President Donald Trump said on May 27 he has ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI to expedite an investigation into the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed African-American man who told police he could not breathe and later died in custody.
“At my request, the FBI and the Department of Justice are already well into an investigation as to the very sad and tragic death in Minnesota of George Floyd,” Trump said on Twitter.
“I have asked for this investigation to be expedited and greatly appreciate all of the work done by local law enforcement,” he said. “My heart goes out to George’s family and friends. Justice will be served!”
….I have asked for this investigation to be expedited and greatly appreciate all of the work done by local law enforcement. My heart goes out to George’s family and friends. Justice will be served!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2020
News of the investigation comes after the mayor of Minneapolis called for the arrest of a police officer involved in Floyd’s death. The officer—who has since been identified as 44-year-old Derek Chuavin—was seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck, according to video footage published of the incident, which drew violent protests in Minneapolis. The footage spread quickly on social media.
Floyd, 46, a father-of-two, was pronounced dead Monday night after he was taken into custody by authorities in Minneapolis. According to a Minneapolis Fire Department report published on Twitter from KARE 11, Floyd was unresponsive and “pulseless” when being transported into an ambulance by paramedics from the site of his arrest to the hospital.
here is screenshot of narrative from Mpls fire. pic.twitter.com/2QG6Rs5AyT
— Lou Raguse (@LouRaguse) May 27, 2020
“I cannot breathe! I cannot breathe!” Floyd yelled as witnesses gathered. He added, “Don’t kill me!”
“My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts … I can’t breathe,” Floyd said while under the officer’s restraint.
“He’s talking, so he’s breathing,” an officer said, before Floyd gradually became motionless.
The Minneapolis Fire Department was called to the scene.
“As [Engine] 17s attempted to locate the patient, the crew overheard and was told by several people that the police ‘had killed the man,’” said the department in a statement.
Minneapolis police said in a statement on Tuesday that officers were responding to a report of forgery when the man resisted. According to the statement, Floyd died after “suffering medical distress.”
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a news conference that he “saw no threat,” adding that he “saw nothing that would signal that this kind of force was necessary.”
“We cannot turn a blind eye, it is on us as leaders to see this for what it is and call it what it is,” the mayor said. “George Floyd deserves justice, his family deserves justice, the black community deserves justice, and our city deserves justice.”
Floyd’s death is also under investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Meanwhile, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said it will “announce [their] decision on prosecution” in the future.
“We promise a thorough, expedited review consistent with our on-going commitment to justice. Every person is entitled to fairness; no person stands above the law,” a statement from the office said.
The president earlier, during a trip to Florida, described Floyd’s death as a “very, very sad” situation, when asked by reporters whether the officers involved in the incident should be prosecuted.
“We’re going to look at it and we’re going to get a report tomorrow when we get back,” Trump said. “We’re going to get a very full report but a very sad day.”
All four officers involved in Floyd’s arrest—Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng—have been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department, according to a news release issued by the Minneapolis Department of Public Safety.
“This is the right call,” Frey said of the decision on Twitter.
“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 you hear someone calling for help, you’re supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic, human sense,” the mayor wrote in Facebook post Tuesday.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.