Guardian: On the day of George Floyd’s killing, Minneapolis police published a short press release titled “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction”.
The news alert on 25 May said an unnamed man “appeared to be suffering medical distress” and died soon after at a hospital, making no mention of the officer kneeling on his neck. The statement has since sparked national backlash as an example of police flagrantly misrepresenting a murder committed by an officer.
That press release, however, was not unique.
A review of police killings in California showed that law enforcement spokespeople frequently publish highly misleading or sometimes false information about the people they have killed. Over the last five years, the Guardian found at least a dozen examples in the state of initial police statements misrepresenting events, with major omissions about the officers’ actions, inaccurate narratives about the victims’ behaviors, or blatant falsehoods about decisive factors.
In some cases, police cited vague “medical emergencies” without disclosing that officers had caused the emergencies through their use of force. In others, departments falsely claimed that the civilians had been armed or had overdosed. In most instances, media outlets repeated the police version of events with little skepticism.
The inaccuracies were exposed by body-camera footage, autopsy reports or litigation records, sometimes only years later. The widespread occurrence of police claims being disproven after the fact suggests that the problem is systemic, and that without public scrutiny or lawsuits, falsehoods are likely to go undetected.
“The press release about George Floyd was not an anomaly,” said Jody David Armour, a University of Southern California law professor and expert on policing. “This is ordinary operating procedures for police departments across the nation.” read more…