Police chokeholds banned in emergency Minneapolis City Council vote

Friday, June 5, 2020

The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously in an emergency hearing on Friday for immediate reform within the city's police department, including banning chokeholds.

The meeting was called on Thursday after Minnesota's Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero filed discrimination charges on Monday and requested a temporary restraining order against certain policies the Minneapolis Police Department practices after George Floyd's death.

Floyd, 46, was seen on a 10-minute cellphone video on May 25 pleading with former officers David Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and Alexander Kueng, telling him that he could not breathe as Chauvin's knee pressed against the back of his neck.

"I believe there is sufficient information to investigate whether the respondent utilizes systemic discriminatory patterns or practices towards people of color, specifically Black community members, on the basis of race and in the area of public services," wrote Lucero in the "charge of discrimination" document.

After all four were fired from the police department, Chauvin was the first to get charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

As part of Chauvin's arrest warrant documents, the report said that Chauvin continuously pressed his knee onto Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds as Lane held down his legs and Kueng held down his back. Thao stood nearby with both of his hands in his pockets, the video shows.

The state's attorney general took over the case and amended the charges against Chauvin to include second-degree murder. Thao, Kueng and Lane were also arrested and charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Lucero says this investigation should look at Floyd's death and other similar cases over the last 10 years to determine if any training, policies, procedures, practices were "unlawful race-based policing, which deprives people of color, particularly Black community members, of their civil rights under the Minnesota Human Rights Act."

"This is a moment in time where we can totally change how our police department operates and possibly lead the way across the country," said Mayor Jacob Frey before the vote. "These are reforms are generations passed due."

All 12 members of the city council voted to make "quick changes" as the investigation progresses, ultimately resulting in a consent decree from the courts that will require change, said Lucero, who was appointed to the position in January 2019 by Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat.

The following reforms are to be implemented immediately:

-- Chokeholds and other neck restraints are banned.

-- Officers are required to report any unauthorized use of force by their colleagues while still on the scene, regardless of tenure or rank.

-- If officers don't intervene when a use of force occurs, those present officers will be disciplined as though they themselves are the ones who used unauthorized force.

-- The Minneapolis police chief will have to authorize the use of crowd control weapons, including chemical agents like tear gas.

-- The police department has 45 days to clear out a current backlog of complaints against officers. After that, complaints have to be addressed within 30 days.

-- Right now, bodycam footage is only reviewed when a complaint against an officer is made. This temporary restraining order will require all footage to be audited.

Lucero's measure is backed by many local elected officials, including Frey, Walz, the City Council and Justin Terrell, the executive director from the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage.

"We urge the state to hold its full weight to hold the Minneapolis Police Department accountable for any and all abuse of power and harms to our community and stand ready to aid in this process as full partners," said the City Council in a statement.

Related Topics