Newly released body camera footage showed Minneapolis police officers bragging about “hunting” down civilians and shooting them with rubber bullets as part of their efforts to clamp down on the violence that ensued following the death of George Floyd last year.
Floyd’s May 25 murder in Minneapolis triggered days of protests that escalated to violence, looting and destruction of property in the city. Authorities ended up imposing a curfew on May 30, and law enforcement officials reportedly enforced the order aggressively, CNN reported.
One of the body cam footage recorded in the wee hours of May 31, shows former Minneapolis Police Commander Bruce Folkens telling another officer, “Tonight it was just nice to hear, ‘we’re going to go find some more people, instead of chasing people around.’” Folkens then said, “you guys are out hunting people now, and it’s just a nice change of tempo.”
The officer concurred, and Folkens replied saying, “f**k these people.” Folkens has retired from the police force.
In another May 30 footage, Minneapolis police Sgt. Andrew Bittell can be heard saying, “We’re rolling down Lake St. The first f**kers we see, we’re just handling them with 40’s.” The “40’s” are in reference to 40 mm nonlethal ammunition, per CNN.
A few moments after making that statement, officers move to a gas station and open fire on a group of people who have gathered there. “Let them have it, boys,” Bittell is heard saying. Among the people that the officers fired at included the owner of the gas station as well as his family and friends. The group had gathered at the station to protect it from violent protesters.
Another footage that same night reportedly showed Lt. Johnny Mercil telling Officer Michael Osbeck, “F**k these media.” Mercil then goes ahead to say, “Hold on a second, let me check your credentials, make a few phone calls just to verify.”
Mercil then tells the officer they should be allowed to apprehend people instead of dispersing them, adding that it would “prove the mayor wrong about this ‘White supremacists from out of state.’” He adds, “Although this group probably is predominantly White, because there’s not looting and fires.”
Mercil took the stand as a prosecution witness during the Derek Chauvin trial.
The footage was released Tuesday by a lawyer representing Jaleel Stallings – the man who was recently acquitted of all charges in connection with opening fire on Minneapolis cops after he was hit by a nonlethal rubber bullet on May 30, CNN reported. The bullets were fired towards Stallings’ direction by the officers. The incident was also partly captured in the released footage.
“The evidence contradicts reports made by law enforcement officers, as well as common assumptions of how law enforcement and the criminal justice system should operate,” Stallings’ attorney, Eric Rice, told the news outlet. “I am glad that the public can review the evidence for themselves and compare it against the statements made by the involved officers and the prosecution. Through transparency, I hope that our law enforcement and criminal justice systems can be improved.”
The May 30 incident occurred after Stallings was hit by what was confirmed to be a nonlethal rubber bullet that was being used by the police, Face2Face Africa reported. During his trial in July, Stallings argued he opened fire on an unmarked white van that officers were using in self-defense.
His lawyer, Eric Rice, also told The Associated Press his client initially thought he was being targeted by civilians. He fired three shots at the van in an attempt to ward off any further attack after he was struck, court documents stated.
And though Stallings subsequently took cover, he surrendered after he realized he had actually opened fire on police officers. None of the officers at the scene was, however, struck by the bullets. Stallings was slapped with a slew of charges including two counts of second-degree attempted murder and several counts of assault. But he was eventually acquitted.