Four Minneapolis police officers were fired on Tuesday after a video surfaced showing one of the officers kneeling on the neck of a black man who was crying out that he could not breathe. The man soon became unresponsive and was later pronounced dead.
George Floyd, 47, died at a local hospital on Monday after being arrested and pinned to the pavement outside of a convenience store where it was suspected that he used a fake $20 bill, the Star Tribune reports. Floyd was pinned by an officer on the neck for at least six minutes.
“I can’t breathe,” Floyd says several times in the nine-minute video, the left side of his face pressed to the street.
About four minutes into the video, he appears to become unconscious as bystanders plead with the police to check his pulse. Around six minutes and 30 seconds into the video – with the officer’s knee still on Floyd’s neck – an ambulance arrives. One officer in the video said Floyd had resisted arrest for 10 minutes. Security footage of a portion of his arrest does not show him resisting.
“Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said, according to the Star Tribune. “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.”
The Minneapolis Police Department fired all four officers who were at the scene. The FBI and the Minneapolis Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are investigating the case.
Floyd worked security at Conga Latin Bistro in Minneapolis. Jovanni Thunstrom, who owns the bistro, said Floyd “wasn’t only my employee, he was my best friend.”
“He was the type of guy he was friendly to everybody,” Thunstrom told WCCO-TV. “He didn’t discriminate, whether you were Hispanic, you were black, you were white, he treated everybody with respect and that’s what I love about him.”
Courteney Ross, Floyd's fiance, told WCCO he was the most spiritual person she had ever met.
“He stood up for people, he was there for people when they were down, he loved people that were thrown away,” Ross said. “We prayed over every meal, we prayed if we were having a hard time, we prayed if we were having a good time.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Stephen Maturen/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.