Deadly Capitol Attack, The Derek Chauvin Trial, Iran-US Nuclear Talks : Up First Another fatal attack at the U.S. Capitol escalates security concerns. The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd continues. The U.S. and Iran will talk through European intermediaries next week — a move that could lay the groundwork for a new nuclear deal.
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Deadly Capitol Attack, The Derek Chauvin Trial, Iran-US Nuclear Talks

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Deadly Capitol Attack, The Derek Chauvin Trial, Iran-US Nuclear Talks

Deadly Capitol Attack, The Derek Chauvin Trial, Iran-US Nuclear Talks

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  • Transcript


Another deadly attack at the U.S. Capitol after a man rammed his vehicle into two Capitol Police officers at a checkpoint.


This incident comes less than three months after the siege of the Capitol building.

SIMON: I'm Scott Simon.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'm Lulu Garcia-Navarro. And this is UP FIRST from NPR News.

SIMON: A shocking scene in Washington, D.C., and one of the officers struck in the attack died of his injuries. We'll look at the security implications.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And we'll have the latest from the trial of the former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin. He's charged in the killing of George Floyd last week.

SIMON: Plus, a meeting - kind of - between the U.S. and Iran. Could this be a path to a new nuclear deal?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So stay with us. We've got the news you need to start your weekend.


YOGANANDA PITTMAN: And it is with a very, very heavy heart that I announce one of our officers has succumbed to his injuries.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman yesterday as she announced the death of officer William Evans, an 18-year veteran of the force. Another officer is still in the hospital but is stable and has non-life-threatening injuries.

SIMON: The suspect was killed following his attack on the officers at the Capitol. Several news organizations have reported that unnamed law enforcement sources say the suspect was a 25-year-old man from Indiana. NPR has not confirmed those reports. Joining us now to discuss a very difficult three months for the Capitol Police is NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales. Claudia, thanks so much for being with us.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Thanks for having me, Scott.

SIMON: This has been trying and sad times for the Capitol Police. And that was acknowledged by the chief, wasn't it?

GRISALES: Yes. Capitol Police have lost two officers after the January 6 insurrection. And now you have the loss of a new officer that you mentioned there in this new tragedy. You could hear it in Pittman's voice as she talked to a reporter. Let's take a listen.


PITTMAN: I just ask that the public continue to keep U.S. Capitol Police and their families and in your prayers. This has been an extremely difficult time for U.S. Capitol Police.

GRISALES: The Capitol has seen security installed after the insurrection scaled back in recent weeks, so this will shape current talks on this and how lawmakers can better support these officers.

SIMON: Claudia, as authorities have been able to piece things together, what exactly happened yesterday?

GRISALES: Pittman said that shortly after 1 p.m. local time, this suspect entered the north barricade of the Capitol. Normally, this is a busy entrance to the Senate, but Congress was in recess, so it was supposed to be a quiet day. Pittman said the suspect rammed his car into two of their officers, struck a barricade and then exited his vehicle, lunging at officers with a knife, at which time they opened fire. The suspect was pronounced dead, while one of those officers, as we mentioned at the top there, William Evans, who was known as Billy, died. As you mentioned, he was an 18-year veteran. And we know he was a father to two children, Logan and Abigail (ph). This is - the other officer remains in the hospital, but he is in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries.

SIMON: And what response have we had so far from President Biden and congressional leaders?

GRISALES: Biden said he will continue to be briefed on this incident and that he and the first lady, Jill Biden, share their condolences and gratitude for the Capitol Police. Congressional members struck a similar note. Both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said they both spoke with the Evans family and shared their condolences with his mother and children. Ohio Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan - his subcommittee oversees the Capitol Police - told reporters that this incident ripped off the scab, if you will, that was left after the January 6 insurrection. It hits hard for this family of lawmakers, police and others that have grown closer since the riot.

SIMON: And what's ahead after this incident, Claudia?

GRISALES: So acting D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee said his department's homicide and internal affairs divisions will investigate the death of the officer and the suspect. Here's what he said.


ROBERT CONTEE: Clearly, this was someone who was actively trying to just get at whoever or whatever. We just don't know right now. So we have a responsibility to investigate that, to get to the bottom of this.

GRISALES: He also told reporters there was no indication the suspect was known to area law enforcement or that this is terrorism related. But we're expecting this to add to the layers of investigations already ongoing in the aftermath of the insurrection.

SIMON: NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales, thank you so much for being with us.

GRISALES: Thanks for having me.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: In Minneapolis this week, videos showed key moments before George Floyd died. The often startling and compelling images were presented during the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin.

SIMON: Chauvin, who pressed his knee on George Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes, faces charges of murder and manslaughter. The first week of testimony wrapped up, and the trial resumes Monday. NPR's Cheryl Corley is in Minneapolis, has been covering the trial. Cheryl, thanks so much for being with us.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: You're quite welcome, Scott.

SIMON: Many of the witnesses testifying, of course, were bystanders at the scene of George Floyd's arrest. One of them was Darnella Frazier, who recorded the video that became so well-known and led to massive demonstrations. What did she have to say?

CORLEY: Well, Frazier, who was 17 years old at the time - she and three other minors testified during the trial. And she talked about walking her 9-year-old cousin to the grocery store and seeing Floyd pinned to the ground, pleading for his life. So she ushered her cousin into the store - she didn't really want her to see that - and then came back to videotape what she was seeing. And in the courtroom, she just cried, tears streaming down her face as she talked about it.


DARNELLA FRAZIER: It's been nights I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life.

CORLEY: You know, this week was just so emotional for many of those bystanders who were testifying, including 19-year-old Christopher Martin. He was a cashier who took the $20 fake bill that Floyd gave him, which led to Floyd's arrest. And Martin said when he saw what was happening, he just felt disbelief and guilt and wished he had never taken that bill.

SIMON: Cheryl, of course, that video of George Floyd lying on the ground is so well-known around the world at this point. Prosecutors tried to fill in some of the human personality of that, hearing testimony from his girlfriend, Courteney Ross. What did her story provide?

CORLEY: Well, she presented what's called kind of spark-of-life testimony, letting people know that a person - what a person was really like. And she talked about how she met Floyd at a Salvation Army while he was a security guard during a time when she was really feeling distressed.


COURTENEY ROSS: I like to say his voice dropped, like, two levels, even though it was deep already. And he asked me if he could get my number. And we had our first kiss in the lobby. And that's when our relationship started.

CORLEY: You know, and Ross said George Floyd loved working out, lifting weights, playing sports with kids. But she also talked about their dependency on prescription drugs, and she called it a classic story of how many people get addicted to opioids.


ROSS: We both suffered from chronic pain. Mine was in my neck and his was in his back. We got addicted and tried really hard to break that addiction many times.

CORLEY: And an effort by prosecutors just to kind of get ahead of what they expect to come from the defense - them talking about George Floyd's drug addiction.

SIMON: Cheryl, what stood out for you during this first week of the trial?

CORLEY: Well, two things - the first, the testimony of police officers against their own. We heard from them talking about police use of force and the department's policy. And we heard from Chauvin's supervisor, now retired Sergeant David Pleoger, who testified there really wasn't any justification for keeping Floyd in that position for so long.


DAVID PLEOGER: When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended the restraint.

STEVE SCHLEICHER: And that was after he was handcuffed and on the ground and no longer resisting.

PLEOGER: Correct.

CORLEY: And I think the second thing that was just so surprising was the really overwhelming amount of video that is - become a part of this trial showing George Floyd as a customer and multiple versions of his arrest and takedown by officers from their police body-worn cameras.

SIMON: NPR's Cheryl Corley in Minneapolis, thanks so much.

CORLEY: You're welcome.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: They don't plan to be in the same room together, but the U.S. and Iran have agreed to a new effort next week to try and revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

SIMON: The meetings start Tuesday in Vienna and will be mediated by the other countries that signed on to that agreement. Former President Donald Trump, of course, pulled the U.S. out in 2018, saying that the agreement wasn't tough enough.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But the Biden White House wants a reboot, saying the accord keeps Iran from building nuclear weapons. NPR's diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen joins us now. Good morning.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, Michele, the U.S. and Iran both say they want to rejoin the deal. So why is it so hard to do?

KELEMEN: Because no one wants to go first. The Biden administration says it doesn't want to make concessions just to get back to talks. The Iranians don't want to talk with the U.S. first because they think the U.S. is trying to change the deal that they and other world powers agreed to back in 2015. So, you know, both sides really have politics at home. And diplomats need to come up with a plan to kind of get them back into compliance with this deal at the same time. For the U.S., it means letting Iran get back to some business with the rest of the world, easing up on sanctions. And for the Iranians, it means adhering to the caps on its nuclear program again.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This has been such a fraught process. From the American perspective, can you remind us what the arguments are for and against the U.S. getting back into the deal?

KELEMEN: Well, critics of the deal said that, you know, it never addressed Iran's missile program, Iran's support for militant groups. And they think that if the U.S. eases up on sanctions now, Iran gets more money and it'll just spend it on those kinds of activities. So Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies is in that camp. He says this is just a redux of the Obama administration's approach. And on Twitter, he wrote - and this is a quote - "the Biden administration's capitulation is on its way." Kelsey Davenport of another Washington think tank, the Arms Control Association, has a very different perspective. She says the deal was effective when both sides were complying. So just take a listen to her.


KELSEY DAVENPORT: There is no better way to restore the limits and enhanced monitoring on Iran's nuclear program. I mean, restoring the deal heads off a nuclear crisis that the United States in the region, you know, cannot afford, and it paves the way for further talks with Iran on a broader range of issues.

KELEMEN: Issues like some of those other things, there's other areas of concerns - the missiles, the militant support, those kinds of things.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK, so what should we expect from this round of talks next week? Is any major movement possible?

KELEMEN: Well, all the countries that signed the deal will be involved, so the U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China. But they're going to meet separately with Iran and with the U.S., so lots of shuttling around. The European Union's also setting up working groups to deal with some of the technical issues, you know, things like, when does the U.S. start allowing Iran to sell more oil, or when does Iran dismantle its nuclear equipment that's outside the deal? So the Europeans are hoping they can come up with a concrete plan to get both the U.S. and Iran back into compliance. The Americans are kind of portraying this as the start of some really tough diplomacy ahead and not raising expectations of a big breakthrough.

I would like to mention a separate issue. This weekend, U.S. citizen Siamak Namazi marks a grim milestone that is 2,000 days in an Iranian prison. His father also can't leave Iran, even though his father's sentence was commuted. The U.S. has been working through back channels to try to resolve those and other cases. The families of those detained are clearly hoping for any kind of movement on that front.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's important to remember. That's NPR diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen. Thank you very much.

KELEMEN: Thank you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And that's UP FIRST for Saturday, April 3, 2021. I'm Lulu Garcia-Navarro.

SIMON: And I'm Scott Simon.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: UP FIRST is back Monday with news to start your week.

SIMON: But for now, there's more smart reporting, compelling guests, stuff that's just plain interesting and fun on the radio.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: On Weekend Edition, Saturday and Sunday mornings. Find your NPR station at

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