MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Two of the Minneapolis police officers recorded on recently-released body camera footage making disparaging comments about protesters in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder are no longer on the force.
The Minneapolis Police Department confirmed to WCCO-TV that Lt. Johnny Mercil left the department on May 3 and Cmdr. Bruce Folks left on July 31.
In the body camera footage, which was released earlier this week, Mercil is heard saying that he thought a group of protesters was white because “there’s not looting and fires,” The Star Tribune reported. Folkens made comments about “hunting people” after curfew during the nights of unrest.
Mercil also testified in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd on May 25, 2020. Chauvin, who is white, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes, even as the Black man pleaded for air. The killing sparked days of protest and nights of unrest in the Twin Cities and beyond.
While on the stand in April, Mercil said that he trained Chauvin, noting that the neck restraint he used against Floyd was not part of MPD protocol. He also testified that someone placed in the prone position, as Floyd was, might have trouble breathing.
The body camera footage released this week came from the attorney of Jaleel Stallings. Some of the footage showed officers shooting him with rubber bullets from an unmarked white van. Stallings, a veteran who is permitted to carry a gun, shot at the officers. They rushed him when he went to the ground and beat him for about 30 seconds, the video shows.
Stallings was initially charged with eight crimes, including second-degree attempted murder. He was acquitted last month after arguing that he fired at the officers in self-defense. His lawyer said the footage speaks for itself. When WCCO-TV asked a police spokesperson about the footage, they said they were unable to comment due to an ongoing investigation.
Meanwhile, activists are calling for all the officers in the videos who made derogatory comments about protesters to be fired.
While Mayor Jacob Frey condemned the officers’ actions and words earlier this week, he declined to comment in detail on how his office is responding, saying that investigations into what happened during those nights of unrest are still ongoing.
The mayor stressed that any comments from him or any other elected officials could open the door to potential lawsuits and possibly hinder any accountability for officers who committed wrongdoing.
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