Even as the Derek Chauvin case was fresh in memory — the reading of the verdict in a Minneapolis courtroom, the shackling of the former police officer, the jubilation at what many saw as justice in the death of George Floyd — even then, blood flowed on America’s streets.
The deaths, in some cases, sparked new cries for justice. Some said they reflect an urgent need for radical changes to American policing — a need that the Chauvin verdict cannot paper over. For others, the shootings are a tragic reminder of the difficult and dangerous decisions law enforcement face daily.
The circumstances surrounding each death differ widely. Some happened while officers investigated serious crimes. Police say some of the people were armed with a gun, knife or a metal pole. One man claimed to have a bomb that he threatened to detonate. In several cases, little is known about the lives of those killed and what happened in their final moments.
Police had been called to the house after someone called 911 and reported being physically threatened. Body camera footage shows an officer approaching a group of people in the driveway as the teenager, Ma’Khia Bryant, swings a knife wildly. Moments later, the girl charges at a young woman pinned against a car.
Bryant, who was in foster care at the time, was a shy, quiet girl who liked making hair and dance videos on TikTok, her grandmother, Debra Wilcox, told The Associated Press. Her family says her actions that day were out of character.
Later that evening in the same city, authorities say a man killed a person working in a shed outside his home. As officers arrived, the suspect started shooting at police. They returned fired, killing him. Officials have not released his name.
Phet Gouvonvong, 31, called 911 and claimed to have a bomb he threatened to set off, police said. Officers found him on the street. They said he was wearing body armor and had a backpack and what appeared to be a rifle.
The next morning, as people in Minneapolis awakened to a city boarded up for unrest that never materialized, a 42-year-old Black man in eastern North Carolina was shot and killed when deputy sheriffs tried to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants.
An eyewitness has said Andrew Brown Jr. was shot dead in his car in Elizabeth City as he tried to drive away. A car authorities removed from the scene appeared to have multiple bullet holes and a shattered back window.
He also had troubles with the law, including a misdemeanor drug possession conviction and some pending felony drug charges. The day before he was killed, two arrest warrants were issued for him on drug-related charges including possession with intent to sell cocaine, court records show.
That same morning, police in Southern California got a call about someone hitting cars with a metal pole. The man ran off when police arrived, but another officer spotted him carrying a 2-foot metal pole in the street.
Police in Escondido, near San Diego, have not released the man’s name, but did say he had been arrested nearly 200 times over the past two decades for violent assaults on police and the public, drug charges and other crimes. Efforts to get him help from mental health professionals hadn’t worked, the police chief said.
Chauvin was largely convicted based on video that showed him pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. Police shootings in a heated moment are notoriously difficult to prosecute. Juries have generally been reluctant to second-guess officers when they claim to have acted in life-or-death situations.
None of these cases has focused attention like the trial that came to a conclusion Tuesday. Some people hold out hope that the Chauvin verdict might be a crucial juncture in the national conversation about race, policing and the use of force.
Associated Press writers Michael Kunzelman in College Park, Maryland, Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas, Julie Watson in San Diego and Juliet Williams in San Francisco contributed to this report, as did Farnoush Amiri in Columbus, Ohio. Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
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