By: Gregg Zeff
On: May 27, 2020
George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed by Minneapolis police officers during his arrest for suspected forgery. Ignoring Floyd’s repeated pleas of “I can’t breathe”, officers reportedly kept the pressure on Floyd’s neck for over five minutes. According to news sources, bystanders who witnessed Floyd’s death begged officers to let Floyd breathe, and some yelled that officers should check Floyd’s pulse.
Unarmed Black Man’s Death in Police Choke hold Witnessed
Bystanders also reported that Floyd repeatedly yelled at his mother’s name before he died. Charles McMillian, who witnessed Floyd’s interaction with police, commented that Floyd’s death “didn’t have to happen.”
Police Brutality Results in Countless Deaths
Floyd’s killing comes after the deaths of countless other black people in police custody—including Eric Garner, who also repeated “I can’t breathe” as he died in a police chokehold. A grand jury failed to indict the officers involved in Eric Garner’s death, leading to nationwide protests. Despite the lack of criminal charges in the Garner case, Garner’s family received a settlement in a civil lawsuit alleging wrongful death.
Both the Minneapolis Police Department and the FBI are currently investigating Floyd’s death. Prominent organizations, including the Americans for Civil Liberties Union, have called for the police officers involved to answer for Floyd’s death. ACLU of Minnesota Executive Director John Gordon called Floyd’s death needless and preventable, adding “you can’t watch this appalling video posted by brave eyewitnesses on social media without seeing police officers’ callous disregard for a black man’s life.”
Being Black can be a Death Sentence
In commenting on Floyd’s death, Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey wrote that “being black in America should not be a death sentence.” For too many black men and women across the country, however, being black can be a death sentence, and can also mean suffering other types of excessive force at the hands of police. Zeff Law Firm is committed to helping victims of excessive force and police brutality, in the hopes that someday, this all too common news story will stop repeating itself.