Updated May 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

FBI to investigate death of black man after video shows officer kneeling on neck

A man holds a 'Stop Killing Black People"" placard while protesting near the area where a Minneapolis Police Department officer allegedly killed George Floyd
A man protesting near the area where a Minneapolis Police Department officer allegedly killed George Floyd. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI will investigate the death of a black man for possible civil rights violations after video emerged of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the man's neck for several minutes, ignoring protests that he couldn't breathe, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

The latest: Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey tweeted Tuesday afternoon that four officers involved in the incident have been terminated. "This is the right call," he added.

The big picture: The man, identified as George Floyd, was being arrested for alleged forgery and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to a police press conference Monday night. Police say he resisted arrest before suffering from “medical distress."

What we know: The event was caught on video by a bystander Monday evening. Several times during the arrest, Floyd said, "I can't breathe." Five minutes into the video, the suspect appears to be motionless with the officer's knee still pinning down his neck.

  • An ambulance arrived and his vital signs were checked with the officer's knee still on Floyd's neck, according to the video. He was loaded onto a stretcher and taken to a hospital. Floyd died "a short time later," police said.
  • John Elder, the police spokesman, told the Tribune that the technique used was not a department-authorized chokehold.
  • Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said Tuesday that he “deemed necessary to contact the special agent in charge of the Minneapolis bureau of the FBI” upon receiving more information after the arrest.

Why it matters: Minneapolis police kill black people at a rate 13 times higher than white people — one of the largest racial disparities in the U.S., according to U.S. crime data collected from mappingpoliceviolence.org.

What they're saying:

  • Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey: “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. Five minutes. When year 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.”
  • Floyd's family attorney Benjamin Crump: “We all watched the horrific death of George Floyd on video as witnesses begged the police officer to take him to the police car and get off his neck. This abusive, excessive and inhumane use of force cost the life of a man who was being detained by the police for questioning about a nonviolent charge.”

Go deeper: Two men charged with murder in death of Ahmaud Arbery

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the news that four officers involved in the incident have been fired.

Go deeper