George Floyd died Monday from a combination of preexisting health conditions exacerbated by being held down by Minneapolis officers, not from strangulation or asphyxiation, based on the medical examiner’s initial report.
Preliminary findings from a Tuesday autopsy conducted by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner found “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxiation or strangulation,” according to the criminal complaint filed Friday against former officer Derek Michael Chauvin.
“Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease,” said the complaint from the Hennepin County Attorney. “The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.”
The Minneapolis police officer fired earlier this week was charged Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter after kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Video showed he was unresponsive for the last 2 minutes and 53 seconds.
“Police are trained that this type of restraint with a subject in a prone position is inherently dangerous,” the complaint said.
16/ Read the complaint charging ex-Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin with the murder of #GeorgeFloyd: https://t.co/ubEbbVJOfg
— Star Tribune (@StarTribune) May 29, 2020
15/ The criminal complaint against Chauvin, citing the autopsy, pointed out that #GeorgeFloyd did not die from strangulation but a combination of being restrained along with various underlying medical conditions including heart disease and hypertension. https://t.co/8owtCpF2AH
— Star Tribune (@StarTribune) May 29, 2020
According to the filing, officers confronted Mr. Floyd after receiving a 911 call saying that he had paid for merchandise at Cup Foods with a phony $20 bill. They found him nearby in his vehicle with an adult male and female.
Mr. Floyd, who was six feet tall and weighed over 200 pounds, was handcuffed and led to the squad car, but resisted getting inside, saying he was claustrophobic.
While standing, he said repeatedly he couldn’t breathe. Mr. Floyd struggled as officers tried to force him into the car and fell to the ground. Two officers held him down while Officer Chauvin pressed his knee on the suspect’s neck.
Mr. Floyd said “I can’t breathe” multiple times, as well as “Mama” and “please.” After he stopped moving, an officer checked for his pulse and said, “I couldn’t find one.”
“None of the officers moved from their positions,” the complaint said. About two minutes later, Officer Chauvin removed his knee.
Mr. Floyd was transported by ambulance to the Hennepin County Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
His death touched off three nights of protests and unrest in Minneapolis, where rioters burned down the 3rd police precinct and other buildings, as well as other U.S. cities.
The full medical examiner’s report is pending.
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George Floyd laid to rest after emotionally charged ‘homecoming celebration’
George Perry Floyd Jr. was laid to rest Tuesday next to his mother in Houston, capping two weeks of social upheaval with an emotionally charged funeral service that was equal parts gospel revival, civil rights summit and Democratic political rally. The four-hour “homecoming celebration,” as Fountain of Praise Pastor Mia Wright called it, drew more…
George Perry Floyd Jr. was laid to rest Tuesday next to his mother in Houston, capping two weeks of social upheaval with an emotionally charged funeral service that was equal parts gospel revival, civil rights summit and Democratic political rally.
The four-hour “homecoming celebration,” as Fountain of Praise Pastor Mia Wright called it, drew more than 500 mourners, including politicians, celebrities and sports figures, as well as a video message from former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and eulogies by members of Congress and the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Carried live on every major broadcast and cable network, the splashy funeral came in stark contrast to Mr. Floyd’s hardscrabble upbringing in Houston’s Third Ward, a point made repeatedly by speakers who stressed that a man of humble beginnings who died with a police officer’s knee on his neck could change the world.
“They rejected him for jobs, they rejected him for positions, they rejected him to play on certain teams,” Mr. Sharpton said. “God took the rejected stone and made him the cornerstone of a movement that’s going to change the whole wide world.”
The Houston burial came after memorial services in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where Mr. Floyd was born in 1973, and Minneapolis, where he moved several years ago and died at age 46 during a May 25 arrest as a police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
His death, captured on video, sparked the biggest social-justice uprising since the civil rights era, spurring massive peaceful protests and marches as well as looting, vandalism and wanton destruction that overwhelmed major U.S. cities and left at least a dozen dead.
The outraged response to Mr. Floyd’s death even overcame the novel coronavirus pandemic as tens of thousands ignored social-distancing orders to take to the streets.
“Even in a pandemic, people are walking out in the streets, not even following social distancing because you touched the world,” Mr. Sharpton said. “And as we lay you to rest today, the movement won’t rest until we get justice, until we have one standard of justice. Your family is going to miss you, George, but your nation is going to always remember your name.”
Mr. Biden delivered a five-minute video message after meeting privately Monday with Floyd family members, while President Barack Obama spoke earlier with relatives by phone. Neither one attended the funeral in person out of concerns about the Secret Service disruption.
“Unlike most, you must grieve in public. It’s a burden,” Mr. Biden said. “A burden that is now your purpose to change the world for the better, in the name of George Floyd.”
Democratic Reps. Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee, who both represent the Houston area, emphasized that Mr. Floyd would not die in vain. Democrats unveiled Monday a law-enforcement reform package aimed at deterring excessive force and holding officers more accountable for abuse.
“I’m not here today as a Democrat. We’re not here as Republicans. We’re not here because we’re rich or poor, we’re not here because we’re conservative or liberal,” Mr. Green said. “We are here because Pastor Remus Wright was so right when he said we have no expendables in our community. George Floyd was not expendable. This is why we’re here.”
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) June 9, 2020
Mr. Sharpton took a few shots at President Trump, mocking his appearance last week in front of a damaged St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House and blaming him for National Guard troops and police who used non-lethal force to disperse enormous protest crowds in multiple cities.
“You take rubber bullets and tear gas to clear out peaceful protesters and then take a Bible and walk in front of a church and use a church as a prop,” Mr. Sharpton said. “Wickedness in high places.”
Among the celebrities who attended were Jamie Foxx, J.J. Watt and Floyd Mayweather, who helped cover the funeral and memorial expenses. The service also featured parents and relatives of other black Americans who died tragically, including Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Ahmed Aubery.
Mr. Floyd grew up in the Cuney Homes, a low-rise public housing project known as the “Bricks,” in a big, loving family led by his mother, Larcenia “Cissy” Floyd. Standing somewhere between 6‘4” and 6‘7”, “Big Floyd” starred in basketball and football at Yates High School.
His gold coffin was transported to a cemetery in Pearland where his mother was buried after she died about two years ago. In his final moments, he called out “I can’t breathe” and “Mama.”
“We honor him, Rev. Sharpton, not because he was perfect, but we honor him today because when he took his last breath, the rest of us will now be able to breathe,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
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George Floyd rioting take heavy toll on black lives, communities
The rioting on the heels of Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody has come at a high price for the black community. Those killed amid the rioting over the black man’s death have been disproportionately black. Businesses owned and frequented by blacks have been wiped out…
The rioting on the heels of Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody has come at a high price for the black community.
Those killed amid the rioting over the black man’s death have been disproportionately black. Businesses owned and frequented by blacks have been wiped out in the looting and destruction, and a memorial to black Civil War soldiers has been defaced.
“The contradictions and the hypocrisy of these so-called social justice warriors — they are more concerned about their own virtue-signaling, even if it means the continued destruction of black Americans,” said Robert Woodson, a conservative civil rights leader and founder of the Woodson Center.
Derrick Wilburn, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Black Conservatives, said Mr. Floyd’s death May 25 as a police officer knelt on his neck had united Americans — and then the riots began.
“It’s tough to see anything being worse for the black community than what we’ve seen in this last week. It’s horrible,” Mr. Wilburn said.
The unrest may be only the beginning. Public health officials have warned that the hundreds of thousands who took to the streets with little or no social distancing may fuel transmission of COVID-19, a disease that has hit racial minorities hardest.
“It is the perfect setup for the spread of the virus in the sense of creating some blips which might turn into some surges,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday.
Protesters and their allies argue that the demonstrations were by and large peaceful and that the national outcry was needed to fight “systemic racism” and spur law enforcement reform, starting with proposals to “defund the police.”
Cities already heeding the call include Los Angeles and New York City, where plans are underway to cut the police budget and redirect funding to social services. In Minneapolis, the majority of the City Council has taken it further by declaring support for dismantling the department and replacing it with “a transformative new model of public safety.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged Sunday to make a “significant” cut to the police department’s $6 billion annual budget and redirect it to youth and social services programs, although he said the reduction would be less than the $1 billion requested by activists.
“I also will affirm, while doing that we will only do it in a way that we are certain continues to ensure that this city will be safe,” Mr. de Blasio said.
Mr. Woodson isn’t holding his breath. Given that disadvantaged minority communities often suffer from high crime rates, he said, slashing police forces would be a recipe for disaster for many black Americans.
He had a suggestion for social justice advocates seeking to hobble law enforcement: You go first.
“If they were really passionate about limiting police powers and reducing budgets, then I would suggest they should demonstrate by example by offering up their ZIP codes and declaring themselves a police-free zone,” said Mr. Woodson.
‘Compounding the tragedy’
Among the many monuments vandalized during the rioting was the Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Memorial in Boston, which honors the first all-volunteer black regiment of the Union Army.
The memorial was spray-painted with profanities and “ACAB,” which stands for “All Cops Are Bastards.”
“It was a memorial for men who gave their lives fighting for the freedom of their enslaved brethren. And these fools don’t know who they are,” said Mr. Wilburn. “So they’re out there defacing the memory of the original Black Lives Matter crusaders. They gave their life’s blood for black lives.”
Largely overshadowed in the coverage of the protest outcry were the names and faces of the people slain in the mayhem. An Associated Press chronicle of the fallen included the observation that “many of the people killed were African-Americans, compounding the tragedy for black families.”
The list includes Federal Protective Service Officer Dave Patrick Underwood, 53, who was shot while guarding a federal building in Oakland, California, and retired St. Louis police Capt. David Dorn, 77, who died outside a pawn shop. A 24-year-old man, Stephan Clark, has been charged in his death.
David McAtee, 53, the owner of a popular barbecue joint, was shot as police and National Guard members returned fire in Louisville, Kentucky. Chris Beaty, 38, a businessman and former Indiana University football player known as “Mr. Indianapolis,” was killed outside his apartment building.
Calvin L. Horton Jr., 43, was shot in Minneapolis, and a local business owner is under investigation. Javar Harrell, 21, was shot in Detroit. James Scurlock, 22, died after attacking a bar owner in Omaha, Nebraska, who was determined to act in self-defense.
Italia Kelly, 22, was killed by a stray bullet outside a Walmart in Davenport, Iowa, as she tried to leave a protest that became violent. Dorian Murell, 18, was shot in Indianapolis, and 29-year-old Tyler Newby has been charged in his death.
Attacks on black-owned businesses during the rioting became so prevalent that owners in cities such as Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis began posting signs with messages including “Local Black Owned Business” and “Don’t Destroy Our Black Business.”
It was too late for some owners, such as KB Balla, the Minneapolis firefighter who sank his life savings into starting the Scores Sports Bar, only to see it destroyed in the rioting. A GoFundMe account started by a supporter has raised $1.1 million to rebuild.
Keanna Barber of WDB Marketing Group said she printed hundreds of “Black Owned Business” signs. She told the Chicago Sun-Times, “I was heartbroken to see so many black-owned businesses get looted.”
Not all of the rioters cared about the race of the business owner. In Chicago, Adryenne Alvarez, who is black, said she rushed outside after her husband, Ralph, was attacked at their Orangetheory Fitness franchise, but was hit on the back by a woman wielding a crowbar.
That she is black and supported the peaceful protests appeared not to matter to those who ransacked her business. A surveillance video posted on ABC7 showed what appeared to be a white looter breaking a window there.
Nail technician Lillian Wright said the 79 Nails shop, which had “all black workers,” was ransacked.
“This has never happened. This doesn’t make sense. This is not protesting. This is looting,” Ms. Wright told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Wilfred Reilly, author and assistant professor of political science at Kentucky State University, a historically black college, called the rioting ostensibly spurred by racial injustice “ludicrous.”
“I will say, I’ve never in my life seen anything as ludicrous as a heavily Caucasian mob, which is what you did have in Minneapolis — importantly, without excusing any rioters of any other color — burning a successful black man’s business while chanting ‘black lives matter,’” Mr. Reilly said on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
He added that “you’re going to get a lot more of that kind of nonsense in a big city with no police. That’s a bad idea.”
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George Floyd, Black Lives Matter martyr, struggled with drugs, crime
In death, George Perry Floyd Jr. has become a civil rights martyr and a catalyst for social justice. In life, he was a mass of contradictions. At his best, “Perry” was a beloved family man and standout athlete who rededicated his life to Christ after running afoul of the law, a community leader in Houston’s…
In death, George Perry Floyd Jr. has become a civil rights martyr and a catalyst for social justice. In life, he was a mass of contradictions.
At his best, “Perry” was a beloved family man and standout athlete who rededicated his life to Christ after running afoul of the law, a community leader in Houston’s rough 3rd Ward and doting dad to his precious 6-year-old daughter, Gianna.
At his worst, Mr. Floyd was a drug addict and ex-con who did hard time for a 2007 robbery in which he terrorized a pregnant black woman, and absentee parent to his older children, one of whom didn’t recognize him when his photo appeared two weeks ago on television.
Patrick “P.T.” Ngwolo, an elder at the inner-city Christian mission Resurrection Houston, may have put it best when he said Mr. Floyd, who stood somewhere between 6 feet, 4 inches and 6 feet, 7 inches was “larger than life.”
“Mr. Floyd was a person who was what we call in the neighborhood an OG, somebody who had been through the wars, who had made the mistakes and who was able to go back to a generation and say, ‘Hey, guys, this is the way you ought to move, this is how you ought to do it,’” Mr. Ngwolo told Fox News.
He said Floyd used his status as an “OG,” or “original gangster,” to help the church make inroads in the Cuney Homes public housing complex, also known as “the Bricks,” by reaching out to neighbors, participating in basketball tournaments and setting up chairs and tables for services every fifth Sunday.
If not for George Floyd, he said, “my ministry would not exist.”
Mr. Floyd quickly became the face of the social justice struggle when he died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer knelt for nearly nine minutes on his neck while arresting the 46-year-old for allegedly passing a phony $20 bill.
The Hennepin County medical examiner has ruled his death a homicide, and former Officer Derek Chauvin and three others have been charged.
At a memorial service in Minneapolis, his brother Philonise Floyd said that “everybody loved George.” His cousin Shareeduh Tate called him “this great big giant” who “always made people feel like they were special.”
“When I was trying to make headway in the neighborhood, I needed some allies, somebody who would introduce me to people, would allow the ministry to happen in the neighborhood with relative safety, and who was loved, admired and respected in the community,” said Mr. Ngwolo. “The Bible would call that a person of peace, and I would describe George Floyd as a person of peace.”
Those who knew him 20 years earlier might disagree. In 1997, he was arrested on a charge of possession of less than 1 ounce of cocaine. It was the first of eight arrests on drug and theft charges that culminated in the 2007 robbery of a woman’s home in Harris County, according to records posted by the [U.K.] Daily Mail.
The woman, who was pregnant, “tentatively identified defendant George Floyd” as one of the men who forced his way into her home by pretending to work for the water department. He pointed a gun at her abdomen and forced her into the living room. The men took jewelry and her cellphone before leaving.
Mr. Floyd served five years and was released in 2014. He joined Resurrection Houston and became involved with Roxie Washington, who gave birth to their daughter, Gianna. Three years ago, he moved to Minneapolis in what his aunt Angela Harrelson, who lives there, described to the Los Angeles Times as an effort to “make a fresh start.”
In Minneapolis, he dated Courteney Ross, who has told media outlets that she was his fiancee. He worked at one point as a bouncer at the Conga Latin Bistro.
“Everybody loved Floyd,” Jovanni Thunstrom, his employer at the bistro, told KARE-11. “We all have good memories of him.”
It’s unclear whether Mr. Floyd started using drugs again after leaving Houston, or whether he ever stopped, but his autopsy report said fentanyl and evidence of methamphetamine use were in his system.
Conservative pundit Candace Owens, who is black, posted a video last week in which she criticized activists for lionizing Mr. Floyd. In the black community, she said, “it has become extremely fashionable for us to martyr criminals.”
She emphasized that she was not defending Mr. Chauvin. “Everybody agrees what he did was wrong,” she said, but she criticized those who wanted to “make [Mr. Floyd] the modern Martin Luther King Jr.”
“This is a man that had drugs on him, was using counterfeit bills and was high, and went into a store and the police were subsequently called,” Ms. Owens said.
Confession: #GeorgeFloyd is neither a martyr or a hero. But I hope his family gets justice. https://t.co/Lnxz0usrp5
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) June 3, 2020
Police Federation of Minneapolis President Bob Kroll said in a letter last week that Mr. Floyd had a “violent criminal history.” He said the media “will not air this” and accused politicians of scapegoating officers overwhelmed by the protests and rioting.
Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 1973, Mr. Floyd grew up in a poor but loving family, according to his brothers and relatives, who remembered fondly the man known as “Perry,” “Big Floyd” and “Big George.”
After his parents divorced, his mother, Larcenia “Cissy” Jones Floyd, moved the family to Houston. As a single mother, she was known for preparing enormous meals for her strapping sons and feeding any neighborhood children who were hungry.
The family could not afford a washing machine or dryer — the boys washed their underwear and socks in the sink and dried them in the oven — but George Floyd had a way of making people feel special.
“Guys that were doing drugs, like smokers and homeless people, you couldn’t tell, because when you spoke to George, they felt like they were the president,” Philonise Floyd said at the memorial service. “Because that’s how he makes you feel. He was a powerful, man, he had a way with words, he could always make you jump and go, all of the time.”
“Big George” was a talented football and basketball player at Yates High School and received a scholarship to play at what was then South Florida Community College. He left in 1995 before earning his degree, the Houston Chronicle reported. His first arrest was two years later.
Multiple media outlets have said he had three children, although Ms. Tate said at the memorial service that he had five children and a granddaughter. He apparently lost touch with his children Quincy Mason Floyd and Connie Floyd, who moved to Bryan, Texas, with their mother 15 years ago.
“I didn’t recognize who it was until Mom called and told me,” Quincy Mason Floyd told KBTX-TV. “She said, ‘Do you know who that guy was?’ I said no. She said, ‘That’s your father.’”
Even so, he and his sister said they were pleased by the local protest march against police brutality and in favor of social justice spurred by their father’s death.
“I’m really excited about all this,” said Quincy Floyd. “Everyone is coming out and showing him love. I love this. My heart is really touched by all this.”
After Mr. Floyd left for Minneapolis, Mr. Ngwolo said, he kept in touch with his friends in Houston and encouraged them to do their best and keep the faith.
“The person I met was somebody who was on their journey toward growing in their faith in Christ and, more importantly, impacting the people he was near and dear to,” said Mr. Ngwolo. “We’ve got text messages of him even while he was in Minnesota encouraging people, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing.’”
One message stuck with Mr. Ngwolo: “There was one text message in particular that said, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing, I’m going to be back in June.’ Tragically, he didn’t make it to June. But we’re thankful for his life.”
It could be said that he did return to Houston, albeit not in the way that anybody would have wanted. A public visitation for George Floyd will be held Monday at the Fountains of Praise in Houston. A private funeral is scheduled for Tuesday.
⦁ This story is based in part on wire service reports.
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