George Floyd, the Minnesota man who died in police custody after a video spread on social media showed a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the back of his head and neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Floyd, 46, was seen on the ground near a police SUV, yelling out that he is in pain. “Please, please, please I can’t breathe, please man,” The officer can be seen with his knee pressed into the back of Floyd’s head and neck while two other officers are also kneeling on Floyd while officer Thao, walks around.
As bystanders record the incident and beg the officers to let him up and to let him breathe, Floyd cries out, “I’m about to die.” Chauvin tells him to relax and asks, “what do you want?” Floyd then responds, “I can’t breathe. Please, the knee in my neck, I can’t breathe sir.” Floyd then calls out “momma” as Chauvin yells at him. Floyd then says, “my stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts,” and asks for water.
The video shows Floyd, who is handcuffed behind his back, motionless with his face on the pavement as bystanders say, “he’s not f*cking moving,” and “did they f*cking kill him?” When EMTs arrive, the officer lifts his knee, and Floyd’s head hangs limp as the medics move him to a stretcher, while still handcuffed behind his back.
Attorney Benjamin Crump, who has represented the families of several victims in civil rights cases, including the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, said on Twitter, “We have been informed that the man killed by Minneapolis police was named George Floyd. #JusticeForFloyd #icantbreathe.”
Crump will be representing Floyd’s family. He said in a statement, “We all watched the horrific death of George Floyd on video as witnesses begged the police officer to take him into the police car and get off his neck. 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.”
The incident occurred on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, in the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis Police say. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the FBI are investigating Floyd’s death. Police were called to Cup Foods at 3759 Chicago Avenue, citing police scanner audio. The call was for someone trying to pay with a counterfeit bill there. According to the scanner audio, officers found a man matching the description of the suspect sitting on the hood of his car. The incident was recorded on police body camera, according to the department.
The officer in the video seen kneeling on Floyd has been as identified as Officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin’s partner, Tou Thao, can be seen in the video ignoring bystanders who were begging Chauvin to get off of Floyd. A video shows two other unidentified officers, who are blocked by the SUV in the video, were also holding Floyd down. The four officers involved in the incident have been fired, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced Tuesday.
According to Minneapolis Police, officers were called at 8 p.m. for a report of a “forgery in progress.” Police said in a statement, “Officers were advised that the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence.” Floyd was not armed.
Police said in the statement, “Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.”
A photo from the other side of the street shows two other officers kneeling on Floyd and holding him down during the incident. One officer has his knee near Floyd’s back and the other is holding down his legs. Those officers have not been identified. They are blocked from view by the police SUV in the video:
Chauvin and Thao have been placed on paid leave. The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office issued a statement Tuesday saying prosecutors are assisting in the investigation. "We promise a thorough, expedited review consistent with our ongoing commitment to justice. Every person is entitled to fairness; no person stands above the law.”
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement on Tuesday, “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.”
Frey added, “What happened on Chicago and 38th last night is awful. It was traumatic. It serves as a reminder of how far we have to go. Whatever the investigation reveals, it does not change the simple truth, he should still be with us this morning.”
Governor Tim Walz said on Twitter, “The lack of humanity in this disturbing video is sickening. We will get answers and seek justice.”
Levy-Armstrong stated, “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.”