In the months after George Floyd’s death, Minneapolis Police Department officers reported using force on far fewer people – but then use of force spiked late last year, a CNN analysis of department data found.
And after Floyd’s death, Black people are still subject to use of force by Minneapolis officers at a highly disproportionate rate.
RELATED: How Minneapolis Police first described the murder of George Floyd, and what we know now
The analysis, which comes as the Justice Department announced Wednesday it would open an investigation into the MPD’s practices, suggests that the prosecution of former officer Derek Chauvin in Floyd’s death hasn’t led to a sustained reduction in use of force by Minneapolis officers – or the racial disparities in who is subject to police force.
CNN reviewed cases in which the race of the person police used force on was recorded. Between January 2008, when the data begins, and May 25, 2020, when Chauvin killed Floyd, 64.6% of people who police used force on were Black. Since Floyd’s death, 62.6% were Black.
That’s in a city that is just 19% Black, according to US Census records.
According to the latest version of MPD’s policy manual, use of force is defined as intentional “bodily contact that causes pain or injury or restricts someone’s movement,” or threatening that conduct. It includes the use of a weapon, physical strikes, or displaying a weapon while interacting with a suspect.
The most common type of force officers reported using both before and after Floyd’s death was a “body weight pin.” Other commonly used types of force include joint locks, punches, takedowns, and personal mace.
Overall, the MPD data shows that police use of force dropped significantly immediately after Floyd’s killing last May. Officers reported using force on 32 people in June and 31 people in July – the lowest totals of any month since the beginning of the data in 2008.
But later in 2020, there was a pronounced spike. Officers used force on 204 people in September, 232 in October and 221 in November – the highest monthly totals in the dataset.
Since then, use of force has dropped, but is still elevated compared to previous years. Police used force on 115 people in March 2021 – more than any month in 2017, 2018 or 2019. The data does not include officer-involved shootings, which are reported separately.
MPD has not responded to CNN’s request for comment.
Police reported using a “neck restraint” in only a single case since Floyd’s killing, in which Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck. An officer put a 26-year-old Black man arrested for burglary in a neck restraint in August 2020, according to the data. The man was listed as assaulting an officer. The city banned all neck restraints and chokeholds by police in June.
CNN reported last year that Minneapolis police reported using neck restraints on hundreds of people in the years before Floyd’s death, two-thirds of whom were Black.
Chauvin’s use of force on Floyd does not appear to be listed in the dataset – there are no recorded uses of force on May 25, 2020.
In addition, officers appear to be recording less complete data about the race of the people they used force on. Since Floyd’s death, 19% of people who officers used force on were listed with an “unknown” or “not recorded” race, compared to less than 4% in the years before his death. It’s possible that that discrepancy could be because some of the more recent cases are still being investigated.