Killing of George Floyd

Killing of George Floyd
George Floyd neck knelt on by police officer.png
A frame from a witness video, showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck
DateMay 25, 2020 (2020-05-25)
Timec. 8:01–9:25 p.m. (CDT, UTC−05:00)
LocationMinneapolis, Minnesota
Coordinates44°56′03″N 93°15′45″W / 44.9343°N 93.2624°W / 44.9343; -93.2624Coordinates: 44°56′03″N 93°15′45″W / 44.9343°N 93.2624°W / 44.9343; -93.2624
Charges

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed face down in the street.[3] Two other officers further restrained Floyd and a fourth officer prevented onlookers from intervening.[4][5]:6:24 During the final three minutes Floyd was motionless and had no pulse.[6][7] Officers made no attempt to revive him, and Chauvin's knee remained on Floyd's neck when emergency medical technicians attempted to treat him.[8]:6:46

Floyd had been arrested on suspicion of passing a counterfeit bill at a nearby market.[9] Several witnesses took videos of the incident, which were widely circulated and broadcast[10] along with security-camera footage from nearby businesses; officers' body camera footage has not been released.[11] A criminal complaint later filed against Chauvin stated that Floyd repeatedly said he could not breathe while standing outside a police car, resisted getting in the car, and intentionally fell down; he went to the ground face down and, after Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd's neck, Floyd repeatedly said "I can't breathe", "Mama", and "please".[12]

Two autopsies determined the manner of Floyd's death to be homicide.[9][13] The Hennepin County medical examiner's autopsy found that Floyd died from cardiac arrest during restraint, after being subjected to "neck compression". Also noted as significant conditions were "arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease; fentanyl intoxication; and recent methamphetamine use".[13] A second autopsy, commissioned by Floyd's family, found that the "evidence is consistent with mechanical asphyxia as the cause" of death, with neck compression restricting blood flow to the brain, and back compression restricting breathing.[9]

All four officers were fired the day after the incident.[14] On May 29, Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.[12][15][16] On June 3, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison amended Chauvin's charges to include second degree murder, and the other three officers were charged with aiding and abetting second degree murder.[17][2] The FBI and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are both investigating the incident.[14]

After Floyd's death, demonstrations and protests against use of excessive force by police officers and lack of police accountability were held globally. Protests in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul area were initially peaceful on May 26, and became violent as a police precinct and two stores were burned, and many stores were looted.[18] Some demonstrators skirmished with police, who fired tear gas and rubber bullets.[19][20] Additional protests occurred around the world, including all 50 US states. Floyd's death has been compared to the death of Eric Garner, a black man who repeated "I can't breathe" while in a fatal chokehold placed by a New York City police officer in 2014.[21][22]

Persons involved

George Floyd in 2016

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Derek Chauvin in police custody

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George Perry Floyd, aged 46, was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and raised in the Third Ward[23] of Houston, Texas.[21][24][25] In 2014 he moved to Minnesota.[26]

Derek Michael Chauvin, aged 44, had been a police officer in the Minneapolis Police Department since 2001.[27][28] He had 18 complaints on his official record, two of which resulted in discipline, including official letters of reprimand.[29] He had been involved in three police shootings, one of them fatal.[27][30][31] Chauvin was awarded medals of valor in 2006 and 2008, for incidents in which he fired at suspects and in 2008 and 2009 received medals of commendation for pursuing suspects.[32][33] Floyd and Chauvin had worked overlapping shifts as security guards at a nightclub, according to a former club owner, who also said it was not clear whether Floyd and Chauvin knew each other.[34][35] The former owner also said that Chauvin had sometimes used overaggressive tactics when dealing with a mostly black clientele, for example he would respond to fights by spraying the entire crowd with mace, instead of apprehending the people who were fighting.[36]

Tou Thao, aged 34, was a police officer in the Minneapolis Police Department. He started as a part-time community service officer in 2008 and went through the police academy in 2009. After being laid off for two years he resumed working for the police in 2012.[27][37] Six complaints had been filed against Thao, none resulting in disciplinary action.[38][39] In 2014 an African-American man said Thao handcuffed him without cause, threw him to the ground, and punched, kicked, and kneed him; the man's teeth were broken and he was hospitalized.[30][39][40] The resulting lawsuit was settled for $25,000.[27][41]

J. Alexander Kueng, aged 26, and Thomas K. Lane, aged 37,[14][42][43] were licensed as law enforcement officers in August 2019.[42] Neither had prior complaints on their records.[29]

Arrest and death

The intersection of Chicago Avenue and E. 38th Street on May 30. Floyd was killed just left of the Cup Foods.

Arrest

On the evening of Monday, May 25, 2020, Memorial Day, Floyd purchased a pack of cigarettes at Cup Foods, a store at the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood of Minneapolis. A store employee believed Floyd had paid with a counterfeit $20 bill.[5][8][9][3]

Just before 8:00 p.m., two Cup Foods employees left the store and crossed the street to an SUV parked in front of a restaurant. Floyd was in the driver's seat, and two adult passengers were in the vehicle.[5]:1:25[8]:1:33[3][44] The employees demanded that Floyd return the cigarettes, and he refused.[8]:1:43[3] The interaction was filmed by the restaurant's security camera.[5]:0:49[8]:1:24[45][note 1] At 8:01, a store employee called 9-1-1 to report that Floyd had passed "fake bills", was "awfully drunk", and "not in control of himself".[5]:1:33[8]:1:51[3][note 2]

External video
Restaurant security footage beginning approximately 8:09 p.m. on YouTube (5 min 47 sec)

At 8:08, Kueng and Lane briefly entered Cup Foods,[5]:1:41[8]:2:00[3] then crossed the street to Floyd's SUV.[5]:1:49 Lane drew his gun and ordered Floyd to put his hands on the steering wheel; Floyd complied and Lane holstered his weapon.[8]:2:10[3] Someone parked behind Floyd's SUV began recording a video at 8:10[5]:1:56[8]:2:28 Following a brief struggle, Lane pulled Floyd from the SUV.[5]:2:10[8]:2:20[3] Floyd briefly resisted while Lane handcuffed him.[3] Lane explained to Floyd why he was being arrested and Floyd became compliant.[3]

Chauvin kneels on Floyd's neck[edit]

At 8:12 p.m., Kueng sat Floyd on the sidewalk against the wall in front of the restaurant.[5]:2:22[8]:2:33 At 8:13, an officer brought Floyd to his feet and walked him across the street to the sidewalk in front of Cup Foods.[5]:2:30 Floyd fell to the ground next to a police car parked at the curb; officers picked him up and placed him against the car's door.[5]:2:42[8]:3:00 According to prosecutors, Floyd told the officers he was claustrophobic[8]:3:10[3] and could not breathe.[8]:3:23 A Minneapolis Park Police officer arrived and guarded Floyd's vehicle (across the street by the restaurant) and the two people who had been in it with Floyd;[5]:2:53[47] body cam footage[48] shows this officer assuring these two people that an ambulance is coming, and telling them to "stay put".[49]

At 8:17, a third police car arrived with officers Derek Michael Chauvin and Tou Thao, who joined Kueng and Lane.[5]:3:32[8]:3:27[3] Around 8:18, security footage from Cup Foods shows Kueng struggling with Floyd for at least a minute in the driver's side backseat while Thao watches.[5]:3:54[8]:3:49 A criminal complaint filed against Chauvin alleges Floyd refused to enter the car, even after officers moved him from the driver's side to the passenger side.[5]:4:00[8]:3:15 At 8:19, standing on the passenger's side of the vehicle, Chauvin pulled Floyd across the backseat, from the driver's side to the passenger's side, and out of the car, causing Floyd to fall onto the ground, where, still handcuffed, he lay on the pavement.[8]:3:56[3] Floyd stopped moving around 8:20.[5]:4:10

External video
Witness video showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck on YouTube (10 min)

Multiple witnesses began to film the encounter; their videos were circulated widely on the internet.[8]:4:06[3] At 8:20, a witness a Speedway gas station across the intersection began recording video showing Floyd face down on the pavement with Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck, Kueng applying pressure to Floyd's torso, and Lane applying pressure to Floyd's legs, while Thao stood nearby.[5]:4:13[8]:4:11[3] Floyd can be heard repeatedly saying "I can't breathe", "please, please, please", and "please, man", and calling for his mother.[5]:4:44[8]:4:28[3] The witness stopped filming when one of the officers ordered him to leave.[8]:4:35 Also at 8:20, a second person, standing near the entrance of Cup Foods, began recording the incident.[5]:4:26[8]:5:08[21] These two videos show Floyd telling officers he cannot breathe at least 16 times in less than five minutes.[8]:5:46 At one point a witness said: "You got him down. Let him breathe."[50] After Floyd said, "I'm about to die", Chauvin told him to "relax".[51] The police ask Floyd, "What do you want?"; Floyd answered, "I can't breathe".[52] Floyd states: "Please, the knee in my neck, I can't breathe."[51]

At approximately 8:22, the officers called for an ambulance, initially on a non-emergency basis; they later[when?] escalated the call to emergency status.[5]:4:50[8]:4:42 Chauvin continued to kneel on Floyd's neck.[8]:5:15 A passerby yelled to Floyd, "Well, get up, get in the car, man", and Floyd, still handcuffed and face down on the pavement, responded, "I can't", while Chauvin's knee remained on his neck.[8]:5:26 Floyd cried out "Mama!" twice.[53][52] Floyd said, "My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts", requested water,[52] and begged, "Don't kill me."[54] One witness pointed out that Floyd was bleeding from the nose.[55] Another told the officers that Floyd was "not even resisting arrest right now".[21] Thao countered that Floyd was "talking, he's fine"; a witness replied that Floyd "ain't fine".[55][56] The witness protested: "Get him off the ground ... You could have put him in the car by now. He's not resisting arrest or nothing. You're enjoying it. Look at you. Your body language explains it."[55] As Floyd continued to cry for help, Thao said to witnesses: "This is why you don't do drugs, kids."[57]

By 8:25, Floyd appeared unconscious, and witnesses confronted the officers about Floyd's condition, repeatedly yelling that he was "not responsive right now" and urging them to check his pulse.[5]:5:22[8]:6:53[3] Kueng checked Floyd's wrist but could not find a pulse; the officers did not move.[3] The officers did not attempt to provide Floyd with any medical treatment.[8]:6:46 According to the criminal complaint against Chauvin, Lane asked Chauvin twice if they should move Floyd onto his side,[12] and Chauvin said no.[8]:7:02 A witness asked, "Did they fucking kill him?"[58]

Medical response and death

At 8:27 p.m., a Hennepin County ambulance arrived.[5]:5:56[8]:7:11 Shortly thereafter, a young relative of the owner of Cup Foods attempted to intervene, but was pushed back by Thao.[5]:6:03 Emergency medical technicians checked Floyd's pulse.[8]:7:17 Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd's neck for almost a minute after the ambulance had arrived, despite Floyd being unresponsive.[8]:7:21 When he finally did lift his knee, it had been there for eight minutes and forty-six seconds, according to the criminal complaint against Chauvin.[5]:6:27[8]:7:28[3] Around 8:29, Floyd, still motionless, was loaded into the ambulance which departed for Hennepin County Medical Center.[5]:6:35[8]:7:43[3]

En route, the ambulance requested assistance from the Minneapolis Fire Department.[5]:6:35[8]:7:43[3] At 8:32, firefighters arrived at the Cup Foods store;[5]:6:56[8]:7:56 according to their report, the police officers gave no clear information regarding Floyd's condition or whereabouts, which delayed their ability to find the ambulance.[8]:7:56[59] Meanwhile, the ambulance carrying Floyd reported that he was entering cardiac arrest and again requested assistance, asking firefighters to meet them at the corner of 36th Street and Park Avenue. Five minutes later, the fire department reached the ambulance;[8]:8:10 two fire department medics who boarded the ambulance found Floyd unresponsive and pulseless.[5]:6:56

Floyd was pronounced dead at 9:25 at the Hennepin County Medical Center emergency room.[5]:7:12[8]:8:28[3][60]

Autopsies

A criminal complaint against Chauvin, issued May 29, cited preliminary results of an autopsy conducted by the Hennepin County medical examiner, which found "no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation", but found that Floyd suffered from coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease.[61][62] The complaint cited the autopsy's speculation that the "combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death".[61][62]

The medical examiner's final findings, issued June 1,[63] classified Floyd's death as a homicide caused by "a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained" by officers who had subjected Floyd to "neck compression";[64][65] other "significant conditions" noted were arteriosclerotic heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, fentanyl intoxication, and recent methamphetamine use.[61][64] The report stated that Floyd had tested positive for COVID-19 on April 3, but did not list COVID-19 as contributing to his death.[66][67]

Floyd's family commissioned a second autopsy, carried out by Michael Baden, a pathologist and a former New York City chief medical examiner who had autopsied Eric Garner,[68][69] and Allecia Wilson, director of autopsy and forensic services at the University of Michigan Medical School.[70][71] This autopsy found that the "evidence is consistent with mechanical asphyxia as the cause" of Floyd's death", and that the death was a homicide.[72][73][70] Baden said that Floyd died from "asphyxia due to compression of the neck", affecting "blood flow and oxygen going into the brain", and also from "compression of the back, which interferes with breathing".[61] Baden also said that Floyd had no underlying medical problem that caused or contributed to his death, and that it was "not true" that being able to talk shows that someone could breathe properly.[74]

State criminal charges

Chauvin was arrested on May 29,[75] Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman charged him with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter,[76] making him the first white officer in Minnesota to be charged for the death of a black civilian.[77][78] Under Minnesota law, third-degree murder is defined as causing another's death without intent to kill, but "evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life". Second-degree manslaughter also does not imply lethal intent, but that the perpetrator created "an unreasonable risk" of serious harm or death.[79]

On May 31, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison took over the case at the request of Governor Tim Walz. On June 3, Ellison amended the charges against Chauvin to include unintentional second-degree murder, and the other three officers involved were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.[1][2][80][81] A second-degree murder charge carries a higher maximum sentence; it ordinarily requires prosecutors prove that the perpetrator killed their victim intentionally, although it can also apply to felony murder, the act of killing someone in the course of committing a different felony.[82] The felony alleged in this case was assault in the third degree.[2] The second-degree unintentional murder charge against Chauvin carries a 150-month presumptive sentence under Minnesota's sentencing guidelines.[81][83]

A statement from Floyd's family and their lawyer, Benjamin Crump, welcomed the upgrade in Chauvin's murder charge, describing it as "source of peace for George's family", but reiterated their previous call for a first-degree charge, which requires proof that the murder was premeditated and carries a potential life sentence.[84]

Federal law enforcement response

On May 26, the FBI announced it was reviewing the incident, at the request of the Minneapolis Police Department.[10][85] On May 28, the United States Department of Justice released a joint statement with the FBI, saying they had made the investigation into Floyd's death "a top priority". They said they had assigned experienced prosecutors and FBI criminal investigators to the matter, and outlined the investigation's next steps: a "comprehensive investigation will compile all available information and thoroughly evaluate evidence and information obtained from witnesses ... If it is determined that there has been a violation of federal law, criminal charges will be sought".[29][86][87] The Wall Street Journal categorized this statement from the Justice Department as "notably strong", given that the department "often takes a more muted tone in describing continuing investigations".[29]

Memorials and protests

"I can't breathe" were some of Floyd's final words.
A brick storefront with the words "CUP FOODS" in red. A crowd, some with signs including a "Black Lives Matter" sign, stand before it.
Protesters at the site of the incident, May 26[88]
George Floyd memorial in Minneapolis, May 30

In the wake of community outrage in Minneapolis, the place where Floyd died in front of the store and the surrounding area became a makeshift memorial throughout May 26, with many placards paying tribute to him and referencing the Black Lives Matter movement.[89] As the day progressed, more people showed up to demonstrate against Floyd's death. The crowd, estimated to be in the hundreds of people,[90][91][92][93] then marched to the 3rd Precinct of the Minneapolis Police.[92] Participants used posters and slogans with phrases such as "Justice for George", "I Can't Breathe", and "Black Lives Matter".[94]

The protests were initially peaceful, but later there was vandalism of stores, and the 3rd Precinct police station was vandalized by breaking windows and lighting fires.[95][96][97][98] This led to police officers in riot gear using tear gas and flash grenades on the protesters, while some protesters threw rocks and other objects at the police.[99] The police also used rubber bullets and smoke bombs against the protesters.[100] The media has highlighted the apparent differences in aggression between the police response to black protesters in these protests versus the more measured response to the 2020 United States anti-lockdown protests featuring gun-wielding white protesters.[100][101] This sentiment also spread on social media.[102]

Those protests later became violent, which continued for days.[18][103][104] As of June 2, the Star Tribune estimated 308 businesses across the Twin Cities region had been vandalized or entirely destroyed, including 41 in Minneapolis and 3 in St. Paul "destroyed by fire".[105]

Following protests, a nighttime curfew in Minneapolis–Saint Paul and Dakota County was established on May 29. 500 Minnesota National Guard soldiers were later dispatched to the area to enforce the curfew,[106] but to little effect, with about 1,000 protesters being able to march peacefully on Interstate 35 well into curfew.[107]

Floyd's family plans a public memorial in Houston on June 8, and a private service on June 9. The family said professional boxer Floyd Mayweather will pay for the services.[108][109] A public memorial, at North Central University in Minneapolis, was held June 4 with Reverend Al Sharpton delivering the eulogy.[110]

Protests demanding justice for George Floyd, in some cases also to demonstrate against issues with police brutality in their own countries, took place in more than 100 cities,[111] including New York City;[112] Los Angeles;[113] Chicago;[114] Toronto;[115] Mashhad;[116] Milan;[117] Columbus, Ohio;[118][119][120] Denver;[121][122] Des Moines;[123] Houston;[124] Louisville;[125] Memphis;[126][127] Charlotte, North Carolina;[128] Oakland;[129] Portland, Oregon;[130] San Jose;[131] Seattle;[132] outside the White House in Washington;[133] outside Chauvin's summer home in Windermere, Florida;[134] and in many other locations. On May 30, 12 states called up the National Guard,[135] and at least 12 major cities imposed curfews on Saturday night.[136]

Reactions

Memorial items left near where the incident occurred, May 27

Family and friends

Floyd's cousin, Tera Brown, criticized the police: "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." One of Floyd's brothers said: "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."[137] Floyd's brother, Philonese, called for peace and said, "Everybody has a lot of pain right now, that's why this is happening, I'm tired of seeing black people dying."[138]

Floyd's longtime friend, former professional basketball player Stephen Jackson, expressed anger and sadness, saying video of Floyd's death "just destroyed me".[139][140] Floyd's girlfriend, Courteney Ross, asked for the community to respond to his death in a way that honors him: "You can't fight fire with fire. Everything just burns, and I've seen it all day – people hate, they're hating, they're hating, they're mad. And he would not want that."[141] Selwyn Jones, the brother of Floyd's mother, said that what disturbed him most was "hearing him [on video] call for my sister".[142]

Political

Minneapolis and Minnesota

Minneapolis City Councillor Andrea Jenkins, who represented Ward 8, where Floyd's death occurred, was quoted as saying: "My heart is breaking for the tragic loss of life last night near 38th and Chicago. Our community continues to be traumatized again, and again and again. We must demand answers."[143] On May 26, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan demanded justice and called the video "disturbing".[21] Walz elaborated, "The lack of humanity in this disturbing video is sickening. We will get answers and seek justice".[21] Walz, in a press conference on the morning of May 29, after rioting had broken out, said "we have to restore order" before actions can be taken to serve justice and address the issues which caused Floyd's death. Walz also announced that he had activated the National Guard.[144] The day prior, Walz used the National Guard to quell the unrest resulting from Floyd's death.[145]

Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey said: "Being black in America should not be a death sentence. For five minutes, we watched a white officer press his knee into a black man's neck ... When you hear someone calling for help, you're supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic, human sense." The day after Floyd's death, the Mayor called the termination of the responding officers "the right call".[10][14] Two days after Floyd's death, Mayor Frey highlighted the racial nature of Floyd's death, and called for Chauvin to be criminally charged: "If most people, particularly people of color, had done what a police officer did late Monday, they'd already be behind bars. That's why today I'm calling on Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to charge the arresting officer in this case."[146][147] In an interview with CBS that evening, Frey was asked: "Do you think that was murder?" He replied: "I do."[citation needed]

Representative Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota's 5th congressional district (which includes Minneapolis), called for a federal investigation, saying: "It is sickening to watch this black man be killed while helplessly begging for help."[148] She later added: "The police officer who killed George Floyd should be charged with murder."[149] Senator Tina Smith and Governor Tim Walz also called for immediate action.[148] Senator Amy Klobuchar reacted on the following day, saying: "We heard his repeated calls for help. We heard him say over and over again that he could not breathe. And now we have seen yet another horrifying and gut wrenching instance of an African American man dying." She called for the declaration on "a complete and thorough outside investigation into what occurred, and those involved in this incident must be held accountable."[150] However, as a former Hennepin County attorney, she was criticized for declining to press criminal charges against police during her eight years in that office, including against Chauvin; some called for her resignation from the Senate.[151][152][153]

Federal

President Donald Trump sent his condolences two days later via Twitter, saying he requested that the FBI conduct a thorough investigation. He added, "My heart goes out to George's family and friends. Justice will be served!"[154]

Trump also described Floyd's death as "sad and tragic". He sparked controversy following the publication of a tweet on May 29 that read: "These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won't let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!"[155] A week later, on June 1, President Trump threatened to deploy the military to stop rioting, violence and looting if state could not manage them by invoking the Insurrection Act of 1807.[156]

U.S. ambassadors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, and China expressed concern and condemnation of the killing.[157]

Former U.S. presidents

  • Barack Obama published a lengthy statement through Twitter calling for a "new normal" that ends the legacy of "bigotry and unequal treatment".[158][159] On June 3, the former President also ventured online to address Americans in a Zoom video conference organized by My Brother's Keeper Alliance, a part of the Obama Foundation. The conference was titled, "Reimagining Policing in the Wake of Continued Police Violence." In the address he stated, "this country was founded on protest: it is called the American Revolution, and every step of progress in this country, every expansion of freedom, every expression of our deepest ideals has been won through efforts that made the status quo uncomfortable."[160]
  • George W. Bush and former First Lady, Laura Bush, issued a statement that they are "anguished by the brutal suffocation of George Floyd and disturbed by the injustice and fear that suffocate our country", and that "It is time for America to examine our tragic failures."[161] The statement continued saying: "Many doubt the justice of our country, and with good reason. Black people see the repeated violation of their rights without an urgent and adequate response from American institutions. We know that lasting justice will only come by peaceful means."[162][163]
  • Bill Clinton released a statement via the Clinton Foundation saying: "In the days since George Floyd’s death, it is impossible not to feel grief for his family — and anger, revulsion, and frustration that his death is the latest in a long line of tragedy and injustice, and a painful reminder that a person’s race still determines how they will be treated in nearly every aspect of American life."[164]
  • Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalyn Carter also released a statement, which read in part: "People of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say ‘no more’ to a racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy."[165][166][167]

International

Countries

  • Canada: Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said that racism was real and existed in both the United States and Canada. He then urged Canadians to stand up against it.[168]
  • China: The Foreign Ministry of China denounced the killing of George Floyd with the statement: "The death of George Floyd reflects the severity of racial discrimination and police brutality in the US", and urged the US to "eliminate racial discrimination and protect the lawful rights of minorities".[169] State media ran significant coverage of the events, with the goal of highlighting what Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian called a "double standard" compared to US denunciations of police brutality in the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests.[170]
  • Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel described the police operation as murder saying: "this murder of George Floyd is something very, very terrible".[171]
  • Iran: Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, retweeted a tweet saying people with dark skin faced being killed "in the next few minutes" if they walked out on American streets.[168] Government spokesman Abbas Mousavi called on the US to "stop oppression and aggressive conducts against its people and let them breathe".[172]
  • Ireland: Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that there is an "absence of moral leadership" in the US following the death of George Floyd.[173]
  • Russia: The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the United States had a history of systemic human rights abuses.[174]
  • South Africa: The African National Congress, the governing party in South Africa, released a statement calling for calm in the U.S., which was criticized for not mentioning similar deaths due to police action in South Africa.[175]
  • Turkey: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blamed Floyd's death on a "racist and fascist approach" by the United States and said Turkey will be monitoring the issue.[174]
  • United Kingdom: British prime minister Boris Johnson said that "racist violence has no place in our society", and that he was "appalled and sickened" by the footage. He also urged people to "protest peacefully and in accordance with the rules on social distancing".[176]
  • Venezuela: Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro accused President Trump of using the U.S. military against his own people and claimed that demonstrators are taking to the streets demanding an end to racism and police violence.[177]

International organizations

Other figures

  • The Dalai Lama, in India while teaching students, condemned the killing of George Floyd by saying, "there are some who even take it as a pride to be able to kill somebody".[182]
  • Pope Francis addressed Floyd's death during his weekly prayer at the Vatican on 3 June: "Dear brothers and sisters in the United States, I have witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest in your nation in these past days, following the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd." He added: "We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life."[183]

Police

State and local

The local police union expressed support of the officers involved, saying: "The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis will provide full support to the involved officers." They also urged the public to remain calm, saying: "Now is not the time to rush to judgement and immediately condemn our officers."[184][185] Bob Kroll, President of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, called Floyd a "violent criminal" and said that protesters were terrorists.[186][187] Kroll was denounced by the Minnesota AFL–CIO, the Minneapolis branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers for his comments on Floyd's death, with all three organizations calling for his resignation.[188][189]

The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association applauded Minneapolis Chief Arradondo's swift firing of the officers involved.[190]

National

Police across the country were sharply critical of Chauvin's actions. Leaders from organizations which include hundreds of thousands of police officers condemned the four officers' conduct. National Association of Police Organizations Executive Director William Johnson called the incident egregious, and said: "I don't know the entire story, but I can't see any legal justification, any self-defense justification, or any moral justification."[191] Fraternal Order of Police President Patrick Yoes said authorities must ensure justice is served in Floyd's death, "whatever the consequences".[192]

Police chief associations from across the country expressed dismay at Floyd's treatment.[193] The heads of both the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA) condemned what was seen on the video. The MCCA, led by Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, said: "The death of Mr. Floyd is deeply disturbing and should be of concern to all Americans. The officer's actions are inconsistent with the training and protocols of our profession and MCCA commends Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo for his swift and decisive action to terminate the employment of the officers involved." The National Police Foundation President said: "These actions, and inaction, jeopardize the gains that have been made through the sacrifices and courage of many."[193] Leaders of individual police departments from around the United States spoke out against the officer at the center of the video, with what The Washington Post called "disgust", and the Los Angeles Times called "blunt criticism".[193][194] The Los Angeles Times said: "It was a rare moment when police leaders were unequivocal in their public disdain for the conduct of one of their own."[194] Leaders condemning the officer's actions included the New York City Police Commissioner,[194] the Sheriffs of Los Angeles[194] and San Diego counties,[195] and the Police Chiefs of Los Angeles,[193][194] Boston,[196] Miami,[193] Houston,[193][194] and Austin,[197] as well as a former Police Chief from Seattle.[190] Police chiefs of smaller cities spoke out as well: Chiefs of Police from Buffalo Grove, Illinois;[193] Tucson, Arizona;[193] Round Rock, Texas;[197] the University of Texas at Austin;[197] Pflugerville, Texas;[198] and Omaha, Nebraska;[199] all issued statements against Floyd's treatment.

A deputy sheriff in Jones County, Mississippi was fired for posting on social media: "If he can scream he can breath [sic], something else was going on."[200]

Academia

Experts on the use of force by police condemned Chauvin's actions. Mylan Masson, a longtime Minneapolis police officer and former director of the Hennepin Technical College's Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Center, which instructs approximately half of Minnesota's police officers, said a form of the technique seen in the video of Floyd's death was taught until at least 2016. He added: "Once the [officer] is in control, then you release. That's what use of force is: you use it 'til the threat has stopped." George Kirkham, a former police officer and professor emeritus at Florida State University's College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, said: "It was outrageous, excessive, unreasonable force under the circumstances. We're dealing with a [suspected] property offender. The man was prone on the ground. He was no threat to anyone."[190] Seth Stoughton, an associate professor of law at the University of South Carolina, who was also a former police officer, said that placing suspects lying face-down with their hands handcuffed behind their backs for a long period of time was dangerous because it risked positional asphyxia. If an officer places their knee on a suspect's neck in this position, it could cause injury or even death.[201]

Institutions

The University of Minnesota announced that it would be limiting ties with the Minneapolis Police Department, and that it would no longer contract the local police department for assistance at major events.[86][202] The Minneapolis School Board passed a resolution at its meeting on June 2, terminating its relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department.[203] The Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Art announced on June 3 that they will no longer contract Minneapolis Police Department officers for security at their museum events.[204]

Criticisms of neck restraints

Minneapolis police officers have a record of administering neck restraints at least 237 times since the beginning of 2015. This includes 44 people who were rendered unconscious. Several law enforcement professionals said the number of unconscious individuals as a result of this maneuver seems remarkably large. Neck restraints are defined by police as "when an officer uses an arm or leg to compress someone's neck without directly pressuring the airway".[205] The use of the choke hold maneuver known as a "neck restraint" has been derided by more than a dozen law enforcement officials, who were interviewed by NBC News. The news organization provided a summation of their views: "The particular tactic Chauvin used – kneeling on a suspect’s neck – is neither taught nor sanctioned by any police agency." A Minneapolis city official said: "Chauvin's tactic is not permitted by the Minneapolis police department." In general, police departments' application of assorted types of neck restraints, described as choke holds, are decidedly circumscribed – if not plainly illegal. The Minneapolis Police Department’s policy and procedure manual prohibits the application of neck restraints when the subject is passively resisting[206] but in other narrowly circumscribed circumstances authorizes the application of neck restraints "that can render suspects unconscious" while classifying them as " 'non-deadly' force options" for officers trained in their use,[207] but only to the sides of the neck.[206]

Applying a knee to the neck of a person lying on their stomach is widely rejected by law enforcement professionals because doing so can kill.[207] At the same time, keeping a person in a prone position, with hands cuffed behind his back is meant to be of very short duration and is seen as dangerous because breathing is immediately restricted in that position. "Someone in that position can draw enough breath to gasp or speak in spurts, but they can't breathe fully, so they gradually lose oxygen and fall unconscious." The individual has to be quickly rolled on his side, sat up, or stood up. Pressure on a detainee's neck can "cause fatal damage" so the maneuver must be monitored closely for the well-being of the detainee. According to the Minneapolis department's manual, specialized training is required to use this maneuver. According to Minneapolis police policy, this maneuver can only be used as a last resort when there is no other way to subdue a suspect who is belligerently resisting arrest. Chauvin's actions may have exceeded his purview.[208]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Footage begins at 7:50 p.m.[5]:0:55 The timestamp on the video is 24 minutes ahead of actual time, according to the restaurant's owner.[5]:1:03[8]:1:29
  2. ^ The store owner said: "Most of the times when patrons give us a counterfeit bill they don't even know its fake so when the police are called there is no crime being committed just want to know where it came from and that’s usually what takes place."[46]

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