A warning to our audience: Our top story contains graphic footage and descriptions of police violence. In Minneapolis, a medical expert called by the prosecution in former police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial testified Thursday that George Floyd died from a “lack of oxygen” — not from the drug fentanyl, as alleged by the defense. Pulmonologist Dr. Martin Tobin estimated Floyd’s airways were 85% restricted as he was caught in a “vise” between the hard asphalt and Chauvin’s knee for over nine minutes, face down and handcuffed, repeatedly gasping “I can’t breathe” before falling silent.
Dr. Martin Tobin: “At the beginning, you can see he’s conscious. You can see slight flickering. And then it disappears. So, one second he’s alive, and one second he’s no longer. … That’s the moment the life goes out of his body.”
Dr. Tobin testified that, based on a telltale kick of his leg, George Floyd appeared to suffer brain damage five minutes after Derek Chauvin first pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck. Dr. Tobin said Chauvin continued to press Floyd into the pavement for more than three minutes after Floyd’s last breath.
In Bryan, Texas, one person was killed and five others wounded Thursday after an employee of a cabinet shop opened fire at his workplace. After the shooting, the suspect led police on a high-speed chase, then wounded an officer in a gun battle. The 27-year-old suspect was then taken into custody alive.
In South Carolina, a gunman broke into the home of a prominent doctor in the city of Rock Hill Wednesday, killing five people, including children, and wounding a sixth person before turning the gun on himself. Police identified the killer as Phillip Adams, a 33-year-old former NFL star who played for the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers. Adams had a history of head injuries, including two concussions in a span of three games during the 2012 season. Adams’s father said his son had no history of violence, telling reporters, “I can say he’s a good kid. I think the football messed him up.”
President Biden ordered a series of executive actions on gun control Thursday, calling gun violence in the U.S. an “epidemic” and an “international embarrassment.” Biden’s orders will crack down on so-called ghost guns — easily assembled firearms bought over the internet without serial numbers, which account for about a third of guns recovered at crime scenes. Biden called for an expansion of “red flag” laws that allow family members or law enforcement to temporarily block people from obtaining firearms if they present a danger. He also called on Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and said gun manufacturers should be held liable for deaths and injuries resulting from their products.
President Joe Biden: “The only industry in America, a billion-dollar industry, that can’t be sued, has exempt from being sued, are gun manufacturers.”
The United States recorded nearly 80,000 new coronavirus infections Thursday and 1,000 deaths from COVID-19. Michigan remains the hardest-hit state, but new hot spots are emerging in the Northeast, Texas and parts of the Upper Midwest.
In North Carolina, health officials shut down a mass vaccination site Thursday after several patients had immediate adverse reactions to shots of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. This follows similar reports of nausea and dizziness in people who received J&J doses in Colorado a day earlier.
Johnson & Johnson said Thursday it will drastically reduce its deliveries of its vaccine around the U.S. next week, after one of its contractors, Emergent BioSolutions, said 15 million doses at a Baltimore plant were contaminated and needed to be thrown out. The White House has since ordered Johnson & Johnson to take charge of the plant. One in four U.S. adults is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
In Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan is being called a “rape apologist” after he blamed a rise in sexual assault cases on the way women dress and on outside cultural influence. This is human rights activist Tahira Abdullah, who joined a protest in the capital Islamabad this week.
Tahira Abdullah: “It is highly humiliating and insulting to say that Pakistani men cannot control themselves when women are out in public without wearing the veil. Does that mean that men are out of control and that all men are rapists, because they see women not observing the veil in public? This is nonsense. It is a Taliban mindset, and it betrays a sexism, misogyny and patriarchy. And the prime minister must apologize.”
President Biden has joined the Irish and British prime ministers in calling for an end to the unrest that has rocked Northern Ireland over the past week. Since last Friday, vehicles have been set on fire, and clashes with police have left dozens of officers injured. Police deployed water cannons in Belfast Thursday night and threatened to start shooting plastic bullets. Some of those in the streets have been as young as 12 or 13. The unrest comes amid mounting anger in unionist, or loyalist, areas over Brexit, which they say further weakens Northern Ireland’s ties to Britain.
Britain’s Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, has died at the age of 99. Prince Philip fought in World War II and was a stalwart supporter of the British monarchy for over seven decades.
In Texas, an investigation is underway into allegations of child abuse, including sexual assault, faced by unaccompanied migrant children being held at the Freeman Expo Center in San Antonio. Over 1,300 unaccompanied teens, who recently came to the U.S. seeking refuge, are currently being detained at Freeman. According to the latest data, nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children came to the U.S. during March — double the number of children who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in February. In more immigration news, the parents of 445 migrant children — separated by the Trump administration — still cannot be found. That’s according to a court filing from the ACLU, which says efforts to reunite separated refugee families are moving slowly.
In Texas, a newly leaked video reveals a Harris County Republican official urged his party to create an “army” of poll watchers made up of 10,000 people from Houston’s majority-white suburbs. The unnamed official says the poll watchers should mobilize on Election Day in predominantly Black and Brown communities in Houston.
Harris County Republican official: “We’ve got to get folks in these suburbs out here that have, you know, a lot of Republican folks that got to have the courage. If we don’t do that, you know, this fraud down in here is really going to continue.”
The video was published by the government accountability group Common Cause Texas, which warns the efforts could further fuel voter suppression in communities of color.
New Mexico has banned qualified immunity for all government workers, including police officers. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the legislation Wednesday, ending the use of the legal protection which for years has given police officers near immunity from lawsuits and from prosecution in cases of excessive force and other forms of misconduct. This comes after New York City banned qualified immunity for police officers last month.
In Bessemer, Alabama, a partial tally of votes cast by workers at an Amazon warehouse shows more than twice as many votes against forming a union than in favor, with around half the cast ballots counted. Hundreds of ballots have been challenged during the count, most of them by Amazon. Those votes could come back into play if the margin among the uncontested ballots is close.
Meanwhile, the labor rights media group More Perfect Union has revealed Amazon executives coerced the U.S. Postal Service to install a private mailbox at the Bessemer warehouse so the company could pressure workers to mail their ballots from work and monitor votes.
In Nevada, antiwar protesters have been leading peaceful actions outside Creech Air Force Base all week, blocking its gates to protest U.S. drone warfare. On Monday, a vigil was held for Daniel Hale, a former intelligence analyst who pleaded guilty last week to leaking classified documents about the secretive U.S. targeted killing program. Hale faces up to 10 years in prison.