Police in Minnesota were being accused of killing an unarmed Black man after a viral video showed an officer pinning down a suspect as he repeated that he couldn’t breathe. The Minneapolis Poice Department was quick to announce that no weapons were involved in the man’s death it downplayed as a “medical incident,” but the video prompted speculation on social media of a brutality-induced “killing.”
A public information officer with the Minneapolis Poice Department used vague and general terms during a press conference. He said that officers responded to a call accusing the suspect of committing “forgery” and that he “appeared to be under the influence.”
However, when it came to implicating the suspect, only described as a male “believed to be in his 40s,” the terms used by the public information got pretty specific quickly.
He said the suspect “physically resisted officers” and that once he was handcuffed, the officers “realized that the suspect was suffering a medical distress.” He was taken to the hospital, where he died a short time later, the public information officer said.
“At no time were any weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident,” he emphasized.
Either that public information officer wasn’t fully briefed or he conveniently left out the part where one of the responding officers used his knee to pin and hold down the suspect by his neck, prompting the suspect to repeat, “I cannot breathe.” The video showed the officer applying pressure to the suspect’s neck while cavalierly putting his hands in his own pockets. That prompted one person to tweet in part that they “literally just watched that video of the Minneapolis Police killing that man today.”
It was unclear if the suspect died at the scene with the officer’s knee on his neck or if he really died later at the hospital as police said happened. The episode was recorded by one of many bystanders who openly derided the police as using cruel and inhumane tactics to restrain someone who appeared not to be resisting at all.
Watch the video below. It is very graphic and explicit language is used and heard.
It was eerily reminiscent of the police-involved death of Eric Garner, whose similar last words in 2014 were, “I can’t breathe.”
The public information officer added that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) will be conducting an independent investigation and all body cameras were on and activated during the incident. He then suggested the department wouldn’t have much more to say because it is now “the BCA’s investigation.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune crime reporter tweeted early Tuesday morning that the FBI has joined in on the investigation.
The Minneapolis Police Department’s full press release about the incident can be viewed by clicking here.
Social media users quickly accused the Minnesota Police Department of killing the suspect, who had not been identified as of early Tuesday morning. Some said the suspect was suffocated. Others described it as being choked. One tweet posted screenshots of the badge of another officer who stood by and allowed his partner to use those tactics on the suspect, demanding both officers be identified.
This is a developing story and will be updated as additional information becomes available.