DEREK Chauvin trial evidence has proven that cops contradicted how George Floyd died in their first statement.
Moments after former officer Chauvin was convicted of murder in Floyd's death, copies of the original Minneapolis police statement began recirculating on social media.
It attributed Floyd's death to "medical distress" and made no mention that the black man had been pinned to the ground at the neck by Chauvin, or that he'd cried out that he couldn't breathe.
Many were posting the release to highlight the distance between the initial police narrative and the evidence that led to the conviction on Tuesday, including video of Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck, even after Floyd had stopped moving.
And while Chauvin's conviction is a high-profile case of video rebutting initial police statements, criminal justice experts and police accountability advocates say the problem of inaccurate initial reports — especially in fatal police encounters — is widespread.
"If it wasn't for this 17-year-old who took the video, Derek Chauvin would in all likelihood still be on the police force training officers," said Andre Johnson, a University of Memphis professor of communication studies.
"Sadly, this has been going on for a while, and it’s just now coming to light for a lot of Americans because of video evidence."
For their part, police officials say they give the most accurate information they can during fast-moving and complicated investigations.
However the frequency with which misleading information is published cannot be ignored, critics say.
As complaints about misinformation on such interactions grows, so do calls for body cameras for police.
Roughly 80 percent of departments with 500 officers or more are now using cameras, but video storage can be costly.
Official police video is also increasingly showing discrepancies in initial police narratives, though generally the images are withheld for days or sometimes months during internal investigations.
Johnson said it shouldn’t take video evidence of black Americans being mistreated or killed for people to support policing changes.
He noted that when there is video evidence, it’s often scrutinized and still rejected by some as fake or deceptive.
"Why does it have to take the video evidence, the activism, the testimony?” asked Johnson.
"It takes all that because since the inception of policing, we as Americans have taken the police at their word. But this is nothing new to communities of color."
"The question is, Have police now begun to lose the default position that they’re truthful?" he said. "I think it’s beginning to erode."
Police and prosecutors in several cities have released body camera videos more quickly after recent fatal encounters.
Some experts say that’s in part to quell the potential for large-scale protests against racial injustice and police brutality that took place nationwide after Floyd’s death.
Others say it’s a move to regain the trust of the community amid demands for transparency.
In Minneapolis, police spokesperson John Elder previously told The Associated Press that he did not visit the scene on May 25 2020, as he usually does after major events, and he was not able to review body camera footage of Floyd’s death for several hours.
Elder released the initial description after being briefed by supervisors, who he learned later also had not been to the scene.
After the bystander video surfaced, the department realized the statement was inaccurate and immediately requested an FBI investigation, he said.
By then, state investigators had taken over, and he was unable to issue a corrected statement.
"I will never lie to cover up the actions of somebody else," Elder said.
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