boy.
And this was Cleveland today. And this is New York tonight. And this
is Washington, D.C. tonight.
People in D.C. yelling tonight, “If I can`t breathe, you can`t
This is Chicago tonight.
And the protests tonight are about the death of Eric Garner in New
York and the hope for justice in his case is that the federal government
might step in where the local authorities would not. Maybe the feds will.
And maybe that will help.
But as long as that is the solution, that`s the only thing to hope
for. As long as that is the only solution, that the feds will somehow
swoop in and fix everything, that is never going to be enough. That cannot
be all that happens. Ask the family of Tamir Rice.
Joining us now is NBC News correspondent Anne Thompson, who I believe
is live right now heading east on 14th Street in downtown New York City.
Anne, thanks for being with us. What`s going on where you are?
ANNE THOMPSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Rachel, I am walking east on
14th Street with a couple of hundred protesters.
I have to tell you that tonight, the crowds are more organized, but
they`re lacking the people who just felt that punch in the gut yesterday
when the grand jury did not return in an indictment in the death of Eric
Garner. These protesters are far more organized. They`re a smaller group.
We walked from Soho to Union Station with a group anti-racist – a
coalition of anti-racist groups.
I asked them, I said what do you want? What is the point of this?
They said they want accountability from the NYPD, from the prosecutor
over in Staten Island. And they said they`re going to be out here every
night marching until they get an indictment in the death of Eric Garner.
There is just as much anger out here tonight, just as much passion,
but it`s not that sort of wide variety of people that we saw last night in
midtown Manhattan – Rachel.
MADDOW: NBC News correspondent Anne Thompson out live right now on
14th Street in downtown Manhattan. Anne, we`ll be checking back in with
I want to bring now to the conversation, Connie Schultz, joining us
from Cleveland tonight. Connie`s a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated
Connie, it`s really nice to see you again. Thanks for being here.
CONNIE SCHULTZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Thanks for asking me, Rachel.
MADDOW: Connie, while I`m talking to you, we`ve got you in the main
part of the screen and then we`ve got a split screen showing some of these
protests going on around the country. Obviously, New York is really big
right now because this is where the Eric Garner case – but Cleveland has
seen a lot of protests and a lot of upset.
I`m wondering how you think this – how you think Cleveland is going
to move on, right? Given the Tamir Rice case, given its interest like
every other city in the country, in the Ferguson case, in the Eric Garner
case – what do you think is going to happen in Cleveland now that the
federal government has come in to take over your police force?
SCHULTZ: Well, I agree with you it`s not going to be enough. And my
concern right now is that we have – we in Cleveland, even though the
Department of Justice report did not talk about race at all, we are talking
about race a lot right now, and particularly with the death of Tamir Rice.
And we have got to as a community see this as our problem, not just a
black community`s problem. This is not just black history. This is our
And I went to Tamir Rice`s funeral, I guess it was just yesterday.
There`s so much going on right now. And I wrote a column about it because
I was struck in part that there were so few white citizens who showed up.
And we`ve had quite a vigorous discussion on my public Facebook about that,
some really subjected to my saying that.
But I have to tell you, that I think until we act as if this is
everyone`s problem and not just in the poorer communities, not just in
communities where black boys who are playing with an air pellet gun can be
gunned down by a police officer who had – as I said in my column, this boy
should never have died and he was killed by a man who should never have
been on the Cleveland police force.
This is everybody`s problem, and we`ve got to start acting like it`s
MADDOW: In terms of the hope for moving forward and literally hope
being the operative word here. I feel like a lot of people are talking
particularly around the Eric Garner case and around the Michael Brown case
about feeling hopeless, about feeling like everything is futile, that
protest is essentially a way to exert feelings and exude feelings and let
people see what your feelings are but it`s not a way to get anything done.
I feel – I hear and I`ve been interviewing people and getting a lot of
sense of hopelessness and futility.
I mean, the call for the federal government to get involved is usually
the one constructive thing that people can come up with when they can`t
come up with anything else.
Is there hope in Cleveland that that will make a constructive
SCHULTZ: I think, hmm, it may be a little too early to call it hope,
but I will say this – when the protests happened last week in Cleveland
there was a lot of complaining that traffic was held up for an hour. And
the first thing I pointed out was I hope you`re never downtown when a
sporting event is going on because you can sit there easily for an hour.
And some objected because they talked about being inconvenienced. I
think it`s time to inconvenience people a lot because you know what we
talked about? We talked about why they were holding up traffic. And
that`s a good start.
One of the lines that really struck me – I`m about 40 pages into this
60-page document now, and early, it says that the trust between the police
department in Cleveland and the neighborhoods that they are hired to
protect is broken, the trust is broken.
I think they`re going to have to clean house. I believe in New
Orleans, they had a lot of retirements after they were investigated. We
have got to see physical evidence, real evidence of change coming about and
I do think it has to happen fairly quickly.
We`ve got to see motion. We`ve got to see movement. I can`t say
anybody`s feeling particularly hopeful at the moment. They are feeling
That police chase, you know what`s interesting about that police chase
as awful as it was you that showed, the report says independent of that
chase, there are all these problems with the Cleveland police department
and one of the big problems is they don`t deescalate situations. And I`m
going to be writing a piece for “Politico” that`s going up tomorrow, and
I`m looking at some of the situations they cited that sound very similar to
Tamir Rice in terms of not – they did not merit the violent response that
they produce in such a short period of time. Two seconds.
SCHULTZ: It`s so hard to imagine anybody yelling three times “put
your gun down” and have this kid even understanding what he`s screaming at
MADDOW: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-winning nationally syndicated
columnist – Connie, it`s great you have to here. Thank you very much for
being with us.
SCHULTZ: Thanks for paying attention to this. I appreciate it.
MADDOW: I`ve got to say what Connie`s saying there about escalation,
it sounds like a technical issue, right? You should be trained on how to
deescalate a situation. But time and time and time again, you see, you
know, this kid who may or may not have this cigarillos in his hand, a
middle-aged man who may or may not have been selling loose cigarettes on
the street, a kid who may or may not have been threatening nobody around
him because there`s nobody else around him other than police when the
police officers approach him. He`s a 12-year-old kid playing with a toy
gun. In all of these circumstances that end up with somebody dead very
fast, technical police training is supposed to result in people: (a), not
overreacting to circumstances to make them more dangerous than they`re
supposed to be, but also making sure that people walk away from
circumstances in which that is possible. In which that`s possible by any
If your first reaction to seeing somebody defy you or not want to be
arrested is that you need to put them in a chokehold, you`re probably not
suited to be a police officer. And if you`re as a police department unable
to discern that in your staff, you`re not being well-run as a police
department and you need reform.
It`s about governance ultimately in terms of how to fix this stuff.
How we got to this problem, there`s a lot of reasons. But it`s about
governance in terms of how you fix it.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: We`re keeping track of the protests building across the
country tonight, including in New York City. This is a shot of New York
City right now. We`re told that about 5,000 people or so are converged
around Foley Square in protest, but there are definitely other roving
protests in other parts of New York City as well.
We talked to Anne Thompson a moment ago. She`s walking down 14th
This is also a shot from Chicago. There`s been big protests in
Chicago tonight. Hundreds of protesters you see marching just among
civilian traffic there in downtown Chicago.
There`s been big protests tonight in Washington, D.C., Chicago, New
York, and in a few other cities. We`re basically keeping an eye wherever
we can get a live shot in terms of where people are. We`re trying to stay
up on that.
One of our producers, Kate Osborn, has been out in the streets today
sort of coming back and forth from our offices, walking with protesters and
observing their tactics.
Kate, where are you now and what are you seeing?
KATE OSBORN, TRMS PRODUCER (via telephone): Hi, Rachel. I am about
to be in (INAUDIBLE) sorry, the Times Square area of New York. The police
have pushed the protesters out of the streets pretty successfully and
they`re now walking on the sidewalk. They are – what I`ve know is between
tonight and last night, in general, the police have been a little less
tolerant about the protesters taking over entire city blocks. So, I don`t
know if you can see what I`m filming currently.
MADDOW: I can, yes.
OSBORN: OK. Well, the police have blocked off the entire road in
Times Square and are forcing everyone to get back on the sidewalk and have
made arrests for those who are not getting on the sidewalk.
MADDOW: Kate, in terms of the tone between the police and the
protesters, who are protesters and police interacting with one another?
You say the police are being a little less tolerant. Is that making for
OSBORN: It doesn`t make sense. There is a lot of – right now,
they`re making arrests. (INAUDIBLE) but generally, there`s just a lot of
MADDOW: Kate Osborn reporting live for us right now from Times Square
in New York City.
Again, what she was saying there in terms of police tactics is that
they`re being less tolerant tonight about protesters filling city blocks
and stopping traffic that way, keeping people pushed back onto the
sidewalk. We saw them making some arrests right there.
We`ll be checking in periodically as we can get live shots throughout
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Watch this and watch for the unexpected appearance a few
seconds into this newscast of somebody who was not very famous at the time
but who`s definitely very famous now. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARA JAMES, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Now to the war on crime and complaints
about excessive force by police. Complaints which have grown so frequent
that President Clinton has decided to act.
Details from NBC`s John Palmer.
JOHN PALMER, NBC NEWS: President Clinton at home in Arkansas today
expressed concern that recent charges of police misconduct around the
country could undermine the fight against crime. He used his weekly radio
address to announce a plan to restore trust between police officers and the
communities they serve.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, THEN-U.S. PRESIDENT: I have been deeply disturbed
by recent allegations of serious police misconduct and continued reports of
racial profiling that have shaken some communities` faith in the police who
are there to protect them.
PALMER: Mr. Clinton`s plan calls for spending $40 million for ethics
and integrity education, another $2 million to recruit more minority police
officers, and $5 million to set up citizen police academies to inform
neighborhood residents about police procedures.
The Clinton administration disputes those who say police matters are
purely a local responsibility.
ERIC HOLDER, THEN-DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: We believe that the
federal government can play a vital role in making sure that local
enforcement can be as good as it possibly can be. The whole notion of
putting 100,000 police officers on the street is something that this
federal government has tried to – has tried to foster.
PALMER: There have been a number of high-profile cases involving
charges of police misconduct. In Los Angeles, the beating of Rodney King
by four white police officers captured on videotape. In Pittsburgh, the
case of Jonny Gammage, a black businessman who died of suffocation after
being stopped by five white suburban police officers.
In New York City, the case of Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant who
says he was beaten and brutalized by police a year and a half ago. More
recently in New York, the case of Amadou Diallo, an immigrant from Guinea
killed while unarmed in a hail of 41 bullets fired by police.
Civil rights protesters who represent some of Mr. Clinton`s most loyal
supporters have demanded for months Washington take action to fight police
misconduct and brutality, and the White House said today they`re ready to
take additional steps if the situation does not improve soon.
John Palmer, NBC News, at the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The situation did not improve soon. That was 15 years ago,
1999, when the man who is now attorney general was then deputy attorney
general. And he at the same time was President Clinton`s point man on
trying to improve trust between communities of color and the police
departments that are supposed to protect and serve them.
It`s exactly what Eric Holder is still trying to do now, 15 years
later, as attorney general in the face of a continuing tide of high-profile
police killings, particularly of black men.
The Abner Louima case is one of the ace case that`s was name checked
in the NBC News in that report from the Clinton years, from 15 years ago.
Legendary New York journalist Mike McAlary broke that story in 1997 about
He was a young man. He was an immigrant from Haiti who`s arrested by
police officers in Brooklyn. He was beaten in their patrol car with night
sticks and police radios. Then he was taken to a police station house in
Brooklyn where officers violently raped him with a broken-off broom handle.
He needed three rounds of surgery and two months of hospitalization to
recover from his injuries. He was so grievously injured that the police
did realize they had to take him to a nearby hospital. But they lied to
the hospital about how it was that he became so hurt. A nurse who was
involved in his care at the hospital was so horrified by the extent and the
nature of his injuries, and the police clearly lying about how he got those
injuries, that she called the Internal Affairs Bureau at the NYPD to report
what had happened.
The Internal Affairs Bureau at the NYPD, the Internal Affairs Bureau
officer who took that call, didn`t even write down that the call had come
The case only broke open because somebody anonymously tipped off that
journalist, Mike McAlary, and he learned the story from Abner Louima
himself in his hospital bed.
Mike McAlary wrote in his first story about it, “This is a story to
stop the city.” And “The Daily News” put it on the front page and those
torture cops as “The Daily News” called them, you know what? They did end
up going to prison. They went to federal prison, because they prosecuted
those officers out of the U.S. attorney`s office in New York.
One of the prosecutors on that trial team was Loretta Lynch, who went
on to be the U.S. attorney for the eastern district of New York, which is
why she would also prosecute the Eric Garner case if federal charges are
brought against the cops in that case.
But Loretta Lynch may not have time to do that, even if the case does
go forward on a federal of level, because Loretta Lynch is also now waiting
for her confirmation hearings to be the next attorney general of the United
States, succeeding Eric Holder.
And you know, on the one hand it is heartening that the people taking
on these problems at the highest level in our country have a lot of
experience in dealing with police brutality and fighting the impunity of
police brutality against black men in particular. On the other hand, it is
exhausting and a little disheartening to think that they are still fighting
the exact same battles because the exact same battles still need to be
Joining us now is Zachary W. Carter. He`s the current corporation
counsel of New York City and he`s the former United States attorney for the
eastern district of New York. He chose Loretta Lynch to be on that trial
team that brought federal charges in the Abner Louima case.
Mr. Carter, I really appreciate your time this evening.
ZACHARY W. CARTER, CHIEF LEGAL OFFICER OF NYC: Sure.
MADDOW: That was a long time ago. Obviously, police brutality has
not gone away. Are we getting any better at how to handle it and how to
make sure that people don`t get away with it?
CARTER: In the earlier segment, you talked about affairs of
governance and the need for de-escalation. And you can see tonight and you
can see last night, in the way that NYPD is handling these demonstrations
of people who are justifiably concerned and frustrated over what they
perceive as a failure of the criminal justice system based on what they
believe, they know is a result of the videotape and the death of Eric
Garner. And when you look at how the police are handling those
demonstrations, committing them to exercise their First Amendment right to
protest, doing it in a way that is professional and restrained, that`s what
we ask of our police officers.
And that`s not an accident. That comes from leadership. It comes
from a mayor. It comes from a police commissioner specifically selected by
that mayor because of his philosophy of policing, which is to engage
constructively with our community and not to have unnecessary
confrontations and conflict.
MADDOW: In terms of accountability for the police force, obviously
people want police to handle themselves properly in demonstration settings.
But there`s also – I mean, what`s fresh in everybody`s mind right now
even as we`re watching these protests, is the tape of how we saw Eric
Garner was handled, even before the point where he was choked to death and
killed on that street. The way those numbers – those numbers outnumbered
him greatly, the way they confronted him and the crime for which we know
they suspected him while they confronted him. The way they behaved toward
him. The officer`s explanation that he was holding him around the neck in
a way he says he was taught at the police academy.
I mean, if there isn`t going to be a criminal charge at the local
level, why should anybody believe that there is going to be accountability
in New York at the New York police department for that kind of behavior
that resulted in Eric Garner`s death in the first place?
CARTER: Well, first of all, the response from the police commissioner
was immediate and it was unequivocal. He said that he believed from his
viewing of the tape that the hold that was administered to Eric Garner was
a prohibited chokehold. All right? He was – he said that in a way that
So, there`s no question that there will be a fair and thoughtful
review of the conduct of the officers who were involved in the
But most importantly, because at least in my view and I think in the
view of the mayor and the police commissioner, what`s most important is
making sure an incident like that doesn`t happen again.
And when you think about the fact that this confrontation was set up
over the enforcement of a fairly low-level offense, the question becomes is
that the kind of offense for which we want people arrested or served with a
summons? Every single arrest requires at the very least handcuffing. That
means that a police officer is going to have to lay hands on someone, and
sometimes people are just not in the mood. It doesn`t mean that people
should resist, and it doesn`t mean that people shouldn`t submit to the
authority of the police when they`re trying to do their job.
MADDOW: But it is a use of force.
CARTER: But it is a use of force and there`s always the potential for
escalation. So, if we take, as we have both in the area of enforcement of
low-level marijuana offenses and a variety of other offenses, if we take
broad categories of offenses representing thousands of potential arrests
off the board, as potential dangerously escalating conflicts. Then we`ve
already gone a long way toward reducing the possibility of another Eric
MADDOW: Zachary W. Carter, current corporation counsel of New York
City. A long history of law enforcement in this city. Thank you for being
CARTER: Thank you.
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
All right. We`ve got a lot more still to come including live check-
ins with what`s going on right now in the streets of New York City, streets
of Washington, D.C., the streets of Chicago and a few other major cities
tonight as protests continue in response to the Eric Garner decision by the
grand jury in Staten Island.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Just want to give you a window into some of the live feeds
that we`ve got right now. This is a shot right now from Washington, D.C.
You see the marquee there. It`s the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill where
protesters have been roving in downtown D.C. tonight, have coalesced right
now outside that hotel. It`s the “Black lives matter” sign there on the
left side of your screen.
I think we`ve also got a shot now from an ongoing protest in Chicago,
in downtown Chicago here. I`m sorry. This is a different part of New
The New York protests have been, as they have in previous nights, have
been snaking through different parts of Manhattan. So, this is one that`s
been on the move today. You see a somewhat smaller group of people with
This is Chicago. This is that Chicago shot. We`re told this is quite
near the lake, near lakeshore drive in Chicago. Again, a moving protest.
These are not protests that are not convening in one static location and
staying there all night. People are moving from target to target.
We`re keeping an eye on live feeds from all over the country, these
protests over the death of Eric Garner and the decision not to indict
anybody in his killing as these protests continue.
Stay with us throughout the night.
MADDOW: November 9th, 2004, police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, stopped a
21-year-old man named Michael Bell on suspicion of drunk driving. Part of
that encounter was captured on the dash cam footage that you see here on
the left side of your screen.
Michael Bell ended up over the hood of the car with an officer holding
him in a bear hug. At one point, one officer started screaming, “He`s got
my gun. He`s got my gun.” Another officer responded to that by putting a
gun to Michael Bell`s head and pulling the trigger, point blank. Michael
Bell was killed.
DNA and fingerprint testing later found no evidence that Michael Bell
was trying to take that officer`s gun or that he had ever touched it.
The police did their own investigation of that incident. Their
conclusion was that it was a good shoot. Nobody was at fault. The police
cleared themselves entirely within 48 hours. Before the crime lab report
was back, before the autopsy was done, before a witness was interviewed,
they said they looked into themselves and they think they did find.
In response, Michael Bell`s father decided to lobby for change. The
Bell family ultimately reached a settlement with the city of Kenosha for
Michael Bell`s father took the settlement money and he launched a
billboard campaign. The billboard said things like this: when police kill,
should they judge themselves? Good cops, the quiet majority?
After years of lobbying, this past April, Michael Bell Sr. got his law
passed in Wisconsin. Wisconsin now requires by statute that when a person
dies in police custody, the investigation of that death must involve at
least two investigators from outside the police department. And one of the
outsiders must lead the investigation.
When police kill people, it isn`t handled the same way everywhere in
this country. Different place, different states, different cities try
different reforms. They try different things to reduce the conflict
inherent in enforcing the law when the people in charge of law enforcement
are the ones who may have broken it.
In the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri, when the local
prosecutor came in on day one of that grand jury and talked to that grand
jury about what was about to happen as they considered whether or not to
indict a police officer for the Michael Brown killing, we have the
transcript of what the prosecutor said to the grand jury on that first day.
He introduced his two assistant prosecutors who`ll be walking the grand
jury through the case and all the evidence.
He said, “First thing`s first, let me introduce these two ladies, for
the record: Kathy Alizadeh, Sheila Whirley. They`ll be the attorneys
working in the grand jury on this case. Kathy Alizadeh is the prosecutor I
have on call for the month of August for all homicide calls,” he said, “so
she received the call about this shooting within minutes of the time the
county police were notified by the Ferguson police.”
He went on to say, quote, “So she has been working with the police on
this since the very beginning.” She`s been working with the police on the
Michael Brown case since minutes after the killing happened and now, she`s
the one who will be in charge of telling you whether or not to indict a
police officer for that killing. She`s been working with the police from
You see any conflict there?
Prosecutors by their very nature work with police departments and
police officers every day. That`s how they get the perpetrators, right?
That`s how they get the evidence and the testimony that they need to
convict people, to do their work as prosecutors.
Police departments and prosecutors work hand in hand by necessity.
That`s not a bug in the system. That`s the system. There is an inherent
conflict in asking prosecutors to weigh criminal charges against the police
officers whom they work with every single day in every other part of their
Eric Garner`s family in New York says they want a special prosecutor
appointed to oversee police violence cases in cases like his. After
Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the local decision not to indict Officer
Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown, there`s also now a call, a
really interesting call, to take these kinds of prosecutions out of the
hands of local prosecutors and instead put them in the hands of the state
attorney general`s office. It`s a call coming from both Democrats and
Republicans in the state legislature right now.
Do these kinds of reforms have a point? And maybe more to the point,
do they have a chance right now?
Joining us right now is Missouri State Senator Jamilah Nasheed. She
sponsored a bill in the Missouri legislature that would allow the state
attorney general`s office to take over investigations into officer-involved
deaths. Republican and the other house of the legislature has sponsored
Senator Nasheed, thanks very much for being here.
STATE SEN. JAMILAH NASHEED (D), MISSOURI: Rachel, thanks for having
MADDOW: Did I explain that conflict in a way that is copacetic with
how you think about it? Is that sort of your motivation for bringing this
NASHEED: Oh, absolutely. The prosecutors and law enforcements, local
law enforcements, they`re just way too connected. They work each and every
day on cases to bring bad guys to justice.
But when you have a police-involved killing, that`s way too close for
comfort. And a lot of people here in the state of Missouri signed
petitions, not just here in the state of Missouri, but throughout the
country, approximately 117,000 signatures was signed, calling for a special
prosecutor, because the people here, and throughout the country, didn`t
believe that the prosecutor over the Michael Brown case would be impartial.
And so, that`s when I decided to bring forth a piece of legislation that
would do just that, that would call for a special prosecutor when you have
a police involved killing.
MADDOW: I thought it was very interesting to see that in the House,
that there is a Republican legislator who brought up companion legislation
to yours. So, it`s moving in both houses of the legislature, and in both
I was also interested to see in this parallel case in Wisconsin that
there were a lot of police organizations that were in favor of this sort of
change being made, too. It would seem to me like prosecutors and police
might also be interested in taking this conflict off the table. They have
to work together. They can`t like that this has to go through the same
system when there`s a police-involved shooting as well.
Do you anticipate that kind of support?
NASHEED: Well, I`m hearing we`re going to get a lot of pushback from
the prosecutors association here in the state of Missouri, but at the end
of the day, Rachel, it`s the right thing to do. When you want transparency
and you want individuals to believe in the process, then it`s incumbent for
the prosecutors to take a step backward and begin to figure out how we can
make this transparent and impartial. And so, we have the opportunity doing
the grand jury procedures to bring forth a special prosecutor.
The governor had a state of emergency, I don`t know if you remember
that, but he called for a state of emergency. And the state of emergency
allowed for the governor to get rid of the prosecutor and bring in a
special prosecutor and he didn`t do that. And a lot of people felt a sense
of injustice as a result of the governor not taking the stand and bringing
in a special prosecutor to handle this case, because what we saw in the
past in 2000, there was a – thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Missouri State Senator Jamilah Nasheed, I`m sorry that we ran
out against the time constraint. Thank you very much for taking the time.
NASHEED: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So keeping an eye throughout the night on the multiple
protests going on throughout the night tonight, protests in the death of
Eric Garner and a decision by the Staten Island grand jury to not bring
charges in his killings.
In terms of what you`re looking at here – the top two views, those
are both New York City. The bottom left one, that is Washington, D.C.
That looks Union Station there, the big train station in downtown
Washington, D.C. And the bottom right there with all the blue flashing
lights, that`s Chicago.
Again, we`re keeping an eye on these as they come in, both our
correspondents in the field and with live feeds from these protests, people
walking among them. We`ll keep you posted as we stay alive.
Our coverage continues now with “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>