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Memorial to George Floyd at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

A Minneapolis Police Department press release from the day of George Floyd's death last year went viral Tuesday in the wake of Derek Chauvin's conviction on murder charges.

The big picture: MPD's initial description of the tragedy, which set off a massive global movement that culminated in the jury's guilty verdict on all charges, claimed that Floyd "physically resisted officers" and "appeared to be suffering medical distress" after being handcuffed. It made no mention of the kind of force Chauvin used on the 46-year-old Black man.

Between the lines: "To a reader on May 25, 2020, that description depicts an immediately connected chain of events: as Floyd is handcuffed, it is noted that he in distress," writes the Washington Post's Philip Bump.

  • "But in reality, the preceding paragraph includes the longest “and” in the history of the English language. It is an over nine-minute- 'and,' linking the moment when Floyd was placed in handcuffs to the time at which that 'medical distress' necessitated that he be moved to an ambulance," Bump continues.
  • "It’s an 'and' that silently includes more than a minute in which Floyd had already lost consciousness."

Background: John Elder, the Minneapolis Police Department director of public information who wrote the press release, told the Los Angeles Times that he got his information from sergeants who worked in the area where Floyd was killed and a computer log of communications between officers and dispatchers.

  • Elder told the L.A. Times the log did not include any details about the use of force and that he did not review body-camera footage, which he said would have required him to wait several hours. He realized that the press release was inaccurate only after cell phone footage emerged.
  • “This had literally zero intent to deceive or be dishonest or disingenuous. Had we known that this [situation] was what we saw on the video, that statement would have been completely different,” Elder told the Times.
Full press release
Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction
May 25, 2020 (MINNEAPOLIS) On Monday evening, shortly after 8:00 pm, officers from the Minneapolis Police Department responded to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of a forgery in progress.  Officers were advised that the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence.
Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car.  He was ordered to step from his car.  After he got out, he physically resisted officers.  Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress.  Officers called for an ambulance.  He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.
At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has been called in to investigate this incident at the request of the Minneapolis Police Department.
No officers were injured in the incident.
Body worn cameras were on and activated during this incident.
The GO number associated with this case is 20-140629.
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Go deeper

Updated Apr 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict in the murder of George Floyd is the rare officer conviction

Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was shown kneeling on George Floyd's neck last year in a video that shook the nation, was found guilty of murder and manslaughter on Tuesday.

Yes, but: Eight years after the launch of the Black Lives Matter movement, it's still rare for police officers to face legal consequences or jail time over the deaths of Black people.

Minneapolis reflects on Chauvin verdict as a step toward healing and calm

Screenshot via CNN

A growing crowd outside the Hennepin County Government Center broke out into cheers, hugs and tears of relief as word of the Derek Chauvin verdict spread just after 4pm CT.

Catch up quick: Eleven months after George Floyd died under the former Minneapolis police officer's knee, a jury of 12 neighbors returned a guilty verdict on all three counts.

Derek Chauvin found guilty of all 3 charges in George Floyd's murder

Photo: Screenshot of CNN

A jury on Tuesday found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd's death.

Why it matters: This rare conviction of a police officer may come to be seen as a defining moment in America's collective reckoning with issues of race and justice.