The police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man in Minnesota resigns. The defense begins its case in the Derek Chauvin murder trial. Slain Capitol Police Officer William Evans lies in honor at the Capitol Building.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi Nicolle. Thank you so much.
Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.
And we`re tracking the breaking news out of Minnesota.
The police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man resigning today, along with her boss, the local police chief. This is the first measure of accountability for the shocking and quick killing caught on tape.
A warning: This excerpt may be disturbing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIM POTTER, FORMER BROOKLYN CENTER, MINNESOTA, POLICE OFFICER: I`ll Tase you! I`ll Tase you!
Taser! Taser! Taser!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Tensions now high in Minnesota over that widely deemed avoidable killing of Daunte Wright.
This is what we`re seeing right now at Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, 5:01 p.m. local time. That area is bracing for another night of gatherings, of protests, after some clashes last night. We can tell you there is a curfew in place. There are 2,000 National Guard troops already on the ground.
There`s intense interest around the nation. We have tracked protests, gatherings and other political events in major cities like New York, Seattle, Kansas City, and Los Angeles all responding to that tape that`s going around the world.
Today, the mayor also held a 40-minute press conference announcing taking full authority over the police department, firing the city manager and also setting aside time during this presentation, during this tough time for the community to hear, to bear witness to emotional pleas from within the community.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You wrap your arms around your kids every day, every day. I`m going to need you to wrap your mind around it.
I`m going to need you to get in tune. I`m going to need you to put your boots on the ground and act like you care about black, brown and indigenous bodies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I want to speak with you directly about what we`re seeing, what we`re reporting, what we have here tonight.
If it feels like another march through a familiar and tragic American ritual, that`s because it is. It`s another video of a police approach that reflects clear escalation towards an unarmed black American, resulting in a death, a killing. And then it`s another quest`s by what are now to many familiar advocates calling for a fair investigation, calling for justice.
We heard from Ben Crump today. He has been busy representing, of course, George Floyd`s family in Minnesota. Now he`s taking on the Wright case as a civil rights attorney. And as I refer to this ritual that we go through, that we live through, he was noting what we know, this new case begins just miles away from another that has not even been resolved yet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF GEORGE FLOYD: Ten miles from where the Chauvin trial regarding charge floor was taking place, that a police officer would shoot and kill an unarmed black man.
It`s something that, if you told me, and I didn`t see little Daunte`s face, and his mother, grandmother crying, I wouldn`t believe it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We begin our coverage tonight with Cedrick Frazier, a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, vice chair of the Public Safety Committee, and a former public defender, another Cedric, Cedric Alexander, the former chief of police in Georgia, former member of President Obama`s Policing Task Force, and a Black Lives Matter and civil rights activist, DeRay McKesson. He`s co-founder of Campaign Zero.
Good evening to all of you.
I could start with anyone.
DeRay, I will start with you, because, as I mentioned, it`s all too familiar. It`s familiar to communities that have been living with this for decades and generations. It is perhaps slightly more familiar to a wider set of Americans after last year, a certain political class, as these issues have gotten a bit more national attention.
But your thoughts as we go through this again tonight?
DERAY MCKESSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Yes, so here`s the thing, is that we look at the numbers, and the police killed more people in 2020 than almost every year data we have, except for 2018.
This is relentless. In 2020, there are over 100 people killed at traffic stops by the police. And there`s a new study that just came out that showed that black people are more afraid of being killed by the police than being victims of community violence, of crime in their own communities.
So this is just another reminder. And what happened in Brooklyn Center is also a reminder that the police kill more people in the suburbs than almost all other communities combined. It`s like the hidden place where the trauma is so real.
I`m reminded that Ferguson is the suburbs, right, that this is actually happening all over the country. And the police, even in 2021, have killed already over 200 people. This is just the first story to capture the national attention.
MELBER: Representative Frazier you`re nodding.
STATE REP. CEDRICK FRAZIER (MN): Yes, I think what -- DeRay, good to see you again. It`s been a long time.
I think what you -- I think what DeRay is speaking to is absolutely true. I`m the vice chair on our Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee. And what we often hear from those that want to stand in the way of police uniform is that this is an inner-city issue, this is a big city issue, it is not an issue that impacts us and, for our instance, greater Minnesota, or in rural places or suburban places.
But the fact of the matter is, that just isn`t true. They`re killing unarmed black people and unarmed people everywhere in -- everywhere in any state. And that`s something we have got to come to a realization for. And we have got to have some reform to fix that.
And so, Chief, what do you say to the police department and some of their allies here who rushed out the video, in part because they thought it helped them? We talk about incriminating evidence. We talk about inculpatory evidence in the law. They argue that it shows that, however tragic, it shows a mistake, rather than malice.
What do you say to that in the wider context of something we have reported on exhaustively, which is that, while, ultimately, the justice system may rule on the alleged mistake, the routine and constant escalation of interactions with unarmed black Americans looks like a public health epidemic?
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, FORMER PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT EXECUTIVES: Well, it does.
But let me start by saying this area, this -- is that we have been going through this for a very, very long time now. And post the 21st Century Task Force report, one thing that we had recommended is, any time you have an officer-involved shooting, is that it was always good for chiefs to get out as much information as they could quickly.
And, certainly, anybody with camera images that may be available, as long as it did not get in the way of the investigation itself. So, they there in Minnesota being able to get it out, be able to show what happened, that`s all well and good.
But you have still got a dead unarmed African-American male who should not have died. And -- but it did happen. And whether it`s deemed accidental, on whatever the final investigation determines, at the end of the day, we have a problem here that has to be addressed, because too much, too often.
And I think that anyone who has a conscience, regardless of what color you are, if you have a conscience, you know that something here is inherently wrong in our environment, when you see the number of unarmed people of color being killed by the police.
And we have got to figure it out, because it does put you in the mind of this is a public health crisis. But I frame it, quite frankly, more of policing in this country that needs to be fixed. And we need to fix it soon. We talk a lot around it. But we have really got to put on arms around this issue, because, if you notice, gentlemen, is that these issues are becoming more frequent.
The duration of them are more often, and the psychological and emotional impact that it`s having on people of color in this country area is unbelievable.
Because you can -- you can just about talk to anyone of color. We all have a certain level of anxiety we see a blue light in our rearview mirror. That`s normal. I can tell you that as a psychologist. That`s normal. But what`s not normal in which people feel frightened to the point where they afraid for their children to go out.
ALEXANDER: They`re afraid to go out, afraid of being stopped by the police.
And then, when we train people, teach people to do all the things that we`re supposed to do, then what do we have? We saw what happened in Virginia with the Army lieutenant. He did everything he was told to do, pull into a lighted space. He was respectful. And then we had this incident that occurred.
MELBER: Yes. Yes.
MELBER: I`m going to jump in. I appreciate what you`re saying.
I`m jumping in, and I`m keeping the whole panel here.
I just want the viewers to understand we`re going to go in and check in here, because we have a reporter on the ground. We will come back to the panel.
But NBC`s Morgan Chesky is in Brooklyn Center with some of the protesters.
Walk us through what you`re seeing and what you`re reporting shows.
MORGAN CHESKY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Ari, good evening.
It`s now been the third night since the loss of Daunte Wright here in Brooklyn Center, and this has become the site of such a clash for the past several nights. This is the police department here, where hundreds gathered last night, where hundreds of police used tear gas, smoke grenades, even rubber bullets to disperse the crowds that gathered here that were out past curfew.
And it`s early in this evening, Ari, but you can see a sizable crowd already starting to form, calling for justice in the death of Daunte Wright, calling for justice after the death of George Floyd just miles from where we`re standing, essentially.
And this is a community that is still reeling from that tragedy, now faced with another and wondering where to go from here. A lot of people told me in this crowd that they came out a year ago to protest change then, they`re back out here tonight. And they`re hoping to create some sort of change that they feel like actually makes a difference.
CHESKY: We do know there is a curfew in place tonight. We do know that there are now 2,000 National Guardsmen in and around the Minneapolis area. That is an increase from 1,000 that we had on Sunday and Monday.
So, with the additional president here of protesters, we do know that there`s also a larger group of law enforcement here ready to meet them should things get out of hand. About a quarter-mile behind my photographer is a strip mall that was absolutely looted last night, before police could clear through that area.
It wasn`t until night fell. And that`s really going to be the time that a lot of people are going to have their eye on to see what happens on this night -- Ari .
MELBER: Morgan, what does your reporting suggest today about the reaction of the protesters, of activists, of the local community, given that there was initially swift action here from the police department?
We have been reporting the resignation of the officer and the chief. What is, if you can hear me -- I know you`re out there -- what`s the response that you can deem from the community to those moves?
CHESKY: Well, it`s certainly been acknowledged.
We know that Kim Potter, the 26-year veteran, has submitted her resignation, saying that she believed it was in her best interests and the communities to do so. The police chief who ran this department also stepping down.
And the folks who are coming out here, they say that, of course, that`s a good first step. But it`s what`s the step after that and after that, that that`s what these people are concerned with. How do they ensure that something like this doesn`t happen again, a mistake that ended with a man dying doesn`t happen again?
CHESKY: So, while it`s been acknowledged, Ari, and they`re certainly aware of it, it`s not enough right now.
Wanted to get that perspective there. Morgan Chesky, thank you for your reporting. We will be checking in with you throughout our MSNBC coverage.
As mentioned, our panel stays here on THE BEAT.
I want to update one other piece of this, the president meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus at the White House, a previously scheduled meeting. The shooting was addressed, of course, immediately.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our prayers are with their family. It`s really a tragic thing to happen.
Fact is that we do know that the anger, pain and trauma that exists in the black community in that environment is real, it`s serious, and it`s consequential.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: DeRay, your view of the president`s remarks and where national leadership fits into this right now.
MCKESSON: So, here is thing is that almost all the issues we face with police departments are local.
The federal government -- I think we overstate the federal government`s role in some of this, 18,000 police departments, local, and, like, we need to be holding mayors, governors and state legislators accountable. They have been off the hook for so long, because people have been worried about what the president is going to do.
And, really, like, they don`t have a lot of juice in this area. Mostly, their juice is money. I will say I`m reminded of three quick things. One is that the police make a choice, right? This Kim Potter made a choice. She`s -- where was he going? The worst he could have done is just stayed in the car. I mean, he didn`t have a lot of options.
She made a choice to pull out a weapon. She made a choice to fire it. Those are choices. The second thing is that the police union contract in Brooklyn Center actually requires a resignation to give a two-week lead time, and she did not do that here.
So, there`s an open question about whether she got her vacation payout, whether she got the sick leave payout. I`m interested in what that looks like. And will they actually prosecute her? Or will there be any accountability, or will she be able to ride out in the sunset?
MELBER: Representative Frazier, I`m curious what you think about the wider context, because I alluded to this before we went out to the local reporting, that the police defenders in this instance and the reason why they say they put the tape out is to emphasize that it was a mistake, rather than, for example, they argue, the kind of illegal excessive force that was -- that would be deliberately used perhaps in other cases.
The problem with that, I think, as we look at these issues systemically, is, what is the overall pattern of how force is used in the first place? Because, if you pull weapons, if you resort to deadly force options, then the error rate there is going to -- is going to trail that.
And if you only do that in certain interactions or do that more with unarmed African-American suspects than unarmed white suspects, right, then the error rate is going to be discriminatory, even if we can`t yet see inside the mind of that individual officer.
I`d like your response to that with one fact I want to put on the screen to remind everyone. I think much of this is known. But we bear witness for a reason, black Americans three times as likely to be killed by police than whites, three times as likely, according to a Harvard study, which speaks to the overall structure of this.
FRAZIER: So, Ari, thank you for the question.
I want to go back quickly to what DeRay said. And this absolutely is a local issue. We have been -- in our state, our state legislature, we have had over 21 hearings over the last two years dealing specifically with police accountability bills. We brought the community in to testify. We`re bringing these issues. We`re passing them out of the House, which is -- we have a divided legislator.
We have a Democratic House and a Republican Senate. We`re passing bills out of the House. We have a Senate that is refusing to hear these bills. But we are absolutely engaged because we understand it`s a local issue. We have got bills to deal with qualified immunity. We have got bills to deal with body camera issues. We have got bills to deal with accountability.
These things absolutely need to happen. And we dealt -- we did pass a bill to deal with -- and we`re passing it into law -- to deal with use of force and how officers have the ability to use deadly force. We have done that here.
In this situation, here, specifically, you`re looking at the traffic stop. We have got legislation that is coming now to deal with traffic stops to prevent these type of interactions, to stop officers from pulling folks over for expired tabs or an equipment issue that is happening.
And we know that far too many times officers use those pretextual stops as a way to engage with someone, to do a little (INAUDIBLE) searching. And, oftentimes, they are using those pretextual stops, and they`re looking at individuals that oftentimes look like myself and DeRay or Cedric.
And that`s where we have to -- we have to put things in place, a policy in place to prevent those interactions from happening, to prevent situations from happening like what happened to Daunte?
I have about a minute left.
Chief, I wanted to give you a final word.
ALEXANDER: Well, I think the both DeRay and Cedrick both really, being the young men that they are, being the leaders of our communities in the future, quite frankly, they`re the ones, to be honest with you, Ari, that I listen to and look up to, because, as we continue to move to around what we call reform or reimagining police or transformation or whatever you want to call it, it`s been talk.
We really got to enact the legislation that Cedrick talked to at a state level, because that`s where a lot of these laws are in place, to give these protections that do not work to the benefit of the community at large.
And I think the work that`s being done at Campaign Zero, it`s hugely important at a local, county and state level. But let`s not -- make sure we don`t let the federal government off the hook either, because there`s still some responsibility that they can take around federal legislation and all of this as well.
I want to thank my panelists. I will mention Cedric Alexander returns later in the hour, as we track several of these stories.
Thanks to each of you.
We have our shortest break on THE BEAT. It`s 30 seconds, and we turn to the crucial day that was in the Chauvin murder trial today. The prosecution has rested. The defense takes over.
We`re back in 30 seconds.
MELBER: Turing to the other big story tonight.
The Derek Chauvin murder trial is in a new phase, of course, against the backdrop of those tensions we have been covering. But the prosecution did formerly rest its case today, basically arguing that they have, they believe, proven their case for murder.
The defense begins its side of the story. They went through witnesses. They`re on their seventh, so quite a quicker pace. They are even expected to wrap up their side by Thursday.
As we have reminded everyone throughout this trial -- I`m sure you have watched trial coverage before -- the burden here is on the prosecution. So the fact that the defense is spending less time or going more quickly doesn`t speak to the overall outcome.
They did have a use of force experts today testifying that Chauvin was, they argued, justified in the actions he took.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARRY BRODD, EXPERT WITNESS ON USE OF FORCE: I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified, was acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement, in his interactions with Mr. Floyd.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: A reasonable view of following local policy in what he did on that video.
That is helpful, if the jury believes that expert. It also -- and this is why trials have two sides -- I have mentioned that in our coverage throughout. Get ready to hear the defense side and the defense witnesses. It also, obviously, clashes completely against what so many of the witnesses from the prosecution said, the Minneapolis police chief himself saying Chauvin didn`t follow policy.
The same expert, Barry Brodd, testified as an expert witness in the 2014 McDonald case in Chicago, and said there that former Officer Jason Van Dyke was also justified in what was viewed there as highly excessive force and that McDonald at the time was posing an imminent threat.
Now, the defense also called Minneapolis officer Peter Chang to the stand, who responded on the scene. And this witness -- again, you have to hear all of the testimony -- this witness, in his view, thought that the growing crowd could pose some sort of risk to the officers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER CHANG, MINNEAPOLIS PARK POLICE: There was a crowd. And, yes, the crowd was becoming more loud and aggressive, a lot of yelling across the street.
ERIC NELSON, ATTORNEY FOR DEREK CHAUVIN: Did that cause you any concern?
CHANG: Concern for the officers` safety, yes.
NELSON: Did you notice anything in terms of the tone or tenor of the voices of those people?
CHANG: They were very aggressive, aggressive towards the officers, yes.
NELSON: Did the volume increase?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined now by former federal prosecutor Paul Butler and Marq Claxton, retired NYPD detective and director of Black Law Enforcement Alliance.
Thanks to both of you for being here.
Paul, it was very effective when the prosecution had actual colleagues and even supervisors of Chauvin basically indicting him, indicting him as using excessive force.
What does it mean for the jury to now hear others, including what are declared experts, saying that maybe the force was -- quote -- "following policy all along"?
PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Just because the jury gets to hear both sides doesn`t mean that both sides are equally valid.
So, this expert talked about the Supreme Court law on police use of force, a case called Graham vs. Connor. But, Ari, it`s like he missed that day of his criminal law class. The Supreme Court says, look at how serious the crime is.
Well, this was a petty offense over a $20 bill. The Supreme Court says, look at whether the suspect is resisting. Mr. Floyd was in handcuffs on his stomach. For most of the nine minutes, he was not resisting. Graham says look at the situation from the perspective of the police officer, because he has to make a split-second decision.
Ari, this is the worst fact for the defense. It`s true that, in most cases, an officer has to make a split-second decision because he shot someone. That`s not this case. Derek Chauvin had nine minutes and 29 seconds to decide and act and adapt, and he did not.
MELBER: You mentioned the handcuffs.
Marc, that brings us to another legal and use of force issue, which you have so much experience with, the effort to try to contextualize or justify keeping Mr. Floyd restrained by handcuffs.
Again, this is a rebuttal to some of what we saw in the trial earlier, the notion that that undercut such intense and prolonged use of force. Here, there was an effort to contextualize it. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRODD: I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified was acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement, in his interactions with Mr. Floyd.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m talking to my control room.
And we`re looking for that handcuff excerpt. Let`s see if we have that.
Well, let me -- I will just read a little bit of it, Marc.
Part of what I`m looking at -- again, I just want to make sure I get it this precise, because it matters, the notion that the jury was basically told: "I have been trained that when you have drug-influenced persons, they stay handcuffed until they`re taken to a medical facility."
The testimony there trying to justify the handcuffs. Your response?
MARQ CLAXTON, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE: That was a failure in something that`s been covered early on (AUDIO GAP) critical decision-making process, and also a couple other principles that are very relevant in as far as the use of the handcuffs or any other potentially, even non-fatal weapons.
And that is proportionality. We have gone over it a few times. It`s been discussed in and out throughout the course of the trial, about the level of force that is necessary or useful or required.
But it goes back to that critical decision-making process, how a police officer has to, in real time, make assessments based on what is in front of them at that particular time, and, if necessary, make the necessary -- the adjustments. So that may require shifting the person you have in your custody and control.
That may require adjusting handcuffs. That may require at sometimes removing handcuffs. It depends on what`s going on at that particular time. And that`s why you have the use of force continuum, something else that they went over, over and over and over again, I was having kind of police academy nightmares listening to their use of force continuum discussion.
But they have gone over it. That`s why these things are critically important, so that the police officers don`t act universally. There is no singular response method. You have to assess and judge it according to what`s in front of you at that particular time.
MELBER: And yet, Marc, that`s what`s so difficult here for a jury, where you need 12 people, according to the prosecution, to come down together. If one or two say, well, I -- they see reasonable doubt as to that use, right, that`s -- that can get tricky in an environment where, historically, we have seen a lot of benefit of the doubt go to the officer.
I want to play a little bit from cross, where they discussed the idea of what a compliant person would be doing or not. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE SCHLEICHER, MINNESOTA PROSECUTOR: The defendant did not alter the level of force that he was using Mr. Floyd, did he?
SCHLEICHER: Even though Mr. Floyd by this point had become, as you put, compliant. Fair?
BRODD: More compliant, yes.
A compliant person would have both their hands in the small their back and just be resting comfortably, vs., like, he`s still moving around.
SCHLEICHER: Did you say resting comfortably?
BRODD: Or laying comfortably.
SCHLEICHER: Resting comfortably on the pavement?
SCHLEICHER: At this point in time, when he`s attempting to breathe by shoving his shoulder into the pavement?
BRODD: I was describing what the signs of a perfectly compliant person would be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I want to go to Marc on the enforcement and then Paul on the law.
This is where it can feel a little Orwellian, because, clinically, you have this hypothetical conversation about the comfortability of the individual. Mr. Floyd was drawing his last gasps of air in that prone position.
On the use of force, Marc, your response to that conversation?
CLAXTON: The prosecutor`s cross in regards to that was significant, because what it did was display that this particular witness, this expert witness, if you will, really, he pulled from a subjective viewpoint.
It`s -- his viewpoint, his emphasis is tilted somewhat. And it becomes obvious when you engage in significant questioning against him, because he`s not speaking about what actually is, what we actually saw. He`s talking in some hypothetical way. He`s behaving consistent with the defense`s planned strategy, which is to make this into a hypothetical defense.
And I think the cross was significantly strong in regards to exposing that.
BUTLER: Well, Ari, lawyers` lore is that defense attorneys are better at cross-examination than prosecutors, because they get more practice at it.
That didn`t happen today. Even though it was the defense beginning, the prosecutors still one of the day. They got concessions from this expert witness, including that nothing that the crowd was doing justified the officer using force on Mr. Floyd.
The expert conceded that a reasonable police officer should take into account whether a suspect has stopped breathing. And this expert said that Chauvin`s kneeling on Floyd wasn`t force because he said Mr. Floyd felt no pain.
But then prosecutors showed him a video of Mr. Floyd saying, "Everything hurts."
So, this expert either didn`t review the evidence in advance carefully, or he just does not recognize Mr. Floyd`s pain.
MELBER: Yes, there was some important exchanges there. Again, as you say, as you remind us, the jury has got to make its determinations. And there was a type of informed incredulousness in some of the prosecutor`s cross that could leave the jury going, yes, wait a minute, how much -- there`s a lot of jargon words, but how much does this really make sense?
Paul and Marc, thanks to both of you.
We got to fit in a break, but, coming up, we go live to the Capitol. Slain Capitol Police Officer William Evans lies in honor amidst new questions about accountability, security, and, yes, politics over security at the Capitol -- when we return.
MELBER: We`re tracking several major stories tonight.
And now we`re looking live at the Capitol, where fallen Capitol Police officer William Evans is lying in honor today. Any moment, we expect his ceremonial departure here to begin.
Congressional leaders will gather as the casket is, you see here, carried out of the Rotunda.
Billy, as he was known, died when a car rammed into him near the Russell Senate Office Building. It was just earlier this month. He was the second Capitol Police officer to die in an attack this year.
As we mark this and watch, I want to welcome to our coverage Lieutenant Russel Honore, who led the security review of the U.S. Capitol following the January insurrection. He also led a task force responding to Hurricane Katrina. And with us, BBC`s Katty Kay, an MSNBC contributor, and Cedric Alexander, former chief, also with us.
General, big picture, your thoughts as we take this in?
LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well, hearts, minds and prayers go to Officer Evans` family and his fellow officers.
You see his remains being carried by the joint color guard, led by the two sergeant at arms, Tim Blodgett on the left from the House, and Lieutenant General, now Sergeant at Arms of the Senate Karen Gibson.
This is a very solemn moment. And it`s a very chilling effect. You can affect -- I was there for the last funeral of for Officer Sicknick. And it has a big effect on the Capitol Police force and the family, because, while this ceremony is going on, they`re still protecting the Capitol. And they will be tomorrow morning at 1:00, tomorrow morning at 3:00, just as they did on 1/6 to try to protect the Capitol.
And this is another day in history. Most people will remember where they were when this event happened.
MELBER: And, General, I think we will go into this shot here in full as we take it in.
And walk us through what it means for these officers, because you say that January 6 hangs over all of this. What does it mean for such an embattled force here to honor, remember and commemorate another fellow officer lost tonight?
HONORE: Well, it`s very similar to what we go through in the military.
And this ceremony, the pomp of it and the circumstances associated with it is marked in history, the joint color guard, the same color guard that handled the bodies of presidents and other distinguished members.
This means a lot to these officers who, on any given day, are just faces in a stairwell checking somebody`s I.D. as they enter the Capitol. But on that day when they`re needed to protect the Capitol, they are there 24/7. And they do it with a lot of having to work overtime, because the formation is short.
Normally, there are things that they could be using in terms of technology that could do it better. But, that being said, they do their duty 365/24/7, and during the heat, the cold, during the crowds and when nobody`s around.
And this is a tribute to Officer Evans and his family. They will always remember this. But this is a ceremony we all wish we weren`t having, because it shows, again, they`re willing to put their life on the line to protect that Capitol, and -- well, enough said.
MELBER: Chief Alexander, your thoughts tonight? We have called on you for more than one story. And there`s so many aspects to this, because we were reflecting on the insurrection and the police response to that, the other tensions across the nation.
And yet here, in commemorating Officer Evans, you have someone who did what they were called upon to do, put their life on the line and paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, Chief.
ALEXANDER: Yes, and that`s correct.
And that`s so eloquently stated by General Honore, because no one can detail it as greatly as he can. What we`re witnessing and what we`re seeing here is something that is sad to all of us, should be sad to all of us, because we have a number of military personnel serving around this country and locally.
And we have our police officers, who do an incredible job in this country every day, in spite of all the challenges that are in front of us.
So, we are sad and the nation is sad that we did see two Capitol Police officers lose their life here in recent days. It should not have been.
But it certainly needs to be a wakeup to this country that we, as a nation, regardless of what side of the aisle you may sit on, regardless of where you may be from, the fact of the matter is, at the end of the day, we`re all Americans, and the only people that are going to fix this issue that took the lives of these officers and those others as well who lose their life every day protecting us, both our military and our law enforcement, it`s going to take all of us to band together.
And I think nobody knows that better than people like myself and people like General Honore and the communities in which we serve still every day, and communities that laid themselves to salute this fallen officer tonight.
MELBER: Katty Kay, your views as we take in this ceremony for Officer Evans?
KATTY KAY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, because we -- as we watch his coffin being loaded into the hearse there and driven away, it`s hard not to think of his children, right, those two young children, Abigail and Logan, who were standing at the top of the steps when his coffin arrived and who now don`t have their father anymore, and a father, as President Biden said, who was a hero.
And maybe, in years to come, not now, because it`s so hard, but in years to come, his heroism in protecting the Capitol for all those years, in allowing the Capitol Building to be almost unique in the world, this open building, a building where the public can come and go, which is so uncommon for the seat of democracy in other countries.
And, Katty, it was mentioned that this is both a ceremony and a workplace where they continue to have to defend and protect the Capitol, which has been under more, obviously, sustained threat with National Guard and other troop presence in Washington, which has been debated and discussed, precisely because of this time we`re living through, Katty.
And General Honore knows this, of course, because he`s looked at the security problems. And, clearly, there are security issues at the Capitol. And the big question, I think, for the people who serve in that building, not just the members of the security force, but the members of Congress, is how open can they keep this building? Can they keep this building open to the public in a way that has been so iconic in American history?
And if they are going to do that, what does it take in terms of security? And I think, to some extent, they have got to come to an agreement on what the threat is. And that`s the concern is, when you can`t agree on what the threat is, it`s hard to agree on what the solutions are. And we haven`t seen much agreement.
But maybe this moment, this incredibly poignant moment we`re watching, Ari, a 41-year-old officer who had served at the Capitol, who gave his life to keep that building open to the American public, maybe the life of Billy Evans and the ceremony we saw today can bring some sense of unity about the need for a commitment to keep that building secure and open.
MELBER: As we watch and continue to cover this memorial service, this ceremony, we have a little bit of information we just want to report and share at this time with viewers, because friends, family and lawmakers are all reflecting on and honoring Officer Evans today.
I can tell you he grew up in Massachusetts. He served 18 years on this Capitol Hill police force. As Katty was mentioning, he does leave behind two young children.
At one point during this service today, as Speaker Pelosi was speaking, Evans` daughter dropped a toy. And we saw this moment. The president of the United States picked it up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We hope it`s a comfort to that so many now know about your dad, and know that he is a hero, that his names will all -- his name will always be on our lips and his memory in our hearts, and that the president of United States is picking up one of your distractions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Just a real moment, an impromptu moment.
This president, as so many know and as he has shared throughout, not only, of course, his brief presidency thus far, but throughout his public life, the president knows grief and seems to be almost in a sad, but real way, at home with the humanity of it.
These are times, these ceremonies, these moments where someone to recoil. He doesn`t. We saw that moment. And then we heard from this president offering his condolences.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I didn`t know Billy, but I knew Billy. I grew up with Billys.
My prayer for all of you is that a day will come when you have that memory, and I`ve said, just smile before you bring a tear to your eyes.
It`s -- I promise you it`s going to come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Evans is the sixth Capitol Police officer to die in the line of duty since this force was established. It was almost two centuries ago. And he is, as reported, the second officer to die this year in an attack.
We wanted to share some of those moments early today, beyond broadcasting them live.
Chief, when you hear the president say quite candidly that he didn`t know Officer Evans, as he put it, he didn`t know Billy, but he did, a reference to knowing the type of service, the type of grit, the type of public sacrifice, I wonder your thoughts about that as we watch.
ALEXANDER: And that`s exactly how I interpret it.
And many of us have known Billys. And I certainly have over the course of my career. And I believe what President Biden was saying is that he was speaking to who he was as a person, an American, a brave, courageous individual, a person who believed in his country, believed in coming to work, sharing his space with others that worked with him, and pay an ultimate price.
And we know people like that, people who walk unselfishly on this planet, who give the last that they have to someone else, as this officer did. He gave his very last to keep that Capitol open. That is what President Biden is referring to.
Those are the Billys that many of us know. Some of us -- some of them have been our mothers, our fathers, our sisters, our brothers, but we have known them in the course of our lives, our friends.
But we all have so much to be proud of in this nation, and a proudness come from those who served and served as this fallen soldier have, this fallen officer has. And our hearts go out to them. That`s who President Biden is speaking to and speaking about.
MELBER: And, General Honore, what can you tell us about what we`re watching right now, the line of Capitol Police motorcycles?
HONORE: Well, it`s the escort where will -- that`s become too much of an often seen tradition now to pay honor to their fellow officer.
It`s the motorcycle patrol. These become symbolic when we lose our officers. And nowhere is it fuller displayed as it is shown here today at the Capitol, as it was for Officer Sicknick.
It`s a tribute. And along the way, fellow officers normally line the highway, those that can`t be here, to make sure that honor is paid to Officer Evans as he move home.
MELBER: Indeed, as he goes from this life to the next after this public sacrifice that our guests have, sadly, but I think ably, given some tribute to, as we watch this procession go forward.
I do want to thank General Honore, Katty Kay, Cedric Alexander for marking this with us.
While we fit in a break now, we do have more coverage ahead. We will be right back.
MELBER: Welcome back to our coverage.
We are looking at this live footage. This is in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, right now. Protesters continue to gather. This is in response to that police killing of Daunte Wright.
His aunt spoke to reporters earlier, mourning the death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAISHA WRIGHT, AUNT OF DAUNTE WRIGHT: My nephew was a lovable young man, his smile, oh, lord, the most beautiful smile.
You all took that! My nephew`s blood is your hands!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined again by former federal prosecutor Paul Butler and Marq Claxton from the NYPD and director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance.
And, Paul, we covered much of this in the incident aspects in the top of the program. We haven`t delved as much into the legal and investigative process from here. What happens next with regard to what we see in these live shots of what activists are calling for, justice, investigation, independent probe?
Where do we go next in the reckoning for this controversial incident?
BUTLER: The chief made the correct decision to resign. His defensive statements didn`t inspire confidence in the transparency and accountability of his department.
So it`s good that there`s going to be an independent investigation. One question for investigators is why the officer would Tase a person in a no traffic stop for an expired tag. Mr. Wright was unarmed and not suspected of any dangerous crime.
Another question is how the officer confused her firearm for a Taser.
MELBER: Well, Marc, on that point, one of the defenses from the police here in the early days of this has been that they say the officers became aware in advance that Mr. Wright was wanted for a misdemeanor arrest warrant.
They say that would go to their state of mind or their enforcement approach. Walk us through that.
CLAXTON: Well, but their approach should be according to the reaction that they get from the individual who they`re approaching or trying to apprehend.
As we indicated earlier, there`s no universal approach to apprehensions. There`s no universal approach to arrests. Not every arrest requires drawing of a weapon, of a firearm or a Taser. Sometimes, you have to really rely on your verbal commands.
That is the most important weapon that you have are your verbal commands. And, too often, what happens is, because there is a -- this -- you`re predisposed -- the belief that blacks are predisposed to criminal conduct, you approach them in a particular way that takes the level of force that you can potentially use much higher.
I mean, and there are cases, Oscar Grant in Oakland, another one that mistakenly the Taser was mistaken for a firearm. A few years ago and Oklahoma, Mr. Bates, a 73-year-old volunteer deputy sheriff, once again, he said he mistook his firearm for a Taser.
The common denominator in both of those cases and in this case, black victim.
CLAXTON: So, it begins (AUDIO GAP) have to examine, what are the common denominators and then address those particular issues.
It`s not a matter -- it`s not merely a matter of training or correcting that training module.
And what you`re speaking to and I know what your organization has worked on is whether you have that overpolicing. If you have, for example, a stop- and-frisk program that stops literally hundreds of thousands more black Americans and others -- that was the case in New York under Mayor Bloomberg, right -- then everything happens after that is already going to be somewhat spoiled or racially discriminatory.
We are getting breaking news here on Matt Gaetz. I`m going to turn to that in a moment.
Before I lose Marq Claxton, I just wanted to get your response to the former president weighing in, Obama saying: "The fact that this could even happen in the city of Minneapolis, going through the trial of Chauvin, and reliving the heart-wrenching murder of Floyd indicates not just how important is to conduct a full investigation, but how badly we need to reimagine policing," a joint statement, I should note, from the president and the former first lady.
Marc, your final thoughts on that?
CLAXTON: No matter what guidelines, rules, regulations, or even law, those things are no match for toxic police culture, which is propped up by intolerance, bias, both implicit and explicit, and racism, and all too often leads to avoidable interactions of violence and, worse, fatal encounters.
CLAXTON: Nothing trumps toxic police culture.
MELBER: Marq Claxton, thank you very much.
We`re going to stay nimble. Paul, as a prosecutor can hang with me. The hour is not over.
We have been covering a lot of different, important stuff. We just got news during this hour, breaking story. This is from "The New York Times" on that Republican Representative Matt Gaetz facing this set of allegations regarding the DOJ sex trafficking probe.
"The Times" now reporting at the indicted Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg has been cooperating with the Department of Justice and their investigators since last year. Greenberg is a name you may recognize. He`s currently indicted on 33 federal charges, including sex trafficking and sex with a minor. It was his investigation which, according to outside reporting, led the DOJ to scrutinize Matt Gaetz, where he himself has admitted, a Republican Trump ally, that he`s a subject.
Mr. Butler, thank you for staying with us on breaking coverage, different story, seemingly an interesting development. What does it mean, sir?
BUTLER: This is Matt Gaetz`s biggest nightmare. Mr. Greenberg is looking at serious charges, and so he`s in a mood to make a deal.
The prosecutors want to find out everything he knows about Representative Gaetz`s potential criminal exposure. And if he`s willing, and the testimony is credible, they will use that testimony against the Mr. Gaetz in the criminal probe.
MELBER: Yes. Let`s talk timing, because I want to mention this is a big scoop from "The New York Times" breaking just in the past few minutes.
By definition, I should mention, NBC News has not confirmed this yet. We`re sourcing into "The Times," which defines two different sources for this.
A lot of the narrative of the talk around this was the idea that this Gaetz ally Greenberg may or would flip at some point. The way "The Times" reports this out tonight, Paul, is that Mr. Greenberg has been cooperating in some manner, has been doing this for some time.
What does that mean? And is that worse news for this MAGA loyalist Matt Gaetz?
BUTLER: It`s worse news, in the sense that it seems like the more law enforcement knows about Mr. Gaetz, the more interested they get in him, the more criminal exposure he has.
And so, if Mr. Greenberg has been cooperating, whatever he`s told the police and the FBI have only, apparently, made them more suspicious against the congressman.
MELBER: And when you look at a situation like this -- with about a minute left -- Congressman Gaetz has said -- and we always report this -- he`s denied all wrongdoing. He said he`s only begun to fight.
What will be the key in determining whether he can fight this off or whether Mr. Greenberg has the goods?
BUTLER: Well, the Justice Department is not in a hurry. It will do a careful, considered investigation.
The biggest concern for Mr. Gaetz is if a child is involved, if a 17-year- old. If, at the end of the day, this is about him paying sex workers who are adult, that`s not a federal case. If there`s a child involved, including a 17-year-old, Mr. Gaetz has much to be concerned about.
MELBER: Former federal prosecutor Paul Butler covering more than one story with us tonight.
Thank you, sir.
BUTLER: Always a pleasure.
MELBER: Appreciate it.
Thank you for staying with us during this very busy night. We covered a lot of stories, including the ongoing protests and potential for unrest in Minnesota, the debate there over this new police killing, as well as how it interacts with the George Floyd trial. Our coverage on that, those stories will continue tonight.
I will see you back tomorrow, if you join us here on THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER, at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. You can always find us on social media @THEBEATWITHARI or @AriMelber on any social media platform.
And, without further ado, I`m signing off. Thank you.
"THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" is up next.