‘Please, please I can’t breathe’: Man dies after being detained by Minneapolis police, FBI investigating

An unarmed black man died Monday night after pleading with Minneapolis police officers that he could not breathe while he was being detained. The man has been identified as 46-year-old George Floyd.

Shortly after 8 p.m., officers responded to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of a forgery in progress, according to a news release from the Minneapolis Police Department. Once on scene, they found a man believed to be in his 40s who appeared to be “under the influence” sitting in his car, according to police. Officers ordered him to get out of the car and when he did, police said he started to resist the responding officers. Police said officers were able to get the man into handcuffs and noted the man “appeared to be suffering medical distress.” 

A video taken by a bystander shows one of the officers holding the man down on the ground, pressing his knee into the man’s neck as the man repeats that he cannot breathe. 

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“Please,” Floyd can be heard saying. "Please, please I can’t breathe.” 

It goes on for several minutes, with bystanders begging the officers to let the man up. Floyd eventually loses consciousness, at which point the bystanders start calling for the officers to check his pulse. However, the officer continues to hold his knee to the back of his neck until an ambulance arrives. 

Floyd was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center where he died. According to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner, Floyd was pronounced dead at 9:25 p.m. His cause of death has yet to be determined, pending the investigation. 

ACTIONS TAKEN

In response to the incident, Floyd's family retained Attorney Benjamin Crump.

The four officers involved in Floyd's death have been fired, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced Tuesday afternoon, after originally stating they had been placed on relief of duty status. FOX 9 has confirmed Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao are two of the officers who were fired. 

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Minneapolis FBI are investigating the case. The officers were wearing body cameras, which were on and activated. The findings from the investigation will be presented to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office for review. The BCA is asking anyone who captured video of or witnessed the incident to contact them at 651-793-7000.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said the police department will also conduct an internal investigation into the officers’ use of force in the incident. 

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WITNESS, FRIENDS SPEAK OUT

Darnella Frazier, the bystander who shot the video, told Storyful she was walking to the shops when she saw officers restraining the man. She said he was crying and complaining about how he could not breathe, so she pulled out her phone and started recording. 

“A lady that claimed to be a firefighter demanded for them to check his pulse and they completely ignored her and was very rude to her," Frazier said. "Eventually he stopped talking and went silent. That’s when he looked dead. It looked as if he was running out of energy and time, and eventually slowly was dying. I’ve seen police be aggressive but never kill someone in front of me.”

Meanwhile, Floyd's family shared their story with FOX 9 Monday night, saying "he was everyone's favorite everything."

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The couple who employed Floyd at Conga Latin Bistro said the Houston native worked security, helped out around the bar, and “got along with everyone.”

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MAYOR: FLOYD'S DEATH 'COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY MESSED UP'

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Chief Arradondo addressed the incident at a press conference Tuesday morning. The mayor appeared visibly upset by what he saw in the bystander video, calling the incident “completely and utterly messed up.” 

“For five minutes, we watched as a white officer pressed his knee into the neck of a black man. For five minutes,” Frey said. “When you hear someone calling for help, you are supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic human sense.” 

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“Whatever the investigation reveals, it does not change the simple truth that he should be with us," Frey said. 

PROTESTORS GATHER AT THIRD PRECINCT

Community members began protesting Tuesday evening at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue South, and eventually made their way to the 3rd precinct.

As the night progressed, the protests became more volatile, with reports of rocks thrown at police squads and windows. Individuals also spray-painted squads and the building. Officers deployed teargas and rubber bullets as the crowd remained at the scene.

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Frey said he supports protesters' right to have their voices heard, but in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, he urged everyone to do so in a safe manner by practicing physical distancing and wearing a mask.

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LOCAL, STATE LEADERS REACT 

Local and state leaders are reacting to Floyd's death, demanding answers and calling for justice. 

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“The video of a Minneapolis police officer killing a defenseless, handcuffed man is one of the most vile and heartbreaking images I’ve ever seen,” St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said in a statement. "The officer who stood guard is just as responsible as his partner; both must be held fully accountable. This must stop now.” 

Gov. Tim Walz responded on Twitter, writing, "The lack of humanity in this disturbing video is sickening. We will get answers and seek justice." 

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar described the incident as “horrifying and gut-wrenching." Several lawmakers - including Sen. Klobuchar - wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald and Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman calling for a thorough investigation.