Minnesota State Patrol troopers have admitted to “strategically” deflating tires during protests following the death of George Floyd. The state’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) confirmed the action, CBS Minnesota reports, after social media videos emerged of officers appearing to slash tires in parking lots amid the demonstrations.
The department said troopers deflated tires to keep the vehicles from being used in attacks against law enforcement or protesters and for the vehicles to be towed if a collection of evidence was necessary. According to DPS, it was only done in certain situations.
Photos and videos were posted showing the damage done to tires. Jeff Wagner, a local reporter who was covering the protests, shared pictures of cars with deflated tires in a Kmart parking lot.
Andrew Kimmel, a video producer, said all four tires on his rental car were slashed, too.
Mother Jones compiled multiple videos showing law enforcement officers appearing to slash tires with knives, which led to protesters and others being left stranded.
The Star Tribune first reported deputies with the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office said were directed to slash tires by the Multi-Agency Command Center (MACC) on May 30 and 31. The state activated MACC to coordinate law enforcement response during the protests.
In response to the report, Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart said in a news release Tuesday that “life safety issues” were a concern on days leading up to those dates and added that his deputies were not involved with the vehicles at the Kmart location. He specifically mentioned an instance where that tactic was used on two vehicles that were abandoned on the roadway of a bridge.
“The command was given to disable illegally abandoned vehicles via tire deflation, which were inside the law enforcement perimeter and obstructing law enforcement operations,” he said. “This procedure was done in order to preserve order, life, and safety of both the protestors and law enforcement that were present at this location.”
The DPS said it couldn’t speak for other law enforcement officers, but will look into how this was implemented.
“These were strategies for individual situations, but not a general order from the MACC. As in all operations of this size, there will be a review about how these decisions were made,” the department told CBS Minnesota.