Following the death of George Floyd, officials with the Minneapolis Police Department were evasive about the actions taken by the officers involved with his arrest. In initial statements to the press, the police department only said that Floyd appeared to be suffering from “medical distress” during the arrest and that he was then taken to a nearby hospital where he passed away.
Never forget that these are the lies the Minneapolis PD told about George Floyd’s death, and without video evidence, we may have never known the truth… https://t.co/pVSWmp0wT3
— Rachel Blevins (@RachBlevins) June 9, 2020
However, there was no mention of the very likely possibility that Floyd’s “medical distress” was caused by his encounter with the officers who arrested him, in which they all knelt on him for nearly ten minutes. One of the officers, Derek Chauvin, had his knee on Floyd’s next for the length of a viral video which has now sparked protests around the world.
When local police made their initial statement about Floyd’s death, millions of people around the world had already seen the footage of the incident, yet for some reason, their statement disregarded the information revealed in the video.
Eventually, as unrest in the city began to spread, police officials provided numerous updates to their original statement, where they slowly verified facts that had already been well-known to the public and the press. However, in the days following Floyd’s death, the Minneapolis Police Department continued to release incorrect information about the incident that intended to take the blame away from the officers by suggesting that Floyd attempted to resist arrest.
Later, security camera footage that was released by a nearby business showed Floyd peacefully obeying the officer’s commands, contradicting the statements from police.
Earlier this month, Minneapolis Council Member Jeremy Schroeder expressed dismay with the misinformation that was released by the police department in the wake of the killing.
“It is deeply concerning that the information initially circulated by the Minneapolis Police Department early Tuesday morning did not fully reflect the horrifying circumstances surrounding George Floyd’s death. The original news release did not in my view accurately convey the facts or the role of the officers in this tragedy,” Schroeder said, according to the Star Tribune.
Police departments have large streams of information coming in about all of the encounters that officers have with the public, through dash cameras, body cameras, and dispatchers. In theory, all of this information should leave police departments more knowledgeable on these incidents than the press, so there is really no honest excuse to be releasing such incorrect information hours after an event happened. Police officials have blamed the “fluid” situation for their poor communication, but critics argue that they had plenty of time to sort out the facts before their first public statement about the case.
This week, some of the audio and transcripts for the 911 calls regarding the incident have been released, further revealing how much the police department knew about the killing. In one of the recordings, a police dispatcher who was watching live video feeds from the scene called into police supervisors to warn them about the excessive force that they were witnessing.
In the call the dispatcher can be heard saying, “I don’t know, you can call me a snitch if you want to but we have the cameras up for (squad) 320’s call, and…I don’t know if they had to use force or not, but they got something out of the back of the squad, and all of them sat on this man, so I don’t know if they needed you or not, but they haven’t said anything to me yet..”
“Yeah, they haven’t said anything yet…just a takedown, which doesn’t count, but I’ll find out,” the supervisor responded.
“No problem, we don’t get to ever see it so when we see it we’re just like, well, that looks a little different, but…” the dispatcher said.
The supervisor then cut the dispatcher off and stopped the call, saying only, “Sounds good, bye.”
In a phone recording released this afternoon, a Minneapolis Police dispatcher watching a video feed of officers holding George Floyd down called a Sergeant to report it. The officers hadn't done so. (The knife reference is an unrelated call.) pic.twitter.com/evgYww8kSN
— Tony Webster (@webster) June 15, 2020
This call was moments after Floyd’s death, yet the department still chose to run with the “medical distress” narrative. It was completely dishonest and exactly the reason people are mad. This is not a bad apple at work here, this is a coordinated effort, denying facts, to paint a picture that favors a police narrative. It is wrong, it is dishonest, and it is the impetus behind the anger in the United States that is directed at police today.