Updated: July 24, 2020 10:28 PM
Created: July 24, 2020 07:14 PM
The spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department, who's position was just eliminated by the Minneapolis City Council on Friday, told 5 INVESTIGATES his initial statement about George Floyd's death was wrong, but based on information he believed to be correct at the time.
John Elder, whose formal title is Public Information Officer, could not say why that account was so drastically different from the cellphone video of Floyd's death.
At least some city council members cited it as a reason to eliminate Elder's position and instead shift that role to city hall.
But 5 INVESTIGATES found it is part of a larger pattern at MPD.
In a review of nearly 100 legal settlements involving excessive force at MPD, 5 INVESTIGATES found in more than one out of four of those cases, an officer was accused of falsifying police reports, omitting key details or failing to document the use of force altogether.
The department initially declined to comment on the story, saying it was part of an investigation.
Michelle Gross, the head of Communities United Against Police Brutality in Minneapolis, said her group's criticism is even more warranted based on the pattern identified.
"I was really glad that you brought that out," she said. "Police are attempting to justify what they have done to people and reduce the liability on part of the agency that they work for… they shouldn't just believe anything that comes out of their mouth."
Earlier this week, state lawmakers celebrated what they called historic police reforms that passed at the capital, including requirements on use of force reporting.
But Gross, and other critics, do not believe it goes far enough.
"Not even close. Our organization along with our coalition partners are all deeply disappointed in this legislation. This was the lowest of low hanging fruit. It did not even begin to address the concerns that we had about policing and police accountability," she said.
The calls for accountability continue to grow louder.
On Friday, Minneapolis attorney Bob Bennett sent a letter accusing the city of protecting the identities of the officers who shot non-lethal rounds at two people protesting Floyd's death back in May, causing serious injuries.
Bennett said one of his clients was permanently blinded by the rubber bullet that an MPD officer fired at him.
"Shielding the identities only contributes to the mistrust of the MPD. Further, it gives credence to the widely held belief that MPD officers act with impunity – think blue wall of silence," Bennett wrote in the six-page letter.
It goes on to read "the attorney's office should play no role in deepening the mistrust of the MPD, particularly now."
A spokesman for the city attorney's office said the city cannot release the identities of the officers, citing public records laws.
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