The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has said they are waiting for the results of post-mortem investigations into several other people who died at the hospital recently.
An OPP spokesperson has described the deaths as “potentially suspicious.”
The OPP has not confirmed whether Poidinger was one of Nadler’s patients nor whether he has links to other patients.
However, sources familiar with the investigation have confirmed a report in the Ottawa Citizen that police are looking at at least five COVID-19 patients who died at the hospital between March 17 and 25. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
Nadler, 35, was arrested at the hospital last week. Those same sources told CBC News police were responding to a call that day from a whistleblower at the hospital.
He appeared in court remotely on Friday.
Nadler’s lawyer, Alan Brass, says his client maintains his innocence.
On Thursday, prior to Nadler’s arrest, the hospital reported a large outbreak of COVID-19, the second in just a week, involving 16 patients and five staff members testing positive, and five deaths.
The death toll contrasts with the number of COVID-19 fatalities reported by the United Counties of Prescott Russell — a region within the Eastern Ontario Health Unit — which reported a single death in January, and two in February.
Nadler had just begun working at the hospital in 2020, and was under a restricted licence, which meant he remained under the supervision of another doctor for a year until Feb. 3, 2021, CBC News has learned.
According to the terms of the restriction, the supervising doctor was expected to inform the college “of any concerns regarding Dr. Nadler’s knowledge, skill, judgment or attitude.”
The college says it will not provide details about the licence restriction, adding in a statement to CBC: “There are a number of circumstances in which the College might require a clinical supervisor. Considerations would include a physician’s education and training, practice history including in other jurisdictions, and whether the physician has been in continuous practice or has not practiced for an extended period of time.”
For nine minutes and 29 seconds, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, crushed his knee into the neck and back of George Floyd, an application of unreasonable force that led to the death of the 46-year-old Black man in May last year.
Or, the 19-year veteran police officer did exactly as he had been trained to do, and Floyd’s death was the result of a combination of underlying medical conditions and toxic drugs in his system.
These were the competing narratives laid out by the prosecution and defence, respectively, in their opening statements at the Chauvin’s murder trial in Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis Monday.
Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, sparked a series of protests around the world against police brutality and racial injustice.
Chauvin, 45, faces two murder charges: second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder. Chauvin is also charged with the lesser offence of second-degree manslaughter.
WATCH | Prosecution lays out case against Derek Chauvin:
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell outlined the state of Minnesota’s case against the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd. 0:59
Prosecution focuses on use of force
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell wasted little time showing jurors the graphic bystander video footage of Chauvin, with his knee pressed into Floyd’s neck and back while Floyd shouted that he was in pain and could not breathe, until he eventually went motionless.
“He put his knees upon his neck and his back, grinding and crushing him, until the very breath — no, ladies and gentlemen — until the very life, was squeezed out of him,” Blackwell said.
Blackwell went through the nine minutes and 29 seconds that he said Chauvin had Floyd pinned to the ground, pointing out the former officer’s actions.
Chauvin “didn’t let up,” he told the court. “He didn’t get up,” even after Floyd, who was handcuffed on the ground, said 27 times that he couldn’t breathe, Blackwell said.
Indeed, for half of that time, while Floyd was either breathless or unconscious, Chauvin continued to apply pressure to Floyd, the prosecutor said.
Nor did Chauvin release Floyd, Blackwell said, when a paramedic arrived on the scene and checked Floyd’s pulse.
It was only when paramedics wanted to “move the lifeless body of George Floyd onto the gurney” that Chauvin released his hold on Floyd, Blackwell said. Floyd was pronounced dead in hospital later that night.
‘Check his pulse’
Blackwell said witnesses will also include bystanders who “called the police on police.” The prosecutor drew the jury’s attention to part of the video showing angry bystanders yelling at the officers.
One of those people was Donald Williams. He was one of three witnesses to testify Monday at the trial. Williams can be heard on the video yelling, “Check his pulse, check his pulse” to another officer at the scene.
Williams told the court he was trained in mixed martial arts, including choke holds and testified that Chauvin appeared to increase the pressure on Floyd’s neck several times with a shimmying motion.
Williams recalled that Floyd’s voice grew thicker as his breathing became more laboured, and he eventually stopped moving. He said he saw Floyd’s eyes roll back in his head, likening the sight to fish he had caught earlier that day.
Williams said he saw Floyd “slowly fade away … like the fish in the bag.”
Dispatcher called sergeant about arrest
The trial also heard from Minneapolis police dispatcher Jena Scurry, who testified that she saw part of Floyd’s arrest unfolding via a city surveillance camera and was so disturbed that she called a duty sergeant.
Scurry said she grew concerned because the officers hadn’t moved after several minutes.
“You can call me a snitch if you want to,” Scurry said in her call to the sergeant, which was played in court.
She told the court Monday that she wouldn’t normally call the sergeant about the use of force because it was beyond the scope of her duties, but “my instincts were telling me that something is wrong.”
In his opening statement, Blackwell said that among the other witnesses scheduled, court will hear from one bystander and a fire department employee trained in first aid who wanted to check Floyd’s pulse but was warned off by Chauvin, who reached for his mace and pointed it in her direction.
In the coming days of the trial, Blackwell said the jury will also hear from use of force experts, including one who will testify Chauvin’s use of force was “capable of killing a human or putting his or her life in danger.”
WATCH | Chauvin’s lawyer gives overview of defence:
Attorney Eric Nelson presented his defence of the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd. 1:00
Defence cites Floyd’s strength, health conditions
But Eric J. Nelson, Chauvin’s lead defence counsel, told the jury that the “evidence is far greater than nine minutes and 29 seconds.”
Floyd was resisting arrest, and Chauvin arrived to assist other officers who were struggling to get Floyd into a squad car, Nelson said.
Three officers couldn’t overcome the strength of Floyd, he said.
“You will learn that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over the course of his 19-year career,” Nelson said.
“The use of force is not attractive, but it is a necessary component of policing.”
Nelson said it was Floyd’s underlying health conditions, including a “compromised heart,” in combination with the fentanyl and methamphetamine he had ingested and the adrenaline flowing through his body that caused his death.
Floyd’s friends, family gather outside court
Before opening statements began, Floyd’s friends and family gathered outside the courthouse entrance, kneeling for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time that it had initially been reported Chauvin had forced his knee into Floyd.
“If we can’t get justice for a Black man here in America, we will get justice everywhere else in America,” said Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother. “This is the starting point. This is not a finishing point.”
WATCH | George Floyd’s brother demands justice:
Philonise Floyd says his family will get justice as former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin goes on trial in the death of his brother, George Floyd 1:29
Floyd family attorney Ben Crump said for all those people who continue to say that the murder trial is a difficult one, “we refute that.”
“We know that if George Floyd was a white American citizen, and he suffered this painful, tortuous death with a police officer’s knee on his neck, nobody, nobody, would be saying this is a hard case,” Crump said.
As Susan Conway waited for her daughter to be treated at Hawkesbury and District General Hospital, she expressed more concern about safety over the recent COVID-19 outbreaks than news that a doctor has been charged with first-degree murder.
But while the arrest this week of Dr. Brian Nadler won’t deter Conway or her family from using the hospital, she also told CBC News on Saturday that the murder charge revelation has certainly rocked the small community of Hawkesbury, which is located between Ottawa and Montreal, and the surrounding area.
“The community is learning about this, and everyone is in shock and disbelief,” said Conway, who worked 15 years as an OPP dispatcher. “You don’t think about this [happening] in this close-knit town.
“Just horrible, just horrible. And I feel for the family of this poor soul who has been taken.”
WATCH |Hawkesbury residents react to doctor’s murder charge:
Residents say the town is small and most people know everyone so the news comes as a shock. 0:38
Residents of the town, which has a population of about 10,000, say they’re stunned by the arrest and word that Ontario Provincial Police are still investigating multiple “suspicious deaths” at the hospital.
It’s kind of like a cultural shock to hear these things happen here, too.– Elian Renaud, Hawkesbury resident
But most of those interviewed by CBC News also said they’ll continue to use the hospital — a bilingual, 100-bed facility with a range of programs and services from its main campus in Hawkesbury, and two satellite centres in Clarence-Rockland and Casselman.
Nadler, a specialist in internal medicine, was arrested Thursday evening. The 35-year-old, who lives in Dollard-Des-Ormeaux, Que., appeared in court on Friday and was charged with one count of first-degree murder. As of early Sunday, police hadn’t provided details about the deceased person or how many deaths they’re investigating.
“Its complete crazy, for a small town,” said resident Suzie Lalonde. “Everybody talking about it.”
Elian Renaud said these are the kind of stories you hear coming out of big cities like Ottawa, Montreal or Toronto.
“You’re from a small town, everyone here knows each other and nothing ever happens in this town, crazy like that,” he said. “It’s kind of like a cultural shock to hear these things happen here, too.”
2 COVID-19 outbreaks
The murder case is another black mark this month for the hospital, which was also hit by two COVID-19 outbreaks.
Earlier this week, the hospital confirmed 16 patients and five staff had tested positive for COVID-19, and five deaths have been linked to the virus.
Conway, who has lived in the area all her life, said the redevelopment of the hospital and how it’s been “built up all brand new,” along with the addition of more specialists, have been “wonderful for the whole community.”
But now, local officials are being forced to focus on the arrest of one of its doctors and assuage fears.
On Friday, Hawkesbury Mayor Paula Assaly asked people to remain calm and not be afraid to seek care at the hospital.
The next day, OPP spokesperson Bill Dickson told CBC News that, for the people of Hawkesbury, “this is a traumatic experience for everyone.”
WATCH |OPP spokesperson speaks on how the murder investigation is affecting families:
OPP spokesperson Bill Dickson answers questions about investigation into suspicious deaths at Hawkesbury and District General Hospital. 0:37
Retiree Ana Lecuyer had recently been transferred to the Hawkesbury hospital for her three-times-a-week dialysis treatment, a welcome development that meant she no longer had to make the hour-plus trek to Ottawa.
She has nothing but praise for the facility, but the murder charge has left her shaken.
I’m stressed out. It bothers me a lot.– Ana Lecuyer, on learning about police investigation
“I didn’t want to come back to the hospital,” she said. “I’m stressed out. It bothers me a lot.”
Carole Gocmanac, however, says she has complete confidence in the safety of her former mother-in-law, who is 99 and currently in the Hawkesbury hospital.
“Her family’s always there,” said Gocmanac, who praised the hospital, and its staff and cleanliness.
Guylaine Lafrance also expressed support for the hospital, but raised concerns over its due diligence in checking the work history, or “the priors,” of doctors.
During Nadler’s residency at the University of Saskatchewan’s medical school from July 2014 to September 2018, he faced two unprofessional conduct charges, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan has said.
Documents show one charge was for allegedly calling a female colleague a “bitch” after an argument and telling someone else he “felt like slapping” that colleague. Another charge involved patient record-keeping. But the college didn’t pursue the charges after Nadler apologized and took a couple of courses.
Chris Bennett, who also was a patient at the Hawkesbury hospital, suggested it’s too early to determine whether officials there should have done a more thorough background check on the doctor.
“You can maybe understand the need for doctors,” he said. “They’re not going to turn away anybody if it’s something that was minor there.”
A doctor has been charged with first-degree murder as police investigate multiple suspicious deaths at the eastern Ontario hospital where he works, CBC News has learned.
Ontario Provincial Police were called to the Hawkesbury and District General Hospital, which is between Ottawa and Montreal, on Thursday evening, police said in a news release.
At a court appearance on Friday, Brian Nadler, 35, who lives in the western Montreal suburb of Dollard-Des-Ormeaux, was charged with one count of first-degree murder.
“Dr. Nadler maintains his innocence and the charges will be rigorously defended,” Ottawa defence lawyer Alan Brass told CBC News.
His next court appearance is scheduled for April 6.
Police didn’t say how long the investigation has been going on or how many deaths are being investigated. Ontario’s Office of the Chief Coroner is involved, it confirmed in an email.
“At this point in time, while we don’t know exactly how big this investigation will be, we are looking at other suspicious deaths that have occurred recently at the Hawkesbury hospital,” said OPP spokesperson Bill Dickson.
“Whether it proves that they are indeed something criminal or not, we will have to wait and see.”
He encouraged anyone with information to contact the local detachment.
“We promise we’ll conduct a complete and thorough investigation that you deserve to make sure that you in the Hawkesbury area and everyone else gets the answers,” Dickson said.
The hospital said in a statement that all patient services are being maintained and all appointments are being kept.
“We want to reassure our patients, their families and the entire community that the hospital campus is a safe place,” it said in its message released in French.
The hospital said it is working with police and is in touch with the families that have been affected. It’s also offering counselling and other services to its staff.
The hospital has also been dealing with two active COVID-19 outbreaks.
Doctor has Saskatchewan ties
Nadler has been licensed in Ontario since Feb. 4, 2020. He graduated from Montreal’s McGill University in 2010.
He was a resident at the University of Saskatchewan’s medical school from July 2014 to September 2018, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan told CBC in an email.
During that time, he faced two unprofessional conduct charges, the college said.
Documents show one charge was for allegedly calling a female colleague a “bitch” after an argument and telling someone else he “felt like slapping” that colleague. Another charge involved patient record-keeping.
The incidents linked to both charges allegedly occurred the same day in August 2014.
The college said he apologized and took a pair of courses about ethics and record-keeping. It did not proceed any further with the charges.
WATCH | Hawkesbury mayor urges calm:
Paula Assaly, mayor of Hawkesbury, says the Hawkesbury and District General Hospital remains open as provincial police investigate several suspicious deaths there. Police have charged a doctor with one count of first-degree murder. 0:30
The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons, which regulates and investigates doctors, said in a statement it will immediately look into “these extraordinarily disturbing allegations.”
Mayor Paula Assaly asked people to remain calm and not be afraid of seeking care at Hawkesbury and District General Hospital.
The UN human rights office said on Wednesday it confirmed the accuracy of published remarks by the independent expert who led an investigation into the murder of Jamal Khashoggi alleging that a senior Saudi official had made a threat against her.
The Guardian newspaper on Tuesday quoted Agnes Callamard, UN expert on summary killings, as saying a Saudi official had threatened she would be “taken care of” if she was not reined in following her investigation into the journalist’s murder.
Saudi officials did not respond to a request for comment. Callamard did not respond when contacted by Reuters.
“We confirm that the details in the Guardian story about the threat aimed at Agnes Callamard are accurate,” UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said in an email reply to Reuters.
The UN human rights office had informed Callamard about the threat as well as UN security and authorities, he added.
Reported threat conveyed in Geneva
Callamard told the Guardian the threat was conveyed in a January 2020 meeting between Saudi and UN officials in Geneva. She said she was told of the incident by a UN colleague, the newspaper reported.
Callamard led a UN investigation into the October 2018 killing of Khashoggi by Saudi agents at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate. She issued a report in 2019 concluding there was “credible evidence” that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and senior Saudi officials were responsible for killing the Washington Post journalist and U.S. resident.
She subsequently called for sanctions against Prince Mohammed’s assets.
The prince denies any involvement in the killing but has said he bears ultimate responsibility because it happened under his watch.
Understood as ‘a death threat’
The alleged threat was made during a meeting between Geneva-based Saudi diplomats, a visiting Saudi delegation and UN officials, the Guardian reported. After the Saudi side criticized Callamard’s work in the case, the newspaper reported, one senior Saudi official said he had spoken to people prepared to “take care of her.”
“A death threat. That was how it was understood,” Callamard was cited as saying. “People that were present, and also subsequently, made it clear to the Saudi delegation that this was absolutely inappropriate.”
WATCH | U.S. intelligence report released:
A now-unclassified U.S. intelligence report blames Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for approving the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul in 2018. The Biden administration says that’s unacceptable and won’t be tolerated, signalling a shift in the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. 1:52
British police have charged an officer with the kidnap and murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, whose disappearance in London last week has sparked anger and fears among women about their safety.
Constable Wayne Couzens, 48, who guarded diplomatic buildings, will appear in court on Saturday. Everard disappeared while walking home from a friend’s house in south London on March 3.
The Metropolitan police had confirmed that a body found in a wood outside London was that of the missing woman.
Her case has led to an outpouring of personal accounts by women of their own experiences and fears of walking streets alone at night, and a campaign for action to address this.
“The investigation continues of course,” Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave told reporters. “I would like to use this opportunity to encourage anyone that thinks they might have useful information to give, to get in contact with us.”
He had said earlier in the day that he understood the hurt and anger sparked by the case.
“Those are sentiments that I share personally,” Ephgrave said. “I also recognize the wider concerns that are being raised quite rightly about the safety of women in public spaces in London and also elsewhere in the country.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said she would do all she could to protect women and girls following the outcry that has followed Everard’s disappearance.
“Every woman & girl should be free to walk our streets without the slightest fear of harassment, abuse or violence,” she said on Twitter.
However, police have been criticized by organizers of a planned “Reclaim These Streets” vigil on Saturday near to where Everard was last seen, after officers said it could not take place due to COVID-19 restrictions.
A woman in her 30s, who media said was the partner of Couzens, was released on police bail after having been detained on suspicion of assisting an offender.
Bishop Richard Howell Jr. thundered from his North Minneapolis pulpit Sunday that the city “is under great stress right now” as the George Floyd murder trial tests how much, if anything, will change in the U.S. almost 10 months after the killing sparked global outrage.
Jury selection for the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, whose knee pressing on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes was captured on graphic video last May, is expected to get underway Monday.
“This officer coldly refused to respond to his plea and kept his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck, snuffing the very life out of him,” preached Howell as his congregants shouted out their acknowledgement.
“A senseless, cold, hideous act of hate, bigotry and brutality,” said Howell, who is opening his church to those who may struggle watching the live-streamed trial.
WATCH | Security high in advance of trial in George Floyd’s killing:
Emotions are high and security is heavy as the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is slated to begin. The killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, touched off numerous protests and an ongoing racial reckoning. 3:37
Benjamin Crump, the Floyd family’s lawyer, told CBC News that the upcoming case is “one of the most important civil rights cases in the last 100 years. It is the Emmett Till of today.”
Till, a 14-year-old Black teenager, was brutally murdered in Mississippi in 1955 after allegedly flirting with a white woman in a grocery store. His killers were swiftly acquitted.
“Mississippi or Minnesota, I don’t see much difference,” Deborah Watts, one of Till’s cousins, said at a Minneapolis news conference on Friday surrounded by dozens of families whose relatives have been shot or killed by police. “Emmett Till was murdered in August 1955, and we are still fighting for justice.
“Something is wrong with that … we have not made much progress.”
Last summer, millions of people protested across the U.S. against Floyd’s killing in scenes not witnessed since the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Protests against racial injustice and police brutality spread to Canada and many cities internationally.
WATCH | Lawyer for George Floyd’s family discusses upcoming trial:
Benjamin Crump tells CBC’s Susan Ormiston that if the officer’s involved in George Floyd’s killing aren’t convicted, it would be ‘one of the worst miscarriages of justice’ in U.S. history. 1:59
Crump said the video of Floyd — handcuffed, face down on the pavement, gasping for breath — is “ocular proof” of a man being “tortured to death by the very people who are supposed to protect and defend.”
“The world had gotten used to seeing reality TV, but we were still shocked,” he told CBC News from his office in Tallahassee, Fla.
The criminal trial against Chauvin will be prosecuted by the state of Minnesota. While Crump is not directly involved in this case, its outcome will inevitably impact the family’s civil case against the city of Minneapolis and the four police officers involved in Floyd’s death.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, with the potential addition of a third-degree murder charge. Three other officers involved in Floyd’s death go on trial in August.
Increased security around courthouse
Cameras in the courtroom will capture the trial and live stream it for broadcast on some TV channels — a first for Minnesota. The trial is being compared to that of the Los Angeles police officers who were acquitted in the beating of Rodney King 30 years ago, as well as the O.J. Simpson murder trial, which commanded large TV audiences.
“The killing of George Floyd by Officer Chauvin is akin for many Americans to some type of public lynching, the likes of which we haven’t seen for decades,” said Kami Chavis, a law professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.
“I don’t want people to underestimate the power and the importance of this case and what might happen,” she said. “It’s a huge signal, I think, to law enforcement about what they can and can’t do.”
The Hennepin County courthouse in Minneapolis is now surrounded by three rings of cement barriers, three-metre high fencing and concertina wire. The state has allocated $ 36 million US to security and has activated the Minnesota National Guard. Staff in the building, which includes the county government office, have been told to stay home.
The courtroom has been modified to accommodate physical distancing due to COVID-19, restricting the number of people allowed inside. One person per family, four each for the defence and prosecution teams and two media members are allowed in at a time. Masks are mandatory, but cannot have anything written on them.
Challenges in selecting a jury
Three weeks have been allotted to jury selection as lawyers try to screen potential jurors for bias, a complicated task in such a highly publicized case.
Activists in Minneapolis say Chauvin is the fourth police officer to be prosecuted in the death of a citizen in Minnesota. Two were acquitted, while one other was convicted in the death of a white woman.
“For the most part, officers are pretty sympathetic figures in a lot of these cases. And juries give a great deal of deference to what police officers do. So that will be a challenge as well,” Chavis said.
One of those acquittals involved the death of Philando Castile, who was shot and killed by police in July 2016 in a St. Paul suburb while stopped at a traffic light with his girlfriend and a four-year-old in the car. The officer, who was charged with second-degree manslaughter, was acquitted — but fired from the force.
Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, sent a message to legislators during Friday’s emotional news conference.
“We’re gonna have to be brutally honest about what’s going on in this country”, she said. “To the State of Minnesota: we are not going to shut up, we are not going to sit down, we are going to stand in unity and we’re going to bring it to you”.
‘Many other people were murdered before George Floyd’
The death of Floyd, who was originally from Texas, has propelled the fight against anti-Black racism and police brutality back into the forefront.. Artwork of the 46-year-old’s face has popped up on billboards, buildings and in museums, and his death has become a lightning rod for thousands of Black families whose relatives have been stopped, shot or killed by police in their communities.
“What happened after George Floyd’s death — the riots, the uproar — did not happen as a result of one man’s life. It happened because many other people were murdered before George Floyd. And nothing happened. Nothing changed”, Toshira Garraway, founder of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, told CBC News.
Garraway’s fiancé, Justin Teigen, died following a run-in with police 12 years ago. According to St. Paul police, Teigen was fleeing police and did not die in their custody.
A mural showing his face along with dozens of others, including Floyd’s, covers the side of a building in North Minneapolis. It serves as a visual reminder of the more than 400 people who’ve been killed in altercations with police in Minnesota in the last 20 years, according to the Communities United Against Police Brutality advocacy group.
“If George Floyd did something wrong, if all the rest of our loved ones did something wrong, [police] were to arrest them. Not take their lives, not destroy our lives,” Garraway said.
Crump said the Floyd family is “very, very anxious” and wants “a conviction to the fullest extent of the law.” He said anything less has the potential to unleash more unrest.
Violence and riots last summer in the days after Floyd’s killing burned blocks of the city, with damage estimated at $ 350 million US. Minneapolis is bracing against heightened tensions when the case goes to the jury, which is expected to happen late April or May.
“Historically in America, the police have not been held accountable for killing African Americans,” said Crump, who has taken on dozens of cases where Black men and women have been shot or injured by police.
“The George Floyd case will be a referendum on how far America has come in this quest for equal justice under the law.”
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved of an operation to capture or kill dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in 2018, according to a declassified U.S. intelligence assessment released on Friday.
Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who wrote opinion columns for the Washington Post critical of the crown prince’s policies, was killed and dismembered by a team of operatives linked to the crown prince in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
Riyadh has denied any involvement by the crown prince, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler.
“We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in the report.
“We base this assessment on the Crown Prince’s control of decision making in the Kingdom, the direct involvement of a key adviser and members of Muhammad bin Salman’s protective detail in the operation, and the Crown Prince’s support for using violent measures to silence dissidents abroad, including Khashoggi.”
Biden treading fine line by releasing report
In declassifying the report, U.S. President Joe Biden reversed his predecessor Donald Trump’s refusal to release it in defiance of a 2019 law, reflecting a new U.S. willingness to challenge the kingdom on issues from human rights to the war in Yemen.
The report was released in a manner choreographed to limit damage to U.S.-Saudi ties.
Biden is treading a fine line to preserve the country’s relationship with the kingdom as he seeks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with its regional rival Iran.
He also hopes to address other challenges, such as fighting Islamist extremism and advancing Arab-Israeli ties.
WATCH | U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on impact of report’s release:
Asked Thursday, ahead of the release of the declassified intelligence report into the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, how that report would influence Washington’s policy with Riyadh, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton that “Saudi Arabia remains an important partner for the United States on a whole host of issues.” 0:58
Washington choreographed events to soften the blow, with Biden on Thursday speaking with the crown prince’s 85-year-old father, King Salman, in a call in which both sides said they reaffirmed their decades-old alliance and pledged co-operation.
Within moments of the report’s release, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken imposed visa bans targeting 76 individuals from Saudi Arabia who have engaged in activities against dissidents.
U.S. officials earlier said the Biden administration is not expected to impose sanctions on the crown prince.
The declassified intelligence report, prepared by the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, echoed a classified version of a report on Khashoggi’s murder that Trump shared with members of Congress in late 2018.
Trump’s rejection of demands by lawmakers and human rights groups to release a declassified version at the time reflected a desire to preserve cooperation with Riyadh amid rising tensions with Iran and to promote U.S. arms sales to the kingdom.
Biden’s new director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, has committed to complying with a 2019 defence bill that required her office to release within 30 days a declassified report on Khashoggi’s murder.
After the report’s release, Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, tweeted a photograph of him with the hashtag #justiceforjamal.
Khashoggi, 59, was a Saudi journalist living in self-imposed exile in Virginia. He wrote opinion pieces for the Washington Post that were critical of the policies of the crown prince, known to some in the West as MbS.
He was lured on Oct. 2, 2018, to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul with a promise of a document that he needed to marry his Turkish fiancee. A team of operatives linked to MbS killed and dismembered him there. His remains have not been found.
Riyadh initially issued conflicting stories about his disappearance, but eventually admitted that Khashoggi was killed in what it called a “rogue” extradition operation gone wrong.
Twenty-one men were arrested in the killing and five senior officials were fired, including the deputy intelligence chief, Ahmad Asiri, and Saud al-Qahtani, a senior aide to the crown prince.
In January 2019, 11 people were put on trial behind closed doors. Five were given death sentences, which were commuted to 20 years in prison after they were forgiven by Khashoggi’s family, while three others were given jail terms.
Asiri was tried but acquitted “due to insufficient evidence,” the prosecution said, while Qahtani was investigated but not charged.
As part of Biden’s rebalancing of ties with Saudi Arabia, he will only communicate with King Salman, the White House has said. The move may allow Washington to put some distance between itself and the 35-year-old crown prince.
That will restore protocol broken by Trump and his son-in-law and top aide, Jared Kushner, who maintained a direct channel to the crown prince.
MbS has consolidated power since ousting his uncle as heir to the throne in a 2017 palace coup, seeking to win public support by overseeing popular economic and social reforms.
But he’s also had opponents and women’s rights activists detained and pursued risky foreign gambits, some of which backfired, like the intervention in Yemen, where a war between Saudi and Iranian proxies has created a humanitarian crisis.
The footage from body-worn cameras that was taken as Philadelphia police responded to a call about Walter Wallace Jr. shows him emerging from a house with a knife as relatives shout at officers about his mental health condition, a lawyer for the man’s family said Thursday.
The video also shows Wallace became incapacitated after the first shot of 14 that two officers fired at him, said lawyer Shaka Johnson, describing footage he said police showed him and other members of Wallace’s family before a plan to release it and 911 calls publicly.
“I understand he had a knife, but that does not give you carte blanche to execute a man, quite frankly,” Johnson told reporters at a news conference outside Philadelphia City Hall. “What other than death did you intend when you shoot a man — each officer — seven times apiece?”
The family does not want the officers, who have not yet been publicly identified, to be charged with murder, Johnson said, because they were improperly trained and didn’t have the right equipment to do their job.
The video shows “instant panic” from officers whose training taught them only how to open fire, he said, noting he saw no viable attempt from officers to de-escalate the situation.
“What you will not see is a man with a knife lunging at anyone that would qualify as a reason to assassinate him,” Johnson said.
Police also faced rebuke from Philadelphia leaders as the anguished city bemoaned the department’s response to a year of extraordinary, and sometimes violent, civil unrest.
The city council, joining leaders of other cities, voted to block police from using tear gas, rubber bullets or pepper spray on peaceful protesters after hearing hours of testimony from people injured or traumatized by them, including a group hit with tear gas as they were corralled near a highway overpass.
“It was undisciplined, it was indiscriminate and it hurt a lot of people,” said Council Member Helen Gym, who introduced the bill.
The moves follow days of protests, store break-ins and ATM thefts after the death of Wallace, a Black man, that led the mayor to lock down the city Wednesday night with an overnight curfew.
The family had called Monday for both medical services and police, but only the latter arrived, lawyer Shaka Johnson said. Less than 30 seconds into the encounter, Wallace was dead, felled by a blast of 14 bullets, he said.
Police have said the two officers fired after Wallace ignored orders to drop a knife. Wallace’s mother and wife were outside, shouting to police about his mental health problems, Johnson said.
In a news conference Wednesday, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw lamented the lack of a behavioural health unit in a department she joined only this year.
She pledged to address that need and also told the council that she supports the goal of their bill, which she said aligns with current police policy. Mayor Jim Kenney also supports the ban in principle but wants to review it before signing it into law, a spokesman said.
Cities review use of force against protesters
The city had a strong record of accommodating protesters in recent years, until the Black Lives Matter protests erupted in the city on May 30, following the death of George Floyd. Chaos and violent clashes ensued, and broke out anew this week after Wallace’s death in a mostly Black section of west Philadelphia.
“The unjustified shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. this week has our city both raging and grieving, but also extraordinarily purposeful about taking action,” Gym said.
Several other cities across the U.S. have debated or enacted similar measures to limit the use of chemical sprays and rubber bullets against protesters.
Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney William McSwain, who was appointed by U.S. President Donald Trump, announced charges Thursday against a Philadelphia social studies teacher and three others for their alleged roles in the torching of two police cruisers during the May 30 protests.
According to McSwain, 29-year-old teacher Anthony Smith and two others put “combustible materials” into a cruiser near City Hall that was already on fire. Another man was charged separately with setting fire to a second cruiser. Smith helped organize the Philadelphia Coalition for Racial and Economic Legal Justice, known locally as Philly for REAL Justice.
Smith’s lawyer, Paul Hetznecker, noted the arrest came five months after the incident and five days before “the most important presidential election of our time.”
Prosecutors on Wednesday expanded their case against the police who were at the scene of George Floyd’s death, charging three of the officers with aiding and abetting a murder and upgrading the charges against the officer who pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck to second-degree murder.
The most serious charge was filed against Derek Chauvin, whose caught-on-video treatment of the handcuffed Floyd spurred worldwide protests. Three other officers — Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao — were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. All four were fired last week.
“We are here today because George Floyd is not here,” said Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison in announcing the charges. “He should be here. He should be alive, but he’s not.”
Widely seen bystander video showing Floyd’s death has sparked anger around the world against police brutality and discrimination.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar tweeted the news, calling it an “important step for justice.”
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is increasing charges against Derek Chauvin to 2nd degree in George Floyd’s murder and also charging other 3 officers. This is another important step for justice.
A second-degree murder conviction in Minnesota carries a maximum sentence of 40 years. The charges of aiding and abetting a second-degree murder carry the same potential sentence.
Ellison asked the public to give the prosecutors the time and space to do their work. “George Floyd mattered,” he said during a Wednesday news conference. “He was loved. His family was important. His life had value. We will seek justice for him and for you.”
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Floyd’s family, called it “a bittersweet moment” and “a significant step forward on the road to justice.” Crump said Ellison had told the family he would continue his investigation into Floyd’s death and upgrade the charge to first-degree murder if warranted.
Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The move punctuated an unprecedented week in modern American history, in which largely peaceful protests took place in communities of all sizes but were rocked by bouts of violence, including attacks on officers, rampant thefts and arson in some places.
At least 12 deaths have been reported connected to the protests, though the circumstances in many cases are still being sorted out.
WATCH | Protesters react: ‘We can make a big change’:
Anthony Williams and Rev. Greg Drumwright say they believe the charges against the four officers involved in George Floyd’s death will mark a turning point in U.S. history. 2:58
Some tense incidents continued Tuesday night, but were far less prevalent than in preceding days. Police and National Guard troops used tear gas, flash-bang grenades, non-lethal rounds and other means of dispersing crowds near a police precinct in Seattle, Wash., near Centennial Park in Atlanta and at demonstrations in Tampa and St. Petersburg, Fla.
2 medals of valour
Personnel records released by the city show Chauvin served as a military policeman in the U.S. Army in the late 1990s. Since being hired as a police officer in 2001, he has been awarded two medals of valour: one for being part of a group of officers who opened fire on a stabbing suspect after the man pointed a shotgun at them in 2006, and one for apprehending a man in a domestic incident in 2008.
In the latter case, Chauvin broke down a bathroom door and shot the man in the stomach.
Chauvin was reprimanded in 2008 for pulling a woman out of her car in 2007, frisking her and placing her in his squad car after he stopped her for speeding 10 miles (16 km) per hour over the limit. His dashboard camera was not activated and a report said he could have interviewed the woman while standing outside her car.
Lane, 37, and Kueng both joined the department in February 2019, and neither have any complaints on their files.
Lane previously worked as a correctional officer at the Hennepin County juvenile jail and as a probation officer at a residential treatment facility for adolescent boys.
Kueng was a 2018 graduate of the University of Minnesota where he worked part-time as campus security. He also worked as a theft-prevention officer at Macy’s in downtown Minneapolis while he was in college.
Tou Thao, a native Hmong speaker, joined the police force as a part-time community service officer in 2008 and was promoted to police officer in 2009. He was laid off later that year because of budget cuts and rehired in 2012.
Civil rights probe launched
Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights on Tuesday launched a civil rights investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department and its history of racial discrimination in hopes of forcing widespread change.
The official autopsy by the county medical examiner concluded that Floyd’s death was caused by cardiac arrest as police restrained him and compressed his neck. The medical examiner also listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use, but not as causes of death.
The autopsy report was released Wednesday. It also showed Floyd tested positive for 2019-nCoV, the coronavirus which causes COVID-19.
Crump and the Floyd family commissioned a separate autopsy that concluded he died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression caused by Chauvin’s knee on his neck and other responding officers’ knees in his back, which made it impossible for him to breathe.