Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd neck
Chauvin kneels on George Floyd's neck, May 25, 2020

OBINNA EZUGWU

A Minneapolis Police Department’s initial account of the incident that led to the death of 46-year-old George Floyd in May last year, has triggered self righteous anger among Americans following the conviction of Derek Chauvin on Tuesday.

Chauvin, 45, a former Minneapolis Police officer, was convicted of all charges in the death of Floyd, which could see him spend 40 years in prison.

But following the conviction, many Americans took to social media to point out that the events could have turned out differently, had the Floyd’s murder not been recorded in a video, given an account the police had given.

The Minneapolis Police initial account of the murder, which was contained in a statement titled, “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction,” had blamed the death of Floyd on ‘medical distress’, while given no indication that an officer knelt on his neck for about nine minutes, within which period he repeatedly cried out that he couldn’t breathe.

The statement issued on May 25, 2020, the day Floyd was murdered had read, “On Monday evening, shortly after 8:00 pm, officers from the Minneapolis Police Department responded to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of a forgery in progress. Officers were advised that the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence.

Please statement issued by Minneapolis Police Department, after death of George Floyd

“Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance.

“He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.

“At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident.

“The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has been called in to investigate this incident at the request of the Minneapolis Police Department.

“No officers were injured in the incident.

“Body worn cameras were on and activated during this incident.”

Following the conviction of Chauvin, Tuesday, journalist, Chris Vanderveen, @chrisvanderveen, shared the statement as a reminder to fellow journalists that sometimes police accounts may not be accurate, triggering reactions from the online community.

“If it wasn’t for Darnella Frazier who watched & recorded, taking on that trauma at a young age, no accountability would have been possible. Kudos to all the bystanders who gathered to try to end this senseless murder & who served as witnesses,” said Dr. Em Cornell @cleulady

Another Twitter user, Amazonia @Jandal_It, noted, “I know people hate social media, and the ubiquity of cell phones, but WE ALL SAW that murder, because of those devices and live streaming. Visibility forces change. Keep filming and sharing people. Make justice rise from the stones.”

Similarly, S.P. Sullivan, @spsullivan said, “The point is that this was the official police account that likely would have become the only public account had there not been bystander video.”

Another user, RevDJEsq, @RevDJEsq, said, “That was Minneapolis police’s release, I believe. The lesson? Never trust without verification what the cops tell you as a journalist.”

Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter in the killing of Floyd.

He faces up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder and up to 10 years for second-degree manslaughter.

After reading the jury’s verdicts finding Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts, Judge Peter Cahill thanked the jurors for what he called “heavy duty” service in the case.

“I have to thank you on behalf of the people of the state of Minnesota, for not only jury service, but heavy duty jury service,” he said.

 

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