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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  April 1, 2021 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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board walk, ready for some thrill rides. >> thanks for joining us. lester holt is next with "nightly news." >> bye, folks. see you at 6:00. tonight, the powerful testimony from george floyd's girlfriend in the trial of former officer rek chauvin. on the stand floyd's girlfriend breaking down in tears as she testifies about their relationship and their struggles with opioid addiction. also testifying the paramedics, one saying by the time he arrived, he thought floyd was already dead and floyd's brother, the heart-wrenching moment for him today in the courtroom. the disaster that destroyed 15 million doses of johnson & johnson's vaccine. how did it happen? we'll take you inside
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the facility my conversation with dr. fauci, is the johnson & johnson news a setback for the u.s. plus, his new message to americans as covid cases rise again and when we will see a return to normal. and the announcement from pfizer, its vaccine still highly effective after six months our access signed where every dose originates. new images, the suspect in the mass shooting in a california office complex. four killed, including a 9-year-old who died in his mother's arms the suspect's link to the victims. and that shocking video, a smuggler dropping two migrant sisters over a border wall, the new images of the girls safe and where they are tonight. this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening for the last ten months one unsmiling selfie of george floyd has stood as the symbol of him and an icon of the racial justice movement but today jurors in the trial of the former policeman accused of murdering floyd learned about the man, his personal story, what he was
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like and, yes, his struggle with drug addiction. the prosecution not shying away from what is expected to be central to derek chauvin's defense. floyd's girlfriend taking the stand today describing how both became hooked on opioids and how both tried to beat it day four of the trial, the prosecution trying to humanize floyd and through other testimony taking the jury back to that minneapolis street where floyd took his last breaths in the custody of police. gabe gutierrez continues to lead our coverage. >> reporter: it didn't take long for courteney ross to cry as she remembered how she met george floyd in 2017. >> floyd, i called him momma's boy. i could tell from the minute i met him. >> reporter: this now icon nick photo of floyd was taken as a selfie at the salvation army where he worked. >> he had a great, deep southern voice. >> reporter: they began dating, as she told jurors how he was
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devastated by the death of his mother. >> he seemed kind of like a shell of himself, like he was -- like he was broken he seemed so sad >> reporter: during her testimony, meant to humanize floyd, one juror off camera had a furrow brow and one of his hands up by his masked face, seemingly emotional. ross said injuries and his desires to still be physically active led floyd to pain pills. >> we both suffered from chronic pain. mine was in my neck and his was in his back we got addicted and -- and tried really hard to -- to break that addiction many times. >> reporter: in march of 2020, ross testified she drove floyd to the hospital and learned he'd overdosed. >> you did not know that he had taken heroin at this time? >> no. >> reporter: derek chauvin's defense team argued floyd's underlie drug use and
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health conditions killed him, not 9:29 the prosecutors say the former minneapolis police officer held his knee on floyd's neck the next two witnesses paramedics said floyd had no pulse when ems arrived at the scene. >> i didn't see any breathing or any movement or anything like that. >> in lay terms, i thought he was dead. >> reporter: today's testimony came after prosecutors on wednesday played body cam videos from all four officers that responded, including chauvin's, which had not been seen publicly before his camera fell beneath the squad car as officers struggled with floyd later chauvin's voice heard explaining why he restrained floyd for so long. >> i'm trying to control this guy he's a sizable guy. >> i thought he would get in the car. >> i thought he was probably on something. >> reporter: today philonise floyd was in the courtroom as prosecutors showed graphic images of an effort to resuscitate his brother inside the ambulance. >> there's no justification why a person should put their knee and all of their weight on a man's neck until they pass
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he was tortured to death. >> reporter: late today chauvin's shift supervisor testified officers should not keep restraining suspects when they're handcuffed and not moving, lester >> gabe, who is expected to testify tomorrow >> well, the prosecution team told the judge, lester, that they intend to call the minneapolis police chief to the stand tomorrow. >> all right, gabe gutierrez, thank you. the fda is investigating a serious manufacturing mistake forcing johnson & johnson to throw out ingredients for 15 million of its vaccine doses. this comes as almost 100 million americans have received at least one shot let's begin here with tom costello on the setback. >> reporter: it happened here at a emergent biosolutions in baltimore, 15 million j&j doses ruined after the ingredients for the astrazeneca vaccine were discovered in the batch.
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the astrazeneca ingredients produced on the other side of the facility j&j says its own quality control caughtd dispah was never advanced to the filling and manufacturing stages of the manufacturing process. none of the u.s. j&j doses are affected. >> johnson & johnson has made clear that they expect to deliver 24 million doses in april and that they expect to meet their commitment of 100 million doses by the end of may >> reporter: we visited the emergent plant in february. for months this pandemic response manufacturing plant in baltimore has been manufacturing vaccine for both astrazeneca and johnson & johnson, awaiting approval. >> in that bag we actually go the cultures that are used to eventually manufacture the vaccine itself. >> reporter: but the fda still has not fully certified the merchant's baltimore facility. >> their quality systems caught it, as designed and we move forward and continue in production >> reporter: the ap reports fda documents show the company has been repeatedly cited. since 2017 for failing to follow proper testing and lab procedures, training
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problems, cracked vials and low-level mold at another facility the company today did not respond to requests for comment meanwhile, good news on another vaccine pfizer says its vaccine provided up to 91% protection against illness six months after the second dose. and provided strong protection against the dangerous south african variant. none of those who received the pfizer vaccine developed severe illness tom costello, nbc news, washington i'm stephanie gosk as the pandemic tightened its grip on the world one year ago, these scientists at a pfizer lab in chesterfield, missouri, were given a tall order, go beat it you were effectively shot out of a cannon. >> from the very beginning we were with going into this with the mindset of we will be making a vaccine for the world. >> reporter: together with a handful of other pharmaceutical companies, that is exactly what they are doing. pfizer says it will produce 2.5 billion doses by the end of
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the year that's more than a billion in their original projection, and every single one of those doses worldwide gets its start right here nbc news was given exclusive access to pfizer's lab outside st. louis, the first stage of the vaccine production process this one tube contains the building blocks for more than 70 million doses. >> that's remarkable so she's effectively got the vaccination of a country right in front of her >> just about, yes. >> reporter: next up, the vats the protected gear prevents contamination. to be honest, it looks like you're making a pilsner in here. what part of the process is this? >> this is the entire process. >> reporter: obviously you're not making beer. >> no. >> reporter: what they are making is something called dna plasma. >> the dna gets made into mrna, that's the message and that tells your cells to make a protein that's going to give you the immunity. >> reporter: the
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vaccine then starts its journey across the country from missouri to andover, massachusetts, where it is turned into mrna then on to kalamazoo, michigan, where the vials are filled when pfizer first started making the vaccine, it took 110 days now it takes 60. almost half the time one reason pfizer says is its quality control lab. >> there's lots of trogg r tests that we perform. strength, purity and potency. >> reporter: the lab is dedicated to testing only the covid vaccine, which pfizer says increases efficiency the day we were there, samples sent from kalamazoo were going through the final tests before the batch could be shipped the scientists here have worked with little rest for months on end motivated by a virus that a year later still has a tight grip. >> we recognize that we still don't have enough for many. that's a huge motivation coming in every day and looking for continuous improvement to get more out as fast as possible.
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>> stephanie, how has pfizer been able to increase production? >> a number of ways, lester among them, they started making something called a lipid, which is a big deal because it's a key ingredient that was in short supply. lester >> a fascinating look inside there all right, thank you, step stephanie. in just 60 seconds, my interview with dr. anthony fauci on when we may return to normal.
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back to the pandemic now and the race to keep the pace of vaccinations ahead of a rise in new covid infections nearly 17% of the u.s. population has been fully vaccinated, but as dr. fauci told me a short time ago, there are still challenges we just reported the loss of 15 million doses of johnson & johnson vaccines, doctor what's the result of that what's the trickle-down of that kind of loss >> fortunately that is not going to interfere with the timeline that j&j promised to get
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the number of vaccines, the 100 million vaccines by the end of may to us importantly, none of the doses that have already been distributed to people, j&j doses, have been part of that issue and that problem it's an example of checks and balances working. >> let's talk about where we are right now. we're watching new infections climb we're watching vaccinations climb as well where do these lines go where does this all end? >> it ends, i hope, and i feel reasonably confident, lester, that it's going to end with the vaccine winning that race. indeed we're concerned that we plateaued at a high level, unacceptably high level. the last count was 60,000 new infections in a single day, yesterday. day. yesterday it was 3.3 million people so the vaccine program is moving along very smoothly
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if we keep getting people vaccinated and don't pull back on the mitigation methods, namely the publi health guidelines that we talk about, we won't see that surge but it's going to be important, we can't claim victory prematurely. >> you're still talking about mitigation or watching mask mandates lifted, air travel is up, restaurants and bars are filling up again, people are going to baseball games you watch that happen right now, do you feel like you're not being heard? your warnings are not being heard? >> you know, lester, it's understandable why people want to do that we have been restricted in our activities for a considerable period of time and everybody, including myself, have some degree of covid-19 fatigue but the thing we try and emphasize is that this will end, we need to hold out just a bit longer and give vaccines a chance to really get the upper hand in this
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i'll guarantee as we get into the late spring and early summer, you're going to see a return to gradual degree of normality that everyone is hoping for, but we don't want to do it prematurely we don't want to pull back on all of the measures when we see a very high plateau of daily infections that's the thing that concerns me and many other public health officials. >> dr. fauci says he's hopeful vaccinations will be approved for 12-year-olds to 15-year-olds by the start of the next school year in the fall. another city touched by mass shootings. an orange, california, four people killed, including a 9-year-old boy. here's miguel almaguer >> there was about ten gun shots. >> reporter: it ended after a shootout with police, a critically wounded gunman taken into custody at an office park after a hail of gunfire left four people dead, including a 9-year-old boy who appears to have died in his mother's arms.
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she remains in critical condition in the moments after the shooting, families desperate to find loved ones. >> my brother works there. i'm scared i'm really scared. >> reporter: police have identified the gunman as aminadab gaxiola gonzalez on wednesday investigators say he entered this building outside of los angeles, locking the iron gates behind him with a semiautomatic handgun, he targeted his victims. >> the preliminary motive is believe to be related to a business and personal relationship which existed between the suspect and all of the victims. >> reporter: once on scene, it only took police seconds to engage the suspect it's unclear if the gunman shot himself or if he was hit by officers the bloodshed in orange, california, is the third mass shooting in as many weeks. the president called on congress to ban assault-style weapons and close loopholes on background checks. now, four more are dead, including a little boy who died as loved ones tried to protect him.
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miguel almaguer, nbc news two young migrant sisters are safe tonight after a smuggler dropped them over a border wall here's andrea mitchell. >> reporter: the images are disturbing and heartbreaking, all captured on nighttime surveillance video a smuggler dangling a young girl over the border fence, dropping her 14 feet to the ground and then tossing over another child before abandoning them in the desert and running away how did these two little girls survive that drop? >> it is a miracle. >> reporter: the girls are sisters from ecuador, toddlers, just 3 and 5 years old, rescued by border patrol el paso border patrol chief gloria chavez made sure they're uninjured. >> they're just happy little girls the 5-year-old acts like the responsible one, obviously, and is caring for the 3-year-old >> reporter: they're part of that record migrant surge at the border after president biden allowed unaccompanied children to stay in the u.s
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there are now more than 18,000 children in u.s. custody, more than 5,000 still held by border patrol, waiting to be moved to health and human services care earlier this week the administration allowing one news crew into this overcrowded border patrol facility in texas the children packed shoulder to shoulder in the middle of a pandemic none of them get covid tests unless they show symptoms most brought over by smugglers like in that video. >> it breaks my heart to see these 3-year-old, 5-year-old children just being treated like a commodity by these criminal organizations on the border. >> reporter: the girls had a phonnumber with them in a backpack border patrol has >> andrea mitchell tonight, thank you up next -- the death of a teenager at a group home our investigation.
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this is a no-nonsense message from three. small business insurance is usually so complicated, you need to be a lawyer to understand it. that's why three was created. it's a better kind of business insurance.
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it's only three pages. straightforward. if you own it, three covers it. got a cheese slice for "spokesperson?" that's me. i don't even need to see what's happening behind me to know it's covered. (screaming) this commercial is now over. logo. three. no nonsense. just common sense. for over two years kate snow has reported on allegations of abuse at group homes for children run by sequel youth and family services. now for the first time, a former employee speaks out about one teen's death. and we need to caution you, some of the video is disturbing. >> reporter: the video was shocking, 16-year-old cornelius frederick died days after being restrained on the floor of the cafeteria at lakeside academy in kalamazoo, michigan, a group youth home run by sequel youth and family services. >> he was in
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restraints and now he's unresponsive. >> if you asked the majority of our staff six months prior, we probably could have told that this was going to happen. >> reporter: former sequel employee megan fulcherson is speaking publicly for the first time she was cornelius' case manager and said aggressive restraints at sequel were common. in a statement you called cornelius' death senseless and tragic and the actions taken by the staff members in that video do not adds here to the lakeside policie and procedures what do you think of that >> on paper it doesn't. but the culture and the core of sequel would speak differently. >> reporter: in 2019 fulkerson says lakeside academy grew more violent after it started accepting more tougher kids from california because some california counties paid more than other states. sequel would make more money on kids from california >> yes, and if admission or others had red flags,
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intervention was like no, we're taking them. >> reporter: why >> it came down to money. it was anything to make california happy. >> reporter: and he will white was at a different youth home >> he wanted to be loved for the most part and that came from not having what he felt like he needed in the home. >> reporter: after cornelius' death, michigan shut lakeside down and several states are pulling kids from sequel facilities. >> i don't think sequel should be running any youth facilities >> reporter: but sequel says the overwhelming majority of states serving child agencies in the united states find our services to be essential and operating at or exceeding their highest standards. sequel executive mariann birmingham defends the company. >> sequel is an agency, a company composed of thousands of people who committed their lives to helping some of our most underserved kids. >> reporter: a company that continues to operate in 19 states kate snow, nbc news, detroit. up next, i'll have
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some reflections on faith in this season of hope.
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in this season of hope, we've been reporting on faith across the platforms of nbc news this week, and so before we go, some thoughts about its meanings after all we have been through faith, few words have so many meanings to so many people, but in this season of renewal of nature's rebirth, we're led to ponder what do we believe in?
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where do we place our hopes, and where does our journey take us? the harder the times, the harder we are tested, and whether from the comfort of religious conviction or comfort from each other we all seek a rock to hold on to that assures us it gets better. invisible among the statistics in graphs, the one number we'll never know from this pandemic is how many prayers, how many silent pleas, how many fervent wishes for miracles did we all utter? and how many were answered from last spring until now, we have traveled from the darkness of staggering loss to where we are today, basking in the hopeful light of vaccines, pointing us to a way out and affirming a shared faith in the hope and promise of
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new beginnings that's "nightly news" for this thursday thank you for watching, everyone i'm lester holt. please take care of yourself and each other. good night right now at 6:00, how far would you drive to get a vaccine? we're going to show you the long distance measures some people are taking to secure their shots. we found open vaccine appointments. i'm consumer investigator chris chmura. we'll show you where and help you cover the cost of going the extra mile to get one. look at this, play ball. a new beginning. we're going to take you inside the oakland coliseum as fans are getting ready for a's opening night.
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across the bay, the giants issuing strict new rules to get into oracle park. >> what we're doing was, you know, through the health officers' orders. >> the new hoops you'll have to jump through. the news at 6:00 starts right now. good evening, i'm raj mathai. >> i'm janelle wang. today is the day. millions more in california now eligible for the covid vaccine. anyone 50 and older. and that means fierce competition to get an appointment. let's show you what's going on right here in the bay area. you can see eight of the nine counties are vaccinating people 50 and up. contra costa county has extra supplies so it started allowing people 16 years old and older to there are three main questions we get from our viewers. number one, what are the pro tips to get an open appointment? number two, will there be enough supply to keep up with demand? three, how far do i need to drive to get a vaccine? >>

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