Four Minneapolis police officers involved in an arrest Monday that resulted in the death of an African-American man have been fired, a decision the city’s mayor declared “the right call.” Ahead of the announcement of the officers’ termination, the mayor gave an impassioned statement condemning the officer shown in a viral video with his knee on the neck of the man for having “failed in the most basic, human sense.”
In a disturbing video streamed on social media Monday (warning: graphic content), a Minneapolis police officer, who is white, is shown kneeling on a handcuffed black suspect’s neck for multiple minutes while the man pleads with him to get off, saying repeatedly that he “can’t breathe.”
As reported by the Star Tribune, the sequence of events that resulted in the ultimately fatal arrest caught on video began at around 8 p.m. Monday, when officers were called to Cup Foods over an alleged attempt to use a counterfeit bill. Police say they found a man, George Floyd, who met the description of the suspect.
Video streamed on Facebook Live shows Floyd lying face down on the ground, an officer kneeling on his neck while Floyd pleads with him to get off so he can breathe and informing the officers that “my stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts.”
“By then, several other witnesses had gathered on the sidewalk outside of Cup Foods, with several recording the scene on their phones,” the Star Tribune notes. Some of the witnesses eventually yell at the officer to get off the suspect. Floyd eventually stopped moving.
On Tuesday afternoon, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced that the four officers involved in the incident have been fired. “Four responding MPD officers involved in the death of George Floyd have been terminated,” Frey announced on Twitter. “This is 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
As reported by the Tribune, along with being fired, the officer who is shown in the video kneeling on Floyd’s neck is also now being investigated by federal authorities for “possible civil rights violations.”
After the video first surfaced, Mayor Frey delivered an impassioned statement condemning the officer’s actions. “Being Black in America should not be a death sentence,” said Frey. “For five minutes, we watched a white officer press his knee into a Black man’s neck. Five minutes. When you hear someone calling for help, you’re supposed to help.”
“This officer failed in the most basic, human sense,” he stressed. “What happened in Chicago and 38th last night is awful. It was traumatic. It serves as a reminder of how far we have to go.”
“For the better part of the night, I’ve been trying to find the words to describe what happened,” said the mayor. “All I keep coming back to is this: this man should not have died. What we saw is horrible. Completely and utterly messed up. The man’s life matters. He matters. He was someone’s son, someone’s family member, someone’s friend. He was a human being and his life mattered.”
“Whatever the investigation reveals, it does not change the simple truth: he should still be with us this morning,” Frey added. “I believe what I saw and what I saw is wrong on every level. This does not reflect the values [Police Chief Medaria] Arradondo has worked tirelessly to fulfill. To our Black community, to the family: I’m so sorry.”
High-profile lawyer Benjamin Crump, who has taken on other major cases, including Ahmaud Arbery’s, announced Tuesday that he has been retained by the Floyd family and has condemned the actions of the officers as “not only police brutality” but “murder.”
“Forgery is NOT a crime punishable by death,” Crump tweeted Tuesday along with a 2-minute clip of the graphic video. “This is not only [police brutality] it is MURDER! First Eric Garner, now this. We must put an end to the senseless killing of our Black men!”
“We all watched the horrific death of George Floyd on video as witnesses begged the police officer to take him to the police car and get off his neck,” Crump said in a written statement Tuesday. “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 nonviolent charge.”
Crump is calling for the four officers involved to be arrested and charged.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman promised a “thorough” but “expedited” investigation into the incident. “We promise a thorough, expedited review consistent with our on-going commitment to justice,” said Freeman in a statement Tuesday reported by the Tribune. “Every person is entitled to fairness; no person stands above the law.” Freeman noted that his office is also consulting with the U.S. Attorney’s Office on the case.
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