Four Minneapolis police officers in the United States were fired on Tuesday over the death of an African American man, AFP reported. George Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck as he lay on the ground during an arrest on Monday. Video captured by the bystanders at the scene showed Floyd shouting “I cannot breathe” and “don’t kill me”.
Floyd, believed to be in his 40s, was unable to move even as the officers asked him to “get up and get in the car”. He was taken to hospital where he was later declared dead.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said Floyd had been stopped by police over a forgery accusation, a charge often used for writing bad checks or using fake banknotes for purchases. “This abusive, excessive and inhumane use of force cost the life of a man who was being detained by the police for questioning on a non-violent charge,” Crump said.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said the death was unjustified. “What I saw was wrong at every level,” he said referring to the video of the incident. “For five minutes, we watched as a white officer pressed his knee into the neck of a black man. Being black in America should not be a death sentence.”
The mayor later announced the termination of the four officers on Twitter, saying it was the “right call”.
Hours after the officers’ dismissals were announced, thousands of protestors gathered at the intersection where Floyd was pinned to the ground and demanded justice. Police in riot gear fired tear gas into the crowds while protestors hurled water bottles and other projectiles, according to local media reports.
Meanwhile, Floyd’s family said they want the four Minneapolis officers charged with murder, CNN reported. “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,” said Tera Brown, Floyd’s cousin. “Not one of them tried to do anything to help him.”