In many ways, the events that took place over the summer of 2020 following the death of George Floyd continue to become even more disturbing as we learn increasingly more about them. The latest highly unsettling discovery from that time: some police officers in Minneapolis routinely spoke about “hunting” people and reveled in their ability to shoot at individuals with blanks while patrolling during the protests that took place in the city.
CNN’s Omar Jimenez reviewed “more than two hours of excerpted videos from multiple police body cameras” released to the media on Tuesday, Oct. 5 by attorney Eric Rice. Jaleel Stallings, Rice’s client, was recently acquitted for firing his gun at Minneapolis police officers in self-defense during that night of protests.
The footage in question was captured on the night of May 30, 2020 — five days after the killing of George Floyd. Tensions in Minneapolis were high after multiple nights of protesting and buildings being burned, and a citywide curfew was put into effect for 8 p.m.
As Jimenez recounted, “in one video that is timestamped around 1 a.m., on May 31, 2020, then Minneapolis Police Commander Bruce Folkens is heard telling an officer during a debrief, ‘Tonight it was just nice to hear, ‘we’re going to go find some more people, instead of chasing people around. … You guys are out hunting people now, and it’s just a nice change of tempo.’”
The officer agreed, and Folkens is said to have responded: “f–k these people.”
In another body cam clip captured at around 10:40 p.m., “Minneapolis police Sgt. Andrew Bittell is heard saying, ‘We’re rolling down Lake St. The first f–kers we see, we’re just handling them with 40s’ — apparently referring to 40 mm nonlethal rounds which certain Minneapolis police officers use to control crowds or during civil disobedience.”
As the officers sped towards the gas station and exited their cars, Bittell is heard saying, “Go, go, go, get up there! Let them have it, boys.”
In a third video recorded at a different location just after 10 p.m., Lt. Johnny Mercil is seen approaching Officer Michael Osbeck and saying, “F–k these media.”
“Mercil goes on to tell the officer it’s time to start putting people in jail instead of scattering them,” Jimenez reported. “He also said, it would ‘prove the mayor wrong about this ‘white supremacists from out of state.’” Mercil can also be heard saying that “because there’s not looting and fires,” the group is probably “predominantly white.”
According to CNN, Mercil currently oversees the Minneapolis Police Department’s use of force training and was called as a witness for the prosecution during the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd.
“The identification of the officers comes from a state court order corresponding to the body camera videos,” Jimenez said.
In an interview with CNN, Rice said, “the evidence contradicts reports made by law enforcement officers, as well as common assumptions of how law enforcement and the criminal justice system should operate. I am glad that the public can review the evidence for themselves and compare it against the statements made by the involved officers and the prosecution. Through transparency, I hope that our law enforcement and criminal justice systems can be improved.”
Jimenez said that CNN had reached out to both the Minneapolis Police Department and the Minneapolis Police Federation for comments on the contents of those bodycam recordings but received no response.