MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A man was shot dead in Minneapolis Wednesday night amid a second straight night of violent protests over the death of a black man in police custody, with protesters looting stores near a police precinct and setting fires.
Police said they were investigating the death as a homicide and had a suspect in custody, but were still investigating what led to the shooting.
Protesters began gathering in the early afternoon near the city’s 3rd Precinct station, in the southern part of the city where 46-year-old George Floyd died on Memorial Day after an officer knelt on his neck until he became unresponsive.
News helicopter footage showed protesters milling in streets near the city’s 3rd Precinct station, with some running in and out of nearby stores. A Target, a Cub Foods, a Dollar Tree and an auto parts store all showed signs of damage and looting. As darkness fell, fire erupted in the auto parts store, and city fire crews rushed to control it. Protesters set other fires in the street.
Officers could be seen surrounding the nearby precinct, not attempting to intervene in the looting.
Police spokesman John Elder said officers responding to a reported stabbing near the protests found a man lying on the sidewalk with what turned out to be a bullet wound. The man was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Elder said a suspect was in custody but said the facts leading up to the shooting were “still being sorted out.”
It was the second night of violent protest since the death of Floyd, whom police were seeking to arrest outside a Minneapolis grocery store on a report of a counterfeit bill being passed. A bystander’s cellphone video showed an officer kneeling on Floyd ‘s neck for almost eight minutes as he eventually became unresponsive.
The officer and three others were fired Tuesday, and on Wednesday, Mayor Jacob Frey called for him to be criminally charged.
Protesters also gathered Wednesday evening at the officer’s suburban home as well as the Minneapolis home of Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County prosecutor who would make a charging decision in the case. No violence was reported in those protests.
As the protests stretched into the evening, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo urged calm. In an interview with KMSP-TV, he noted the internal investigation as well as the FBI’s investigation of Floyd’s death and said they offer a chance at justice.
“Justice historically has never come to fruition through some of the acts we’re seeing tonight, whether it’s the looting, the damage to property or other things,” he said.
In California, hundreds of people protesting Floyd’s death blocked a Los Angeles freeway and shattered windows of California Highway Patrol cruisers on Wednesday.
Based on the video, Mayor Frey said officer Derek Chauvin should be charged in the death of George Floyd. The footage recorded by a bystander shows Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck as Floyd gasps for breath on the ground with his face against the pavement. The officer does not move for at least eight minutes, even after Floyd stops speaking and moving.
“I’ve wrestled with, more than anything else over the last 36 hours, one fundamental question: Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?” said Frey, who is white.
He later added: “I saw no threat. I saw nothing that would signal that this kind of force was necessary.”
Many activists, citizens and celebrities called for criminal charges before Frey did. But Floyd’s family and the community may have to wait months, if not years, before investigations are complete.
Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump, a prominent civil rights lawyer, called for peaceful protests.
“We cannot sink to the level of our oppressors, and we must not endanger others during this pandemic,” Crump said in a statement. “We will demand and ultimately force lasting change by shining a light on treatment that is horrific and unacceptable and by winning justice.”
Gov. Tim Walz and Minnesota’s two top law enforcement officials — Attorney General Keith Ellison and Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington, both black — promised a thorough, transparent investigation. But Walz and Ellison didn’t endorse the mayor’s call to immediately charge the officer, saying the legal process needs to play out.
“I understand the emotions are running high, and I think it’s important for the mayor to channel the emotion of the people who he represents. But I think it is critical that we adhere very closely to the facts and the law and the normal process,” Ellison said.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, which would prosecute any state charges, issued a statement saying that Floyd’s death had “outraged us and people across the country” and that the case “deserves the best we can give.”
The FBI was investigating whether officers willfully deprived Floyd of his civil rights.
Floyd’s death and that of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia have reopened the divide between minority communities and police that grew to a national uproar following the 2014 killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, the 2015 killing of Freddie Gray and others.
Speaking to reporters at Cape Canaveral, Florida, President Donald Trump called the death in Minneapolis “a very, very sad event” and said his administration was going to “look at it.” Later, he tweeted that he had asked for the federal investigation be expedited.
Democrat Joe Biden said Floyd’s death was “part of an ingrained, systemic cycle of injustice that still exists in this country” and “cuts at the very heart of our sacred belief that all Americans are equal in rights.”
It also “sends a very clear message to the black community and black lives that are under threat every single day,” Biden added, saying he was glad the mayor and the police department fired the officers, “but I don’t think that’s enough.”