tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC April 13, 2016 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
inland this weekend. >> roller coaster. >> big warm-up. breaking news tonight. a dangerously close encounter as russian fighter jets launch a simulated attack on a u.s. navy warship. high drama on the high seas. the u.s. alarmed. trump at war with the republican party. what the front-runner is calling a disgrace as the head of the party says, give us all a break. heated stdoff as tens of thousands of verizon workers walk off the job. the impact for millions of customers. robert di niro, the father of an autistic child said there is a link. a big move for a paralyzed man unable to use his arms and legs. now able to play video games. the medical break-through with the power to change lives. "nightly news" begins right now.
>> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. we begin with a chilling echo of the cold war. deep concern over a dangerously close encounter caught on tape between an american navy destroyer and russian fighter jets. the navy says its vessel was operating in international waters at the baltic sea when the russian warplanes made simulated attack passes. what's described as one of the most aggressive acts in a growing pattern of muscle flexing by russia. nbc's peter alexander has details. >> reporter: a pair of russian fighter jets buzzing the uss donald hook. the unarmed attack within 30 feet of the navy destroyer in the baltic sea. so low, one official tells nbc news, the
plane caused a wake in the water. these photos revealing just how close they came. the fly-byes 30 in all between monday and tuesday. u.s. officials say the cook was in international waters 70 miles off the russian coast. the ship's commanding officer calling it unsafe and unprofessional. watch the jets aggressively swooping in over the deck simulating a maneuver that would be used in an attack. earlier a russian helicopter made several passes above the cook. >> i hear the russians are up to their old tricks now. >> the russian military, including russian military aircraft, come close enough to each other, or close enough to other air and sea traffic, to raise serious safety concerns. >> reporter: the u.s. european command today warned the russian jets' actions could unnecessarily escalate tension and cause serious injury or death. just last october, two u.s. navy jets intercepted a pair of
planes in the pacific ocean. four months earlier a russian jet buzzing a destroyer in the black sea. it's happened before. but never like this. peter alexander, nbc news, washington. there's late word of another big stink in the trump campaign. a vet ron gop strategist said he steps up his attacks on his own party, calling the primary rules a disgrace. nbc's katy tur has new details on trump's war. >> reporter: the gop front-runner openly at war with the gop itself. >> the system, folks, is rigged. it's a rigged system. now, you have to understand, i'm not complaining about the states that i won, that's okay. >> reporter: trump angry that ted cruz was able to outnegotiate him in louisiana, and colorado. but convincing more unbound delegates to support cruz. trump focusing on party rules under which winning the most votes doesn't
necessarily equal winning the most delegates. and now he's placing blame right at the top with the rnc chairman, telling the hill it's a disgrace for the party. and reince priebus should be ashamed of himself. priebus responding on twitter, nomination process known for a year, and beyond. it's the responsibility of the campaigns to understand it. complaints now? give us all a break. trump trying to blame the system and galvanize his supers. >> if the rnc were perceived by the millions of trump supporters as somehow not supporting him fully, it would permanently damage the gop. >> reporter: right now trump needs to win 61% of the remaining delegates to get to 1,237 and lock up the nomination on the first ballot. but at least one rnc rules committee member suggests the rules won't be so stringent. >> if donald trump exceeds 1,100 votes, he will become the nominee, even though he may not have 1,237.
>> reporter: after campaign infighting, donald trump announced another big hire. rick wiley, governor scott walker's former campaign manager, another sign the campaign is trying to get serious about this delegate hunt. tonight here in pittsburgh, pennsylvania, with 71 delegates up for grabs. >> katy tur, thank you. there are even more new twists in the shooting death of former nfl star will smith. for the first time we're hearing his wife's account of the fateful night her husband was killed and she was left badly wounded. nbc's gabe gutierrez has the latest. >> reporter: today through her attorney, raquel smith still recovering in the hospital gave her first public account of the shooting death of her husband, former nfl star will smith. >> that night, as she always does, was protecting her. >> reporter: he says saturday night the hummer driven by smith's alleged killer stopped suddenly. >> they slammed on their brakes on
magazine street, did not even believe they thit the hummer. suddenly this hummer drove up at great speed behind them, and rammed the back of their car. >> reporter: police say an argument between the two men escalated and hayes opened fire. >> we have evidence that showed no remorse whatsoever. that he actually stood over will smith's dead body. >> did mr. smith ever threaten to go get his gun inside the car? >> i'm not aware of any threats by mr. smith to go get a gun. >> reporter: but on tuesday police confirmed they discovered a fully loaded gun in smith's car, raising a number of questions, including why it took investigators more than two days to find it. police say they needed time to methodically execute a search warrant. the coroner said today smith was shot eight times, seven times in the back, one in the left side of his chest. and for the first time we're hearing from the attorney of hayes' passenger, who calls this justifiable homicide. smith had a gun and was going to shoot it.
and cardel may have saved both their lives. we assume will smith is a saint, but he's not. a public viewing for smith now scheduled for friday, as the investigation into his final moments intensify. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, new orleans. the teen known for his affluenza defense is back in the headlines. he faced a judge once again in adult court. this time he did receive prison time, nearly two years, or 180 days for each of the four people he killed in a drunk driving crash. nbc's miguel almaguer has more. >> reporter: ethan couch, better known as the affluenza teen, was in adult court today ordered to stay in jail for nearly two years. the 19-year-old who was at the center of an international manhunt, saying little in court, as the judge imposed his sentence. >> you will remain in the county jail at this time. your "not getting out of jail today. >> reporter: in 2013, couch received ten
years probation after a drunk driving accident that left four dead and nine others injured. the defense ar gutted his life of privilege left him with no accepts of responsibility. last december after this video surfaced, which was said to show couch partying, he was accused of violating his probation. he fled to mexico with his mom. evading authorities for weeks. >> we've all wanted justice for this. and i'm certainly glad to see that his confinement's going to continue. >> reporter: ethan couch ordered to stay in jail. >> 180 days, is it enough? i don't think it is. that's the limitation. >> reporter: families looking for justice, a small victory, but still not enough. are miguel almaguer, nbc news. tonight, a heated standoff is under way after tens of thousands of verizon workers walked off the job early today. a major strike that will potentially impact millions of customers. nbc stephanie gosk has
details. >> reporter: from boston to new york to arlington, tens of thousands of verizon workers took their grief answers to the streets. contract negotiations over health care pensions and outsourcing are at a standstill. >> to compel them to come to the table and settle. >> reporter: the strike affects verizon's telephone, internet and tv business on the east coast. separate from verizon's much larger and more profitable wireless business. the workers out here are the technicians, the people that take the calls in the call centers, who fix the telephone lines. verizon said they train 10,000 people to take over for them. the problem? there are 36,000 workers on strike. >> i think if the strike goes on for several months, the question will be about customer loyalty, customer satisfaction. >> reporter: in new york today it was an irresistible campaign stop. hillary clinton in manhattan, bernie sanders in brooklyn.
verizon's ceo blasted back. when rhetoric becomes disconnected from reality, we've crossed a dangerous line. verizon which made a profit of more than $18 billion in 2015 says the company's proposals are both fair and necessary to stay competitive. but union leaders refuse to go into mediation. >> this company has no boundaries at all when it comes to greed. >> reporter: today at least compromise is not on the table. stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york. a scathing new report is calling out the chicago police department for long-standing systematic racism in its ranks. now the task force behind the report is demanding sweeping changes. we get more from nbc's ron mott. >> reporter: tonight a task force appointed by chicago's mayor revealing its blunt findings, that the police department has a history of racism and must address it head-on. >> i think there's no doubt we have a lot of work to do in the sense of not only restoring trust, but building what i think are essential values of transparency. >> reporter: they cited the 2014 death
of mcdonald, an unarmed black man shot 16 times by police, calling it the tipping point for community anger. the task force found they shot blacks at a large disproportionate percentage over the years. 14% hispanic, 8% white. the report also finding black drivers were stopped by police more often than whites or hispanics, and subjected to vehicle searches five times more whites. chicago's police department's eddie johnson was you nan mossly approved by the city council today. police culture and practices with a federal investigation of the department still under way. ron mott, nbc news, chicago. we have a story of a break-through that sounds like something out of a science fiction magazine, or novel. a man paralyzed for years after breaking his neck, now able to move his hand, even playing games, all
thanks to a chip implanted by doctors in his brain. nbc's joe fryer on this new medical hope. >> reporter: these may look like mindless hand movements, but there's a product of six years of research in one paralyzed quest to use his own hands. >> i really hope that this is going to be something that will give people movement back that they thought watts lost forever. >> reporter: five years ago when he was a college freshman he dove into an ocean wave and hit a sand bar which broke his neck. while his brain can still send signals, they're blocked by his spim cord injury and can't get to his muscles. so doctors at ohio state implanted a chip in his brain. a computer then decodes all the signals and sends that information to another device on burkhart's arm. a bypass around his damaged nerves. >> it wasn't something
that was completely natural because i lost all the sensation in my arms. so i had to rely on my eyes to really know that my hand was opening and closing. >> reporter: like a child learning to walk, burkhart's progress was gradual. any movement was an accomplishment. but after months of grueling work he can now swipe a credit card and even play the guitar. sort of. for now, all of this is only possible when he's in the lab hooked up to the computers. >> the goal is to make this simple, and routine, so patients can use them at home, with his family. >> reporter: it's still early, but the research also holds promise for those with stroke and traumatic brain injuries. reconnecting the brain with the body. joe fryer, nbc news. >> exciting possibilities. still ahead tonight, actor robert di nero, like you've never heard him before opening up to nbc news about his son's autism, and defending a highly controversial anti-vaccine film. also outrageous
actor robert deniro is raising eyebrows over something he said to nbc news about autism. in a rare moment, deniro opened up about his 18-year-old son who has autism, and he is now the biggest celebrity yet to voice a discredited point of view that childhood vaccines and autism are connected. nbc's kate snow has more.
>> reporter: in a candid interview on "today," robert deniro said he believes there's a link between vaccines and autism. >> i as a parent with a child who has autism, i'm concerned. i want to know the truth. i'm not anti-vaccine. i want safe vaccines. >> reporter: just two weeks ago deniro a his tribeca festival pulled a film on that topic because other filmmakers were threatening to back out. today deniro said he still wants people to see the film. >> there are people who said, no, i saw my kid change overnight. >> is that the persons you had, something changed overnight? >> my wife says that. i don't remember that. but my child is autistic. and every kid is different. but there is something there. there's something there that people aren't addressing. for me to get so upset here today, on the "today" show with you guys, means there's something there. >> reporter: dr. paul off et has a prominent vaccine education
center. >> it saddens me to think that someone as intelligent as robert deniro there's this vast conspiracy of public health officials to hide the truth. >> reporter: at least 15 studies have found no relationship between vaccination and autism, and today autism speaks said vaccines do not cause autism. >> gravity is a factor. climate change is a fact. the fact that vaccines don't cause autism is a fact. >> reporter: scientists worry deniro's words will create confusion for parents. kate snow, nbc news. we're back in a moment with why steph curry and the golden state warriors have a date with destiny tonight.
michael jordan and the chicago bulls 20 years ago. after 20 seasons, kobe bryant takes the court for a final time. a big farewell planned for the superstar who earned five championship rings with the lakers. if you've been to the airport lately, you're likely well aware that lines are swelling, overwhelmed by an increase in passengers and not enough people on the job. there are growing calls for the tsa to fix it. charlotte's airport saying they're dealing with lines up to three hours. here's nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: pick your airport, atlanta, minneapolis, newark, the tsa's security checkpoints are looking more like choke points. in some cases, security lines closed because there aren't enough screeners. among the worst in the country, seattle, waits as long as 90 minutes. >> you better be an hour and a half before your flight. because, you know, in some instances, that's barely going to get you there in time. >> reporter: the tsa only has staffing for
19 of their 32 lanes. so the airport is hiring private contractors to help load bins and guide passengers. >> the security officers will now have time to focus on screening and x-raying bags. >> reporter: mitch was waiting at newark. >> i'm really hoping i can make my flight at this point. you can see the line behind me. >> reporter: the tsa is struggling with the attrition, and understands, having underestimated the passenger volume nationwide. passenger volume now averaging 2.2 million a day. on some days, 3 million. the choke points are causing passengers to miss flights. on a recent spring break, nearly 6,800 passengers never made it onboard. >> the tsa says be prepared for high volumes at the airport, it's because there are that many more people traveling. >> reporter: to speed things up, the tsa is hiring 200 new officers each week and moving dog teams from slow to busy airports to screen passengers standing in line. if the dogs or officers don't detect
the news is next. sot finally tonight, we want to tell you about the launch of an ambitious new moon shot of sorts to end cancer. it comes through sean parker, who announced a huge $250 million donation for cutting-edge research. tonight he's speaking about it exclusively with nbc's keith morrison. >> reporter: at 19, he was a disrupter. he co-founded napster. at 24, he was a president of facebook. though the parker played by justin timberlake was not him at all, he says. but he is a billionaire with a huge ambition, to cure cancer. well, not him, of course, but the unique band of world-class scientists he's brought together to fix the system he says is completely not working. >> when someone that has my background as an entrepreneur sees an opportunity to change lives, to change the world, and
it's not being funded -- >> why can't i do it? >> yeah, it's kind of in my dna to go after those sorts of opportunities. >> reporter: how? unprecedented cooperation mostly, and a way to break through red tape. >> what if the break-through data at one institution could be used by another. >> reporter: parker announced 40 cancer labs and more than 300 researchers have signed on. their focus, immune oh therapy turning one's immune system against their cancer. parker is a believer in immuneotherapy. emily three years ago was struggling with leukemia. and after experimental immunotherapy -- >> she's cancer-free. i couldn't believe it. i thought it was a dream. >> reporter: parker wants more emilys. >> it's a manhattan project for curing cancer with the immune system. >> reporter: too ambitious? maybe. and maybe not.
>> this is what cures look like. >> reporter: maybe a distraction that saves lives. keith morrison, nbc news, los angeles. that's going to do it for us on this wednesday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for i'm excited. but i'm even more excited for the playoffs. >> right now at 6:00, warrior fandom at fever pitch. the excitement over the chase for the record is gripping the bay area. thank you so much for joining us tonight. i'm garvin thomas. >> and i'm peggy bunker. raj and jess have the night off tonight. we are now just 90 minutes away from tipoff at oracle arena. no nba team has ever won 73 games in a season. hopefully that all changes tonight. we have our own team ready to bring you all of the excitement. we start now with nbc bay area jodi hernandez.
tonight's the night they do it. that's what we're thinking, jodi. >> reporter: i'll tell you, there is a real sense of energy and excitement out here as fans gear up to watch what they hope will be a historic game. now, this little boy is holding up a sign that shows what folks are hoping for. a record 73 wins is a stat that would put the team in nba history books. >> i am excited. i'm excited for our city. so people now know where oakland is. >> reporter: fans are revved up to see the warriors break a nba record tonight. 73 regular season wins, the most in nba history. >> we are going to get it. no doubt we're going to get it. >> reporter: it's maria ferreira's first game at oracle. she splurged for $400 tickets but is willing to pay more tonight for better seats. >> bought the ticket in a frenzy right after the last game. waiting in line to see if i