Four Minneapolis officers involved in death of unarmed black man fired
Four Minneapolis police officers were fired on Tuesday after video emerged showing an officer kneeling on the neck of an unarmed black man who died following the arrest.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced that the officers involved in the arrest were now “former employees,” CBS Minnesota reported. The officers have not been named.
“This is the right call,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (D) wrote in a Twitter post immediately after the announcement.
Four responding MPD officers involved in the death of George Floyd have been terminated.
This is the right call.
— Mayor Jacob Frey (@MayorFrey) May 26, 2020
The decision came amid escalating outrage over footage showing a police officer using his knee to pin a black man to the pavement by his neck as he repeatedly said, “I cannot breathe.”
The man, identified as George Floyd by his family’s attorney, died of a “medical incident” after being detained by officers, the Minneapolis Police Department said Monday.
The department said earlier Tuesday that the FBI would take part in its investigation into the incident, as calls for accountability mounted. Arradondo said that he requested a federal probe after receiving “additional information.”
“Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” Frey said during a news conference. “For five minutes, we watched as a white officer pressed his knee to the neck of a black man. For five minutes. When you hear someone calling for help, you are supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic human sense.”
A group of Minnesota Democratic lawmakers late Tuesday called for federal, state and local authorities to undertake a “thorough investigation” into the incident. In a letter addressed to Erica MacDonald, U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, and Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, the lawmakers urged investigators to quickly secure all video footage and to “aggressively pursue justice.”
“Mr. Floyd’s death appears to be yet another horrifying instance of excessive force leading to the death of African Americans across this country,” Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith wrote with Reps. Ilhan Omar and Betty McCollum.
The lawmakers also asked the investigation to include a review of the arresting officer’s possible involvement in any other incidents including misconduct.
Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Floyd’s family, said in a statement that the officers’ actions represented “abusive, excessive and inhumane use of force” toward a man who was being detained for questioning about a nonviolent charge.
Floyd was detained on Monday evening after the Minneapolis Police Department received a report of a forgery in progress at the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South, the department said. After arriving on the scene, two officers located the suspect, identified as a man believed to be in his 40s, and asked him to step away from his car.
According to the police, the man got out of his car but “physically resisted” the officers.
“Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress,” the Minneapolis Police Department said, adding that he was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center before dying a “short time later.”
No weapons were used by anyone involved in the encounter, police noted.
Footage of the arrest shot by a bystander showed an officer with his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as Floyd lay face first on the street next to a police SUV. Floyd can be heard moaning and repeatedly saying, “I cannot breathe.”
Clips posted on social media indicate that many people were urging the officer to take his knee off Floyd. The video did not include footage of the events that took place before Floyd was handcuffed.
The incident prompted widespread calls for an investigation and promises from state and federal lawmakers for justice. A protest is also being planned at the intersection where the arrest occurred, according to the Star Tribune.
“We heard his repeated calls for help,” Klobuchar said in a statement calling for an outside investigation. “We heard him say over and over again that he could not breathe. And now we have seen yet another horrifying and gut wrenching instance of an African American man dying.”
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) said that the “lack of humanity in this disturbing video is sickening,” adding that “we will get answers and seek justice.”
The Minneapolis Police Department noted that body-worn cameras were on and activated during the arrest. The department added that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension had also been asked to assist in its probe.
Updated: 11:05 p.m.