News Headlines 4/14/21

OFFICER WHO FATALLY SHOT BLACK MAN DURING TRAFFIC STOP RESIGNS, DECISION EXPECTED ON WHETHER TO CHARGE: The veteran police officer who shot and killed a 20-year-old Black driver during a traffic stop in the town of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on Sunday, resigned Tuesday (April 13th) after 26 years on the force. Kim Potter said in her brief letter of resignation, “[I] believe it is in the best interest of the community, the department, and my fellow officers if I resign immediately.” Also resigning yesterday was Police Chief Tim Gannon, who said on Monday that he believed Potter mistakenly shot Daunte Wright when she meant to use her Taser as he tried to struggle out of the grasp of police and get away when they tried to arrest him on an outstanding warrant. Meanwhile, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput told local station WCCO that he hoped to have a decision by today on whether or not to charge Potter, who is white.

There were protests in Brooklyn Center over the shooting for a third day yesterday, with clashes between demonstrators and police again after nightfall. When the crowd was ordered to disperse some 90 minutes before a 10 p.m. curfew, it set off confrontations, including protesters launching fireworks toward a now heavily-guarded police station and throwing objects at police, who in turn set off flashbangs and gas grenades. National Guard members were also on hand. However, within the hour, only a few demonstrators remained.

REGULATORS RECOMMEND ‘PAUSE’ IN USE OF JOHNSON & JOHNSON COVID VACCINE OVER RARE BLOOD CLOT CASES: The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday (April 13th) recommended a “pause” in use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine after a handful of rare blood clot cases. The federal regulators want  to investigate the cases, and also let doctors know how the clots have to be treated, which is different than how clots are usually treated with the blood thinner heparin, if there are future cases, but said they hope to resolve the pause within days. The unusual blood clots have taken place in six women out of the more than 7.2 million adults who’ve gotten the Johnson & Johnson shot. One of them died and another is hospitalized in serious condition. President Biden and top health officials said at a White House briefing that the pause should boost confidence in the fact that the government is putting safety first.

DEFENSE WITNESS SAYS CHAUVIN WAS JUSTIFIED IN ACTIONS AGAINST FLOYD: The defense began presenting its side Tuesday (April 13th) in the murder and manslaughter trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd after the prosecution rested its case. A use-of-force expert called by the defense, former Santa Rosa, California, police officer Barry Brodd, testified that Chauvin was justified in pinning Floyd to the ground with his knee on his neck because he kept struggling, contradicting last week’s testimony by the prosecution’s witnesses. He said, “It’s easy to sit and judge . . . an officer’s conduct. It’s more of a challenge to, again, put yourself in the officer’s shoes to try to make an evaluation through what they’re feeling, what they’re sensing, the fear they have, and then make a determination.”

The prosecution tried to push back on Brodd’s contention that Chauvin acted in a way a reasonable officer would. At one point, when Brodd said Floyd kept struggling instead of just, quote, “resting comfortably” on the ground, the prosecutor incredulously asked, “Did you say ‘resting comfortably’?” Brodd also said the witnesses yelling at police that Floyd couldn’t breathe and to let up on him complicated the situation by making them concerned about whether the bystanders were a threat.

The defense brought up a 2019 arrest in which Floyd suffered from dangerously high blood pressure and confessed he was a heavy opioid user. Chauvin’s attorney suggested he may have suffered from, quote, “excited delirium” during the fatal incident last May. Minneapolis police training officer Nicole Mackenzie testified more about the condition, a potentially lethal state of agitation. Also on the stand yesterday was Minneapolis Park Police Officer Peter Chang, who was helping at the scene that day. He spoke about the witnesses who he said were, quote, “becoming more loud and aggressive,” and that it caused him “concern for the officers’ safety.”

U.S. TO WITHDRAW ALL TROOPS FROM AFGHANISTAN BY SEPTEMBER 11TH: President Biden plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11th, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that led the U.S. to go into that country, U.S. officials said yesterday (April 13th). AP cited a senior administration official as saying that’s an absolute deadline that won’t be affected by conditions on the ground. The date goes past a May 1st deadline for full withdrawal under a peace agreement the Trump administration reached with the Taliban last year. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden will deliver remarks today, quote, “on the way forward in Afghanistan, including his plans and timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops.”