Karen Ruiz, Daily Mail, May 26, 2020
Four members of the Minneapolis Police Department have been fired over the death of George Floyd, who was filmed being pinned to the ground by his neck by a white police officer moments before he died in custody.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo on Tuesday announced that four officers involved in Monday’s incident are now ‘former employees’ of the force.
‘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,’ Arradondo said.
The names of the four fired cops have not been released however, two officers seen in the video were identified by Floyd’s family’s lawyer as officers Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao.
The two were filmed in a video taken by a bystander on Monday which showed Floyd struggling to breathe on the ground as a white cop kneeled on his neck for several minutes.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey responded to the four officers’ termination on Twitter saying the move was ‘the right call.’
It comes as the FBI and state law enforcement authorities announced on they have launched an investigation into the man’s death.
The incident has drawn comparisons to the case of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died in 2014 after he was placed in a chokehold by New York City police and pleaded for his life, saying he could not breathe.
Floyd, who was arrested on suspicion of forgery on Monday night, was heard repeatedly telling officers that he cannot breathe as he lay on the ground next to the tire of a squad car.
‘Please, please, please, I can’t breathe. Please, man,’ Floyd, who is shirtless, begs the cop.
After several minutes, one of the officers tells the man to ‘relax.’ ‘Man, I can’t breathe,’ Floyd responds, before eventually passing out.
A number of politicians and public figures have since spoken out against the incident on social media, calling for the police officers involved to be held accountable.
Floyd was identified as the victim on Tuesday by Ben Crump, a prominent civil rights and personal injury attorney who said he had been hired by Floyd’s family.
Crump is also representing the family of 25-year-old black man Ahmaud Arbery, who was allegedly shot and killed by two white men in Georgia earlier this month.
‘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 said in a statement.
‘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?’
When asked by reporters about the use of the knee on the man’s neck, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said the department has ‘policies in place regarding placing someone under control’ that ‘will be part of the full investigation we’ll do internally.’
Earlier this morning the Minneapolis Police Department confirmed Floyd died in hospital on Monday after officers had responded to a ‘forgery in progress.’
They did not release details on Floyd’s alleged offense, or what he had been doing in the lead up to his attempted arrest.
According to CBS Local, Floyd was apprehended outside Cup Foods grocery store around 8pm after he allegedly tried to use forged documents at a deli.
Police found the man, believed to be in his 40s, matching the suspect’s description in his car.
‘He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers,’ police spokesman John Elder claimed in a statement.
‘Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress.’
He was taken by ambulance to Hennepin County Medical Center where he died a short time later, police said.
But in the footage, shared by onlooker Darnella Frazier, the arresting police officer was seen pinning Floyd to the ground for more than six minutes as he pleaded with officers to release him.
‘Please, please, please, I can´t breathe. Please, man,’ the man is heard telling the officer.
Despite his pleas and agonizing screams, the officer continued to kneel on the man’s neck for several minutes.
Multiple witnesses were also heard arguing with the two cops over their excessive use of force.
‘Bro, you’ve got him down at least let him breathe, man,’ a male onlooker says.
‘He’s not even resisting arrest … he’s human, bro.’
One of the officers then replies: ‘This is why you don’t do drugs, kids.’
‘This ain’t about drugs, bro! He’s human,’ the bystander says.
‘You’re enjoying it. Look at you. Your body language, you bum. You know that’s bogus right now,’ he adds.
About four minutes into the video, the man appears to begin to lose consciousness before becoming unresponsive.
An ambulance then arrives and police officers move the man’s limp body onto a stretcher.
‘You just really killed that man, bro,’ the male onlooker says.
‘And if he’s not dead, he’s close to death, that’s crazy,’ Frazier adds.
The video, which has been shared more than 15,000 times on Facebook, has sparked outrage among viewers on social media.
‘They killed him right in front of Cup Foods over south on 38th and Chicago!! No type of sympathy. #PoliceBrutality,’ Frazier wrote in a Facebook post.
On Tuesday, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension confirmed the FBI has joined in its investigation.
All body camera footage has been turned over to the BCA, which investigates most police shootings and in-custody deaths.
The officers involved have been put on paid administrative leave, per department protocol.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey addressed the incident in a press conference on Tuesday morning, calling events in the video ‘wrong at every level.’
‘Being black in America should not be a death sentence,’ he said.
‘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. What happened on Chicago and 38th, this last night, is simply awful.’
Frey also apologized to the family of the man, who is yet to be identified, as well as the black community.
‘He was a human being and his life mattered,’ he said.
Minnesota state Senator Amy Klobuchar released a statement following the mayor’s media briefing, calling for the police officers involved to be held accountable.
‘We heard his repeated calls for help. We heard him say over and over again that he could not breathe. And now we have a seen yet another horrifying and gutwrenching instance of an African American man dying,’ she said.
‘Every single person in every single community in this country deserves to feel safe. As the Mayor Minneapolis noted, this tragic loss of life calls for immediate action.
‘There must be a complete and thorough outside investigation into what occurred, and those involved in this incident must be held accountable.
‘Justice must be served for this man and his family, justice must be served for our community, and justice must be served for our country.’
Nekima Levy-Armstrong, a prominent local activist, said watching the footage that was shared on social media made her ‘sick to her stomach’ and called the incident another example of police brutality toward African American men, the Star Tribune reported.
‘Whatever the man may have done should not have ended in a death sentence,’ she said.
‘What started as an alleged economic incident once again turned deadly for a black man.’
Levy-Armstrong said the incident reminded her of the Eric Garner case.
He was an unarmed New York man who died in 2014 after he was placed in a chokehold by police and pleaded for his life saying he couldn’t breathe.
A grand jury later decided against indicting the officers involved, sparking protests around the country.
Police in Minneapolis have come under the microscope in recent years for deadly run-ins with citizens.
A 24-year-old black man, Jamar Clark, was shot in the head and died in 2015 after a confrontation with two white officers responding to a reported assault.
A county prosecutor declined to prosecute the officers, saying Clark was struggling for one of the officers´ gun when he was shot.
A white woman, Justine Rusczcyk Damond, died in 2017 when she was shot in the stomach by a Minneapolis officer responding to her 911 call.
That officer, who is black, was convicted of manslaughter and murder and is serving a 12-year prison sentence.