The Sift Here’s what we’re Sifting today

Four Minneapolis police officers fired after man’s death

by Kyle Ziemnick
Posted 5/26/20, 06:23 pm

A video taken by a bystander showed a white Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee on an African American man’s neck for several minutes during an arrest on Monday night. The man, identified by family members as George Floyd, stopped moving and later died. The FBI and state agencies are investigating the incident. The four officers involved in the arrest, including Derek Chauvin, who was the officer on top of Floyd according to his attorney, lost their jobs on Tuesday. “This is the right call,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey tweeted in response to the firings. Police in riot gear confronted protesters who took to the streets on Tuesday night and caused damage to a police precinct station.

Why did officers arrest and restrain Floyd? He matched the description of a suspect in a forgery case at a grocery store and resisted arrest. While on the ground, Floyd is heard saying, “Please, please, please, I can’t breathe.” The incident drew comparisons to the 2014 case of Eric Garner, a black man in New York City who died after he said he could not breathe when a police officer placed him in a chokehold.

Dig deeper: Read Rachel Lynn Aldrich’s report in The Sift about the officer who lost his job over his role in Garner’s death.

Editor’s note: WORLD has updated this report since its initial posting.


Read more from The Sift Sign up for The Sift email
Kyle Ziemnick

Kyle is a WORLD Digital news reporter. He is a World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College graduate. Kyle resides in Purcellville, Va. Follow him on Twitter @kylezim25.

Read more from this writer

Comments

You must be a WORLD Member and logged in to the website to comment.
  • JerryM
    Posted: Wed, 05/27/2020 05:51 pm

    This death is a tragedy no matter how you think of it.  However, could they have simply filed charges, suspended the officers and commenced a proper judicial process?  This seems like a trial by mob and guilty until proven innocent.  I suspect these actions will have a chilling effect on law enforcement.

  •  West Coast Gramma's picture
    West Coast Gramma
    Posted: Wed, 05/27/2020 07:07 pm

    Re: JerryM,

    The World article uses passive tense without a named subject for the firings. Digging around a little, I found a statement in a CNN article by the mayor:

    "I support your decisions, one hundred percent," said Mayor Jacob Frey, in a statement about police Chief Medaria Arradondo's firing of the officers.

    So, the police chief fired the four officers. Clearly he has authority to do so, and he is not a "mob."

    Second, the police chief's firing of the officers is not a trial. It's the boss's decision, and I think a police chief is an elected individual. This boss had good cause to fire these rogue officers. Our president, the role model for the country, fires people for no stated reasons.

    The incident is being investigated by the FBI to see if a civil rights' violation occurred. Also, the family of the victim may file criminal charges. These are definitely first steps in any judicial process: investigation and filing of charges.

    What is MOST DISTURBING about your comment are these statements, "...could they have...commenced a proper judicial process? This seems like a trial by mob and guilty until proven innocent. I suspect these actions will have a chilling effect on law enforcement."

    Put the SHOE on the OTHER FOOT. "Could they not have simply arrested George Floyd for SUSPICION of forgery and commenced a proper judicial process? This seems like a trial by mob [four extremely violent police officers] and guilty with no possibility of proving innocence. I suspect these actions will have a chilling effect on the black community, most of whom are law abiding citizens with families." And since when is the penalty for stealing (forgery) immediate death?

    This man was executed without a trial. These policemen were acting as cops, judge, jury, and executioners over a suspected crime that is not even classified as violent. Why isn't the white community more concerned about justice for blacks?

    I'm a senior citizen, and the need for accountability for urban police departments in particular has existed my whole life. If you call that "chilling," then so be it. Great.

     

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Wed, 05/27/2020 09:00 pm

    Did the police chief fire the police officers justly or was it politically motivated? The standard procedure is to put them on administrative leave while the investigation goes on. After a thorough investigation, then a decision is made typically made by a commission set up to investigate the matter and the police chief will then make up his mind supported by the evidence.  The fact that the police chief acted without any investigation would suggest that the firing was political to assuage the public outcry.  
     

    The man wasn't executed but resisted arrest and the police officers had to use force to restrain the man.  The question that needs to be answered is if they used excessive force. Without a proper investigation by experts in criminal justice, we can only go on an emotional response which will unlikely lead to a just outcome. 
     

    Put the police officers shoes on and think how you would respond if some guy was attacking you and you had to subdue him.  When he hit you on one cheek would you turn to him the other cheek like some naive Christians may say? Of course not for you would know you are called by God to do your job. If the guy was dangerous, you would hold him down with plenty of force so he couldn't hurt you. If the guy had a heart attack and died while in your custody, would you want your Police Chief to fire you so he keeps his job? Would you not care about supporting your family? Even if a mob of people demanded your firing, would you not want a just outcome? Unfortunately in this day and age police officers are not being protected by their Police Chiefs and often they are made the scapegoat! 

  • JerryM
    Posted: Thu, 05/28/2020 01:00 am

    I am sorry you found any of my remarks disturbing.  My comments were based solely on this Sift article.  I am not an American, was not aware of this story outside of this article, and did not read and analyse it through the lens of race.  I think I would see it the same way if the suspect were white and all the arresting officers were black.  Based on the above article, it does seem there was a tremendous rush to judgement.  However, it certainly appears the arresting officer is guilty of a crime and should be charged.  However, this judgement and the legal process must be done in a measured way that follows due process, which I thought standard procedure would mean to start with suspension.  I have no intention to offend anyone but the intial actions seem driven by trial-by-media and politically motivated.  

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Fri, 05/29/2020 09:28 am

    Jerry,

    You did not offend me in the least and I appreciate your comments from an outside observer not in the US. Having looked at the video, it does appear the police officers behaved in a very excessive way and should be held accountable, but I do think they should have a complete investigation like you stated. The FBI are looking into the case and let us pray that real justice is done. The treatment of the man was outrageous and I don't understand why the officer did not ease up on the guy after he was handcuffed. Unfortunately, they grow used to the young black men hating them, which ends up more of them being killed. 

  •  West Coast Gramma's picture
    West Coast Gramma
    Posted: Wed, 05/27/2020 11:38 pm

    Re: Cyborg3

    I think the evidence of a video that stretched for nearly ten minutes constitutes an investigation. There's a phrase: hardness of heart. As far as "resisting arrest" goes, that is not a fact. That is what the police claimed. Other evidence indicates that the victim was not resisting arrest. Not only that, that very term has been broadened so much over the years to mean anything an attacker wants it to mean. No, you do not have a case.

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Fri, 05/29/2020 09:50 am

    I agree that it appears the police behaved terribly but from the one video I saw one couldn't tell what else was going on behind the car. Also, if the man did resist arrest and was very difficult to take down then maybe he thought the force was justifiable in a misguided way. I would think the police chief should be fired for training his men so poorly! 
     

    Resisting arrest is just that  "resisting arrest". I don't know why this is so hard to figure out. If the man fought back then the police would have to use force to handcuff him and hold him down.  If the police did not hold him down with some force and the guy was able to get up and run into the traffic and get killed, then do you think the people would NOT accuse the police of brutality? So the officer is guilty if he uses too much force or not enough force.  This is one of the challenges of being a police officer because the decisions they have to make are not always easy. One relevant component to this was the man's behavior prior to the arrest. Maybe he behaved like he was on PCB or some other drug where he was much more erratic.  Maybe he had utter contempt and hatred of the police. If that was the case, possibly using stronger force was justifiable but obviously the force he used was too great for the guy died. 
     

    If we care about justice, we will not arrest a police officer until we have all the evidence in. Why politicalize the process?  
     

     

  •  West Coast Gramma's picture
    West Coast Gramma
    Posted: Thu, 05/28/2020 02:59 am

    Re: Jerry M

    Thanks Jerry for replying to my comment on your initial letter. I appreciate your tone and willingness to engage in conversation. If you are not an American, then perhaps you are not aware of our history. All my life, I have read news articles about police killing unarmed people. When I was a teenager working for the post office, I drove my truck back into the parking lot and saw a chalk marked outline of a man in the parking lot. Turns out the police had shot and killed a teenager in the back because he was running away as they were trying to arrest him. Crime? Petty theft. Then there was Eula Love whom police killed because she was emotionally upset over not being able to pay her gas bill in the middle of a cold winter. Then there was the somewhat crazy homeless woman on the other side of a shopping cart brandishing a butter knife at police, and they killed her. And it goes on and on and on year after year after year. Nothing happens. No police get disciplined. No arrests are made. Most often it's white against black. Cold blooded murderers go scott free. Here at least, I feel that justice is beginning to be served. If this were a movie, it would definitely be R-rated. It doesn't take much thinking or evaluation to know that the ten minute video of a cop suffocating an unarmed black man begging for mercy while he's smashed flat on the asphalt, and onlookers--first hand witnesses--begging the cop for mercy, that this video depicts a cop who acted unjustly. He deserves to be fired; he deserves to be arrested; and he deserves to be tried for murder, because that's what he did. He savagely and maliciously murdered an unarmed man who appeared to be the suspect of a forgery. The pendulum has a long, long way to swing before it needs to start swinging back again. Thanks for your openness.

     

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Fri, 05/29/2020 09:54 am

    I think your response here is outrageous where you call the police "cold blooded killers". The vast number of police are good men and women trying to do their jobs in difficult circumstances. When they have a person coming at them with a knife then yes they may have to kill them or else they could be killed. And yes the shadow of doubt should fall in the police officers favor for they are given the "sword" for a reason. 
     

    As Christians we should show the police respect and not make their jobs difficult. Having a "bad attitude" about the police when the vast number are honest men is not good or biblical. In fact, resisting arrest can get you killed. Pulling out something from your pocket quickly in front of a cop can also get you killed. As I have told my kids, you always need to be cautious and respectful when you deal with the police. Never resist arrest and always treat them with respect no matter how they treat you. In America, the police are much better than most other parts of the world. When you look at the statistics there is no serious problem, though there are cases where the police make mistakes (like in this case) or there are an occasional bad apple in the group.
     

    One of the reasons that more black men are being kill today is the "black lives matter" movement and the many people who have the same attitude as you. Unfortunately, there are many young black men who grow up fatherless and without direction and many get involved in crime. As such, the police both black and white (and other races) get used to having to arrest these youth. The "black lives matter" movement fuels hatred of the police so that many young black men (and other youth too) don't behave well when they confront the police or individuals trying to uphold the law. Many police have been killed by these youth with an attitude. This results in the police having to use force when they confront these young men which results in more cases of accidental deaths. So my point is that
    your attitude about labeling cops as killers is actually killing the youth (especially the young black men) who are sucked up into your "hate" for police. If we love justice and the young black men we will try to reduce this hatred of police! All lives matter! 
     

    The reason why I comment against your post is because I care about the young black men being killed! 

  • OldMike
    Posted: Fri, 05/29/2020 05:14 pm

    I'm in agreement that the Minneapolis officer(s) used excessive force and George Floyd shouldn't have died. I also agree that a lot of people resist arrest.  Then police are faced with the choice of using force, or simply letting a subject go.  Are we as a society willing to allow criminals to simply go free rather than allow police to do their jobs?  
     

    But an aspect of the problem equal to police misconduct is this kind of broad condemnation:  "And it goes on and on and on year after year after year. Nothing happens. No police get disciplined. No arrests are made."

    I think this is pretty extreme. Police officers do get disciplined, fired, charged. Maybe not all that should be.  But statements like this fuel the fires. 

ADVERTISEMENT