‘So disturbing’: Death report goes viral after Derek Chauvin verdict

·Assistant News Editor
·3-min read

In the wake of the Derek Chauvin verdict, the initial report from Minnesota police regarding the death of George Floyd has gone viral.

It offers a stark difference to the reality handed down by 12 jurors in the highly publicised trial on Tuesday (local time) which saw the former police officer convicted on manslaughter, second degree, and third degree murder charges. 

But the initial police statement on the morning of May 26, 2020, shows how it all could have gone a very different way.

The statement — which has since been deleted from the department’s website — was quietly released under the heading “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction". 

People react after the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial on Tuesday with thousands taking to the streets in celebration. Source: Getty
People react after the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial on Tuesday with thousands taking to the streets in celebration. Source: Getty

It said officers were advised the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence.

“Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car,” it continued. 

“He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. 

"Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.

“No officers were injured in the incident,” the statement added.

Original George Floyd death report 'hits hard'

Hours after the statement was released, videos began appearing online that offered a more complete picture of what took place. 

In particular, the footage seemed to show the “medical distress” the deceased man suffered had been caused by Derek Chauvin, who could be seen pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck.

As prosecutors argued, the nine minutes and 29 seconds he pressed his knee on Mr Floyd's neck amounted to murder.

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Sharing the initial report, CNN anchor Jake Tapper urged people to re-read the initial statement. 

"Seriously, read it again knowing what we know," he tweeted.

Political scientist and author Ian Bremmer also shared the statement, writing: "The original Minneapolis police report of the George Floyd killing hits hard".

"This would still be the story if not for the video," one user commented – a sentiment expressed by many online.

"This is so disturbing to re-read," noted Brian Klaas, Associate Professor in Global Politics at University College of London.

In an interview with the local Star Tribune newspaper in June last year, the police spokesperson who penned the statement defended the initial police characterisation of the fatal incident.

“We try very hard to get information out as quickly as possible that is wholly honest and correct. There is no way I’m going to lie about a situation that is on body camera and is going to prove this department to be disingenuous,” he said. 

People celebrate in the streets of Minneapolis after hearing the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. Source: Getty
People celebrate in the streets of Minneapolis after hearing the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. Source: Getty

Chauvin verdict a 'massive' moment for police accountability 

Jack Rice, a criminal defence lawyer in Minnesota, said the trial's outcome was by no means certain.

Speaking to ABC radio on Wednesday morning, shortly after the verdict was handed down, he called it "massive" for the issue of police brutality in the United States.

"It's massive because there's 400 years of experience in this country where police officers have been able to operate like this with abandon," he said.

"Frequently we saw an ability for the police to simply deny outright and these cases would never be brought forward. 

"What makes this case different ... is the fact that there was a video taped of somebody there ... That makes the difference," he said. 

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