Thousands of protesters took to the streets on the south side of Minneapolis Tuesday following the police killing of unarmed African American George Floyd, which was captured on video.
Protesters gathered at the location of Floyd’s killing and marched to the Minneapolis third police precinct, where protesters believed the officers who killed Floyd worked. The protesters held signs that read “I can’t breathe” and “Justice for George”.
Outside the third precinct building, Minneapolis police in riot gear, shot tear gas, flash bang grenades and rubber bullets into crowds of protesters, hitting journalists as well. Some of the police projectiles hit protesters in the head, causing serious injury.
Minneapolis City Council member Jeremiah Ellison called the police response, “disgusting”.
“So far, I have been unable to prevent the police from firing indiscriminately into the crowd. Moments ago, I held a towel to a teenage girls head as blood poured from it,” Ellison tweeted.
The video of Floyd’s killing captured by bystander Darnella Frazier, showed now former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for five minutes, as he lay on the ground saying, “‘I cannot breathe’ and “Don’t kill me”.
In the video bystanders shouted that Floyd appeared to be unconscious, yet now former officer Chauvin continues to strangle Floyd with his knee. The video later shows Floyd being carried away completely lifeless. He died a short time later.
Minneapolis police released a statement claimed Floyd died due to a “medical incident”, which drew widespread outrage from the protesters.
Darnella Frazier, who filmed the incident, said, “The police killed him, bro, right in front of everybody,” she said. For “five, six minutes” after announcing he couldn’t breathe, Floyd was “sitting there dead.”
Also filmed in the video is former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao, who bystanders in the video asked if he was just going to allow Chauvin to kill George Floyd.
Minneapolis police have fired four officers involved in the killing, but they have yet to name the other two officers involved. The FBI has also begun an investigation into the killing.
Reports show that former Officers Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao had histories of involvement in previous shootings, complaints and a lawsuit for excessive force.
In 2006, Chauvin was involved in the shooting death of Wayne Reyes, according to Communities United Against Police Brutality. Reyes was fleeing officers, when he was shot according to reporting.
In 2008, Chauvin shot and wounded Ira Latrell Toles in the abdomen during a house call, and in 2011, Chauvin was placed on leave following his involvement in the shooting of a Native American man.
There have also been 12 complaints made against Chauvin according to the Minneapolis’ Office of Police Conduct complaint database and the Minneapolis Civilian Review Authority. The details of the complaints are not described in the database. None of the complaints appears to have resulted in discipline.
In 2006, Minnesota correctional facility prisoner sued seven officers, including Chauvin, for violations of his federal constitutional rights. The case was dismissed.
Former officer Tou Thao was sued for excessive force in 2017. According to the lawsuit Thao and another officer stopped Lamar Ferguson and an eight-month pregnant woman without cause and searched Ferguson. The two officers then threw Ferguson to the ground and began punching and kicking him The officers then brought Ferguson to jail in just his underwear and a tee shirt.
The lawsuit was settled out of court for $25,000.
In 2015, the Minneapolis police killing of Jamar Clark, sparked weeks of protests in Minneapolis, including a protester occupation of the Minneapolis police fourth precinct station for 18 days.
A recent study showed that Minneapolis police kill African Americans at thirteen times the rate of whites.