Demonstrators pelted police with rocks, water bottles and other projectiles
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Wednesday called on prosecutors to file criminal charges against a white police officer shown on a bystander’s video pressing his knee into the neck of a handcuffed African-American man who later died at a hospital.
The officer, along with three others involved in the apprehension of George Floyd, 46, were dismissed from the police department as the FBI on Tuesday opened an investigation of the incident, a day after the deadly confrontation unfolded in Minnesota’s largest city.
Late on Wednesday, hundreds of protesters, many wearing face coverings, filled streets near the scene of the deadly encounter for a second day, some clashing with police in riot gear who fired tear gas into the crowds and lobbed concussion grenades.
Demonstrators pelted police with rocks, water bottles and other projectiles.
Local television news footage from a helicopter flying over the area showed dozens of individuals looting a Target store, running out with armloads of clothing and shopping carts filled with merchandise.
President Donald Trump said on Twitter he wanted an FBI investigation “to be expedited,” saying he appreciated “all the work done by local law enforcement.”
“My heart goes out to George’s family and friends. Justice will be served!” he tweeted.
Video of Monday’s fatal encounter between police and Floyd, which has stirred a national outcry, shows him lying face down in the street with a white officer pinning his knee against the man’s throat. Floyd is heard on the recording gasping for air and groaning, “I can’t breathe,” before he finally grows still, while onlookers plead with the officer to let him up.
The city identified the four officers on Wednesday as Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng. It did not identify the officer who had his knee against Floyd’s throat, and provided no further information.
“Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail? If you had done it or I had done it we would be behind bars right now,” Frey told a news briefing on Wednesday. “I am calling on Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman ... to charge the arresting officer in this case.”
The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, the union that represents the city’s police force, said in a statement the officers involved were cooperating with investigators and it was “not time to rush to judgment.”
“We must review all video. We must wait for the medical examiner’s report,” the union said, asking the community to remain calm.
Frey did not specify what charge he thought was appropriate for the officer, but said he has relayed his wish to Freeman, prosecutor in the county where Minneapolis is located.
On Tuesday, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said it would make a charging decision after the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conclude their investigations.
The case is reminiscent of the 2014 killing of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man in New York City who died after being put in a police chokehold and telling officers, “I can’t breathe.” The officer who placed Garner in a fatal chokehold was fired but not criminally prosecuted.
The Garner case was one of a series of killings of black men by US police officers that fueled the “Black Lives Matter” movement, which campaigns against violence toward black people and systemic racism.
A protest in Minneapolis was planned for Wednesday in front of the home of a police officer organizers say was involved in the incident, according to a posting on Facebook. The organizer said a peaceful protest was planned, but the officer will “feel our pain and what it’s like to be afraid for his life.”