In This Episode
- A CDC committee voted yesterday to keep the pause going on the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, at least until it meets again. Temporarily stopping use of the vaccine makes sense, but the move also has immediate impacts on the underserved populations that had been relying on the vaccine for protection.
- Now-former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter will be charged with second-degree manslaughter for shooting and killing Daunte Wright. We discuss the history of what happened when officers have been charged after claiming they mistook a gun for a taser.
- And in headlines: Denmark is denying residency permits to Syrian refugees, Disney theme park employees can be tatted, and Coinbase makes its IPO.
Akilah Hughes: It’s Thursday, April 15th. I’m Akilah Hughes
Gideon Resnick: And I’m Gideon Resnick, and this is What A Day, where we are cautioning all ghosts and angels against investing with Bernie Madoff.
Akilah Hughes: But we don’t need angel investors or demon investors—we need no one messing with this guy.
Gideon Resnick: On today’s show, the officer who shot Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, is charged. Plus, we’ll have some headlines.
Akilah Hughes: But first, the latest, where a pause is still on:
[clip of Amanda Cohn] At this time ACIP would not provide any wish to vote, or put any motions on the table to vote, for a change in the current recommendation.
Akilah Hughes: So that’s Amanda Cohn, a member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or. ‘ACIP’ as she called it. That committee met yesterday and voted to keep the pause going on the J&J vaccine distribution until they meet again in hopes that there will be more substantial data to make a good recommendation.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I hope there will be too. And that meeting can happen as soon as next week. But Akilah, how did yesterday’s meeting go? What all was said here?
Akilah Hughes: OK, so I’m going to set the scene. It was a very long meeting, like long, like the Snyder cut. And I’m not sure if you followed it, but we heard from a variety of medical experts and community members regarding the risk associated with the J&J shot, and several schools of thought about how pausing could affect supply. Here’s a clip of Dr. Sarah Long, professor of pediatrics at the Drexel University College of Medicine. She’s a member of that CDC committee and she advocated for waiting a little while to get a clearer picture of the side effects of the one and done shot.
[clip of Dr. Sarah Long] I would think we are ready to make an interim decision to continue a pause for at least a month until we see what else comes out about this occurring in men. We now in the most recent weeks are immunizing younger and younger individuals, and we might be able to make some risk-related, more definitive potential use of the vaccine again in a month.
Akilah Hughes: And Dr. Long’s stance was seconded by another committee member, Dr. Helen Talbott, an Associate Professor of Medicine from Vanderbilt. Dr. Talbott expressed concern about age and underreporting of side effects. So, you know, on the show we talked about how the six people with severe blood clotting reactions are aged 18 to 48. But she said it’s possible it’s affecting people over 52, but we just don’t know it yet. And that’s because other deadly cases of this rare side effect might be overlooked, or just chalked up to being a stroke, which are more common in that age group.
Gideon Resnick: Right. A lot of interesting questions there. So we also mentioned that these vaccines had been relied on by high-risk individuals who are unhoused or homebound, and could not otherwise get a vaccine. What was the latest on that?
Akilah Hughes: All right. So everything is being considered. You know, I cannot stress enough that they took a lot of time to weigh the decision to pause the use of the vaccine. But specifically to this point, committee member Dr. Camille Kotton, an infectious diseases expert in Massachusetts, flagged that:
[clip of Dr. Camille Kotton] Putting this vaccine on pause for those of us that are frontline health care workers has really been devastating. I agree in general that we don’t have enough time—we don’t have enough data to make a decision at this time. But we were planning on using this vaccine in the state of Massachusetts for people who are homebound and otherwise not able to get a vaccine. We were planning on using it for our vulnerable in-patient population, often with many comorbidities and at high risk for disease but who haven’t been able to get vaccinated otherwise. And then it certainly was going to be used in what may be otherwise underserved populations, or populations that aren’t able to get mRNA vaccines. So I definitely want us to be cautious and very careful with our decision making.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, and I think all of that is a good point, and proof that my Kentucky math is not so bad. The immediate effect of stopping the use of the vaccine absolutely does mean that people who are planning to get it are now going to have to wait since these major inequities in access exist. But especially in a global sense, these medical professionals caution that there were countries hanging in the balance while this decision is being made. One said that the rest of the world is waiting to see if the U.S. declares the J&J vaccine safe before using it too. So while they understand the weight of the potential side effects, time really is of the essence.
Gideon Resnick: And let’s stay on that topic of what it actually means for the rest of the world. So South Africa, for example, was relying on Johnson & Johnson after it scrapped its deal with AstraZeneca. It was the only vaccine in the country. So what are they going to do in the meantime?
Akilah Hughes: So they’ve halted used to be safe, but their backup plan seems to be waiting until May when the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine becomes available to them. In another blow to AstraZeneca, Denmark announced yesterday that it’s going to halt usage of their vaccine altogether, which again means they’ll be relying on one of the other approved vaccines. It’s the first European country to say they’re officially done with it. So it’s not a great time to have the one-shot version be out of commission. We’ll keep you posted on all the vaccine drama as it unfolds. But now let’s turn to policing in America, with some news about the officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright on Sunday in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. What have we learned?
Gideon Resnick: So the Washington County District Attorney who is prosecuting this case said that now former officer Kim Potter will be charged with second degree manslaughter. This is also one of the charges that Derek Chauvin is facing, but he, of course, has others as well. And so in Minnesota, second degree manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 10 years or a 20,000 fine or both. Those are quite different “or’s”, but I digress. And Potter, by the way, posted the $100,000 bail to be released from jail yesterday morning. As for who might pay for her defense and a possible fine? Well, the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association has hundreds of thousands of dollars set aside for these exact kinds of cases. What do you know? It’s paying for Chauvin defense and will most likely foot the bill for Potter’s. And one note, even though Daunte Wright’s, killing happened in Hennepin County, nearby Washington County is doing the investigation. That’s part of an agreement to have neighboring prosecutors investigate police shootings to avoid conflicts of interest.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, and some more details about Kim Potter have come out. And despite making a rookie mistake and allegedly confusing her gun for a Taser, she’s anything but a rookie.
Gideon Resnick: That’s right. She had reportedly worked for the department for 26 years! And actually was training two younger officers when they stopped Wright’s car. What’s more, is that she served as the police union’s president and had represented other officers involved in deadly shootings.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, well, if she is the person training people, they probably should get rid of the police force because: yikes. Well, we know that police officers very rarely face consequences for killing people on the job, and we’ve seen it countless times with white officers and unarmed black people. But how rare are charges for this kind of thing where an officer claims they mistook a gun for a Taser?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I mean, as we know, there is just an insane latitude given to police. Most of their shootings are ultimately deemed justified. And then if you do actually get to the point where you’re in a courtroom, convictions are a whole other thing. But on this ‘mistaken weapon’ front specifically, there’s an interesting New York Times story that dug into how often there are charges. They looked at about 15 cases of this over the past 20 years and found that only five officers were indicted. And of those, only three were found guilty. And they included two cases in which people were killed.
Akilah Hughes: That is outrageous. But how did the officers in those three ultimately get convicted?
Gideon Resnick: Yes. So one of the recent examples happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2015. A white reserve volunteer with the county sheriff’s office thought that he had drawn a Taser, but he drew a gun and he shot and killed a black man named Eric Harris. The deputy in that case went to jail. And so that officer was also charged with second degree manslaughter. In that case, he was found guilty. That charge is often brought into these cases because all prosecutors have to show is that the officer demonstrated, quote “culpable negligence.” And then sometimes there are also civil suits. And when you go that route, you have to get around another protection that exists for police. That is right: qualified immunity. That happened in 2005 in Minnesota, where the federal court permitted a case against an officer who used a gun instead of a Taser, and the victim in that instance was paid $900,000 in a settlement.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, we’re never going to stop beating the drum of ending qualified immunity. It is absolutely just despicable. And we’re also going to be following this as well as the Chauvin trial that could move into closing arguments next week. But what is immediately next here in finding justice for Daunte Wright?
Gideon Resnick: Well, so, Potter is set to make her first court appearance today. And if he didn’t have enough on his plate already, Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott reportedly wants the state’s Attorney General, Keith Ellison, to handle the case. The AG’s office, of course, is overseeing the prosecution of Chauvin. More on all that soon, but that is the latest for now.
Akilah Hughes: It’s Thursday, WAD squad, and for today’s temp check, we’re talking about the latest in celebrity entrepreneurship: the actor who portrayed Steve Urkel in Family Matters, the legend Jaleel White, is launching a cannabis brand. His product line is called ItsPurpl [laughter] and it comprises variations of a strain called Purple Urkel. Guys, this is how you leverage an iconic character. The line will launch in California next week, Honolulu. And it got us thinking about the possibilities of other ’90s sitcom character/vanity weed brand crossovers. So Gideon what be doing today?
Gideon Resnick: Well, Akilah, I’m going to read you some options of possible strains that we could develop before reaching out to the investors of ours and you let me know what jumps out.
Akilah Hughes: OK.
Gideon Resnick: First up: Hits From the Bing.
Akilah Hughes: OK, I’m assuming since we’re talking about the ’90s, it’s not like Bing versus Google, but more like Chandler from Friends. [laughs]
Gideon Resnick: Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Yes.
Akilah Hughes: And Bing, being like bong. [laughs]
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. There it is. Yup. That’s the easy connection.
Akilah Hughes: OK, yeah. I love that.
Gideon Resnick: Elaine In the Membrane.
Akilah Hughes: OK, that was great. I would smoke a lot of Elaine In the Membrane. [laughs] As you know, a Julia Louis-Dreyfus fan, you know, we got to, we got to stan, and I love it. It works on a lot of levels.
Gideon Resnick: This is, this is a little bit similar: Insane in the Niles Crane.
Akilah Hughes: OK, you all are really testing me on my like, white sitcom knowledge. Like I’m way better—but I know that this is Frasier, right?
Gideon Resnick: I believe it is.
Akilah Hughes: Is that from Frasier?
Gideon Resnick: Frasier’s a big black hole in my head.
Akilah Hughes: So. OK, well, you know, I didn’t follow the Cheers spinoffs, but I will say that, yeah, it sounds good. I imagine this one has like a monocle and like its dad doesn’t respect that very much. That’s all I—[laughs] You know, I see this one, but yeah.
Gideon Resnick: And lastly: Al the Bundy On the Left-hand Side.
Akilah Hughes: Oh, OK. [laughs] Like, “pass the dutche.” We get it. We get it. We’re here for it. I love it. Al Bundy, a real hero of the like, you know, “have a hot wife and be disappointed by life” club. I love it. Married with Children: a lot of people are in that predicament, and I think that the pandemic has made it stressful, so I hope that all the parents and, you know, wifeys and husbands out there can get a little toke. I’m happy for them. I love that. I think my favorite one, it’s got to be Elaine In the Membrane. We love it. We love Elaine. You know, the commercial for it—I don’t think there’s commercials for weed, [laughs] but if there’s a commercial for it—
Gideon Resnick: There will be one day.
Akilah Hughes: I’d like it to be dancing, right? Yeah, I love it. These are so ridiculous. But just like that, we have checked our temps, stay safe, remember the ’90s fondly with your, you know, local legal weed, and we’ll be back after some ads.
Akilah Hughes: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: Denmark is continuing to deny residency permits to Syrian refugees in the country. Over 250 Syrian refugees have had their residency permits revoked or denied for approval, making Denmark the first country in the EU to essentially strip them of their asylum status. The country started reviewing the permits of refugees last year, after Danish authorities claimed that parts of Syria have improved significantly. And that went against analysis from the EU and the United Nations, which described most areas in Syria as not stable enough for people to return. The move is being seen as the latest attempt by Denmark to tighten up its border and to target migrants and minorities within them.
Akilah Hughes: I don’t like ugly. Employees at Disneyland and Disney World are finally allowed to show off their ink. Disney announced yesterday that its amusement park workers are now free to express themselves with jewelry, nails, gender-neutral hairstyles, and tattoos that are deemed appropriate. That means your Captain Hook lower back piece is OK as long as he is not shown piloting his ship while wasted—it’s very important that he be sober as he’s attacking children. [laughs] This is a huge deal for Disney, which has always been extremely strict about its employees’ appearances. The Disney look is a real thing y’all. Look it up. The part literally did not allow facial hair until 2012. In my mind, that’s why Jafar is always so pissed off. I mean, you know, one of several reasons. [laughs] Keeps getting swerved. But the decision came after a 16-month focus group of employees suggested the company add inclusion to its core values. That also led the park to remove racist portrayals in rides like Splash Mountain and the Jungle Cruise. Finally. Disneyland in California is set to reopen at the end of this month.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, so let your freak flag fly employees!
Akilah Hughes: As long as it’s a tattoo.
Gideon Resnick: Your tattoo flag of Captain Hook, is what I mean by that. OK, it turns out there is money in tech because the cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase went public yesterday and ended the day at about $330 a share. That brings the company’s total valuation to $85.7 billion, and makes founder and CEO Brian Armstrong’s stake worth $13 billion. Congrats, I guess, Brian. Another big winner was the rapper Nas, who backed Coinbase early and saw his investment grow to over 100 million yesterday. Congratulations, Nas. For investors, Coinbase offers a way into the world of crypto that might have less volatility than the coins themselves. Not everyone has the ice in their veins that lets them casually gain or lose $50,000 in a day because Elon Musk tweeted a bitcoin meme that was confusing. Speaking of Bitcoin: its price soared yesterday thanks in part to the Coinbase IPO. Bitcoin reached its record high of $64,000 and Dogecoin surged to 14 cents, up about 2,400% since the start of the year. Dogecoin started as a joke . . . there’s only one person who is laughing now, though, and it is me—it is so I can mask my frustration at being left out.
Akilah Hughes: Dogecoin going to the moon. Dogecoin is off the leash. [laughs] OK, so checking back in with the man who’s defending sex traffickers against the Cancel culture, future former Congressman Matt Gaetz. [laughs] CNN published a report yesterday based on interviews with two women who say they attended house parties with Gaetz and witnessed drug use and payment for sex. The news came on the heels of reports that Gaetz’s political ally Joel Greenberg was cooperating with the Justice Department and will likely strike a plea deal. Greenberg is a former tax commissioner in Florida who is facing 33 federal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor. And according to The Daily Beast, he made more than 150 Venmo payments to dozens of young women and received several suspicious payments from Gaetz. This all looks very incriminating for Gaetz, but we can assume he’ll find a way to blame it on the FBI, or maybe his dad. Last week, Gaetz hired two New York lawyers to his defense team, including one who represents the Trump organization—only the worst for truly the worst guy.
Gideon Resnick: I’m interested in the investigators of this case being like: we looked everywhere . . . and then we just went to Venmo and it was all there. Like it’s—
Akilah Hughes: Exactly. I just looked up Matt Gaetz on Venmo and I found that he is literally putting little descriptions quite clearly with the payments. He is not a smart man, but those are the headlines.
Akilah Hughes: Well, one last thing before we go, in case you missed it in the Pod Save the People episode called “Tell the Truth,” co-host Kaya Henderson tells the story of Soul City, a Black utopia that broke ground in North Carolina in 1973 but came crashing down when the state’s senator decided to step in and destroy it. Check out this must-listen episode in the Pod Save the People feed wherever you get your podcasts.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you’d like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, shave Jafar, and tell your friends to listen.
Akilah Hughes: And if you’re into reading, and not just Elon Musk’s memes for financial advice like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out. Subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Akilah Hughes.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And drive safe Captain Hook!
Akilah Hughes: Rufio’s just out there, trying not to get hit. So just be careful.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. I mean, you can’t swerve around Pan, you know, he’s just going to fly around you anyway, so.
Akilah Hughes: And if you crash, that alligator absolutely will be biting that ass. So keep that in mind.
Akilah Hughes: What a day is a production of Crooked Media.
Gideon Resnick: It’s recorded and mixed by Charlotte Landes.
Akilah Hughes: Sonia Htoon is our assistant producer.
Gideon Resnick: Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran, Akilah Hughes and me.
Akilah Hughes: Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.