New body camera footage shows Minneapolis Police officers shooting rubber bullets at protesters while joking about “hunting” activists. It happened just five days after George Floyd was murdered.
The footage, taken on May 30, 2020, after almost a week of riots and protests, was released to the media on Tuesday by the attorney of 27-year-old Jaleel Stallings—a man recently acquitted for firing a gun at officers who beat and shot him with non-lethal bullets, according to the HuffPost.
At around 10:40 p.m. on May 30, 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 40's,” apparently referring to 40 mm non-lethal rounds which certain Minneapolis police officers use to control crowds or during civil disobedience.”
Five minutes later, they speed toward a gas station, “Go, go, go, get up there!”
“Let them have it, boys,” Bittell said.
As they begin firing on the group, the group scatters, and officers later learn the group includes the gas station owner and his family and friends who were there to protect the station.
The graphic video footage also shows police officers shooting the rubber bullets without issuing any warnings. According to CNN, one of those officers—Lt. Johnny Mercil, who supervises the Minneapolis Police Department’s use of force training— is heard saying “F*** these media,” before making a racist comment to another officer about some relatively calm protesters, who were standing nearby: “This group probably is predominantly white because there’s no looting and fires.”
Eric Rice, the attorney for Stallings, released the footage one month after his client was acquitted of eight criminal charges, including second-degree murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, and second-degree riot.
According to the complaint against him, officers claim Stallings walked towards two unmarked squad cars and an unmarked white van before returning fire after the police shot at him. The officers, according to the complaint, believed Stallings would throw something at them, but Stallings claimed he was unaware that the unmarked vehicle had officers in it.
“Mr. Stallings thought that he had been struck by a bullet and was bleeding out. At the time, Mr. Stallings did not know and had no reason to believe that the van contained law enforcement officers,” Rice told CNN. “Mr. Stallings stopped going toward his truck door and shifted his weight backward to get into cover behind his truck. Mr. Stallings raised his firearm to use suppressing fire toward the van to disrupt further shots toward him while he got into cover.”
Rice added that the evidence presented against his client differed from the claims made by the officers in question. In fact, the judge presiding over the case, William Koch, found that during Stallings’ arrest, his Fourth Amendment Rights were violated. Now Rice believes the camera footage will prove that his client was only trying to protect himself from violent officers on a hunt.
“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.”
According to the StarTribune, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called the video “galling” at a press conference on Tuesday, and spoke of the need for justice. He also indicated that although he would like to further discuss the case, he couldn’t due to the ongoing investigation.