(WASHINGTON) — If Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, is found guilty in the killing of George Floyd, it could set a new precedent for policing, said Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney representing the families of Floyd and Daunte Wright.
"The outcome that we pray for and Derek Chauvin is for him to be held criminally liable for killing George Floyd, because we believe that could be a precedent," Crump told ABC's "This Week" co-anchor Martha Raddatz on Sunday. "Finally making America live up to its promise of liberty and justice for all. That means all of us -- Black people, Hispanic people, Native people -- all of us.
"And I am tired of -- as many Black people are -- tired of hearing when they kill unarmed Black people. I mean, from the local level all the way to the president of the United States they say, 'It is tragic that Daunte Wright was killed but looting is unacceptable,'" said Crump, who also represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Breonna Taylor.
"What I want the president and everybody to add to that line, Martha, is killing unarmed Black people is unacceptable," he continued. "We have to send that message to the police, because the crux of the matter is this: I was born Black and I am going to die Black, but police do not kill me because I am Black."
Crump added that congressional action is necessary as the country looks to address the problem of violence toward non-white Americans by police.
"We need to get the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act passed to change the culture and the behavior of policing in America, especially as it relates to marginalized minorities -- and especially Black people. Because when a Black person is stopped for a traffic violation, it should not end up in a death sentence," he said.
Outside the Chauvin trial, Crump -- speaking on behalf of the Wright family -- said earlier this week that Kim Potter, the former Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police officer who resigned after she said she accidentally pulled out her Taser instead of her gun in an interaction with Wright, saw Wright as "expendable."
Looking ahead to the verdict in Chauvin's trail, Raddatz asked, "If he is found not guilty -- as the nation braces for that verdict -- what would you say to the people of Minneapolis?"
Crump said the country cannot continue to tolerate excessive violence.
"I would say, once again the American legal system has broken our heart and we cannot condone this excessive use of force, America. We cannot condone this inhumanity, America. We cannot condone this evil that we saw on that video with Derek Chauvin, when he kept his knee on George Floyd's neck for nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds. And we have to finally have this racial reckoning, America, because if we don't, then people are gonna continue to have these emotional protests," he said.
In a separate panel on Sunday, following Crump's interview, ABC News Chief Legal Analyst Dan Abrams and Channa Lloyd, a civil rights attorney and managing partner at the Cochran Firm, agreed it is highly unlikely Chauvin will be acquitted.
"I think those of us who have been watching this case closely, who have been watching all the expert testimony, watched the video, watched the opening statement, et cetera, would be stunned if there was an all-out acquittal where you find 12 jurors who say that he was not guilty," Abrams said.
"In this case the prosecution has set out a very tight case, they have covered a lot of the bases, they were very thorough," Lloyd said. "I don't feel the defense brought up experts that were able to combat the information that was given by the state's experts, and in this case I do not feel we're going to see an acquittal."
(KENOSHA, Wis.) — Three people were killed and two others were seriously injured in a shooting early Sunday at a crowded Wisconsin bar, prompting a two-state search for at least one gunman who authorities said targeted the victims.
Gunfire broke out inside and outside the Somers House Tavern in Kenosha, Wisconsin, around 12:42 a.m. when a man who had been kicked out of the bar returned with a handgun and opened fire, Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said at a news conference Sunday morning.
"We don't believe this was a random act," Beth said. "From what I've been told, the three people who passed away probably knew each other. This was a targeted situation."
Beth said it was not immediately clear why the gunman was asked the leave the tavern.
"This person that was asked to leave wasn't cooperating with the management there," Beth said. "But I believe he returned a short time later and came in and did the shootings."
Beth did not rule out the possibility that more than one gunman was involved in the fatal shooting, saying more than one gun could have been used.
He said detectives are combing through surveillance video and interviewing witnesses in an attempt to identify the suspect or suspects. Law enforcement agencies throughout southeast Wisconsin and northern Illinois were searching for the suspect, the sheriff said.
In a statement sent out earlier Sunday, Sgt. David Wright of the sheriff's office described the suspect as "a Black male over six feet tall wearing a light-colored hooded sweatshirt."
Beth said he could not immediately say if any of the three people killed worked at the Somers House or were patrons. The names of the victims have not been released.
"I believe the gunman knew who the victims were. Whether the victim knew the gunman, I don't know," Beth said.
He said investigators believe a second shooting that occurred outside the bar is related to the bloodshed inside.
Beth said one of the people shot managed to jump in a car with two other people, who flagged down a law enforcement officer. He said the officer moved the victim to his patrol car, but the person died en route to a hospital.
The shooting caused a lockdown at nearby Carthage College, but Beth said there was no threat to the surrounding community.
He asked the public to contact the sheriff's office if they witnessed the shooting or have information to help investigators identify the killer.
ABC News' Ahmad Hemingway contributed to this report.
(MINNEAPOLIS) — The jury in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd has now heard nearly three weeks of at-times emotional testimony from over three dozen witnesses, as well as watched hours of video of Floyd's arrest.
The court proceedings continue Monday morning with closing arguments from the prosecution and defense and final instructions for the jury, which will be sequestered while they deliberate to reach a verdict.
Chauvin, 45, faces second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges in the death of Floyd, 46.
Here are some of the major takeaways from the high-profile trial after 14 days of evidence.
Chauvin, Hall invoke 5th Amendment
A question throughout the trial had been whether Chauvin would testify in his own defense. On April 15, the last day of testimony, that question was answered. Before the jury entered the courtroom and the defense wrapped its case, Chauvin addressed the court to say he would invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege.
The decision came after several conversations with his attorney, Eric Nelson, including a long one the night before, Nelson said.
When asked by Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill if he was pressured into making the decision, Chauvin responded, "No promises or threats, your honor."
Cahill said he will comply with Chauvin's request to instruct the jury that they "should not draw any inference" on his guilt or innocence by exercising his right not to testify.
Chauvin wasn't the only one to invoke the Fifth Amendment. The day before, Morries Hall, who was in a vehicle with Floyd the day he died, said he wanted to invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid any incriminating testimony.
"I'm fearful of criminal charges going forward. I have open charges that's not settled yet," Hall said.
Hall has been identified during trial testimony as a suspected drug dealer from whom Floyd obtained narcotics.
Medical witnesses testify Floyd died of asphyxia
The prosecution has argued that Floyd died because of restraints by police officers, including Chauvin's knee pressed down on his neck during the arrest.
Floyd's autopsy report concluded that he died of "cardiopulmonary arrest, complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression," meaning that his heart and lungs stopped working. It did not specifically mention asphyxia.
However, several medical witnesses testified that Floyd did die by asphyxia, among them world-renowned pulmonologist Dr. Martin Tobin, a Chicago doctor and breathing expert.
While testifying on April 8, he led jurors through a series of demonstrations illustrating the pressure placed on Floyd's neck during the arrest, concluding he died from "a low level of oxygen" that damaged his brain and stopped his heart. With Chauvin's knee on his neck, Floyd was essentially squeezed to death, he said.
"A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died," Tobin said.
During her testimony the following day, Dr. Lindsey Thomas, a forensic pathologist in Minneapolis, supported Tobin's statements that Floyd died of asphyxia. She said she reached that conclusion by watching footage of the arrest.
"In this case, the autopsy itself didn't tell me the cause and manner of death," she said. "In this case, it was primarily the evidence from the terminal events, the video evidence, that show Mr. Floyd in a position where he was unable to adequately breathe."
When Dr. Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County medical examiner who conducted Floyd's autopsy, took the stand earlier that same day, he said he didn't look at video of Floyd's arrest until after completing the report. He told jurors he believes the main cause of death was law enforcement restraint.
When the defense questioned Baker on the lack of bruises on Floyd's neck and back, the doctor said, "That's just not something that I think we see as medical examiners -- pressure to the back of the neck explaining strangulation."
Defense tries to sow reasonable doubt Floyd died due to police restraints
While the prosecution argued that Floyd died due to police restraints used during his arrest, the defense countered that Floyd's heart disease and drug use -- fentanyl and methamphetamine were found in his system during an autopsy -- played a role in his death.
A medical expert presented by the defense, Dr. David Fowler, said Floyd's heart condition, drug use and a potential stomach tumor played a "significant" role in his death.
He also brought up another potential contributing factor not yet presented -- carbon monoxide exposure, from the tailpipe of a nearby police car while Floyd was pinned to the ground.
"They contributed to Mr. Floyd having a certain cardiac arrest, in my opinion. That's how I would read it," said Fowler, who added that Floyd's blood was not tested for carbon monoxide.
Fowler, a former Maryland chief medical examiner, testified that if he were the medical examiner in the case, he would have classified the death as "undetermined," not homicide.
Police officials say Chauvin violated policies
A dozen current and former members of law enforcement testified for the prosecution that Chauvin violated numerous police use-of-force and ethics policies and training while detaining Floyd.
Among them was Minneapolis Police Department Chief Medaria Arradondo, who testified on April 5 that the former officer violated the force's underlying motto to "protect with courage and serve with compassion.”
He also said Chauvin, as well as the other officers who restrained Floyd, failed to provide first aid even though they had checked for a pulse and not found one.
Lt. Richard Zimmerman, who has the most seniority of any officer in the Minneapolis Police Department, called the use of force used on Floyd "totally unnecessary" during his testimony on April 2.
Meanwhile, Barry Brodd, a consultant on police practices and use of force who testified for the defense on April 13, told the jury that Chauvin "was acting with objective reasonableness following Minneapolis Police Department policy," and that his use of force was "appropriate" and not deadly.
He said he didn't consider placing Floyd in the prone position a use of force, though conceded during cross-examination that if officers inflict pain on a person being held in that position, it could constitute a use of force.
Floyd's brother provides 'spark of life doctrine' testimony
Minnesota, unlike many states, allows loved ones of an alleged crime victim to testify in advance of a verdict, as opposed to leaving it for victim impact statements during sentencing if there is a conviction.
George Floyd's younger brother, Philonise Floyd, gave what's known in the state as "spark of life doctrine" testimony on April 12.
It was during that testimony that jurors learned about George Floyd, beyond his drug addiction and the circumstances of his death.
"This puts some personal nature back into the case for somebody who's treated so impersonally in an unfortunately biased system," prosecutor Matthew Frank told Cahill.
At times wiping away tears, Philonise Floyd spoke of his brother's love of their late mother, Larcenia Floyd, whom George Floyd cried out for while being pinned by Chauvin.
Philonise Floyd called his brother a "big momma's boy" and shared a photo of him as a child being held by their mother.
"Being around him, he showed us, like, how to treat our mom and how to respect our mom. He just -- he loved her so dearly," Philonise Floyd said.
ABC News' Bill Hutchinson, Marlene Lenthang and Whitney Lloyd contributed to this report.
(NEW YORK) — Severe storms are expected across northern and central Florida with gusty winds and hail on Sunday through Monday as more snow showers move through the Rockies in the West with up to four states under winter weather alerts.
Overall, a quiet weather pattern takes us into the first half of the week for most of the Northeast with temperatures back in the 60s to 70s.
A frontal system will hover over Florida for the next 48 hours and will bring more rain, gusty winds and hail across central and southern Florida through Monday.An estimated 1 to 3 inches of rain is possible with this system through Tuesday.
Elsewhere, temperatures start to bounce back to the 60s and 70s today through Wednesday across the Northeast.
Unfortunately, the spring warmth will be short-lived with temperatures back down to the 50s by the end of the week.
Scattered showers will be possible on Monday across the Northeast as another system is expected to bring heavy rain Tuesday night into Wednesday.
In the Midwest, a cold blast should arrive earlier in the week with an opportunity for accumulating snow across the Rockies and winter weather alerts are in effect for four states on Sunday through Monday evening from Montana to New Mexico.
There is an elevated fire risk on Sunday across the Pacific Northwest to Southern California and that threat will spread to Nevada and Utah by tomorrow.
There are wind advisories in effect in California, Washington and Montana through Monday with gusts up to 45 mph possible and humidity levels as low as 10%.
(CHICAGO) — Lupita Perez can't bear to watch the body camera footage that shows the final moments of her cousin's life, when 13-year-old Adam Toledo was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer.
In a phone call with ABC News Saturday, two days after the the footage was released, Perez, 29, said the teen's family is completely distraught over his death, which has sparked protests in Little Village, where he lived and was killed on March 29.
Officers responding to the neighborhood after reports of gunshots shortly before 3 a.m. that day encountered Adam Toledo and Ruben Roman, 21, police said. Both ran, and the teen was shot following a foot pursuit.
Police initially described the incident as an "armed confrontation." Body camera footage shows an officer yell at him to stop, show his hands and "drop it," then shoot the teen in the chest after he puts both of his hands up. According to the Cook County state's attorney's office, the teen allegedly tossed a gun behind a fence right before he was shot.
In a freeze frame of the footage, it appears Adam may be holding a gun. The shooting took place in less than one second, authorities said.
Eric Stillman has been identified in the original case incident report as the Chicago Police Department officer who fatally shot the teen. He's been put on administrative duty during the investigation.
In a statement to ABC News, Stillman's attorney, Tim Grace, said the officer "was faced with a life-threatening and deadly force situation. All prior attempts to deescalate and gain compliance with all of the officers' lawful orders had failed.”
Perez said Adam Toledo's mother, Elizabeth Toledo, is hoping the officer will be held accountable.
"She just wants justice," Perez said. "She just wants his name to be cleared because he did have his hands up when the cop shot at him."
Perez described Adam Toledo as a "kind" and "funny" kid who loved to laugh. She recalled that he would play with her 7-year-old daughter Kaylah's dolls to make Kaylah laugh.
The teen was extremely close with his 11-year-old brother, Anthony, and Perez's 11-year-old son, Jael Cholico, she said.
Jael wrote a letter that he read at Adam Toledo's private funeral and which was buried with his casket, Perez said. In the letter, Jael wrote, in part: "Adam's life was cut down short. Adam would have done great things. I wish Adam would [have grown] old with me and Anthony. ... Our kids would have been best friends. Yes, you may be gone, but you will be forever in our hearts.”
Marco Toledo Jr., Adam's eldest brother, remembered the seventh-grader as the "most loving and caring little kid" he knew.
In an email to ABC News, Marco Toledo, 22, said one of his favorite memories of his brother was that when he got his first car, Adam and Anthony would always want to help wash it.
Adam Toledo loved movie nights at home -- some of his favorites were "I Am Legend" and "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," Marco Toledo said. The teen also was a fan of zombie movies.
Marco Toledo just bought a house outside Chicago and was looking forward to having his little brothers over for sleepovers.
"Being the oldest of the boys, I have always wanted better for my little brothers and my older sister," he said.
He said his last memory of his brother is of him "all happy," jumping around as he ate pizza.
Amid the ongoing investigation, Marco Toledo defended his younger brother, saying that he "wasn't a bad kid like everyone says he was."
"Us being little kids, we all made mistakes. Why? Because no teenager and no human is perfect," he said. "No matter what, we all have our flaws and mistakes we have made as kids and still do till this day. No matter what people say, kids will be kids and will make mistakes, but will learn from them -- something my little brother didn't get the chance to do."
(San Francisco) — Newly surfaced video shows an Asian woman in her 50s brutally robbed at gunpoint in San Francisco in October 2020.
The incident took place in the Sunset neighborhood. The woman, who only wished to be identified as Ms. Lee, according to San Francisco ABC station KGO-TV, said the attack occurred after she arrived at her niece's home after having dim sum with friends in the Richmond District.
Footage of the incident, which police are reviewing, appears to be taken from a security camera across the street and shows a white SUV pass by Ms. Lee, then circle back and stop near her. A person then jumps out of the van and grabs her.
Lee falls to the ground and is heard screaming for help as the man pulls her bag from her hands and holds her at gun point, according to KGO-TV.
She told the station that one suspect returned after the robbery of the handbag to take her jewelry and Rolex watch.
"It really changed her so much, every time she talks about it, she cries," her longtime friend Kathie Mar, who was at a restaurant with her earlier that day, told KGO.
She said that Lee left the restaurant and was unknowingly followed for miles to the Sunset neighborhood.
"She is definitely afraid to go out on her own now, to get in and out of her car, it's scary," Mar told KGO.
The San Francisco Police Department is investigating the incident.
The attack comes amid a spate of crimes against Asian Americans.
The coronavirus pandemic and its suspected origins in the Chinese city of Wuhan is cited as having led to a fresh onslaught of anti-Asian discrimination in the United States that has waged on for over a year.
From March 19, 2020, to Feb. 28, there were more than 3,795 hate incidents, including verbal harassment and physical assault, against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, reported to Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit organization that tracks such incidents.
(KNOXVILLE, Tenn.) — Protests unfolded in Tennessee Friday with demands police release body camera footage of the officer-involved high school shooting that left one student dead and a police officer wounded.
The shooting happened at Austin-East Magnet High School in east Knoxville on Monday. Police said a 17-year-old student had a gun inside the school and was fatally shot in a confrontation with officers in a bathroom.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which is leading the investigation into the shooting, identified the teen as Anthony J. Thompson Jr.
The TBI shared a report update Wednesday and said during a subsequent struggle with police, the student’s gun was fired, then law enforcement fired twice.
Preliminary examinations indicate the bullet that struck the Knoxville Police Department officer was not fired from the student’s handgun, accoording to the TBI report. The wounded officer was transported to the UT Medical Center with injuries that are not expected to be life threatening.
It is unknown which officer shot the student or how many officers or students were in the restroom at the time of the shooting, the report concluded. What exactly happened between police and Thompson is still under investigation.
On Friday, dozens of protesters rallied outside the Knoxville Police Department demanding the release of footage of the officer-involved shooting.
Protesters say the TBI’s initial report on the incident was inaccurate and the public deserves to see the footage.
"As officers entered the restroom, the subject reportedly fired shots, striking an officer," TBI said in an initial statement. One officer returned fire, striking the suspect, the TBI said.
The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene, TBI director David Rausch told reporters in the initial briefing Monday evening.
“Originally they said the reason why he got shot was because he shot the officer, but then that wasn’t true. So I’m hoping we’ll see what actually happened,” Knoxville resident Aimee Jackson said to local ABC affiliate WATE.
District Attorney General Charme Allen said in a press conference Thursday she will not immediately release the footage. She said releasing it before the investigation is complete could “taint the criminal integrity of this case.”
Earlier this week, Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon asked that the body camera footage to be released, but that request was denied.
The four officers involved in the incident have been identified as Officer Adam Willson, Lieutenant Stanley Cash, Officer Jonathon Clabough and Officer Brian Baldwin. They are all on administrative leave.
Willson, who was serving as the Austin-East school resource officer, was the officer who was shot and remains hospitalized.
Three of those officers -- Cash, Baldwin and Clabough -- said they wanted the body camera video released.
The law firm of Donald A. Bosch, representing those officers, said in a statement released Friday: "In the days following this tragic incident, there has been significant confusion over what occurred."
"In an effort to accurately inform the public, all three officers fully support the release of all unedited body camera footage related to this incident. As Mayor Kincannon has publicly expressed, she, along with these officers, agree that the public interest is best served by the immediate release of these videos," the statement said, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Gun laws in Tennessee have been in the spotlight after Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill last week that would allow most adults 21 and older to carry handguns -- either open carry or concealed carry -- without a permit, background check or training.
(HONOLULU) -- Honolulu police have released body camera footage showing when officers deployed a stun gun on a Black man and fatally shot him while responding to a call about an alleged burglary.
Lindani Myeni, 29, a married father of two originally from South Africa, was killed by police outside a Nuuanu home on Wednesday.
Police released two body camera videos Friday. A third officer's camera had not been activated.
The footage, though dark and shaky, shows officers struggle with the suspect, use a Taser on him and shoot him three times, all in less than a minute.
Myeni had entered a home, sat down and taken off his shoes, prompting the scared occupants to call 911, Honolulu Police Department Chief Susan Ballard said Thursday.
Ballard said during a news conference on Friday that a 911 caller said a man sitting in a vehicle was the person who had been in her home.
When the first officer arrived at the scene around 8:10 p.m., a distraught woman is heard outside the house telling the officer, "That's him." Myeni is seen in the footage getting out of a car and walking toward the officer. Another officer is heard in body camera footage ordering the man to "get on the ground," but Myeni did not appear to comply.
Instead of getting on the ground, Myeni turned and charged at the first officer who arrived on the scene and punched him several times, Ballard said.
The second officer tried to get the suspect off his peer, while a third officer arrived at the scene and deployed his Taser on the target, but it was ineffective, Ballard said. The suspect then charged towards the officer who used the Taser, the chief added.
The first officer on the scene then fired a single round, but it's not clear if it hit anyone.
"Officer two then fired three rounds at the suspect, and the suspect then fell to the ground," Ballard said. "This all happened in less than one minute" from the first officer arriving.
The suspect was transported to a hospital in critical condition and later died.
Myeni had no criminal record and no weapons on him, police said. The Honolulu Medical Examiner's Officer identified Myeni and ruled his death a homicide.
His wife, Lindsay, opened up on her heartbreak and denounced the shooting, telling ABC Honolulu affiliate KITV: "He was gentle and loving, and the best father and husband I could've asked for. There's no reason this should have happened. I'm white and I guarantee he would not have been shot had he been white. This is ridiculous."
"Obviously, he wouldn't burglarize. ... We have money. We have everything we need. We're not looking for anything," she said to Hawaii News Now. "He wanted to talk to them for some reason. It says he took off his shoes. I'm sure he did that as a sign of respect."
She said he is from the Zulu Kingdom, a nation in South Africa, and believes his actions may have been misinterpreted.
"In Zulu culture you can go to anyone's house. You can knock on anyone's door. It doesn't matter if its 9 o'clock -- it's not a big deal. Neighbors are neighbors," she said. Myeni and his wife moved to the island in January after living in South Africa for three years.
Jim Bickerton, who's representing the Myeni family in the case, said the Honolulu Police Department is "still hiding facts."
"We have not heard the 911 tapes or seen the body camera footage that precedes what they chose to release, and they are holding Lindani's phone as 'evidence.' In shooting an unarmed man, the burden is on them, and they have not come clean," he said in a statement to ABC News.
At a news conference to release the video, acting Deputy Chief Allan Nagata said the officers "fought for their lives."
The first officer on scene, a 23-year veteran, suffered multiple facial fractures, a concussion and injuries to his arms and legs. He remains hospitalized. The second officer suffered multiple body, arm and leg injuries, while the third had a concussion and multiple abrasions. Those officers, on the force for 18 years and 10 years respectively, were discharged from the hospital.
Nagata acknowledged that police didn't identify themselves until after shots were fired, but he said it was clear they were officers in uniform using marked police cars.
"They were in the fight for their lives, let me clear with you. … They did very well. They were very brave," he said. "They didn't shoot or discharge the firearm right away. This was not a case of overreaction."
(MINNEAPOLIS) -- At the start of the Derek Chauvin murder trial for the killing of George Floyd, defense attorney Eric Nelson asked jurors to exercise their common sense and apply sound judgment based solely on the evidence presented, stressing, "there is no political or social cause in this courtroom."
But advocates say that the social ills that disproportionately impact minority communities are on display in a case where a white officer knelt on the neck of a Black man for more than 9 minutes, despite his cries and even after he had no pulse. And they say that, as in other trials that involve Black men, the victim himself is facing more scrutiny than the suspect.
The Rev. Fredrick Douglas Haynes III, the pastor of the Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, told ABC News that while the courtroom may not be the appropriate venue for social activism, America's most entrenched and vexing social ills are an integral part of the case.
Haynes said that in his weekly sermons to the 12,000 members of his congregation and an estimated 25,000 logging into his online broadcasts, he has for years touched on a plethora of issues plaguing the nation that have surfaced once again in the high-profile case: the opioid crisis, the deadly COVID pandemic, record unemployment, health problems that have disproportionately affected Black and minority communities, police brutality, police reform and the underlying scourge of racism.
"It’s not just Derek Chauvin on trial, America is on trial. Our systems are on trial," Haynes told ABC News.
David Weinstein, a former federal and state prosecutor in Florida, said he can understand why people feel the way they do, given the frequency of which Black people are killed in encounters with police. But, he added, "that’s not exactly the way the criminal justice system and our court system is set up to work."
"It’s Derek Chauvin who’s on trial and our system is a system that works if you let jurors hear and see the evidence and they make up their minds, and then we accept the verdict," Weinstein told ABC News. "Then we know our system works."
Pandemic and pain
During the prosecution's case, Floyd's girlfriend, Courtney Ross, told the jury of Floyd's battle with COVID just weeks before his death. The pandemic also left the security guard and millions of Americans unemployed. Ross said they both struggled with opioid addiction, calling it "a classic story."
"We both suffered from chronic pain," she said. "Mine was in my neck, and his was in his back. We both had prescriptions. But after prescriptions were filled, we got addicted and tried really hard to break that addiction."
Medical experts called by both the prosecution and defense have dissected Floyd's health problems, specifically hypertension and undiagnosed coronary disease, ailments that disproportionately affect Black and other minority communities. In February, the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health reported that in 2018 African Americans were 30% more likely than whites to die from heart disease, and 40% more likely to have high blood pressure.
Haynes said the prosecution has highlighted Floyd's challenges in an attempt to humanize him and explain the low levels of fentanyl and methamphetamine found in his system during an autopsy were not enough to kill him. But the defense has used those same social ills to argue the drugs and his diseased heart were key contributing factors to his death on May 25, 2020 -- more so than the knee Chauvin was seen in numerous videos applying to the back of the man's neck.
During the trial, which heads into closing arguments on Monday, the prosecution has argued Chauvin was the primary cause of Floyd's death. Dr. Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner who conducted the autopsy on Floyd and ruled his death a homicide, testified that drugs and heart disease were contributing factors to Floyd's demise, but that it was the police restraint that "tipped him over the edge."
"I pastor a church community where I’ve seen how COVID has economically wreaked havoc on so many and has resulted in persons who have sought means of coping," Haynes said. "We often criminalize Black people when they seek to have coping mechanisms that are often addictive. And so it’s not really surprising."
He said the medical conditions Floyd suffered are planted in what he called "medical apartheid," meaning a lack of access to good health care. "Those comorbidities are rooted in a system that has failed us," Haynes said.
And while the social ill of racism has not been emphasized, or widely mentioned, during the trial, Haynes said it doesn't have to be.
"It’s so blatant because, No. 1, the fact that Derek Chauvin did not see the humanity of George Floyd. There was no response to his cries," Haynes said. "Racism is a contradiction of humanity. And racism is not just, 'I don’t like you because of your skin color.' Racism, systemic racism, is when I believe I can do certain things to you because of your skin color and get away with it."
"So, then the racism is all through it, even trying to put George Floyd on trial and whatever weaknesses George Floyd may have had," he added. "George Floyd is the victim here. Derek Chauvin is not the victim. Again, that’s how racism operates."
Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. His defense has been he was acting in accordance with standard police training when he and two other officers placed a handcuffed Floyd in a prone position with his face smashed into the pavement
While Haynes and other social-justice advocates insist racism played a role in Chauvin's alleged indifference to Floyd's repeated cries of "I can't breathe," Weinstein said prosecutors presented no evidence to support it.
"Certainly without him (Chauvin) testifying, we’re not going to know what his thought process was," Weinstein said.
Police brutality 'still with us'
But Rev. William Barber, co-chairman of The Poor People's Campaign, a national anti-poverty coalition, said systematic racism has clearly been the elephant in the courtroom.
"The first social ill is the culture of policing, where a white officer, and it wouldn’t matter if it was a Black officer, but a white officer feels OK to keep his knee on the neck of a man screaming, begging for his life and he can’t breathe. Not only while he’s hollering, but after they could no longer feel a pulse," Barber told ABC News.
Barber noted that during the 1963 March on Washington, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of police brutality. "It's still with us," he said. “So, we’ve got the biggest social ill in policing -- the violence against minority people, Black men and women and Latinos and others, with seeming impunity."
Barber said the inequality in the justice system has also reared its head in the Chauvin trial. While the jury has heard of Floyd's life in detail, Barber said they've learned little about Chauvin's background.
Jurors have been told Chauvin was a police officer for 19 years, his last day on the job was the day after Floyd died, and that he was trained and retrained on the policies and practices of the Minneapolis Police Department, including first aid and CPR, which prosecutors say he failed to use even after being told Floyd no longer had a pulse.
The defense showed the jury this week video of a May 6, 2019 arrest of Floyd, and heard testimony alleging he was under the influence of drugs during the police encounter. However, the panel heard nothing about the multiple complaints filed against Chauvin. His personnel file was heavily redacted and only one incident, a traffic stop in which he pulled a woman out of her car for going 10 mph over the speed limit, resulted in a reprimand.
"But what we know most about him is that on that day he put his full-body weight on a man’s neck and basically lynched him in public," Barber said. “And that says a lot about him, even though we might not know other personal things. What is in your mindset when you do that? There was no threat, Mr. Floyd, brother Floyd, was restrained … people were begging that he let him up, and (Floyd) himself was begging. He was trying, and yet he (Chauvin) literally strangled the life out of this man on camera."
Barber said one aspect of the trial that heartened him was seeing Chauvin's former police colleagues reject the so-called "Blue Wall of Silence" and take the witness stand, testifying the force he used on Floyd was unreasonable, unnecessary and not written anywhere in Minneapolis Police Department's policies and practices.
"Something good is happening," Barber said, "and that is that police are willing to contradict one another."
(NEW YORK) -- Strong storms are expected this weekend in the South, with flooding rain, large hail and gusty winds in the forecast from southern Texas to the Florida panhandle.
A stationary front will stall along the South Saturday and over 6 million people will be impacted by strong thunderstorms.
A flash flood watch is in effect through Saturday afternoon from Louisiana to Alabama.
After receiving up to 6 inches of rain from Friday's storms, another 2-4 inches are possible Saturday in Mississippi. Higher amounts of rain are expected, locally, across parts of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.
Meanwhile in the Northeast, behind this spring Nor’easter, there is much cooler air. Temperatures in the 20s-40s across the Northeast Saturday morning.
High temperatures will be in the 50s/60s Saturday with a warmer trend Sunday through Tuesday.
Watch for another frontal system to bring heavy rain, gusty winds and snow banding in the higher elevations by Wednesday.
Friday's spring snow brought over a foot of snow in the Northeast and central Rockies.
Multiple rounds of heavy snow hit areas from Montana to Kansas Friday. Conditions dry out Saturday, with more snow expected early next week across the central Rockies.
(BOXTON, Tenn.) -- When her father died, Linda Hayes said his last request to her was to take care of the vegetable garden he grew for his community at his home in Boxtown, Tennessee.
"Two weeks before he passed away, he told me, he said, 'I'm ready to go be with Jesus, I’m ready to go home. I want you and your sisters to take care of the garden.'" Hayes told ABC News. "I said, 'OK, Daddy, all right,' and I know that was my charge."
Hayes still lives in the house her father built in Boxtown, a predominately Black neighborhood in Memphis with railway tracks running through the center. Historically, the community was one of the few places where Black Americans could buy their own land -- a reason, Hayes said, that the garden was so sacred to her family.
"When slaves were freed, they migrated to Boxtown, and the reason why they call it Boxton is because many of the homes were made out of boxes from the trains," Hayes said.
But a proposed 49-mile crude oil pipeline connecting a refinery in Memphis to an existing pipeline in Marshall County, Mississippi, now threatens to cut through Boxtown, spurring allegations of environmental racism from community members including Hayes.
The underground pipeline, dubbed the Byhalia Connection, is a joint venture by Plains All American and Valero Energy Corporation. The current planned route would traverse the Memphis aquifer, the city’s water source, which critics say poses a risk to drinking water in the event of a leak.
The pipeline could also impact the property values in the neighborhood, residents say, and is the latest in a spate of industrial projects including an oil refinery, a coal ash pond and many more that have been put in their backyard over the past several decades.
"This community is standing up and saying no more, we've had enough," Kathy Robinson, a fourth-generation resident of the area, told ABC News. "For the past 50 years, this specific community in Memphis has received whatever the rest of Memphis and Shelby County would dare not accept in other places."
"We know that this is environmental racism," Robinson added. "They purposely picked communities where they think that there will be no one that's willing to fight them."
This time, she said, "We’re saying 'no.'"
The 'path of least resistance'
Congressman Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., told ABC News that a representative of the pipeline company previously told the community they chose the route "because it was the ‘path of least resistance.’”
"That makes you wonder whether they're just figuring that the African-American community has less influence, less strength," Cohen said.
In a February letter, Cohen urged the Biden administration to direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to rescind its permits for the pipeline. Cohen cited the historic nature of communities including Boxtown as well its potential to contaminate the Memphis aquifer.
Cohen said he has not heard back from the administration.
The Biden administration did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment. The USACE declined ABC News' request for comment, citing ongoing litigation as three local environmental groups have filed a lawsuit over the issuing of the permits.
"What should have been said is that we looked for the path with the fewest collective impacts," said Katie Martin, a spokeswoman for the Byhalia Connection, in response to a request for clarification on the "path of least resistance" comment.
"We treat our landowners and our neighbors with respect and dignity, and we look forward to working with the community members for years to come," Martin added.
Martin said the pipeline route was chosen "very carefully and deliberately" -- avoiding properties with homes on them and emphasizing that "this pipeline is not about race, it's about safety."
She added that pipelines and aquifers "coexist safely across the country," noting that they currently have a pipeline "operating safely on top of the Memphis Sands aquifer and we expect that our pipeline will be no different."
Pipeline operators have said the construction will support some 500 direct and indirect jobs in the area, as well as provide more than $3 million in local tax revenue along the route each year. Moreover, they say they have provided a slew of charitable grants to non-profit organizations that serve communities along the route, according to a website set up to provide the public with information on the project.
The website states they are targeting to start construction this year and aims to be in service approximately nine months after construction starts.
'It's more prone to contamination'
The groundwater pulled from the Memphis aquifer is thousands of years old, according to Brian Waldron, a professor of civil engineering and the director of the Center for Applied Earth Science and Engineering at the University of Memphis.
Waldron said the current proposed path through south Memphis traverses a shallow groundwater system.
"It's not protected by clay," he said. "It's more prone to contamination."
Even along the parts of the route where there is that protective clay layer, Waldron said a leak could still potentially impact the drinking water.
"This protective clay layer has naturally occurring holes in it called breeches, and that allows for water of poor quality to more readily exchange itself with our drinking water supply," he said.
Another risk is "the fact that we are in an earthquake zone, a seismic zone," Waldron added, "the threat of that to underground infrastructure is of concern."
There are a lot of pipelines already in the area, he noted, but making sure that there will be no leaks and no impact to the water system is still of paramount concern for Memphis residents.
"I have suggested to Byhalia and others that if you really want to know what's going on in the subsurface, whatever path you take, you should do a study to make sure that there's no immediate threats in proximity to the pipeline," he said.
Martin told ABC News that they have spent "over ten thousand hours" in the field, "studying and understanding the local geology in the area."
She expressed confidence the pipeline will not pose a threat to the drinking water, saying they have consulted with experts and complied with all requirements necessary for environmental permits.
"And because of that, we secured our environmental permits at the state and federal level," Martin said.
'We're really the path of resilience'
Justin Pearson, a native of Southwest Memphis, said he believes that "for a multibillion dollar company" to call a poor and predominantly Black community, "'the path of least resistance,' is for them to tell the truth about what they believe about our people."
Census data shows that the median income in the ZIP code housing Boxtown is $30,103, and the population is 96.5% Black.
Pearson, along with Robinson, is one of the co-founders of the grassroots group Memphis Community Against the Pipeline (MCAP). The collective was formed last October following community meetings with representatives of the pipeline company. MCAP is one of the three groups suing the Army Corp of Engineers over the permits for the pipeline.
Pearson said he believes environmental racism is the result of "decisions that are being made by policy makers to really determine whose lives are expendable in our country."
"The folks whose lives have been the most expendable have been people of color, indigenous communities and the descendants of enslaved people in our country," Pearson said. "That's the case right here in Memphis, in Boxtown."
“There are ramifications for that racism," he added. "The ramifications for that are in the stories of people like me -- both my grandmothers passed away in their 60s due to cancer."
A 2013 study from the University of Memphis found that carcinogens in the southwest Memphis air raised the cumulative cancer risk in the area to four times higher than the national average.
"For Black folks, it's a slow form of lynching," Pearson said of environmental racism. "Our present fight is very much connected to previous fights and struggles that those who come before us fought in order for us to be here."
"They called our community the path of least resistance," Pearson said. "And we're showing them that we're really the path of resilience."
Hayes said the pollutants in the area posed a challenge for her late father's vegetable garden, which is why he would wake up early in the morning to work on it before going to his job as a truck driver.
In 2010, Hayes' father was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died a few years later in 2014.
"There is there is no amount of money that can replace what my dad said to me two weeks before he passed away," Hayes told ABC News.
"There are a lot of promises, but we don't want to take any chances of our community being destroyed, especially our water," she added.
(BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn.) -- Nearly 100 people were arrested Friday night in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, following the protests of the death of Daunte Wright, according to local authorities.
Following a relatively peaceful protest Thursday where there were zero arrests, officials were hoping for the same Friday. However, as crowds began trying to break into the fence surrounding the Brooklyn Center Police Department and throwing objects at law enforcement, dispersal orders were given and arrests were made.
John Harrington, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, said during a press conference around midnight Friday that a peaceful protest of about 250 people in the afternoon grew to about 500 people by the evening.
By around 8 p.m., officials said they saw small groups of people start to bring plywood, shields, umbrellas and liquid bottles to the protest.
Harrington said by 8:47 p.m., some in the crowd started shaking the fence and throwing glass bottles. Deputies and officers, due to the successful approach of not engaging with protesters Thursday, tried the same tactic Friday, but the "response was very different," he said.
People with masks and helmets started to arrive and then an exterior fence surrounding the police station was breached. Officials said they gave three dispersal orders to the crowd and then arrested those remaining or who had brought weapons to the area.
"I'm saddened by what happened," Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson said during a press conference Friday night. "Trying to cut down the fence to get into a safe area, their intentions are to cause harm to either the building or the police officers and deputies inside the fence. We need to grieve; we don’t need to have more problems with destruction and deputies hurt, officers hurt."
Officials said while most protesters and community organizations did their part to help keep the peace Friday, more needs to be done so that small groups of people don't ruin mostly peaceful protests.
"This is a night that should have been about Daunte Wright; should have been folks there, recognizing his death and the tragedy that that is," Harrington said. "Tearing down a fence, coming armed to a protest, is not, in my mind, befitting a peaceful protest."
Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was fatally shot Sunday by a white Minnesota police officer during a traffic stop.
Kim Potter, 48, and an officer she was training pulled Wright over for an expired registration tag on his car. The officers then determined Wright had an outstanding gross misdemeanor warrant, according to then-Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon. As the officers tried to take Wright into custody, he got back into his car, police said. Potter then announced that she would use the Taser on Wright.
Potter meant to deploy her Taser instead of her gun when she fatally shot Wright in his car, Gannon said. Two days after the incident, both she and Gannon resigned, and Potter has since been charged with second-degree manslaughter.
Wright's death has sparked days of protests around not just Minnesota but also across the U.S.
Information about the exact number of those arrested Friday, and their charges, has not been released.
(CHICAGO) -- The fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo was captured on newly released body camera footage, along with witness and surveillance video.
Chicago Police Officer Eric Stillman has been identified in the original case incident report as the officer who fatally shot the teen on March 29 in the Little Village neighborhood. Toledo's death sparked protests among the community which is demanding change from the Chicago Police Department and Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Lightfoot called the footage "excruciating" and "difficult to watch" in a press conference.
Here's what's known so far about the deadly shooting of Adam Toledo:
Shots fired, triggering police response
Just before 3 a.m. on March 29, police say the department's ShotSpotter technology, which can identify and alert officials of potential gunshots, detected a number of gunshots fired on the city's West Side. At least two 911 calls were also made in connection with the gunfire. Little Village, where Toledo lived and was killed, is a predominantly Latino community.
Nearby surveillance video shows 21-year-old Ruben Roman shooting at a passing vehicle with Toledo by his side, according to prosecutors in a bond hearing for Roman. Roman and Toledo then are said to have ducked into an alley, where officers found them shortly after.
Both ran, according to officials. In the footage, Stillman tackles Roman to the ground, then, while another officer arrests him, gets back up to chase Toledo.
Gloves worn by Roman tested positive for gunshot residue, according to Assistant State's Attorney James Murphy. He said seven shell casings recovered by officers matched the handgun Roman is previously seen using and that he says Toledo later appears to be carrying.
Roman now faces felony charges of reckless discharge of a firearm and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, as well as child endangerment and violating probation, according to Murphy.
'Show me your f---ing hands!'
The police department released a video sequence that shows close-up video and freeze frames of the chase, in which Toledo appears to have a gun.
Stillman can be heard on video yelling, "Police! Stop. Stop right f---ing now." Toledo then stops at a break in the fence.
Stillman yells, "Hands -- show me your f---ing hands." Toledo then drops what seems to be a gun behind a fence, according to officials. As the officer yells, "Drop it!" Toledo put both of his hands up. In less than one second according to the prosecutors' account, Toledo allegedly tosses the gun behind the fence, and is shot by the officer.
Initial reports claimed that Toledo had a gun in his hands when he was shot, but the Cook County state's attorney's office said those claims are false.
Toledo then falls to his knees and lays on the ground, on the video.
Pronounced dead at the scene
In the footage, Stillman can be heard reporting that shots were fired by police and he called an ambulance to the scene. He made attempts to revive Toledo, telling him to "stay with him," but the teen was unresponsive. At one point, Stillman says he didn't feel a heartbeat and performs CPR on Toledo.
In a statement to ABC News, Stillman's attorney Tim Grace said "the officer was faced with a life-threatening and deadly force situation. All prior attempts to deescalate and gain compliance with all of the officers' lawful orders had failed."
Toledo did not have identification on him at the time of the shooting, according to officials. He was fingerprinted multiple times, but nothing came up. Missing persons reports were also checked.
Roman gave a fake name when questioned about Toledo's identity and denied knowing Toledo or firing any shots, according to police and prosecutors.
On March 31, detectives contacted Toledo's mother, Elizabeth, to tell her that her son matched the description of someone in the morgue. She identified her son that day. In a statement, the family expressed anger that officials waited two days before calling the family.
Who was Adam Toledo?
Adam Toledo was a seventh grader at Gary Elementary School, his family said in a statement.
"[He] enjoyed sports and was a good kid. He did not deserve to die the way he did," the statement said. "The Toledo Family will seek justice for this reprehensible crime."
In another statement, the Toledo family addressed "hurtful and false" mischaracterizations of Adam "as a lonely child of the street who had no one to turn to. This is simply not true. Adam was a loved and supported 13-year-old boy. He lived with his mother, his 90-year-old grandfather, and two of his siblings. His father was in his life. They all loved him very much. The Toledo family is a close-knit family. They look after each other."
Weiss Ortiz P.C. is representing the Toledo family.
(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Eight people were shot dead and several others were injured in a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis Thursday night, according to authorities.
The suspect, 19-year-old Brandon Hole -- who FedEx says was a former employee -- was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, Craig McCartt, deputy chief of Criminal Investigations at Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, said at a Friday news conference. He was armed with a rifle, McCartt said.
When officers arrived at the FedEx facility near the Indianapolis airport just after 11 p.m., they found a "chaotic and active crime scene," McCartt said.
"This suspect came to the facility ... he got out of his car and pretty quickly started some random shooting outside the facility. There was no confrontation with anyone," McCartt said. "That began in the parking lot and then he did go into the building."
Four victims were found outside and four were inside, police said.
Five surviving victims suffered injuries consistent with gunshot wounds and two others had minor injuries, McCartt said.
Hole last worked at FedEx in 2020, McCartt said.
"We can confirm that the perpetrator was a former employee at the facility," FedEx said. The company deferred further information to the police.
Police said they do not have a motive.
There is no indication that the shooting is connected to terrorism, two law enforcement officials told ABC News.
In March 2020, Hole's mother "contacted law enforcement to report he might try to commit 'suicide by cop,'" Paul Keenan, special agent in charge of the FBI's Indianapolis field office, said in a statement. "The suspect was placed on an immediate detention mental health temporary hold by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department."
A shotgun was taken from Hole's home and "based on items observed in the suspect’s bedroom at that time, he was interviewed by the FBI in April 2020," Keenan said.
"No Racially Motivated Violent Extremism (RMVE) ideology was identified during the course of the assessment and no criminal violation was found," Keenan said. "The shotgun was not returned to the suspect."
About 100 employees were in the vicinity of the FedEx facility at the time of the shooting, according to the company. Many employees were changing shifts or on their dinner break at the time, McCartt said.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Randal Taylor called FedEx a major employer for the city. This FedEx location is the second-largest FedEx Express Hub in the world, according to an internal briefing from the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The largest hub is in Memphis.
FedEx said in a statement Friday morning, "We are deeply shocked and saddened by the loss of our team members following the tragic shooting at our FedEx Ground facility in Indianapolis."
"Our most heartfelt sympathies are with all those affected by this senseless act of violence," FedEx said. "The safety of our team members is our top priority, and we are fully cooperating with investigating authorities."
FedEx told ABC News that no COVID-19 vaccine shipments were impacted by the shooting.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said in a statement Friday, "This morning, Indianapolis residents are confronted with the horrific news of yet another mass shooting, an act of violence that senselessly claimed the lives of eight of our neighbors."
"As law enforcement works to learn more about this tragedy, our prayers are with the families of those whose lives were cut short," Hogsett said.
The mayor said at the Friday news conference, "We must guard against resignation or even despair. The assumption that this is simply how it must be and we might as well get used to it -- we need the courage that compels courageous acts that push past weariness."
In a statement, President Joe Biden called the shooting "just the latest in a string of tragedies, following closely after gunmen firing bullets in broad day light at spas in and around Atlanta, Georgia, a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, a home in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and so many other shootings."
"It’s a mass shooting just a week after we met, in the Rose Garden, with families who lost children and dear friends as bullets pierced their bodies and souls in schools, a night club, in a car at a gas station, and a town meeting at a grocery store. And it came just the night before 14th anniversary of the shooting at Virginia Tech, in which a gunman murdered 32 people," Biden said.
"Last night and into the morning in Indianapolis, yet again families had to wait to hear word about the fate of their loved ones. What a cruel wait and fate that has become too normal and happens every day somewhere in our nation," Biden said.
He went on, "Last week, I called on the Justice Department to better protect Americans from gun violence. I also urged Congress to hear the call of the American people -- including the vast majority of gun owners -- to enact commonsense gun violence prevention legislation, like universal background checks and a ban of weapons of war and high-capacity magazines. Too many Americans are dying every single day from gun violence. It stains our character and pierces the very soul of our nation. We can, and must, do more to act and to save lives."
Biden once again ordered White House flags to be lowered to half-staff, as he has done following other mass shootings.
Vice President Kamala Harris said Friday, "Yet again, we have families in our country that are grieving the loss of their family members because of gun violence."
“There is no question that this violence must end," she said.