New body camera footage reveals Minneapolis police officers talked about “hunting” down protesters and celebrated shooting them with rubber bullets five days after the murder of George Floyd.
The new batch of videos released Tuesday is part of the criminal case against Jaleel Stallings, who was accused of trying to kill police officers. Stallings was acquitted of all charges earlier this summer after arguing he fired in self-defense at an unmarked van.
The videos are a snapshot of the police response on the first Saturday after Floyd’s murder last spring. It was after curfew and the bodycam footage shows officers firing at anyone in sight as they tried to clear the streets.
“We’re unarmed!” a protester shouted at an officer. “This is America. We can say what we want!” An officer is then seen firing a rubber bullet at the protester.
The footage, as first reported by the online news outlet Minnesota Reformer, provides new insight into the level of force used on protesters, the attitude by police and the tactics used to try to gain control of the city.
In one clip, an officer is seen celebrating after striking a protester with a rubber bullet.
“Gotcha!” he said, which was then followed by laughter. Another officer walked over to fist bump him and offer congratulations.
The videos lead up to the encounter with Stallings, who said he returned fire at an unmarked van thinking he was under attack by civilians.
The Army veteran, who had a permit to carry, said there was no way of knowing they were police officers. He surrendered on the ground as soon as officers fled from the van. A jury acquitted him of all charges this summer.
“If he had fired knowing that they were police, that’s a very different context than firing at unknown civilians in a white van,” said Eric Rice, Stallings’s attorney.
Rice fought to release the rest of the video evidence to show officers’ tactics during the unrest.
“You guys are out hunting people now,” one officer said to another. “It’s a nice change of tempo.”
The officer replied, “Yup, agreed.”
Officers are also heard on camera talking about wanting to send a message to the top.
“I would love to scatter (the protesters) but it’s time to put 100 people in jail and just prove the mayor wrong about his white supremacist from outstate,” an officer said.
“This group is probably predominantly white because there’s no looting and fires,” the officer added.
A spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department said late Tuesday afternoon that the agency is unable to comment due to the ongoing internal investigation.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s office issued the following statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS:
“Mayor Frey has reviewed the footage. The content is galling. Under State law, the mayor is limited on what he can say without exposing the City to legal liability or undermining the disciplinary process. He won’t trade accountability of involved officers for political expediency.”