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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 he 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.”
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Thousands of protesters demanding justice for Floyd gathered at the intersection where Floyd was restrained. They 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 identified the officers Wednesday as Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng. Attorney Tom Kelly said he was representing Chauvin, the officer seen with his knee on Floyd’s neck.
More on Floyd’s death:4 police officers fired after ‘horrifying’ video hits social media
Here’s what we know Wednesday:
Protests erupt in Minneapolis after George Floyd’s death
Smoke filled the air for a few minutes after Minneapolis Police Department officers fired noise devices and projectiles toward a crowd of dozens gathered outside the Third Precinct. The nonlethal shots were fired after a group of protesters rolled dumpsters onto Minnehaha Avenue about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Several hundred people stood outside the office to chant and hold signs in support of Floyd, with more than 60 officers stood with gas masks and face guards on the other side of a barricade. Most of the crowd implored participants not to throw items at police. When a bottle was thrown, however, an officer fired projectiles toward protesters. A nearby liquor store was broken into and several people were seen taking goods.
The protests continued for hours, with some throwing objects at police and officers spraying water from low-pressure hoses to keep control. A fire broke out inside a nearby AutoZone store after 10 p.m., and firefighters were on the scene working to put it out.
Chants of “I can’t breathe” filled Minneapolis’ streets a night earlier night as a crowd of protesters gathered near the intersection where Floyd died. The group marched 2½ miles to a police precinct.
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.
George Floyd’s sister: Minneapolis police ‘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 thats 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 take 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.”
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Two officers are featured prominently in the video Chauvin and an officer who stands between him and bystanders.
Hes talking, hes fine, one officer says to a person off-camera.
He aint fine, the person replies before calling the officer a bum and saying hes enjoying whats happening.
Chauvin keeps his knee pressed into Floyds 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, Hes got mace.
Bystanders repeatedly ask the officers to check for a pulse. Chauvin doesnt 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 dont even have words for it, Roxie Washington, the mother of his 6-year-old daughter Gianna Floyd, told the Chronicle. Its cruel. They took him away from my daughter. Shell 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.
There’s a verified GoFundMe page
The family of George Floyd has started a GoFundMe page.
The page was created by Floyds brother, Philonise Floyd, and its authenticity was confirmed by attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the family. As of Wednesday evening, more than $123,000 in donations have poured in from nearly 5,000 donors, eclipsing the pages goal of $100,000.
My family and I watched in absolute horror as the now infamous and horrifying video began to spread quickly throughout social media, Philonise Floyd wrote in a statement on the page.
What we saw on that tape left us shell shocked; a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling directly on my brother’s neck, obstructing his ability to breathe. As some officers knelt on his neck, other officers participated and watched; no one took any action to save my brother’s life. Those officers would continue to brutalize my brother until he died.
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 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.”
However, the fire department reported that Floyd did not have a pulse in the ambulance and was unresponsive. Paramedics checked Floyd’s pulse several times and delivered a shock, according to the incident report.
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 Hennepin County Attorneys Office, which would handle prosecution of state criminal charges, is assisting with the investigation. The office said in a statement Tuesday that it was “shocked and saddened” by what appeared in the video.
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 well 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 Floyds death was “a combination of not being trained properly or disregarding their training.”
Who are the four officers?
The service records of the four officers involved in the incident were no longer public, as they were part of the ongoing investigation, Minneapolis police said Wednesday.
According to The Associated Press, Chauvin, the officer who put his knee of Floyd’s neck, was one of six officers who fired their weapons in the 2006 death of Wayne Reyes, who 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.
In 2011, Chauvin was one of several officers put on temporary leaveafter a police shooting in a residential community, according to local news reports.
Thao was sued for excessive use of force in 2017, according to the Star-Tribune.
Several complaints have been filed against both officers, according to Communities United Against Police Brutality, a Twin-Cities based organization. Chauvin received three oral reprimands as well as seven other closed complaints for which he was not disciplined. Thao was not disciplined in five closed complaints. One case remains open.
‘Wrong on every level’: Reactions to Floyd’s death
President Donald Trump addressed Floyd’s death for the first time on Wednesday, telling reporters he planned to receive a “full report” on the incident that he described as a “very sad day.”
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.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar called the video “horrifying” and “gut-wrenching” and called for an investigation. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz called for a “fair, thorough and fast” investigation.
“It’s very clear to anyone that what happened to George Floyd was wrong,” Walz said in a press conference Wednesday. “The lack of humanity in the video … made me physically ill.”
Walz also thanked demonstrators for protesting safely amid the pandemic.
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.
Ryan W. MillerJordan CulverGrace HauckTyler J. Davis
Contributing: The Associated Press