tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC April 20, 2021 2:06am-2:36am PDT
also the news tonight, more counties added to the do not travel list the fedex shooting investigation. prosecutors revealing the shooter never had a red flag hearing after authorities seized a gun from him last year. how was he still able to buy other guns he used to kill eight people the deadly tesla crash. were the victims using the car's autopilot? what we're learning. kicking off our climate challenge series here in houston. could the winter storm disaster that left millions without power in texas happen where you live and nasa's historic flight on mars inspiring america tonight. >> announcer: this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt reporting tonight from houston, texas good evening, everyone from houston where we're kicking off a week of coverage about climate challenges in this earth week. we'll have more on that a bit later but our top story is unfolding right now in minneapolis where the
fate of former police officer derek chauvin and justice for george floyd now rests in the hands of a jury. deliberations in the murder trial began late today following closing arguments from both sides the prosecution ending much as it began, focusing on the 9 1/2 minutes george floyd spent under the knee of chauvin few cases have captivated the country like this one. americans shocked by the graphic video of floyd's horrifying death on a minneapolis street, his face becoming an icon of the nationwide reckoning over race and police use of force. gabe gutierrez is there and leads off our coverage >> reporter: after 45 witnesses and 14 days of testimony, tonight derek chauvin's fate is in the hands of the jury >> you can believe your eyes. >> reporter: during closing arguments today in excruciating detail prosecutors reminded jurors of floyd pinned under chauvin's knee for nine minutes and 29 seconds. >> george floyd's final words on may 25,
2020 were "please, i can't breathe. he said those words. to the defendant he asked for help. with his very last breath >> reporter: floyd's death sparked worldwide protests and reignited a social justice movement >> i'd like to thank the community and also i'd like to thank everybody around the world for standing together with us in solidarity. >> reporter: but in the courtroom today prosecutors tried to keep the jury's focus on the actions of one police officer not the whole system >> this is not an anti-police prosecution. it's a pro-police prosecution. >> reporter: chauvin is facing three charges. second and third degree murder and second degree manslaughter if convicted, the most serious charge carries up to 40 years in prison but legal experts say a first-time offender like chauvin would likely be sentenced to much less. after the prosecution finished its nearly
two-hour presentation -- >> mr. nelson, you may close for the defense. >> reporter: chauvin took off his mask as his attorney presented his closing arguments. >> a reasonable police officer -- >> a reasonable officer -- >> a reasonable police officer -- >> reporter: using those phrases at least 118 times, playing many clips from the officers' body cameras and arguing that they showed a clearer picture of the moments leading up to floyd's death. >> the nine minutes and 29 seconds ignores the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds. >> reporter: attorney eric nelson argued that floyd was actively resisting as a crowd gathered >> this was an authorized use of force. as unattractive as it may be and this is reasonable doubt. these are officers doing their job in a highly stressful situation. >> reporter: late today the prosecution gave its rebuttal, arguing that floyd did not die because of drug use or an underlying heart
condition. >> you were told, for example, that mr. floyd died, that mr. floyd died because his heart was too big. and now having seen all the evidence, having heard all the evidence, you know the truth. and the truth of the matter is that the reason george floyd is dead is because mr. chauvin's heart was too small. >> gabe, after the jury left today, the judge also said the defense might have grounds for appeal because of what a congresswoman said what do we know about that >> reporter: yeah, that's right, lester over the weekend congresswoman maxine waters of california said that protesters need to get more confrontational if there was a not guilty verdict. the judge today said that disrespectful comments from elected officials were abhorrent. meanwhile, there are more demonstrators here tonight outside of the courthouse, lester >> all right gabe gutierrez tonight. thank you. as the jury deliberates, minneapolis and much of america are on edge this evening ron allen now with
that story >> reporter: tonight tension and anxiety across the nation in anticipation of a verdict, especially near the memorial to george floyd >> i am hopeful. it's scary that it only takes one juror >> i don't have a ton of hope. >> reporter: thousands of national guard troops and police on duty one team attacked sunday morning, authorities say, by a drive-by shooter two guards slightly injured. minneapolis hoping to avoid a repeat of the violence that followed floyd's death. over $350 million in damage a police station destroyed. >> daunte wright >> reporter: nearby, the nightly protests over the killing of daunte wright by a now former police officer fueling the tension. more than 270 arrests last week. today hundreds of high school students briefly walked out of class, a show of solidarity with wright over the weekend outrage across the country. protests from portland to charleston. >> how many kids have you killed today >> reporter: and in chicago because of the killing of 13-year-old adam toledo by a police officer there last month some cities even boarding up, anticipating more
trouble. now all eyes on minneapolis. do you think he will be found guilty of something? >> he has to be. i don't have much faith in the system. however, i am optimistic >> reporter: throughout the day there's been tremendous energy building here in downtown minneapolis the crowds of protesters coming together to demand justice. lester >> all right ron allen tonight. thank you. with all americans over 16 now eligible for the covid vaccine, urgent new calls for people to get the shots from the president and top health officials more than 131 million americans have now received at least one dose of vaccine. but some still hesitate here's miguel almaguer >> reporter: as states across the country meet today's deadline to allow all americans 16 and over to be vaccinated, tonight in many regions appointments are open, lines have vanished and vaccine hesitancy remains a problem. with half of all adults in the u.s. having received at least one shot, vaccinating the other half may not happen as quickly.
>> this was the light at the end of the tunnel the acceptance is not as broad as what we hoped it would be. >> reporter: with experts expe friday, the u.s. is planning to maintain 3 million vaccinations a day as even the president -- >> please, get the vaccine. >> reporter: -- joins the chorus of voices making the case. vaccines are safe and up to 90% effective. >> what we say to anyone who has doubts about getting a vaccine, we leave it up to you. look at the data the data speak for themselves >> reporter: as new covid cases increase 27% compared to last month, the u.s. state department will boost its do not travel advisory to 80% of countries worldwide, citing unprecedented risk from the pandemic and just as testing slows across the country, pharmacies like walgreen's and cvs are offering at-home covid tests
four days after a gunman shot and killed eight people at an indianapolis fedex facility, calls tonight to strengthen indiana's red flag law, aimed at preventing such attacks. here's catie beck. >> reporter: the shock of mass violence in indianapolis absorbed by those left behind now gatherings to grieve >> it's very healing for me to be here. >> reporter: support and solidarity, mourning the five women and three men who showed up to work at the fedex facility thursday and never returned home.
tonight new questions after investigators confirmed the gunman legally purchased the two assault rifles used in the shooting >> the system failed our state. we have a red flag stronger >> reporter: prosecutors say the gunman was given a mental health evaluation in march of 2020, after police detained him based on suicide threats and a shotgun was confiscated from his home >> we did not file a follow-up petition because we'd already achieved our objective, which was to prevent that firearm from going back to this particular individual. >> reporter: investigators say there wasn't significant evidence to red flag the suspect through a court process. still, prosecutors say the indiana law should be stronger, allowing more time to investigate and fast access to a suspect's mental health file >> i think people here red flag and they think it's the panacea to all these issues. it's not what it is is a good start where there's a number of loopholes.
>> reporter: healing from tragedy calling for change to prevent another. and tonight many in the community calling to close the loopholes in those red flag laws, especially from within the sikh community from where half of the victims were members lester >> catie beck tonight, thank you. there are new developments in the death of a capitol police officer in the wake of the january 6th riot the medical examiner ruling officer brian sicknick died of natural causes the day following the attack after suffering two strokes. two men are charged with assaulting sicknick with bear spray but are not charged in his death not far from here federal investigators are looking into the deadly crash of a tesla car in spring, texas, reportedly with no one at the wheel. sam brock has details. >> reporter: a fiery crash at the hands of no apparent driver sparking questions about how this tesla veered off the road saturday and barreled into a tree, killing the two men inside >> there was no
victims inside of the front driver's seat. there was someone in the front passenger seat and a victim was in the back seat of the vehicle. >> reporter: fire crews needed 30,000 gallons of water to extinguish flames from the vehicle. >> those lithium batteries kept reigniting >> reporter: unfolding in a houston suburb, it's just the latest incident involving tesla and possible use of their autopilot technology, which the company notes requires active driver supervision. tonight no response from tesla, though founder elon musk tweeting hours before the crash, "tesla with autopilot engaged now approaching ten times lower chance of accident than average vehicle. the federal government is investigating more than two dozen tesla incidents. including a driver in boston reportedly asleep at the wheel. >> so i did a double take this guy was just head between his legs, completely asleep. >> reporter: now two agencies sending investigators to try and unravel another tragedy. sam brock, nbc news.
as i said at the top of the broadcast, we're in houston to begin nbc news cross-platform coverage of the climate challenges we face and while it's warm and pleasant here today, a series of extreme weather events in this region have left a lingering chill about its future it broke virtually every rainfall record in u.s. history. four years ago hurricane harvey washing away nearly everything in the beal family's home. >> water was everywhere >> reporter: in the house? >> in the house. coming from up under the house, coming from the roof >> reporter: the family of six was still rebuilding from that catastrophic storm. then came february's crippling freeze their pipes burst. for days they had no power, no water. they had to move out again. what was that storm like it was painful >> probably about 5 degrees in there
>> reporter: extreme weather from those hurricanes and winter storms in texas to california's heat wave last summer that led to rolling blackouts, growing more frequent and severe and that has revealed vulnerabilities in our critical infrastructure here in texas the power grid failed during the deadly cold snap in february people were trying to heat their homes plants couldn't keep up and that, say experts, should be a warning to the rest of the country. >> if we do nothing, then it looks like climate change is going to get inexorably worse >> reporter: cheryl lafleur is the former chair of the federal energy regulatory commission she says we must put the work in to build more reliable and resilient power grids. >> it's really a double strategy. we need to fight climate change at the same time we need to be ready for storms because we can't make everything perfect tomorrow >> reporter: she points to possible solutions. like building better connections between power grids so energy
can be diverte when an area sees a spike in demand. and she says power plants need to be modified so they're better prepared to withstand all kinds of weather. after more than 100 people died in the february storm, some officials here in texas are pushing to winterize the system so natural gas, coal, and nuclear plants stay online and renewable energy sources like wind turbines don't freeze again. >> what happened in 2021, quite frankly, in large part was foreseeable and preventable. >> reporter: sylvester turner is houston's mayor. so if we do nothing what happens to a city going to repeat this movie over and over again. and it's going to cost in terms of people losing their lives, people losing their property, and it's going to affect the overall economy. >> meanwhile, craig and angela beal are still rebuilding and bracing for houston's scorching summer when the grid could be tested again
do you think this is going to happen again? >> yes >> i know it's going to happen again. >> i believe it's going to get worse as the years go by, it gets worse >> reporter: hurricane season officially starts june 1st. however, government forecasters plan to begin issuing routine tropical outlooks in mid-may this year. tomorrow richard engel on how war caused an environmental catastrophe that could last for generations up next here tonight, the safety alert over a peloton treadmill.
back with a warning that everyone with a peloton plus treadmill needs to ed hear we get more now from stephanie gosk and i have to warn you, the video is disturbing >> reporter: a familiar scene during the pandemic the crowded playroom also being used as the family gym the accident happens fast the 2-year-old does eventually free himself unharmed the consumer product safety commission released this video, issuing a warning. people who have children or small pets should stop using peloton's tread plus treadmill immediately, saying "it poses serious risks to and death. >> we've had 39 incidents of objects, a pet, and worst of all children being sucked underneath. >> reporter: but treadmill-related injuries are not unique to peloton. in 2019 there were more than 22,000 2,000 were children under 8.
last month peloton's ceo said a child had been killed in a tread plus accident. another experienced brain damage but the company says the cpsc warning is inaccurate and misleading peloton maintains that the tread plus is safe so long as owners follow the safety instructions that includes keeping children, pets, and objects away for now the cpsc is not issuing a recall of the tread plus, advising owners to unplug the machines and remove the safety key when not in use. stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york also tonight, nasa is celebrating a historic flight on mars with more on that here's tom costello. [ cheers and applause ] >> reporter: jubilation at jpl mission control. the images from "ingenuity," 180 million miles away, simply stunning. video shot from the nearby rover captured the drone's entire 30-second flight from lift-off to hovering at ten feet to landing "ingenuity's" own
camera even caught its shadow on the martian surface. the challenges were huge the martian atmosphere is 99% thinner than earth's, requiring four ultra light rotor blades >> this really is a wright brothers moment it's the start of a whole new kind of planetary exploration. >> reporter: in their honor "ingenuity" carries a tiny piece of cloth from their 1903 plane and today nasa named the landing zone wright brothers field, complete with its own international airport code four more chopper flights are planned. and someday aerial surveys of canyons, craters, and ice caps. >> we are going to continually push all the way to the limit of this rotorcraft we really want to push the rotorcraft flights to the limit and really learn and get information back from that >> reporter: a history-making day a world away tom costello, nbc news, back here on earth. and speaking of flying, up next for us a young pilot soars on a mission that's inspiring america.
finally tonight, i met an inspiring young woman here in houston who is fulfilling her passion and helping others fly high chasing the same dream. it's the kind of view 24-year-old tahchiona smith has always dreamed about. >> when i was younger i used to watch airplanes take off and land with my grandmother. >> reporter: soaring through the skies above her hometown >> tell me about the first time you had controls of the airplane
what that was like >> i grabbed the controls on my very first time flying, and the moment he told me okay, turn left, turn right, you know, i was really excited and i knew then i wanted to be a pilot >> you did your private license in high school. but as you know, to go really far in flying it gets expensive. >> you know, reality kind of hit in couldn't afford to fly. >> reporter: tahchiona used settlement money from a car accident to pay for flight school. after graduating starting a new mission. becoming a flight instructor and creating a scholarship program for kids like her. >> i'm always excited, you know, knowing that somebody is watching me, watching everything that i do, you know, possibly looking up to me >> just make sure you turn the standard. >> reporter: she's paving the way for her students like 25-year-old otneal drew >> she's trying to open up the door for more african-americans, other minorities and everybody who just wants to learn to fly.
>> reporter: tahchiona's own flight plan going full circle working at a flight school now at the same airport where she used to watch those planes with her grandmother >> m airline company and be able to be that represen >> she has got a great flight plan in life. that's "nightly news" for this monday. thank you for watching, everyone i'm lester holt. please take care of yourself and each other. [henry crying] >> allie: i know, baby, i know. here, look, look. pacifier, okay? here, henry, no. henry, no, don't throw it. henry. >> tripp: [chuckles] uh... what a klutz. [chuckles] i was talking about myself, uh-- >> allie: [chuckles] >> tripp: no, no, please. let me get it. >> allie: [chuckles] >> claire: what do you mean, you're free? and what does that have to do with my mom? did you do something to her? >> jan: of course not. your mother offered me a deal
to save your grandfather. turn that frown upside down, claire. now john won't have to go for kidnapping my mom! >> claire: no. no way, she would never let you walk after what you did. >> jan: if you won't take my word for it... it's all here in black and white. >> marlena: john... you went to charlie's apartment. what happened then? >> john: i went into-- i went into the building. i went up the stairs. i was in the corridor.