What We Know About the Death of George Floyd
Photo Credit: The Offices of Ben Crump Law – Richard Tsong-Taatarii/The Star Tribune
- A viral video shows a white police officer kneeling on the throat of George Floyd, a black man who was declared dead at a hospital shortly after the incident Monday.
- A police statement detailing the event erroneously claimed that officers “noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress” and called for an ambulance.
- However, the video shows the officer kneeling on Floyd’s throat for at least 8 minutes, even after he became unresponsive, and only stopping when the ambulance arrived.
- Police also claimed that Floyd “physically resisted officers,” but security footage seems to show that he complied with the arresting officers, at least initially.
Initial Police Report
A 46-year-old black man named George Floyd died Monday after a police officer pinned him to the ground and kneeled on his neck for several minutes outside a grocery store in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Most of what is currently known about the incident comes from a now-viral video taken by a bystander named Darnella Frazier, who posted it on her Facebook page late Monday night.
However, a statement released by the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) the same evening titled “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction” painted a drastically different picture.
According to that statement, just after 8 p.m., police responded to a “report of a forgery in progress” involving a suspect that “appeared to be under the influence.” Two officers arrived on the scene, located the suspect in his car, and ordered him to step out.
The suspect allegedly “physically resisted officers,” though they managed to get him into handcuffs. However, the statement goes on to say that during that process, the officers “noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress,” and called for an ambulance.
“He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later,” MPD said, before noting that no weapons were used by anyone involved in the incident.
Video Version of Events
By early Tuesday morning, Frazier’s video was being shared all over social media, casting serious doubts and prompting widespread outrage over the version of events as told by the police.
The 10-minute video begins with Floyd being pinned down beside a police car by a white police officer who has his knee on his neck. Throughout the whole episode, another officer stands by him. Two other officers were also at the scene.
While the MPD has not identified any of the four men present, an attorney for the officer that is seen in the video with his knee in Floyd’s neck later identified him as 44-year-old Derek Chauvin. Several outlets have identified the officer who remains by him as Tou Thao.
Floyd is heard crying out, repeatedly begging the officer to stop. “Please. Please. I can’t breathe. Please,” he says over and over.
A bystander approaches Chauvin from several feet away, urging him to get off of Floyd. “You got him down, man,” he says. “Let him breathe at least, man.”
Floyd again says that he can’t breathe. Thao says “he’s fine.” Chauvin tells Floyd to “relax.”
At one point Floyd calls out for his mother.
“My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts,” he cries. “I want some water or something. Please. Please. I can’t breathe. They gonna kill me. They gonna kill me man.”
More bystanders start asking the police to stop, with one pointing out that his nose is bleeding, seemingly from having his face pushed into the cement road.
“You having fun?” some asks angrily.
“I cannot breathe,” says Floyd. “I cannot breathe.”
Shortly after, the bystanders escalate their calls, yelling at Chauvin to stop.
“Bro, why you just sitting there? He ain’t doing nothing,” one person shouts. “Just put him in your car!”
“They’ll kill me. They’ll kill me,” Floyd can be heard saying over the din.
“He’s still talking. He’s fine,” Thao responds to the crowd.
“Bro, he ain’t fine,” says one of the more vocal bystanders. “You’re fucking stopping his breathing right there bro.”
“Man, I Can’t breathe,” Floyd says.
“Okay, he’s talking,” Thao says again.
About four minutes into the video, Floyd becomes unresponsive. The bystanders’ yells intensify, and Chauvin pulls something off his belt that prompts someone in the crowd to call out: “What the fuck, he got mace. He got mace.”
Several bystanders repeatedly ask the police to check Floyd’s pulse. They refuse.
“How long am I going to have this conversation?” Thao asks.
The crowd’s calls escalate for the next few minutes. They say that he is not moving, and that Chauvin is killing him.
Meanwhile, Chauvin still has his knee on Floyd’s neck the whole time, and he continues to keep it there almost four minutes after Floyd becomes unresponsive. He only takes his knee off Floyd’s neck when an ambulance arrives and Floyd is loaded onto a stretcher.
According to the medical examiner, Floyd was pronounced dead at 9:25 p.m. on Monday at Hennepin County Medical Center.
Washington Post Releases Security Footage
From the video, it is evident that there are several jarring discrepancies between the official account of the police and what actually happened.
The MPD statement said that Floyd “appeared to be suffering medical distress.” It does not say anything about whether the “medical distress” was caused or worsened by a police officer putting his knee on Floyd’s throat for around eight minutes.
In fact, the statement says nothing at all about the officers restraining Floyd other than that they eventually managed to get him into handcuffs.
On Tuesday evening, the Washington Post published security footage provided by the owner of a nearby restaurant that appears to contradict the claim that Floyd resisted arrest, at least at the beginning of his encounter with the police.
The footage shows two officers walking up to a car. Two people seemingly sitting in the passenger seat and the back seat get out and go stand on the sidewalk. Shortly after that, the officers removed Floyd from a car handcuffed.
An officer then walks him to the sidewalk and sits him down against a wall. There is no audio, so it is unclear what Floyd is saying, but he does not appear, at least physically, to be resisting arrest.
Another police car pulls up, and after a few minutes, the officers walk Floyd across the street and open a door on a police car before the footage cuts out.
Officers Fired and Official Response
Just hours after Frazier’s video started to spread Tuesday morning, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced on Twitter that all four officers involved in the event had been fired.
“Being Black in America should not be a death sentence,” Frey said in a later statement. “What we saw is horrible. Completely and utterly messed up.”
“The man’s life matters. He matters. He was someone son. Someone’s family member. Someone’s friend,” Frey continued. “He was a human being and his life mattered.”
Around the same time, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in a statement that the F.B.I. was conducting a federal civil rights investigation into, and that the state bureau was also conducting its own investigation at the request of MPD.
In a separate statement, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said that it was helping with the investigation.
“At the end of the investigation, the findings will be presented to our office for consideration of prosecution,” the statement added.
Response From Floyd’s Family and Lawyer
While the firing of the four officers was widely applauded, many called for them to be charged and arrested.
Floyd’s family and their attorney have also demanded that more be done to the officers.
“They need to be charged with murder because what they did was murder,” Floyd’s cousin Tera Brown told CNN on Tuesday night. “And almost the whole world has witnessed that because somebody was gracious enough to record it… They need to pay for what they did.”
“I feel those guys need to be put in jail,” George Floyd’s sister Bridgett Floyd told ABC. “They murdered my brother.”
Ben Crump, the lawyer representing Floyd’s family, also asked the public to call the District Attorney and demand the officers be arrested and charged.
Crump, notable, is also representing the family of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old black jogger who was shot and killed in Georgia in February.
As of writing, none of the four officers involved in Floyd’s death have been taken into custody.
Response on Social Media
In addition to Floyd’s family, thousands of people chimed in on social media to express their outrage over the wrongful death.
“The lack of humanity in this disturbing video is sickening,” Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz tweeted. “We will get answers and seek justice.”
“It is sickening to watch this black man be killed while helplessly begging for help,” wrote Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who represents Minneapolis and it’s surrounding areas.
“Black lives matter isn’t just a chant, it’s call for justice. It’s a call for our humanity to be recognized. This must stop. There needs to be an immediate DOJ investigation into this.”
Numerous people also drew comparisons between the deaths of Floyd and Eric Garner, the young black man who died in New York police custody in 2014 after a white officer put him in a chokehold and Garner, who was also filmed on a cellphone, repeatedly said “I can’t breathe.”
Many social media users also shared a photo of Colin Kaepernick, the NFL player who kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality, alongside a photo of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck.
The picture was shared by several prominent athletes, including basketball legend LeBron James.
Former NFL wide receiver Nathan Palmer also shared the photo in a tweet.
“So…don’t ask why he took a knee…they’re still killing BLACK MEN and getting away with this sh*t! I don’t condone starting a war but I think it’s clear what we need to start doing yo…” he wrote.
Kaepernick himself shared Palmer’s Tweet on his Instagram story.
Protests Break Out
While countless people took to social media, hundreds more took to the streets of Minneapolis on Tuesday afternoon and evening to protest.
The protests started out peacefully, with demonstrators meeting at the intersection where Floyd was killed chanting “I can’t breathe!” and “No justice, no peace!”
Around 6 p.m., the crowd moved to the 3rd Police Precinct where the protesters reportedly believed the officers involved were based.
When they arrived things quickly escalated. Several media outlets and the police claimed that a small group of people began to vandalize the precinct and were quickly followed by others.
That prompted the police to show up in riot gear to fire tear gas and flash grenades into the crowds to disperse them. The confrontation went on late into the evening before the protestors dispersed due to a rainstorm.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (USA Today) (PBS News Hour)
Survey and Census Data Shows Record Number of Americans are Struggling Financially
Americans are choosing not to pursue medical treatment more and more frequently as they encounter money troubles.
A recent federal survey shows that a record number of Americans were worse off financially in 2022 than a year prior.
Coupled with recent census data showing pervasive poverty across much of the country, Americans are forced to make difficult decisions, like foregoing expensive healthcare.
According to a recent Federal Reserve Bureau survey, 35% of adults say they were worse off in 2022 than 2021, which is the highest share ever recorded since the question was raised in 2014.
Additionally, half of adults reported their budget was majorly affected by rising prices across the country, and that number is even higher among minority communities and parents living with their children.
According to recent census data, more than 10% of the counties in the U.S. are experiencing persistent poverty, meaning the area has had a poverty rate of 20% or higher between 1989 and 2019.
16 states report at least 10% of their population living in persistent poverty. But most of the suffering counties were found in the South — which accounts for over half the people living in persistent poverty, despite making up less than 40% of the population.
These financial realities have placed many Americans in the unfortunate situation of choosing between medical treatment and survival. The Federal Reserve study found that the share of Americans who skipped medical treatment because of the cost has drastically increased since 2020.
The reflection of this can be found in the overall health of households in different income brackets. 75% of households with an income of $25,000 or less report being in good health – compared to the 91% of households with $100,000 or more income.
See what others are saying: (Axios) (The Hill) (Federal Reserve)
Montana Governor Signs TikTok Ban
The ban will likely face legal challenges before it is officially enacted next year.
First Statewide Ban of TikTok
Montana became the first state to ban TikTok on Wednesday after Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed legislation aimed at protecting “Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party.”
The ban will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, though the law will likely face a handful of legal challenges before that date.
Under the law, citizens of the state will not be held liable for using the app, but companies that offer the app on their platforms, like Apple and Google, will face a $10,000 fine per day of violations. TikTok would also be subject to the hefty daily fine.
Questions remain about how tech companies will practically enforce this law. During a hearing earlier this year, a representative from TechNet said that these platforms don’t have the ability to “geofence” apps by state.
Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics, told the Associated Press that app stores could have the capability to enforce the restriction, but it would be difficult to carry out and there would be a variety of loopholes by tools like VPNs.
Montana’s law comes as U.S. politicians have taken aim at TikTok over its alleged ties to the CCP. Earlier this year, the White House directed federal agencies to remove TikTok from government devices. Conservatives, in particular, have been increasingly working to restrict the app.
“The Chinese Communist Party using TikTok to spy on Americans, violate their privacy, and collect their personal, private, and sensitive information is well-documented,” Gov. Gianforte said in a Wednesday statement.
Criticism of Montana Law
TikTok, however, has repeatedly denied that it gives user data to the government. The company released a statement claiming Montana’s law “infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people” in the state.
“We want to reassure Montanans that they can continue using TikTok to express themselves, earn a living, and find community as we continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana,” the company said.
The American Civil Liberties Union condemned Montana’s law for similar reasons.
“This law tramples on our free speech rights under the guise of national security and lays the groundwork for excessive government control over the internet,” the ACLU tweeted. “Elected officials do not have the right to selectively censor entire social media apps based on their country of origin.”
Per the AP, there are 200,000 TikTok users in Montana, and another 6,000 businesses use the platform as well. Lawsuits are expected to be filed against the law in the near future.
See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (Fast Company) (CBS News)
How a Disney-Loving Former Youth Pastor Landed on The FBI’s “Most Wanted” List
“Do what is best, not for yourself, for once. Think about everyone else,” Chris Burns’ 19-year-old son pleaded to his father via The Daily Beast.
Multi-Million Dollar Scheme
Former youth pastor turned financial advisor Chris Burns remains at large since going on the run in September of 2020 to avoid a Securities Exchange Commission investigation into his businesses.
Despite his fugitive status, the Justice Department recently indicted Burns with several more charges on top of the $12 million default judgment he received from the SEC.
Burns allegedly sold false promissory notes to investors across Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida. The SEC claims he told the investors they were participating in a “peer to peer” lending program where businesses that needed capital would borrow money and then repay it with interest as high as 20%. Burns allegedly also reassured investors that the businesses had collateral so the investment was low-risk.
The SEC says that Burns instead took that money for personal use.
Burns began his adult life as a youth pastor back in 2007 before transitioning into financial planning a few years later. By 2017, he launched his own radio show, The Chris Burns Show, which was funded by one of his companies, Dynamic Money – where every week Burns would “unpack how this week’s headlines practically impact your life, wallet, and future,” according to the description. He also frequently appeared on television and online, talking about finances and politics.
The SEC alleges that he used his public appearances to elevate his status as a financial advisor and maximize his reach to investors.
His family told The Daily Beast that he became obsessed with success and he reportedly bought hand-made clothes, a million-dollar lakehouse, a boat, several cars, and took his family on several trips to Disney World. His eldest son and wife said that Burns was paying thousands of dollars a day for VIP tours and once paid for the neighbors to come along.
Then in September 2020, he reportedly told his wife that he was being investigated by the Securities Exchange Commission but he told her not to worry.
The day that he was supposed to turn over his business documents to the SEC, he disappeared, telling his wife he was just going to take a trip to North Carolina to tell his parents about the investigation. Then, the car was found abandoned in a parking lot with several cashier’s checks totaling $78,000
FBI’s Most Wanted
The default judgment in the SEC complaint orders Burns, if he’s ever found, to pay $12 million to his victims, as well as over $650,000 in a civil penalty. Additionally, a federal criminal complaint charged him with mail fraud. Burns is currently on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.
Last week, the Justice Department indicted him on several other charges including 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud.
“Burns is charged for allegedly stealing millions of dollars from clients in an illegal investment fraud scheme,” Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “Financial crimes of this nature can cause significant disruptions to the lives of those who are victimized, and the FBI is dedicated to holding these criminals accountable.”
His family maintains that they knew nothing of Burns’ schemes. His wife reportedly returned over $300,000 that he had given to her.
She and their eldest son, who is now 19, told The Daily Beast they just want Burns to turn himself in, take responsibility for his actions, and try to help the people he hurt.
“Do what is best, not for yourself, for once. Think about everyone else,” Burns’ son said in a message to his father via The Daily Beast.