Medical examiner rules George Floyd’s death a homicide

A Minnesota medical examiner on Monday classified George Floyd’s death as a homicide, saying the Minneapolis man’s heart stopped as police restrained him and suppressed his neck, in a widely seen video that has sparked protests across the country.

“Decedent experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s),” the report by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner read.

Under “other significant conditions,” the medical examiner wrote that Floyd suffered from heart disease and hypertension and listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use.

A Minneapolis police officer has been charged with third-degree murder in Floyd’s death. Bystander video showed the officer, Derek Chauvin, pinning down Floyd with a knee on Floyd’s neck despite the man’s cries that he couldn’t breathe. He eventually stopped moving.

A separate autopsy commissioned for Floyd’s family found that he died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression, the family’s attorneys said Monday.

The autopsy found the compression cut off blood to Floyd’s brain, and that the pressure of other officers’ knees on his back made it impossible for him to breathe, attorney Ben Crump said. He called for the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin to be upgraded to first-degree murder and for the three other officers to be charged.

The family’s autopsy differs from the official autopsy as described in a criminal complaint against the officer. That autopsy included the effects of being restrained, along with underlying health issues and potential intoxicants in Floyd’s system, but also said it found nothing “to support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.” The family’s autopsy found no evidence of heart disease and concluded he had been healthy.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who was in handcuffs at the time, died after Chauvin, who is white, ignored bystander shouts to get off him and Floyd’s cries that he couldn’t breathe. His death sparked days of protests in Minneapolis and around the U.S.

The official autopsy last week provided no details about intoxicants.

Curfews extended

New York imposed an 11 p.m. ET curfew Monday as the nation’s biggest city tried to head off another night of destruction erupting amid protests over Floyd’s death. New York is joining other cities around the country in imposing such measures after days of violence.

Washington, D.C. has extended its curfew for another night. It went into effect at 7 p.m., and police used tear gas and rushed crowds of peaceful protesters near the White House to clear the way for U.S. President Donald Trump to walk to a nearby church for a photo opportunity. Once Trump was back at the White House, the peaceful gathering resumed, and people marched on the National Mall and D.C. streets. Police made no further move to clear them, despite the curfew. 

Police clear the area around Lafayette Park and the White House as demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd, Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington. (Alex Brandon/The Associated Press)

Prior to the brief walk, Trump said in a statement from the White House Rose Garden that he will deploy the military unless states move to end the protests. 

Police in Philadelphia fired non-lethal bullets and tear gas at hundreds of protesters who spilled onto an interstate highway in the heart of the city Monday, just before a 6 p.m. curfew took effect.

Seattle also imposed a third night of curfew, beginning at 6 p.m. local time. San Francisco said it would have a second night of curfew, beginning at 8 p.m. local time.

Brother pleads for peace

Earlier Monday, Floyd’s brother Terrence pleaded for peace in the streets, saying violence is “not going to bring my brother back at all,” as U.S. cities hoped another night of violence could be avoided with the country already buckling because of the coronavirus outbreak and the Depression-level unemployment it has caused.

The U.S. has been convulsed by angry demonstrations from coast to coast for the past week in some of the most widespread racial unrest in the U.S. since the 1960s. Spurred by the death of Floyd in Minneapolis, protesters have taken to the streets to decry the killings of black people by police.

Floyd made an emotional plea for peace at the site where his brother died.

“Let’s switch it up ya’ll. Let’s switch it up. Do this peacefully, please,” he said.

Terrence Floyd, brother of George Floyd, speaks Monday at the makeshift memorial in Minneapolis. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Wearing a face mask with the image of his brother’s face on it, Terrence Floyd spent several minutes of silence at the flowers and other memorials that have sprung up to his brother before speaking.

Floyd said his family is “a peaceful family. My family is God-fearing.” And he said, “in every case of police brutality the same thing has been happening. You have protests, you destroy stuff … so they want us to destroy ourselves. Let’s do this another way.”

The crowd chanted, “What’s his name? George Floyd” and “One down, three to go,” referring to the other three officers involved in the arrest. Protesters are demanding they be prosecuted, too. All four were fired.

The gathering was part rally and part impromptu eulogy as Floyd urged people to stop the violence and use their power at the ballot box to vote.

WATCH | Minneapolis community organizer talks about how to achieve real change through protests:

CBC News Network’s Michael Serapio speaks with Mike Griffin, a community organizer in Minneapolis. 6:14

‘Small number’ of protesters violent

While most of the demonstrations have been peaceful, others have descended into violence, leaving neighbourhoods in shambles, stores ransacked and cars burned, despite curfews around the country and the deployment of thousands of National Guard members in at least 15 states.

Even as police in some places tried to calm tensions by kneeling or marching in solidarity, officers elsewhere were accused of the very type of harsh treatment at the heart of the unrest.

In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., an officer was suspended for pushing a kneeling woman to the ground during a protest. In Atlanta, two officers were fired after bashing in the window of a car and using a stun gun on the occupants. In Los Angeles, a police SUV accelerated into several protesters, knocking two people to the ground.

In New York, the police commissioner said about six incidents were being investigated by the department’s internal affairs bureau, including a weekend confrontation in Brooklyn in which two police vehicles appeared to plow through a group of protesters. In another incident, an officer pointed a gun at protesters, drawing condemnation from the mayor.

WATCH: Keith Mayes on what it could take to stop the violent protests:

Ian Hanomansing talks to Keith Mayes, a professor at the department of African American and African studies at the University of Minnesota, about race relations in the Minneapolis–St. Paul area and what it could take to stop the violent protests. 2:04

Around the country, political leaders Monday girded for the possibility of more of what unfolded over the weekend: protesters hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at police in Philadelphia, setting a fire near the White House and smashing their way into Los Angeles stores, running off with as much as they could carry.

Terrence Floyd, brother of George Floyd, sat several minutes at the makeshift memorial outside the store where he was arrested and later pinned to the ground. Outside of camera view, hundreds kneeled down in silence. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

At least 5,600 people have been arrested for offences such as stealing, blocking highways and breaking curfew, according to a tally compiled by AP journalists from police department news releases, police agency Twitter activity and media reports. In Minneapolis, where Floyd died, some 155 arrests have taken place. Some of the biggest cities in the U.S. have also made a significant number of arrests, including nearly 800 in New York City and more than 900 in Los Angeles.

But officers around the country were also accused of treating protesters with the same kind of heavy-handed tactics that contributed to the unrest in the first place.

Cities struggled to keep police in line.

Police officers and National Guard soldiers enforcing a curfew in Louisville, Ky., killed a man early Monday when they returned fire after someone in a large group shot at them, police said. By Monday afternoon, the city’s police chief was fired, after the mayor learned that officers involved in a shooting that killed the popular owner of a barbecue spot failed to activate body cameras during the chaotic scene.

The U.S. attorney said federal authorities will join state police in investigating the fatal shooting.

In Indianapolis, two people were reported dead in bursts of downtown violence over the weekend, adding to deaths recorded in Detroit and Minneapolis.

Former vice-president Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, wrote a post online expressing empathy for those despairing about Floyd’s killing. On Monday, he met with community leaders at a black church in his hometown of Wilmington, Del.

“The vice-president came to hear from us. This is a homeboy,” said Sylvester Beaman, pastor of the Bethel AME church.

Trump told the nation’s governors in a video conference that they “look like fools” for not deploying even more National Guard members. “Most of you are weak,” he said.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, rejected Trump’s call for the use of force. He said he told Trump during the meeting: “No one is laughing here. We’re in pain. We’re crying.”

WATCH l Moments of panic as truck drives into crowd in Minneapolis:

Protesters demonstrating against the death of George Floyd flee as a truck drives through a crowd on a Minneapolis highway 1:10

Meanwhile, Walz said separately Monday that it appeared the driver of a semitrailer who rolled into the midst of thousands of people who had gathered on a closed Minneapolis freeway on Sunday was confused and didn’t mean to injure anyone.

Walz said Monday he was “breathless” as he watched the scene unfold and he thought he was going to see “dozens or hundreds” of people killed. But he said preliminary information suggests the driver somehow got ahead of traffic officials as they were closing the freeway down in sections. He noted the driver braked as he rolled past protesters.

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