The FBI is investigating the death of a black man in Minneapolis after local police violently arrested him Monday night. Video of the arrest, which shows a white police officer kneeling on the man’s neck as he lay face down on the street, was filmed and posted online within hours of the encounter.
The man, whose identity has not been confirmed, is thought to be in his 40s and died in the hospital shortly after the arrest, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. As video taken by a bystander began circulating online Tuesday morning, city politicians have decried the arresting officers’ actions.
“Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. “For five minutes, we watched a white officer press his knee into a black man’s neck. Five minutes. When you hear someone calling for help, you’re supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic, human sense. What happened on Chicago and 38th last night is awful. It was traumatic. It serves as a reminder of how far we have to go.”
The mayor appeared “visibly shaken” while giving his remarks this morning, the Star Tribune notes.
“Our community continues to be traumatized again, and again and again,” Minneapolis City Councilwoman Andrea Jenkins said in a statement to KARE TV (h/t the Washington Post). “We must demand answers.”
Minneapolis police Chief Medaria Arradonado announced Tuesday that he requested a federal investigation into the arrest, which involved several MPD officers.
“There was additional information that I had received that quite frankly, from community sources, that just provided more context than I had preliminarily,” the chief said, declining to give further detail about the type of information he received, or its source.
The incident began at 8 p.m. Monday night after police responded to a call about an alleged act of forgery. According to MPD spokesperson John Elder, police on the scene spotted a man in a car who fit the description given to a dispatcher. They ordered him out of the vehicle.
At first, the man was compliant, Elder said in an earlier statement, but then began “physically resist[ing]” the arresting officers. According to the official police account, officers noticed the man was in “medical distress” after handcuffing him. Elder said police thought the man was under the influence.
But the 10-minute video taken by Darnella Frazier shows what the police report seems to omit: a middle-aged man who alerted officers to the fact he was in pain and couldn’t breathe throughout the brutal arrest. Frazier was on her way to visit friends when she came upon officers arresting the man, pinning him on the ground as he cried out in pain.
She and other bystanders began filming the arrest, becoming increasingly agitated as one officer, identified by the Star Tribune as Derek Chauvin, kneeled on the man’s neck.
“You’re going to just sit there with your knee on his neck?” one bystander calls out during the video.
“Bro, he’s not even fucking moving!” another person protests. “Get off of his neck!”
Frazier said the man’s face was pressed so hard against the pavement his nose began to bleed.
“I cannot breathe! I cannot breathe!” the man pleaded with the officers. “Don’t kill me!”
At one point, he asks officers for water.
“I can’t breathe,” he says in the video. “My stomach hurt, my neck hurt, everything hurts.” During the encounter, one of the officers told the man to “relax.”
After several minutes, the man stops moving, eventually falling unconscious.
The Star Tribune reports that all body camera footage of the arrest has been turned over to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), which investigates most police shootings and in-custody deaths. All the arresting officers are now on paid administrative leave.
Officer Chauvin, who kneeled on the man’s neck, has played a role in at least three officer-involved shootings during his time with MPD, writes the Star Tribune: one shooting in 2006, and two in 2011. MPD spokesperson Elder said the move Chauvin used on the man on Monday was not a department-authorized chokehold.
Local activist Nekima Levy-Armstrong told the Star Tribune the arrest footage made her “sick to her stomach.” The incident reminded her of Eric Garner, who died after an NYPD officer performed an illegal chokehold on him in 2014.
“It just reminds me of Eric Garner once again: a black man being accosted by police and pleading for his life saying he couldn’t breathe,” she said. “I’m fully convinced that if police wouldn’t have been called to the scene, then he would still be alive.”
Updated: Tuesday, May 26 at 5:55 p.m. ET: The Star-Tribune is reporting that the four officers involved in George Floyd’s arrest have been fired. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced the terminations Tuesday afternoon.
In a Twitter post, Frey called the decision to fire the officers “the right call.”
Protesters are planning to demonstrate at the site where Floyd was arrested this afternoon, the Tribune says.
Updated: Tuesday, May 26 at 12:46 p.m. ET: The man who died after being violently arrested by Minneapolis police on Monday night has been identified as George Floyd. His family has retained prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who called Floyd’s arrest “abusive, excessive and inhumane.”
“We will seek justice for the family of George Floyd, as we demand answers from the Minnesota Police Department,” Crump said in a statement posted Tuesday on Twitter. “How many ‘while black’ deaths will it take until the racial profiling and undervaluing of black lives by police finally ends?”