The Latest: Family-ordered autopsy: Floyd died of asphyxia
The Latest on the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck:
MINNEAPOLIS — An autopsy commissioned for George Floyd’s family found that Floyd died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression when a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes and ignored his cries of distress, the Floyd family’s attorneys said Monday.
The autopsy by a doctor who also examined Eric Garner’s body found the compression cut off blood to Floyd’s brain, and weight on his back made it hard to breathe.
The family’s autopsy differs from the official autopsy as described in a criminal complaint against the officer.
That autopsy included the effects of being restrained, along with underlying health issues and potential intoxicants in Floyd’s system, but also said it found nothing “to support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.”
Floyd, a black man who was in handcuffs at the time, died after the white officer ignored bystander shouts to get off him and Floyd’s cries that he couldn’t breathe.
His death, captured on citizen video, sparked days of protests in Minneapolis that have spread to cities around America.
NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday he was concerned that mass protests over George Floyd’s death such as those in New York City could imperil the long, hard fight to contain the coronavirus pandemic in a worldwide hotspot.
“You turn on the TV and you see these mass gatherings that could potentially be infecting hundreds and hundreds of people after everything that we have done,” Cuomo said in the city at his daily briefing. “We have to take a minute and ask ourselves: ‘What are we doing here?’”
The Democratic governor said he agreed with demonstrators fighting racism and societal inequality. But he expressed frustration about possibly compromising more than two months of social and economic sacrifices. New York City is set to begin phasing in economic activity June 8.
“New York City opens next week. It took us 93 days to get here. Is this smart?” he asked.
Although many demonstrators are young, they could be spreading the virus to their mothers, fathers and grandparents, Cuomo said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed similar concerns at a separate briefing, saying: “For those who have made their presence felt, made their voices heard, the safest thing from this point is to stay home, obviously.”
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said that for the second day the city will have a curfew starting at 8 p.m. Monday.
“It’s almost unprecedented in this city but it’s something we have to do to keep order in these times,” Scott said
Scott said a curfew and 208 police officers sent in from across the state helped keep order Sunday when officers seized a loaded handgun and a backpack with fireworks and explosives and arrested 87 people on violating a curfew and looting charges. Of those 64 have been released and 23 remain in custody, he said.
Scott said officers were overwhelmed Saturday when San Francisco’s iconic Union Square saw people stealing leather bags from the Coach store and shoes from the Salvatore Ferragamo location.
Officers fired tear gas to disperse protesters. He said 33 people were arrested Saturday for looting and the district attorney’s office is in the process of filing 19 of those cases.
Scott said demonstrations that drew about 5,000 people carrying signs and chanting “George Floyd” and “Black lives matter” were overwhelmingly peaceful Sunday and the vast majority of demonstrators dispersed without incident before the 8 p.m. curfew.
But a relatively small number of “defiant individuals” who had gathered in the Civic Center area refused to disperse, threw bottles at officers, and started trash fires, Scott said.
In response, officers and deputies with the sheriff’s office began making arrests, he said.
Scott said there were individuals who came to San Francisco with the sole purpose of vandalizing and looting.
“There were individuals who came to this city with crowbars, bolt cutter, tools that were designed specifically to get into businesses, to take property and loot,” he said.
He said on Saturday night officers saw a van passing out bricks to throw at officers and that they were attacked with Molotov cocktails in at least two occasions over the weekend.
“If that’s anybody’s idea of a peaceful protest, we need to talk about that,” he said.
WASHINGTON — Washington DC police say they arrested 88 people Sunday night during violence and looting stemming from protests over the death of George Floyd.
Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham said Monday that half of those arrested were charged with felony rioting and the rest with a variety of offenses including violating the 11 p.m. curfew.
Newsham said: “we are not done making arrests” and said the downtown area where much of the damage occurred was full of both government and private security cameras which would provide evidence for further arrests.
He encouraged both the residents of Washington DC and those protesters opposed to violent tactics to help police identify vandals and looters.
Mayor Muriel Bowser imposed a 7 p.m. curfew for Monday and Tuesday nights.
On Sunday, during a news conference she dismissed the idea of a curfew but then changed course early Sunday evening.
Bowser said Monday that the decision was made based on real-time intelligence and was designed to give police “additional tools” to keep the peace.
Bowser’s decision-making drew criticism Monday morning from White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany who said the mayor acted slowly and should have made the curfew much earlier.
Bowser said she supported the cause of the peaceful protesters enraged over a long string of black American deaths at police hands.
“We certainly empathize with the righteous cause that people are here protesting. Everyone should be outraged by the murder of George Floyd,” she said. “However smashed windows and looting are becoming a bigger story than the broken systems that got us here.”
A Florida prosecutor was fired Monday after where she compared demonstrators to animals in a Facebook posting she quickly deleted.
The Broward County State Attorney’s Office, which includes Fort Lauderdale, fired prosecutor Amy Bloom for posting, “When will people learn that their criminal acts and obnoxious protesting actually gets you nowhere? Act civilized and maybe things will change. I’ve never seen such animals except at the zoo.”
She said her description applied to protesters regardless of race.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Bloom quickly deleted the post, but someone copied it and it eventually reached her bosses.
The State Attorney’s Office confirmed the firing in a statement, saying her views are “entirely inconsistent” with its “ideals and principles.”
Bloom, who had worked for the office for eight years as a felony prosecutor, said Monday on Facebook, “I made a post and realized that it could be misinterpreted, so I deleted it within seconds. I believe in justice for all and that ALL lives matter.”
AMSTERDAM — Thousands of people packed an Amsterdam square and spilled into several side streets in an unexpectedly large protest Monday to denounce police brutality in the U.S. and Europe.
Organizers marked out crosses on the square to ensure protesters respected social distancing, but the crowd swelled fast and quickly made any virus protection measures impossible to enforce.
Chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “Charge Them Now,” protesters raised their fists and brandished anti-racism signs.
As the Netherlands took a major step toward easing virus lockdowns Monday, protesters lined up on six narrow side streets trying to reach the main crowd in front of the Royal Palace and Gothic 15th century New Church on Dam Square.
The diverse gathering included protesters representing the Netherlands’ multi-racial population, and wrapped up peacefully.
DENVER — Colorado lawmakers have returned to work in a Capitol building with windows smashed and boarded up.
And graffiti is being cleaned Monday from the building’s granite walls following four days of protests.
State lawmakers are calling for unity after a weekend that saw House Republicans accuse Democrats of staying silent about the mayhem on Denver’s streets.
Colorado’s Democratic Party condemned what they called refusals by state Republicans refusal to reject confrontational tweets from President Donald Trump.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock thanked volunteers who helped city workers clean up from the demonstrations. Another protest march again in Denver is planned for 5 p.m.
MINNEAPOLIS — The brother of George Floyd appealed for peace Monday in the aftermath of riots and arson fires following the death of his brother in Minneapolis.
Terrence Floyd appeared at the intersection in south Minneapolis where his brother, a black man, died after a white police officer pinned his neck with his knee for several minutes a week ago.
Wearing a face mask with the image of his brother’s face on it, Terrence Floyd spent several minutes of silence at the flowers and other memorials that have sprung up to his brother.
“I understand you’re upset,” Terrence Floyd said to the crowd through a bullhorn. But he said civil unrest and destruction is “not going to bring my brother back at all. It may feel good for the moment, like when you drink, but when you are done, you’re going to wonder what did you do.”
Terrence Floyd said his family is “a peaceful family. My family is God-fearing.” And he said, “in every case of police brutality the same thing has been happening. You have protests, you destroy stuff … so they want us to destroy ourselves. Let’s do this another way.”
He told the crowd to vote and to educate themselves. “Let’s switch it up, y’all.” He said his brother moved to Minneapolis from Houston and “loved it here. … So I know he would not want you all to be doing this.”
At the end of his remarks, Terrence Floyd led the crowd in a chant of “What’s his name?” answered by “George Floyd.”
Eleven people were arrested after tensions flared between protesters and police on Sunday night following a Montreal demonstration demanding justice for George Floyd in the U.S.
While the formal rally took place without incident, the situation later degenerated when some protesters smashed windows and lit fires and were met with pepper spray and tear gas from officers.
Montreal police said nine of the arrests were for breaking and entering, one was for armed assault and one was for mischief.
They said more arrests are possible as they investigate some 70 reports of damage to stores and other acts of mischief.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante denounced the looters, whose actions she said were in contrast with the larger peaceful protest.
“Demonstrating to denounce racism and demanding that things change is noble and necessary,” she wrote on Twitter.
“I can only denounce the actions of the looters who ransacked the shops and who had nothing to do with this peaceful demonstration.”
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ message about U.S. protests is the same as about protests anywhere in the world: Grievances must be heard but expressed peacefully, and authorities must show restraint in responding.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday “In the U.S. as in any other country in the world diversity is a richness and not a threat, but the success of diverse societies in any country requires a massive investment in social cohesion.”
He said that means “reducing inequalities, addressing possible areas of discrimination, strengthening social protection, providing opportunities for all” and this requires the mobilization of all levels of government and every sector of society.
Dujarric said cases of police violence and attacks against the media must be investigated, and he cited a tweet over the weekend by the secretary-general.
Guterres tweeted: “When journalists are attacked societies are attacked. No democracy can function without press freedom, nor can any society be fair without journalists who investigate wrong-doing and speak truth to power.”
MINNEAPOLIS — The head of the Minneapolis police union is speaking out about what he says is a lack of city leadership during a week of protests that turned violent after the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white officer pressed a knee against his neck.
Derek Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter and is in custody in a state prison. He and the three other officers on the scene were fired. Floyd’s May 25 death sparked days of protests in Minneapolis and other cities, some of which turned violent.
Union president Lt. Bob Kroll said in a letter to union members that they have lacked support at the top, and that the “terrorist movement” occurring in Minneapolis was years in the making, starting with a minimized police force.
Messages seeking comment from the police department and mayor were not immediately returned.
Kroll also said that Floyd’s criminal history is not being told. The AP has reported last week that Floyd was charged in 2007 with armed robbery in a home invasion in Houston and was sentenced to five years in prison as part of a plea deal, according to court documents.
Kroll said all four officers are represented by defense attorneys, and labor attorneys are fighting for their jobs. He said the officers were fired without due process.
A Fort Lauderdale police officer has been suspended after video showed him pushing a kneeling woman to the ground Sunday.
Others on the force quickly pushed the officer away from the woman and then down the street as bottles were thrown.
Mayor Dean Trantalis told reporters that the officer, who has not been named, is suspended pending an investigation.
“If it’s turned out that he acted inappropriately, then we will have swift discipline in response to what he did,” Trantalis said. “We do not appreciate that kind of conduct, nobody in the department wants to be disrespected, and we feel this should never have happened.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A man who set fire to a historic courthouse in Tennessee during weekend protests has been arrested.
Wesley Somers, 25, is charged with felony arson, vandalism and disorderly conduct. He is accused of setting fire to Nashville’s Historic Courthouse on Saturday night.
Metro Nashville Police said Somers was among 29 people arrested after protesters in Tennessee’s capital set fires inside and outside the courthouse and toppled a statue of a former state lawmaker and newspaper publisher who espoused racist views.
Protesters damaged 30 businesses. In addition to the courthouse, the Ryman Auditorium, known as the mother church of country music, was damaged, police said.
Others who were arrested face charges that include assaulting police officers, disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing, police said.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Somers has an attorney.
Separate demonstrations were held in Murfreesboro, Chattanooga, and Memphis, where protesters made it onto Interstate 55, circumventing officers in riot gear.
MINNEAPOLIS — Authorities say the driver of a semitrailer who rolled into the midst of thousands of people marching on a closed Minneapolis freeway over the death of George Floyd has been arrested on suspicion of assault.
Authorities had said it appeared no one was hurt Sunday but some witnesses said a handful of people who were on Interstate 35W near downtown Minneapolis sought medical attention on their own. Authorities said they could not confirm that.
The freeway was among many shut down in the Minneapolis area for the second night in a row as officials imposed an 8 p.m. curfew and sought to make it more difficult for protesters to move around.
Bystander video showed the crowd parting seconds before the semi rolled through, then the tanker truck gradually slowed and demonstrators swarmed the truck.
Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said Sunday that it initially appeared from traffic camera footage that the semitrailer was already on the freeway before barricades were set up at 5 p.m.
State Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell said at a later briefing, however, that the truck went around a traffic barrier to stay on the road.