Metrofocus: May 31, 2022

The murder of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020 was arguably a pivotal event in the history of race and policing in America.  As a new documentary from Frontline shows, Chauvin’s encounter with Floyd was not the first time the Minneapolis police officer used excessive force on a Black citizen.  Nor was it the first time that questions were raised around the culture of the Minneapolis Police Department itself.  The film “Police on Trial”, which is supported by The WNET Group’s Exploring Hate initiative – draws on the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and features never-before published police cam video of Derek Chauvin using excessive force years before George Floyd’s death.  And it asks the important question two years on … has anything really changed?  Joining us to discuss the documentary is the director, Mike Shum.

At a time when conspiracies are more prevalent than ever, ABC Chief Legal Analyst Dan Abrams takes us back to examine one of the nation’s biggest and most known conspiracy theories in his book, “KENNEDY’S AVENGER: Assassination, Conspiracy, and the Forgotten Trial of Jack Ruby.”  Despite having more eyewitnesses than any other crime in history – to this day – few would remember the bizarre trial that followed three months later in Dallas, Texas.  How exactly does one defend a man who was seen pulling the trigger in front of millions?  And more importantly, how did Jack Ruby, who fired point-blank into Oswald live on television, die an innocent man?

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT, POLICE ON TRIAL.

TWO YEARS AFTER THE KILLING OF GEORGE FLOYD, FRONT LINE EXAMINES THE CALLS FOR POLICE REFORM IN MINNEAPOLIS AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

♪♪

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

THE MURDER OF GEORGE FLOYD BY DEREK CHAUVIN IN MAY OF 2020 WAS ARGUABLY A PIVOTAL EVENT IN THE HISTORY OF RACE AND POLICING IN AMERICA.

AS A NEW DOCUMENTARY FROM FRONTLINE SHOWS, CHAUVIN'S ENCOUNTER WITH GEORGE FLOYD WAS NOT THE FIRST TIME THE MINNEAPOLIS POLICE OFFICER USED EXCESSIVE FORCE ON A BLACK CITIZEN.

NOR WAS IT THE FIRST TIME THAT QUESTIONS WERE RAISED AROUND THE CULTURE OF THE MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT ITSELF.

THE FILM IS CALLED 'POLICE ON TRIAL' DRAWS ON PULITZER AWARD WINNING REPORTING FROM THE 'STAR TRIBUNE' AND SHOWS DEREK CHAUVIN USING EXCESSIVE FORCE YEARS BEFORE GEORGE FLOYD'S DEATH.

IT ASKS THE IMPORTANT QUESTION, TWO YEARS ON, HAS ANYTHING REALLY CHANGED?

HERE'S A PREVIEW.

THERE HAD BEEN A LONG HISTORY OF HEAVYHANDED POLICING AND POLICE VIOLENCE.

A SPECIAL INVESTIGATION FROM THE MINNEAPOLIS 'STAR TRIBUNE' AND FRONTLINE.

FROM GEORGE FLOYD, TO THE TRIAL OF DEREK CHAUVIN.

IT'S NOT PART OF OUR TRAIN ORGANIZE ETHICS OR VALUES.

AND THE STRUGGLE FOR ACCOUNTABILITY.

WE SHOULD ABOLISH OUR CURRENT MINNEAPOLIS POLICE SYSTEM.

JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT ITA IS THE FILM'S DIRECTOR.

MIKE, WELCOME.

THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME, JACK.

LET'S START AT THE BEGINNING, WHICH IS A QUESTION WE ALWAYS ASK FILMMAKERS, AND THAT IS WHY THIS FILM AND NOW, AND WHAT QUESTIONS WERE YOU LOOKING TO ANSWER?

I MOVED TO THE TWIN CITIES NOT LONG BEFORE THE PANDEMIC BEGAN, SO I'M PRETTY NEW TO THE AREA IN GENERAL, BUT LIVING HERE AND TRYING TO UNDERSTAND A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT WHERE I DO LIVE WAS KIND OF FIRST GENERAL QUESTION.

BUT WHEN GEORGE FLOYD WAS KILLED, I THINK THE NUMBER OF QUESTIONS STARTED TO POP UP EXPONENTIALLY SIMPLY BY VIRTUE AT THE BASE LAYER OF NOT KNOWING WHERE I LIVE.

AND I THINK A LOT OF MY FROM THE GET GO.

THAT IS, WHY IS THIS HAPPENING HERE?

TO WHAT EXTENT IS THIS HISTORICAL PROBLEM WITH MINNEAPOLIS IN GENERAL?

OR IS THIS ONE BAD OFFICER?

SO FOR MYSELF, I DIDN'T HAVE ANY OF THOSE ANSWERS FROM THE START, BUT IT REALLY WAS STARTING FROM THE VERY BOTTOM IN TERMS OF JUST TRYING TO UNDERSTAND THE SITUATION AND HOW MUCH ANGER THERE WAS IN THE CITY.

SO THAT'S WHAT SORT OF LED ME TO WANT DIVE MORE INTO THE MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT, THROUGH A HISTORICAL BUT ALSO REPORTING LENS, COLLABORATING WITH OUR PARTNERS AT THE 'STAR TRIBUNE.'

TALK ABOUT THAT, IF YOU WILL.

THE FILM OPENS AND YOU'RE HEARING VOICES OF THE REPORTERS, VARIOUS REPORTERS WHO HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN IT, WHO HAD THE SAME CURIOSITY YOU DESCRIBED JUST NOW THEMSELVES.

WANTING TO KNOW HOW MANY OTHER DEATHS, HOW MANY ATTACKS HAVE TALK ABOUT THE IDEA AS A FILMMAKER THAT I'M GOING THE PARTNER UP WITH THIS NEWSPAPER HERE.

I THINK AT THE TIME, BECAUSE ACTUALLY I WAS DOING SORT OF CINEMATOGRAPHY FILM WORK FOR 'THE NEW YORK TIMES' WHEN GEORGE FLOYD WAS KILLED AND THE DAYS FOLLOWING, I LIKE ANYONE WAS TRYING TO UNDERSTAND THE SITUATION THROUGH NEWS OUTLETS, DIFFERENT NEWSPAPERS.

AND I DID FIND THAT THE REPORTING FROM THE 'STAR TRIBUNE,' SPECIFICALLY LIBOR JANEY, LIZ NAVRITIL AND OTHERS BROUGHT A BROAD PERSPECTIVE OR HAD MORE CONTEXT, AND I THINK THAT'S WHERE I FELT MOST COMFORTABLE TRYING TO LEARN MORE FROM PEOPLE WHO LIVED HERE MUCH LONGER THAN I HAVE AND WHO HAVE THE MULTIPLE CONTEXTS THAT I THINK NATIONAL OUTLETS FROM THE START DON'T NORMALLY HAVE WHY THE FROM THE GET GO, BUT HAVE TO RELY ON OTHERS WHO HAVE LIVED HERE MUCH LONGER THAN ANY OF US HAVE TO GET THAT.

I THINK THAT'S SENING OUR CURIOSITY AND UNDERSTANDING, LATCHING ON TO THAT WAS WHAT ALLOWED ME TO WANT TO OPEN MORE DOOR DOORS WITH MORE QUESTIONS AND HOPEFULLY MORE ANSWERS.

I MENTIONED FROM THE INTRODUCTION THAT YOU HAVE BEEN ABLE TO WEAVE INTO THIS FILM -- BY THE WAY, IT'S A MARVELOUS FILM.

IT'S TELLING THROUGHOUT PROVOKING.

EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT A DOCUMENTARY TO BE.

I MENTIONED YOU WERE ABLE TO WEAVE IN EARLIER FOOTAGE, DEREK CHAUVIN ENGAGE IN THE ACTS OF CLEARLY POLICE ABUSE DIRECTED TOWARDS CITIZENS HERE.

WERE YOU SURPRISED AT THE ACCESS TO THAT?

AND HOW DID YOU HOPE IT WAS GOING TO CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR STORY TELLING?

IT'S AN INTERESTING -- THINK ABOUT --

BECAUSE WE -- WE HAVE ALL SEEN THE FOOTAGE OF DEREK CHAUVIN AND GEORGE FLOYD.

RIGHT.

AND IT'S STUNNING IN ITS BRUTALITY, AND WE KNOW THE JURORS TALKED ABOUT THE IMPACT THAT IT HAD.

BUT WE'RE ALSO LEARNING IN THIS FILM ABOUT THE TYPES OF PRIOR INSTANCES, AND PEOPLE ARE ASKING QUESTIONS, WHY DOES THEY STAY ON THE JOB?

WHY DOES HE REMAIN ATRAINING OFFICER?

WHAT DID YOU FIND?

I THINK THAT'S SOMETHING THAT I FOUND, THAT NARRATIVE -- OR AT LEAST BY THAT NARITIVE I SIMPLY MEAN, THERE WAS A NARRATIVE WE SAW DURING TRIAL THAT THIS PARTICULAR INCIDENT WAS A ROGUE MOMENT THEM OFFICER, OFFICER DEREK CHAUVIN DECIDED TO TAKE THIS ACTION IN HIS HANDS AND ESSENTIALLY MURDER GEORGE FLOYD, AND THE WAY THAT HE DID THAT WAS VERY MUCH CRITICIZED BY HIS COLLEAGUES AND PEERS AT THE MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT.

THAT BEING SAID, I THINK THERE WAS A QUESTION TO, WELL, HAD HE DONE THIS BEFORE?

AND TO WHAT EXTENT IS HIS BEHAVIOR AND HIS USE OF FORCE -- HOW OFTEN HAD HE DONE THAT?

THERE ARE ALREADY A DEGREE OF -- THERE WAS ALREADY THE DEGREE OF REPORTING HAPPENING AROUND THE NUMBER OF COMPLAINTS HE HAD RECEIVED OVER HIS AROUND 18-YEAR HISTORY WITH MPD.

WITH THAT, COMBINING THAT QUESTION OF, HAD THIS HAPPENED BEFORE?

REALLY ALLOWED US TO TRY TO UNDERSTAND HOW ROGUE WAS HIS BEHAVIOR.

AND THAT WAS SOMETHING THAT WE WANTED TO LOOK INTO.

AND WHEN WE FOUND MOMENTS THAT REVEALED THAT, WE SHOWED -- OR AT LEAST I BELIEVE WE HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT IT MEANS FOR AN OFFICER TO ESCALATE A SITUATION QUICKLY AND MOREOVER, WHAT A TECHNIQUE LIKE A KNEE ON THE NECK ACTUALLY -- HOW THAT'S EMPLOYED AND WHY THAT'S BEING USED IN THE FIRST PLACE, AND EVENTUALLY, IN TRIAL, WHY THAT IS BEING CALLED OUT AS PROBLEMATIC BEHAVIOR WHEN IN FACT CHAUVIN HAD BEEN DOING THAT MOVE FOR SOME TIME.

ONE OF THE THINGS YOU TALKED ABOUT THEY WANT TO LOOK AT IS THE NOTION OF CULTURE OF THE MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT, AGAIN, THIS WHOLE IDEA THAT ROGUE COWBOY COP?

OR IS THIS THE PERVASIVE CULTURE THERE?

THE FILM TALKS ABOUT, WHEN THEY'RE LOOKING AT THE BURNING OF THE THIRD PRECINCT, AND REPORTING THAT SHOWED THAT HAD BEEN SOMETHING OF A HAVEN FOR WHAT WERE REFERRED TO AS COWBOY COPS, PEOPLE WITH BAD REPUTATIONS.

WHAT DID YOU FIND WHEN YOU TALKED TO OTHER MEMBERS OF THE POLICE DEPARTMENT ABOUT HOW THEY VIEWED THE CULTURE OF THEIR OWN DEPARTMENT?

I BELIEVE DURING OUR REPORTING, OR DURING THE PAST FEW YEARS, WE TALKED TO A LOT OF POLICE OFFICERS AND, I PERSONALLY LEARNED A LOT OF DIFFERENT THINGS WHEN IT CAME TO THE NUMBER OF OFFICERS WHO REALLY DID WANT TO DO GOOD, WHO DO FEEL THAT THEY ARE THERE TO SERVE THE COMMUNITY.

AT THE SAME TIME, THERE ARE OFFICERS WHO AREN'T, I GUESS -- ARE CREATING MORE PROBLEMATIC PATTERNS IN THE DEPARTMENT, SO IN TERMS OF CULTURE, WHAT I FOUND INTERESTING IN TERMS OF THE OFFICERS WHO DID AGREE TO TALK TO US, MANY OF WHOM WERE FORMER OFFICERS, REALLY DESCRIBED HOW, IF THERE IS PROBLEM BEHAVIOR GOING ON, THE BARRIERS TOWARDS CALLING THAT OUT IS QUITE DIFFICULT, AND THE CULTURE WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT SORT OF DISALLOWS, OR AT LEAST MAKES IT VERY DIFFICULT TO HOLD EACH OTHER ACCOUNTABLE WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT.

THAT WAS PROBABLY THE BIGGEST TAKEAWAY THAT I WAS ABLE TO GLEAN -- THAT WE WERE ABLE THE GLEAN OFF THE REPORTING THAT THE 'STAR TRIBUNE' AND MY COLLEAGUE HAD DONE IN THE CONVERSATIONS WITH FORMER POLICE OFFICERS.

INTERESTING HOW THAT CONTINUES.

I GO BACK 40 YEARS WHEN I WAS A PROSECUTOR, FIRST JOB OUT OF LAW SCHOOL, AND I HAD TO PROSECUTE A POLICE OFFICER.

I TALKED WITH OTHERS IN THE DEPARTMENT AND SAID, I'M NOT GOING TO GET ON THE STAND AND TELL YOU THIS.

I WILL TELL THANK YOU FACE-TO-FACE THAT THIS GUY'S A PROBLEM, HAS BEEN A PROBLEM.

AND I POSED THE QUESTION TO THEM THAT YOU JUST MENTIONED -- WHY WON'T YOU COME?

WHY WON'T YOU GET ON THE STAND?

AND IT WAS THAT SAME RESPONSE.

LOOK, WE THINK MOST OF THE PEOPLE HERE ARE GOOD, HONEST, DECENT POLICE OFFICERS, AND I THINK THAT'S WHAT MOST PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THIS WOULD TELL YOU.

THE PROBLEM, IS HOW DO WE DEAL WITH THE ONES WHO ARE NOT?

HOW DO WE DEAL WITH THE DEREK CHAUVINS AND NOT LET HIM REMAIN AS A TRAINING OFFICER, TEACHING OTHER PEOPLE WHEN THESE ARE THE METHODS HE USES?

I THINK WHAT YOU FOUND IS SOMETHING WE HAVE SEEN A LOT IN NOT JUST RECENT PAST, BUT GOING WAY BACK.

DID YOU GET A SENSE -- AND I DON'T KNOW IF YOU EVEN LOOKED AT A BROADER PICTURE -- BUT DID YOU GET A SENSE THAT THE -- WHAT YOU FOUND IN TERMS OF MINNEAPOLIS AND THEIR POLICE DEPARTMENT S NOT MAYBE UNUSUAL AROUND THE COUNTRY, THAT THERE ARE OTHER CITIES THAT MAYBE REFLECT THESE SAME TYPES OF ISSUES AND PROBLEMS?

IT'S DIFFICULT TO SAY, PARTIALLY BECAUSE I WASN'T EVALUATING OH CITIES, BUT I DO THINK MINNEAPOLIS, FOR ITS SIZE, NOT BEING A SUPER LARGE CITY BURG A MEDIUM CITY THAT'S SIMILAR TO WHAT THE WHOLE COUNTRY WAS GOING THROUGH -- OBVIOUSLY THE PANDEMIC PLAYED A BIG FACTOR, BUT YOU SAW EVERYBODY -- BY EVERYBODY I MEAN CITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY RE-EXAMINING THEIR OWN RELATIONSHIP WITH THE POLICE DEPARTMENTS.

THIS IS ONE OF MANY POLICE KILLINGS OF A BLACK MAN THAT, I GUESS IN A WAY, WAS A TIPPING POINT FOR PEOPLE TO SAY, WHAT IS OUR RELATIONSHIP LIKE WITH OUR DEPARTMENT?

AND WHAT KIND OF CHANGES NEED TO HAPPEN?

AND OVER THE COURSE OF TWO YEARS, I BELIEVE EVERY CITY WENT THROUGH THEIR OWN RECKONING TO DECIDE, WELL, HOW MUCH REFORM, TO WHAT EXTENT THAT REFORM, WHETHER IT'S DEFUNDING OR REEVALUAING HOW MANY OFFICERS NEED TO BE ON THE FORCE -- I THINK THERE'S A LOT OF QUESTIONS OFFICERS -- OR COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY -- WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE, SO FOR HOW THE MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT HAS TO CONTEND WITH, THE RESIDENTS THAT THEY'RE SWORN TO PROTECT, I THINK ESPECIALLY WITH THE ELECTION OF WHETHER TO DISMANTLE THAT DEPARTMENT OR NOT, I THINK THAT WAS A GOOD WAY TO CHALLENGE PEOPLE TO THINK ABOUT WHAT DOES POLICING MEAN TO EACH -- SORRY, THAT'S -- GOING IN MULTIPLE DIRECTION THERE IS.

I THINK THAT'S THE THOUGHTFUL RESPONSE, WHICH IS CHALLENGE PEOPLE TO SAY, WHAT DO WE WANT OUR POLICING TO LOOK LIKE, SOUND LIKE, FEEL LIKE?

I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE GREAT MESSAGES THAT COME FROM THIS FILM.

MIKE, AS I MENTIONED AT THE BEGINNING, IT'S JUST A WONDERFUL FILM.

GREAT DEAL OF -- GREAT JOB OF FILMMAKING BY YOU.

ONCE AGAIN THE FILM IS CALLED' POLICE ON TRIAL', FRONTLINE.

CHECK LOCAL LISTINGS.

THANK YOU FOR TALKING WITH US.

WE APPRECIATE IT.

THANK YOU, JACK.

> ON NOVEMBER 22, 1963, THE NATION AND THE WORLD WERE SHOCKED BY THE ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY.

TWO DAYS LATER THEY WERE SHOCKED ONCE AGAIN WHEN THE SUSPECT WAS GUNNED DOWN ON LIVE TELEVISION BY JACK RUBY.

JACK RUBY'S SUBSEQUENT MURDER TRIAL, RATHER THAN BEING THE SLAM DUNK YOU EXPECTED SINCE IT WAS WITNESSED BY TEN OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE LIVE, TURNED OUT TO BE A CHAOTIC, THEATERICLE EVENT, RESULTING IN QUESTIONS, CONTROVERSIES, AND CONSPIRACY THEORIES THAT CONTINUE TO RESONATE TODAY.

NOW, A NEW BOOK BY DAN ABRAMS AND DAVID FISHER TITLED 'KENNEDY'S AVENGER, ASSASSINATION, CONSPIRACY, AND FORGOTTEN TRIAL OF JACK RUBY' TELLS THE STORY.

IT'S A DEEP DIVE INTO THE ISSUES, THE PERSONALITIES, AND THE QUESTIONS THAT STILL REMAIN, AND WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE DAN ABRAMS NOW JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT THIS BOOK.

DAN, AMONG SO MANY OTHER THINGS, THE CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT FOR ABC NEWS, THE HOST OF THE DAN ABRAMS SHOW WHERE POLITICS MEET THE LAW AND SIRIUS XM AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, A VERY GOOD FRIEND TO ME.

GREAT TO BE BACK WITH YOU AS ALWAYS.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THIS BOOK NOW.

THIS IS THE FOURTH ONE THAT YOU ALL HAVE DONE THAT LOOKS AT FAMOUS PERSONALITIES AND TRIALS THAT HELPED TO SHAPE THE CONTOURS OF WHO THEY WERE.

IN MANY INSTANCES VERY FEW PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT IT.

SO, YOU GET TO THIS CASE NOW, JACK RUBY.

INVOLVES LEE HARVEY OSWALD, THE DEATH OF PRESIDENT KENNEDY.

WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THIS STORY THAT MADE YOU SAY, THIS IS THE ONE WE WANT TO TELL NOW?

WE HAD JUST FINISHED OUR THIRD BOOK ON JOHN ADAMS REPRESENTING THE BRITISH SOLDIERS IN THE BOSTON MASSACRE CASE.

WE HAD DONE A SURPRISINGLY UNKNOWN STORY WHERE TEDDY ROOSEVELT WAS SUED, AND BEFORE THAT, THE LAST MAJOR CASE ABRAHAM LINCOLN ARGUED AS A LAWYER.

ALL CASES THAT BECOME A FOOTNOTE OF HISTORY INVOLVING PRESIDENTS.

AND DAVID FISHER AND I ARE TALKING ABOUT JOHN F. KENNEDY'S ASSASSINATION.

WE WERE LIKE, THERE WAS NO TRIAL BECAUSE OF LEE HARVEY OSWALD.

I THINK I SAID TO HIM, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO JACK RUBY'S TRIAL?

WE BOTH LOOKED AT EACH OTHER LIKE, HOW DO WE NOT KNOW MORE ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED IN JACK RUBY'S TRIAL?

ME AS THE LEGAL GUY AND DAVID AS A HISTORIAN SAID, LET'S DIG IN A LITTLE HERE.

EVERY PIECE WE BROUGHT OUT OF IT WE SAID, THIS TRIAL IS SO RICH.

THERE WAS SO MUCH HERE FROM CELEBRITY LAWYERS, CELEBRITY WITNESSES, THE JAILBREAK THAT OCCURS DURING THE TRIAL.

THIS EFFECTIVELY BECAME THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION TRIAL.

MANY OF THE CONSPIRACY CAME OUT OF THIS.

WE SAID, GOT TO DO THIS ONE.

THIS IS AMAZING.

AND THE ONE THREAD BETWEEN ALL OF OUR BOOKS IS THAT THERE'S A TRANSCRIPT OF THE TRIAL THAT SERVES AS THE HEART OF THE BOOK.

WHEN YOU LOOK AT THIS BOOK -- I WAS IN GRAMMAR SCHOOL.

I ACTUALLY SEE THE LIVE COVERAGE OF JACK RUBY GUNNING DOWN LEE HARVEY OSWALD.

I WAS ASTONISHED.

NOT SURE WHAT I WAS SEEING AT A GRAMMAR SCHOOL STUDENT.

AND I THOUGHT I KNEW A LOT ABOUT THIS CASE, BUT I WILL TELL YOU THAT, AS WITH YOUR OTHER BOOKS, I GO THROUGH THIS CONSTANTLY SAYING, WOW, I DIDN'T KNOW THAT.

I DIDN'T KNOW THAT EITHER.

SO THERE ARE GREAT THINGS THAT YOU DISCOVERED HERE.

LET ME START WITH ASKING TO YOU GIVE A QUICK RUNDOWN OF SOME OF THE PERSONALITIED INVOLVED.

WHO IS JACK RUBY?

CELEBRITY LAWYER.

JACK RUBY WAS A LOW LEVEL BUSINESS OWNER, MEANING HE OWNED SORT OF A STRIP CLUB.

I STAY STRIP MEANING -- IN TODAY'S VIEW IT WOULD BE PRETTY TAME, BUT BACK IN THE DAY IT WAS SEED I DIDN'T MEAN A LOT OF COPS WENT THERE.

HE WAS VERY CLOSE WITH POLICE OFFICERS.

ALWAYS WANTED TO BE RELEVANT.

WAS A BIG MOUTH.

THOUGHT OF HIMSELF AS KIND OF A TOUGH GUY.

REALLY WANTED TO -- WAS VERY INTO BEING JEWISH AND THE FACT THAT HE WANTED TO SHOW THAT JEWS CAN BE TOUGH GUYS ONE OF HIS BEST FRIENDS GOING UP WAS BARNEY ROSS, THE WORLD FAMOUS BOXER WHO ENDED UP TESTIFYING IN THE TRIAL ON BEHALF OF RUBY.

THE PROSECUTOR IN THIS CASE WAS HENRY WADE OF ROE VS. WADE FAME LATER ON.

BUT HE WAS A CLASSIC WELL LIKED TEXAS PROSECUTOR ASSISTED BY ANOTHER SIMILAR NAMED BILL ALEXANDER.

THE DEFENSE, THOUGH, IS KIND OF WHERE THE ACTION IS HAPPENING, SO TO SPEAK IN MELVIN BELIE.

HE WAS ARGUABLY THE MOST FAMOUS LAWYER IN AMERICA.

HE DIDN'T TYPICALLY DO CRIMINAL TRIALS.

HE HAD DONE SOME, AND SOME, HE WOULD ARGUE, SIMILAR TO THIS ONE.

BUT HE WAS A SHOWMAN AND LOVED TO PUT ON A SHOW.

THIS IS A GUY, HE'D DO A LOT OF PERSONAL INJURY CASES WITH A LOT OF DEMONSTRATIVE EVIDENCE TO TRY TO SHOW THE JURORS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED.

HE WANTED THIS TRIAL BECAUSE IT WAS THE MOST FAMOUS TRIAL IN AMERICA AT THE TIME.

SO YOU HAD THESE CHARACTERS WITH BELIE AND RUBY, PROSECUTORS, A LOT OF THE WITNESSES THAT MADE THIS -- THAT HAD ALL THE MAKINGS OF A BIG STORY.

THE THING THAT SHOCK US MOST IN THIS CASE WAS LITERALLY WITH THE WORLD'S MEDIA AT THIS CASE -- EFFECTIVELY THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION.

EVERYBODY'S THERE.

THERE'S A JAILBREAK THAT OCCURS FOUR STORIES ABOVE WITH A GUY WHO'S LITERALLY IN THE JAIL AT THE COURTHOUSE, CREATES A GUN OUT OF SOAP, TAKES HOSTAGES AND WALKS THEM RIGHT PAST THE MEDIA WITH THIS GUN AT THIS WOMAN'S BACK.

YOU HAVE MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA CALLING IN AND SAYING, THERE'S A JAILBREAK, AND THE OTHER SIDE SAYING, WHAT?

YOU'RE COVERING THE RUBY CASE.

YEAH, I KNOW, I KNOW, THERE'S A JAILBREAK GOING ON IN FRONT OF ME.

SO THAT'S THE SORT OF THING THAT WAS HAPPENING DURING THIS TRIAL.

YOU MENTION THAT AND WRITE IN YOUR BOOK ABOUT THE FACT THAT THE DALLAS POLICE DEPARTMENT HAD GOTTEN REPEATED WARNINGS FROM THE FBI ABOUT ATTACKS ON LEE HARVEY OSWALD AND SAID, WE GOT THIS.

UNTIL THEY DIDN'T, AS YOU DESCRIBE IT HERE.

LET ME TALK ABOUT THE TRIAL.

I'M SURE MOST PEOPLE LOOK AT THIS AND SAY, HE DID THIS ON LIVE TELEVISION.

WHAT DEFENSE COULD YOU POSSIBLY HAVE?

US A MENTION, YOU HAVE A THEATERICAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY, BIGGER THAN LIFE PERSONALITIES.

WHAT WAS IT FOR JACK RUBY?

WHAT THE DEFENSE COULD HAVE BEEN, WOULD HAVE BEEN THE MORE STRAIGHTFORWARD DEFENSE, WOULD HAVE BEEN THE SAY, DID IT, KIND OF LOST IT FOR A MOMENT, SAW THAT SMIRK ON OSWALD'S FACE.

I LOVE JOHN KENNEDY.

IN A MOMENT, I JUST -- I SHOT HIM AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED.

IF THAT HAD BEEN HIS DEFENSE AND THE JURY BELIEVED IT, WHICH I THINK THEY PROBABLY WOULD HAVE, HE COULD HAVE BEEN OUT IN LESS THAN FIVE YEARS.

INSTEAD, MELVIN --

YOU SAY LESS THAN FIVE YEARS.

MOST PEOPLE SAY, WAIT A MINUTE, THAT'S A MURDER.

BUT IN TEXAS AT THE TIME, MURDER WITHOUT MALICE, THAT KIND OF MINIMAL SENTENCE?

CORRECT, IT WAS EFFECTIVELY LIKE MANSLAUGHTER AS WE KNOW IT TODAY AND, THE SENTENCE FOR THAT IS SIGNIFICANTLY LOWER.

WOULD HAVE BEEN TWO TO FIVE YEARS FOR MURDER WITHOUT MALICE.

IF YOU GO FOR THE WHOLE THING, YOU COULD GET CONVICTED AND GET THE DEATH PENALTY, RIGHT?

AND MELVIN BELIE DECIDED HE WANTED TO PURSUE AN INSANITY DEFENSE, AND NOT JUST AN INSANITY DEFENSE, BUT YOU THE DEFENSE WAS JACK RUBY SUFFERED A EPILEPTIC SEIZURE THAT PUT HIM INTO A FUGUE STATE, MEANING HE COULD NOT REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED.

THAT HE HAD NO MEMORY OF THE EVENT ITSELF, WHICH, IF THE JURY BELIEVED IT, WOULD BE NOT GUILTY BY REASON OF INSANITY.

AND HE WENT FOR IT ALL AS OPPOSED TO GOING FOR THE MORE MEASURED DEFENSE, WHICH HIS INITIAL ATTORNEY TOM HOWARD ENCOURAGED HIM TO DO.

TALK ABOUT -- GIVE US A SENSE OF HIM.

YOU GO INTO GREAT DETAIL IN THE BOOK.

PEOPLE NEED TO FOLLOW THAT AND TO UNDERSTAND IT.

BUT TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE CONTROVERSIES, SOME OF THE CONSPIRACY THEORIES THAT BEGAN TO EMERGE DURING THE COURSE OF THIS CASE?

AND I THINK A LOT OF THEM WERE BASED ON QUESTIONS THAT WENT UNANSWERED, RIGHT?

AT ONE POINT, THE DEFENSE SAYS TO THE PROSECUTION, WE'D LIKE YOU TO STIPULATE THAT LEE HARVEY OSWALD ACTED ALONE.

WE'RE NOT STIPULATING TO ANYTHING.

OH.

WHY?

THAT SUGGESTS THE MEDIA, WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN YOU AND ME IN PRESENT DAY SCRIBBLING DOWN OUR NOTES.

TOTALLY RIGHT.

ANOTHER CASE, A FBI AGENTS WAS QUESTIONED AND ASKED, DO YOU HAVE ANY EVIDENCE OF A LINK BETWEEN OSWALD AND RUBY?

OBJECTION.

QUESTION GOES UNANSWERED.

ANOTHER MISSING PIECE IN THE POTENTIAL CONSPIRACY LINK.

THERE WERE PIECES OF CONVERSATIONS THAT SOMEONE WOULD OVERHEAR WITH RUBY ON THE PHONE ON THE SATURDAY BEFORE HE KILLED OSWALD, WHICH SOUNDED LIKE HE WAS PLOTTING, RIGHT?

OF COURSE LATER ON WE LEARNED HE WAS TALKING TO A RADIO REPORTER, BUT REGARDLESS, AT THAT MOMENT THERE WAS A LOT OF QUESTIONS, A LOT OF PEOPLE SAYING THEY MIGHT HAVE SEEN SOMETHING, ET CETERA.

AND THIS TRIAL, I THINK, IN MANY WAYS, FUELED A LOT OF THOSE CONSPIRACY THEORIES.

JUST GOT ABOUT A MINUTE LEFT.

REAL QUICKLY, HOW OFTEN DID PEOPLE HEAR FROM JACK RUBY BEFORE HE DIED ABOUT THIS?

WE SPOKE ABOUT THIS A NUMBER OF TIMES.

AND NOT ONLY CAN HE SPEAK TO THE WARREN COMMISSION, WHICH WAS INVESTIGATING ON BEHALF OF THE GOVERNMENT WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED AT LENGTH, HE DEMANDED A LIE DETECTOR TEST.

HE KEPT SAYING TO EARL WARREN HIMSELF, SIR, I NEED TO YOU GET ME A LIE DETECTOR TEST.

EARL WARREN KEPT SAYING, OKAY, WE NEED TO YOU ANSWER OUR QUESTIONS.

AND WARREN GOT HIM THE LIE DETECTOR TEST, WHICH HE SAID HE REGRETTED LATER.

JACK RUBY SET SEPARATELY FOR A LIE DETECTOR, ANSWERED ALL THE QUESTIONS, BUT FOR WHATEVER REASON, YOU HAVE A LOT PEOPLE THAT STILL DON'T WANT TO BELIEVE A WORD THAT CAME OUT OF JACK RUBY'S MOUTH.

THAT'S ONE OF THE FASCINATING MOMENTS I DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT, JACK RUBY TALKING TO THE CHIEF JUSTICE AND SAYING, LET ME TELL YOU MY PART OF THE STORY.

THERE ARE SO MANY GREAT PASSAGES AND REVELATIONS IN THIS BOOK.

IT READS LIKE FICTION, BUT WE KNOW IT'S TRUE.

WONDERFUL JOB PUTTING THIS TOGETHER.

'KENNEDY'S AVENGER, THE ASSASSINATION CONSPIRACY.'

YOU BE WELL.

JACK FORD, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

APPRECIATE IT.

TAKE CARE.

♪♪

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- ♪♪

©2022 WNET. All Rights Reserved. 825 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10019

WNET is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Tax ID: 26-2810489