Rep. Gaetz story somehow more sordid with each new updateThe Rachel Maddow Show
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- 3 Apr 2021
Tonight's guests are Katie Benner, Justice Department reporter for the New York Times, and Brandt Williams, reporter for Minnesota Public Radio.
The Rachel Maddow Show weeknights at 9:00 Eastern on MSNBC. Very good evening to you and thank you again, Rachel Maddow will be with us very soon. We're happy that you are here with us tonight. We've got a lot to cover tonight. Reporter Katie Benner, who, along with her colleagues at The New York Times, broke the the bizarre Matt Gates story. She will show us that story live tonight. We're also going to have a live report from Minneapolis tonight after what's been described as a day of devastating testimony in the Derek Shervin case, the former Minneapolis police officer who's on trial for killing George Floyd.
There's a lot to get to tonight. And that's where we're going to start. Tonight is with the very latest from NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams, who has been reporting today the burst of violence at the north entrance to the US Capitol grounds today that left one US Capitol police officer killed, another, hospitalized with injuries and a suspect dead involved in all of that, ramming a car into those officers and into a metal barricade at their post. And then according to Capitol Police, he leapt out of that with a knife.
One Capitol police officer has was announced that the officer was killed. And this man, William Evans, known to his friends as Billy Officer Evans, was an 18 year veteran of the Capitol Police force. We know he arrived on their elite first responders unit. Now, he was the same that was the same unit as you might remember, that Officer Brian Cesnik served who died on the January 6th Capitol attack. All right. Repeat once, who joins us now with the latest on the investigation and what's known about the suspect.
Pete, thanks for making time tonight for you. What are the basic facts that we know of right now in terms of how the story has evolved below?
Enforcement officials say tonight that the suspect was Noah Green and green. Twenty five years old, had been living for a time in the Norfolk, Virginia area where he went to school and had recently moved to Indiana. Capitol police say he was not known to them, that he was not in their files for making any threats against Congress or members of Congress in the past. His Facebook page says he was a follower of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. And court records show that he petitioned to change his name to Noah Zaim Muhammad, but didn't show up for a court hearing in Indiana.
So the matter was dropped. A biography on the website of the college where he played football in Virginia says he was born in West Virginia but grew up in Virginia. And on the Facebook page in the last posting of the last few weeks ago, he said that he recently lost his job. He wrote this, quote, These past few years have been tough and these past few months have been tougher. And then he said, I've been tried with some of the biggest unimaginable tests in my life.
So tonight, investigators are going through his social media, talking to his friends and family members, working to trace his movements in the hours and days that led up to the attack. And they're looking into, I say, a growing number of clues that he was struggling with mental health issues. His social media post suggests a growing paranoia, but police say tonight so far, Richard, there was no sign that this was an act of terrorism. Do we know if both officers were struck by the suspect's car that we were watching all afternoon?
No, that's a very good question. The authorities have not been definitive about exactly what caused the officer's injuries, including the officer who died. So we don't know if it was from being struck by the car. It didn't sound from the news conference this afternoon from the police chief that no agreement actually was able to stab either the officers with the knife that he brandished. But we're not sure about that. We don't know with all the gunfire whether he was struck by a round.
We just don't know what the cause of death was yet. We're told the other officer now is in stable condition. But, you know, Richard, I think one thing that's good and I've heard this from several people in law enforcement today, it was for many years if people had sort of grievances and ill formed thoughts about Washington, the place that was the magnet for their attacks was the White House. There were all these reports about people trying to climb the White House fence.
And I think now there's a growing concern in Washington that that magnet is now the US Capitol.
The discussion and the way authorities were talking about whether or not terrorism was related to this or not. Do you know how they got to that outcome or that belief so early in the process?
Well, I think that was just they didn't find any obvious immediate signs of it. They got on to who he was pretty fast. They were able to trace the car registration. They had other ways of getting his identity and nothing turned up quickly. And I think what did turn up quickly is these Facebook postings, which suggest somebody who was struggling with mental health issues, no obvious connection to terrorism. Now they'll be looking at his travel. They'll be further looking into his social media.
So that was the initial take and that's subject to change as they get further into the investigation. They were speaking within two to two and a half hours after the after the attack. What does this mean long term for security there at the Capitol? Have you heard anything from authorities and your sources?
Well, it's certainly reopened that question. And, of course, it's going to be up to the it's going to be up to Congress. It's not going to be up to law enforcement. Members of Congress will make that decision just as new security measures around the White House are ultimately the decision of the president, not the Secret Service they can suggest. But just as in the case of Congress, they'll have to be the ones to decide. I think there was a feeling on the Hill that after with all this time since the January 6th riots, things were calming down and it wasn't necessary to have fences and everything else.
I will say one other thing about this, Richard. I mean, remember, if if this man's goal was to attack Congress, he failed. He was stopped by the Capitol Police and by the security in place at the Capitol. Unfortunately, two Capitol Police officers paid a heavy price, one the heaviest. So there have been other attacks on Congress before other people remember. Remember Russell Weston, who was a profoundly mentally disturbed man, shot, shot up the Capitol, got inside, killed a police officer.
So it's this has happened before. But I think it's obviously reopening the debate now about whether there needs to be more security around the Capitol.
All right, Pete Williams, thank you so much, NBC News justice correspondent. Thank you for the very latest on that. And please hop back on with us as you learn more as the story develops. Thank you so much. Now, I'm going to toss it over to our colleague, Ali Velshi. Ali, it's a team effort tonight. We have a little bit of a technical difficulty with Rachel Mattos camera that happens. And I hand it over to you, my friend.
It takes a village, right? That's right, Rachel's work, getting her camera work is going to need a whole team of us to keep it going. Thank you, my friend. Good to see you as always. I'm going to see you on my show this weekend, Richard. Thank you. And for those of you at home, don't worry. Everything is OK with Rachel. She's actually in position and ready to go at any moment. She is likely to take the show back.
That's just a technical problem with some power. They're working on it at the moment. Rachel is present and listening, so I promise not to mess things up. Thanks for being with us this evening. We'll, of course, keep you posted on the story that is developing at the United States Capitol, where, unfortunately, one Capitol police officer has lost their life, the fourth one since January 6th. Another officer is in the hospital right now. Well, this country has had a terrible year for lots of reasons in twenty twenty.
But the men and women of the Capitol Police have truly been through hell so far in twenty, twenty one. It was gut wrenching today to see the chief of that police force have to struggle and contain her own emotion as she announced yet another Capitol police officer killed in the line of duty today. Of all days, a man named Daniel Rodriguez was in federal court in California after he was arrested this week for one of the most gruesome assaults on a police officer at the United States capital attack on January the 6th.
Now, we've talked about this case on this show before because of the unusual confluence in this case of some terrible violence online researchers pretty definitively identifying this guy and then what seemed to have been a really delayed response from law enforcement at actually going and arresting him. The capital attack happened, of course, the first week of January, you all remember that January the 6th, we learned very soon after that attack that as part of the violence the Trump mob unleashed against officers that day, someone in the crowd had repeatedly shocked or tasered.
Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Phonon repeatedly hit him point blank in the neck with an electroshock device until Officer Phonon was knocked unconscious. He was hospitalized and that attack caused him to have a heart attack. By the end of January, after online antifascist activists, activists and citizen investigators had started picking apart the footage from the attack to try to identify individuals who were leading the mob and committing the worst acts of violence by the end of January. The FBI was receiving tips about Daniel Rodriguez.
They knew about his identity and his role in the attack. Now, it would only later emerged that there was actually clear, identifiable video showing that Rodriguez appears to be the person who shot Officer Fenelon in the neck. This is the video under his helmet and above his body armor, hitting his exposed skin on the side of his neck. By late February, Jessalyn Cook and Ryan Riley at Huffington Post had reported a profile on Rodriguez linked to all of the online photos and videos showing him committing this attack, reporting out his story of violence at other pro Trump events and rallies.
And then they eyed him affirmatively by his full name and hometown. It would still be more than a month before the FBI would turn up to arrest this guy. They finally did it this week. Today, he was in court in California. The judge ordered him held in custody while he awaits trial for, among other things, charges of assaulting Officer Phonon with that electroshock device. The video clips of Rodriguez apparently jamming that shock device into the officer's neck were shown in court today by the prosecutor.
So, yeah, he's going to stay in jail in terms of other news that we've been watching today. Today, we broke all previous records for the number of vaccines administered in a single day. The White House covid response team says today alone, four million shots were administered far higher than the previous record for a single day. President Biden today announced we've also hit a record for the whole past week, 20 million shots administered over the past seven days, which means almost 10 percent of the entire adult US population has received a vaccination shot in the past week.
That is a phenomenal acceleration in the vaccine rollout. After the bad news earlier this week about Johnson and Johnson screwing up a batch of vaccine at a new manufacturing plant they were trying to bring online in Maryland, the White House said. Nevertheless, Johnson and Johnson hit its goal for the number of doses that they would have shipped by the end of March. They say that one company alone is on track to hit its target of one hundred million doses shipped by the end of May.
Moderna also got approval today to start shipping vials that have 15 doses in them instead of five or 10. That means they'll be less need to fill and finish work for each dose, for each vial. That means medicine, production and distribution will be accelerated as well. Pfizer this week announced good news about its efficacy against the so-called South African variant, which has been one of the strains of the virus that epidemiologists had been most worried about. So the vaccine news is strong and getting stronger.
Even as case numbers do keep rising, numbers will stop rising. If we can get enough of the vaccination, enough of the population vaccinated fast enough, and if we can hold it together to stop infecting each other so quickly in these last few weeks before there literally be enough vaccine doses for every single African person in the United States. There's more news on voting rights today, really big news, actually, as Major League Baseball pulled the all star game and their players draft from Atlanta in direct response to Georgia Republicans radically rolling back voting rights in that state.
A lot of reporting today about how civil rights groups have advocated for this kind of bold action to stand up for voting rights. Less reporting on the fact that the Major League Baseball Players Association had been pressuring the league to make this move. Players a bit the front end of this thing the whole time. Last night, we reported on a rush of major corporations, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, Dell Computers, Microsoft, the Coca-Cola Company, all of them coming out and criticizing the anti voting bills and new laws in Republican controlled states.
Today, a group of CEOs for more than one hundred major companies, including Uber, Target, Snapchat, PayPal, they all came out along the same lines, quote, Every American should have a voice in our democracy. Voting should be safe and accessible. Americans must have equal freedom to vote and elections must reflect the will of the voters.
Our elections are not improved when lawmaker lawmakers impose barriers that result in longer lines at the polls or that reduce access to secure ballot drop boxes and quote, I'm not sure that Republicans in state legislatures are used to being crosswise with all the big business interests in their state. So I'm not sure what this is going to do to Republican voting rights rollbacks in all of these red states. But all this new outspokenness by the business world is certainly strapping booster rockets to the prospects for Senate Bill one SB one, the federal bill that's in the Senate right now to protect voting rights nationwide.
If big businesses in numbers like this with a willingness to shove a little on this issue, if they take on the for the People Act SB one and they commit that, it must pass the Senate and it must become law. That's a whole new ballgame, it might be the whole new all star game. I mentioned earlier we're going to be speaking with Katie Benner from The New York Times is the story that at the beginning of the week I could not have conjured from the ether, even if I were trying to imagine the grossest possible conger story of twenty twenty one.
It is now, however, been three days of rapid and increasingly bleak developments in that bombshell story that Katie Better and her colleagues at The New York Times first broke on Tuesday night. The most flamboyant and bombastic pro Trump Republican congressman in Washington, Florida Congressman Matt Gates, reportedly under federal criminal investigation for alleged child sex trafficking.
As we reported last night, the local Republican elected official whose case apparently led investigators to Congressman Gates', Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, he was hit just yesterday with a superseding federal indictment, bringing the number of federal felony charges he's now facing to thirty three. The most serious of those, of course, is the allegation that he was involved in sex trafficking of an underage girl. The latest reporting on the gate story is that NBC News was first to report it is the sex trafficking and trafficking investigation into Joel Greenberg that led investigators to Congressman Gates.
The Times further reports that the underage girl, who is the basis for the child sex trafficking indictment against Greenberg, is the same girl for whom Congressman Gates is now potentially facing similar charges. There remains one part of this, though, that appears to be still developing, and that appears to be part of how federal investigators got involved here in the first place, and that's only now coming into focus when it comes to Congressman Gates in the indictment of the other guy, Joel Greenberg.
Prosecutors accuse him of making multiple fake IDs, fake driver's licenses and I.D. cards at the tax collectors office where he worked. They accuse him explicitly of using these fake IDs to facilitate the child sex trafficking and prostitution of which he is accused. It's not clear how the fake IDs, particularly fake IDs with his own picture on them, were part of the alleged trafficking scheme. But The Orlando Sentinel was among the news organizations today to report that federal investigators got onto Congressman Gates for his potential role in those same alleged crimes after employees at the tax collectors office saw surveillance footage of Joel Greenberg and Congressman Gates after hours at the tax collectors office one weekend in April.
Twenty eighteen doing who knows what. The office staff reportedly said that when they came into the office the next day, the alarm had not been reset and multiple discarded driver's licenses were strewn around the desk instead of in the to be shredded file where they had been left. Mr. Greenberg, confronted by his own employees, bragged to them that, yes, it had been him in the office overnight and that Congressman Matt Gates had been with him. The two of them doing Lord knows what with all those discarded IDs, but federal prosecutors say fake IDs were part of the child sex trafficking scheme for which Greenberg is already charged and for which Gates is now under scrutiny.
This is not going well for him, worse with each passing day. Katie Benner joins us next. We think Rachel's going to be back as well. So every once in a while, the squirrel runs by and like kicks out the extension cord and everything goes dark. It's pretty much how American infrastructure works right now. As long as our squirrels are trained and disciplined and in good order, everything's fine. But, you know, one unruly squirrel or on a Friday night bender and things go dark.
I am sorry for the technical difficulties that we have experienced here over the last twenty three or so minutes. I want to say huge thanks to Richard Lui, who was literally standing by to take over when my screen froze and the lights went out. And thank you from the bottom of my heart to my friend Ali Velshi, who is standing by because he's doing the next hour here on MSNBC and has plenty of work to do right now and nevertheless stepped in until we could get things back up and running.
So the NBC field operations team is the people who you want on your team when things go wrong. They are freaking phenomenal. Thank you to you guys in the studios for helping me. Thank you to facilities for helping me. Thank you to Joe and Sam and Corey and everybody else who helped get this back together. I thank you. Let's see if we can make it to the end of the show without it happening again. I've bribed the squirrels now, so we'll see.
All right. It was Tuesday night this week that New York Times reporter Katie Benner and Michael Schmidt blew up what had otherwise been a kind of normal for now news cycle when they reported that the most pro Trump Republican congressman of them all, flamboyant Florida Congressman Trump, diehard Matt Gates, was under federal criminal investigation for possible sex trafficking of an underage girl. The Times reported that Congressman Gates showed up on the radar of federal law enforcement sort of unexpectedly as part of a steeply escalating federal investigation into this.
Local Florida Republican official is dressed like a cop here, wearing his badge around his neck and wearing his gun on his hip. He's actually the tax collector for Seminole County in Florida, but he liked to wear his badge like that. He at one point apparently pulled over a woman for speeding, even though that's not his job. He's not a cop. He's the tax collector. But the lurid back story on Joel Greenberg, the Florida county role playing, role playing tax collector, started sort of small in the local press and has gotten bigger as the charges against him have mushroomed with an initial indictment last summer that led to his resignation from local office and then three superseding federal indictments since, including one this week.
Mr. Greenberg now faces trial in June on thirty three federal criminal counts, including child sex trafficking. And that almost unbelievably scandalous story of that one local Republican official in Florida has been well, mind and well told by the Orlando Orlando Sentinel newspaper in particular, and by local TV stations in the area. But The New York Times on Tuesday night breaking the news of Congressman Gates's involvement and potential legal jeopardy in the worst crimes that Greenberg is charged with. That was a whole nother thing.
And since the Times broke that story on Tuesday night, engendering furious denials from Congressman Gates, other news outlets, including CNN and NBC News and ABC News and The Daily Beast, have added further reporting, more texture to the main story line. NBC News, for example, was first to report that Matt Gates's communications director in Congress resigned amid the cascading scandal. But last night, despite all the other news organizations that are now working on this, last night, it was The New York Times that again blew the doors off this story with sort of a monumental gross out advance.
The Times reported late last night that it was not just that one alleged relationship with an underage girl that federal investigators were looking at in terms of the congressman. Rather, they were looking at Congressman Gates's alleged involvement with multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments. According to the Times, Joel Greenberg, the tax collector guy, met the women through websites that connect people who go on dates in exchange for money and gifts, which isn't exactly prostitution, if you kind of do it exactly right.
But he then introduced the women reportedly to Congressman Gates, who also had sex with these women who had had entered into a sort of remunerative relationship for this. The Times says it reviewed receipts from mobile payment apps that showed payments from Gates and Greenberg to at least two women. And those women told their friends that the payments were for having sex with those two men, in addition to Congressman Gates and Joel Greenberg. The Times also had this detail that one of the women also had sex with a, quote, unidentified associate of theirs, meaning an unidentified associate of Congressman Gates and.
Greenberg in Florida, Republican politics. And we should note, the Congressman Gates hasn't been charged with any crime. He firmly denies that he ever paid for sex or had any relationship with any underage girls. But the story keeps developing in ways that are more and more uncomfortable to talk about. But now we're in the middle of it, aren't we? Joining us now is Katie Benner, New York Times reporter who covers the Justice Department. Katie, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
And thank you for sort of writing out those technical difficulties with us. I appreciate it. No worries. Thanks for having me. So let me first just ask you if I am explaining the story correctly and if you feel like generally the way the story is being discussed nationally comports with what you've been able to report. Are there elements of this that are being broadly misconstrued or do you think people broadly understand the the the parameters of what investigators are looking at here?
Yeah, I think that people do broadly understand the parameters. What began with an investigation, to your point, to a very local Florida politician has mushroomed and it's it's ensnared. Congressman Gates, one of the things that is emerging from this and from the from our reporting is the relationship between the two men. It has become clearer and clearer that it is Joel Greenberg who makes initial overtures to women as Joel Greenberg, who's primarily sending the messages to them that we've seen that say, please meet here at this hotel.
There's a thousand dollars for you if you come. Those are the sorts of things that Joel Greenberg is doing. It's his name on many of the receipts. It really looks like he's the person responsible. Whether or not he's the person in charge is the open question, because when he quickly hands everybody off to Congressman Gates where they engage in sexual relations. So that's one thing that's emerging, this relationship between Greenberg and Gates. And that's important because we're seeing the government put pressure on Greenberg as we speak, ratcheting up the charges.
If he is indicted on the child sex trafficking charge, that is a mandatory 10 year minimum sentence. There's no way out of that. No matter how lenient the judge is on other charges, he is really facing some very, very severe penalties. And they are clearly trying to pressure him in order to get him to give them more information on other people. They would like more information about, possibly including Congressman Gates. Is there any indication at this point, Katy, that Mr.
Greenberg is cooperating with prosecutors? We've not seen any indication of that. He has remained defiant. He's pled not guilty. So we really don't know what's going to happen.
But we also know that the investigators, they're aware of other men involved in these sexual relationships. We we've spoken with people who talk about some of the interviews that some of these women may have given, where they talk about people who they've had sex with her, their Congressman Gates, nor Mr. Greenberg, but who are associates of theirs and who say they slept with them because they were asked to. So that's another element that we're looking at, possibly a wider ring of men beyond just Gates and Greenberg.
And there was the phrasing around that part of the story seemed quite specific, that at least one additional man described in conjunction with these allegations is another man involved in Florida Republican politics. Is that the is that the sort of the way this seems to be going, that this may be all people who have sort of political connections to one another?
Now, what we've seen is that from for now what we are hearing, what we're reporting is that it is men involved in Florida politics, possibly donors. We have not seen it go beyond Florida for now. Katie, can I also just ask you, and this is something that I feel like if I were a lawyer, I would understand it better, but maybe specifically in conjunction with this case, you can explain it in a way that will make me understand it.
And our viewers, what is the difference here in terms of prostitution versus sex trafficking and in terms of the allegations here and what Congressman Gates is being investigated for? Are some of these things things that would potentially be legal if the woman involved was of age, but they would be illegal if if the if it was a girl involved, somebody under the age of 18.
So we'll start with prostitution. That is a state crime. It's not a federal crime. So to the extent that investigators could prove that the women had sex with these men and the cash payments they received were in exchange directly for that sex, that's a state crime that could be prosecuted in the state of Florida. And Florida does have very strong laws around this. So that's not something that federal prosecutors would necessarily be interested in persay, except when you start looking at sex trafficking of an adult, not sex trafficking of a minor.
That is when an adult is having sex but is coerced somehow into it. And one of the other things that we found in our reporting is that there is a lot of drug use involved in these encounters. And so investigators will start looking and saying, well, was the drug use a form of coercion? We've seen cases where people are given drugs because they're addicts and then they are asked to have sex and they say they say yes because they really need the drugs.
And so that has been considered coercion in some cases in the past. So that's when investigators will start saying, OK, well, if there was something that we would think of as prostitution, was there a coercive element where these women being passed around between men? Was it completely with their consent and what else was going on? They want to look at a lot of elements of these. These are crimes that can be difficult to prove. Now, sex trafficking of a minor is a little bit different.
You don't need coercion. It is a hard stop on the age. It is simply somebody under the age of 18 who given literally anything of value. It could be a hotel room. It could be a meal. It could be a beer. The reason why this law is written so broadly is because one of the few things that Republicans and Democrats agree on is that sex trafficking of children is abhorrent. And so that's also why this law comes with this very strict mandatory minimum sentence.
It does not matter whether or not the person knew that the minor is a minor. It is a really serious charge. So when you look at all of the elements of the investigation right now, it is the minor that is the most serious element. Katie Benner covers the Justice Department for The New York Times, and I now feel like I understand those distinctions that I did not previously understand. Thank you for your clarity and for your reporting on this story.
Thanks for helping us understand. All right, we've got much more ahead here tonight. Stay with us.
Today is day five in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derrick Shervin, who stands accused of murdering George Floyd heading into this week. We knew this was going to be a trial under incredible scrutiny with the whole country watching. I don't think anybody expected that just one weekend we would have seen the gut wrenching, emotional and often surprising testimony that the prosecution has put on every day this week. There were the opening arguments on Monday. By Tuesday, prosecutors had started calling to the stand one by one.
Each of the people who watched George Floyd die on that Memorial Day evening last year. Some of the witnesses were so young at the time they witnessed the alleged crime that the courtroom didn't allow their faces to be shown on camera. One of those young witnesses was Darnell Frazier, who recorded the cell phone video of Mr. Floyd's death that was ultimately seen worldwide. When I look at George Lloyd, I look at look at my dad, I look at my brothers, I look at my cousins, uncles, because they are all black.
I have I have a black father. I have a black brother, have black friends. And I look at that and I look at how that could have been one of them. It's been nights I stayed up apologizing and apologized to George for you for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life, but.
State of apologizing to George Floyd for not saving his life during Frazier would end up being one of several young people who testified about living with guilt after Mr. Floyd's death, despite them not being in any way responsible for it. On day three of the trial, it was Christopher Martin, the 19 year old store clerk who had accepted an allegedly counterfeit 20 dollar bill from Mr. Floyd that day and then reported it to his boss so it wouldn't be taken out of his paycheck.
That incident was what led to the police being called to the scene that day. We saw you standing there with your hands on your head for a while, correct, great. What was going through your mind during that time period? Disbelief. Thank you. My guilt, if I would have just not taken the bill, could have been avoided. So I would have just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided by day four of the trial yesterday, the prosecution had called to the stand George Floyds girlfriend at the time of his death, the first witness in the trial who had actually personally known Mr.
Floyd before he died. She explained how she met him in August twenty seventeen when he saw her crying in the lobby of a homeless shelter where he was working as a security guard. For as this great. Deep Southern voice, raspy like few cases, and I wasn't OK.
You know, I'm just waiting for my son's father. He said. Can I pray with you? When the prosecution announced its witnesses for today, it was sort of expected that it would be a less dramatic day in court, in part because the two witnesses, prosecutors put on the stand today were both police officers, former colleagues of Derek Chauvin, which is why I think it caught everybody's attention when Lieutenant Richard Zimmermann, who is literally the highest ranking officer on the entire Minneapolis police force, he told the jury today that Officer Derek Chauvin's actions were against department policy.
What he did is not what officers are trained to do. He called the use of force against George Floyd, quote, totally unnecessary. Again, this is the most senior police officer in the Minneapolis police department. His testimony was described by The New York Times today as devastating for Officer Derek Chauvin's Defense Watch. Have you ever in all the years you've been working for the Minneapolis police department, been trained to kneel on the neck of someone who is handcuffed behind their back in a prime position?
No, I haven't. Is that if that were done, would that be considered force? Absolutely. What level of force might that be? That would be the top tier, that deadly force. Why? Because of the fact that if your knee is on a person's neck that can kill him.
What is your you know, your view of that use of force during that time period? Totally unnecessary. What do you mean? Well, first of all, pulling him down to the ground, face down and putting your knee on the neck for that amount of that amount of time is just uncalled for. I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger, if that's what they felt and that's what they would have to feel to be able to use that kind of force.
Again, that is the senior police officer on the Minneapolis police force. That testimony today, again, described as devastating for the officer's defense. According to the pool reporter in the courtroom, during that part of Lieutenant Zimmermann's testimony, almost all of the jurors could be seen furiously taking notes. We'll be right back. Stay with us. If you as an officer corps in the training, you handcuff somebody behind the back, what's your responsibility with regard to that person?
From that moment on? That person is yours is your responsibility. His safety is your responsibility, his well-being, and it's your responsibility. That's Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman, he's the senior most police officer on the scene in the Minneapolis police department, testifying today at the trial of Derrick Shervin. Brent Williams is a reporter for Minnesota Public Radio. He's been covering the trial. We've checked in with him several times about this case since it first unfolded. Mr. Williams, thanks for being with us tonight.
It's nice to see you. Criticising. So I feel like as a layman watching this, just like a lot of people are watching this, I was surprised over the course of the week at the powerful and at times very emotional nature of the testimony, today was a shorter day of testimony, one that I didn't expect to be as affecting. But hearing from these police officers, particularly Lieutenant Zimmerman today, it felt like a sledgehammer for the prosecution today.
I have to ask you how you saw it in context and how effective you think these witnesses have been. Well, I'll tell you, I wasn't necessarily surprised by Zimmerman's testimony. I've covered Lieutenant Zimmerman for for many years. I've interviewed him for a couple of different stories and seen him kind of how he interacts with the public. And here's an example. In twenty fourteen, there was a well-known black activist who was basically accused officers of beating him up while they served a search warrant at his house.
They held there was a public event held in which community leaders came out to show their support for this community leader. And Zimmerman was there, the only member of the police department to show up. And he basically said, hey, I'm sorry this happened to you. I hope you get justice. So Zimmerman's got a reputation for as a lieutenant in homicide and being that since nineteen ninety five, he relies on having that kind of connection with community members.
And so I've seen him kind of hold that position throughout the community. So that part of his testimony was not a surprise. But as you said, I think it was effective for the prosecution. And the jury looking at the scope of what's been offered here by the prosecution, obviously, they're going to hear a powerful case from the defense team as well, I'm sure. But in terms of the what we what we know about jurors reactions to what they've been seeing, we've got pool reporters again.
We can't all be there in the courtroom because of restrictions. But what we hear from pool reporters about jurors taking copious notes, jurors seeming to be emotionally affected by some of the testimony as the prosecution is going to yield to the defense. Does it feel like they've sort of hit their marks, the things that they needed to get the jury to believe? Well, it would it would appear so now there was some of the other footage that we saw this week, of course, was that instore footage from foods watching George Floyd walking around, you know, just maybe an hour or so before he would no longer be with us.
And the poor reporter that day noticed how the jurors were paying attention and looking at George Floyd making these movements. I mean, you could see him kind of wiggling about and and as the clerk said, he he appeared that he was high but was a friendly person and was pleasant to talk to. So I think it's those types of moments that I see have had an impact on jurors. They seem to be paying attention to seeing George Floyd as a living person before obviously what we saw in those videos of him taking his last breaths.
Brent Williams, reporter for Minnesota Public Radio, we know that the trial continues, it has actually really transfixed the country in a lot of ways, but it's really helpful to have your reporting in your context. Thanks for joining us tonight. Good to be here. All right, we'll be right back. Stay with us. Hey, here's something that you might want to watch this weekend on Sunday night, and it is a serious thing, but I think it's important and I'm really, really glad that we are airing it here on MSNBC.
Kate Snow is a reporter who you probably know you recognize her. She's a really good reporter and correspondent at NBC News. And Kate Snow for the past more than two years has been digging and digging and digging on a story that would not have a home at every news organization. But it has one here. She's going to break this here on MSNBC Sunday night. It's a story, a disturbing story about a big for profit company that runs group youth homes across the country.
This is mostly homes for kids who are wards of the state, kids from foster care or from the juvenile justice system, kids who definitely have nowhere else to go. And what Kate has been able to report out about this big for profit company running tons of these facilities around the country. It's disturbing and it is astonishing. And she has really gotten to the bottom of it. Here's a little piece of her report that's going to air here on MSNBC on Sunday night.
After he throws the bread to school staffers approach, Kornelius, there's no audio, but you can see they're talking. But when Kornelius throws another piece of food, they shove him to the ground. Two men become three and then six adults on top of him holding Cornelius down. That is a violent response. What the staff did and then how long they held him down is shocking to people when they when they watch it. But it was not shocking to anybody that was in that lunchroom.
For more than 10 minutes, staff restrained Cornelius. If you watch the entire video, kids help me. Tables out of the way. They keep eating their lunch staff come in, they fill their trays, they clear their trays. Staff try to sit Cornelius up, but he's now limp. They surround him 12 minutes tick by before anyone calls nine one one and he's unresponsive. 12 minutes go by before the nurse finally calls 911 one one. And you see people just walking around his lifeless body.
He could have been saved, you know, if somebody would have had the moral compass to say, that's enough. Two days later, Cornelius died at the hospital. His death deemed a homicide. Three employees fired by school are charged with manslaughter, each one pleading not guilty.
A company that operates these homes, sequel Youth and Family Services, gave us this statement in response to Kate's reporting on that death, quote, the action shown in the video, We're in clear violation of policies and training on the appropriate use of emergency safety interventions. Staff were swiftly terminated for their participation in the restraint. Kate Snow's reporting on this. As I said, it's been going on for more than two years. It is part of a special that you should absolutely see.
It is hard, particularly in light of the George Floyd trial that has transfixed the country for this past week and will into next week. I think it is absolutely critical. The special is called Children that Pay. It's going to air this Sunday night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time on MSNBC. It's well worth your time. All right. That's going to do it for us tonight. Thank you again for bearing with us through our technical difficulties at the start of the hour.
We will see you again on Monday when everything will run perfectly.
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