Four officers from the Minneapolis Police Department have been fired after conducting an arrest which lead to the death of unarmed black man George Floyd.
On Monday evening, two officers from the Minneapolis Police Department responded to a call about a “forgery in progress.” According to subsequent police reports, Floyd allegedly resisted arrest.
In the video, after officers took him to the ground, a white police officer can be seen kneeling on the neck of George Floyd. Floyd’s head is pushed into the asphalt, his nose begins bleeding and he can be heard pleading with the officer to allow him to breath. “Please. Please. Please I can’t breathe,” Floyd moaned.
Three officers, two of which had arrived on scene after the arrest began, held Floyd down as a fourth told surrounding bystanders to stay back. “I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe,” Floyd repeatedly said during the incident.
The officer keeping watch on the bystanders said, “This is why you don’t do drugs kids.” One male bystander responded, “This isn’t about drugs bro, (inaudible) he’s human bro… you don’t have to sit there with your knee on his neck.” The fourth officer responded, “he’s talking, he’s fine.”
Around five minutes into the video, Floyd appears to go limp and quits moving or speaking. The officer keeps his knee on Floyd’s neck even after he stops responding. Around seven minutes into the video, an ambulance arrives, an EMT checks his pulse and then goes to get a stretcher. All the while, the officer’s knee remained on Floyd’s neck.
“You just killed that man bro,” the male bystander said as Floyd was taken away in an ambulance.
The video (warning: disturbing content and explicit language) of the incident was originally captured by Darnella Frazier, and since being released has ignited protests and calls for justice from around the nation.
The four officers involved were fired after originally being placed on paid administrative leave.
It’s unclear why the officer continued to kneel of Floyd’s neck despite knowing Floyd was in medical distress and calling for an ambulance.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (D) called on Hennepin County Attorney General Mike Freeman to charge the arresting officer in this case with a crime. “Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail? If you had done it or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now,” Frey said during a Wednesday press conference.
On Tuesday, the Hennepin County Attorney’s office released a statement saying that it was collaborating with federal prosecutors to bring charges in accordance with an ongoing investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. “We promise a thorough, expedited review consistent with our on-going commitment to justice. Every person is entitled to fairness; no person stands above the law,” the statement said.
President Trump gave his reaction to the news while speaking to reporters from the Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday where the Crew Dragon Demo-2 spacecraft was supposed to launch in route to the International Space Station, (ISS) but was scrubbed due to inclement weather. “It’s very sad,” the President told reporters.
Later in the day, the President tweeted, “At my request, the FBI and the Department of Justice are already well into an investigation as to the very sad and tragic death in Minnesota of George Floyd. I have asked for this investigation to be expedited and greatly appreciate all of the work done by local law enforcement. My heart goes out to George’s family and friends. Justice will be served!”
Former Vice President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that the officers involved in Floyd’s death must be held “fully accountable.”
“The officers have to be held more fully accountable, including the FBI investigation and independent Department of Justice civil rights investigation, because we have to get to the root of all this,” Biden said.
In response to Floyd’s death, protests erupted in Minneapolis and quickly turned violent as looters ransacked Target and others started fires around the city including in an AutoZone.
Mayor Frey called for a more peaceful response by tweeting on Wednesday night, “Please, Minneapolis, we cannot let tragedy beget more tragedy.”
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Photo from Fibonacci Blue via Flickr