police brutality
October 7, 2020

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd's killing, was released from prison Wednesday on a $1 million conditional bond.

Chauvin was fired from the force and later charged with second-degree murder after he kneeled on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes. He was held in a state prison, but posted a non-cash $1 million bond to be released with conditions Wednesday, CBS Minnesota reports.

Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd's killing; prosecution records also showed Chauvin had several excessive force incidents before this one. Chauvin's bail was set at $1.25 million, but he could be released for $1 million if he agreed not to contact Floyd's family or work in law enforcement or security again. His lawyers have pointed to Floyd's "significant conditions" like heart disease and a bout with COVID-19, as well as fentanyl and methamphetamine in his body to explain his death, which the county medical examiner has disputed. Chauvin been held in the Oak Park Heights state prison for the past few months as he awaited his trial for Floyd's murder, which will begin in March.

Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng, the other officers who helped Chauvin hold Floyd down or stood by as he did, were charged with aiding and abetting murder. Kathryn Krawczyk

September 16, 2020

The Rochester, New York, police department seemingly tried to make itself look better after one of its officers killed a Black man in March.

Daniel Prude, a 41-year-old Black man, died by asphyxiation in March after Rochester police put a "spit hood" on his head and held him against the pavement; Prude was experiencing a mental heath incident. Information about the killing sparked nonstop protests when it became public in early September, but as documents the city released Monday show, that's exactly what police leaders were trying to avoid.

While Prude died in March, his case remained under wraps in early June as protests began against the death of George Floyd and other police killings of Black people. But then-Deputy Police Chief Mark Simmons was still worried about how Prude's death would be received in that climate. "I am very concerned about releasing this prematurely," he wrote in an email to then-Police Chief La'Ron Singletary. "We certainly do not want people to misinterpret the officers' actions and conflate this incident with any recent killings of unarmed Black men by law enforcement nationally. That would simply be a false narrative, and could create animosity and potentially violent blowback in this community as a result." Singletary wrote back quickly: "I totally agree."

The police report on Prude's killing also seemed to be manipulated to push the narrative in the police's favor. While Prude was originally listed as an "individual" on the police report describing the "victim," another officer circled that mark in red pen and wrote "make him a suspect."

Singletary resigned last week, calling claims he'd mishandled Prude's death an "attempt to destroy my character and integrity." Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren (D) fired Singletary on Monday before he was set to depart, in part citing these documents for her decision. Read more at The New York Times, and find Rochester's full release here. Kathryn Krawczyk

September 4, 2020

Rochester, New York, Mayor Lovely Warren suspended seven police officers Thursday for their involvement in the March death of Daniel Prude, a Black man with mental health problems. The case received little attention until Wednesday, when Prude's family showed footage from police body cameras obtained through public records requests. The video shows police putting a spit bag over Prude's head after he's handcuffed, then holding his face to the ground for two minutes, until he became unresponsive. Police, responding to a call from Prude's brother, found him running naked in the street.

Prude died after his family took him off life support, seven days after police held him to the ground with the bag over his head. The Monroe County Office of the Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide caused by "complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint," with excited delirium and acute PCP intoxication as contributing factors. Prude's brother compared it to a "lynching."

Warren said she was unaware that police had been involved in Prude's death until Aug. 4, saying Police Chief La'Ron Singletary had portrayed it as a drug overdose. Prude "was failed by the police department, our mental health-care system, our society, and he was failed by me," Warren said, also blaming "institutional and structural racism." She said she had suspended the officers with pay because of contract rules and suggested the police union might file suit anyway. "I understand that the union may sue the city for this. They shall feel free to do so."

Protesters gathered for a second night outside the police headquarters in Rochester, and the Rochester police again responded with tear gas and less-lethal pellets. New York Attorney General Leticia James said her office has been investigating Prude's death, and Singletary said his department is undertaking a related criminal and internal investigation of Prude's death. Peter Weber

August 25, 2020

Julia Jackson, the mother of Jacob Blake, made an emotional plea to all Americans on Tuesday, just two days after her son was shot by police while getting into his SUV where his children were sitting inside in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The shooting reignited protests against police brutality across the country.

Jackson asked everyone to "take a moment and examine your hearts" and ultimately, together, "show the rest of the world how humans are supposed to treat each other."

She also encouraged unity, warning that a "house that is against each other cannot stand."

Blake, who was shot in the back eight times, remains hospitalized. His family's attorney, Ben Crump, said it will "take a miracle for" Blake to walk again. The bullets severed Blake's spinal cord and shattered some of his vertebrae, Crump said. Blake is reportedly in surgery and still fighting for his life. Tim O'Donnell

June 17, 2020

Garrett Rolfe, the former Atlanta police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks in a Wendy's parking lot Friday evening, has been charged with felony murder and 10 other offenses, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard Jr. said Wednesday.

Brooks, a 27-year-old man black man, was asleep in his car when Rolfe and another officer, Devin Brosnan, had him take a sobriety test. A scuffle ensued, and police said Brooks grabbed one of the officer's nonlethal tasers before running away when Rolfe drew his weapon and fired, shooting him twice in the back, allegedly declaring "I got him." Prosecutors also said Brooks "never presented himself as a threat" and that Rolfe kicked him after the shooting, an action Howard said suggests Rolfe wasn't fearful of Brooks.

Brosnan, meanwhile, has been charged on three counts, including aggravated assault and violations of oath for stepping on Brooks' shoulders while he was on the ground and failing to render aid. He has agreed to testify against Rolfe, prosecutors said. Read more at The New York Times and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Tim O'Donnell

June 13, 2020

Not too long ago, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields drew praise after a video showing her listening attentively to protesters surfaced. But Shields has now resigned, the city's Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Saturday, following the news that an Atlanta police officer fatally shot a 27-year-old black man identified as Rayshard Brooks, who was parked and asleep at a Wendy's drive-thru Friday night.

After Brooks failed a sobriety test, a cellphone video purportedly shows him struggling with two officers in the parking lot before grabbing one of their tasers. A Wendy's surveillance video shows Brooks then running away from the officers, stopping, and apparently pointing the stun gun at one of the pursuing officers, who drew his weapon, fired, and killed him.

Multiple police officers in Atlanta have been suspended, fired, and charged in recent weeks for using excessive force amid protests against police brutality. "What has become abundantly clear over the last couple of weeks in Atlanta is that while we have a police force full of men and women who work alongside our communities with honor, respect, and dignity, there has been a disconnect with what our expectations are and should be, as it relates to interactions with our officers and the communities in which they are entrusted to protect," Bottoms said at a Saturday evening news conference, adding that she didn't consider Friday's shooting "a justified use of deadly force."

Shields will reportedly move to another role in the department. Read more at The Washington Post and ABC News. Tim O'Donnell

June 1, 2020

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced on Sunday that she ordered the firings of two police officers who were involved in the arrest of two African Americans on Saturday night, saying body camera footage shows they clearly used excessive force.

Bottoms said she shared the news "because that is what you will see happen each and every day with the city of Atlanta going forward. Our attitudes toward how we not only police our communities, but how we respond to policing our communities, has to change." Bottoms said while she understands how hard officers are working, and that they are clocking long hours, there is never any excuse for excessive force.

The incident involved Teniyah Pilgrom, a 20-year-old Spelman College student, and Messiah Young, a 22-year-old former Morehouse College student. Officers approached their car because they were out after the citywide curfew, and ordered them to get out of the vehicle. Body camera footage shows one officer yelling at the driver, using a baton to hit their window before smashing it. The officer then used a taser on the driver, while a second officer tased the passenger, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports.

Initially, police officials said the car was impeding traffic, and claimed Young and Pilgrom reached for a gun, but no weapon was recovered from the scene. Both have been released from custody, and charges will not be filed against them. Three other officers involved in the incident have been reassigned to desk duty, pending an investigation.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told the Journal-Constitution his office is working with Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields and "moving rapidly to reach an appropriate charging decision" regarding the officers' conduct. Catherine Garcia

March 5, 2019

Two days after Sacramento District Attorney Anne-Marie Schubert announced that her office would not file criminal charges against two Sacramento police officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark, an unarmed 22-year-old black man, demonstrators took to the streets of the California capitol in protest on Monday evening. By the end of the night, police had made a total of 84 arrests.

NPR reported that Monday night's protests differ from previous demonstrations, in two different, but perhaps related, ways. In the past, police have kept arrest numbers low — for instance, last year following Clark's shooting, only a handful of protesters were arrested for shutting down Interstate 5 and blocking people from driving to the Sacramento Kings game. But that took place downtown. Monday night's protest "was the first to take place in a wealthier, predominantly white part of the city," writes NPR.

Among those detained were Pastor Les Simmons, a "prominent figure" in the Clark saga per NPR, and a reporter for The Sacramento Bee.

Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg tweeted that he was "disappointed" by the way the protest ended, but only specifically mentioned that "no member of the press should be detained for doing their job." The mayor said he is withholding further comment until he receives answers to "critical questions" about the night's events. Tim O'Donnell

See More Speed Reads