Protesters gather near the scene where George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis

Family demands murder charges after police killing of handcuffed African American


The family of an African American man killed by Minneapolis police while handcuffed in custody demanded Wednesday that the officers be charged with murder.

After a night of angry protests over the death of George Floyd, with law enforcement firing tear gas and rubber bullets in the northern US city, his sister Bridgett Floyd demanded the arrest of the four white police officers involved in his death.

"I would like those officers to be charged with murder, because that's exactly what they did," she said on NBC television.

"They murdered my brother.... They should be in jail for murder."

- 'I can't breathe' -
A Minneapolis police officer holds his knee to the neck of George Floyd, who died in police custody.Darnella Frazier, Facebook/Darnella Frazier/AFP

Outrage at the latest example of police brutality against African Americans spread across the country, after a shocking bystander video showed a police officer kneeling on Floyd's neck Monday for at least five minutes while he was pinned to the ground after being detained on a minor charge.

"Your knee in my neck. I can't breathe.... Mama. Mama," Floyd pleaded.

He 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.

Another video, from a nearby restaurant's security camera, surfaced Wednesday showing no indications that Floyd, 46, resisted when police detained him for allegedly trying to use a counterfeit $20 banknote for a purchase in a convenience store.

Thousands took to the Minneapolis streets in anger as the city's mayor Jacob Frey summarily fired the four police officers and the African American police chief turned the explosive case over to the FBI.
People left flowers and balloons at a makeshift memorial for George Floyd who died in police custody on May 26, 2020 in MinneapolisKerem Yucel, AFP

"What I saw was wrong at every level," Frey said of the video.

"For five minutes, we watched as a white officer pressed his knee into the neck of a black man," Frey added.

"Being black in America should not be a death sentence."

- Tipping point? -

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who was retained by Floyd's family, said the case showed the US justice system treats blacks differently from whites.

Crump also represents the families of two other African Americans recently killed in cases that allegedly involve police mistakes and attempted coverups.

"How many more of these senseless excessive-force killings from the people who are supposed to protect us can we take in America?" he said on NBC.

Crump pointed out that the arrest involved a minor, non-violent crime, and there was no sign, as police initially claimed, that Floyd resisted arrest.

"There is no reason to apply this excessive fatal force," Crump said.

"That has to be the tipping point. Everybody deserves justice.... We can't have two justice systems, one for blacks and one for whites."
Protesters took to the streets of Minneapolis over the death in custody of a black manKerem Yucel, AFP

Floyd's death recalled the 2014 police choking death of New Yorker Eric Garner, who was detained for illegally selling cigarettes.

Garner's death helped spark the nationwide Black Lives Matter movement, which highlighted police killings of unarmed African American men, often for alleged non-violent offenses.

President Donald Trump remained silent on the case Wednesday.

But his election rival, Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden, said the FBI need to thoroughly investigate the case.

"It's a tragic reminder that this was not an isolated incident, but part of an engrained systemic cycle of injustice that still exists in this country," Biden said in remarks streamed on video.

"We have to ensure that the Floyd family receive the justice they are entitled to."

Bernice King, daughter of the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, tweeted a composite image showing a screenshot of the officer kneeling on Floyd's neck next to a photo of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the US national anthem in protest over police brutality and social injustice.

"If you're unbothered or mildly bothered by the 1st knee, but outraged by the 2nd, then, in my father's words, you're 'more devoted to order than to justice,'" King tweeted.

Floyd's death followed those of two other African-Americans in which police wrongdoing was alleged.

On March 13 in Louisville, Kentucky, three white policemen forced their way into the home of a black woman, Breonna Taylor, and shot her in a drug investigation.

In Brunswick, Georgia, police and prosecutors allegedly covered up the killing of a young black jogger by the son of a retired investigator for local law enforcement.

The police allegedly withheld for two months a video showing Ahmaud Arbery, 25, being followed by several white men in cars and then shot with a shotgun in broad daylight.