CBSN MinnesotaWatch

‘I Can’t Breathe!’: Video Of Fatal Arrest Shows Minneapolis Officer Kneeling On George Floyd’s Neck For Several Minutes

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An FBI investigation is underway and four officers have been fired following a fatal encounter Monday between Minneapolis police and an unarmed 46-year-old black man named George Floyd.

According to Minneapolis police, the encounter between Floyd and officers happened just after 8 p.m. Monday, when police were called to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of a man attempting to use forged documents at Cup Foods. WCCO asked a store manager about the police call, but they declined to comment.

Officers found Floyd in a car at the scene. He appeared intoxicated, police say. Officers ordered him to get out of the car.

“After he got out, he physically resisted officers,” police spokesman John Elder told reporters early Tuesday. “Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and officers noticed that the man was going into medical distress.”

An ambulance brought Floyd to Hennepin Healthcare, where he later died, police say.

RELATED: What We Know So Far About The 4 Officers Fired After George Floyd’s Death

Overnight, video of the attempted arrest circulated on social media. Posted by Darnella Frazier on Facebook, the nine-minute video shows a white officer pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck behind a squad car. While lying facedown on the road, Floyd repeatedly groans and says he can’t breathe.

“He’s not even resisting arrest right now, bro,” one bystander tells the white officer and his partner, in the video. “You’re f—ing stopping his breathing right now, you think that’s cool?”

After about five minutes, Floyd stops moving and appears unconscious. People in the gathering crowd plead for the officers to check Floyd’s pulse. The officer on Floyd’s neck does not lift his knee until medical personnel arrive and carry him to an ambulance.

RELATED: Use-Of-Force Experts Say Police Restrained George Floyd For Too Long

Charles McMillan says he saw it all happen.

“There’s a black man who died and it could have been prevented, because all he had to do was get his feet off his neck,” McMillan said.

Another witness, 9-year-old Judeah Reynolds, spoke to WCCO with her mother present, Diva Reynolds.

“All the adults kept saying, ‘Get off him,'” Judeah Reynolds said.

“They came and woke me up, and the only thing my daughter could tell me is, ‘Mom, they had his knee on his neck and they killed him,'” Diva Reynolds said.

CBS News acquired video of Floyd’s initial arrest, which seems to contradict the claim that he resisted arrested, at least in the early stages of their encounter.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, tweeted his reaction to Floyd’s death Tuesday night.

Leaders in Minnesota are calling for the officers involved to be held accountable. Rep. Ilhan Omar, who represents Minneapolis, called for the Department of Justice to investigate immediately.

“It is sickening to watch this black man be killed while helplessly begging for help,” she said in a statement.

Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan also reacted to the incident, calling the video “disturbing” and demanding justice.

“The lack of humanity in this disturbing video is sickening. We will get answers and seek justice,” Walz said.

RELATED: ‘Being Black In America Should Not Be A Death Sentence’: Officials Respond To George Floyd’s Death

At a Tuesday morning press conference, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey spoke bluntly about the graphic video, which has circulated widely online.

“Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” Frey said. “What we saw is horrible, completely and utterly messed up.”

Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Floyd’s family, says the officers’ unjust use of force over a non-violent charge cost Floyd his life. He released this statement to the media Tuesday evening:

Firing these officers was a good first step on the road to justice for George Floyd, but 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. For four police officers to inflict this kind of unnecessary, lethal force – or watch it happen – despite outcry from witnesses who were recording the violence – demonstrates a breakdown in training and police by the City.

Today, George Floyd’s family is having to explain to his children why their father was executed by police on video. It’s essential that the City closely examines and changes its policing policies and training procedures to correct for the lack of proper field supervision; the use of appropriate, non-lethal restraint techniques; the ability to recognize medical signs associated with the restriction of airflow, and the legal duty to seek emergency medical care and stop a civil rights violation.

On Tuesday afternoon, the office of lawyer Tom Kelly confirmed they were representing one of the officers involved in the case, and confirmed his identity as Derek Chauvin. The identities of the other officers involved have not been released.

At the Tuesday morning press conference alongside the mayor, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo — who fired the four officers involved — did not address the video specifically, but did say that he received information from the community that prompted him to reach out to the FBI. The investigation is now being led by federal authorities with help from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Officials from the FBI’s Minneapolis division released a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying in part 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.”

(credit: Darnella Frazier)

Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, said that the union intends to provide full support to the officers.

“Now is not the time rush to judgement and immediately condemn our officers,” Kroll said. “An in-depth investigation is underway. Our officers are fully cooperating. We must review all video. We must wait for the medical examiner’s report.”

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office released a preliminary report early Tuesday evening, which just lists Floyd’s name, age, city of residence, and his time of death, which was Monday at 9:25 p.m.

Protesters began gathering at the scene of Floyd’s encounter with police Tuesday afternoon, with hundreds joining in before the crowd began to march towards Minneapolis Police’s 3rd Precinct, which is about two miles north of the scene.

PHOTO GALLERY: Protesters Clash With Police After George Floyd’s Death

(credit: CBS)

Police in riot gear started making a barrier around the precinct at about 7:30 p.m. as protesters began to swarm. One video shows some protesters sitting on the ground, while officers deployed smoke bombs or tear gas and flash grenades. Other videos show protesters smashing squad cars, precinct windows, and throwing bricks and rocks. The protest carried on into the late night.

Floyd’s death is reminiscent of the death of another unarmed black man, Eric Garner. In 2014, he died after a New York City police officer placed him in a choke hold during an attempted arrest over selling single cigarettes.

Bystander video of the incident showed Garner telling officers, “I can’t breathe.” The phrase quickly became a rallying cry during the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and national protests over police use of force.

The officer who placed Garner in the choke hold was fired but not charged.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Floyd’s family.