(Update: Adds identity of victim, firing of 4 police officers)
Washington, May 26 (efe-epa).- The FBI and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on Tuesday launched an investigation into the death of a black man after he was arrested by a white police officer in Minneapolis after the cop pinned him to the ground, ignoring his complaint that he could not breathe in an incident caught on a video recording and posted on the social networks.
Four Minneapolis police officers have been fired over the incident.
The incident occurred on Monday evening, when at least one police patrol car arrived at a site in the Minnesota capital where a “forgery in progress” had been reported. According to the Minneapolis Police Department, officers were informed that the man who later died – who was identified as George Floyd by local civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing his family – was inside a vehicle and seemed to be under the influence of drugs.
Police found Floyd seated inside his vehicle and when they ordered him to come out he resisted arrest, according to the police version of events. The police report added that the officers handcuffed Floyd and later – when they noted that he was experiencing “medical distress” – they called an ambulance, which transported him to a hospital in Hennepin County, where Minneapolis is located.
Floyd died shortly after arriving at the hospital.
In the video, recorded by one of several passersby who came upon the scene, Floyd, who was African American, can be seen facedown on the pavement with a white police officer kneeling on his neck for a number of minutes without changing his posture and despite the fact that the man can be heard moaning and complaining several times that “I can’t breathe” until he appears to lose consciousness.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey described the incident as “completely and utterly messed up.”
“I believe what I saw and what I saw is wrong on every level,” Frey said, adding that “Being black in America should not be a death sentence.”
“When you hear someone calling for help, you are supposed to help, and this officer failed in the most basic human sense,” Frey added.
In the video, Floyd is heard saying: “Please, please, please I can’t breathe,” and “My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Please, please. I can’t breathe.”
In addition, the voice of a woman is heard on the video saying that the man is bleeding from the nose.
Another male onlooker is heard shouting at the officer: “You’re stopping his breathing right now, you think that’s cool?” and “That’s bulls–t, bro. You’re stopping his breathing right there, bro. Get him off the ground, bro. You’re being a bum right now.”
The passerby goes on to say that the officer is “enjoying that. He’s a bum, bro. 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 – you bum. You know that’s bogus right now.”
“You just really killed that man, bro,” the onlooker went on to tell the officer.
The passerby who made the video recording on her cellphone, identified as Daniela Frazier, urges the officers to take the detained man’s pulse and at one point says that the man is not responding and not moving.
Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo said during the Tuesday morning news conference with Mayor Frey: “There was additional information that I had received, quite frankly, from a community source that just provided more context than what I had preliminarily, originally.”
This “additional information,” the chief said, prompted him to bring in the FBI “knowing that there could be a question of civil rights,” and he added that FBI agents were on the scene and would take the lead in the investigation, including examining police body camera recordings.