Minneapolis Police Department spokesperson John Elder resigns

Minneapolis Police Department spokesperson John Elder (FOX 9)

Longtime Minneapolis Police Department spokesperson John Elder resigned from his position Wednesday. 

Elder served in the role for about eight years, providing communications for the department on from crime reports to large scale events such as Super Bowl LII. 

"Having had the opportunity to be the face and voice of the men and women, both sworn and civilian, of the Minneapolis Police Department has been more of an honor than can be expressed," Elder said in a statement.

Elder came under fire last year for calling George Floyd’s murder a "medical incident" in his initial statement to the media. In a press release, he said Floyd "appeared to be suffering medical distress" after he resisted arrest and was handcuffed. However, a video taken by a bystander showed former officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he cried out that he could not breathe while two other officers helped to hold him down. 

Elder told the Associated Press the initial description came after he was briefed by supervisors and that he had not yet reviewed the body camera video. He said the police department realized its initial statement was inaccurate after the bystander video surfaced, but by that time he said he did not have the authority to make the correction. 

Following Floyd’s death, the Minneapolis City Council voted to eliminate the public spokesperson position from the police department and shift it to city staff. However, Elder continued to handle the bulk of police media duties, including acting as the primary point of contact for journalists. 

The police department said Elder is taking a leadership role in a neighboring law enforcement agency, but did not identify which one.

Officer Garrett Parten will handle police media inquiries going forward as will the city’s communications department. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.