Police in the city where patrol officers murdered African American George Floyd routinely resort to violent and racist practices, the US Justice Department said Friday in findings of a review three years after his death.
The report detailed multiple cases of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota shooting unarmed and unthreatening people, before and after Floyd’s May 25, 2020 death.
The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) “uses excessive force, including unjustified deadly force” and “unlawfully discriminates against Black and Native American people when enforcing the law,” the department concluded.
The cases in the report included the killing of a woman who had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault, and a man already in custody who was stabbing himself.
The report also cited frequent cases of police using excessive force, often with fatal consequences.
Floyd died after white police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee to the 46-year-old’s neck for nearly 10 minutes while three other officers looked on.
He had been detained on suspicion of trying to pass off a counterfeit $20 bill.
His death set off nationwide protests over police abuse and discrimination against African Americans, raising the pressure on police departments around the country.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that Minneapolis had agreed to accept a program of tough oversight from the Justice Department that will impose reforms.
He said the study showed a pattern of Minneapolis police violating locals’ constitutional rights, and that Floyd’s death brought this to broader attention.
It “has had an irrevocable impact on the Minneapolis community and our country and around the world,” Garland told a news conference.
“This loss is still felt deeply by those who loved and knew him and by many who did not,” he added.
– ‘I can’t breathe’ –
Floyd’s case became notorious after a bystander filmed his detention and death, with Floyd audibly telling Chauvin “I can’t breathe” before losing consciousness.
Garland said the probe had found “numerous incidents” of Minneapolis police responding to detainees’ complaints of being unable to breathe with comments like, “You can breathe, you’re talking now.”
Minneapolis police regularly declined to intervene when colleagues were using excessive force, despite being required to do so, Garland added.
“Years before he killed George Floyd, Derek Chauvin used excessive force on other occasions in which multiple MPD officers stood by and did not stop him,” he told reporters.
Garland said data showed police stopped, searched and used force against minorities at a far greater rate than against white people.
Minneapolis police “stopped Black and Native American people nearly six times more often than white people in situations that did not result in arrest or citation, given their shares of the population,” he said.
“Such conduct is deeply disturbing, and it erodes the community’s trust in law enforcement.”
The study also found that Minneapolis police regularly violated the rights of peaceful protesters and journalists covering protests, Garland said — especially those that followed Floyd’s death.
President Joe Biden said the “disturbing” findings underscored the urgent need for Congress to pass common sense reforms to increase public trust in policing and combat racial discrimination.
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