ST. PAUL — Amid calls for police reforms following the death of George Floyd, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights filed a court order Friday, June 5, to ban the very tactics used on him moments before he died.
Minneapolis law enforcement officers would not be allowed to restrain an individual by the neck or place them in a choke hold if a judge agrees to the order. An officer would also be required to intervene should their colleague initiate an unauthorized use of force.
Those and other short-term reforms laid out in the proposed court order would appear to address some of the concerns leveled at police in the aftermath of Floyd's death. Floyd, 46, a black man from St. Louis Park, Minn., died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned him by the neck to the ground with his knee while responding to a report of possible counterfeit currency use.
Floyd was handcuffed at the time and filmed by a bystander crying out that he could not breathe in a moment that paralleled the 2014 police-custody death of Eric Garner in New York City. Floyd's death sparked a wave of protests and civil unrest that traveled from the Twin Cities area across the U.S., and resulted in arrests and criminal charges for Chauvin and three other officers involved in the incident.
Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. The three other officers present, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng, have been charged with aiding and abetting murder.
Local leaders and lawmakers, as well as Gov. Tim Walz, have responded to the incident by calling for swift reform to prevent discriminatory and violent behavior by police. They and others, including members of Floyd's own family, have said that the other three officers who helped arrest Floyd last week should be held accountable for not coming to his aid, a point addressed by the proposed requirement for use-of-force intervention.
The state Department of Human Rights continues to investigate the Minneapolis Police Department in response to Floyd's death. The Minneapolis City Council agreed to the terms of the court order, which applies only to Minneapolis city police, on Friday as well.
In a news release, Walz's office called the move unprecedented.
"We are moving quickly to create substantive change,” Walz said in the statement. "I’m grateful to the City of Minneapolis leadership for taking these critical steps with us to address the systemic inequities that have persisted for generations in our criminal justice system."
Other measures proposed in the court order include more timely disciplinary actions for police misconduct and the ability for the local civil rights agency to audit police body camera footage. It would require police chief approval for the use of crowd control weapons during protests, something that follows the widespread use of chemical irritants and other such measures during protests of Floyd's death across the U.S.