Tag Archives: trial

Chauvin trial witness backtracks on whether body cam captured George Floyd saying he ‘ate too many drugs’

The lead Minnesota state investigator on the George Floyd case changed his testimony at the trial of Derek Chauvin on Wednesday, telling the court that he now believed Floyd said, “I ain’t do no drugs,” not “I ate too many drugs,” during his May 2020 arrest.

Senior Special Agent James Reyerson of Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension initially agreed with Floyd’s defence attorney that it sounded like Floyd said the latter in police body-camera video played in Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis Wednesday.

But after listening to a longer version of the recording, Reyerson said, he believed Floyd was, in fact, saying: “I ain’t do no drugs.”

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pressed a knee on the back of Floyd’s neck and his back for around nine minutes as two other officers held him down. Video of the arrest captured by a bystander prompted widespread outrage, setting off protests across the U.S. and around the world.

Chauvin, 45, is facing trial on charges of second-degree unintentional murder; third-degree murder; and second-degree manslaughter. Wednesday marked the eighth day of the trial.

Drug use a key question in trial

The issue of Floyd’s drug use is significant to Chauvin’s defence. The prosecution says Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck caused his death. But the defence argues Chauvin did what his training taught him and that it was a combination of Floyd’s underlying medical conditions, drug use and adrenaline flowing through his system that ultimately killed him.

Floyd had been detained outside a convenience store after being suspected of paying with a counterfeit bill. All four officers were later fired. 

Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, had earlier in the day introduced this evidence during his cross-examination of prosecution witness Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant and use-of-force expert.

Nelson played a snippet of video from the body-worn camera of J. Alexander Kueng, one of four officers involved in the arrest and later fired, and asked Stiger if he could hear Floyd say, “I ate too many drug” as he was handcuffed and prone on the pavement, pinned by the officers.

Stiger replied that he could not make out those words in the footage.

Later, Nelson attempted to get confirmation of the comment while cross-examining Reyerson. Nelson played the clip again, and asked whether it sounded like Floyd said, “I ate too many drugs.”

“Yes, it did,” Reyerson said.

After a short break, Reyerson was questioned by prosecutor Matthew Frank and told the court that during the break, he was able to watch a longer version of the clip that included discussion by officers about Floyd’s potential drug use.

“Having heard it in context, were you able to tell what Mr. Floyd was saying there?” Frank asked Reyerson after the clip was played again in court.

“Yes, I believe Mr. Floyd is saying, ‘I ain’t doing no drugs,'” Reyerson said.

Chauvin had responsibility to re-evaluate use of force: expert witness

Earlier in the day, court heard from Stiger, appearing as a paid prosecution witness providing expert testimony on use of force, say that Chauvin had a responsibility to re-evaluate pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck during their encounter as the health of the 46-year old Black man was clearly “deteriorating.”


Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant, serving as a paid prosecution witness providing expert testimony on use of force, appeared for his second day of testimony Wednesday, the eighth day of trial. (COURT TV/The Associated Press)

Stiger had testified the day before that the pressure being exerted on Floyd was excessive and could cause positional asphyxia and lead to death. On Wednesday he reaffirmed that the force Chauvin used on Floyd was “not objectively reasonable.”

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher asked Stiger whether Chauvin had an obligation to take into account the distress Floyd was displaying when considering whether to continue the type of force he was applying.

“Absolutely. As the time went on … his health was deteriorating,” Stiger said. “His breath was getting lower. His tone of voice was getting lower. His movements were starting to cease.

“So at that point, as on officer on scene, you have a responsibility to realize, ‘OK, something is not right. Something has changed drastically from what was occurring earlier.’ So therefore, you have responsibility to take some type of action.”

During cross-examination, Chauvin’s lawyer asked a question he has posed to other witnesses — whether there are times when a suspect can fake the need for medical attention. Stiger agreed there were.

Obligated to believe

But when asked by the prosecutor whether an officer can “opt not to believe” the detained individual, Stiger said an officer is still obligated to believe them. 

“That’s part of our duty,” he said. 

Stiger also testified that Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck or neck area from the time officers put Floyd on the ground until paramedics arrived.

“That particular force did not change during the entire restraint period?” Schleicher asked as he showed the jury a composite image of five photos taken from various bystander and body-cam videos of the arrest.


Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, faces two murder charges — second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder — in Floyd’s death. (COURT TV/The Associated Press)

“Correct,” Stiger replied.

But Nelson was able to get Stiger to agree with a number of statements. Stiger agreed with Nelson, for example, that an officer’s actions must be viewed from the point of view of a reasonable officer on the scene, not in hindsight.

He also agreed that a not-risky situation can suddenly escalate and that a person in handcuffs can still pose a threat to an officer.

Stiger also agreed that when Chauvin arrived at the scene and saw officers struggling to get him in the back seat of the squad car, it would have been within police policy guidelines for Chauvin to have stunned Floyd with a Taser. 

And he agreed with Nelson that sometimes the use of force “looks really bad” but is still lawful.

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CBC | World News

‘My instincts were telling me something is wrong,’ Police dispatcher testifies at Chauvin murder trial

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.

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CBC | World News

Minneapolis struggles to change policing as officer’s trial set to begin

A police officer’s trial in the death of George Floyd is about to pull a spotlight back to the place that launched conversations around the world about policing and racial equity: Minneapolis.

Opening arguments Monday in the murder and manslaughter trial of officer Derek Chauvin will return this city to the news and prompt scrutiny over whether policing has actually changed since last year.

Justice-reform advocate Billie Jean Van Knight was blunt in her assessment of how far Minneapolis has gotten in terms of changing policing in her city.

“Nowhere,” says the activist with the Racial Justice Network. “Unfortunately, we have not changed. We’ve actually stepped back a little bit.” 

A headline-grabbing vow last year from city officials to disband the Minneapolis police department has quietly dissolved. Talk of defunding the police has been replaced by the funding to hire new officers, amid a flood of personnel departures, with a surge in violent crime unfolding in the backdrop.

At the federal level, reform efforts have lost steam. Yet, despite all this, several activists say they remain hopeful, including Van Knight, as numerous reform initiatives persist in cities across the country — including in Minneapolis where there’s talk of a referendum this fall on reorganizing the role of police.

Knight likened the current situation in Minneapolis to the cleaning of a messy room: Sometimes, she says, the mess gets worse before it gets better.


Members of the Minnesota Freedom Fighters, seen here marching with relatives of those killed by the police carrying cardboard coffins at a protest last fall, say they provide security and act as a liaison between police and a skeptical community. (Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)

It’s certainly been a messy year.

How crime surge led to ‘re-fund’ the police

In the tumultuous aftermath of Floyd’s death, a majority of the local city council supported defunding and dismantling the police force. 

That’s not what happened. Instead what happened was a city budget cut of $ 8 million, followed by a $ 6.4 million boost in funding to recruit more police officers. 

The rush to recruit was prompted by an exodus of officers — nearly one-quarter of the force is gone, after veterans retired or took leave.

In the meantime, homicides were up more than one-third in major U.S. cities last year, according to analysis from the Council on Criminal Justice, a non-partisan criminal justice think-tank, and criminologists have attributed that to twin factors: the pandemic and a breakdown in communication between communities and police.


When asked where police-reform efforts have gotten since last year, activist Billie Jean Van Knight says: “Nowhere.” Yet, like several others interviewed here, she’s optimistic change is coming. (Steven D’Souza/CBC News)

That mistrust was underscored in Minneapolis just a few days ago. A crowd gathered around police during a carjacking arrest, and an officer was recorded punching a teenager at the scene, which prompted the department to launch an investigation.

Minneapolis has still taken some steps in changing. 

Chokeholds were banned. An African-American officer who once sued the department for racial discrimination became the new police chief. A police union boss who was vocally antagonistic toward past reforms retired early.

And even if municipal leaders now dodge talk about defunding, they’re still talking about wide-ranging structural change.

Reforms still happening

An example of one such effort is a possible referendum in this November’s municipal election where residents might be asked to reorder the city charter.

The police would be stripped of its departmental status and be placed under a new public safety department; police would be recognized as just one component of public safety, alongside mobile units of mental-health professionals.

Philippe Cunningham, a 33-year-old city councillor, says reimagining public safety was always going to be hard work and that city officials never expected it would be simple.


A Minneapolis Police officer seen at a crime scene last year. A flood of officers left the force last year, amid heavy scrutiny and civil unrest. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

“If we had the easy answers, it would have already been done now,” Cunningham said. “What we fundamentally need is a new system of public safety that doesn’t 100 per cent rely on an armed police officer to show up to every need people have.”

But one longtime former councillor and public-safety official says he was flabbergasted that elected officials initially embraced talk last year of defunding the police.

Don Samuels called it irresponsible and naive.

Despite being a well-known figure in the Black community, and living in a Black neighbourhood, Samuels said he didn’t hear anything in the way of consultation — and when he first heard about it on TV, he couldn’t believe his ears.

‘We looked at each other aghast’

“My wife and I sat on our sofa and watched CNN and saw them announce the defunding of the police,” said Samuels, who now runs an organization that provides small loans to low-income people. 

“We looked at each other with our mouths open, aghast.”


Former city councillor Don Samuels says the pledge to defund the police was hastily made and made his neighbourhood more dangerous. (Steven D’Souza/CBC News)

Samuels said public officials should have considered how their words might be interpreted by criminals and the effect that might have in communities.

Just a few days ago, he said, he heard six separate bursts of gunfire over the course of about nine hours; 20 rounds popping one time, 10 pops another, with bullet holes left in houses and cars around his place.

A few months ago, someone was shot about eight houses up from his home in North Minneapolis, and another person was shot just around the corner.  

“We knew that as a result of this the [criminals] around here would become so emboldened,” Samuels said.

“They [already] feel like this is their territory, wearing a red bandana or a blue bandana, to suggest one gang or another. And it’s like, ‘We own this street.’

“So now you’re telling them, ‘Actually, now, we’re going to remove the only restraint on your behaviour’ — which is the police.”


An IT worker by day, Charles, who would not give his last name, carries licensed weapons for what he says is an effort to ensure community safety on behalf of the group Minnesota Freedom Fighters. (Steven D’Souza/CBC News)

Samuels chalks it down, in part, to youthful naivete from idealistic young members of council; he agrees, however, that police reform is desperately needed. 

He said what’s also needed is broader societal change, including to an education system he calls riddled with racism. 

Nationwide, schools in richer areas tend to receive more funding through property taxes. Those schools, and those areas, tend to be whiter. In Minneapolis, both the city and the schools are highly segregated by race.

Few expect imminent solutions from the national level.

Change happening locally

Reform efforts in Washington appear stalled in the way so many other issues have faltered there: with partisan gridlock. 

Democrats stalled a Republican police-reform bill they called insufficient last year, and Republicans aren’t backing Democrats’ proposals, such as officer immunity from lawsuits, which leaves little hope of major reform getting the 60 per cent required for a vote in the Senate.

WATCH | Changes to policing in Minneapolis have been slow:

In the 10 months since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, the city struggles to change policing and some have little hope Derek Chauvin’s murder trial will change much. 2:30

One advocate for dramatic change said he isn’t looking to Washington. But he’s visiting multiple cities a month, and excited about many ideas he’s heard from local officials.

“That’s where my focus is — [the local level],” says Alex Vitale, a professor at Brooklyn College and author of The End Of Policing

A number of jurisdictions are studying new models of public safety, and potentially shifting responsibilities from police — that’s the sweeping approach Vitale favours. 

Others are studying narrower reforms to policing, like better training — which Vitale calls insufficient, based on past studies, and a “PR stunt.”


Chauvin, in a courtroom sketch, is seen being introduced to potential jurors during jury selection earlier this month. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

Already, Austin, Texas, has reallocated some funds from the police budget to support housing for homeless people. 

Denver now has non-police officers dealing with mental-health crises. Los Angeles is shifting funding to social services and jail-diversion programs. Oakland is dissolving a policing unit that works in schools.

“There have been some small but significant changes to the scope of policing,” Vitale said in an interview. 

As for Minneapolis, he says: “I think it’s going to have some radical changes. It just takes time.” 

First, there’s the Chauvin trial. 

The case is fraying nerves locally about the verdict, how people will react, and how it might affect reform.

Armed group ready to defend neighbourhoods

One armed group of mostly Black volunteers with legal firearms permits is on alert, ready to patrol areas struck by vandals last year.

A man who works in information technology and volunteers with the group — the Minnesota Freedom Fighters — says he’s ready with his Glock 34 handgun and a Glock 19 with an extra magazine.

Charles, who declined to have his last name published, said people don’t trust the police and his group acts as a go-between, responding to calls, communicating with law enforcement, and patrolling at risk-areas to deter property destruction.

A number of businesses remain boarded up from last year, even if they’re operating inside. 


Toussaint Morrison, an actor and community activist in Minneapolis, says anxiety and tension are building in advance of the trial. (Steven D’Souza/CBC News)

As he walked with CBC News down West Broadway Avenue in North Minneapolis, Charles expressed his fear: “They might go after this corridor again.” 

One community activist, Toussaint Morrison, said the upcoming case feels like a trial about racial attitudes and American society as a whole, and not just about one officer.

“There’s just an anxiety and a tension that’s been brewing,” Morrison said.

So this community is acutely aware that the world is watching it again. And that others will draw inferences from what happens, not just inside the courtroom.

“We know that we are the centre of attention right now,” Van Knight said.

“And if we don’t get these things done, how are we going to expect other people to to get these things done?”

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CBC | World News

Health Canada says AstraZeneca shot is safe as U.S. questions vaccine’s clinical trial data

Health Canada said today Canadians should not be concerned about the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine — even as a U.S. regulatory body raises concerns about the company’s clinical trial results.

Marc Berthiaume, the director of the bureau of medical science at Health Canada, said the issues flagged Monday by a U.S. federal health agency relate to the product’s published efficacy rate, not to whether it’s safe to use.

Berthiaume said Health Canada’s decision to authorize the product was not based on any of the clinical trial information U.S. authorities are now probing. He said Canada based its approval largely on data that emerged from AstraZeneca trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil, and on studies published in countries where the shot has been in use for some time.

“I think it would be alarmist to suggest that the results of additional clinical testing could lead to a change in the approval status of AstraZeneca here in Canada,” Berthiaume said.

“The additional information that was collected in the U.S. will be sent to Health Canada in the coming weeks. If there’s a need to readjust, then we’ll do that with Canadians later.”

Millions of people have received the AstraZeneca shot worldwide, including more than 17 million in Britain and the European Union — almost all without serious side effects.

Health Canada ‘concerned’ about vaccine hesitancy  

Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser, said U.S. questions about the efficacy rate change nothing for Canadians at this point. She conceded the barrage of headlines about the AstraZeneca shot are “something of a concern to us” because they could make some Canadians reluctant to take vaccines.

“We’ve said this many times before — that even the most effective vaccine only works if people trust it and agree to receive it,” she said.

“It’s like any other reputation. Once there’s some doubt that creeps into that reputation, it’s that much more difficult to gain that back. The press and the concerns around the AstraZeneca vaccine don’t help.”

WATCH: Health Canada says federal recommendations on AstraZeneca vaccine are not changing 

Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser, says federal recommendations on the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine are not changing at this point in time. 1:40

In a statement released last night, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in the U.S. said the Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB), which keeps an eye on clinical trials, found “outdated information” may have been reported by the company when it released some information yesterday.

The agency said the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant may have released information that gives an “incomplete view of the efficacy data.”

“We urge the company to work with the DSMB to review the efficacy data and ensure the most accurate, up-to-date efficacy data be made public as quickly as possible,” the agency said — without stating what sort of data may have been  included improperly.

The statement came only hours after AstraZeneca released the results of its U.S.-based phase three clinical trials, which began last August and wrapped up earlier this month. Phase three is the point in a clinical trial when a vaccine maker gathers more information about safety and effectiveness and studies the effect of different doses on various groups.

The company said its COVID-19 vaccine had a 79 per cent efficacy rate for preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and was 100 per cent effective in stopping severe disease and hospitalization. Investigators said the vaccine was effective for adults of all ages, including older people — something which previous studies in other countries had failed to establish.

The product has not yet been authorized for use in the U.S.

Speaking to ABC’s Good Morning America on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, U.S. President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser and the head of the NIAID, said the monitoring board was surprised by the the better-than-expected efficacy results published by AstraZeneca.

“They got concerned and wrote a rather harsh note to them and with a copy to me, saying that in fact they felt that the data that was in the press release were somewhat outdated and might in fact be misleading a bit, and wanted them to straighten it out,” Fauci said.

The board members pegged the vaccine’s efficacy at between 69 per cent 74 per cent — up to 10 points lower than what AstraZeneca itself reported — and said the company’s decision to issue a press release with better results served to erode public trust.

“We told the company they better get back with the DSMB and make sure the correct data get put into a press release.”

In response to the blowback, AstraZeneca said the efficacy numbers it released yesterday were current as of February 17 — a month before the clinical trial was actually completed. In a statement, the company said it would “immediately engage with the independent data safety monitoring board” and provide the U.S. regulator with “the results of the primary analysis within 48 hours.”

This is just the latest public communications issue the company has faced over the last three months.

Earlier this year, a number of European countries halted vaccinations in response to questions about the product’s efficacy in people over the age of 65, only to restart them after new evidence emerged.

After Health Canada approved the shot for all adults, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended the product be used only on people under the age of 65, citing a dearth of clinical trial data on the vaccine’s effectiveness in older people.

NACI changed course last week after reviewing three “real-world studies,” saying the two-dose viral vector vaccine can and should be used on seniors.

The European Medicines Agency has also had to assure European Union member countries that the product is safe to use after reports of post-vaccine blood clots in a very small number of patients.

The agency concluded that the benefits of protecting against COVID-19 — which itself results in clotting problems — outweigh the risks.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has said it’s “possible” the vaccine may be associated with “very rare but serious cases of blood clots associated with thrombocytopenia” — a condition associated with very low levels of blood platelets. Health Canada has maintained that the benefits of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine continue to outweigh the risks.

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CBC | Health News

AstraZeneca says U.S. trial data shows 79% efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine provided strong protection against disease and complete protection against hospitalization and death across all age groups in a late-stage U.S. study, the company announced Monday.

AstraZeneca said its experts also identified no safety concerns related to the vaccine, including a rare blood clot that was identified in Europe. Scientists found no increased risk of clots among the more than 20,000 people who got at least one dose of the shot, which was developed with Oxford University.

Although AstraZeneca’s vaccine has been authorized for use in more than 50 countries, including Canada, it has not yet been given the green light in the U.S. The U.S. study comprised more than 30,000 volunteers, of whom two-thirds were given the vaccine while the rest got dummy shots.

In a statement, AstraZeneca said its COVID-19 vaccine had a 79 per cent efficacy rate at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and was 100 per cent effective in stopping severe disease and hospitalization. Investigators said the vaccine was effective across adults of all ages, including older people — which previous studies in other countries had failed to establish.

“These findings reconfirm previous results observed,” said Ann Falsey of the University of Rochester School of Medicine, who helped lead the trial. “It’s exciting to see similar efficacy results in people over 65 for the first time.”

Julian Tang, a virologist at the university of Leicester who was unconnected to the study, described it as “good news” for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“The earlier U.K., Brazil, South Africa trials had a more variable and inconsistent design and it was thought that the U.S. FDA would never approve the use of the AZ vaccine on this basis, but now the U.S. clinical trial has confirmed the efficacy of this vaccine in their own clinical trials,” he said.

The early findings from the U.S. study are just one set of information AstraZeneca must submit to the Food and Drug Administration. An FDA advisory committee will publicly debate the evidence behind the shots before the agency decides whether to allow emergency use of the vaccine.

Study may clear up questions about product

Scientists have been awaiting results of the U.S. study in hopes it will clear up some of the confusion about just how well the shots really work.

Britain first authorized the vaccine based on partial results from testing in the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa that suggested the shots were about 70 per cent effective. But those results were clouded by a manufacturing mistake that led some participants to get just a half dose in their first shot — an error the researchers didn’t immediately acknowledge.

Then came more questions about how well the vaccine protected older adults and how long to wait before the second dose. Some European countries including Germany, France and Belgium initially withheld the shot from older adults and only reversed their decisions after new data suggested it is offering seniors protection.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine development was rocky in the U.S., too. Last fall, the Food and Drug Administration suspended the company’s study in 30,000 Americans for an unusual six weeks, as frustrated regulators sought information about some neurologic complaints reported in Britain; ultimately, there was no evidence the vaccine was to blame.

Last week, more than a dozen countries, mostly in Europe, temporarily suspended their use of the AstraZeneca shot after reports it was linked to blood clots. On Thursday, the European Medicines Agency concluded after an investigation that the vaccine did not raise the overall risk of blood clots, but could not rule out that it was connected to two very rare types of clots.

France, Germany, Italy and other countries subsequently resumed their use of the shot on Friday, with senior politicians rolling up their sleeves to show the vaccine was safe.

WATCH | Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the benefits of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the rare risks:

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the benefits of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the rare risks. 1:53

French Prime MInister Jean Castex, 55, received his first dose of the AstraZeneca jab last week live on TV, as did 56-year-old British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In Quebec, Health Minister Christian Dubé, 64, also got a dose of the vaccine last week. 

Health Canada said in a release last week that based on an assessment of the available data, it believed that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks.

“As the vaccine rollout continues in Canada, Health Canada will continue to monitor the use of all COVID-19 vaccines closely,” the agency said.

1 of 3 ‘viral vector’ vaccines

The U.S recently agreed to send 1.5 million doses to Canada and another 2.5 million doses to Mexico. When those vaccines will arrive in Canada wasn’t immediately clear, but it could be this week, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said.

AstraZeneca said Monday it would continue to analyze the U.S. data in preparation for submitting it to the FDA in the coming weeks. It said the data would also soon be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is what scientists call a “viral vector” vaccine. The shots are made with a harmless virus, a cold virus that normally infects chimpanzees. It acts like a Trojan horse to carry the spike protein’s genetic material into the body, which in turn produces some harmless protein. That primes the immune system to fight if the real virus comes along.

Two other companies, Johnson & Johnson and China’s CanSino Biologics, make COVID-19 vaccines using the same technology but using different cold viruses.

The AstraZeneca shot has become a key tool in European countries’ efforts to boost their sluggish vaccine rollouts. It is also a pillar of a UN-backed project known as COVAX that aims to get COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries.

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Canadian Michael Kovrig, accused by China of spying, goes on trial in Beijing

The trial of Michael Kovrig, the second of two Canadians detained in China for more than two years, is underway in Beijing in a closed courtroom, a senior Canadian diplomat said Monday.

China arrested Kovrig, a former diplomat, and fellow Canadian Michael Spavor in December 2018, soon after Canadian police detained Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech company Huawei, on a U.S. warrant.

Beijing insists the detentions are not linked to the arrest of Meng, who remains under house arrest in Vancouver as she fights extradition to the United States.

Global Affairs Canada confirmed Sunday that Canadian officials won’t be granted permission to attend.

“We’ve requested access to Michael Kovrig’s hearing repeatedly but that access is being denied” over national security reasons, said Jim Nickel, chargé d’affaires at the Embassy of Canada to China, outside the court on Monday in Beijing. 

“Now we see that the court process itself is not transparent. We’re very troubled by this.”


The trial of Kovrig, pictured in this file image made from a March 28, 2018, video, is underway in China, according to Nickel. (File photo/The Associated Press)

In a show of solidarity, 28 diplomats from 26 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Netherlands and Czech Republic, turned up outside the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate Court on Monday, which was marked by a heavy police presence.

“[U.S.] President [Joe] Biden and [Secretary of State Antony] Blinken have said that in dealing with the cases of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the United States will treat these two individuals as if they were American citizens,” William Klein, chargé d’affaires of the U.S. embassy in China, told reporters as he stood beside Nickel.


Jim Nickel, chargé d’affaires at the Embassy of Canada to China, centre, Willian Klein, chargé d’affaires of the U.S. embassy in China, left, speak to media as they arrive to request entry to the closed trial for Michael Kovrig on Monday in Beijing. (Getty Images)

“We are here to show solidarity. Arbitrary detention is not the way,” another diplomat told Reuters, declining to be named as she was not authorized to speak on the record about the Canadians’ trial.

More than 50 countries signed a declaration in February to condemn the arbitrary detention of foreign citizens for political purposes.

Some diplomats took off their face masks as they posed for a group photo outside the court, with each shouting out which country they represented to help reporters identify them.

Verdict to come in Spavor trial

On Friday, Spavor, a businessman, underwent a trial behind closed doors in a court in the northeastern city of Dandong. The court said it will set a date later for a verdict.

Canadian and other diplomats were not allowed to attend Spavor’s trial on what China said were national security grounds, a lack of transparency that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called “completely unacceptable.”

Observers have said the likely convictions of the two men could ultimately facilitate a diplomatic agreement whereby they are released and sent back to Canada. Chinese courts have a conviction rate of over 99 per cent.


Police officers stand outside a Beijing court where Kovrig is standing trial. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Earlier Sunday, Vina Nadjibulla, Kovrig’s wife, praised recent public comments from Trudeau, Biden and Blinken in support of “the two Michaels,” as they have become known around the world. 

But Nadjibulla said in an interview on CBC’s Rosemary Barton Live that she wants to see those words translated into actions that secure their release as soon as possible.

“Solidarity and support and words are good, and we must continue to say those things,” Nadjibulla told host Rosemary Barton.

“But what really will make a difference for Michael [Kovrig] and for Michael Spavor now are actions and concerted diplomatic effort on the part of all three governments to find a path forward.”

WATCH | Michael Kovrig’s wife calls for end of detention ahead of trial:

The wife of Canadian Michael Kovrig, who was to stand trial Monday in China for alleged espionage, is calling for a diplomatic solution to end the detention of her husband as well as fellow jailed Canadian Michael Spavor. 2:01

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Michael Spavor’s trial in China ends without a verdict

The court hearing for Canadian citizen Michael Spavor, detained by China since late 2018 on suspicion of espionage, ended on Friday after around two hours.

Jim Nickel, Charge d’affaires of the Canadian Embassy in China, told reporters the court did not issue a verdict on the case, and it was not immediately clear whether there will be another hearing or when a verdict may be issued.

Chinese courts have a conviction rate of over 99 per cent.

Spavor was present for the hearing, Nickel said, citing confirmation from his lawyer, but Spavor was not seen outside the closed court and there was no word on his condition.

Earlier, Canada said its consular officials were not given permission to attend the proceedings despite several requests. They have been notified that a court hearing for Spavor would be held Friday, and one for Michael Kovrig would follow on Monday.

China has not publicly confirmed the court dates. Calls to the court in Dandong, the northeastern city where Spavor was charged, went unanswered.

Diplomats refused entry

Sidewalks were roped off with police tape and journalists were kept at a distance as police cars and vans with lights flashing entered the the court complex, located beside the Yalu River that divides China from North Korea.

Nickel knocked on a door to the court seeking entry but was refused. He was told the trial would begin at 10 a.m. but was given no word on how long it would last or when a verdict would be announced.

“We are disappointed in the lack of access and the lack of transparency,” Nickel told reporters before the trial was scheduled to begin.

WATCH | Michael Spavor’s trial starts amid new U.S.-China talks:

As new talks between Washington and Beijing got underway, the trial for Michael Spavor, one of two Canadian men detained in China for more than two years, started. He is charged with spying, but the federal government sees the charges against him and Michael Kovrig as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. 4:30

“The reason that has been given is it’s a so-called national security case and their belief is that the domestic law overrides international law, which in fact is not the case. China does have international obligations to allow consular access,” he said.

Trial coincides with U.S-China talks

Canadian officials last saw Spavor on Feb. 3 and had made multiple requests to see him ahead of the trial, Nickel said, but those requests were denied.

On the street opposite the courthouse, another 10 diplomats from eight countries, including the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, stood in a show of support.

Observers have said the likely convictions of the two men could ultimately facilitate a diplomatic agreement whereby the two men are released and sent back to Canada.

The trial dates were announced by Canada just as the United States and China were preparing to hold high-level talks in Alaska, the first since U.S. President Joe Biden took office, which have proven to be contentious.

China on Thursday denied a link to those talks.

International and bilateral treaties required that China provide Canadian diplomats access to the trial, but the court said Chinese law regarding trials on state security charges overrode such obligations, Nickel said.


In this file image made from a March 2, 2017, video, Michael Spavor, director of Paektu Cultural Exchange, talks during a Skype interview in Yanji, China. (File photo/The Associated Press)

Prior to the trial, the U.S. expressed its support for the two Canadians.

“The United States is deeply alarmed by reports that People’s Republic of China (PRC) authorities are commencing trials for Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig on March 19 and 22, respectively,” Katherine Brucker, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires in Ottawa, said in a statement. 

“We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Canada in calling for their immediate release and continue to condemn the lack of minimum procedural protections during their two-year arbitrary detention.”


Jim Nickel, Charge d’affaires of the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, speaks to the media outside the Intermediate People’s Court where Michael Spavor stood trial on Friday. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Spavor and Kovrig were detained in December 2018, days after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested at the request of the U.S. at the airport in Vancouver. The U.S. is seeking her extradition to face fraud charges related to her company’s dealings with Iran.

Details of charges not released

The two Canadians have been held ever since, while Meng has been released on bail. They were charged in June 2020 with spying under China’s national security laws.

Spavor, an entrepreneur with North Korea-related business, was charged with spying for a foreign entity and illegally providing state secrets. Kovrig, an analyst and former diplomat, was charged with spying for state secrets and intelligence in collaboration with Spavor.

Prosecutors have not released details of the charges and trial proceedings in national security cases are generally held behind closed doors. The state-owned Global Times newspaper said Kovrig was accused of having used an ordinary passport and business visa to enter China to steal sensitive information and intelligence through contacts in China since 2017, while Spavor was accused of being a key source of intelligence for Kovrig.

Extradition hearing in Vancouver for Meng

In Vancouver on Thursday, Meng’s lawyers told an extradition hearing Canadian officials abused their power when they conspired with the U.S. to arrest her. Defence lawyer Tony Paisana said Canadian Border Services Agency officers took Meng’s phones, obtained their passwords, then handed to them to Canadian police so the data could be shared with the FBI.

Paisana said Meng was never told during questioning that she faced an arrest warrant in the U.S. and would have immediately asked for a lawyer if so informed. British Columbia Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes suggested border officers would have questioned Meng more rigorously if their exam was actually a covert criminal investigation, as her lawyers said.


Diplomats from eight countries, including the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, stood on the street opposite the Intermediate People’s Court, in a show of support. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

China has demanded Meng’s immediate and unconditional release, saying the U.S. engineered her detention as part of a drive to contain China’s growing rise. Canadian authorities say Kovrig and Spavor were arbitrarily arrested to put pressure on Ottawa and say they should be released without charge.

China has also restricted various Canadian exports, including canola oil seed, and handed death sentences to another four Canadians convicted of drug smuggling.

Kevin Garratt, another Canadian who detailed in China for almost two years on accusations of spying, offered some insight into the court process to which Spavor might be subjected.

“The problem was I couldn’t really talk to my lawyer … I was never given permission to talk to him,” Garratt, who was released in 2016, said on CBC News Network’s Power & Politics Thursday. “I could never really defend myself.”

WATCH | Garratt says it’s time for Canada to rethink its relationship with China:

Kevin Garratt, who was detained in China for more than two years, says that he thinks the Canadian government needs to “disengage to some extent” with China: “I think they really need to reconsider the relationship with China.” 6:43

Garratt, who was held in the same prison as Spavor, said he entered his own court process with hope, but got the feeling the trial didn’t matter.

“I don’t think it will be any different for him,” Garratt said of Spavor. “And it’s just a horrible, horrible feeling. And the whole prison system and judicial system in China is made to make you feel hopeless.”

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Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor set to go on trial in China

After more than two years in prison, Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor are to be tried in China for espionage over the coming week.

“Our embassy in Beijing has been notified that court hearings for Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig are scheduled to take place on March 19 and March 22, respectively,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau in a media statement. 

“We believe these detentions are arbitrary and remain deeply troubled by the lack of transparency surrounding these proceedings.”

Kovrig and Spavor were detained in China on Dec. 10, 2018 — nine days after Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, was arrested while changing planes in Vancouver.

Meng was detained on a U.S. extradition request over allegations she lied to a Hong Kong banker in August 2013 about Huawei’s control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

The arrests of Kovrig and Spavor are widely seen as an act of retaliation by Beijing for Meng’s arrest.

Garneau said ending the “arbitrary detention” of the two Canadians remains a top priority for the Liberal government, and that Ottawa will continue to provide support to the two men during the trial.

“Canadian officials are seeking continued consular access to Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig, in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the China-Canada Consular Agreement, and have also requested to attend the proceedings,” he said.

Trump’s trade remark

The U.S. has staunchly supported Canada in its efforts to free the two Canadians, despite initial comments by former U.S. president Donald Trump that threatened to derail the case against Meng.

Ten days after Meng’s arrest in Canada, Trump was asked if he would allow his government to intervene in the case if it meant the U.S. would get an improved trade deal with China. 

“If I think it’s good for what will be the largest trade deal ever made — which is a very important thing — what’s good for national security, I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary,” Trump told the Reuters news agency.

Since Trump’s electoral defeat, U.S. President Joe Biden has affirmed his administration’s support for Canada’s efforts to secure the release of the two men.

“Human beings are not bartering chips,” Biden said during his virtual visit to Ottawa last month. “We’re going to work together to get their safe return. Canada and the United States will stand together against abuse of universal rights and democratic freedoms.”

Meanwhile, Meng’s extradition hearing continues in a B.C. courtroom continues this week as the Huawei executive maintains her innocence.

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Moderna begins COVID-19 vaccine trial in kids under age of 12

Moderna Inc. has begun dosing patients in a mid-to-late stage study of its COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273, in children aged six months to less than 12 years, the company said on Tuesday.

The study will assess the safety and effectiveness of two doses of mRNA-1273 given 28 days apart, and intends to enrol about 6,750 children in Canada and the United States.

The vaccine was approved for use by Health Canada on Dec. 23 for Canadians aged 18 and older. Moderna is under contract to deliver two million vaccine doses to the country by the end of March.

The vaccine has also been authorized for emergency use in Americans who are aged 18 and older.

The Moderna vaccine is made from messenger RNA, or mRNA, a type of genetic material that is used by cells to translate instructions found in DNA to make proteins.

In this case, the instructions tell a human cell how to make a stabilized version of the spike protein for SARS-CoV2. That introduces the protein into the body so immune cells can learn to recognize it and produce antibodies against it.

In a separate study that began in December, Moderna is also testing mRNA-1273 in adolescents between 12 and 18 years old.

The latest study is being conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

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George Floyd murder trial tests how much — if anything — will change in U.S.

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 and many federal buildings in Minneapolis are barricaded and surrounded by concertina wire ahead of the trial. (Sylvia Thomson/CBC)

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.


The courtroom for Chauvin’s trial has been modified to allow for physical distancing due to COVID-19. (Hennepin County)

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.


Toshira Garraway, who founded Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, stands in front of a mural of Minnesotans who have died after police encounters. (Sylvia Thomson/CBC)

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.”

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