The death of George Floyd — a 46-year-old unarmed black man who died on Monday after he was videoed being pinned to the ground by a police officer’s knee to his neck — sparks outrage throughout the country.
George Floyd’s Arrest and Death
Per a Monday press release from the Minneapolis Police Department, authorities responded to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South that evening after 8 p.m. to reports of a forgery in progress.
TMZ reports on Wednesday that an employee at a nearby business alleged that Floyd attempted to pay for something with a $10 bill that was suspected to be counterfeit. The business that Floyd was a patron at allegedly reported it to police, per their company policy.
When two officers arrived at the scene, they located Floyd in his car and ordered him to step out.
Per the police release, “after he got out, he physically resisted officers.” After Floyd was handcuffed, the release says he “appeared to be suffering medical distress.”
According to a video shot by a bystander that documents Floyd after his arrest, a white police officer is seen pressing his knee into the back of Floyd’s neck.
“I can’t breathe,” Floyd was heard saying. “Please, I can’t breathe.”
See the video HERE.
After a few minutes, Floyd — lying face-down in the street with his hands cuffed behind his back — becomes silent and motionless as the officer keeps his knee in Floyd’s neck.
Though bystanders voice their outrage and demand that the officer remove his knee, another officer faces the onlookers on the sidewalk.
Ultimately, an ambulance arrives and takes Floyd away.
According to the medical examiner, Floyd was pronounced dead at 9:25 p.m. Monday at Hennepin County Medical Center.
The Termination of the Officers Involved
Tuesday afternoon on Twitter, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced that the four officers involved in Floyd’s arrest have been terminated.
“This is the right call,” Frey added.
Four responding MPD officers involved in the death of George Floyd have been terminated.— Mayor Jacob Frey (@MayorFrey) May 26, 2020
This is the right call.
During a town hall that was streamed on Facebook, Frey said the officer’s use of his knee was against department regulations.
“The technique that was used is not permitted; [it] is not a technique that our officers get trained in on,” Frey said. “And our chief has been very clear on that piece. There is no reason to apply that kind of pressure with a knee to someone’s neck.”
On Wednesday, the Minneapolis Police Department identified the officers as Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng.
Per the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the FBI is conducting a federal civil rights investigation into the matter. The state bureau also said that it was conducting its own investigation and would release its findings to the Hennepin County district attorney’s office.
On Tuesday, hundreds of people gathered at the intersection where Floyd was pinned down to protest the actions of the officers. Many chanted, “I can’t breathe” — a reference to what is believed to be some of Floyd’s last words — as well as, “No justice, no peace.”
WCCO reports that the protests then moved to one of the police precincts.
“We’re here to let them know this can’t be tolerated. There will be severe consequences if they continue to kill us. This will not go on another day,” a protester told the outlet.
Per social media videos, individuals were seen vandalizing property and spray-painting police cars.
To quell protesters, authorities showed up in riot gear, and fired tear gas and flash grenades at the crowd.
Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder later confirmed that one person had been shot “away” from the protest and described the person’s injuries as not life-threatening.
Though the police report claims Floyd “physically resisted officers” after getting out of his car, new surveillance footage may dispute this.
On Wednesday, outlets such as TMZ posted a video shot by nearby restaurant Dragon Wok that shows an officer (not the one who used his knee) taking Floyd out of his vehicle from the driver’s side. Floyd appears to cooperate as he is escorted from the car in handcuffs and sits on the sidewalk.
Another officer arrives and they walk Floyd across the street.
The surveillance video, however, does not show what immediately happens before Floyd gets pinned down by an officer’s knee.
‘Charged with Murder’
While appearing on CNN Tuesday night, Floyd’s relatives say the officers involved should be charged with murder.
“They treated him worse than they treat animals,” Philonise Floyd, Floyd’s brother, told news anchor Don Lemon. “They took a life — they deserve life.”
“He didn’t deserve what happened to him,” says Tera Brown, cousin of George Floyd, who said he couldn’t breathe as a police officer used a knee to hold him down by the neck. Brown said the four Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd’s death should be “charged with murder.” pic.twitter.com/ESXMVMdcXH— CNN (@CNN) May 27, 2020
Per The New York Times, civil rights lawyer Ben Crump is representing Floyd’s family.
“The plan is to make sure these officers are charged with the murder of George Floyd,” Crump was quoted saying. “When you really think about it, it was nine minutes that he begged for his life while this officer had his knee in his throat, had his knee in his neck.”
At a press conference on Wednesday, Mayor Frey called for charges to be brought against the police officer who pinned Floyd's neck with his knee.
"Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?" Frey said. "If you had done it, or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now."
However, the Hennepin County district attorney's office responded in a statement, "In order to bring charges and obtain a guilty verdict, there are very specific parts of the law which must be met in prosecuting any crime of violence."
They added, "The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is working as quickly as possible to gather the necessary evidence and we will expeditiously review the case when we receive the case file and make our decision."