‘I can’t breathe’ – Here’s what we know about George Floyd’s death in the hands of Minneapolis police

Francis Akhalbey May 27, 2020
George Floyd, 46, died after a Minneapolis cop knelt on his neck despite screaming he could not breathe during an arrest -- Left Photo: Benjamin Crump via TMX.news

A video of a 46-year-old African-American man being arrested on Monday by Minneapolis police officers sparked outrage after one of the cops was filmed kneeling on the victim’s neck for several minutes until he became unresponsive, despite pleading he couldn’t breathe. He later passed away.

All this happened while the victim, identified as George Floyd, was in handcuffs. Even when he became unresponsive while pinned to the ground, the white police officer did not remove his knee from the victim’s neck until paramedics arrived.

Here’s what we know about how the event unfolded and its aftermath:

What happened?

Per the police report, officers were called to a forgery in progress incident at 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on Monday evening. The suspect was alleged to be “under the influence” and sitting on top of a car. Two officers who responded to the scene located the suspect and ordered him to step out from his car.

“After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress,” the report said. “Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.”

Videos of the incident that was filmed by bystanders and shared on social media, however, vividly describes how the deceased was arrested and what led to him suffering the “medical distress.”

In the video, the white officer, identified as Derek Chauvin, can be seen with his knees firmly placed on Floyd’s neck, despite the victim pleading that he cannot breathe.

“Please, please, please, I can’t breathe,” Floyd can be heard pleading. “My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Please, please. I can’t breathe.”

Bystanders can also be heard urging the officer to remove his knees from the victim’s neck but he ignored.

“He’s not even resisting arrest right now, bro. You’re f*cking stopping his breathing right now, you think that’s cool?” a man asked the officer, with another woman saying: “His nose is bleeding. Look at his nose!”

After Floyd became unresponsive, the officer still kept his knee pinned on his neck despite continued concerns from onlookers. The officers were even asked to check his pulse but ignored until paramedics arrived and transported him for treatment in a stretcher.

4 officers fired

The video of the incident, which went viral after it was shared on social media, sparked outrage, with several people, including Minneapolis Mayor, Jacob Frey, condemning the aggressive manner in which the deceased was arrested.

On Tuesday, officials announced the four officers who were involved in the incident have been fired, a move Frey said is the “right call.”

“I support your decisions, one hundred percent” he said in a statement, according to CNN. “It is the right decision for our city. The right decision for our community, it is the right decision for the Minneapolis Police Department.”

Speaking about the arrest technique, the mayor said: “The technique that was used is not permitted; is not a technique that our officers get trained in on. And our chief has been very clear on that piece. There is no reason to apply that kind of pressure with a knee to someone’s neck.”

In an interview on CNN on Tuesday, Floyd’s family called on authorities to charge the officers involved with murder.

“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,” Floyd’s cousin, Tera Brown, said.

“They need to be charged with murder because what they did was murder. And almost the whole world has witnessed that because somebody was gracious enough to record it. They need to pay for what they did,” she added.

Floyd’s brother, Philonise, also condemned the officers’ actions saying: “They could have tased him, they could have maced him, instead they put their knee in his neck and just sat on him and then carried on.”

“They treated him worse than they treat animals.”

The family’s attorney, Ben Crump, also released a statement saying the officers being relieved of their duties was a “good first step on the road to justice for George Floyd.”

“We need to make sure that the Mayor and the Police Chief fix the policies and training deficiencies that permitted this unlawful killing to occur,” he said.

FBI investigating the case

The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced they are investigating Floyd’s death. In a statement released Tuesday, the FBI said the “investigation will focus on whether the Minneapolis Police Department officers involved willfully deprived the individual of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.”

“When completed, the FBI will present its findings to the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota for consideration of possible federal charges. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) continues to conduct a concurrent investigation into the incident regarding possible violations of Minnesota statutes,” the statement read.


Minneapolis Mayor, Jacob Frey, sent his condolences to the victim’s family on Tuesday, saying the incident was “wrong on every level.”

“Being Black in America should not be a death sentence,” he shared on Facebook. “For five minutes, we watched a white officer press his knee into a Black man’s neck. Five minutes,” he shared on Facebook.

“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.”

Thousands of protesters also gathered at the scene of the incident on Tuesday before heading to the Minneapolis Police’s 3rd Precinct demanding for justice for the deceased. Police later dispersed the crowd with tear gas and flash grenades after they clashed with them.

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: May 27, 2020


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