The Mayor of Minneapolis is calling for charges against the white police officer who knelt on the neck of 46-year-old George Floyd, a black man who died Monday after being restrained.
“Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a press conference Wednesday. “If you had done it, or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now.”
The mayor did not specify what the charge should be but said that his determination was based on video of the incident.
The horrifying video spread quickly on social media Tuesday, showing the officer driving his knee into Floyd’s neck as the man repeatedly says he can’t breathe.
“We are not talking about a split-second decision that was made incorrectly,” Frey said. “There’s somewhere around 300 seconds in those five minutes, every one of which the officer could have turned back … and removed his knee from George Floyd’s neck.”
Thousands of protesters demanding justice for Floyd gathered at the intersection where Floyd was restrained and marched to a city police precinct before clashing with officers late Tuesday.
Four officers involved in the Monday incident have been fired, and Floyd’s family and their attorney, Ben Crump, have called for their arrests. Police have not identified the officers, but attorney Tom Kelly said he was representing Derek Chauvin, the officer seen with his knee on Floyd’s neck.
Here’s what we know as at Wednesday:
Protests erupt in Minneapolis after George Floyd’s death. Chants of “I can’t breathe” filled Minneapolis’ streets Tuesday night as a crowd of protesters gathered near the intersection where Floyd died. The group marched 2½ miles to a police precinct.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported the protest began peacefully but escalated in tension as the demonstrators reached the building. Some protesters damaged windows and a police squad car while others sprayed painted graffiti. Officers in riot gear fired tear gas and projectiles at the crowd who threw back water bottles and rocks, the Star Tribune reported.
The crowd fled to nearby businesses, including a Target, where some protesters created a barricade with shopping carts. The Star Tribune reported that the store temporarily closed, and the protesters largely dispersed by 9 p.m.
Crump, the lawyer for Floyd’s family, released a statement Wednesday calling for peaceful protests and social distancing. “We cannot sink to the level of our oppressors, and we must not endanger others during this pandemic,” he wrote.
Floyd’s sister: ‘They murdered my brother’
Bridgett Floyd, George Floyd’s sister, told NBC’s “Today” show that the four officers in the video should be charged with murder. “I would like for those officers to be charged with murder because that’s exactly what they did. They murdered my brother; he was crying for help,” Floyd said Wednesday.
Floyd added that she had faith that the officers would be charged but said their firing wasn’t enough. “I don’t need them to be suspended and able to work in another state or another county. Their licenses should be taken away; their jobs should be taken away, and they should be put in jail for murder,” she said.
George Floyd’s cousin, Tera Brown, also told CNN she wants to see murder charges filed. “They were supposed to be there to serve and to protect and I didn’t see a single one of them lift a finger to do anything to help while he was begging for his life. Not one of them tried to do anything to help him,” Brown told CNN.
What happened in the video of Floyd’s death?
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 him and bystanders. “He’s talking, he’s fine,” one officer says to a person off-camera. “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.
Who was George Floyd?
Floyd, who worked security at Conga Latin Bistro, was described as a “gentle giant,” the Star Tribune reported. 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.”
Speaking with CNN, Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, also called his brother a “gentle giant.” Knowing my brother is to love my brother,” Philonise Floyd said, adding that he “didn’t hurt anybody.”
The Houston Chronicle reported that Floyd grew up in Houston, where a vigil was held Tuesday night. “I don’t even have words for it,” Roxie Washington, the mother of his 6-year-old daughter Gianna Floyd, told the Chronicle. “It’s cruel. They took him away from my daughter. She’ll never see her father again.”
Washington told the paper that Floyd was a promising athlete who turned to music after his playing career was over. In 2018, Floyd moved to Minneapolis to find work, she said. “He was a loving person … and he loved his daughter,” Washington told the Chronicle.
Police say FBI will be part of investigation. 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 says 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.
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.”
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.”
The department allows for the use of two types of neck restraints only for officers who have received the proper training, according to the Minneapolis Police Department’s Policy & Procedure Manual. The handbook defines neck restraints as a “non-deadly force option.”
Andrew Scott, an expert witness on use-of-force cases and former Boca Raton, Florida, police chief, told the Associated Press that Floyd’s death was “a combination of not being trained properly or disregarding their training.”
‘Wrong on every level’: Reactions to Floyd’s death
Frey called Floyd’s death and the officer’s actions “wrong on every level.” “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. “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.”
Crump, who is also part of the team representing the family of Ahmaud Arbery, the black jogger who was shot and killed after 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.