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Opinion: After George Floyd Death A Press Release Obscured A Police Murder

Bureaucratic prose is mostly written to describe things, not to make things clear. After 12 jurors found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of George Floyd murder, it could be especially telling this week to re-read the Minneapolis Police Department’s initial account of Floyd’s death.

“Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction,” their newsletter started May 25, 2020. They said officers replied, “Report of ongoing forgery. Officers were told that the suspect sat in a blue car and seemed under the influence. “

Let’s make it clear here that no testimony showed that George Floyd was “under the influence” of something that contributed to his death—he died because Chauvin smashed his knee about nine minutes into Floyd’s neck and back on the street.

Dr. Bill Smock, a forensic surgeon who testified for the prosecution, told the court that when he saw George Floyd’s video, he didn’t overdose: “He breathes.”He’s speaking. Not snoring. He’s asking, ‘Please get off me. I’ll breathe. I can not breathe. ‘”

The police newsletter said the attacker, “Physically defied officials. Officers were able to put the suspect in handcuffs and noticed that he seemed to experience medical distress. “

How Minneapolis Police first described the murder of George Floyd, and what  we know now - CNN

As experts testified, Chauvin induced Floyd’s “medical distress” after he had already been handcuffed.

The report states, “Officers requested an ambulance.” It doesn’t mean they’ve administered CPR. But Smock pointed out that police officers have the expertise and legal duty to provide medical treatment to those in detention long before an ambulance arrives.

A line near the end of that official report now sounds particularly cold: “In the incident, no officers were injured.”

John Elder, the director of public relations for the Minneapolis Police Department, told the Los Angeles Times last year that he simply conveyed on-scene information obtained from police.

Opinion: After George Floyd's Death, A Press Release Obscured A Police  Murder | KBIA

“We knew this was what we saw on the video,” he told the newspaper, “the comment would have been totally different.”

Of course, it was because a 17-year-old named Darnella Frazier was there and captured what happened on her cell phone that the murder of Floyd became known, a campaign grew and the man who killed him was held accountable. You might wonder how many other killings have been filed away this week as “Medical Incident During Police Interaction” in bureaucratic prose.

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