A video taken by an onlooker Monday evening shows a Minneapolis police officer keeping his knee on the neck of a motionless, moaning man at the foot of a squad car. The man, who was later identified as George Floyd, later died.
Tuesday afternoon, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced that four officers involved are now "former employees" with the department, CBS Minnesota reports. Mayor Jacob Frey tweeted, "Four responding MPD officers involved in the death of George Floyd have been terminated. This is the right call."
A police statement said officers were responding to a "forgery in progress." "Officers were advised that the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence," the statement said. "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," according to the statement.
The man died soon after, the statement said, adding: "At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident. … Body worn cameras were on and activated during this incident."
Arradondo said at a press conference Tuesday that the FBI will lead the investigation into the incident due to the possible civil rights violation.
The man who died was identified as George Floyd by Ben Crump, a prominent civil rights and personal injury attorney who said he had been hired by Floyd's family.
"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," Crump said in a statement. "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."
Two of the officers involved have been "relieved of duty status," Arradondo said. The officers are still receiving pay, but have no law enforcement duties.
The video, captured by Darnella Frazier, begins with the man, who is black, groaning and repeatedly saying "I can't breathe" to the officer who has his knee on the man's neck. The officer is white.
"Please," the man pleads. "I can't breathe," and continues to moan. An officer keeps insisting he get in the car, while the man repeatedly says he can't.
"My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts. … (I need) water or something. Please. Please. I can't breathe, officer. … I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe." That was followed by more groaning.
A female bystander points out the subject's nose is bleeding.
In an ongoing commentary permeated by cursing, a male onlooker says: "That's bulls**t, Bro. You're stopping his breathing right there, Bro. Get him off the ground, Bro. You're being a bum right now."
The man says the officer is "enjoying that. He's a bum, Bro. You could have put him in the car by now. He's not resisting arrest or nothing. You're enjoying it. Look at you. Your body language — you bum. You know that's bogus right now."
The female onlooker repeatedly urges the officers to check the subject's pulse. "He's not responsive right now," a bystander says. "He's not moving." An ambulance then arrives and takes the man away.
"You just really killed that man, Bro," the male onlooker says to the officer.
Frazier, who took the video, wrote on Facebook: "They killed him right in front of cup foods over south on 38th and Chicago!! No type of sympathy 💔💔#POLICEBRUTALITY."
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called the man's death "simply awful," and "wrong at every level" at the press conference Tuesday.
"For the better part of the night I've been trying to find the words to describe what happened and all I keep coming back to is that he should not have died," Frey said.
"What we saw was horrible, completely and utterly messed up," he said. "This 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."