UNITED STATES NEWS

6 key takeaways from scathing report on Minneapolis police after George Floyd’s killing

Jun 16, 2023, 4:08 PM | Updated: 4:14 pm

The Justice Department on Friday issued a scathing assessment of Minneapolis police, alleging that racial discrimination and excessive force went unchecked before George Floyd’s killing because of inadequate oversight and an unwieldy process for investigating complaints.

The probe began national reckoning over racial injustice.

Here are six takeaways from the report:

WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF THE INVESTIGATION?

The focus of the probe was to examine whether there has been a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing in the Minneapolis Police Department. It examined the use of force by officers, including during protests, and whether the department engages in discriminatory practices. It also looked at the handling of misconduct allegations, treatment of people with behavioral health issues and systems of accountability.

WHAT WERE THE KEY FINDINGS?

Investigators found numerous examples of excessive force, unlawful discrimination and First Amendment violations. They reviewed 19 police shootings and determined that officers sometimes fired without first determining whether there was an immediate threat of harm to the officers or others.

In 2017, for example, an officer fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond, an unarmed white Australian-born woman who “spooked” him when she approached his squad car, according to the report. She had called 911 to report a possible rape behind her house. The city paid $20 million to settle with her family.

In another case, officers shot a suspect after he started stabbing himself in the neck in a police station interview room.

Officers also used neck restraints like the one Chauvin used on Floyd 198 times between Jan. 1, 2016, and Aug. 16, 2022, including 44 instances that didn’t require an arrest. Some officers continued to use neck restraints even after they were banned in the wake of Floyd’s killing, the report said.

At protests, it found, people were sometimes shot with rubber bullets when they were committing no crime or were dispersing. According to the report, one journalist was hit by a rubber bullet and lost her eye, while another was shoved to the pavement while filming and pepper-sprayed in the face. One protester was shoved so hard that she fell backward, hit the pavement and lay unconscious for three minutes.

WHAT DID INVESTIGATORS FIND ABOUT RACIAL BIAS IN POLICING?

The report documented rampant racism and racial profiling in the department, with Black drivers more than six times more likely to be stopped than white ones.

The racism also extended to arrests.

When one Black teen was held at gunpoint for allegedly stealing a $5 burrito, the teen asked the plainclothes officer if he was indeed police. “Really?” the officer responded, according to a video recording. “How many white people in the city of Minneapolis have you run up against with a gun?”

In another case, a woman reported that an officer said to her that the Black Lives Matter movement was a “terrorist” organization. “We are going to make sure you and all of the Black Lives supporters are wiped off the face of the Earth,” she recalled him saying. Her complaint against the officer was closed by the department with a finding of “no merit.”

HOW DID THE DEPARTMENT TREAT THE MENTALLY ILL?

Mental health crises often were made worse when police responded, investigators found.

In 2017, for instance, officers encountered an unarmed man in the midst of what neighbors described as a mental health episode. He initially paced around his yard, yelling. After complying with orders to sit on his front steps, an officer fired his taser without warning.

In another case, a mother called 911 to report that her adult daughter, a Black woman with bipolar disorder, was attempting to hurt herself by lying in the road. By the time officers got there, the woman was calmly walking through a park. The officers nevertheless grabbed her, and she began yelling and pulled away. The woman was then put in a neck restraint as her mother pleaded, “Don’t choke her like that!”

HOW DID OFFICERS GET AWAY WITH MISCONDUCT?

Investigations into police misconduct took months and sometimes years, according to the report. And those conducting the inquiries frequently failed to view video corroborating public complaints.

Supervisors also were quick to back their subordinates. In one case, an officer tased a man eight times without pausing even as the man protested that he was doing “exactly” what he was told. The supervisor found no policy violations and told the man after the fact that if he hadn’t been resisting, “they wouldn’t have had to strike you.”

The report also highlighted the case of John Pope, who was just 14 when Chauvin struck him in the head with a flashlight multiple times and pinned him to a wall by his throat. He then knelt on the Black teen, as his mother pleaded, “Please do not kill my son.” Chauvin, the report found, kept his knee on the teen’s neck or back for over 15 minutes.

But due to poor supervision and a failed internal investigation, commanders did not learn what had happened to Pope until three years later, after Chauvin killed Floyd, the report said. The city ultimately agreed to settle a lawsuit in the case for $7.5 million.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

The report noted that the department has made some improvements, such as banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants, training officers on the duty to intervene and sending mental health workers to some incidents. But it said there is still work to be done.

As a result of the investigation, the city and the police department agreed to a deal known as a federal consent decree, which will require reforms to be overseen by an independent monitor and approved by a federal judge. That arrangement is similar to previous interventions in cities such as Seattle, New Orleans, Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri.

United States News

Associated Press

Philadelphia police officer shot by fleeing suspect is in critical condition

A Philadelphia police officer was shot in the neck and was in critical condition Saturday night, officials said. The 31-year-old officer was in critical condition and undergoing surgery at Temple University Hospital, Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel said during a news conference outside the hospital. The officer, a veteran of more than six years on the […]

36 minutes ago

Associated Press

A fourth victim has died a day after a shooting at an Arkansas grocery store, police say

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Police say a fourth victim has died a day after a shooting at an Arkansas grocery store. The person died Saturday evening, Arkansas state police said in a statement. A total of 14 people were wounded in Friday’s shooting, according to police: “11 civilians, two law enforcement officers and the […]

1 hour ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Saturda...

Associated Press

Trump endorses Ten Commandments in schools, implores evangelical Christians to vote in November

Trump endorsed displaying the Ten Commandments in schools while speaking to a group of politically influential evangelical Christians.

2 hours ago

Associated Press

2 people were taken to a hospital after lightning struck a tree near a PGA Tour event in Connecticut

CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) — Two people were taken to the hospital Saturday after lightning struck a tree near a home along a golf course that is hosting the PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship. The home is just north of the fifth green at TPC River Highlands, which is hosting the tournament one week after the U.S. […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Jury awards more than $13 million to ultramarathon athlete injured in fall on a Seattle sidewalk

SEATTLE (AP) — A jury awarded $13.1 million to an ultramarathon athlete who was severely injured when she fell on a Seattle sidewalk in 2021. The award by a King County jury found that the city of Seattle and the owners of an apartment building are responsible for the amount, the Seattle Times reported. Lesley […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Rains, cooler weather help firefighters gain ground on large wildfires in southern New Mexico

RUIDOSO, N.M. (AP) — Recent rains and cooler weather are helping more than 1,000 firefighters gain ground on two wildfires in southern New Mexico on Saturday that have killed two people, destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands to flee. Fire crews took advantage of temperatures in the 70s, scattered showers and light winds to […]

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

6 key takeaways from scathing report on Minneapolis police after George Floyd’s killing