Over the last three weeks, residents in all 50 states have taken to the streets, engaging in both peaceful and destructive protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
But police have sometimes responded to protests against police brutality with even more brutality in the form of violent crackdowns, mass arrests, and the use of tear gas and pepper spray.
The excessive use of force has prompted a slew of cities to confront the brutal methods used by their own police departments. Usually, it has only happened after harrowing incidents were caught on camera. To date, The Daily Beast has found that 10 officers have been criminally charged for violent conduct during protests—all of them related to incidents that were filmed by bystanders and attracted huge public outrage. Several more have been suspended or fired pending investigations.
College students Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim were violently yanked from their car and Tasered on May 30 as a protest was underway around them. An officer at the scene claimed that cops signaled the car to stop and the driver didn’t comply. But the encounter was captured on live television, showing officers running up on the car and almost immediately smashing their way in.
“I just can’t stop thinking about if cameras weren’t there or if they would have went a little bit further,” Pilgrim later said. “I can’t stop thinking about what could have happened.”
Atlanta Police Sgt. Lonnie Hood was charged with simple battery and two counts of aggravated assault after allegedly using a stun gun on Young and Pilgrim.
Atlanta Police Officer Armon Jones was charged with pointing or aiming a gun at another and aggravated assault for allegedly dragging Young out of the car and slamming him on the ground.
Atlanta Police Investigator Mark Gardner was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly using a Taser on Pilgrim.
Atlanta Police Investigator Ivory Streeter was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly using a Taser on Pilgrim and pointing or aiming a gun at Young.
Atlanta Police Officer Roland Claud was charged with criminal damage for allegedly punching—and breaking—the car window to grab Young and Pilgrim.
Atlanta Police Officer Willie Sauls was charged with aggravated assault for pointing a Taser at Pilgrim and criminal damage for destroying the car.
NEW YORK CITY
NYPD Officer Vincent D’Andraia, 28, was charged with assault, harassment, criminal mischief, and menacing after violently pushing 20-year-old Dounya Zayer to the ground during a Brooklyn protest on May 29 and calling her a “stupid fucking bitch.”
Authorities say that around 8:44 p.m. D’Andraia was monitoring a demonstration near Barclays Center when he allegedly walked up to Zayer and told her to get off the street. When she questioned the officer’s demand, he allegedly smacked her cellphone out of her hand and violently shoved her on the ground. She hit her head on the ground and was hospitalized. The incident was captured on video.
BUFFALO, NEW YORK
Martin Gugino, a 75-year-old protester and peace activist, approached police as they attempt to clear Buffalo’s Niagara Square on June 4. A video taken by local media showed two officers shoving Gugino, causing him to fall backward and slam his head on the ground. Officers walked past Gugino as blood pooled around his head and onlookers yelled, “He’s bleeding out of his ear!”
The Buffalo Police Department initially said Gugino tripped and fell, and the local police union said the officers were simply doing their job and following orders to clear the square.
Buffalo Police Department Officer Aaron Torgalski, 39, was charged with second-degree assault for allegedly shoving Gugino over. He has pleaded not guilty.
Buffalo Police Department Officer Robert McCabe, 32, was charged with second-degree assault for allegedly shoving Gugino over. He has pleaded not guilty.
Philadelphia Police Inspector Joseph Bologna was charged with simple assault, possession of an instrument of crime, recklessly endangering another person, and two counts of aggravated assault after hitting a Temple University student with a metal baton during a May 25 protest.
In the incident, caught on video, Bologna hit the demonstrator with a metal baton during a Center City demonstration. According to District Attorney Larry Krasner, the Temple student suffered from “a large head wound that required treatment in a hospital while under arrest, including approximately ten staples and approximately ten sutures.”
While the four officers involved in George Floyd’s death were not charged for actions during the protests, the criminal charges brought against them were a result, in part, of nation-wide protests and outrage.
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, 44, was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter for restraining Floyd by holding his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
Former Minneapolis Police Officers Thomas Lane, 37, Tou Thao, 34, and J. Alexander Kueng, 27, were all charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder while committing a felony, and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter with culpable negligence.
Kueng and Lane held Floyd’s legs and back down during the arrest, while Thao stood guard to prevent concerned bystanders from intervening.