A video of a handcuffed black man dying while a Minneapolis officer knelt on his neck for more than five minutes sparked a fresh furor in the US over police treatment of African Americans Tuesday.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey fired four police officers following the death in custody of George Floyd on Monday as the suspect was pressed shirtless onto a Minneapolis street, one officer’s knee on his neck.
“Your knee in my neck. I can’t breathe… Mama. Mama,” Floyd pleaded.
Bystanders filmed the scene as Floyd, thought to be in his 40s, slowly grew silent and motionless, unable to move even as the officers taunted him to “get up and get in the car.”
He was taken to hospital where he was later declared dead.
Frey expressed outrage as calls rose for the officers to be prosecuted for murder.
“What I saw was wrong at every level,” he said of the video. “For five minutes, we watched as a white officer pressed his knee into the neck of a black man,” Frey said.
“Being black in America should not be a death sentence.”
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said he had been retained by Floyd’s family.
Crump said in a statement that Floyd had been stopped by police over a forgery accusation, a charge often used for writing bad checks or using fake banknotes for purchases.
“This abusive, excessive and inhumane use of force cost the life of a man who was being detained by the police for questioning on a non-violent charge,” he said.
Floyd’s death recalled the 2014 choking death of New Yorker Eric Garner by police, who was being detained for illegally selling cigarettes.