A video posted to Facebook shows Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin pushing his knee into the neck of a man who was eventually identified as Geroge Floyd. Floyd was on the pavement of Chicago Avenue near 38th Street in front of Cup Foods Monday night.
“Please, please, please, I can’t breathe. Please, man,” Floyd can be heard saying to the officer.
At one point and after several minutes, an officer tells the man “to relax” and asks the man what he wants. “I can’t breathe,” he responds. “My stomach hurt, my neck hurt, everything hurts.” He asks for water.
In a emailed statement Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison observed that
The available video appears to show George Floyd vocally pleading for his life. He appears to be informing officers that he couldn’t breathe while the officer’s knee was on his neck. He appeared to present no danger. Video shows onlookers who were disturbed pleading for the officer to give medical attention. Those calls appear to have gone unheeded as Mr. Floyd became unresponsive.
Whenever someone dies at the hand of law enforcement or state power, we owe it to everyone affected to investigate thoroughly. Even though video exists, a careful investigation is necessary and has already begun. If you were on scene, have any information or evidence, or were involved in any way, I encourage you to come forward now and cooperate fully with that investigation.”
In the video bystanders can be heard questioning why Chauvin continued to dig his knee into Floyd’s neck for so long. Floyd could be heard desperately exclaiming that he couldn’t breath.
The Washington Post published footage of the moments leading up to the handcuffing of George Floyd.
Chauvin had been on the force for nearly two decades with at least 10 complaints filed against him. He has shot and killed at least one person and shot and wounded at least one other, in their bathroom.
“He should not have died“, said an emotional Jacob Frey, the Mayor of Minneapolis, during a Tuesday morning press conference with Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo. Frey said “he was a human being and his life mattered.” Frey condemned Chauvin’s actions, saying he was “wrong at every level” and that Chauvin “failed in the most human sense.”
“Being Black in America should not be a death sentence” Frey said.
Mayor Frey talks about the death of George Floyd during community conversation.
By Tuesday afternoon Frey announced that four officers involved in this incident had their employment terminated.
The FBI has been called in to assist the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (MN-BCA) in the investigation of the incident due to the racial dynamics of the case.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office posted a statement saying prosecutors were “shocked and saddened” by what they saw in the video. They promised a “thorough, expedited review” for possible charges once the investigation ends.
Attorney Ben Crump, who has been retained by the family of Floyd, issued a statement on Twitter, saying, “This abusive, excessive and inhumane use of force cost the life of a man who was being detained by the police for questioning about a non-violent charge.”
Crump has represented the families of Trayvon Martin, murdered in 2012, Michael Brown, murdered by police in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014, and Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old murdered in Cleveland in 2014.
Earlier in the day, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said he would demand answers.
City data show African Americans are more likely than others to be stopped and searched by police as well as be the disproportionate targets of police use of force. The only Minneapolis police officer to be convicted in an on-duty, fatal shooting was Mohamed Noor, who shot and killed Justine Ruszczyk in 2017. Noor is black. Ruszczyk, was white. Otherwise mostly white officers were cleared of criminal charges.
The 2015 shooting death of Jamar Clark was a flashpoint for organizing and calls to reform the police department. The community response led several weeks of sustained protests outside the north Minneapolis 4th precinct, arguably responsible for the swift and decisive statement and actions from local and state leaders. In 2018, officers killed Thurman Blevins and Travis Jordan. Last year, police shot and killed Mario Benjamin.
A rally was quickly organized through Facebook.
Officers confronted the crowd forcefully dispersing some sort of chemical.
Unions responded forcefully to the tragic events
Jamie Gulley, President of the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and the SEIU Minnesota State Council stated over email that.
“We firmly believe that we must continue to dismantle the systematic racism and persecution of black lives. To everyone hurting and to everyone ready to fight for a better future, we stand with you.”
Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy stated that:
“This incident is an all too familiar reminder that a double standard still exists for African American men when interacting with law enforcement. Whether this bias is intentional or not, too many African American men continue to find themselves on the receiving end of deadly force.
Both as a Labor movement and as a country, we must recommit ourselves to ridding our society of the systematic racial inequalities that continue to plague our communities and deny justice to far too many Americans.”