By Erin Ailworth, Sadie Gurman and Ben Kesling
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz sent in the National
Guard as demonstrators clashed with police for a third straight day
to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a
white officer pinned him to the ground with a knee on his neck.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who has called for the police
officers involved in the incident to be criminally charged, had
requested the assistance and authorized the police chief to create
a unified command to coordinate officers from different
Several buildings in a retail area across from the Third
Precinct station, in a diverse working and middle class
neighborhood, smoldered from lingering fires Thursday as officials
prepared for another night of protests.
The Justice Department said it had made its investigation into
Mr. Floyd's death a top priority, assigning experienced prosecutors
and FBI criminal investigators to the case. The department is
probing whether Minneapolis police officers willfully violated Mr.
Floyd's civil rights.
Meanwhile, calls for criminal charges continued to grow. State
authorities have also launched investigations into the
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman is responsible for
deciding whether or not to bring criminal charges. He has said that
his office is working with authorities to gather and examine the
evidence. He didn't respond to requests for comment.
Justice officials described the investigation as
"The Department of Justice asks for cooperation from all
witnesses who believe they have relevant information and urges calm
as investigators methodically continue to gather facts," the
department said in an unusually strong statement, issued by U.S.
attorney Erica MacDonald and FBI special agent in charge Rainer
Bringing federal civil rights charges against police is a
challenge, as prosecutors must reach a difficult standard of proof
that requires them to establish that an officer not only acted with
excessive force but also willfully violated someone's
State prosecutors are able to pursue a wider array of criminal
charges under state law, such as manslaughter or aggravated
assault, that don't require them to prove willfulness or
The mayor, a 38-year-old member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor
party, said that the last several nights of unrest revealed 400
years of frustration in the black community. But he said it was
critical that the city protect infrastructure like grocery stores,
drugstores and banks that are necessary to protect health during
the coronavirus pandemic.
Minneapolis Chief of Police Medaria Arradondo said there was a
shift in tenor during the second night of protests with "a core
group of people that had been focused on causing destruction."
Efforts to control the crowd broke down as it grew in size, he
said. "We were certainly prepared for that immediate area," he
said. "The crowds got larger and they got more mobile."
New protests began Thursday in neighboring St. Paul. Looting
Wednesday night centered around the Third Precinct, the city's
largest geographically, located between Interstate 35 to the west
and the Mississippi River to the east.
The majority of the city's mass-transit service has been
suspended through at least the afternoon and evening because of
The Minneapolis area has a history of tension between the
African-American community and law enforcement, including the 2016
killing of Philando Castile, a black man, by a police officer in a
nearby suburb. Months before that, the shooting of a black man in
the city led to protests, including a Black Lives Matter encampment
at a police precinct.
Mr. Arradondo became police chief in 2017 after an
officer-involved shooting led to the resignation of his
predecessor. In 2007, he was one of several officers who sued the
police department over discrimination against officers of color.
Mr. Frey helped develop a stronger policy on the use of police body
cameras early in his term.
The state legislature was set to debate its recommendations this
session until the coronavirus pandemic short-circuited its
Leslie Redmond, president for the Minneapolis NAACP, said there
is support in the community for the city's current chief of police,
unlike with past chiefs.
"Chief Arradondo made the first right step in making sure the
officers were fired and now he needs to move forward and make sure
that they are charged because what we witnessed was murder," she
The four officers involved in the Monday incident were fired
In Facebook video that emerged Tuesday, Mr. Floyd can be seen
being pinned to the ground by an officer identified as Derek
Chauvin, who has his knee on Mr. Floyd's neck. Other footage later
emerged showing two other officers sitting on Mr. Floyd's body. Mr.
Floyd is heard pleading that he can't breathe, and eventually loses
consciousness. A fire department crew called to assist found
paramedics working inside an ambulance on "an unresponsive,
pulseless male," a fire department report said. Mr. Floyd was
pronounced dead later that evening.
Two of the former-officers who appear on the Facebook video, Mr.
Chauvin and Tou Thao, each have multiple complaints on their
official records, according to department records.
Mr. Chauvin has 18 complaints on his official record, two of
which ended in discipline from the department including official
letters of reprimand. Mr. Thao has six incidents on his record,
including one stemming from a 2017 lawsuit that was settled by the
city and which is still officially open in his record. The
department declined to comment on the details of the
Mr. Thao was sued, along with another officer in 2017 for
excessive use of force, a case whose final terms were sealed as
terms of the settlement.
Tom Kelly, an attorney for Mr. Chauvin, didn't respond to a
request for comment.
Mr. Thao couldn't be reached for comment.
Minneapolis police said they arrested Mr. Floyd on Monday for
using a counterfeit bill, and that he resisted arrest. Attorney
Benjamin Crump, who is representing Mr. Floyd's family, said the
man never resisted arrest and shouldn't have been treated so
Alvin Manago and his fiancée, Theresa Scott remembered their
friend and roommate, who liked to go by Floyd, as someone who
"always tried to be the peacemaker," Mr. Manago recalled.
They said they were trying to forget the images in the Facebook
video. Instead, they warmly recalled how he would burn everything
he tried to cook, even hot dogs. How he liked to sing when he was
happy. How his laugh was a slow-building, full-body chuckle.
--Joe Barrett contributed to this article.
Write to Erin Ailworth at Erin.Ailworth@wsj.com, Sadie Gurman at
firstname.lastname@example.org and Ben Kesling at
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 28, 2020 19:38 ET (23:38 GMT)
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