(TMU) – Four officers from the Minneapolis Police Department have been fired over the killing of George Floyd on Tuesday, in perhaps the most high-profile and gut-wrenching example of police brutality in the U.S. in recent years.
In dramatic video that is being shared tens of thousands of times across social media, Floyd can be seen being begging for his life and repeatedly screaming “I can’t breathe” as a Minneapolis police officer holds the man with his neck on his knee until he chokes to death.
On Tuesday, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced that the four officers involved in Monday’s deadly incident are now “former employees” of the force. While an investigation of the incident by local and federal authorities remains pending, Arradondo admitted:
“We know there are inherent dangers in the profession of policing but the vast majority of the work we do never require the use of force.”
In response to the four officers’ termination, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey greeted the move as “the right call.”
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 apparent homicide of Floyd threatens to unleash a new wave of unrest over the needless killing of an unarmed and helpless Black man in broad daylight, and comes in the midst of continued outrage over the vigilante-style murder of Ahmaud Arbery by three white men in a Georgia suburb.
While the names of the four fired officers involved in Floyd’s killing haven’t yet been released, the victim’s family’s attorney Benjamin Crump has identified two of the perpetrators as officers Derek Chauvin and Tou Thou. Now-former Officer Chauvin is believed to be the main cop responsible for killing Floyd.
We did it!! Your calls to @jacob_frey led to the termination of all four officers 👏🏾 Now call DA Mike Freeman (612-348-5550) and tell him to ARREST & CHARGE these officers for the murder of #GeorgeFloyd. We must continue to fight for #JusticeForFloyd!! #SayHisName pic.twitter.com/2VHCS7doQp
— Benjamin Crump, Esq. (@AttorneyCrump) May 26, 2020
Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Star Tribune has uncovered “records and news accounts [showing] that Chauvin has been involved in at least three police-involved shootings over his career with the MPD: Wayne Reyes in 2006, and Leroy Martinez and Ira Latrell Toles, both in 2011.”
MPD spokesman John Elder also told the Star Tribune that the restraint technique using Chauvin’s knee went against department training. Elder said:
“In my years as an officer, that would not be what I would ever consider a chokehold.”
In video captured by a bystander at the intersection of Chicago Ave. and East 38th St. at around 8 p.m. on Monday, Floyd can be heard crying out that he can’t breathe while a white officer kneels directly on his neck for several minutes.
the now lifeless subject of your command and control policing ,
the human being under your brutal knee.
— 𝐑𝐞𝐯. 𝐂𝐨𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐖𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐚𝐦 𝐁𝐫𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐬 (@CornellWBrooks) May 26, 2020
In the disturbing footage, Floyd – who is believed to be in his 40s – begs for mercy for several minutes to no avail. He said:
“Please, I can’t breathe. I can’t move … My stomach hurts, my neck hurts. Everything hurts.”
While the shirtless man also cries out for his mother, bystanders also plead with the officer to simply let the man get some oxygen. The witnesses can be head saying:
“Why you got to hold him down? He’s not even resisting arrest.
“He’s not doing nothing, he was just getting in the car.”
An officer can then be heard replying: “This is why you don’t do drugs, kids.’
To which a bystander sharply responded:
“This ain’t about drugs, bro! He’s human … You’re enjoying it. Look at you. Your body language, you bum. You know that’s bogus right now.”
While a female voice is heard saying, “His nose is bleeding.”
Finally, a witness can then be heard saying:
“You’re going to just sit there with your knee on his neck? He’s not moving. Did you kill him?”
At that point, it becomes apparent in the video that the body of Floyd was non-responsive. He died a short time later after being transported to a nearby hospital, according to the department.
In a statement that came before the announced termination of the four officers, the Minneapolis Police Department claim that the officers were responding to an alleged “forgery in progress.” The statement added:
“After [the suspect] got out [of his car], he physically resisted officers … Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and note he appeared to be suffering medical distress.”
An update from the department’s PIO: pic.twitter.com/DZDLHp99Wd
— Libor Jany (@StribJany) May 26, 2020
The case is now being investigated by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension as well as the FBI. In a Tuesday press conference, Mayor Frey blasted the police conduct as “wrong on every level” while saying Floyd’s life “mattered.”
Continuing, the mayor said:
“Being Black in America should not be a death sentence.
“For five minutes, we watched as a white officer pressed his knee into 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.”
As outrage mounts on a global scale, critics and social media users are drawing comparisons to the 2014 killing of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old Black male who was placed in a chokehold by New York City police and similarly died begging for his life and crying “I can’t breathe.”
The killing of Garner came less than a month before the killing of Black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and precipitated one of the most active years of protest and community unrest the U.S. had seen in decades.
This is murder. Disgusting. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with US???? https://t.co/wesEwd4Bb2
— Steve Kerr (@SteveKerr) May 26, 2020
Attorney Benjamin Crump, who is also representing the family of Black 25-year-old Georgia murder victim Ahmaud Arbery, said in a statement:
“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,”
“We will seek justice for the family of George Floyd, as we demand answers from the Minnesota Police Department. How many ‘while Black’ deaths will it take until the racial profiling and undervaluing of Black lives by police finally ends?”
The video of a Minneapolis police officer killing a defenseless, handcuffed man is one of the most vile and heartbreaking images I’ve ever seen. The officer who stood guard is just as responsible as his partner; both must be held fully accountable. This must stop now.
— Mayor Melvin Carter (@MayorCarter) May 26, 2020
Local social movement organizer Nekima Levy-Armstrong told the Star Tribune that viewing the footage made her “sick to her stomach” yet was sadly typical of the brutal treatment meted out by police toward Black men in the United States. She added:
“Whatever the man may have done should not have ended in a death sentence … What started as an alleged economic incident once again turned deadly for a black man.”
On Tuesday afternoon, dozens of community members began to gather at the same intersection where Floyd was killed, signaling outrage in Minneapolis that is sure to mount in coming days. The peaceful protest was held somberly as mourners placed flowers and balloons at the site of the killing.
However, it remains to be seen whether the community will be willing to maintain its current stance of seeming passivity if Floyd’s killers are not given due punishment for the killing of an unarmed and helpless Black man.
Protesters are in the streets calling for justice after George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died in Minneapolis Police custody Monday night. A video taken by a bystander showed an officer kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes as he repeatedly told the officers he couldn't breathe. MORE: https://bit.ly/2zlRYgN
Posted by Fox 11 Los Angeles on Tuesday, May 26, 2020