Derek Chauvin has been convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd, after a video showed him kneeling on the manas Floyd lay prone, begging for air. Three more officers are still awaiting trial for their actions that day. However, the Minnesota ACLU is addressing a systemic concern they say came to light after Floyd’s death.
The civil liberties organization says that the department moved to cover up police misconduct by deleting communications after a lawsuit filed in June to address the targeting of journalists at protests following the murder. According to Business Insider, they even have an admission from the department on record.
During testimony given on July 28 to the US District Court of Minnesota, Major Joseph Dwyer of the Minnesota State Patrol said that “a vast majority of the agency” manually purged their emails and text messages days after being served with a lawsuit over their response to protests over George Floyd’s death in May 2020, according to court documents.
It’s one more in a series of ways the ACLU says that the Minnesota Police Department has avoided transparency and worked to cover up police misconduct. They also filed a lawsuit in June alleging that the department worked to cover up misconduct and disciplinary issues on an ongoing basis by documenting disciplinary issues in the force as more minor category.
MPD claims it uses coaching (which involves a talk with a supervisor about correcting a problem and a written memo to document it in an employee’s personnel file) to quickly address only low-level police behavioral problems, such as seatbelt violations.
But multiple records show MPD improperly and intentionally classifies disciplinary action for serious violations as coaching, even when a violation is supposed to require suspension. Moreover, the city doesn’t report coaching as discipline, shielding hundreds of cases of police misconduct from public access or scrutiny.
The murder of George Floyd has been widely recognized as a case exemplifying the need for transparency, as justice in the case relied heavily on public response to a video taken by an independent citizen, circulated by activists and the public.
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com