Officers involved in death of black man detained in Minneapolis have been fired

Video of the incident shows that a white police officer had a black man pinned to the ground next to his patrol car with his knee on the man's neck.

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By Doha Madani

Four Minnesota officers have been fired following the detainment of a man who died Monday night after being pinned to the ground by an officer who put his knee on the man's neck for about eight minutes.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said it was the "right call" to terminate the officers in a tweet announcing the decision Tuesday. The police department said the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the FBI would be independently investigating the incident.

The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis said in a statement earlier Tuesday that it was not the time to rush to judgment and that the officers were fully cooperating with the investigation.

Full coverage of George Floyd's death and protests around the country

"We must review all video. We must wait for the medical examiner's report," the statement said. "Officers' actions and training protocol will be carefully examined after the officers have provided their statements."

Video shows that a white police officer had a black man, identified as George Floyd, pinned to the ground next to the back tire of his patrol car with his knee on the man's neck.

"Please, please, please, I can't breathe," the man begs. "My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Please, please. I can't breathe."

Onlookers outside the Minneapolis deli urge the officer to get off the man.

"You're stopping his breathing right now, you think that's cool?" a man says. "His nose is bleeding. Look at his nose!" says a woman.

The officer does not budge.

And then the man goes silent. More people begin to intervene and call for the officer or his partner to check for a pulse. The officer remains on the man's neck, even as he lies apparently unresponsive, for a total of about eight minutes before paramedics arrive and the man is placed on a stretcher.

NBC News has obtained security footage from a nearby restaurant showing some of the events leading up to Floyd's arrest. The video captures two officers arriving at the scene around 8 p.m., removing a man later identified as Floyd from a car parked on the street, handcuffing and questioning him before eventually walking him across the street as another police car arrives.

Minneapolis police said in a statement early Tuesday that the officers had responded to a report of a forgery in progress and found the suspect in his car. He stepped out of the car when he was ordered to, police said, but he then physically resisted officers.

"Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress," the statement said. "Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later."

A medical examiner's report is pending.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz called the video "disturbing" in a tweet Tuesday.

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

John Elder, a police spokesman, said in a statement that the department "put out the information that we believed to be wholly honest and true."

"As we dug into it deeper, we realized that in fact it would be appropriate to have the FBI be a part of this investigation as well," Elder said.

Additional information provided by a community member also prompted the request for an FBI investigation after it became clear that "there could be a question of civil rights," Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said Tuesday morning.

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Civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump said in a statement that he was representing Floyd's family and that his team will seek justice for the man's death.

"We all watched the horrific death of George Floyd on video as witnesses begged the police officer to take him into the police car and get off his neck," Crump said. "This abusive, excessive and inhumane use of force cost the life of a man who was being detained by police for questioning about a non-violent charge."

Crump is also representing the family of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky. Taylor, 26, was at home with her boyfriend on March 13 when three plainclothes Louisville officers arrived to execute a search warrant in a drug case.

Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was shot to death on Feb. 23 in Brunswick, Georgia, while his family says he was out jogging. Three white men have been arrested after a video of the shooting emerged.

In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Minnesota called for a fair investigation and justice for Floyd. Paige Fernandez, policing policy adviser for the national ACLU, said that to call Floyd's death a "medical incident" was an insult.

"Nearly six years after Eric Garner's death in New York — and four years after Philando Castile's in Minnesota — this tragic video shows how little meaningful change has emerged to prevent police from taking the lives of Black people," Fernandez said. "Make no mistake: George Floyd should be alive today. The officers responsible must be held accountable."

Emmanuelle Saliba contributed.