Four Minneapolis police officers have been fired following the death of George Floyd. Amateur video of the incident, now gone viral, shows an officer pin Floyd’s neck to the ground with his knee for nearly nine minutes. The suspect died sometime thereafter.
The Death of George Floyd
The incident began Monday when police responded to an alleged forgery in progress. They found Floyd in his car. After stepping out of the vehicle, Floyd then allegedly resisted arrest, reported nbcnews.com; that’s where the amateur video picks up, and it paints a poor portrait of the police response.
“Please, please, please, I can’t breathe,” Floyd begs in the video. “Please, please. I can’t breathe.”
Though Floyd pleaded for his life initially, he eventually goes silent. Meanwhile, a crowd of onlookers confront the officers. But by the time EMTs arrive, Floyd’s body already seems lifeless.
“Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress,” a Minneapolis Police statement said, reported nbcnews.com. “Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.”
However, throughout the video, onlookers clearly worried for the suspect’s life. They repeatedly asked officers to let him up, to stop holding him down. And by the end, several became extremely agitated, seemingly believing the officers killed Floyd.
Suspect Appeared Dead to Onlookers
“The man looked already dead before the ambulance even got there. He was clearly trying to tell them he couldn’t breathe, and they ignored him,” witness Darnella Frazier, who also recorded the incident, told NBC News.
“We all watched the horrific death of George Floyd on video as witnesses begged the police officer to take him into the police car and get off his neck,” said civil right lawyer Benjamin Crump, who represents the family, according to nbcnews.com. “This abusive, excessive and inhumane use of force cost the life of a man who was being detained by police for questioning about a non-violent charge.”
However, the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis asked for caution. It further said now was time for investigation, not a rush to judgement.
“We must review all video,” it said in a statement. “We must wait for the medical examiner’s report. Officers’ actions and training protocol will be carefully examined after the officers have provided their statements.”
Mayor Frey Responds
But as the video received more views, elected officials began weighing in. For Mayor Jacob Frey, he made his conclusion very clear during a news conference:
What we saw was horrible, completely and utterly messed up. I believe what I saw, and what I saw was wrong at every level.
This man’s life matters. He should not have died. He was a human being, and his life mattered. … Whatever the investigation reveals, it does not change the single truth that he should be with us this morning.
Being black in America should not be a death sentence. When you hear someone calling for help, you are supposed to help, and this officer failed in the most basic human sense.
The Minneapolis Officers
Minneapolis Police did not identify the identity of the four officers fired following Floyd’s death. However, the Chicago Tribune reported attorney Tom Kelly confirmed he was representing Derek Chauvin, and identified him as the officer seen with a knee holding down Floyd.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the department did not immediately respond to a request for the officer’s record. However, Chauvin was one of six officers that fired weapons in the 2006 death of Wayne Reyes. Chauvin also reportedly shot and wounded a man in 2008 after responding to a domestic assault call.