Big Lies Matter

Americans were horrified by the video of George Floyd dying under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer in May. Many supported protesting police brutality against blacks, thinking the cops in Floyd’s case must have broken every rule in the book.

What few people knew at the time is that Minnesota’s Attorney General Keith Ellison, former six-term congressional Democrat and deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, deliberately withheld video evidence that exonerates the police and, had it been made public, might have prevented a wave of anti-police murder and mayhem from sweeping the country.

Floyd’s death on May 25 was captured on a bystander’s cellphone video. But another, much longer video, taken by a police body camera and kept from public view for over two months, shows events involving Floyd and the police in a very different light. 

For one thing, in the body-cam video Floyd, who had ingested a potentially lethal overdose of fentanyl, is seen repeatedly resisting arrest; for another, officers are shown following official guidelines in Minneapolis Police Department training material for handling someone in Floyd’s condition. 

The neck restraint that shocked viewers when the cellphone video went viral is a standard law enforcement technique for handling suspects exhibiting symptoms of drug-induced delirium, as Floyd was. 

Yet not a single city official, from the Democratic mayor of Minneapolis to the 13-member Democrat-dominated city council, was honest enough to tell the public that police officers taking George Floyd into custody were carrying out procedures taught by the city’s own police department and approved by the city government.  

Hurry-Up Offense

At a June 3 press conference only days after Floyd’s death, Keith Ellison—the first African-American and the first Muslim to be elected to statewide office—announced he would be the lead prosecutor in the Floyd case. After a hurried investigation, he charged the four police officers, but held back the critical body-cam video, knowing it wouldn’t help his case and might even get it tossed out of court—and out of the news.

One former officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged with second-degree murder; three others, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao, were charged with abetting second-degree murder. 

A hearing in the case to consider motions for dismissal is scheduled for Friday.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s office, which will handle the trial work, is known for targeting racism and police misconduct. Freeman also happens to be the only county prosecutor in Minnesota to win a murder conviction against a police officer. 

In that 2017 case, former Minneapolis officer Mohamed Noor was charged with shooting and killing Justine Damond during a 911 response. Noor was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to 12-and-a-half years in prison. 

Both the Damond and Floyd cases have a racial component that made international news. In the Damond case Noor, who had been a police officer for two years, is a black Somali-American, and Damond was white Australian-American. In the Floyd case, Chauvin, with 20 years on the police force, is white, and Floyd was black. 

But that’s where the similarities end. In the Damond case, there was no body-cam video of the deadly shooting. Just the same, it was obvious from court testimony that Noor had not followed official police department guidelines the night he shot Damond. 

In the Floyd case, body-cam video is crucial since it shows the officers involved had followed—not violated—official police department guidelines. 

System Failure

Then there’s this: According to notes from an interview with county attorneys dated June 1 and released two weeks ago by the Hennepin County prosecutor’s office, Dr. Andrew Baker, chief medical examiner for the county, said blood taken from Floyd when his body arrived at the hospital contained more than enough fentanyl to cause respiratory failure.

A county autopsy, which identified no life-threatening injuries from the police, confirmed Floyd’s lungs were two-to-three times their normal weight indicating a “fatal level of fentanyl.” If Floyd were found dead in his home, Baker told attorneys, he would conclude the cause of death was “an overdose.” 

At the time of Ellison’s press conference, when charges against the officers were first made public, Freeman should have known what the county medical examiner had said from a report filed with his office two days before. The same goes for Ellison. At a minimum, these news facts called for further investigation. But charging the cops was more important. 

After examining all available medical and electronic evidence, George Parry, a former federal prosecutor and an expert on police brutality and misconduct, agreed that Floyd died of a drug overdose. The four police officers, he wrote in The American Spectator,  “are not guilty of the charges and played no material role in bringing about Floyd’s death.” 

Mob Rule

Keith Ellison told the Washington Post that rather than releasing the police video a “higher priority for me is a successful prosecution” of the police officers.

In his public statements, Ellison often talks about “justice for George Floyd”—a favorite chant of demonstrators—as if justice for the police officers is immaterial and unimportant. And in this case, clearly it is. 

In fact, what seemed to matter most to Minneapolis elected officials, as violence “honoring” Floyd increased, was to stand back and not interfere with angry mobs looting and setting fires

When the city council finally did act, it was to ban the type of neck restraint used to subdue Floyd and to approve a proposal to eliminate the police department entirely in favor of a new “holistic” approach to public safety. 

Authorities in other cities run by Democrats were quick to adopt the Minneapolis model, doing little or nothing to stop the spreading anarchy, justified by the murder of a black man by a racist white cop.

In a presidential election year—when defecting African-American voters could mean four more years of President Donald Trump—that’s all anyone needed to know.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., Democratic Party leaders were certain any inconvenient details about Floyd’s death would be kept from the public long enough for the ensuing urban upheaval to damage Trump. 

The corrupt media would never investigate and, better than that, the party had Ellison on the case. 

Hiding the Truth

Before Ellison was elected to his current position, he and Tom Perez, former Obama Administration labor secretary, made up the most radical one-two combination ever to lead the Democratic National Committee. 

In 2017, when the pair ran against each other for the chairmanship of the DNC, some Democrats opposed Ellison, believing his past support of the Nation of Islam and criticism of Israel might alienate Jewish donors. Ellison’s leadership of the Congressional Progressive Caucus was another problem. Moderates feared he would move the party out of their comfort zone. Around the same time, Mother Jones published a glowing profile praising Ellison as “everything Republicans thought Obama was. Maybe he’s just what Democrats need.”

Perez won in a close vote and named Ellison his deputy. The plan was to make peace between the party’s Hillary Clinton faction and socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), whom Ellison supported in 2016. The project did not succeed. 

After rigging the presidential primaries (for the second straight time) when it appeared Sanders—not even a Democrat—might win, the party in 2020 handed the nomination to enfeebled former Vice President Joe Biden. Then, dropping any pretense of moderation, agreed to a “unity” pact with Sanders and his leftist followers.

Democrats saw anti-police riots, organized after Floyd’s death, as a way to shore up black voter support, and Ellison was perfectly positioned to sustain the effort by hiding the truth about what really happened the day Floyd died.  

By Appointment Only

It was mid-July before the police bodycam video was delivered to the Hennepin County court where it could be seen by appointment only. It would be another two weeks before the video was leaked to the British Daily Mail, and the general public got to see it. 

Thus, more than two months of nationwide death and destruction might have been avoided had Ellison released the video earlier. If that leaves blood on his hands . . . well, he had other things to worry about.

With polls showing Trump’s approval on the rise among African-Americans, Democratic Party strategists knew something had to be done. The cellphone video of George Floyd’s death was tailor-made for stirring up black fear and loathing of the police. As lead prosecutor in the biggest murder case since the O.J. Simpson trial, Ellison could make sure that was the only video anyone would see.

When he filed charges against the four former police officers Ellison admitted, “Getting a conviction will be hard.”  

In other words, the state’s progressive establishment may not like the outcome when the case goes to trial on March 8. Losing in March, though, wasn’t what concerned him. Losing in November was.

Ellison knew from the start winning the Floyd case would be a long shot. On the other hand, throwing the cops to the mob could yield immediate benefits by generating enough racial hatred to help Democrats beat Trump and steer the country to the radical Left. 

 And if the other side doesn’t fold in 2020, Ellison warned in a recent radio interview: “Next time the uprising and social disruption may be even worse.”

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About Bill Thomas

Bill Thomas is the author of Club Fed: Power, Money Sex and Violence on Capitol Hill as well as other books, and the co-author of Red Tape: Adventure Capitalism in the New Russia. He is also a former editor and writer with The Economist Group.

Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

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