As a mix of peaceful protests, riots and looting have been ongoing since May in reaction to police officers killing and shooting Black people, a situation in Minneapolis on Wednesday caused confusion that led to looting when police said a Black man who they claim was a murder suspect killed himself outside of a mall when police tracked him there.
That allegation was immediately met with suspicion from the public.
But there was a video.
Minneapolis police Public Information Officer John Elder said in a press conference Wednesday that the video of the suicide was released, “to help quell rumors. And hopefully, thwart civil unrest.”
Hours after releasing the video, Thursday police took it down saying in a Tweet, “Yesterday MPD posted a video in order to dispel rumors that caused significant public safety concerns for our city. After receiving feedback from the community, we have removed the video due to the graphic nature and out of respect to the individual, his family and the community.”
It was Minneapolis Police officers who killed George Floyd in May, prompting worldwide protests against police brutality in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Police Say the Man Killed Someone Earlier That Day But They Haven’t Released Details
In the press conference Elder would not release the man’s name who they said shot himself underneath the chin, which looks to be the case in the video.
According to Elder, shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday the deceased man — Man A — and a woman “had a disagreement” with another man — Man B — which culminated in Man A shooting Man B, killing him. Man A and the woman took off running, but police were able to track down the woman quickly and took her into custody.
After further investigation, Elder said police “were able to locate the individual downtown,” at around 6 p.m. when “squads began to move in” on the suspect.
Police found the suspect among other people by a building in the Nicollet Pedestrian Mall area. The video shows a group of several people hanging out in front of a closed entrance when most of them seem to spot police and start to run or put their hands up and get away from the situation.
But the man police say killed someone earlier that afternoon walks toward the glass door and turns his back as he appears to be reaching for something in the front of his body. Then he turns slightly sideways, holds his hands under his chin, and suddenly folds forward from the waist before falling sideways to the ground. The sound is muted so the gunshot is not heard.
Police rush toward the man, and people immediately start accusing them of shooting him, saying, things like, “You killed him!” “Y’all shot him!” “Why would you do that, bro!?” while police are seen in the background doing chest compressions on the man as his blood spreads over the cement.
Police have not yet released information on the murder the man was suspected of.
The Confusion About the Shooting Sparked Looting
After the shooting, which many believed was perpetrated by the police, several nearby stores were looted or vandalized.
Minnesota’s CBS local reported, “Crowds then shattered glass at businesses along and near Nicollet Mall, including IDS Center, Nordstrom Rack, Foot Locker, Haskell’s Wine and Spirits, Brit’s Pub, The Newsroom, Devil’s Advocate, Walgreens, CVS, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Dahl Medical Supply and Caribou Coffee, among several others.”
CBS Local also said there were “reports of smash-and-grabs” in the area by around 9pm.
Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson told Fox 9 that people were “rioting” without all the facts, adding that the video showed that the man who was shot outside of Nicolette Mall shot himself and was not shot by police.
His message for the people of Minneapolis was:
We can’t do this stuff. We have to wait for the facts to come up. If the facts come up that something else happened, we’ll go there, but right now we’re damaging property. We’re displacing people from their lives over facts that aren’t true — people making stuff up on social media. So be responsible. You know, your job as a citizen is to make sure you vet information.
Hutchinson said, “We have to maintain order, especially when the facts have come out that the person took their own life. It’s a tragedy. We’re sad. I’m sad, but people actually doing this damage, they need to be arrested. They need to be held accountable.”