The FBI is investigating the death of a man after he was restrained by police in Minneapolis.
Government officials and Minnesota locals alike expressed outrage after a video surfaced showing a white police officer kneeling on the neck of a black man and ignoring his pleas for help until first responders put him, unresponsive, on a stretcher.
The man, identified at 46-year-old George Floyd, died at a local hospital, according to police. The case echoes the death of Eric Garner, another black man who died while a white officer restrained him, ignoring pleas of “I can’t breathe.”
The four officers involved in the Monday incident were fired Tuesday, and the attorney for Floyd’s family, Ben Crump, called for their arrests. The officers have yet to be officially identified, but attorney Tom Kelly told The Associated Press he is representing Derek Chauvin, the officer seen with his knee on Floyd’s neck. Kelly declined further comment.
Here’s what we know so far:
What’s in the video?
A video taken by a bystander circulating on social media shows Chauvin with his knee pressed into Floyd’s neck while the man repeatedly says he can’t breathe.
Floyd repeatedly pleads with Chauvin, at one point crying out for his mother and saying “everything hurts.”
Two officers are featured prominently in the video — Chauvin and an officer who stands between bystanders and the officer on top of Floyd.
“He’s talking, he’s fine,” one officer says to a person off-camera.
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“He ain’t fine,” the person replies before calling the officer a “bum” and saying he’s “enjoying what’s happening.”
Chauvin keeps his knee pressed into Floyd’s neck and Floyd stops talking. About four minutes into the video, Floyd becomes unresponsive. Bystanders approach Chauvin and the officer draws something, causing one of the people off-camera to say, “He’s got mace.”
Bystanders repeatedly ask the officers to check for a pulse. Chauvin doesn’t remove his knee from the man’s neck until EMS puts an unresponsive Floyd onto a stretcher, roughly four minutes after he stopped responding.
What is a ‘neck restraint’?
The Minneapolis Police Department’s Policy & Procedure Manual defines a neck restraint as a “non-deadly force option.”
The handbook reads: “Defined as compressing one or both sides of a person’s neck with an arm or leg, without applying direct pressure to the trachea or airway (front of the neck). Only sworn employees who have received training from the MPD Training Unit are authorized to use neck restraints.”
The book has two types of neck restraints:
- Conscious Neck Restraint: The subject is placed in a neck restraint with intent to control, and not to render the subject unconscious, by only applying light to moderate pressure.
- Unconscious Neck Restraint: The subject is placed in a neck restraint with the intention of rendering the person unconscious by applying adequate pressure.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, speaking to reporters Tuesday, was asked about the use of the knee on Floyd’s neck during the arrest.
“We clearly have policies in place regarding placing someone under control,” Arradondo said, explaining that those policies “will be part of the full investigation we’ll do internally.”
What do police say happened?
The Minneapolis Police Department released a statement Monday that said officers responded to a report of a forgery in progress just after 8 p.m.
Police discovered a suspect and ordered him to get out of his car.
“After he got out, he physically resisted officers,” MPD said in a statement. “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.”
No weapons were used by anyone in the incident, according to the MDP statement, and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was called to investigate the incident.
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Police on Tuesday updated the statement to add, “As additional information has been made available, it has been determined that the Federal Bureau of Investigations will be a part of this investigation.”
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension released a statement saying, “The names of the officers involved will be released once initial interviews with incident participants and witnesses have taken place.”
Who are George Floyd and Derek Chauvin?
Floyd, who worked security at Conga Latin Bistro, was described as a “gentle giant,” the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported Tuesday. On Facebook, the restaurant posted pictures of Floyd, including one of him smiling at the camera in a “security” T-shirt. The caption reads, “We will always remember you.”
Chauvin was one of six officers who fired their weapons in the 2006 death of Wayne Reyes, whom police said pointed a sawed-off shotgun at officers after stabbing two people. Chauvin also shot and wounded a man in 2008 in a struggle after Chauvin and his partner responded to a reported domestic assault.
What’s the response?
The four officers involved in the incident were fired, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey tweeted Tuesday afternoon.
On Facebook, Frey said, “Being Black in America should not be a death sentence.”
“Whatever the investigation reveals, it does not change the simple truth, he should still be with us this morning,” the mayor said. “I believe what I saw and what I saw is wrong on every level.”
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz also took to social media to demand answers. Sen. Amy Klobuchar called the video “horrifying” and “gut-wrenching” and called for an investigation.
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“The lack of humanity in this disturbing video is sickening,” Walz tweeted. “We will get answers and seek justice.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, called for a “thorough” FBI investigation.
“George Floyd deserved better and his family deserves justice,” Biden tweeted. “His life mattered. I’m grateful for the swift action in Minneapolis to fire the officers involved — they must be held responsible for their egregious actions.”
Protesters filled the intersection in the street where Floyd died on Tuesday night, chanting and carrying banners that read, “I can’t breathe” and “Jail killer KKKops.” They eventually marched about 21/2 miles to a city police precinct, with some protesters damaging windows, a squad car and spraying graffiti on the building.
A line of police in riot gear eventually confronted the protesters, firing tear gas and projectiles. Some protesters kicked canisters back toward police. Some protesters stacked shopping carts to make a barricade at a Target store across the street from the station, and though steady rain diminished the crowd, tense skirmishes stretched late into the evening.
Crump, who is also part of the team representing the family of Ahmaud Arbery, the black jogger who was shot and killed after allegedly being pursued by a white father and son in Georgia, called the firing of the four officers a good “first step” in a statement.
On Twitter, Crump called for the four officers to be arrested on murder charges.
“How many ‘while black’ deaths will it take until the racial profiling and undervaluing of black lives by police finally ends?” Crump said in a statement.
Contributing: The Associated Press.
Four Minneapolis officers involved in the arrest of a black man who died in police custody were fired Tuesday after video showed an officer kneeling on the handcuffed man’s neck, even after he pleaded that he could not breathe and stopped moving. (May 26)
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