tv NBC Nightly News NBC April 8, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
robot. >> thanks for joining us at 5:00, as a reminder, lesser holt is next from south carolina. >> good night, folks. major stories developing right now. guilty on all counts in the marathon bombing trial. the worst act of domestic terror since 9/11. tonight, the man who placed a backpack bomb behind children and walked away, will he live or die? shot in the back, the police officer charged with murder in the death of an apparently unarmed man. anger boiling over here in south carolina. an anguished family and protesters demanding answers. also, our nbc news exclusive. the witness who recorded that shocking video speaking out for the very first time about the deadly encounter. what he says we don't see on that video. and the tornado threat spinning across the country tonight. millions on high alert. "nightly news" begins right now.
>> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" reporting tonight, lester holt from north charleston south carolina. good evening. the shocking images of a man running away from police shot in the back have been seen by millions. the video very hard to watch and has left so many people asking why. and so tonight on this busy news day we are coming to you from north charleston, a city that has become the latest in a growing list of communities rocked by controversial cases of deadly force by police. but none quite like this. we'll have extensive coverage including an exclusive interview with the witness who recorded that video in just a moment. but first, to boston. two years after the bombing of the marathon killed and maimed among a crowd of innocent spectators these the faces of the three lives taken in that moment and the police officer gunned down after. today, the surviving bomber dzhokhar tsarnaev was found guilty on all charges. the defense never disputed his guilt. and now their biggest
fight comes next. pete williams starts us off tonight from boston. >> reporter: lester, good evening. the jury heard from 96 witnesses during a trial that lasted more than a month. but today's verdict came after just 11 hours of deliberations. jurors declared a 21-year-old chechen immigrant guilty of the worst act of terrorism in the united states since 9/11. >> we're obviously grateful for the outcome today. it's not a happy occasion, but it's something we can put one more step behind us. >> reporter: the jury found dzhokhar tsarnaev guilty on each of the 30 counts filed against him. for the marathon bombings that killed krystle lee campbell lingzi lu and richard martin. stealing money from his bank account and shooting and throwing bombs at police in watertown. resulting in the wounding of police officer richard donohue who nearly bled to death. tsarnaev showed little
response in court. almost certainly expecting this verdict after his lawyers conceded he was part of the plot. the parents of martin richard hugged each other listening intently. bombing victim rebecca gregory in texas with a new prosthetic leg says she hasn't decided what the right penalty should be. >> i do believe, however, that he should be held accountable for his actions and i'm very thankful for each of the jury members that are making him do that. >> reporter: even though massachusetts has no death penalty, this trial is in the federal system so it now goes onto a second phase with the same jury deciding whether tsarnaev should be put to death in the federal government's lethal injection chamber in indiana or sentenced to life in prison most likely the supermax penitentiary in colorado. >> convicting so quickly on 30 charges signals to me that the jury -- again, we don't know -- signals to me that the jury might not be so
hesitant to vote for the death penalty. >> reporter: but for now today was a moment of victory for many victims. >> i may be standing on one fake leg, but i'm standing here stronger than ever because someone tried to destroy me. and he failed. >> reporter: the judge has given the jury the rest of the week off. so the next phase of the trial on the penalty starts some time next week. lester. >> pete williams, thanks. among the injured that day in boston were brothers j.p. and paul norden who were gravely wounded in the second blast. their mother sat down with us today with her reaction to the verdict. >> i literally saw my sons get blown up. i saw the fear in their eyes. you know, like help me. it was awful. i want to see, you know, what kind of a person could do this. he could have walked away. he stood there five minutes. he saw so many people. he could have walked away, but he chose not to.
it's just sad to see what some of those people have to deal with day in and day out. and, you know, he didn't have a care in the world. they've accepted what's happened to them and they want to fully focus on getting themselves to their life back. i wish i could be as brave as they were. for me, the mom of two boys that were hurt so bad and to see so many injured that day and see what they suffer and go through, and i solely speak for myself, i want the death penalty. the real victims are the people, you know, that were down there that day and suffered. and the people that ran in to help instead of running the other way. >> they are moving on with their lives. neither of liz's sons attended the trial. both are now engaged. now to the reason we're here in south carolina, the other big story we're covering tonight. the police shooting death of an apparently unarmed man. it's hard to watch but take a look at how the shooting unfolded as a witness recorded it on his cell phone. the deadly encounter between walter scott and police officer
michael slager began with a traffic stop for a broken taillight saturday morning at around 9:30. officer slager fires a taser at mr. scott, who runs away. a bystander with a camera caught what happened next. [ gunfire ] the officer then fires his gun eight times, hitting walter scott five times. approximately 9:38 a.m. officer slager radios dispatch. >> 223, shots fired. subject is down. he grabbed my taser. >> reporter: he then walks towards a motionless walter scott. put your hands behind your back. he handcuffs the man, jogs back and appears to pick something up. another officer is now on the scene and michael slager drops something next to walter scott. two minutes and 43 seconds after the first shots were
fired, officer slager reaches down to check scott's pulse. in a moment we'll hear from that witness who recorded it all. but first we get the latest on a tense day here from nbc's gabe gutierrez. >> what do we want? >> justice! >> when do we want it? >> now! >> reporter: today in north charleston the anger boiled over. >> black lives matter! >> this has been a horrible tragedy within our community. >> reporter: the mayor announcing that officer michael slager has been fired after being charged with murder. now the city will also buy body cameras for every officer on the street. the contentious news conference interrupted by protesters multiple times. >> no justice! no peace! >> reporter: what police could not answer was why in the video slager retrieves an object that had fallen on the ground. it's not clear whether it's his taser. and appears to drop the object next to scott's body. also not clear why the video doesn't show officers performing cpr when the initial police report said they had. >> there are questions that i have in my mind
that i can't answer right now. >> reporter: they are also questions that have haunted judy and walter scott since saturday. >> i said, oh, no, and i dropped to my knees and started crying. >> reporter: the graphic video of their son too much to bear. >> i couldn't finish looking at it when i saw my child. i know he's 50 but he's my child. i saw him running like you would kill a man and i couldn't watch it anymore. >> reporter: his parents say the father of four may have been trying to run from the officer because he wanted to avoid jail time for back child support. but they do not believe he reached for the officer's taser. do you think that this murder charge would have been filed if this video did not exist? >> it would not. >> reporter: slager also a coast guard veteran joined the police department six years ago. in 2013 police records show slager was exonerated following a complaint of improper
use of force with a taser involving a black man. at a court appearance yesterday slager entered no plea. >> i have two children and one on the way. >> reporter: today the mayor announced the city would still pay for the insurance of slager's wife who is eight months pregnant. >> we think that is the humane thing for us to do. >> reporter: north charleston has about 100,000 residents. nearly half are african-american. yet according to the latest data black officers make up just 18% of the police force. >> we need help! >> reporter: protesters here say that needs to change. in an effort to calm tensions here, both the mayor and the police chief met with walter scott's family this morning. now, police say dashcam video of the incident does exist. and we could see it released as early as tomorrow, lester. >> all right, gabe. thanks very much. now to our nbc news exclusive, our interview with that bystander who recorded the shooting. his name is feidin santana. tonight he's speaking out for the first time about what he saw and what he recorded that day. i spoke with him just a short time ago.
what made you pick up your phone and start shooting on saturday? >> well, when i saw the scene, i was walking to my job. i was walking to my job. i see mr. scott, rest in peace, and i saw police after him, chase him. i was on a phone call. and i decide to go over there and see what was going on. >> was there a struggle? >> there was. they went down on the floor. they went down on the floor. before i started recording they were down on the floor. i remember the police had control of the situation. he had control of scott. and scott was trying just to get away from the taser. taser -- you can hear the sound of the taser. >> he'd been tased at that point? >> yeah, yeah.
before i started recording. and i believe he just wanted to get away of the taser. like i said, he never used the taser again. >> so mr. scott runs away. >> yeah. >> and then what's the police officer do? >> as you can see in the video, the police officer shot him in the back. and i knew right away i have something in my hands. >> ultimately you turned it over to the attorneys for the family. >> yes. >> what was their reaction to you? >> well, it was, like i said, they were very emotional, you know, when that happened. including me also cause like when i turn it i felt, you know, i thought about his position, their situation. i said if i would have a family member that would happen, i would like to know the truth. >> as a result of that videotape, a man, a police officer has been charged with murder. how do you feel about that? >> well, like i say, it's not something
that no one can feel happy about. he has his family and mr. scott also has his family. but i think, you know, he made a bad decision. and, you know, you pay for your decisions in this life. i think, like i say, mr. scott didn't deserve this. and there were other ways that can be used to get him arrested. and that wasn't the proper way to do that. >> my conversation with feidin santana earlier this evening. you'll hear much more from him tomorrow morning on "today." the shooting here in north charleston follows a number of deadly incidents between minorities and police officers over just the past year. that, of course includes ferguson, missouri, a city that bears scars after months of fallout from a police shooting on its own streets. it's where we find our ron allen tonight. >> reporter: after months of turmoil following the death of michael brown at the hands of a police officer, ferguson made
history tripling the number of african-american city counselors poised to transform a city and police department. now with numerous fatal encounters between police and minority suspects still happening, some on video, the question is has anything really changed across america? >> i can't breathe. i can't breathe. >> certainly there's greater awareness. now there's a conversation in lots of communities about police reform. but not enough has changed. >> reporter: nationally police are not required to report officer-involved shootings. most of the numbers are anecdotal. perception fuels the protest. the naacp legal defense fund counts 76 unarmed people of color killed by police in the last 15 years. the obama administration has opened investigations of at least 20 police departments for alleged bias. and while incidents caught on camera like north charleston or this gas station where a man was shot
trying to get his license, have led to charges against the officers. cases like that of this 12-year-old seen on surveillance footage killed by cleveland police responding to reports he had a handgun that turned out to be fake. remain under investigation months later. wesley bell a judge and professor of criminal justice, was elected to represent the ferguson neighborhood where michael brown was killed. what is the problem between police and minority community? >> there's too much us verse them. let me be clear on both sides. we got to start bridging that gap. >> reporter: and when that new council meets here in ferguson, it will have some real power. new police chief, city manager and municipal court judge, decisions that could profoundly change the direction of this town. lester? >> ron allen in ferguson tonight. thanks. for the first time since december an american soldier has been killed in afghanistan. seven others were wounded when a man in an afghan military uniform opened fire on them at a governor's
compound in jalalabad, according to u.s. officials. american forces returned fire and killed the gunman. the shootout happened just after a high-ranking u.s. embassy official had left the compound. a lot more news still ahead as we continue tonight. millions bracing for tornadoes, watches and warnings across several states right now. a major threat pushing across the country. also, a story so many are talking about today. a woman battling cancer forced off a flight over concerns for her health. did the airline go too far?
there are tornado watches and warnings in several states tonight, part of a multi-day severe weather outbreak. a dangerous system sliding across the country right now with millions on high alert. reports of damage already in parts of missouri. our meteorologist dylan dreyer is in our studio in new york. dylan, what's the latest? >> lester, we have had reports in kansas and missouri of hail the size of baseballs, even grapefruit size hail being reported. storms are developing right along this frontal boundary. this is the separation between temperatures in the 70s and 80s and to the north of it like in omaha temperatures are only in the 40s. and it's right along this front as we go through the night past midnight into the early morning hours on thursday where we will still see the threat of very strong storms. we'll get a brief breakthrough mid-morning on thursday. then they re-fire up thursday afternoon into thursday evening. so tonight we are looking at our biggest threat especially back through parts of tulsa, oklahoma into southern indiana. that's where we could see, again, hail about three inches in
diameter. also wind gusts up near 75 miles per hour. and tornadoes possible. those same threats are in the forecast on thursday too, but in a much larger area from texas all the way up into the great lakes through the afternoon and evening on thursday. lester? >> all right, dylan. thanks much. up next tonight, the airline apologizing to a woman with cancer after forcing her to get off the flight.
a lot of people talking about this next story tonight. it's about a woman suffering from cancer who says a major airline kicked her off a flight. tonight, the company says it's not the bad guy here and was merely concerned about her health. nbc's hallie jackson has more on the controversial decision. >> reporter: it's the onboard video taking off online. >> i'm being removed as if i'm a criminal or contagious because i have cancer. >> reporter: elizabeth sedway was trying to get home monday from a hawaiian vacation. she didn't make it.
>> they're taking me off the airplane because i don't have a doctor's note saying i can fly. >> reporter: alaska airlines took her family off their flight to san jose after consulting with a doctor when sedway, wearing a surgical mask, said she felt weak. >> i was pretty emotional at that point because it was humiliating. the only thing we did wrong was get unlucky and have a member of the family have cancer. >> reporter: the delay forced sedway to miss chemotherapy. and now with backlash building, alaska airlines is apologizing saying it regrets the inconvenience to sedway, tweeting our primary concern was for her safety over the long ocean voyage. in-flight medical emergencies happen about 50 times a day in the u.s. and about 7% of those require the plane to be diverted. that's expensive and inconvenient. so airlines can use discretion to stop a sick passenger from flying. >> i think it all boils down to a poor execution of what was intended to be a good policy on the part of alaska airlines.
>> reporter: alaska air says it will cover the sedways' expenses. and the family plans to donate that money to the multiple my low ma research foundation after a trip home hoping generosity takes flight. hallie jackson, nbc news, los angeles. one of the greatest of all time proved today he's still got it. 75-year-old jack nicklaus knocking in a hole in one. he said he'd never before hit an ace at augusta. when we come back, those impacted most by today's boston bombing verdict. the survivors who kept boston strong.
we want to end the broadcast tonight where we started, in boston. not on the man found guilty today, but on the people whose lives were forever changed. the people who define boston strong. here's harry smith. ♪ >> reporter: survivors, it's not a label you'd choose for yourself. for to be a survivor means you've endured life-threatening trauma. for almost two years now we have marvelled at the strength of
those who are closest to the explosions at the 2013 boston marathon. they shared with us the meaning of the lives that were lost. they climbed from their hospital beds and learned to walk. and even dance on new limbs. they faced the horrible truth of that day with uncommon grace and faced the future with remarkable courage. they inspired a city. they inspired our country. much has been asked of these people and even more was asked in the last few weeks as the trial was held and their witness was called for they bravely gave voice to the anguish of that beautiful spring afternoon. today, the jury was clear. and while the verdicts were rendered, our prayer is that justice will ease the burdens of those who suffered most. harry smith, nbc news. >> that will do it for us on this wednesday night. i'm lester holt reporting from north charleston, south carolina. for our entire team here and all of us at nbc news, thank you
for watching and good night. definitely know there's a dip there. >> right now at 6:00, you can call it growing pains. exclusive details about the bay area airport that will rip up a runway in the busy of the middle summer travel seen. good evening, thanks for being with us. i'm raj mathai. >> i'm jessica aguirre. if you're planning to fly out of the south bay this summer you may need extra patience. one two of runways at san jose national airport will be shut down for repairs. a story you'll see only on nbc bay area. scott budman is live with details. scott, this could impact a lot of people's summer vacations.
>> reporter: possibly, jessica. airport officials here in san jose tell us one of the runways here will be temporarily shut down this summer for repair. this comes as a pilot is speaking out about safety concerns here. growth has been taking off for years at san jose national airport. >> all right. here we go -- >> reporter: with the newly announced hubs. >> the desire and demand for those companies to see more service, not to mention from residents, is so great, we're seeing great expansion right now. >> reporter: but as the crowds here grow one pilot tells us the airport is seeing some growing pain. >> there's some uneven pavement on the runway. there is some bad pavement in one section of the runway where it is breaking up. >> reporter: in fact, one of san jose's two