UPDATE: Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey announced via Twitter that four police officers have been fired in relation to the death of a Black man, George Floyd, while in police custody. Floyd was seen on video gasping for breath while a white officer had his knee on his neck. Floyd later died.
“This is the right call,” Frey wrote on Twitter:
While officials have not publicly named the officer in question, two sources familiar with the investigation identified him as Derek Chauvin, according to the Star Tribune. The identities of the four officers arrested have not been revealed.
The incident is also being investigated by the FBI for civil rights violations.
A protest is planned by local community activist for Tuesday evening (May 26,) but Mayor Frey has encouraged those who are marching to remember the safety of social distancing rules. ____________________________________________________________________________
Tuesday, May 26, 2020: Officials in Minnesota along with the FBI are investigating an incident in which a Black man was subdued when a Minneapolis police officer used his knee to put pressure on the man’s neck while being apprehended on Monday evening (May 25.) The man, who was identified by attorney Benjamin Crump, as George Floyd, has since died.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that police were called to investigate an alleged forgery and saw a man fitting the description of the suspect in his car. Police told the newspaper that Floyd was at first compliant, but then resisted and officers used force to apprehend him. This is until they realized he was in “medical distress” and an ambulance was called. Police were wearing body cameras at the time.
A video taken by a bystander shows one of the arresting officers pinning Floyd down to the ground while using his hands and knee on the Floyd’s neck to hold him in place, apparently constricting his breathing and causing him to gasp for air. “Please, please, please I can’t breathe. Please, man,” he begged. Bystanders vocally protest the officer’s methods for several minutes until the man stops gasping. Floyd died at a nearby hospital shortly afterward.
Nekima Levy-Armstrong, a local activist told the Star-Tribune that the entire incident is reminiscent of the fatal encounter in 2014 in Staten Island, NY between Eric Garner and then-Officer Daniel Pantaleo who put him in a chokehold while arresting Garner. All while Garner was gasping for air saying, “I can’t breathe.”
“It just reminds me of Eric Garner once again: a Black man being accosted by police and pleading for his life saying he couldn’t breathe,” said Levy-Armstrong. “I’m fully convinced that if police wouldn’t have been called to the scene, then he would still be alive.”
She said that witnesses told her that the man had been involved with a dispute with a store owner prior to the police being called.
“Whatever the man may have done should not have ended in a death sentence,” she told the Star-Tribune. “What started as an alleged economic incident once again turned deadly for a Black man.”
The apprehension was originally streamed on Facebook Live by a witness who told the newspaper that it may have started in another location. “When I showed up they weren’t in front of Cup Foods, the police were across the street next to [a] blue Mercedes,” DeVondre Pike told the Star-Tribune via Facebook Messenger.
Police spokesman John Elder said officers tried to resuscitate the man, who is thought to be in his 40s, at the scene, and that no weapons were used in the incident. He said that both the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the FBI have both been called in to review the situation.
“As we started digging into this and seeing more we realized that the FBI needed to aid in this investigation,” Elder said, according to the Star-Tribune. We called and they readily agreed.”
Now that Floyd has been identified, people who knew and cared for him are speaking out about his death.
"My employee George Floyd was murdered by a police officer that had no compassion, used his position to commit a murder of someone that was begging for his life," wrote Jovanni Thunstrom on Facebook. The owner of Conga Latin Bistro says Floyd worked for him as a security guard for several years and was often thought of as a "gentle giant."—Madison J. Gray
Jovanni Thunstrom, the owner of Conga Latin Bistro, said Floyd had worked there as a security guard for more than five years. He said Floyd was also a friend and had been a tenant of his.
He wrote on Facebook that he first saw the video and later found out the person who died was Floyd. He said he was writing the post through teary eyes.
"My employee George Floyd was murdered by a police officer that had no compassion, used his position to commit a murder of someone that was begging for his life," Thunstrom wrote.
Thunstrom asked people who remembered the "gentle giant," who worked as a security guard at the Minneapolis bar and restaurant, to "please stand with us."
"Everyone who knows him knew he loved his hugs from his regulars when working as a security guard and would be mad if you didn’t stop to greet him because he honestly loved seeing everyone and watching everyone have fun," Thunstrom wrote on Facebook.