Police union says it’s been ‘scapegoated’ after Floyd death

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Leaders of the Minneapolis police union acknowledged Tuesday that bystander video of the police encounter with George Floyd was “horrific” but said they’ve been denied the chance to look at body camera video that could shed more light on what happened before Floyd ended up on the ground.

Floyd, a Black man in handcuffs, died May 25 after Derek Chauvin, a white officer, pressed his knee into his neck for nearly 8 minutes and held it there even after Floyd said he couldn’t breathe and stopped moving. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other officers are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter.

All four officers were fired.

The union issued a statement soon after Floyd died cautioning the public not to rush to judgment and saying the union would provide its “full support” to the officers. The union has since been mostly silent. But on Tuesday, the union’s president, Lt. Bob Kroll, told “CBS This Morning” that he thinks union members are being scapegoated for incompetent department leadership.

Kroll acknowledged that widely seen cellphone video of Floyd’s death is “horrific,” but that the union was left “blindsided” by being denied the right to review officer body camera video.

“Right now we cannot make an informed decision regarding the other officers that do not appear on camera,” he said.

Union director Rich Walker said “any human being” that watches the bystander video knows that Floyd’s arrest “should not have ended the way it did.” But Walker questioned statements that Floyd didn’t resist officers because the union hasn’t seen footage of the minutes leading up to what the bystander video showed.

After Floyd’s death, Chief Medaria Arradondo said he was pausing contract negotiations with the union to consider major changes. Anna Hedberg, another union director, told “CBS This Morning” that before Floyd’s death the union had been having “great conversations” with city leaders and Arradondo. She said it’s “dumbfounding to me that one incident, we become the scapegoat to having a bad officer.”

FILE – In this July 30, 2018 file photo, Minneapolis Police Union President Lt. Bob Kroll speaks during a news conference in Minneapolis. Talk of changing the Minneapolis Police Department is everywhere in the wake of George Floyd’s death in an encounter with four officers. But real change may depend on confronting a powerful union that has resisted similar attempts for years. Local politicians and police leaders have long blamed an entrenched culture in the department and the union. (Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via AP)
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