June 15 Black Lives Matter protests

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes, Helen Regan and Steve George, CNN

Updated 12:41 a.m. ET, June 16, 2020
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8:25 p.m. ET, June 15, 2020

FBI and DOJ reviewing hanging deaths of two black men in Southern California

From CNN's Jon Passantino

Robert Fuller, left, and Malcolm Harsch
Robert Fuller, left, and Malcolm Harsch Fuller and Harsch Families

The FBI, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and the US Attorney's office for the Central District of California are reviewing investigations into the recent hanging deaths of two black men in Southern California to determine if foul play or civil rights violations played a role.

The deaths of the two men, Robert Fuller, 24, and Malcolm Harsch, 38, occurred in the cities of Victorville and Palmdale 10 days and 50 miles apart. Both deaths were initially reported as suspected suicides by the Los Angeles and San Bernardino sheriff’s departments and are now under further investigation by the local departments.

"The FBI, U.S. Attorney's office for the Central District of California and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division are actively reviewing the investigations into the hanging deaths of two African American men in the cities of Palmdale and Victorville to determine whether foul play or civil rights violations played a role,” a spokesperson for the FBI Los Angeles Field Office said in a statement.

Fuller was found hanging from a tree in Palmdale on the morning of June 10. Nothing but the rope, contents of his pockets, and a backpack that he was wearing were found on the scene, Los Angeles County Homicide Capt. Kent Wegener said Monday.

Investigators are researching Fuller’s medical history and looking for the witness who reported Fuller’s body as well as searching for contacts in Arizona and Nevada. Sheriff’s investigators will also analyze Fuller’s cell phone and are also looking for neighborhood surveillance video.

About 50 miles away, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department is also investigating Harsch's death near a homeless encampment on May 31. Investigators there have not recovered evidence of foul play, the sheriff’s department said.

8:29 p.m. ET, June 15, 2020

DC protesters block Interstate 395 near Capitol

From CNN's DJ Judd

DJ Judd/CNN
DJ Judd/CNN

Protesters in Washington, DC, on Monday appeared to block both sides of Interstate 395 south of the Capitol.

About 150 protesters were also seen at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, DC.

They were seen carrying signs with the names of victims of police violence, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.

Here's what the protest looked like:

DJ Judd/CNN
DJ Judd/CNN

DJ Judd/CNN
DJ Judd/CNN

DJ Judd/CNN
DJ Judd/CNN

8:20 p.m. ET, June 15, 2020

Upcoming executive order on policing looks to "incentivize best practices," official says

From CNN's Nikki Carjaval

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images/FILE
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images/FILE

An upcoming executive order on policing will create new incentives for “best practices” in police departments, senior administration officials said on Monday.

The order, which is set to be unveiled on Tuesday, will create a nationwide certification process for police departments and rely on incentives to steer local forces towards federal guidelines, including on use of force standards that prohibit chokeholds outside of situations where deadly force is allowed. 

During a call with reporters, one senior administration official said the team worked closely with “law enforcement professionals and their representatives, as well as with families and people who are killed by law enforcement and, and also their representatives" to craft the document.

“The goal of this is to bring police closer together with the communities,” the official said. “We're not looking to defund the police, we're looking to invest more and incentivize best practices.”

The official said the executive order has three main components, focusing on new, national credentialing and certification for officers and departments, “information sharing” on excessive use of force complaints against officers, and incentivizing a “co-responder program” to deal with issues like mental health and homelessness.

But there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of federal mandates. Asked how the Department of Justice would enforce the components of the order, the official answered that “a lot of the law enforcement is local.”

The order won’t mandate that federal funding be tied to meeting those best practices, another official said later, but it will make departments more “competitive” for federal grants if they meet those standards.

“It’s creating the ecosystem that rewards good behavior. One of those good behaviors, if I'm applying for federal grants, maybe you want to look at an accreditation that makes you more competitive," the official said.

Trump has yet to comprehensively address issues of police reform or even acknowledge systemic racism in America and has not been heavily involved in drafting the executive order. Instead, the President has directed his energy on delivering a tough-talking law-and-order message and falsely portraying peaceful protesters as mostly violent.

Trump talks to reporters about upcoming executive order: 

7:17 p.m. ET, June 15, 2020

Email instructs Seattle police to only respond to "mass casualty event" in autonomous zone

From CNN’s Elle Reeve

 David Ryder/Getty Images
 David Ryder/Getty Images

Seattle Police officers have been instructed not to respond to calls for service within the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” unless it is in response to a “mass casualty event” like an active shooter, or a structural fire “likely to endanger human lives,” according to an email obtained by CNN.

The email, sent department-wide on June 12, instructs Seattle police officers to continue documenting calls originating from the "autonomous zone," even in cases “where complainant/victim contact isn’t possible.”

Detective Patrick Michaud, Seattle Police spokesperson, confirmed the authenticity of the email on Monday and reiterated that officers will still respond to any significant life safety issues in the "autonomous zone." For all other calls, people will be asked to meet police outside the zone, Michaud said. 

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said at news conference Monday that although they are responding to calls in the zone differently, “there is no cop-free zone in the city of Seattle.”

“I think that the picture has been painted in many areas that show the city is under siege – that is not the case. We do have a small area, as you know, in the Capitol Hill area…that we are responding to calls for service in a different manner,” Best said.

For non-life-threatening calls originating in this area, Best said “dispatchers and officers will try to coordinate contact with the victim or caller outside” of the zone’s boundaries “if it is feasible, reasonable, and safe to do so.”

7:18 p.m. ET, June 15, 2020

Atlanta police release 911 call from Rayshard Brooks shooting

From CNN's Jamiel Lynch

Atlanta Police Department
Atlanta Police Department

In a 911 call released by Atlanta police from Rayshard Brooks' fatal shooting, a Wendy’s employee told the operator she thought a man was drunk in his vehicle parked in her drive-through causing other cars to drive around him.

The employee told the dispatcher she went to his window.

“He woke up, looked at me and I was like ‘you’ve got to move out the drive-through’ because people can’t – they’re going around him, he’s in the middle of the drive-through just right there,” she said, according to the audio.

“And I asked him to pull over. If he had too much to drink to pull over and go to sleep,” she said.

The dispatcher asked the caller if she thought the man had a weapon.

“No, no. I think he’s intoxicated,” she said.

Some background: Brooks, 27, was shot and killed by police in a Wendy's parking lot Friday night. His death sparked protests this weekend, and prompted the sudden resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields. The officer who shot Brooks, identified by police as Garrett Rolfe, has been fired, and a second officer involved in the encounter, Devin Brosnan, has been placed on administrative duty. CNN has reached out to the officers and police union for comment. 

Plenty of questions are unanswered, perhaps chief among them whether the officers will face charges.

 

Hear 911 call before Rayshard Brooks was shot:

6:26 p.m. ET, June 15, 2020

Newly released Minneapolis dispatcher audio reveals concern over officers' use of force on George Floyd

From CNN's Pierre Meilhan

Getty Images/FILE
Getty Images/FILE

A concerned dispatcher watching the death of George Floyd on surveillance cameras felt it was necessary to alert a supervisor about the use of force applied by the officers involved, according to an audio recording released by the Minneapolis Police Department on Monday.

The audio stamp on the recording indicates the call was made at 8:30 p.m. local time on May 25, around the time Floyd was being transported by ambulance to the Hennepin County Medical Center.

"I don't know, you can call me a snitch if you want to, but we have the cameras up for 320's call, and…I don't know if they had to use force or not, but they got something out of the back of the squad, and all of them sat on this man, so I don't know if they needed you or not, but they haven't said anything to me yet,” the dispatcher said on the audio call.

The Minneapolis Police Department also released two 911 transcripts, including one from an unidentified off-duty city firefighter who witnessed the incident and said, “I’m on the block of 38th and Chicago and I literally watched police officers not take a pulse and not do anything to save a man, and I am a first responder myself, and I literally have it on video camera… I just happened to be on a walk so, this dude, this, they (expletive) killed him so..."

The off-duty firefighter offered to speak to a supervisor but when the 911 dispatcher tried to connect him, the call was disconnected, according to the transcript.

In another 911 transcript, an unidentified caller mentioned how an officer “pretty much just killed this guy that wasn’t resisting arrest.” The caller is then offered a chance to speak to a supervisor at the Minneapolis Third Precinct.

5:46 p.m. ET, June 15, 2020

Connecticut governor bans chokeholds for state police force

From CNN’s Anna Sturla

CT-N
CT-N

 

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday that he has signed an executive order banning the use of chokeholds for the state police force.

Lamont’s executive order also requires the state’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) review the Connecticut State Police Administrative and Operations Manual and update it to require state troopers to, when possible, deescalate situations, provide a verbal warning, and exhaust “all other reasonable alternatives” before resorting to use of deadly force. Troopers will also be required to intervene to stop another law enforcement officer from using excessive force and to report any such use to a supervisor, according to a statement from Lamont’s office.

Additionally, the executive order also requires that every state trooper be equipped with a body camera and all state police vehicles be equipped with a dashboard camera. The order prohibits DESPP from purchasing military and military-style equipment from the federal government until further notice, the statement said.

Lamont also said the state plans to release information on use of force incidents through an online portal, and aims to recruit more black and female officers for its state police force.

The governor said Monday he hoped his executive order will be codified into law in a special session of the state legislature. 

The orders were limited to Connecticut State Police, but the governor said he hoped the reforms would be enacted throughout municipal police departments.

5:19 p.m. ET, June 15, 2020

GOP leaders think Senate action on police reform is unlikely until July

From CNN's Manu Raju

Sen. John Cornyn
Sen. John Cornyn CNN

Two top Republicans think it is unlikely the Senate will move on police reform legislation until after the Senate returns to session following its two week July 4 recess.

Sen. John Cornyn, a member of Senate GOP leadership, said he doesn’t think there would be enough time to consider new police reform legislation on the Senate floor before July 4. He said the Senate will be consumed with the annual defense authorization bill for about two weeks before the July 4 break, which is two weeks along. The Senate is currently considering a public lands bill and will vote on nominations this week.

“So I don't know whether there will be time” before July 4, Cornyn said. “So it may be a comeback exercise when we return in July.”

The Senate is scheduled to be back in session July 20 before the August recess begins. The House is expected to pass its bill next week.

Sen. Tim Scott’s bill is not expected to be introduced until Wednesday.

Cornyn also said he’s open to a ban on chokeholds but said that most of those decisions are being made at the local level. 

"And so I think that's one of the things that I would be open to but I want to make sure I'm understanding exactly what Congress' role is relative to the conduct that occurs at the local level,” Cornyn said.

“What I'd like to do is figure out a way to make the people who are actually responsible for supervising police departments more accountable — make more of what's happening public so that that could be handled at the local level. Because it’s hard for us to do at the national level," he said.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune said that given “what we have to do and the fact that it's not ready yet, I’d be surprised” if the policing bill comes to the floor before July 4.

He said that could change if there’s broad enough momentum behind the Scott bill but added that “at this moment” the it will be considered on the floor “probably in the July work period.”

4:41 p.m. ET, June 15, 2020

Los Angeles Unified schools to ban chokeholds and pepper spray

From CNN's Alexandra Meeks

In an effort to reevaluate school police practices, the Los Angeles Unified School District will eliminate the policy allowing carotid holds and the use of pepper spray, Superintendent Austin Beutner announced Monday. 

"We cannot ignore legitimate concerns and criticism that students and other members in the school community have about all forms of law enforcement,'' Beutner said. "No person should feel the presence of a safety officer on a campus as an indictment of them or their character."

The Los Angeles Unified School District is the second largest school district in the nation, serving over 600,000 students at over 1,000 schools.