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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Dallas Shooters' Parents Speak Out; David Cameron to Leave Wednesday, Theresa May to Become New U.K. Prime Minister; Obama: Violent Protesters "Disserve to Cause"; Dallas Police Press Conference. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired July 11, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:00:00] DAVID BROWN, CHIEF, DALLAS POLICE DEPARTMENT: We're convinced that this suspect had other plans. He just basically lied to us, playing games, laughing, asking how many did he get, and did he want to kill some more. He wrote some lettering in blood on the wall.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Several protests that culminated into violence. Protesters throwing rebar, rocks, bottles, Molotov cocktails at police officers.
UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: I'm absolutely disgusted by the acts of some, not at all, but some.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan.
We'll being with breaking news on two front. Any minute now, the Dallas Police Department is expected to be holding a news conference. Not sure what news will be coming out but this could be important as the police department could be briefing the media. We'll bring that to you live.
Plus, the killer's parents, they're speaking out for the first time now since their son shot 12 police officers, killing five of them. They're saying that he changed, the shooter. He changed after he was discharged from the military.
Here's a little bit more of what the parents told police.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES JOHNSON, FATHER OF MICAH JOHNSON: I don't know what to say anybody to make anything better. I didn't see it coming.
UNIDENTIFIED MOTHER OF MICAH JOHNSON: He was a good son. He was a good son.
JAMES JOHNSON: I love my son with all my heart. I hate what he did.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Did he ever talk about any of his experiences in the military that maybe made you question that something happened? Was it the war?
UNIDENTIFIED RELATIVE OF MICAH JOHNSON: I don't remember anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MOTHER OF MICAH JOHNSON: I don't remember anything. He just -- the military was not what Micah thought it would be.
JAMES JOHNSON: He was disappointed in it.
UNIDENTIFIED MOTHER OF MICAH JOHNSON: He was very disappointed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: CNN senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin, has been digging into the killer's past as well. Drew joins us now live.
Drew, what are you learning?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I just want to point out something did happen in the military with Micah Johnson, John. He did face charges, or harassment, abuse charges from a female soldier while he was in Afghanistan. He was only deployed there for nine months. He was in carpentry and masonry, not battle connected in any way. But according to an attorney who represented him in military proceedings, that female soldier did accuse him of creating a hostile work environment, wanted to get a restraining order against him, and also was recommending that he get mental help. About a year later, in a negotiated deal, he was honorably discharged from the Army Reserve after about six years of service.
It's consistent what his parents were saying with what his friends have told us that when he came back, or came out of the military service, something did change. He became more introverted. He became much more interested in black afro-centric matters and specifically injustices that he perceived to be against the black community in general. That's when his online presence, searching many of these websites that we reported about in the past, not just afro-centric viewpoints but even black nationalistic and what some who follow this consider to be black extremist groups. He was following those websites.
So there was a change after he did get out of the military and now we have the parent's viewpoints on that to reiterate that -- John?
BOLDUAN: You're on the ground there. I can see the memorial behind you, Drew. One of the big questions has been -- in the investigation has been coming out is he wrote initials in blood on the wall there where he was held up. Are you getting any idea of what that means? Do you hear anything of what that could even indicate?
GRIFFIN: No. No, for those people who perhaps have not followed this, the letters "R" and "B," "R.B." were written in blood according to the police chief. There's a lot of speculation. One of the speculations is he didn't put the last initial, which would have been a "G," RBG, red, black and green, which makes reference to a black nationalistic flag. But that's all speculation. We're hoping to get clarification from the police on that. Quite frankly, you know, we may never know because the person who wrote those letters obviously is deceased.
BERMAN: Drew Griffin, thanks so much.
We may know something more soon though. You can see on the bottom of your screen there. A news conference by the Dallas police will begin at any minute. We don't know what it is about. We don't know what news they're giving us. We've not heard from them in a few days. It should be interesting to hear what they have to say. We'll bring it to you live when it happens.
[11:05:07] Meanwhile, you saw it behind Drew, that memorial for the slain officers. It is a beautiful poignant memorial. I was there Friday night. People coming by, leaving flowers. You can see two police cruisers buried so deep in flowers you can barely see the cars. Tomorrow, an official memorial service will be held to honor the five heroes who were slain.
BOLDUAN: President Obama and former President George Bush will be speaking at the interfaith ceremony. President Obama cut his overseas trip short so he could travel back and travel to Dallas for the ceremony. He's going to meet with families of the fallen officers there as well.
BERMAN: Let's check in with Dallas. We're hearing from an officer there.
UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Does not have the time he thought he would have to do the 101, therefore we decided to do this format instead of cancelling it all together. So when the chief comes down, he will reiterate that he will select a particular media outlet and they're allowed to ask one question and one question only because of the time restraints. He sends his apologies. He will call upon you and you can ask the one question. There's not going to be any follow-up questions. We apologize. You all know that there's so much going on and the challenges that we're all facing, and it's demanding and on the schedule and everything, so he decided to do this format, and ask only one question. Because if not, you know, we'll be here for hours at a time. So please respect that. And he should be down shortly, OK? Thank you.
BOLDUAN: All right, so you're looking right there at the police department giving the parameters of this press conference when the police chief comes down to speak to members of the media. We're going to keep an eye on that because it sounds like it should be starting pretty soon.
While we're waiting for that, let's bring in Robert Wilonsky, the city reporter and columnist for the "Dallas Morning News."
Robert, you had heard of this press conference kind of before many folks did. Are you hearing anything? Do you have any clue what news we'll be hearing from the chief at this news conference?
ROBERT WILONSKY, CITY REPORTER & COLUMNIST, DALLAS MORNING NEWS: No idea. No idea. In fact, a couple of days ago, I was talking to a couple of deputy chiefs kind of how things were going. They were chasing down leads. They didn't think anything would come of them. They were running into dead ends. Certainly in the last 12, 24 hours, something might have come up. As the mayor said this morning, they tend to learn something new every day, every hour. Until last night, they had no idea that two el Centro officers at the community college where the shooting had taken place, where the bombing had taken place early Friday morning, they did not know until yesterday that some officers had been injured there. So revelations are forthcoming it seems quite a bit during the course of this investigation which I believe the federal authorities have taken a lead on.
BERMAN: So, Robert, you wrote a bunch of compelling stuff since the shootings there in Dallas. You know Dallas is a city in pain. You're a person in pain. There's so many people down there in pain. You wrote in one of your pieces, ending it by saying, "No, I'm not OK." The president is going to speak there tomorrow. What does the city need to hear from him and what does the country need to hear from him right now?
WILONSKY: You know, a lot of people have been asking me over the past couple of days, when will the healing begin. I think the healing began Friday. There was the interfaith vigil at Thanksgiving Square with the mayor and police chief, a rabbi and many other folks spoke and they did an incredible job. And over the course of Friday, you could see the tenor and tone of discussions begin to change from anger and grief and anguish and certainly all those emotions will begin to surface yet again. We have the vigil tonight at Dallas city hall the Dallas Police Association is putting on. We have the memorial tomorrow with the president, the vice president, President Bush, and the mayor and others will be there as well. I don't know if we need to hear anything. I know we need to start feeling and being together. I know that visual on Friday at Thanksgiving Square, people coming together, holding hands, and just being around each other and being here. I was here Saturday. To come back here two days later and just see how this has grown, seeing people walking up to it throughout the course of the day, it's been extraordinary.
There have been some protests over the last 24 hours. They've been peaceful. People have wanted to start to open a dialogue. As long as that dialogue continues, as long as that handholding continues, as long as that grieving takes place -- and it will, we have funerals still ahead of us -- I think that's what's going to need to take place and how that healing is going to unfold.
BOLDUAN: You mentioned protests. You also mentioned, you know, the city coming together in that moment, Friday. What's the view from Dallas right now of the protests that are continuing in cities -- you know, outside of Dallas, in Baton Rouge, in Minneapolis? What's the view from Dallas on that?
[11:10:15] WILONSKY: I think we look within at this moment. We understand the need to have protests. We understand the need to have discussions, the needs to have this dialogue ongoing, because you can't have one conversation without the other. We certainly understand the need to have those.
You know, I was talking to somebody about this the other day. Until you guys show up, until the other media from outside the country showed up, you know, it really sort of drove home to me how we had become that story for this moment. When you guys leave, we're still going to have to deal with this pain. We're still going to have to deal with this anguish. We'll have to deal with this healing and these discussions. We look at what takes place outside and we understand in Baton Rouge or St. Paul that they're feeling something different than we're feeling here. And you're feeling something different in Austin or Houston than you're feeling here. So I understand why those conversations and why those protests take place and why they take place here. I think it's been extraordinary that so far everyone has come together. Yesterday, the protests and the counter protests came together peacefully. And as long as we continue to do that, as long as we continue to prove we are the city that we were Thursday evening when that initial protest took place, I think we'll be all right.
BERMAN: In so many ways, Dallas is a model for the rest of the country.
Robert Wilonsky, thank you for being with us. Appreciate your time, especially when, as you say, the city you're in right now needs to heal. Thank you.
WILONSKY: Thank you.
BERMAN: I should add, you can see the bottom part of your screen, we're waiting to hear from Dallas police chief, David Brown, who has really led that city in some ways through all the pain and anguish of the last several days. We'll check in with that news conference the minute it happens. Stay with us.
[11:15:41] BOLDUAN: Breaking news to get to right now out of the U.K. British Prime Minister David Cameron announced he will resign on Wednesday. The announcement just weeks after the U.K. voted to leave the European Union, the much-discussed Brexit, a vote which Cameron campaigned against. After the results, David Cameron said he would stay in charge until a new leader was chosen in early October. Things have clearly changed.
U.K. will have its first female prime minister since Margaret Thatcher. Theresa May cleared the field.
Let's go to CNN's Robin Oakley live in London.
This happened fast, Robin.
ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, John, the surprise withdrawal of one of the two remaining candidates to be leader of the Conservative Party, therefore, prime minister, withdrawal of Andrea Letsem from the contest today, has resulted in news that David Cameron will be out of Downing Street within two and a half days, and that Theresa May will be the new prime minister. This was how David Cameron announced it just a few moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I'm also delighted that Theresa May will be the next prime minister. She's strong, she's competent, she's more than able to provide the leadership our country will need in the years ahead and she will have my full support. Obviously, with these changes, we now don't need to have a prolonged period of transition. And so tomorrow, I will chair my last cabinet meeting. On Wednesday, I will attend the House of Commons for prime minister's questions. And then, after that, I expect to go to the palace and offer up my resignation, so we'll have a new prime minister in that building behind me by Wednesday evening.
Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OAKLEY: So that's it. At least one thing is becoming certain now in British politics in these fast-moving times, that is, we will have a new prime minister here by Wednesday evening -- John?
BERMAN: Stunning political fall. A stunning chain of events continues --
BOLDUAN: New prime minister in that building by Wednesday evening. Pretty amazing.
Robin, thank you so much.
BERMAN: Back here in the U.S., President Obama set to speak tomorrow in Dallas at the memorial service for the five fallen police officers. Now he is talking about how some protesters are betraying their own cause when their anger boils over into violence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whenever those of us who are concerned about fairness in the criminal justice system attack police officers, you are doing a disservice to the cause.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Let's talk about that more right now with Gregory A. Thomas, president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. Also joining us, former New York State Homeland Security adviser, Michael Balboni, now a senior fellow at the Homeland Security Policy Institute.
Gentlemen, great to see you. Thanks so much. Gregory, you heard President Obama. He's talked a couple of times, but hearing that from him over the weekend, we are in the middle of a national conversation about race and policing, and what you heard from President Obama that if you attack police officers, you're doing a disservice to the cause, do you agree? Do you think protesters have gone too far?
GREGORY A. THOMAS, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT EXECUTIVES: Again, in select cases, there's been some enraged behavior during demonstrations, and that should not be a case at any time, whether it be for this instance or any instance you're demonstrating against. You have to be careful you've not crossing a line and do not destroy property, for that matter, put others in danger, whether police officers or citizens. I have to agree with the president. We have to be careful that we have the right kind of leadership directing demonstrations in a peaceful way to make sure the message is getting across and not being distracted by demonstrators or others who are ought there to cause harm to themselves or others.
BOLDUAN: Gregory, we'll stop you right there really quick.
We have the police chief of Dallas speaking right now. Let's go to Dallas.
CHIEF DAVID BROWN, DALLAS POLICE DEPARTMENT: ... an update on this investigation, and a clarification on the make and model of the robot that we used to carry a device to detonate that ended the standoff. I'm going to start with that.
So, the robot is a Remotec, R-E-M-O-T-E-C, Andros, A-N-D- R-O-S, Mark V-A1. And that Mark V is Roman numeral V; so, Mark V-A1. We purchased the robot in 2008 at a cost of approximately $151,000. There's partial damage to the extension arm of the robot, but it is still functional if we had to use it for other operations.
An update on our investigation of the shootings. Our detectives are continuing to download body camera footage from the officers at the scene. There's over 170 hours of body camera video to download, and that is ongoing. Detectives are also collecting all dash cam video. So that's the video mounted on the squad cars that also recorded some of the incident.
So detectives will be reviewing all videos from surrounding businesses as well and that's also countless hours of video. Our plans are to date and time-stamp the entire incident with all video footage available so that we can see from the beginning as much as we can real-time action as it happened that evening.
Just an update on the injuries and deaths, just to make sure we have clear clarification. Five officers were killed. Nine officers were wounded as a result of gunfire or fragmentation of bullets. Of the nine officers wounded, four were Dallas police officers, three were DART officers, and two were Dallas County Community College police department officers there at El Centro. That brings the total number of officers -- I'm sorry -- the -- one of the DART officers that was wounded fired their weapon. So according to our investigative notes now, that brings the total number of officers who used force against the suspect to 13 -- 13 used force against the suspect. Of that 13, 11 officers used their firearms and two officers used an explosive device against the suspect.
Detectives are reviewing over 300 statements to determine which witnesses and officers need to be brought back for further interviews. Our detectives have also found some officers that were at the scene have not given statements yet. This has been confirmed through our preliminary review of body camera video. So these officers will be identified and brought in to give statements to us.
The Dallas Police Department, working with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, we're working also with our law enforcement partners in the area to determine the meaning of the initials "R.B." that were inscribed on the walls there in two locations inside El Centro.
All of the police vehicles that were processed by the FBI at the scene have been taken to the naval air station here to ensure that officers' personal property is returned to the families when appropriate.
BROWN: Can I also give, before I take questions, just an overview of the work that Dallas police officers have done here in Dallas to protect the citizens?
2015, just last year was our unprecedented 12th consecutive year of crime reduction for a total of 53 percent reduction in crime, more than any major city in this country during that period.
And more than at any other time in our history, here in Dallas. We have our records back to 1930 till today. In 2015, we had our fourth lowest murder rate since 1930.
That followed 2014 was our second lowest murder rate since 1930 in over 86 years. 2011 was our fifth lowest murder rate in our city's history, 2013 was our sixth lowest murder rate and 2010 was our tenth lowest murder rate.
And they've done this by also protecting the civil rights of our citizens through community police. In 2015, there was a 45 percent reduction in police-involved shootings. This year, we had one shooting where a subject was injured, not counting the downtown shooting.
We had four other police-involved shootings where we missed -- shot had missed. We have averaged over my 33-year career between 18 and 25 shootings a year. And in addition to that; in 2015 we had a 67 percent reduction in excessive force complaints.
We averaged over 150 to 200 every year for the past 33 years and last year we had 14. the overall crime rate here in Dallas is at a 50-year low. Violent crime is at a 40-year low. Our community policing efforts put us in positive contacts with over 120, 1,000 young people here, in Dallas. This is the best department in the country and I'm proud to be associated with the men and women of the Dallas Police Department.
And this tragedy, incident, will not discourage us but from continuing the pace of urgency in changing and reforming policing in America
With that, I'll take my first question from Casey with Fox.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) our hearts go out to you and your department. I think (inaudible).
BROWN: Thank you.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) I have no (ph) questions regarding the investigation. I just want to know how you are doing (ph). As we characterized on air, in our reports, law enforcement (inaudible).
What goes through your mind as you put your head (ph) (inaudible) and you process this and your mind actually comprehends what has happened to (inaudible)?
BROWN: To be quite honest, I'm running on fumes. Many of you have asked for interviews, I've tried to nicely ignore you. I hope you understand that my brain is fried.
The memorization it takes to run a major city police department exists (ph) in a normal process day with all the things that happen. It's overwhelming, so this transparent along with the normal days that are continuing to happen in the city is -- is difficult, at best.
Again, I go back to I'm a person of faith. I believe that I'm able to stand here and discuss this with you as a testament to God's grace and his sweet, tender mercy (ph) just to be quite honest with you, because what we're doing -- what we're trying to accomplish here is above challenging.
BROWN: It is -- we're asking cops to do too much in this country. We are. We're just asking us to do too much. Every societal failure we put it off on the cops to solve.
Not enough mental health funding? Let the cop handle it. Not enough drug addiction funding?
[11:30:00] Let's give it to the cops.