Four Minneapolis police officers have been fired a day after the death of a Black man who went into medical distress during an arrest for a nonviolent offense.
Minneapolis officers were called to the scene on Monday evening for a “forgery in progress” and a possible person under the influence. The man was later identified as George Floyd. He reportedly attempted to use a forged check at a Cup Foods store.
“Officers were advised that the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence,” the police said in a 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.”
“Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and officers noticed that the man was going into medical distress,” a spokesman stated.
A video filmed by witness Darnella Frazier showed a handcuffed Floyd lying on the pavement with an officer’s knee on top of his neck. Another officer was speaking to bystanders. Floyd was not resisting as he begged the officer to get off his neck.
“Please, I can’t breathe,” said a moaning Floyd.
“My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts,” he continued. “(I need) water or something. Please. Please. I can’t breathe, officer. … I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe.”
Bystanders also urged the officer to stop pressing Floyd’s neck and call an ambulance. A woman also pointed out his nose was bleeding. After about five minutes, Floyd passed out.
“What are you doing?! He’s dying,” yelled one woman.
“Bro, he’s not even f-cking moving! Get off his neck,” demanded a man.
The officer did not remove his knee from Floyd’s neck until an ambulance arrived with a stretcher. Floyd was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Frazier’s video went viral and the officers were fired on Tuesday, according to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. He called the terminations “the right call.”
Hours before, he told reporters “being Black in America should not be a death sentence.”
“For the better part of the night I’ve been trying to find the words to describe what happened,” Frey said. “And all I keep coming back to is that he should not have died. What we saw was horrible, completely and utterly messed up. This man’s life matters. He matters. He was someone’s son.”
Floyd’s family hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump to represent them.
“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. 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?”