tv The Beat With Ari Melber MSNBC February 22, 2021 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
hundreds of thousands of people who would not have gotten infected. but when the president decided last year to make masks a line in the sand about whether or not you believe in trump or whether or not our eye strong person or whether or not you're weak and you're liberal, that added a cultural component on top of the disinformation that i think has cost thousands of lives and sickened hundreds of thousands of people. and that's just one of the many terrible things that we're dealing with today. and honestly, nicolle, i think for all of the terrible things we saw last year i'm happy to see the level of rollout that we're seeing from joe biden but it's just an example of gosh, if you're just remotely compebt and remotely empa thet toik human nature this is actually something that can be handled. >> president joe biden is about to begin his remarks. we're joined for special coverage by our friend and colleague brian williams. >> nicolle, thank you for having me as part of this. we just thought we would take the moment this deserves. the live coverage this deserves.
that's a hallway you know well. on the second floor of the main house of the white house. we're going to see the president. we're going to see the first lady, we're told. we're going to see the vice president and the first gentleman. some brief remarks followed by a candle lighting. >> each day i receive a small card in my pocket i carry with me in my schedule. it shows the number of americans that have been infected by or died from covid-19. today we mark a truly grim, heartbreaking milestone. 500,071 dead. that's more americans who've died in one year in this pandemic than in world war i,
world war ii, and the vietnam war combined. that's more lives lost to this virus than any other nation on earth. but as we acknowledge the scale of this mass death in america, we remember each person and the life they lived. they're people we knew. they're people we feel like we knew. read the obituaries and remembrances. the son who called his mom every night just to check in. the father's daughter who lit up his world. the best friend who was always there. the nurse, the nurse and nurses, but the nurse who made her patients want to live. i was just in kalamazoo, michigan at the pfizer vaccine manufacturing facility. there i met a man when i walked
in whose father-in-law was dying of the virus. he was sad. i asked if i could call his father-in-law. he said his father-in-law was too sick to speak. but then he said but could i pray for him. could i pray for him. we all know someone, fellow americans who lived lives of struggle, purpose, and of hope. who talked late in the night about their dreams. who wore the uniform born to serve. who loved, played, and always offered a hand. we often hear people described as ordinary americans. there's no such thing. there's nothing ordinary about them. the people we lost were extraordinary. they spanned generations. born in america, immigrated to america.
but just like that so many of them took their final breath alone in america. as a nation we can't accept such a cruel fate. while we're fighting this pandemic for so long, we have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow. we have to resist viewing each life as a statistic or a blur or on the news. we must do so to honor the dead. but equally important, care for the living, those left behind. for the loved ones left behind i know all too well, i know what it's like to not be there when it happens. i know what it's like when you are there holding their hands, looking in their eye as they slip away.
that black hole in your chest, you feel like you're being sucked into it. the survivor's remorse, the anger, the questions of faith in your soul. for some of you it's been a year, a month, a week, a day, even an hour. and i know that when you stare at that empty chair around the kitchen table it brings it all back no matter how long ago it happened. as if it just happened that moment when you look at that empty chair. to birthdays, to anniversaries, the holidays without them. and the everyday things, the small things, the tiny things that you miss the most. that scent when you open the closet. that park you go by that you used to stroll in. that movie theater where you met. the morning coffee you shared
together. the bend in his smile. the perfect pitch to her laugh. i received a letter from a daughter whose father died of covid-19 on easter sunday last year. she and her children, his grandchildren, entered lent this season, a season of reflection and renewal, with heavy hearts. unable to properly mourn, she asked me in the letter what was our loss among so many others? well, that's what has been so cruel. so many of the rituals that help us cope, that help us honor those we loved, haven't been available to us. the final rites with family gathered around. the proper homegoing showered with stories and love.
tribal leaders passing out the final traditions of sacred cultures on sacred lands. as a nation we cannot and we must not let this go on. that's why the day before my inauguration at the covid-19 memorial, at the reflecting pool on the national mall, i said to heal, to heal we must remember. i know it's hard. i promise you, i know it's hard. i remember. but that's how you feel. you have to remember. and it's also important to do that as a nation. for those who've lost loved ones this is what i know. they're never truly gone. they'll always be part of your heart. i know this as well. this seems unbelievable. but i promise you, the day will
come when the memory of the loved one you lost will bring a smile to your lips before a tear to your eye. it will come, i promise you. my prayer for you, though, is that they will come sooner rather than later. and that's when you know you're going to be okay. you're going to be okay. and for me the way through sorrow and grief is to find purpose. i don't know how many who've lost someone a while ago are wondering is he or she proud of me now, is this the thing they want me to do? i know that's how i feel. and we can find purpose. purpose worthy of the lives they lived and worthy of the country we love. so today i ask all americans to
remember. remember those we lost and those left behind. but as we remember, as we all remember, i also ask us to act. to remain vigilant. to stay socially distanced. to mask up. get vaccinated when it's your turn. we must end the politics and misinformation that's divided families, communities and the country. it's cost too many lives already. it's not democrats or republicans that are dying from the virus. it's our fellow americans. it's our neighbors, our friends. our mothers, our fathers, our sons, our daughters, husbands, wives. we have to fight this together as one people, as the united states of america.
and some of them are going to beat this virus. i promise you. the only way to spare more pain and more loss, the only way is millstones no longer mark our national mourning -- these milestones, i should say, no longer mark our national mourning. let this not be a story of how far we fell but of how far we climbed back up. we can do this. for in this year of profound loss we've seen profound courage from all of you on the front lines. i know the stress, the trauma, the grief you carry. but you give us hope. you keep us going. you remind us that we do take care of our own, that we leave nobody behind. and while we've been humbled, we have never given up. we are america. we can and will do this.
in just a few minutes jill and i, kamala and doug will hold a moment of silence here in the white house. the people's house. your house. we ask you to join us. to remember so we can heal. to find purpose in the work ahead. to show that there is light in the darkness. this nation will smile again. this nation will know sunny days again. this nation will know joy again. and as we do, we'll remember each person we've lost, the lives they lived, the loved ones they left behind. we will get through this, i promise you. but my heart aches for you, those of you who are going through it right now. may god bless you all, particularly those who've lost someone. god bless you.
>> the president will now head downstairs to the south portico to a second location for the candle lighting you heard him mention where he will be joined there. the stage is set. joined by the first lady, the vice president, and first gentleman overlooking the south lawn. it is striking. i'll go ahead and say it. to hear that personal tone, hushed tones almost, that kind of humanity, that kind of empathy, in that structure behind that podium by a man who occupies the highest office in the land after the year our country has just been through.
you see the candles cascading down the flanking sets of stairs from upstairs at the white house. a truly emotional sight. and i'll tell you, nicolle wallace, what the last emotional sight was. it was the eve of the inauguration. those lighted stancheons on either side of the reflecting pool. it was such a graphic depiction, such a beautiful depiction of the loss. it was meant to symbolize the 400,000, which was the death toll then. this can't be stressed enough. we have lost an additional 100,000 souls, 100,000 fellow citizens, since just that day. who among them was working on a cure for cancer? who among them was themselves caring for covid patients? who was celebrating after a life well lived? perhaps teaching children in
school, trying to enjoy retirement. how many educators? how many police officers? firefighters. factory workers. most of them died alone. some of their funerals had to be held at a distance, others electronically. it is our job to make sure their memories are all a blessing. we grow up learning that we are the best nation on earth. it's one of the first things you hear as a young student in school. when you get a little older, look into the textbooks, you see there's a phrase for it. american exceptionalism. i would argue this is the least exceptional moment in our modern history. nicolle? >> there's no words to better i think describe this moment than the ones you just chose. i would add that there's some reporting in the "washington post" about the pandemic's youngest victims. more than 200 children have
died. and so much of the narrative around children is that they are largely immune. they're not. and so the thought that some of those candles are for someone's 9-year-old or 6-year-old. and every candle represents an entire world, an entire universe being destroyed. i thought what joe biden did was just a meditation on grief. he described the black hole in your soul, survivor's remorse, and said we have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow. ♪♪
lincoln's body, the homecoming of john f. kennedy's body. the lights, the candles, however, nicolle, as you were saying, were unique and fitting. >> and this president is unique and fitting. and when you hear him talk about being a president for every american, he's talking about opening up the door to his darkest hours, his most painful moments as a father and a husband. and you can hear him remembering. the smell of the closet when you open the door. and to have a president willing to open his heart and his saddest moments and his saddest days to help the country through its saddest moments and its saddest days is what joe biden means when he says he's going to be a president for every american. >> i'm dutybound to remember one of the last times there was this much live television attention. i am guessing your mind went there too. on the south portico.
>> you and i sat here for hours watching the helicopter take one sick donald trump to walter reed on this shot, on this balcony. >> and think of the return. think of the live coverage of his return from the hospital. the people who know him and know medicine noticed he was oxygen starved by the time he got to the top of the steps where he triumphantly pulled off his mask and walked unmasked into the residence of the white house to shoot a video in that moment. it was as much a celebration of his successful treatment as it was anything else. missing from that event, any note, any mention of the loss we remember today. >> and i think joe biden in his two events has gone so far in tapping into this collective grief which knows no partisan
association, of tapping into science. i mean, we've been talking for the last two hours about these fact-filled briefings. but this is the part of it that i think people were aching for, someone to put words and ritual to grief. and that is what he did tonight. brian, let's bring into our conversation our friends donna edwards and jason johnson. donna. >> you know, i was thinking, nicolle, as president biden was speaking about those 500,000 lives lost, i want to add to that publicly my aunt mary. and when joe biden talked about not being able to celebrate a homegoing, i thought of my cousins and our family members not being able to gather and comfort each other in the way that families do.
and i think that tonight joe biden really spoke to our hearts as people, to our humanity, and to us as americans to celebrate those lives lost, to remember them, and to keep in our prayers all of their family members and friends and extended family who are missing somebody at the table tonight. >> jason? >> we talk a lot about joe biden's empathy and how he can draw upon the loss of his wife and children. but when he talks about going into the closet and that waft of somebody who's not there, just remembering somebody's laugh, i don't -- i don't know that i've
ever seen a president in my lifetime more appropriately channel the level of pain and agony that so many people are in. just last week one of my best friends lost her father abroad to covid. i know dozens of people who have lost folks to covid, who are suffering through covid now. and i think, you know, if you would have asked us a year ago what will be the most tragic memorial that we would have this year, it would be the 20-year anniversary of 9/11. and yet here we are and it's february and we're talking about the loss of 500,000 lives and it will be a lot worse by the time we get to september. and in a non-partisan way i'm very happy that we have this president to guide us through this because i can't think of anybody else who more effectively represents what we're going through and cares more deeply about it than joe
biden. >> these pictures, just this picture of south portico is so deeply moving. it has taken on a kind of twinkling candlelight in a cathedral effect, and it's fitting for the moment. i'd like to bring in a third guest who has been watching along with us and that's mara gay, on the editorial board of the "new york times." and mara, i have to say, i know you at first only from our brief appearances together on television. i knew you as a proud michigan grad. i knew you as an active and energetic young runner. and months later i came to know you as one of the first people i knew to get covid-19. and i know you've been on a journey. i know this has thrust you into a kind of ongoing support group that'll probably never go away. and i know this has forced you into deep thought about how
fortunate you were to have recovered all but fully, that is not to diminish your lingering symptoms, and i know it has caused you deep thought on those who were not so fortunate. >> yeah. brian, as i was watching the bidens and the harris family, joe biden was speaking to what for me personally and i think for the country has been really two pandemics. one is the pandemic of covid-19 and the other is this pandemic that trumpism unleashed upon us of just hatred, lack of empathy, divisiveness and really the uncaring and the lack of the ability to see one another as human beings across the political divide and the other
things that divide us. and i think what's so powerful about this moment tonight is that this isn't just about healing, i think this is also about justice for those lives that we've lost, for those families who lost people, because you know, the hardest thing for me to process in the past year is the fact that this wasn't a natural disaster. you certainly can't blame former president trump for covid-19. in no way am i saying that. but the callousness of the response or lack thereof cost lives and created a lot of suffering. and so we could have prevented suffering and death and we didn't because of the political divide that donald trump used to empower himself at the expense of the rest of us. the decision to ignore science,
to lie to the american people early on about what the threat was, what he knew about it, you know, i think it's not just about healing. it's about accountability and it's about justice and making sure that we can actually see and recognize one another's suffering. and joe biden was able to do that tonight. and i think justice for these families will come when we're saving each other's lives. when you see people on the street who refuse to wear a mask because donald trump told them it wasn't important, that is so painful to people who have lost someone or people who've been sick or suffering for months with this virus. and that is the second pandemic that has been visited upon us. and it's really criminal in some ways. and i think it's going to take years to recover from that kind of trauma. so there's a lot of healing that
we have to do. there's a lot of accountability and justice that needs to come. and joe biden i think put a marker down tonight and said i'm going to be a president who cares about every american, who sees every american, and that's a great place to begin. >> we've been through so many news cycles that predated the pandemic. now i think you're known to so many of brian's viewers and mine as the person brave enough to share your own journey with all of us and inform all of us. but we all covered the democratic primary when joe biden was far from a foregone conclusion as the democratic party's nominee for president. and then a general election where no one had ever campaigned for the presidency from zoom and from all the things that responsible people like joe biden did during the pandemic.
the other side of all that cruelty might be joe biden won in a landslide running as donald trump once mocked him run from his basement at the darkest time of the pandemic. he still wears a mask everywhere he goes. what does that say? >> you know, it's interesting because it's been almost a year since a whole bunch of us including the democratic candidates and joe biden were in selma, alabama for the annual march across the edmund pettus bridge which is a famous civil rights march. there's an anniversary march that happens every year. and that was a rare opportunity to see the candidates including joe biden out and interacting with voters. many of them, although not all, black democrats. in the south. who of course as we know were determinative. they really carried joe biden to win the nomination as he swept the states in the south. super tuesday.
and it's interesting to me because i think what those voters saw was somebody who wasn't perfect, who wasn't maybe the most modern candidate, the most exciting, but they would tell you and they continue to tell me when i talk to them, to those voters, they know who he is. they trust him. they see his heart. he's a good person. he's a decent person. and he's also somebody of course who is deeply associated with barack obama, who i think is actually still kind of the unseen force in our politics. if not him personally certainly that obama coalition, which represents a vision for this country that demographically we're moving toward and is really the future. >> mara gay, jason johnson, donna edwards, we always count ourselves lucky to get to talk to you. but very much so today. thank you so much for spending some time with us. brian, i just keep thinking this may be remembered exactly as you
described it but as well as such an important first chapter in the chapter of joe biden's presidency, the moment he shared knowing exactly how it feels to open a closet and smell that scent of the person you lost. >> that is one of the, as our friend jason pointed out, that is one of the utterances from today in addition to the imagery we're looking at that will live on beyond today. >> msnbc's special coverage continues now on "the beat" with ari melber. from brian and myself, thank you so much for watching. >> thanks, nicolle and brian. our coverage does continue right now. this very somber moment i want to bring in dr. natalie azar from nyu langone and bbc news's katty kay. and doctor, we all just took this in. your thoughts on what we've been watching at the white house and what americans can take from all
this. >> you know, whenever i listen to the president speak to us americans about what is happening in the world, i think we all get the same sense of relief that we're actually listening to someone who has experienced sorrow and loss and we hear that empathy and that compassion, and it's really poignant to hear him reach for his own -- or reach to his own personal experiences, you know, to somehow communicate with us and make us feel better. you know, a couple of things that he said were just so impressionable, and that is, you know, that people had to take their final breaths alone, that we need to resist the urge or resist becoming numb to sorrow, and that these individuals and lives lost are not just statistics but people who had families and friends. you want to resist the urge to
relitigate how we got here, factors that were somewhat out of our control in a way with the virus being so protean and spreading asymptom mattic and all this stuff we couldn't have predicted and didn't know, but really all the monumental failures on the part of the federal government with just a really deadly convergence of the white house disinformation campaign where your allegiance to a political party suddenly dictated whether or not you believed in science. you know, that's how we got here. you know, but i am hopeful still in spite of that. it's a very of course somber milestone. but you know, it's better to get covid-19 today than it was a year ago, and that's because we do have much, much better therapeutics. mortality is significantly lower than it was a year ago. there's a lot of reason to be encouraged by the science and new therapeutics on the horizon as well as vaccinations. and i think the public has responded better to an
administration that believes in science. and i think that behavior has changed because of that. you know, so again, we're in this spot right now, but i do think that there are different lights at the end of the tunnel that we can all see and reach for. >> yeah, you mentioned a light at the end of the tunnel. as we look at a white house that is lit literally with lights to commemorate the dead. and katty, we work with words and images. but i think we all know words and images are just a tiny sliver of how to reflect on and memorialize human life and a death toll this large. we're coming out of an event where the president accompanied by the first lady and the vice president held this memorial not because it was good or bad politically, not because it was medically required, but to mark and to grieve as a nation. i want to play a little more of
something that of course i think everyone knows president biden has personally experienced, which is his share of grief in his life. and he spoke about something that perhaps we don't set aside time to talk about enough sometimes, the grieving process, and his view on it as he comforts a nation that's dealing with so much death. take a look. >> the day will come when the memory of the loved one you lost will bring a smile to your lips before a tear to your eye. it will come, i promise you. my prayer for you is that they will come sooner rather than later. and that's when you know you're going to be okay. you're going to be okay. >> katty? >> yeah. i mean, that was an incredibly powerful articulation of the process of grief delivered to individuals, to all of those who
have been left behind because we always talk about those who have died and 500,000's just a shocking number. but it's also all the people who have been left behind, and i think that's what joe biden understands so well and articulated so powerfully just now. in the last three months i've lost both of my mother and my father, neither of them to covid. but i'm hoping that moment comes when i remember them with a smile rather than with a tear in my eye. it felt like he was talking to me. that was my grief at the moment. and for all of those families around this country whose loved ones died, many of whom must be feeling that anger that joe biden spoke about as well, that their loved ones didn't need to die, having somebody say you will get through this, you as an individual will get through this and you'll get to a time when you remember them with a smile, but we as a nation will get through this, i thought that was -- it was very powerful and very moving. >> i'm sorry for your loss. i didn't know that. i appreciate you sharing that.
and several of our colleagues here just in the previous coverage were also discussing the loss or battling covid or all the ways we've all been touched. we're all living through it. on one hand we know we're living through it, doctor, but on the other hand how do we even amidst all the other ongoing rolling problems and a lot of people are worried about first order concerns and jobs and rent in this recession and yet this is a part of what president biden as a candidate said he would do, which is lead with empathy and humanity. that was part of his argument. he wasn't only talking about medical policy, although you're here to give us that expertise. he was talking about the idea that we would try to forge something together. i want to play on that note again one other point we thought was worth excavating here from the recent remarks even for those who watched it live, as president biden spoke about what we need to transcend. take a look. >> we must end the politics and
misinformation that's divided families, communities, and the country. this cost too many lives already. it's not democrats or republicans who are dying from the virus. it's our fellow americans. this nation will know sunny days again. this nation will know joy again. >> doctor -- >> you know -- >> -- you could almost feel -- i was just going to say you could almost feel for your response his frustration that it got to this point, that those things even need to be said, although clearly they do by a president. go ahead, please. >> well, you know, i think that nothing could be much worse than having lost a family member or a loved one to the pandemic. and hearing from all sides, myself included, that perhaps their death could have been prevented. right? i mean, of all the cruel things in life. to me when i listen to the president now i hear his
sincerity when he really feels and says i don't want this to happen to anybody else. right? and he knows there are going to sadly be, you know, tens of thousands in all likelihood more deaths before this is over. but when you're listening to him you truly believe that he is going to do everything within his power to prevent you or your loved one from the same fate. and i just think that that kind of -- that kind of messaging with that kind of honesty and sincerity certainly resonates with me and i really truly hope it resonates with the rest of the country who has been on the other side of this for the last year. >> dr. azar and katty kay, thanks to both of you. our special coverage continues here. we've been watching the white house marking 500,000 covid deaths. and we have a very special guest now who's been quite busy today
but has made time here after this ceremony here to join us. that's senator dick durbin of illinois. he serves as the chair of the senate judiciary committee. and we will get to some of the business he's been dealing with today. but first, senator, thank you for making time. your reflections after president biden led this very somber and grim ceremony for the country. >> of course america should never take it for granted. we've lost half a million. we're likely to lose more. there are things each and every one of us can do to protect ourselves, our families and our friends and everyone else. i hope everyone will accept that responsibility. joe biden, a friend of mine for over 20 years in public life and privately, is just a caring person. it comes through so clearly. you can't make this up. he is real. and he's gone through pain himself. he shares it with so many other people and gives a lot of people strength when they need it. >> yeah. before we turn as promised to
what was keeping you busy today, i did want in the context of these numbers, and the president just referred to it, the death toll that is higher than so many other places, i think we've all learned that by this point. but when you look at the comparison it's rather striking. this half a million we reached today as a nation is literally more than double some of the other countries that have had the largest problems with this. which is to say we're not only doing the worst but we've been doing the worst for a long time, far worse than even the other worst countries on this scale. to say nothing of some of the places that obviously have had far fewer deaths and deaths per capita. it's a big topic, senator, but your thoughts of what the president was getting at there without -- again, he's not fixated on the rearview. i didn't take that to be the focus today. and yet he's clearly trying to change some of the way policies have worked to get that number to not be as horrific as we also go through the vaccine rollout.
>> and we should. there are two numbers that tell the story so dramatically. the united states has a little less than 5% of the world's population. we have 20% of the covid-19 infections and deaths. four times our population. there's just no excuse for that. we can do better as a nation. and that's what joe biden is challenging us to do, to put aside our differences, personal and political, and to really pull together, put an end to this pandemic once and for all. america is longing to get back into what we call normal life, from grandparents to visit with their grandkids and to do the things we know really at the heart of a good life. we need to get back to that. and if we pull together, and i hope with his leadership we can, we can see that day sooner rather than later. >> mm. and senator, i think everyone understands the government's got to do more than one thing. i think people can see you care
a lot about this issue. but also you were quite busy today with a very important hearing for merrick garland, who is being considered by the senate, advise and consent, to be the new attorney general. the name familiar to viewers given his previous appointment that was blocked by republicans as president obama's supreme court pick. i just want to play a little bit from that hearing and then get your view as such a pivotal leader of the committee. here was merrick garland today. >> communities of color and other monitors still face discrimination in housing, in education, in employment and in the criminal justice system. i can't imagine anything worse than tearing parents from their children. i think this was the most heinous attack on the democratic processes that i've ever seen and one that i never expected to see in my lifetime. >> as chairman, senator, you've
been running this process, vetting the nominee. you've spoken out publicly about why you think he's an excellent choice. and then more specifically i was interested, you said that his nomination is "one of the most critical ever in justice department history." explain to us why you think that and what you think was gleaned in the hearing. >> well, let's face it. we've just gone through four years with the department of justice doing things that we haven't seen in decades, if ever in our history. the demoralization of the workforce at the department. the fact that it was so politicized. think about this. at the very end, in the very last days of the trump department of justice, when he made his last play with a man named geoffrey clark, the last stand stong the election returns from being counted on november 3rd, the thing that finally stopped president trump in his tracks were when the professional attorneys at the department of justice threatened to resign en masse if he went
forward with that plan. it just tells you the desperate circumstance. we haven't seen anything like that since the nixon years. and that's the department which merrick garland with confirmation and assent will inherit. you take a look at his honesty and integrity it came through today. but one thing sticks with me. he has given his life to public service but he had it all made. he is a lifetime appointee to the second highest court in the land. he could have stayed in that capacity, lived a comfortable life. and what did he do? he answered president biden's call to come back and serve and really pour his heart and soul into a new department of justice. he's willing to do that and i think the senate's going to confirm him as a result. >> do you have a expectation from working with your colleagues that he may get republican senate votes which while not the main point i think is quite striking and many would argue a potential sign of hypocrisy given that he couldn't
get even a standard hearing for the other job and now perhaps he gets support? i don't know if you want to weigh in on that or not. >> i'm not going to presume any republican votes. a couple have come to me personally and said they're going to vote for him. i'm not going to advertise that because they may not want me to. i want to get their votes. i don't want to lose them. and i think his presentation today was so powerful and convincing and genuine that i think that members of the committee on the other side, the republican members will tell their colleagues this man could do the job, he's the best we can find, we've got to support him to show we're going to come together to help president biden. >> senator durbin, who as i mentioned was running that big hearing today and speaking to us about cove sxid other issues, appreciate you making time, sir. >> good to be with you. thanks. >> thank you. if you've been watching our special coverage tonight, you know we've been keeping an eye there on that white house ceremony and speaking to several of our guests.
i want to turn now to our special report tonight here on "the beat." with new information about how a seemingly minor jaywalking stop turned into this, a warning the video is disturbing. that is the scuffling which proved to be the last moment of kurt reinhold's life. the 42-year-old father of two was shot to death by police there in broad daylight. he was unarmed. and he was not suspected of any serious felony or misconduct at all. he was stopped for alleged jaywalking, an infraction in california that carries a $250 ticket and is also rarely enforced to begin with. now, to understand this incident and why so many of these incidents in american policing
prove controversial, it also helps to see what led up to that scuffle. which is our special report tonight. building on our coverage of this case. tonight we can actually show you more of precisely that leadup because the orange county sheriff's department has just released more video. only after pressure, we should note, from the public, from recent protests, from press coverage and a lawsuit. and now this video evidence sheds more light on the officers' mentality going into the stop. we can hear the officers on dashcam video and other video before they even make contact with reinhold, and they argue over whether to approach him at all. so now on this tape, newly available, i want you to listen as one officer appears to verbally push back against the other more aggressive officer, saying the situation before they even made the stop, the situation is, quote, controlled and doesn't merit stopping reinhold.
>> so before there was any stop, before what we showed you just earlier, before any scuffle, you had one officer already concerned this may not be a worthwhile or valid stop. the officer says don't make case law, which sounds like referencing what could become a questionable precedent. don't turn this stop into a case about crossing the line or where the line is. but they went ahead and they did pull up to reinhold. and before even telling him why they are stopping him or if he's technically under arrest yet you're going to see they started saying if he does not stop they
escalated by the choice of the officers. already it doesn't look like a stop that's making the neighborhood much safer. it looks like a stop that's escalating a situation with an unarmed person minding his own business who then is asking where did he even jaywalk. and then a concerned witness took cell phone video which shows more of this from another angle. >> as they argue and the video continues, there appears to be an effort by reinhold to just get away. then the officers tackle him, which includes the one officer who initially cautioned against the stop, saying things were under control. as it escalates, moments later, an officer says reinhold has his
gun, and they kill him with two shots. >> and it was over just like that. now, we have more information about how it ever got to that point. how an officer twice insisted, remember, this was a controlled situation, that didn't merit the police getting involved. >> it's controlled, man. and it was until it wasn't. these officers killed reinhold
in september. what's new now is the evidence, the video. as part of our reporting, you should know the police also released this photo, which they argue shows reinhold trying to get the officer's gun. the longer video presents a lot of evidence that shows the stop was so dubious, though, even one officer was objecting to it before it began. reinhold's family argues the video also shows the escalation and confrontation was driven by the police. indeed, under the law, whatever you think of this policing, if a suspect chooses to flee a jaywalking stop, it is illegal for police to use deadly force to stop them from fleeing. they need more of a justification than that. now, without the video, this might be another story that is a blip in the news of police just saying they had to use force against a dangerous suspect grabbing their gun. with the video, if people take the time to learn about the entire context, it really does look like something else.
we've been reporting this story out, and tonight, we have an attorney from mr. reinhold's wife, john taylor. they have filed a wrongful death suit, and we are also joined by black lives matter activist deray mckesson. thanks to both of you for being here. john, what do you think is important about the newer video evidence? >> well, the -- these are homeless liaison officers. their job is to assist people who are in some sort of distress, and mr. reinhold is not a danger to himself. he's not a danger to others. he is not doing anything illegal. he has got a can of iced tea. he's coming out of the liquor store. and you can hear the officers, as they have targeted him, from across the street, and it is a absolute racially motivated stop. there is nothing that he has
done that is a reasonable suspicion of a crime that gives them any basis to even stop him. and they discuss that and the one officer, when he's saying it's controlled, he's talking about that reinhold is crossing in the controlled intersection. he's not jaywalking. he's not between or in the middle of the block. and i think that this is so clear and so powerful that when the sheriff held a press conference the day after the shooting, they released the footage from the surveillance camera from the motel which showed reinhold supposedly grabbing at the officer's -- deputy's gun, but they did not release this video, because this video clearly shows that these deputies had no basis to stop him, so they create the confrontation, they escalate the confrontation and they end up taking his life.
>> deray? >> yeah, you know, we see so many things at play in this video. the first is we see the limitations of body cameras. people thought that body cameras, people thought that footage, people thought that the police having -- knowing they are being recorded is going to be this thing that changes their behavior, and it actually just doesn't, right? it doesn't happen. we look at 2020, the police actually killed more people in 2020 than every year but 2018 and it's just increasing. and you think about california. california's one of the 21 states that has an officer bill of rights and imagine if you had a job where you knew you weren't going to get fired and you knew it was almost impossible to get charged with a crime or convicted. that's police. so, this was a -- these are sheriffs, the sheriff's deputy's office, it's like it is -- we are living in the wild wild west of policing that the media coverage of last year made people think that something was getting better but all the data we look at says the exact opposite. in this case, it's also a
reminder that the vast majority of encounters that lead to police killings are not even cases where there is suspected violence happening in the first place. the police would like you to believe that violence is happening and therefore they had to be violent, like that sort of the narrative. but most of the cases look something like this, where somebody's minding their own business, the police create the confrontation that leads to something else and it's only when people demand some sort of footage or anything that we know anything happened, and yet, these officers, i think, are back on duty. you know, they're not even -- what happened? you know, they're back on duty. that's wild. >> yeah, john, some people see some of these interactions and say, well, why wasn't the individual more compliant? why did they push back at all? what do you see as what is in or missing in the police operational conduct? because as i pointed out in our report, they don't begin by even identifying whether the person's
under arrest or not. if you're not under arrest in america, you may walk wherever you choose, because you're not under arrest. if you are under arrest, the police rules are, it has to be identified and then you proceed from there. what did you think about the way they initiated that aspect, even before it got to force? >> well, that's -- and that's the problem is that they have a disagreement between each other or one saying, he's jaywalking or there it is. the other officer says, no, it's not, and then they have this debate. don't make case law, gabriel, where he's saying this is a mickey mouse thing that we're going to do to even stop and talk to this guy, so unless the person can sense to stop and talk, you don't have to stop. the police stop there and want to talk to you, if you've done nothing and there's no reasonable suspicion that a crime's been committed, you can walk away. and if -- just run this whole tape again and make the person white, and this stop doesn't
happen, and the shooting doesn't happen. >> correct. >> and the invitation to stop really isn't that inviting. both of these officers are wearing their rubber gloves when they get out of the car, and in the third person's video, the cell phone video, the officer to the left is clearly seen holding his taser, and so mr. reinhold, who's been standing there minding his own business, is now confronted with two officers who are approaching him. they're cutting him off from the -- where he's moving to. they raise and escalate their voices, and the one officer, as i said, so the officer to the right, in his left hand, is his taser. and so, it seems like they have, you know, an intention to go put their hands on this person. they have no reason, and he -- kurt reinhold tries to understand where they're coming from. he asks, why are you touching me? why are you stopping me? and then says, keep your hands
off me. keep your hands off me. and instead, the officer, the deputy, persists and persists and then with no plan, no warning or discussion between themselves, they just take him to the ground. and once they go to the ground -- >> so -- >> it's all off. >> right. and i have about -- i got 30 seconds left. john's case turns on what he can prove in court about what was wrong with this, legally. deray, with 30 seconds, what's the policy, whether this was technically illegal under current law or not, what's your view of a policy problem if the police interaction here is what creates the danger? otherwise, there wasn't danger. >> yes, i think the question is what will the governor and the legislature do? they should repeal the officer bill of rights tomorrow. they could enhance disciplinary sanctions for officers tomorrow. we could limit the power of sheriffs so that they don't have, like, wanton power to do whatever they want in communities. all that stuff is possible. but you know, in california, the democrats get a lot of money from the police, so will they actually push back against their
power? that's the question. but the governor has a lot of power. the legislature, they have power to make substantive change today. the question is, will they? >> yeah. deray mckesson and john taylor, thanks to both of you for joining us. this is a story we've been reporting that we'll stay on. i want to thank you for spending time with us here on "the beat" with ari melber. "the reidout" with joy reid is up next. ♪♪ good evening, everyone, we begin the reidout tonight with a devastating milestone. one of the toughest things to do in this job every weeknight is to report, really to just say out loud the number of americans who have died from covid. it's just -- it's just breathtaking, and shocking. just moments ago, president joe biden marked the inconceivable, unconscionable toll that the coronavirus pandemic has taken in the rich, modern, supposedly sophisca