Agents who responded to a forgery in progress on Monday evening initially said that a person later described how the suspect was sitting in a car and appeared to be under the influence, police said.
A couple of officers found the man, who was then inside the car and that the police said he “physically resisted” the officers after he was ordered to get out of the car. The agents handcuffed the man, who “appeared to be suffering from medical problems,” according to police. He died in the hospital shortly thereafter, police said.
A video circulating on social media showed two officers of the man on the ground: one of them had the knee behind the neck. The video did not capture what led to the arrest or what the police described as the man who resists the arrest.
“Please, I can’t breathe,” said the man, screaming for several minutes before being silent.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump identified the man as George Floyd in a statement and claimed that he represented his family.
“We all saw George Floyd’s hideous death on video as witnesses pleaded with the police officer to take him into the police car and get out of the neck,” said Crump. “This abusive, excessive and inhuman use of force cost the life of a man detained by the police for being interrogated on a non-violent charge.”
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar via Twitter called the incident “yet another horrifying and shocking example of an African American man dying.”
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Tuesday expressed his condolences to the man’s family, adding that “what we saw was horrible, completely and completely messed up.”
“For five minutes, we saw a white officer press his knee against the neck of a black man,” Frey told reporters.
“When you hear someone asking for help, you should help. This officer has failed in the most basic human sense. What happened in Chicago and on the 38th last night is simply terrible. It was traumatic and serves as a clear reminder of how far we have to go.”
Being black in America, Frey said, shouldn’t be “a death sentence.”
In a Facebook video released on Monday, the bystanders invited the officer to come down to the man. Two agents handled the man on the ground while another stood nearby with his eyes on the onlookers as traffic passed in the background.
“Everything hurts,” said the man at one point. “I can’t breathe, officer.”
“His nose is bleeding,” says one woman from the man who is being held back.
Frey said he understood the anger in the community but reminded potential protesters that “there is another danger out there right now that is Covid-19”.
“We have to make sure that everyone who protests and who expresses their opinion stays safe and that their families are protected too,” he said. “So please practice safe removal, please use a mask.”
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is also investigating the accident. There was no immediate response from the FBI.
The cameras worn by the body were activated during the accident, police said.