MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An FBI investigation is underway following a fatal encounter Monday between Minneapolis police and an unarmed black man.
In a statement early Tuesday, police said the man had a medical incident during an attempted arrest. However, video of the encounter shows an officer with his knee on the man’s neck for at least seven minutes. Before the man loses consciousness, he repeatedly tells officers that he can’t breathe.
Leaders in Minnesota are calling for the officers involved to be held accountable. Rep. Ilhan Omar, who represents Minneapolis, called for the Department of Justice to investigate immediately.
“It is sickening to watch this black man be killed while helplessly begging for help,” she said in a statement.
At a Tuesday morning press conference, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey spoke bluntly about the graphic video, which has circulated widely online.
“Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” he said, adding: “What we saw is horrible, completely and utterly messed up.”
Thread: Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey calls the incident with a 40-something year old black man who died while under arrest “wrong on every level.” A FB video shows an MPD officer pinning the man down as he says he can’t breathe. “This does not reflect the values of MPD.” #wcco pic.twitter.com/f9T6mvMkPI
— Christiane Cordero (@ChristianeWCCO) May 26, 2020
An attorney representing the man’s family identified him as George Floyd. He said that the officers’ unjust use of force over a non-violent charge cost Floyd his life.
According to Minneapolis police, the encounter between Floyd and officers happened shortly after 8 p.m. Monday, when police were called to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of a man attempting to use forged documents at Cup Foods.
Officers found Floyd in a car at the scene. He appeared intoxicated, police say. Officers ordered him to get out of the car.
“After he got out, he physically resisted officers,” police spokesman John Elder told reporters early Tuesday. “Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and officers noticed that the man was going into medical distress.”
An ambulance brought Floyd to Hennepin Healthcare, where he later died, police say.
Overnight, video of the attempted arrest circulated on social media. Posted by Darnella Frazier on Facebook, the nine-minute video shows a white officer pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck behind a squad car. While lying face-down on the road, Floyd repeatedly groans and says he can’t breathe.
“He’s not even resisting arrest right now, bro,” one bystander tells the white officer and his partner, in the video. “You’re f—ing stopping his breathing right now, you think that’s cool?”
After about five minutes, Floyd stops moving and appears unconscious. People in the gathering crowd plead for the officers to check Floyd’s pulse. The officer on Floyd’s neck does not lift his knee until medical personnel arrive and carry him to an ambulance.
At the Tuesday morning press conference alongside the mayor, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo did not address the video specifically, but did say that he received information from the community that prompted him to reach out to the FBI. The investigation is now being led by federal authorities with help from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
The officers involved in Floyd’s death are on “relieved of duty status,” the police chief said. This is different from the typical administrative leave, but is still paid with no law enforcement duties. The names of the officers involved have yet to be released.
Lt. Bob Kroll, of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, said that the union intends to provide full support to the officers.
“Now is not the time rush to judgement and immediately condemn our officers,” he said. “An in-depth investigation is underway. Our officers are fully cooperating. We must review all video. We must wait for the medical examiner’s report.”
Protesters were already seen outside Minneapolis police’s 3rd Precinct on Lake Street Tuesday afternoon.
— Sam Jones (@PhotojournSam) May 26, 2020
Another protest is planned for Tuesday night at the scene of the incident, where a makeshift memorial appeared midday Tuesday. The evening protest is being organized by a number of local activist groups, including the Minneapolis NAACP, Communities Against Police Brutality, and Black Lives Matter Twin Cities.
In speaking to reporters Tuesday, the city’s mayor expressed condolences to Floyd’s family and the black community.
“He should not have died,” Frey said.
— Mayor Jacob Frey (@MayorFrey) May 26, 2020
Floyd’s death is reminiscent of the death of another unarmed black man, Eric Garner. In 2014, he died after a New York City police officer placed him in a choke hold during an attempted arrest over selling single cigarettes.
Bystander video of the incident showed Garner telling officers, “I can’t breathe.” The phrase quickly became a rallying cry during the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and national protests over police use of force.
The officer who placed Garner in the choke hold was fired but not charged.
Source: CBS Minnesota