As closing arguments and potentially even a verdict are expected next week in the case against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd, protests against the recent police killing of Daunte Wright in a nearby suburb have once again brought attention to the ongoing issue of police violence against Black people.
Wright, 20, was fatally shot on Sunday by an officer who, according to the Brooklyn Center Police Department’s chief, had apparently meant to use her Taser and who was charged on Wednesday with second-degree manslaughter. As the New York Times outlined on Wednesday, at least 15 police officers have mistook their guns for Tasers over the past two decades — but only three were convicted.
The racial justice protests that swept the nation last summer following Floyd’s death drew a heavy-handed response from the Trump administration — one we’re still learning about today. This week, we published records from the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) that contain new details about the deputation of law enforcement officers for Operation Legend, a Justice Department program that was criticized — like the Trump administration’s authoritarian response to protests — as being a politicized effort to bolster the former president’s “law and order” campaign message.
Operation Legend sent federal officers to cities across the country purportedly to combat violent crime, and was an “extension” of an existing Justice Department program. The records we obtained reflect this rebranding, and also provide details about the locations and dates of scores of federal deputations in various jurisdictions.
USMS frequently uses deputations in setting up task forces around the country, but as the Marshall Project reported earlier this year, officers involved in USMS task forces may often operate without the same oversight measures, including regarding use of force, as local police departments. Moreover, those operations see higher rates of fatal shootings than local operations. Just this week, the New York Times published a story about the September killing of an antifa activist by a USMS task force in Washington state. In its review of the case, the Times found that local investigators looking into the incident appeared to have discounted key evidence that contradicted their conclusion that the shooting was justified.
You can read more here about the USMS records we uncovered regarding Operation Legend. And here are some other recent headlines related to the issue of police violence:
The U.S. Military and White Supremacy
We’ve been investigating the government’s response to the prevalence of extremism within the armed forces, and received documents that further illustrate how the branches of the military are not adequately tracking incidents of white supremacy in their ranks. On Tuesday, USA Today reported on records we obtained from the U.S. Navy that “show a pattern in which military leaders chose to deal with personnel involved in extremism by dismissing them in ways that would not attract public attention.”
Last-Minute Trump DHS Agreements with States
In the final weeks of the Trump administration, Ken Cuccinelli, the official performing the duties of deputy secretary of homeland security, signed several agreements with various states and jurisdictions that appeared intended to hamstring the incoming Biden administration’s immigration goals, such as pausing deportations and suspending the Migrant Protection Protocols. We received emails between DHS officials and officials in two of those states — Texas and Louisiana — that reveal, as Buzzfeed‘s Hamed Aleaziz tweeted, “the last minute nature of [the] agreements.”
VA Pandemic Records
Previous reporting, as well as documents published by American Oversight, showed that the Department of Veterans Affairs struggled in the spring and summer of 2020 to obtain enough personal protective equipment. This week, we published additional documents that provide more details about those early pandemic difficulties.
The Coronavirus Pandemic
Capitol Police told to hold back on riot response on Jan. 6, report finds (New York Times)
‘Clear the Capitol,’ Pence pleaded, timeline of riot shows (Associated Press)
U.S. intel walks back claim Russians put bounties on American troops (Daily Beast)
Biden will withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021 (Washington Post)
Texas nonprofit got massive border contract after hiring Biden official (Axios)
Biden DOJ declines to release key Trump documents about zero tolerance (NBC News)
Leaked calls show ALEC’s secret plan to fight Biden on climate (Grist)
GOPers crack down on the private election grants that helped avoid a pandemic fiasco (Talking Points Memo)
Part of Investigation: