Posts falsely claim that George Floyd’s death was staged
Posts shared thousands of times on Facebook claim that George Floyd’s death was staged, and that “crisis actors” were used to play the roles of the black man and police. This is false; autopsies confirmed Floyd’s death, and personnel files of the officers involved are available online.
Another Facebook post says: “I think there is at the very least the ‘possibility’, that this was a filmed public execution of a black man by a white cop, with the purpose of creating racial tensions.”
AFP Fact Check breaks down claims on the subject below.
Claim: Floyd is alive
Floyd, a 46-year-old, died on May 25, 2020 after white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The incident was caught on camera by bystanders, and has sparked outrage across the country.
Floyd’s autopsy report from the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office can be found here. It confirms that he died on May 25, at 9:25 PM.
He “became unresponsive while being restrained by law enforcement officers; he received emergency medical care in the field and subsequently in the Hennepin HealthCare (HHC) Emergency Department, but could not be resuscitated,” it says.
A private autopsy was also conducted at the request of Floyd’s family.
Claim: ‘Crisis actors’ were used
But police personnel files for the officers involved -- Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane -- are available online. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, and the other three with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
Audio of the calls to first responders can also be heard in this visual investigation by The New York Times that reconstructs the chain of events.
“The idea of ‘crisis actors’ implies that events were staged for some political purpose,” Karen Douglas, professor of psychology at the University of Kent told AFP by email.
“This follows a very common conspiracy narrative -- that all is not what it seems and we can't trust the people in charge,” Douglas said.
Claim: Fake police badge
Thao can be seen wearing an embroidered badge while Chauvin has a metal badge in footage of Floyd’s arrest, encouraging conspiracy theories -- such as here and here -- that they were “fake cops.” But variations in badges and uniforms exist in the police workforce.
Claim: Fake police license plate
Suspicions also circulated about the license plate reading “POLICE” on a vehicle at the scene of Floyd’s arrest.
But plates with the word do exist in Minneapolis, and can be seen in a photo posted on the Minneapolis Police Department’s Facebook page here.
Claim: George Floyd, alive, is seen attending his own funeral
The original photo, found with a reverse image search, was taken during a rally for Floyd and was posted on the NBA’s official website on May 29, identifying Jackson, as well as other basketball players, in the caption.
“One of our good friends, Stephen Jackson, who's a former NBA player, it just so happens that George was a friend of his, he used to call him twin, cause they look so much alike and, talking to Stephen, he said, ‘Man, it could have been me,’” actor Jamie Foxx, who attended the rally with Jackson, said in a video posted on his official YouTube account on June, 4.
Houston said farewell to Floyd in a rousing hometown funeral on June 9 with tributes and calls for justice for the 46-year-old African American. Some 500 guests were at the funeral, including Jackson.
EDIT: This article was updated on June 10, 2020 to debunk a claim that George Floyd attended his own funeral.