CNN’s Cuomo Gets SCHOOLED on Use of Force By Veteran Cop

23 mins read


CNN host Chris Cuomo does not have a good track record when going up against Georgia’s public officials. Last week, he got destroyed by an election official after crying racism. And then on Tuesday night, he got schooled on the use of deadly force by veteran police officer Steven Gaynor, the president of Cobb County’s Fraternal Order of Police. For someone who liked to brag about being an educated lawyer, Cuomo liked to show off why he was no longer in that field of work.

Any honest observer of the recent police shooting of Rayshard Brooks can admit it wasn’t the same as what happened to George Floyd, and that the police may have been justified. But, of course, Cuomo was no honest observer, and he had to peddle hate of the police. His first question to Gaynor was simple enough (click “expand”):

CUOMO: So, why do you believe this shooting was justified?

GAYNOR: Well Chris, I think if you look at the whole situation, look at the whole story with an open mind from start to finish, you look at the officers dealing with Mr. Brooks in a very calm and peaceful manner for about 43 minutes. And then you see it suddenly change when they tell Mr. Brooks he’s under arrest and begin to put the handcuffs on. Mr. Brooks becomes violent and begins to attack the officers.

Interrupting his guest, Cuomo followed up by asking the asinine question: “Why not give him the option of letting him leave that way? Leave the car here, walk home, or maybe we’ll give you a ride if we’re leaving, whatever. Why not go that way?”

Gaynor pointed out the obvious, that Brooks could’ve returned to his car when the cops left. “You leave somebody that’s DUI at the scene with a car, but even if he walks away, who knows if he doesn’t have another key if you take his keys. You don’t know the facts. You don’t know what’s going to happen,” he explained.

A short time later, Cuomo spouted off about how a taser in an untrained user’s hands was not considered a deadly weapon. “And a taser doesn’t count as deadly force when you guys use it. So why does it become one when he uses it,” he condescendingly sniped.

 

 

“A trained individual using a taser is not a deadly weapon by Georgia law,” Gaynor educated him. “So, a trained individual knows where to aim the taser. An untrained individual does not and it becomes a deadly weapon at that point.”

The CNN host couldn’t understand where his guest was getting that information, to which Gaynor told him: “The training we’ve had for over 20 years tells us that, if they take your baton or your taser, it now becomes one step more that you have to use deadly force.”

Gaynor then pointed out the double standard in how the district attorney was trying to apply the deadly weapon designation against cops and not Brooks. Again, Cuomo couldn’t catch on (click “expand”):

GAYNOR: And if you look at the district attorney from Fulton County, two weeks ago the taser was a deadly weapon. This case, the taser is not a deadly weapon. So, Mr. District Attorney, you’ve got to make up your mind. Is it or isn’t it a deadly weapon? Because there’s a difference–

CUOMO: What case was it a deadly weapon?

GAYNOR: It was the case with the two college students in the protests down in the City of Atlanta, in which those two officers were fired and then arrested by the district attorney before the investigation was even complete.

CUOMO: I understand that was frustrating to a lot of officers. And I know it took the chief by surprise. I don’t remember the taser being a fundamental part of the analysis there.

Aside from pontificating about his “years” of hand-to-hand combat training and how he was better than the police officers involved, Cuomo again struck a condescending and antagonistic tone in repeated swipes at the police. “Do you really believe you can justify shooting a man multiple times in the back while he’s running, when you know where he lives? Aren’t you guys trying to protect life,” he sneered.

“We both know he could have gone home if he hadn’t fired at him and he’d still have a job, if he hadn’t fired at him,” Cuomo added. “He was running away, Steve! What was going to happen? He was running away.”

As they were nearing the end of the interview, Cuomo (again, a former lawyer) couldn’t wrap his head around the idea that Brooks had committed a crime by physically assaulting police officers when trying to escape custody. Cuomo even went so far as to suggest the cops should have just let him run off. Again Gaynor dropped the hammer (click “expand”):

CUOMO: And under the law you have to believe either he has something he is going to seriously hurt somebody with, or that he has committed a crime that makes him a danger to seriously injure somebody. Which of those boxes do they check here?

GAYNOR: Well, he has committed a crime. He’s committed an agg. assault on two police officers, he’s stolen an item from one of the police officers–

CUOMO: The analysis is about what he did BEFORE the altercation with the police. You don’t get to build in what happened in that moment with him as proof of his criminal behavior. That’s not in the case law.

GAYNOR: No. Yes, you do because what he does from his actions causes what occurs in his death, not the previous action where they’re all compliant. What he does when he’s told he is under arrest, a lawful arrest. They go to put the handcuff on him – a lawful arrest with detention and he fights, he chooses to fight. That causes all these things to spiral. So, you’ve got to take those into account.

Acting like an expert in the law and getting schooled. This is CNN.

The transcript is below, click “expand” to read:

CNN’s Cuomo PrimeTime
June 16, 2020
9:34:42 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS CUOMO: Now, in general, Georgia law is pretty clear. An officer can use deadly force if “the suspect possesses a deadly weapon.” In the case of Rayshard Brooks, does discharging a taser over his shoulder while running away justify shooting him multiple times from behind. We put that question to Steven Gaynor. He is the president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Cobb County, Georgia. Welcome to PrimeTime, and thank you for your service to the community there.

STEVEN GAYNOR: Thanks, Chris. Thanks for having me on and let me tell the other side of the story.

CUOMO: Please. So, why do you believe this shooting was justified?

GAYNOR: Well Chris, I think if you look at the whole situation, look at the whole story with an open mind from start to finish, you look at the officers dealing with Mr. Brooks in a very calm and peaceful manner for about 43 minutes. And then you see it suddenly change when they tell Mr. Brooks he’s under arrest and begin to put the handcuffs on. Mr. Brooks becomes violent and begins to attack the officers.

CUOMO (interrupting): Okay. So, let’s go step by step. I’m with you. There are a lot of chitchat, a lot of niceties for a long time. What about the benign option of, the guy says he’s going to walk home, he has a sister in the area, you know, he’s not far, he’ll leave the car here, he’ll go. Why not give him the option of letting him leave that way? Leave the car here, walk home, or maybe we’ll give you a ride if we’re leaving, whatever. Why not go that way?

GAYNOR: The officers have lots of options available. They chose to make the DUI arrest. Who’s to say that he’s going to say, “I’m going to walk home” and then come back as soon as the officers drive away and take his car and go out and kill somebody driving DUI? You know, that’s a liability we take when we leave somebody at the scene. You leave somebody that’s DUI at the scene with a car, but even if he walks away, who knows if he doesn’t have another key if you take his keys. You don’t know the facts. You don’t know what’s going to happen.

(…)

CUOMO:  So, he grabs the taser and runs away. Why do you think that part of the fact pattern, him running away with the taser, that he apparently reaches back – I don’t know which arm, we’re watching the video – but reaches back with the taser, discharges it and that’s when the officer chasing him fires at him several times, hitting him at least twice. Why was that okay?

GAYNOR: Well, to finish on the fight part, they tell him not to take the taser. They tell him “let go, let go,” and he refuses. So, he now steals the taser from the officer, gets up, and runs. He does fire the taser, it does appear to hit the officer. When you watch it you do see the flash of the taser, you see the officer bounce off the car, and at that point I think the shots are fired about the same split second that it’s occurring.

Now the back shots are just the way he’s positioned when the shots go off, whether he was turning back around or whether he was turned in a twisted mode where his back was available.

CUOMO (interrupting): No he was running away. His is a huge part of the fact pattern. The idea that the shots were just put where his body was positioned is being a little too for giving, I think, in the analysis. Shooting someone from behind is not what you are trained to do, isn’t that correct?

GAYNOR: You can’t predict how a person is going to bob and weave and where the bullets will go after it leaves your gun. If they’re facing towards you and the reaction time that you have you fire, they could turn around. Your reaction time is a lot slower than their reaction time. They know what they are going to do. You have to react to what they’re going to do.

CUOMO: But he never turns around. He’s just running away and twists his body and fires what they knew to be a taser because they knew he didn’t have a handgun on him, they already searched him. And a taser doesn’t count as deadly force when you guys use it. So why does it become one when he uses it?

GAYNOR: When we use it. A trained individual using a taser is not a deadly weapon by Georgia law. So, a trained individual knows where to aim the taser. An untrained individual does not and it becomes a deadly weapon at that point. And if you go by–

CUOMO: That’s not in the law. Where do you get that from?

GAYNOR: Well, I get it from the training. So, the training we’ve had for over 20 years tells us that, if they take your baton or your taser, it now becomes one step more that you have to use deadly force. Because those can be used against you to incapacitate you and then take your weapon.

And if you look at the district attorney from Fulton County, two weeks ago the taser was a deadly weapon. This case, the taser is not a deadly weapon. So, Mr. District Attorney, you’ve got to make up your mind. Is it or isn’t it a deadly weapon? Because there’s a difference–

CUOMO: What case was it a deadly weapon?

GAYNOR: It was the case with the two college students in the protests down in the City of Atlanta, in which those two officers were fired and then arrested by the district attorney before the investigation was even complete.

CUOMO: I understand that was frustrating to a lot of officers. And I know it took the chief by surprise. I don’t remember the taser being a fundamental part of the analysis there. It was the method of which the kids were removed and the officer, who I believe may have been an officer who wasn’t the initial one dealing with them, but came in and picked up one of the kids — suspects and threw them on the ground and had to have another officer tell them to back off. I don’t remember that being about the taser.

(…)

CUOMO: Do you really believe you can justify shooting a man multiple times in the back while he’s running, when you know where he lives? Aren’t you guys trying to protect life?

GAYNOR: I think you can justify this case by Georgia law. It specifically gives him the right based on the aggravated assaults and the threat he poses to the public and to the officers there. It specifically gives them, by law, the right to shoot him. He chose to make those actions. He chose to do what he did. He could have been like 100 other DUIs that night, got arrested, bonded out, and gone home to his family.

CUOMO (interrupting): True, but resisting arrest, as we both know, is not a death sentence. And you’re right, Mr. Brooks made bad choices that were bad choices. The officers are trained in de-escalation and they’re supposed to be protecting and serving. Maybe under the law an officer may be deemed to of had the right. But do you think what he did was right? Would you have done the same thing in that situation?

GAYNOR: I can’t tell you, Chris. I wasn’t there. I’d have to experience the whole thing. I don’t think either one of us can say not being there. We can quarterback this thing all day long but we weren’t there.

(…)

CUOMO: We both know he could have gone home if he hadn’t fired at him and he’d still have a job, if he hadn’t fired at him.

GAYNOR: We don’t know what would’ve happened. We don’t know–

CUOMO: He was running away, Steve! What was going to happen? He was running away.

GAYNOR: Chris, what’s he going to do when he runs away? What’s he going to do? Now we know what the criminal history is, but we didn’t know at the time. But could he car jack somebody? Could he be scared so much that he’s going to kidnap somebody in another car? Is he going to hurt a civilian? There’s a lot of things that come into play that you have to play out and go, “I’m responsible for this individual I was going to arrest and he now has a weapon that I provided him because he took it from me. So O have to–

CUOMO: A discharged taser is not exactly the most dangerous thing that somebody could be handling around. If he had a knife, if he had a sharp stick he would be a lot more dangerous to people than just having the taser. And under the law you have to believe either he has something he is going to seriously hurt somebody with, or that he has committed a crime that makes him a danger to seriously injure somebody. Which of those boxes do they check here?

GAYNOR: Well, he has committed a crime. He’s committed an agg. assault on two police officers, he’s stolen an item from one of the police officers–

CUOMO: The analysis is about what he did BEFORE the altercation with the police. You don’t get to build in what happened in that moment with him as proof of his criminal behavior. That’s not in the case law.

GAYNOR: No. Yes, you do because what he does from his actions causes what occurs in his death, not the previous action where they’re all compliant. What he does when he’s told he is under arrest, a lawful arrest. They go to put the handcuff on him – a lawful arrest with detention and he fights, he chooses to fight. That causes all these things to spiral. So, you’ve got to take those into account.

The first part is a whole different situation.

(…)

CUOMO: It all changes once he resists and then the analysis will be: did the officers make the right choices under the law in this situation?

GAYNOR: Under the law, they did. Totally under the law, as trained.



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