Officers involved in deadly arrest of black man in Minneapolis have been fired
Video of the incident shows that a white police officer had a black man pinned to the ground next to his patrol car with his knee on the man's neck.
Four Minnesota officers have been fired following the arrest of a man who died Monday night after being pinned to the ground by an officer who put his knee on the man's neck for about eight minutes.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said it was the "right call" to terminate the officers involved in a tweet announcing the decision Tuesday. The police department said the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and FBI would be independently investigating the arrest.
Video of the incident shows that a white police officer had a black man, identified as George Floyd, pinned to the ground next to the back tire of his patrol car with his knee on the man's neck.
"Please, please, please I can’t breathe," the man begs. "My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Please, please. I can’t breathe."
Onlookers outside the Minneapolis deli meanwhile urge the officer to get off the man.
"You’re stopping his breathing right now, you think that’s cool?" one man says. "His nose is bleeding, look at his nose!" says a woman.
The officer doesn't budge.
And then the man goes silent. More people begin to intervene and call for the officer or his partner to check for a pulse. The officer remains on the man's neck, even as he lay apparently unresponsive, for a total of about eight minutes before paramedics arrive and the man is placed on a stretcher.
NBC News does not know what happened before the video recording began.
A statement from the Minneapolis Police Department released early Tuesday said the officers had responded to a report of a forgery in progress and found the suspect in his car. He stepped out of the car when he was ordered to, police said, but then physically resisted officers.
"Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress," the statement said. "Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later."
A medical examiner's report is pending.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz called the video of the arrest “disturbing" in a tweet Tuesday.
“The lack of humanity in this disturbing video is sickening,” Walz said. “We will get answers and seek justice.”
Minneapolis Police Department Public Information Officer John Elder said in a statement that the department "put out the information that we believed to be wholly honest and true."
"As we dug into it deeper, we realized that in fact it would be appropriate to have the FBI be apart of this investigation as well," Elder said.
Additional information provided by a community member also prompted the request for an FBI investigation after it became clear "there could be a question of civil rights," Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said Tuesday morning.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump said in a statement that he was representing Floyd's family and that his team will seek justice for the man's death.
"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. "This abusive, excessive and inhumane use of force cost the life of a man who was being detained by police for questioning about a non-violent charge."
Crump is also currently representing the family of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky. Taylor, 26, was at home with her boyfriend on March 13 when three plainclothes officers with the Louisville Metro Police Department arrived to execute a search warrant in a drug case.
Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was shot to death on Feb. 23 while out jogging in Brunswick, Georgia. Three white men have been arrested in connection with the killing after a video of the shooting emerged.
In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Minnesota called for a fair investigation and justice for Floyd. Paige Fernandez, policing policy advisor for the ACLU, said to call Floyd's death a "medical incident" was an insult.
“Nearly six years after Eric Garner’s death in New York — and four years after Philando Castile’s in Minnesota — this tragic video shows how little meaningful change has emerged to prevent police from taking the lives of Black people," Fernandez said. "Make no mistake: George Floyd should be alive today. The officers responsible must be held accountable."