The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 06/11/15

David Corn, Nicholas Confessore, Blake Zeff, LaDoris Cordell, Nina Turner, Paul Prestia, Vince Warren, Alysia Santo

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, thank you Rachel –


MELBER: Good evening to you at home. Jeb Bush was supposed to be the
Republican front runner by now. But according to even some conservative
writers, that is not the least of his campaign`s problems.

And we will also explain what the judge`s decision in that police shooting
of 12-year-old Tamir Rice really means for the case.


LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS: Late developments tonight in the case a lot of
people have been closely watching.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: We are asking for an arrest. That`s what the statute
calls for.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: The police shooting death of Tamir Rice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allegedly by Officer Timothy Lowman, today a Cleveland
judge found probable cause, Lowman should face multiple charges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Including murder.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At the end of the day he is still a kid, he`s still a
kid, 12-year-old kid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, new clues and a fresh scent. The overall search
has extended into neighboring Vermont and around Lake Champlain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now closing in, our murderers David Sweat and Richard

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s been six days since they got out.

JEB BUSH, FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: The U.S. relationship with Europe is
hugely important.


BUSH: The countries that were picked I think are vital.

O`BRIEN: He`s telling Europeans I like you guys because you`re comfortable
having the same family in charge for centuries.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jeb Bush has not even announced he is running yet,
but a “Washington Post” headline says his campaign “run off course before
it even began.”


MELBER: Poland is a long way from Iowa and that may leave Jeb Bush feeling
better tonight. The former governor has not declared that he is running,
but he is testing out his presidential look on that European tour and on
the campaign trail back home.

He is now trailing everyone from Scott Walker to Ben Carson in those
current Iowa polls, and that may be why there would-be front runner is
planning a more aggressive attack.

Bush and his allies are now preparing plans to attack the records and
experience of his GOP competition, especially Senator Marco Rubio and Rand
Paul, plus Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, that according to a new
“Washington Post” report.

When you get down to it, running for president boils down to about four
challenges; media, retail politicking, the campaign management itself and
that whole acting presidential thing showing you can credibly step into the
oval office on day one.

Jeb`s press tour so far has been rocky.


MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS HOST: Knowing what we know now, would you have
authorized the invasion?

BUSH: I would have.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would? How did you blow that?


Jeb for real, considering your last name, how are you not ready for
questions about Iraq?


MELBER: That`s pretty fair and it took four more days for him to get a
final answer ready.


BUSH: I would have not engaged, I would not have gone into Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say with clarity what you – what you believe, and if
you make a mistake, clean it up quicker rather than later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It took him, what, three tries before he finally got it
right. That`s the kind of thing that you can`t afford in a presidential


MELBER: And those are the conservative commentators. Meanwhile, Bush`s
presidential foreign tour has left him looking a little off guard with the
press and juggling his meetings with foreign leaders with questions about
his new campaign shake-up this week.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor, can you say why you replaced your campaign
manager? –

BUSH: It will – tomorrow when you – when we have our press today, the
press today will –

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was something not –


Working properly?

BUSH: No, everything is great.


MELBER: Just on the move there. Now then here is what he told “Nbc`s”
Christianson(ph) at that press availability today.


BUSH: Just to be clear here, we don`t have an organization for a campaign
for president until the candidate announces.

So, if I would discount a little bit of these kind of changes until I look
into a camera and say that I`m a candidate.

So, hopefully that will be coming soon if it`s to come so, but I`m excited
about the team that is working the Right to Rise PAC.


MELBER: So that`s coming soon if it`s coming at all, if you can follow
that. You know, many politicos have asked why are there just so many
Republicans running for president right now, 16 by some counts.

Well, maybe it`s because many Republicans know what Jeb Bush apparently
does not. Leading the PAC in fundraising does not make you the frontrunner
and with Bush stumbling in this race, it`s wide open.

Let`s get right to it now with the “New York Times” Nicholas Confessore,
Blake Zeff who worked on the Obama and Clinton campaigns and he is the new
editor-in-chief for launching this Fall.

And “Mother Jones” David Corn who is also an Msnbc political analyst. Good
evening everybody.


MELBER: David, what is wrong with Jeb Bush`s pseudo-none candidacy at this

CORN: Well, you know, when you have people, those press availabilities
laughing in your face, that`s an issue right there.

You know, I would – a lot of people didn`t – or discounted the fact that
Jeb Bush has not run a campaign in a long time since he was governor in the
early odds in Florida.

And the way the media and campaign life has changed in the last decade, you
have to really be on top of your game.

And I was talking to one Bush loyalist who said, listen, the guy just keeps
blowing it every time he talks about an important issue.

Whether it`s common core, immigration or the war in Iraq, and he just
doesn`t seem to have the touch and raising a lot of money, which he is
doing, maybe not as much as he said.

Is not scaring anybody off these days because all anyone has to do in post
citizens united world is just get their own billionaire, and there are
enough billionaires apparently to go around and even one might join the

So, he hasn`t scared anybody off and he hasn`t performed in a way to
impress anyone. I can only imagine what Barbara Bush is saying to these

MELBER: Yes, well, she – we could put her on that list of conservative
critics if she would speak publicly, I`m assuring Barbara, you`re welcome
to come on THE LAST WORD if you`re watching, I know she`s a regular viewer.

Nick, I want to read to you another conservative Laura Ingraham in “The
Washington Post”, because you don`t have to look very far to find these

She says look, “the Bushs have always underestimated the depth of the
base`s dissatisfaction with their policies and they take the criticism

Jeb has to try to understand the reasons why conservatives have problems
with him, instead of crowing about how principled he is.”

I thought this was interesting because regardless of where you come down
on, is he a good candidate? Would he be good for America?

I think it`s fair to say objectively that, he doesn`t seem in his own mind,
in his own analysis to think he has to earn this from the base.

He seems to want a level of deference that I don`t know that voters are
giving him right now.

NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, NEW YORK TIMES: I think you`re right. Look, it was -
- looking back, the amount of presumption, right, I`m going to come in.

I`m going to steer this party. I`m going to take it by the neck. I`m
going to drag it to where it should be on education, on immigration.

I haven`t been in office for ten years, I sat out the tea party to come in
and say I`m going to do those things without having this organic tie and to
say the mechanism is to raise the most money and take all of the oxygen out
of the room.

Can you imagine the fury and the resentment that must cause in some
precincts of his own party? A lot.

MELBER: Right, and in the period where the Republican Party, whether you
buy it or not, has certainly, Blake, put an emphasis on grassroots
organizing, on anti-Washington, right?

So, he`s got that challenge. I want to play a little bit from the Right to
Rise PAC, a video they made that calls him the undisputed jobs champ and
again, I`m going to guess they`re not spending the money on the videos.

They must be spending it on something else. But this struck me as kind of
his weak, kind of conclusory, kind of just trust us he is good at jobs.
Take a look.



BUSH: One-point-three million net new jobs were created, more than Texas
during those eight years. We have the young and dynamic and aspirational
again for all the young people in this crowd to be able to get a job with
purpose and meaning.


BUSH: It`s got the Jeb Bush super-impose and its jobs which do matter to
people, but it –


MELBER: Doesn`t make much more of an argument.

ZEFF: No, I think, you know, we really haven`t mentioned the big bathroom-
painting-elephant in the room, if you will, which is George W. Bush`s

Which is becoming a, you know, a huge liability –


ZEFF: I think if you were to look at, you know, the problems he`s had, you
know, many – you know, parts of this campaign, whether it`s the Megyn
Kelly question about Iraq or whether it`s someone at an event asking him
about ISIS and invoking the brother.

I think part of the reasons you see him overseas right now – just putting
on my, you know, my former campaign lens is, of course you want to have
your candidate kind of pass that commander-in-chief test, right?

So, you want them to be able to show that they`re well versed in foreign
policy. But in particular, this candidate needs to show that, there is
distance between him and his brother.

That he`s got his own foreign policy around this, and you know, the trip so
far overseas, you know, they went to eastern Europe, Germany, kind of makes
sense because there are not that many places they can go –

MELBER: Sure –

ZEFF: Overseas honestly where the – where the Bush name –


ZEFF: Is so good –

CONFESSORE: You know, the –

ZEFF: With the cold war ending –

CONFESSORE: And his – and remember –


CONFESSORE: Remember when he was in Europe, he said, you may associate me
with one Bush, my brother –

ZEFF: Yes –


CONFESSORE: But there is this other Bush who you used to love, my dad.

ZEFF: Exactly –

CONFESSORE: And please think of me as part of that Bush family. That was
part of a subway –

CORN: That really seems to be –

ZEFF: Yes –

CORN: Making –

CONFESSORE: Your family member – go ahead, David.

CORN: That seems to really be making lemonade out of lemons. You know,
the – but picking up on something else that Nick said earlier, it`s hard
for me to sort of figure out what Jeb Bush is, and I almost said George
Bush is.

What Jeb Bush`s theory of the case is. The Republican base has really
moved very far to the right and it`s, you know, it seems that they are
still venting about Obama and they want somebody who isn`t a bipartisan
social moderate who cares about education policy.

They want somebody who is going to come in there and slap Obama around or
the Democrats, even if Obama is no longer there.

And I don`t think this tea party fever has yet burned out and if you look
at everything that Bush has done to date, it shows that he doesn`t really
seem to believe that or realize that.

And he`s putting charges – his new campaign manager is a guy who`s very
good at sort of –


CORN: Response reaction. So, it`s about incoming, it`s not about what
Bush is saying on the outgoing. So it`s like we`re being attacked, we
don`t know what to do, let`s put in a specialist by reacting.

But still nothing proactive about what he is doing to penetrate and really
capture –

MELBER: Well, David –

CORN: His own party.

MELBER: You`re putting your finger on where this thing is going, which is
that, he, like his brother and perhaps a little bit unlike George Bush
Senior who did fight the so called wimp factor as the magazines put it at
the time, and you`ve written about this, David, Jeb does go tough.

I want to play a little bit of an exchange he had with Tim Russert about an
ad that was widely decried for being misleading that you`ve been writing
about. Let`s play that old clip.


TIMOTHY RUSSERT, LATE JOURNALIST: Why do you continue to air the
commercial which is by your own admission misleading?

BUSH: Well, first of all, the commercial is no longer being aired. It
isn`t because it completed, I would have kept it on for longer, but that`s
– it was on for about a week and that was – that was enough.

I`m not attacking Governor Charles` character, I do believe he has been a
liberal on crime and soft on crime.


MELBER: David, from what you`ve been reporting on, do you expect him to be
really tough on these other candidates as they make this new shift.

CORN: Well, it`s really interesting because “The Washington Post” piece
today – piece today did say they were going to start to attack him on

You know, that was an attack on a Democrat who he accused basically of not
executing a guy who had murdered and then found guilty of murdering a 10-
year-old girl when the governor at the time, the fella he was running
against had nothing to do with the date of the execution.

He just totally made up this argument and then had to acknowledge later
that it was wrong and misleading.

So he seems to have the capacity to go sharp on the attack and it`ll be
very interesting to see how he does that within the Republican primary.

Where Republicans will invoke Ronald Reagan`s tenth – or excuse me,
eleventh commandment; thou shall not attack another Republican.

MELBER: Did you – David –

CORN: We`ll see how that goes –

MELBER: Did you not know how many original commandments there were?


You know, they think it`s just – just wanted to give you a hard time at
the end –

ZEFF: Yes –

MELBER: I always appreciate your analysis, David Corn, Blake Zeff and Nick
Confessore, thank you all for joining us. Coming up –

CORN: Sure, a bit –

MELBER: A judge siding with the family of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, agreeing
that the officers implicated in this video depth that you are seeing there,
that they should face charges.

Now that doesn`t mean the officers will actually face a trial, we`re going
to explain all that with some reporting next up.

And the latest on the manhunt for the escaped fugitives and what we know
about the woman who never showed up with that getaway car.



SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If I`m president of United States
and you`re thinking about joining al Qaeda or ISIL – anybody thinking
about that?

I`m not going to call a judge, I`m going to call a drone and we will kill



MELBER: There you have it. So how would you like to go skeet-shooting with
Lindsey Graham?

Well, if you have a lot of money to give to Republicans who want to run for
president, you can go skeet-shooting with Lindsey Graham personally.

This weekend Mitt Romney is hosting a summit of candidates and big
Republican donors are gathering in Deer Valley, Utah, pretty place.

Now Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio and Scott
Walker, they will all be there along with Ohio Governor John Kasich.

And according to the “New York Times”, donors have all kinds of options for
fun here, this is true.

Flag football with Marco Rubio, horseback riding with Ann Romney, early
morning hikes with the Romney clan and yes, as advertised, the skeet-
shooting with Lindsey Graham.

As we always say around here, the more you know. Alright, up next, what
the judge`s decision in that Tamir Rice case actually means for a potential
trial for the officers implicated. That`s next.


MELBER: We`re trying to break in news tonight in the case of Tamir Rice,
the 12-year-old boy killed by Cleveland police six months ago.

An incident which was caught on video and has drawn many calls for an
independent investigation.

The local sheriff`s department has been conducting its own investigation
and gave findings to a prosecutor just last week, but no charges have been
filed yet there.

Late today, however, a Cleveland judge ruled that there is cause to charge
two officers in Rice`s death. Judge Ronald Adrine captured what many
people have felt watching the footage.

He writes in this new opinion that the video is notorious and hard to
watch. “After viewing it several times, I`m still thunder-struck by how
quickly this event turned deadly.”

The judge found that there is probable cause to charge one officer with
murder and the other with negligent homicide, and noted how quickly the
officers arrived and then killed Rice.

Saying they left virtually no time, “for Rice to react or respond to any
verbal or audible commands between the time the police first arrived and
the time Rice was shot.”

Literally, the judge writes, “the entire encounter is over in an instant.”
Now this judge`s order is unusual. Ohio law allows citizens to petition a
judge directly to address certain crimes.

As a legal matter however, only the prosecutor can actually bring charges.
The prosecutor in this case responded tonight with a statement emphasizing
the role of the grand jury saying, “ultimately, the grand jury decides
whether police officers are charged or not charged.”

Joining us now on this developing story from Ohio State Senator Nina Turner
and LaDoris Cordell, the first black woman appointed to the bench in
Northern California, the independent police auditor now for the city of San

Good evening to both of you.


SEN. NINA TURNER (D), OHIO: Hi, good evening.

MELBER: Nina, I want to talk to you. We`ve spoken about these issues many
times. This is unusual and not legally binding, but what do you make of
what this judge found and what it means for any potential further action in
this case?

TURNER: Well, as you highlighted in your opening, the judge`s ruling and
his remarks based on his ruling really gives voice to the citizens and what
citizens are feeling in the city of Cleveland and all across the country to
– you know, when he talked about how less than two seconds, you know,
young Tamir Rice was gunned down.

And that he never really had a chance – he didn`t have a chance whatsoever
to even give up and how gut wrenching that is.

The fact that he was a 12-year-old boy on a playground, just playing like
any child would play, that he never had a chance. The judge really gave
voice to that Ari.

And again, what the Cleveland eight have done has given voice to the
citizens of the city of Cleveland.

MELBER: Yes, when – and when you say Cleveland eight, you`re referring to
this group of citizens and clergy that took this step of filing this kind
of basic case appeal.


MELBER: And the door is – what I want to ask you is, when you – when you
look at the speed of it and what the judge found, how should that, if at
all, impact the grand jury?

Because I`ll read briefly from a statement from a different perspective,
you`re the attorney for one of the officers saying look, “the order issue
by this municipal court does not and should not impact the investigation
being conducted by the sheriff`s department.

We respect the authority of the prosecutor to review and investigate this

Basically, the idea that this should be a nonfactor.

CORDELL: Well, first of all, the opinion given by the judge in a ten-page
ruling is purely advisory. That`s the law in Ohio.

And it just strikes me how convoluted our criminal justice system has
become. And I`m not just picking on Ohio, there are other states, as well.

And what we tend to forget is that, the criminal justice system is financed
100 percent by taxpayers. It`s our system, it belongs to the people.

Yet, it seems like the people are those who sometimes, often times get
victimized by the system. So here we have a judge, who gave a thoughtful,
written ruling in a short period of time.

And we have the prosecutor for the county in which this killing occurred
saying, you know, this doesn`t impact me at all. I`m just going to send
everything to the grand jury.

I`m just going to conduct my investigation because that`s what I do
whenever there are officer-involved shootings.

So, this judge and the Cleveland eight, you know, I compliment them, the
Cleveland eight for their – using some innovation and trying to get this
case moving.

And it – here we have a prosecutor saying, it doesn`t matter to me, it`s
not going to impact me at all.

MELBER: Yes, and LaDoris, I`m not going to prejudge what happens there.
The grand jury proceedings are secret, the prosecutor can present evidence.

But we can evaluate what the prosecutor is saying in his own words here,
which I think by any objective standards, it`s fair to point out is not the
way most violent crimes, serious crimes are approached.

Prosecutors go in to a grand jury with an agenda and present an aggressive
case to get their indictments, right? So, is this a departure when it comes
to police-involved issues?

CORDELL: Well, Ari first of all, the grand jury is something that the
prosecutor uses at his or her discretion. They don`t usually use grand

This DA, this prosecutor said this is my policy and what I do is that,
whenever there is an officer-involved shooting or killing, I use a grand

The next DA coming in to that county could say I`m not going to use grand
juries at all. They just use it at their discretion. Now, the problem is
the DA gets a pass by doing this.

Because if the DA says on his own, which he should do because he is getting
paid the big bucks to do this.

If the DA says I`m going to file charges against these officers, what he
has to look at are police officers with whom he has to work being very
angry with him and the police unions.

And if he decides not to bring charges, then he has the community in an
uproar. So, what does the DA do?

He passes the bucks, he goes to a grand jury in secret, there is no lawyers
in there except for the prosecutor. That DA can say anything that the
prosecutor wants to oppose in order to get what that prosecutor wants.

And it`s all secret, it`s shrouded in secrecy, it`s just a system that has
no oversight. So –


CORDELL: We talk about there should be oversight with the police, there is
no oversight over the grand jury system.

MELBER: And so Nina, if that`s the case and this is to some degree a dodge
that works as long as people don`t get it, given –


MELBER: The serious national conversation we`ve been having here with the
president on down and some Republicans weighing in as well.

At what point does this dodge start to fail because the public understands
when in some cases the grand jury proceeding is being used to route around
the prosecutor doing basically what they`re supposed to do, which is to
present the evidence and do the job and push for indictments when

TURNER: Absolutely Ari, and we`re in that moment. We are in that moment
in time in our country`s history right now. People are not going to be
able to dodge.

And I`m not saying that our county prosecutor is trying to dodge, but I
agree with the judge in that the Cavalier nature of what the prosecutor had
to say after Judge Adrine`s ruling just further puts gasoline on the
heaviness that the citizens, the African-American citizens, in particular,
in the city of Cleveland are feeling.

And so, to me, the way he approached it was not necessarily the right way.
But things aren`t going to be done, Ari. There was a task force as you
probably know formed in Ohio.

A governor case, he did sign an executive order that task force came back
with recommendations, one of which was to get – evaluate the grand jury
process of which our Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court has said that
she will do.

We have to address this as a country. No longer can we hide in the shadows
and pretend like racism is not in the DNA of this country`s history.

And this is a day of reckoning where we must do the right thing, not just
for Tamir Rice, not just for Tanisha Anderson and the countless other
folks, John Crawford III outside of Beaver Creek.

But we have a real problem in this country, Ari, and it starts – it does
not start with the police, it will not end with the police, but the police
are part of the process.

And the reason why the Cleveland eight brought this is because there is a
lack of belief in the system.

And when you have any group of people who lose hope and belief in a system,
we have a problem because the community and the police need each other.

That is how justice prevails, but we got to stand up – and really what
folks are asking for is oversight and accountability Ari, and that`s not
too much to ask for.

MELBER: Alright, and here we are, six months away from the original
incident and only seeing the faintest action through the normal system.

That`s what made the sought of unusual order from the judge, so interesting
today, certainly catalyzing a lot of extra attention. We will of course
keep reporting on this story, Nina Turner –


MELBER: And LaDoris Cordell, thank you both for your insights tonight. Up
next, a new scent could be the lead police were looking for in that big
manhunt for two escaped prisoners in Upstate, New York.

And new details on what kind of relationship one of those prisoners had
allegedly with a prison employee.


MELBER: It has now been six days since two convicted murderers, –


– Richard Matt and David Sweat, escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility
in Dannemora, New York. And tonight, the police are expected to continue
intensifying their search in a heavily wooded area east of
Dannemora, only a few miles from the prison itself.

Today, sources familiar with the investigation told NBC News that Joyce
Mitchell, the prisoner who has been questioned by police on this issue, was
supposed to be the official getaway driver for those two men until she got
cold feet and checked herself in at a local hospital.

Sources saying Mitchell established some kind of relationship with one of
the inmates, Richard Matt, over the past couple of months. And she thought
it was love.


NBC`s Miguel Almaguer brings us the latest on the search for these two
convicted killers.


MIGUEL ALMAGUER, NBC NEWS REPORTER (voice-over): Tonight, the army and the
manhunt. More than 500 heavily armed officers on the move.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE POLICE OFFICER: I believe we will catch these guys.

ALMAGUER: Search teams following K-9s like these who track one, if not
both of the fugitives, deep into the forest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE POLICE OFFICER 1 (over radio): Officer Sweeney had a
possible sighting of the suspect.

ALMAGUER: Tactical teams say this is the best lead they`ve had, now
closing in on murderers, David Sweat and Richard Matt.

there, aviation support, K-9s doing their thing, bloodhounds. And, lucky
enough, they got a positive hit on a scene.

And, hopefully, it`s fresh. It appears to be. And a footprint with some
wrappers or some food.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE POLICE OFFICER 1 (over radio): 12-3, be advised that
marshals and state police are on scene also.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE POLICE OFFICER 2 (over radio): Copy. We`re en route.

ALMAGUER: With officers stacked just a hundred yards apart, teams are
combing an area in dense brush, roughly 20 to 30 acres wide. It`s just
three miles from the maximum security prison they escaped from.

Dozens living inside the police perimeter told to lock their doors. Thomas
La Salle spoke to us from inside his home.

huge police presence. Everyone has got shotguns and rifles and pistols.

ALMAGUER: Jennifer Hilchey lives on the edge of what`s now a hot zone.

I`ve got a gun on me.

ALMAGUER (on camera): You`re not scared to use it?

HILCHEY: No, I`m not. I took my hunter safety course when I was younger.
I grew up in these woods. I grew up hunting.

ALMAGUER (voice-over): With streets locked down and schools ordered closed
today, even children are on alert.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Two people got out – broke out of jail.

ALMAGUER: Darlene Garrard, caring for seven kids, lives directly next to a
check point.

calm, not worry them too much.

ALMAGUER: Tonight, the massive push is on to find two killers just outside
the very prison from which they escaped. Miguel Almaguer, NBC News ,
Dannemora, New York.


MELBER: And coming up, new allegations of wrongdoing in one of –


America`s largest prisons, and what the Obama Justice Department is doing
about it.



New York`s Rikers Island is one of the largest jails in the world. This
week, it is back in the news as both a symbol of what is wrong in America`s
justice system and a place where some accountability may finally be on the


This is Ronald Spear, a 52-year-old inmate held in a section of Rikers for
ill prisoners. He had a kidney disease.

He died there three years ago after prison guards allegedly beat him.


Last year, the city paid his family nearly $3 million over the incident.

The local prosecutors declined to prosecute the guards. That might have
been the end of the story, some money but no real accountability or
answers, until now.

On Wednesday, a federal prosecutor appointed by President Obama took the
unusual step of charging three corrections officers at Rikers for
Spear`s death. The allegations in the indictment –


– are haunting. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, alleging that the officers
beat Spear to death, holding down and stomping on his head, and then
conspired in a cover story against Spear, planting evidence and lying to
their own investigators about that death.


The very day the feds brought those charges, an 18-year-old Rikers inmate
hung himself inside his cell. And this weekend, a former Rikers inmate,
now 22-year-old, Kalief Browder, –


– committed suicide at home. He had spent three years at Rikers without
ever being convicted of any crime.

He was accused of stealing a backpack at the age of 16, held on a bond his
family could not afford and then subjected to alleged beatings and
punishment through solitary confinement.

Prosecutors finally offered him a guilty plea deal for time served, which
he refused, maintaining his innocence. And then, the charges, ultimately,
were just dropped.

Now, Browder`s case drew attention for its obvious injustice, punishing a
minor who should be presumed innocent. And he spoke about his experience
in 2013.

were times when I cried myself to sleep. And it was hard, the whole thing.

At one point, I tried to kill himself. I feel like the whole point of me
on your show is just to get my story out there because I feel like this
happens every day.

This happens every day and I feel like this has got to stop.


MELBER: Joining me now for a special discussion on all of these issues,
Paul Prestia, Kalief Browder`s attorney, Vince Warren, Director of the
Center for Constitutional Rights, and Alysia Santo, a staff writer covering
detention issues for “The Marshall Project.”

Good evening to all of you.


MELBER: Paul, when you look at this obviously tragic case, what do we
know. And do you think that this suicide was, in some part, caused by this
mistreatment at the prison.


MELBER: Uh-hmm.

PAUL: Oh, I don`t think there`s any question about it. I think there`s a
direct correlation.

And there`s no way that anybody can tell me anything differently than what
I`m telling you right now. Kalief Browder went into jail as a healthy,
mentally-stable –


– young man. And he came out tormented, tortured and suicidal. And that
just played out this weekend unfortunately.

MELBER: You look at a case like this –


– you look at a case like this, and this is not what many Americans
imagine the justice system to be. It is not what we, I think, want to
believe about our justice system.

And so, just to be very clear here, while he was at Rikers, as I`ve
mentioned, he had never been convicted of doing anything wrong. So, this
was, essentially, punishment before trial?

PRESTIA: Correct. In fact, Ari, 80 percent of the inmates at Rikers
Island today have not been convicted of any wrongdoing at all. They`re
merely there awaiting their court date, awaiting their trial date.


And the incredible thing is, and the sad thing is, they`re treated as if
they`re guilty, they`re presumed guilty. And that sort of goes against are
whole motto in this country, isn`t it, presumed innocence?


MELBER: Right.

PRESTIA: But they`re presumed guilty by corrections and, sometimes, by
prosecutors. So, it`s a difficult thing to overcome but your stories
today, as amazing as they are, they don`t surprise me.

This happens all the time in Rikers Island.

MELBER: So, to put those numbers down, Vince, there was a DOJ
investigation, as we mentioned, by Preet Bharara, who`s an Obama
appointment, just looking at use of force on adolescents.

These are the minors, as you point out, –


– many of them who are not convicted of anything, 517 use of force
incidents, over a thousand injuries in 2012, staff use of force, over a
thousand injuries in 2013. And then, you get out to, what I think, is a –


– rarity but is happening this week, which is the President`s federal
prosecutor saying, actually, they dug in, found misconduct and are going
after the correction`s officers.

WARREN: Yes. This jail is – just about everything that could be wrong
with a jail is wrong with this jail. And it`s because it`s the second
largest in the country, –


– the problems are that big as well. There`s been an increase of
corrections officer violence, 240 percent over 10 years. Seven hundred,
roughly 700 juveniles are in that prison every single day, in that jail
every single day.

So, even with all of those problems, I think that you`re right. What we`re
seeing from the federal prosecutors is a signal here that things have gone
so wrong, particularly where state prosecutors aren`t going to –


– prosecute corrections officer like, I believe, the Bronx D.A. refused to
do. Now, the federal prosecutors are going to step in even if it involves
civil rights violations.

And these are the kinds of changes that need to happen to change the
policies, the practices and the culture of that place.

PRESTIA: It`s certainly a step in the right direction for sure, especially
after the U.S. Attorney`s report, their investigation last summer.

This is a nice follow-up, actually go there and arrest and prosecute these

MELBER: Alicia, I interviewed Preet Bharara earlier this year about these
issues, about what he was pushing at Rikers. And he explained why this is
important to him, above and beyond, just putting criminals in jail, which
is the main part of a prosecutor`s job.

Let me play some of that.


PREET BHARARA, U.S. ATTORNEY: Just because you are behind bars doesn`t
mean you`re beyond the Constitution. And some of the most vulnerable
people in society, you mentioned them, are young people, you know, 16, 17,
18 years old who are thrown into Rikers Island.

And as we demonstrate in the report that we issued and the lawsuit we
brought against the city, some of them are treated very, very, very harshly
and very poorly.


MELBER: So, now, you hear him saying that, now he`s indicted these
corrections officers, does that help change what`s going on there.

have a prosecutor actually bringing charges into having accountability be
something that`s brought into a correctional setting, especially when it
comes to staff, that`s going to send a message that these things are going
to be gone after and that these crimes that are actually – maybe somebody
will actually be held accountable for.

I think one thing that`s important, too, to –


– Preet`s point about that – what he said about juveniles –

MELBER: Uh-hmm.

SANTO: – and he`s also said that solitary was used excessively. I mean,
the department has changed their policies around solitary. But some of the
reporting we`ve done at “The Marshall Project” found that –


– people under 18 who are technically not supposed to be sentenced to
solitary were still receiving solitary sentences, even after the change.

Now, they didn`t serve them. They were intended for after their 18th
birthdays. But it just shows the culture that you`re dealing with, that
even when with a lot changes made, there still might be staff resistance to

MELBER: And, Vince, the headlines in New York around the country here,
this is not a secret. I mean, you see headlines, “Rikers Island Inmate
Dying After Suicide Watch Ignored,” –


“Mentally-Ill Rikers Island Inmate Dying After Languishing in Jail Cell,”
“Gross Incompetence Cited.” Just today, the Mayor of New York saying he`s
discontinuing one of the contracts –


– they had after finding all kinds of problems. So, is it one of these
things where, also, people are just inured to it. They hear so much bad
news, they think it`s unfixable?

WARREN: I think that that`s what happens. There are a couple of things –
one is that, in the general populous, people don`t think that when crimes
are committed by corrections officers or police officers, they`re crimes,
that they`re actually just doing their job.

And that`s beginning to shift. I think it`s beginning to shift in the
police context and, now, in the corrections context. Because these abuses
are so outrageous.

I mean, it`s broken bone after broken bone, people losing their sight,
losing their hearing. It`s hard to sit by, –


– particularly when this is happening to young people and people that have
been in solitary confinement even to sit by and say there`s nothing we can

And it`s very good to see that prosecutors, investigators, state and
federal are stepping up to really identify these problems since they
attempt to solve them.

MELBER: All right, I want to continue this conversation, that`s why we`ve
got extra time coming around after the break.

When we come back, what policy changes, –


– with this panel, can we talk about that would actually make a difference
going forward. The panel will respond. Stay with us.



Back with me now is Paul Prestia, Vince Warren and Alysia Santo. Welcome
back. We`ve been talking about problems at Rikers Island.

And, Paul, we`ve been talking about your client who committed suicide. He
was held in Rikers for three years without trial, never convicted of
anything wrong.


MELBER: I want to continue that conversation and play a little reaction
from Senator Rand Paul who, long before this tragic suicide, had talked
about this as a problematic case.

And he links it to policies, something we`re about to talk about. He links
it to why there`s anger in places like Baltimore and why there`s a cycle
between police conduct and some civilian conduct.

Let`s listen to that and get your reaction.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I`ve been telling the story for about a year
and a half, two years now. It makes me sad.

And I thought about not talking on the matter or doing the story again but,
I think, this young man`s memory should help us to try to change things.

He died this weekend. He committed suicide. His name was Kalief Browder.
He was a 16-year-old black teenager from the Bronx.

For goodness sakes, are we going to let people be raped and murdered and
pillaged in prison because of being convicted. He wasn`t even convicted.

So, when I see people angry and upset – I`m not here to excuse violence in
the cities – but when I see people angry, I understand where some of the
anger is coming from.


MELBER: That`s a U.S. senator talking about your client`s story. Do you
think he knew that his case, which showed everything that was wrong was
having that kind of impact, getting that kind of reaction.

PRESTIA: Kalief? Oh, certainly, certainly. He was well aware that – of
the significance of this case.


– And he was shy. He didn`t want attention. He didn`t want interviews.
But he knew that his story was important.

And he was willing to talk about it and – because he knew that he needed
to get that story out there, after all he had been through.

And if you hear him articulate, you know, the details of, especially, his
stay in solitary confinement, they`d blow you away, Ari. They`d put tears
in your eyes.

MELBER: And you were saying –

PRESTIA: I had no doubt about that.

MELBER: – you spoke to him just a few days before he took his own life.
And you said he sounded off but not totally depressed. What did you talk
to him about in those final days.

PRESTIA: Well, you know, I talked to him frequently and tried to see him
frequently as much as I could, even if we weren`t talking about our case.
A lot of times, we were just talking.

It was cathartic to him. And I always tried to send the message that life
is important, you know, and there`s so much to live for.

Because I feared, with his mental instability, I guess you`d call it, that
this day would come, that he would pass in this way. But I didn`t really
sense it –


– to the extent that I talked to him, he assured me he`s OK. But I
invited him down for lunch, that Friday before he passed.

And I wanted to take him out for his birthday but he had a school barbecue.
And I thought it would be a good idea.

He sounded interested in going and I thought it`d be fun for him. And that
was the last time I heard him. But, I know, if I saw him that day, that
Friday before he killed himself, I think I could`ve saved him.

I really do. Because I would have been able to talk to him and look in his
eyes and try to get a sense of where he was at.

And if something was wrong, I would have talked to him. And I think I
could have talked him out of it.

But that`s neither here nor there right now. We just have to more forward.

MELBER: And, Vince, at C.C.R., you do some of this kind of client work as
well. What is the role here of a public interest lawyer or the activists
and people in the community that want to deal with these things, both with
policy reform, fixing the root problem.

We talk a lot about the root problem but also dealing with the terrible
real problems on an individual level that we`re talking about.

WARREN: Right. And my heart really goes out to his family. It`s just
terrible to hear what this young man was going through right before he was

PRESTIA: It`s devastating.

WARREN: Yes. And Nelson Mandela talks about – used to talk about how you
could tell a lot –


– about a country by the way it treats its prisoners. And what you can
tell about our country, about the way we treat young people and even adults
who are incarcerated, is that we think that they are sub-human.

And it doesn`t matter whether they`re convicted of a violent crime, whether
they are accused of a non-violent crime. We treat them as if their
humanity doesn`t matter.

You don`t put people in solitary confinement for 23 or 24 hours a day when
you know – when the International Special Rapporteur tells you, after 15
days, you start to to decompensate –


– and then expect a good outcome.

MELBER: Paul, your final thought.

PRESTIA: Yes, I just – it`s just — I`m just speechless right now. You
just brought me back to that.

And it`s hard. It`s hard. It`s hard knowing that this could have all been

You know this sad story that we`re talking about? The city of New York
wrote that screenplay. They wrote that script.

And they could have changed it anytime between his arrest in May of 2010
and his passing on Saturday. And they never picked up their pen.

And it`s their fault. It wasn`t it. He tried. I know he did.

MELBER: Paul –

PRESTIA: But, at some point, he just couldn`t overcome it.

MELBER: Paul Prestia, appreciate your sharing your story of your client,
and the work you`re doing, Vince Warren and Alysia Santo. Thank you all
for the discussion tonight.

And coming up, the Department of Human Services had to call 911 during a
visit to the Duggar –


– home.



And, now, we turn to a story with some real good news. Two Los Angeles
County Sheriff`s deputies are in good shape after undergoing surgery.

One donated half of his liver to the other. Deputy Jorge Castro was
diagnosed with –


– a rare liver disease and only a living transplant would save him. Now,
he mentioned his condition to his friend, Deputy Javier Tiscareno, while
they were out working.

This was two weeks ago. And without telling his friend, the deputy went to
the hospital to see if he was a match and learned that he was.


he did, whatever he got in his heart, which I`ll never repay.

say, “Hey, you know, this is the guy who – this is the guy who saved me.”

But what touched me is he says, “Now, I get to see you grow up. I get to
be a part of your life.” And that gave me so much happiness.

So, I`m thankful to have him here and I hope to have him here for the rest
of his life.


MELBER: They`re expected to return to work in about two months. Good for

Coming up next, the Duggar Family`s new trouble.


Looks like there may be some more trouble for the Duggar Family. “In
Touch” magazine, the same publication which –


– broke this entire scandal has discovered a 911 call from the Arkansas
Department of Human Services that was placed after an attempt to visit the

This call is from May 27th. That is days after the molestation allegations
against Josh Duggar first surfaced.

“The Today Show`s” Joe Fryer has the story.



911 OPERATOR: Springdale 911, what`s the address of the emergency.

Family`s home.

from a 911 call obtained by “In Touch” magazine through the Freedom of
Information Act and shared exclusively with “Today.”

In an issue on newsstands now, “In Touch” reports the Department of Human
Services went to the Duggar Family house in Arkansas on May 27th. That`s
eight days after Josh Duggar`s molestation scandal first surfaced.

But the magazine says DHS was not allowed inside and had to call 911.

911 OPERATOR: And tell me what happened.

Office and we`re out here to – we have an investigation and, I guess,
they`re not being cooperative.

And we have to see the child to make sure the child is all right. So, we
just need police assistance or escort.

FRYER: It`s unclear what happened next because the call was transferred.
It`s also unclear what was being investigated in the first place.

Arkansas` Department of Human Services tells NBC News it can neither nor
deny whether we have investigated a specific family.

So far, no comment from the Duggars who star in the reality show, “19 Kids
and Counting.” The family recently admitted that in 2002 and 2003 when
their eldest child, Josh, was a teenager, he inappropriately touched
underaged girls.

Four of the victims were his sisters, including Jill and Jessa, who spoke
to Fox News last week, defending their brother and parents.

JESSA DUGGAR, REALITY TV PERSONALITY: I can see, looking back as an adult,
now, they handled the situation very well.


JESSA DUGGAR: They set up safety guards in our house and they – actually,
they sent Josh away. They had him get help.

When he came back, he was a totally different person.

FRYER: Those two daughters have started posting on social media again,
with Jill releasing new photos of her baby, and Jessa sharing a picture
from her ultrasound.

Meanwhile, Josh Duggar`s appearance next week at a Christian music festival
in Ohio has been canceled.


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