Fact Check

Did Minn. Police Say George Floyd Died of 'Medical Incident During Police Interaction'?

The Minneapolis Police Department’s May 2020 statement about George Floyd’s death obscured the full story.

Published April 20, 2021

rpt (Marseille77/Wikimedia Commons)
rpt (Image courtesy of Marseille77/Wikimedia Commons)
The Minneapolis Police Department’s initial statement after George Floyd’s death in May 2020 said, “Man dies after medical incident during police interaction."

On April 20, 2021, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter charges in the killing of George Floyd, a Black man whose death sparked a global reckoning over racism.

A 12-person jury reached the verdict after about 10 hours of deliberations and roughly two weeks of trial testimonies from witnesses and experts.

After the verdict was announced, many online were reminded of the Minneapolis Police Department's initial report on May 25, 2020, which described the killing of Floyd in language that obscured important details. The incident report headline read: "Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction."

Social media users referred to tweets from that period in 2020 that took screenshots of the report from the police department website.

The actual report was on insidempd.com, which redirects to the current website for the Minneapolis police. An archived version of that report reveals that the police did indeed use this headline to describe the killing of Floyd at the hands of Chauvin. The post also stated:

Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.

At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident.

The statement, which was linked to by The New York Times back in May 2020, appeared to have been removed from the website since then. The police report did not describe all the facts, including how Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nine minutes, as Floyd repeatedly said, "I can't breathe."

Given that there are archived versions of this page available, and the report was quoted extensively by publications like The New York Times, we rate this claim as "True."

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.

Article Tags