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Morning News Brief

NOEL KING, HOST:

Thirteen-year-old Adam Toledo was killed in an encounter with police in Chicago last month. Afterward, authorities told his family that Adam had a gun in his hand when he was shot. He did not. His hands were up, and they were empty. Under pressure from the boy's family, activists and even some police officials, the city released video of the shooting yesterday. Claudia Morell, a reporter with member station WBEZ in Chicago, is following this one. Good morning, Claudia.

CLAUDIA MORELL, BYLINE: Good morning.

KING: We are not going to play the video or any audio from it because it is very graphic. But tell us about what you can see.

MORELL: Well, we see a police officer chasing Adam Toledo down a dark alley, and the officer was responding to 911 calls about several gunshots in the area. And prosecutors later say a 21-year-old man who was with Toledo was the one who fired the shots. And police say Toledo had the gun while he was running from them. But the crucial moment is really just one or two seconds. The officer yells at Toledo to stop running, and he appears to comply, raising his hands. And as soon as he does, he shot once in the chest. You know, it's extremely hard to watch and, you know, even harder knowing that Adam was just 13 years old in seventh grade.

KING: It is extremely hard to watch, but it does make the circumstances extremely clear. The child was not holding a gun when he was shot. So what's been the reaction there in Chicago?

MORELL: Well, it was a pretty small gathering last night in the Loop by The Bean. It was kind of impromptu because the video had just been released late that afternoon. But while I was downtown, I talked with David Halloway (ph). He's 19, and he's Black, and he says he doesn't really feel protected by police.

DAVID HALLOWAY: That could have been me when I was 13. I've been in multiple encounters with police throughout my life, even at that age. Like, it was just devastating.

MORELL: And, you know, obviously it's devastating for Toledo's family as well. They saw the video earlier this week. The city gave them a private viewing. And they didn't want the video released. They told the city to hold off. But, you know, the city has a policy in place that requires them to release all footage of police-involved shootings within 60 days. The city's investigating the shooting. It's the normal process that happens after all police-involved shootings so that they can determine whether it was a justified use of force or not. The officer is currently on administrative duties while that takes place. And, you know, this could take several months. And for Chicago residents, the shooting and the investigation are reminiscent of the 2014 police shooting of Laquan McDonald. But, you know, in that case, it took the city a year to release the body cam footage. And that was only after a federal judge forced the city because a reporter had filed a FOIA request. In this case, it's actually remarkable that it just took 2 1/2 weeks after the shooting. And that's partially because of the policy that was put in place after McDonald's death and partially because, you know, there had been a lot of outrage kind of brewing up here in the city.

KING: And, Claudia, is Chicago expecting more protests today?

MORELL: Yes, there are several protests scheduled for tonight, and it's possible they could continue through the weekend. Stores on the Mag Mile have already started boarding up their storefronts.

KING: Claudia Morell, a reporter with WBEZ in Chicago. Thank you, Claudia.

MORELL: Thank you.

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KING: For the first time since his trial started, the court heard Derek Chauvin speak.

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DEREK CHAUVIN: I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

That's about all he said. The former Minneapolis police officer decided not to testify in his own defense. His lawyers and prosecutors have now rested their cases, and soon a jury begins to deliberate.

KING: NPR's Leila Fadel has been covering the trial from Minneapolis. Good morning, Leila.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Good morning, Noel.

KING: So I guess the big question is, what happens now?

FADEL: Right. So they're - on Monday, the prosecution and the defense will present their closing arguments to the jury before they're sequestered for deliberations to decide the fate of Derek Chauvin, accused of murdering George Floyd. Before they went home, Judge Peter Cahill told them to get ready.

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PETER CAHILL: I think the one thing that you need to know today as you leave is, how much do I pack? If I were you, I would plan for long and hope for short.

FADEL: No court Friday. On Monday, the jury will show up with their bags, hear closing statements, get jury instructions from the judge and go into deliberations. As for how long it might take, could be an hour or could be weeks.

KING: The court had not heard Derek Chauvin speak at all during this trial. Yesterday, they did for the first time. What was that like?

FADEL: Well, it was short. He took off his mask to invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify. And it sounded like it was a difficult decision. His defense attorney, Eric Nelson, said they had gone back and forth at length, including the night before, Chauvin agreed and then plead the fifth. The judge, Peter Cahill, addressed him directly.

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CAHILL: Is this your decision not to testify?

CHAUVIN: It is, Your Honor.

CAHILL: All right. Do you have any questions about your right to remain silent or to testify on your own behalf?

CHAUVIN: Not at this time, I don't.

FADEL: Now, Chauvin is the only police officer ever tried for the killing of a civilian in Minnesota who chose not to take the stand. Only four officers have ever stood trial in Minnesota for killing a person while on duty. Of those, only one was convicted.

KING: Yeah, you point out that, historically, it has been rare to get a conviction in a case like this. Do you have a sense of where this is headed?

FADEL: I mean, it's a question we don't know the answer to, really. Chauvin is facing a second-degree unintentional murder charge, a third-degree murder charge and a third-degree manslaughter charge. The prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Chauvin is guilty. A lot of legal experts say they've presented a strong case with some 38 witnesses and an incredible amount of difficult video from every angle of George Floyd's last breaths under Chauvin's knee. But like you said, it's rare for a police officer to be convicted. The defense called seven witnesses to raise doubt around the cause of death. Was it Chauvin's knee? Or, as the defense attorney, Eric Nelson, argued, could it have been something else, drugs, health problems or even carbon monoxide poisoning from the squad car? And so we'll see. The world's watching what will happen in this case. And many civil rights advocates see it as a referendum on race, policing and accountability when police kill on the job.

KING: You are right now not very far from Brooklyn Center, Minn., where another Black man, Daunte Wright, was killed by a police officer. Can you tell us what's happening now in Brooklyn Center?

FADEL: So every day and night, we've seen largely peaceful protests and some late-night clashes since the killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright. And outside Minneapolis, in Brooklyn Center, Kimberly Potter, the white now former police officer who killed Wright, a young Black man, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter. Wright's family says that's not enough. They want more severe charges. Daunte Wright's mother, Katie Wright, spoke at a press conference. She said people have asked what they want. They've talked about justice.

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KATIE WRIGHT: But unfortunately, there's never going to be justice for us. The justice would bring our son home to us, knocking on the door with his big smile, coming in the house, sitting down, eating dinner with us, going out to lunch, playing with his 1-year-old, almost 2-year-old son, giving him a kiss before he walks out the door. So there - justice isn't even a word to me.

FADEL: She wants accountability.

KING: NPR's Leila Fadel in Minneapolis. Thank you, Leila.

FADEL: Thank you.

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KING: All right. Just because U.S. troops plan to leave Afghanistan does not mean that the war there is over.

INSKEEP: That's a major concern of U.S. allies in Afghanistan's government. How do they battle a Taliban insurgency with less U.S. help? Afghanistan's ambassador to the United States spoke of a war that has continued since the Taliban lost power in Afghanistan almost 20 years ago. Roya Rahmani told All Things Considered there's no sign of an end.

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ROYA RAHMANI: We are very disappointed by the reaction of the Taliban to this announcement, saying that they are refusing to come to the table to discuss and negotiate. They are not taking the path to peace.

INSKEEP: Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced visit to Kabul yesterday to assure the government of the U.S.'s ongoing commitment there.

KING: Let's talk about that ongoing commitment with NPR's national security correspondent Greg Myre. Good morning, Greg.

GREG MYRE, BYLINE: Hi, Noel.

KING: I learned this morning that you first reported from Afghanistan in 1993, the year before the Taliban was formed. Just give us a little history, Greg.

MYRE: Well, when I first went there at that time, Afghanistan had been totally abandoned by the rest of the world. And it was really locked in this nasty civil war. It was a completely shattered country. Kabul had no electricity. It was a good day if there was running water. There was really no functioning economy. It was just a land ruled by warlords. So the U.S. military and the larger foreign presence has remade Kabul and a few other cities. But Afghanistan is really at risk of returning to that scenario in the 1990s where the Afghan government and the Taliban and perhaps a few other militias would be left to sort out the country's fate on their own.

KING: And so when the U.S. leaves, the big question will be, can the Afghan government work out an agreement with the Taliban that would permanently end this war?

MYRE: Yeah, and the prospects are not good. The Taliban have long refused to deal with the government. The peace talks were already stumbling before President Biden's announcement. They're supposed to resume April 24 in Istanbul, but it's not clear if the Taliban will take part. So a best-case scenario would be a power sharing deal before the U.S. leaves. But right now, this seems highly unlikely.

KING: And so is there then real concern that the Taliban could take Afghanistan over by force?

MYRE: Yeah, that is a real threat. They already - the Taliban already controls much of the countryside. They could go on an offensive after the U.S. leaves and try to take power, which is exactly what they did in 1996. Some former U.S. commanders in Afghanistan, like General David Petraeus, strongly oppose the pullout. They acknowledge the small U.S. presence isn't going to defeat the Taliban in the war, but they say that it does provide stability.

KING: The U.S. military went into the country in 2001 to fight al-Qaida. I guess there is also an outstanding question, could al-Qaida regroup in Afghanistan?

MYRE: The director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, was asked about this Thursday during testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

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AVRIL HAINES: Years of sustained counterterrorism actions have really degraded the ability of al-Qaida and ISIS to attack U.S. interests. And we assess really that neither group is currently positioned to conduct attacks against the West.

MYRE: President Biden says the U.S. will be able to keep a close watch from over the horizon, suggesting U.S. forces will be nearby in the region. But we don't know exactly where that will be. Support for his decision to remove troops - many people think that 20 years is long enough. It is time to bring the troops home. But there are also critics who cite the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, which was quickly followed by the rise of the Islamic State and then the return of U.S. forces to that country.

KING: NPR's Greg Myre. Thanks for this, Greg.

MYRE: My pleasure.

KING: We have one more story this morning. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police say nine people are dead after a shooting in a FedEx warehouse.

INSKEEP: This is a warehouse near Indianapolis International Airport. The nine dead include the suspected shooter who, according to the police department, shot himself. They haven't released any details yet about the weapon or motive or name the victims or the suspect. Police are expected to update the press today. And we'll bring you news when we learn it on NPR stations. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.