Rumors swirl via social media
The Eagan Police Department released a statement May 29 regarding rumors that a member of the department is a man seen in videos smashing windows of an AutoZone in Minneapolis.
“The Eagan Police Department has been made aware of a social media post that falsely identifies one of our officers as the person caught on video breaking windows in Minneapolis. We have seen the photo and this person does not work for the Eagan Police Department,” according to the statement.
The video is from a scene near Minneapolis Police 3rd Precinct showing a white man wearing a gas mask wearing all black clothing and carrying an umbrella.
He is shown using a hammer to smash the windows of an AutoZone.
The incident occurred near demonstrations May 28 against police brutality following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The individual in the video has not be identified.
There were rumors online that the individual is a police officer working for either St. Paul or Eagan.
The St. Paul Police Department also responded May 28 stating ““We are aware of the social media post that erroneously identifies one of our officers as the person caught on video breaking windows in Minneapolis. We’ve seen it. We’ve looked into it. And it’s false.
“So we also want to be perfectly clear about this: The person in the video is not our officer. We don’t know who that person is, but we hope he’s identified and held accountable for his actions.”
Screencaptures circulated showing an alleged text conversation identifying the man with a name similar to that of an Eagan officer.
Snopes, a fact-checking website, has labeled the allegation that the video shows an undercover police officer purposly breaking windows during the protest as “unproven.”
“Scant evidence exists to support the claim that the man dressed in black and smashing windows of an AutoZone was (the specific officer).”
Here are portions of the message Eagan Chief of Police Roger New released to the community May 28:
“The events over the past weekend involving the death of George Floyd are deeply disturbing, which is a shared sentiment of the staff at the Eagan Police Department, and on behalf of all the members of my agency, I would like to extend our condolences to his family.
“I’m certain there are many in our community searching for answers and asking the question ‘how and why did this happen,’ but unfortunately, I can’t explain that and wish I could. However, as your police chief, I’ve created the expectation that all members of the department will carry themselves in a ‘respectful’ and ‘professional’ manner to build trust and legitimacy with law enforcement.
“Mr. Floyd’s death has sparked the discussion about police and community relations, where I believe it is important to engage in constructive conversations about race, humanity and equality. The Eagan Police Department has taken part in these conversations in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
“I’ve been a police officer with the Eagan Police Department for 26 years, and I’ve taken a lot of pride serving the community, where today I feel embarrassed for my profession. However, as your chief, I’m committed to doing whatever is necessary to restore the confidence in the public, and I’m certain the members of the Eagan Police Department are prepared to walk alongside of me to accomplish that goal.”