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'This is the right call': Officers involved in fatal Minneapolis incident fired, mayor says

KSTP
Updated: May 27, 2020 01:46 PM
Created: May 26, 2020 05:53 AM

The four responding officers involved in the incident in south Minneapolis that led to the death of George Floyd have been terminated, according to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

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"This is the right call," Frey said in a statement on Twitter.

On Wednesday, the city of Minneapolis officially released the names of the four terminated as officers Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng.

A source with knowledge of the investigation confirmed the officer seen holding Floyd down in a video of the incident is Chauvin. The other officer in the video is identified as Thao.

The two other officers that have been fired were not on camera. 

Frey and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo addressed the community Tuesday afternoon regarding the firing of the officers. 

"When Mayor Frey appointed me as chief of the Minneapolis police department, I was very steadfast and strong on what our department vision, values and culture change would be moving forward. One of those pillars is sanctity of life," Arradondo said. "We know there are inherent dangers in the profession of policing but the vast majority of the work we do never require the use of force."

Civil rights attorney representing family of Floyd

A nationally-recognized civil rights attorney stated he will be representing the family of George Floyd.

Attorney Benjamin Crump is known for his work with high-profile cases and has represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice.

Crump issued a statement mid-morning Tuesday that he has been retained to represent Floyd's family.

Police respond Monday night after 911 call

Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are investigating the man's death from what police are calling "medical distress" after Minneapolis police placed him in handcuffs.

The incident happened just after 8 p.m. Monday in the area of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue South. Police said a call to 911 was placed for a man who attempted to forge a check. 

The 911 caller also reportedly mentioned the suspect was still in a nearby parking lot and seemed to be under the influence.

"He was ordered to step from the car … after he got out he physically resisted officers … officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and the officers noticed the male was going into medical distress," Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said.

At that point, officers said an ambulance was called.

The man, who police say is in his 40s, was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center where he later died. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office is expected to release additional information once an autopsy is complete and family has been notified.

Police said no weapons were used and body cameras were activated. The names of the officers involved will be released once interviews with incident participants and witnesses have taken place, the BCA stated.

Woman tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS she witnessed the scene, captured video

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has spoken with a woman who said she witnessed the incident. Darnella Frazier told us she recorded the incident from the moment the man was placed in handcuffs.

A clip of that video can be seen via the video player above. The video, which she posted on Facebook, has now received tens of thousands of views.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS is working to independently confirm the video appearing to show the incident. In the video, a police officer can be seen with his knee on the man's neck. The man can be heard saying he can't breathe.

Frazier told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the man was not given aid until medics arrived on scene.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has reached out to the Minneapolis Police Department to talk about the video. A police spokesman said the department does not comment on investigations that the BCA handles.

The BCA is asking anyone who captured video of, or witnessed, the incident to contact the department at 651-793-7000.

Local and state leaders respond

During an appearance Tuesday morning, Frey was asked about whether he had seen witness video and his response to it.

"If you're sad, I get it, if you're angry, that makes complete sense, if you feel the need to protest, of course, we want to make sure people are able to express themselves," Frey said. He went on to say, "there is another danger out there right now, which is COVID-19," saying there is a "need to make sure everyone voicing their opinion is staying safe," and he asked those who might protest to social distance.

Frey was referencing a protest scheduled for Tuesday, with organizers stating protesters will gather "to demand justice for the victim and his family."

Also during the appearance Tuesday, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo addressed a question about the technique involving a knee an officer was seen to be using in the video.

"We clearly have policies in place regarding placing someone under control," Arradondo said, stating that taking a look at this incident and how those policies apply "will be part of the full investigation we'll do internally."

Frey also issued a statement on social media, saying, in part, "For the better part of the night, I’ve been trying to find the words to describe what happened. All I keep coming back to is this: this man should not have died." He goes on to state, "Whatever the investigation reveals, it does not change the simple truth, he should still be with us this morning. I believe what I saw and what I saw is wrong on every level. This does not reflect the values Chief Arradondo has worked tirelessly to fulfill."

Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins also released the following statement regarding the incident:

"My heart is breaking for the tragic loss of life last night near 38th and Chicago. Our community continues to be traumatized again, and again and again. We must demand answers, I have spoken with the Mayor and have a call in to the chief. I vow to be as transparent and forthright with the community. We were already in the midst of developing a summer safety strategy for this neighborhood but immediate action is required now. Currently the BCA is investigating. Please stay strong sisters and brothers, these are trying times."

Gov. Tim Walz, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Tina Smith shared their thoughts on the matter Tuesday morning as well.

"The lack of humanity in this disturbing video is sickening," Walz said in a tweet. "We will get answers and seek justice."

"There must be a complete and thorough outside investigation into what occurred, and those involved in this incident must be held accountable," Klobuchar said, in part, via social media.

"We are once again traumatized by the tragic scene of a black man pleading for his life at the hands of a white police officer," Smith said in an emailed statement. "We cannot look away from this injustice and terrible loss of life. Mayor Frey and Chief Arradondo have called for an immediate federal investigation. That's the right thing to do. We must learn exactly what happened, secure justice, and hold the people involved accountable. It is in our power to end this pattern of abuse and death against black people. It's our moral responsibility."

Meanwhile, the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis issued the following statement:

"Now is not the time (to) rush to judgement and immediately condemn our officers. An in-depth investigation is underway. Our officers are fully cooperating. We must review all video. We must wait for the medical examiner's report. Officers' actions and training protocol will be carefully examined after the officers have provided their statements. The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis will provide full support to the involved officers. We ask that the community remain calm and let the investigation be completed in full."

Investigation is ongoing

The BCA stated it will present its findings to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office for review.

"We promise a thorough, expedited review consistent with our on-going commitment to justice," the attorney's office said in a statement Tuesday. "Every person is entitled to fairness; no person stands above the law."

The FBI is conducting a separate federal civil rights investigation, per request by the Minneapolis Police Department, according to a release issued Tuesday morning.

The FBI made the following statement about the case: 

"The FBI's investigation will focus on whether the Minneapolis Police Department officers involved willfully deprived the individual of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

When completed, the FBI will present its findings to the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota for consideration of possible federal charges.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) continues to conduct a concurrent investigation into the incident regarding possible violations of Minnesota statutes."

Stay with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.com for updates on this developing news. Refresh your page to make sure you are seeing the most current information. 


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