A video showing a man of African descent being arrested and then released by two police officers has been viral on social media, as protests against the custodial death of George Floyd engulfed the United States. The captions shared with the video claim that the individual was arrested during the ongoing protests and then released by the police officers when they realised that he's an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The claim is false; Rochester Police Department of Minnesota announced in an official statement that the incident shown in the video is from June 1, 2019 - one year before the protests broke out - and that the individual, who was wrongfully arrested in a case of mistaken identity, was not an FBI agent.
As protests across US turned violent, with reports of police brutality, it became one of the most popular topics of discussion on social media over the past few days with hashtags like #USAonFire trending consistently. In the midst of all this, the video showing the arrest became immensely popular along with the misleading claim.
Disclaimer: The video contains expletives that maybe disturbing to some people.
The moment when they realised they just attempted to arrest an FBI agent... 🙂 pic.twitter.com/sw3t3iexKg— Nics Monique (@NicsMonique) June 1, 2020
Searching for posts about the video with relevant keywords, we found a tweet by an individual named Abdullahi (@ajprotege), who claimed that the person in the video was not an FBI agent but a Paramedic EMT, and that his name was Atter. He also mentions that the video was shot in Rochester, in the state of Minnesota.
This is one of my friends Atter. He is not an FBI agent but a Paramedic EMT. Atter is one of the most down to earth person know and is an extremely generous and kind friend. He is also a very patient person. This is the city of Rochester, Mn and the cops do this a lot. https://t.co/zKHkfb4A9q— ☽( عَبْدُ اَلْلَّهِ ) Abdullahi (@ajprotege) June 1, 2020
Fact checkers at Snopes traced the video an individual called Nike, who had posted it on his Instragram account (@thisisnike1) and YouTube channel (Nikee Lado) on May 31, 2020 with the following caption:
Somethin' been telling me to hold on to this video over a year now, ok. "Some days we make it home or some days we make it 6 feet deep." Imagine getting killed at home, while jogging, playing, minding your own business or just damn breathing? #BeingBlackInWhiteAmerica!! Can't even smoke a damn cigarette in peace. @theshaderoom @cnn @goodmorningamerica @worldstar Share and post!! Enough is enough!! #minneapolis #minneapolisriots #twincities #rochestermn #blacklivesmatter #policebrutality #policeofficer #racism #racialprofiling @shaunking @troubleman31 @realdlhughley @nickcannon @amandaseales @dailymail @theyoungturks @Marclamont #BreakfastClub
The caption states that the video was taken a year ago, but does not make any mention of the an undercover FBI agent being arrested, as claimed by the viral posts.
The Twitter account of the same individual (@ThisIsNike1) took to the micro-blogging platform to state he recorded the video on June 1, 2019, and that the person in the video is his friend Atter. This confirmed the earlier tweet we saw by Abdullahi, who also claimed that the person was called Atter.
Finally, Rochester Police Department put out a statement, confirming that the video was indeed shot on June 1, 2019, and that the individual in the video was not an FBI agent. Here is an excerpt from the statement:
"The officers believed they recognized a person known to have an arrest warrant for assault. The individual was roughly the same height, weight and age of the individual the officer believed to have a warrant. Officers approached the male and asked him his name. The individual was not cooperative in identifying himself to officers. The officers determined they had reasonable suspicion to detain the individual and determine his identity. During the brief detention, identification was located showing he was not the individual the officers knew had a warrant. The individual was immediately released. Contrary to social media rumors, the individual was not a Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent."
- Rochester Police Department, June 1, 2020
BOOM could not independently confirm the name of the individual in the video, or verify the date it was shot. However, social media testimonies as well as the statement by the authorities make it clear that the person in the video is not an FBI agent.