Four Minneapolis police officers were fired after the death of 47-year-old George Floyd.
A Facebook video showed a white officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he pleaded with police, “I can’t breathe.”
Floyd died at Hennepin County Medical Center after the encounter, which started when police detained him on suspicion of trying to pass a fake $20 bill at a convenience store.
The FBI launched an investigation, as the Minneapolis Police Department fired the officer and three others who were at the scene. The quick action didn’t prevent a large protest that included tense confrontations with police, who responded with tear gas.
“Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” said a visibly shaken 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.”
Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said he had stayed up all night wrestling with his decision to fire the officers.
“What occurred last night was certainly very tragic, and very sad,” he said.
Officials have not publicly named the four officers, but Arradondo said at an earlier news conference that he’d asked the FBI to take the case after watching the video of the encounter and receiving “additional information” about it from community members, without elaborating.
Floyd’s family retained attorney Benjamin Crump who also represents the families of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
“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 nonviolent charge,” read the statement from Crump’s office.
Police were called to investigate a report of someone trying to pay with a counterfeit bill at Cup Foods and found the man matching the suspect’s description in his car.
Cup Foods’ owner, Mike Abumayyaleh, later confirmed that one of his employees had followed store policy by calling police after someone tried to pay with a counterfeit $20 bill. Abumayyaleh said he’s been receiving death threats since then.
Photos by Getty Images