The Mayor Of Minneapolis Is Calling For The Officer Who Knelt On George Floyd's Neck To Be Arrested
"If you had done it or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now."
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Wednesday called for the arrest of Derek Chauvin, the police officer caught on video kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, who died after losing consciousness.
"Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?" Frey asked during a press conference. "If you had done it or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now, and I cannot come up with a good answer to that question."
"Please, please, I can't breathe," Floyd says in the video. "I can't breathe."
The officer can be seen holding his knee on Floyd's neck for eight minutes. The video brought renewed attention to how police restrain people; experts told BuzzFeed News crushing someone's neck is extremely risky and should be banned by police departments. The video also drew comparisons to the police killing of another unarmed black man, Eric Garner, and his final words, "I can't breathe," which sparked a protest movement.
Police said they took Floyd into custody after being called about reports of a forgery.
On Wednesday, Frey described the decision to fire the officers as "the right call," but he urged the Hennepin County attorney to take further action.
"I'm calling on the Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to act on the evidence before him," he said. "I'm calling on him to charge the arresting officer in this case. We cannot turn a blind eye. It is on us as leaders to see this as it is and call it what it is."
In a statement released Wednesday, the county attorney's office said it was aware of the mayor's comments and was reviewing the evidence in the case.
"We are working with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Hennepin County Medical Examiner to expeditiously gather and review all of the evidence in the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd," the statement said. "The videotaped death of Mr. Floyd, which has outraged us and people across the country, deserves the best we can give and that is what this office will do."
Local prosecutors have been consulting with the US attorney's office as well.
Frey's comments came after hundreds of people took to the streets of Minneapolis on Tuesday to demonstrate against the deadly arrest. One group of demonstrators gathered near a police station and were met with officers in riot gear who fired tear gas at the crowd.
On Wednesday, protests continued. A peaceful demonstration outside of a police precinct turned into a standoff between demonstrators and officers once again in riot gear. Some in the crowd broke windows, and police reportedly fired rubber bullets.
After several hours, some protesters moved to a nearby Target, where a reporter for Fox 9 captured video of looting.
According to news reports, Chauvin is a 19-year veteran of the department who began his career at the Minneapolis Police Academy in 2001. In that time, he was awarded the department's medal of valor after he responded to a report of a man armed with a gun.
He has also been involved in three shootings during his career, one of which turned deadly.
In 2006, he was identified as one of six officers who responded to a stabbing. According to a report from Communities United Against Police Brutality, a police watchdog group based in Minnesota's Twin Cities, Wayne Reyes was shot and killed after allegedly pulling a shotgun on officers.
In 2008, Chauvin shot and wounded Ira Latrell Toles after police were called about a domestic dispute. The officer shot Toles in the chest.
In 2011, Chauvin was identified as one of five officers who shot Leroy Martinez, who was seen running from the scene of a shooting, armed with a pistol. Martinez was treated for the wound, and Minneapolis Police Chief Timothy Dolan determined at the time that the officers had acted "appropriately and courageously."
On Wednesday, the mayor said it was clear to him that Chauvin acted criminally when arresting Floyd.
"George Floyd deserves justice," Frey said. "His family deserves justice. The black community deserves justice, and our city deserves justice."