Minneapolis police officers tasked with restoring order and defusing tensions amid the city’s George Floyd protests last year made a sport of “hunting” demonstrators, newly released bodycam footage shows.
The footage, released at the request of a defense attorney for a St. Paul man who was cleared of all charges after he fired back at Minneapolis SWAT team members in an unmarked vehicle, shows officers treating protesters more like enemy combatants—all because they were out after curfew.
“Fuck these people,” Minneapolis Police Commander Bruce Folkens can be heard telling one officer who said it had been a “busy night.”
“It’s nice to hear that we’ve moved to—tonight it was just nice to hear ‘We’re gonna go find some more people.’ Instead of chasing people around… you guys are out hunting people now. It’s just a nice change of tempo,” Folkens told the officer, per the Minnesota Reformer.
The “busy night” saw officers unleash rubber bullets on demonstrators out after curfew on May 30, 2020, just five days after the police killing of George Floyd sparked infuriated protests. Jaleel Stallings was among those to come under attack by officers firing marking rounds without warning.
After police in an unmarked van fired rubber bullets at Stallings, striking him with one in the chest, the Army veteran returned fire with a handgun he was licensed to have. Stallings later said he had no idea the occupants of the van were law enforcement and that he had fired back in self-defense.
The bodycam footage released Tuesday by his attorney, Eric Rice, shows Minneapolis police officers punching and kicking him as they took him into custody, with one calling him a “piece of shit.” He appeared to try to explain the misunderstanding to the officers, repeatedly saying “Listen, listen, sir,” as they pinned him to the ground.
He faced a slew of charges in the wake of that incident—including second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, and second-degree riot—but he was cleared on all counts at a July trial.
The footage also showed Minneapolis police officers puncturing vehicle tires while out on the prowl, and unleashing rubber bullets at a gas station owner and several ordinary citizens who were simply guarding the gas station.
After a SWAT officer pepper-sprayed a Vice News reporter directly in the face even after he had displayed his press credentials, officers railed against the media, with one complaining that “they think they can do whatever they want.”
Lt. Johnny Mercil joked about the encounter, saying, “Hold on a second, let me check your credentials, make a few phone calls to verify…”
“There’s a [expletive] curfew,” he said.
Members of the press were exempt from the governor’s curfew order amid protests.
In the wake of the video’s release Tuesday, Garrett Parten, a spokesman for the MPD, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune an internal-affairs investigation had been launched.