UPDATED: 4:08 p.m. ET —
The Minneapolis Police Department has fired four officers it says were involved in the death of an unarmed Black man accused of forgery.
While none of the officers were identified by the department, the Minneapolis Star Tribune revealed that the main officer who was seen kneeling on the neck of George Floyd as he explained he couldn’t breathe is named Derek Chauvin. The entire deadly episode was recorded on video by bystanders whose presence Chauvin didn’t seem fazed by as he appeared to kill Floyd.
Another officer on the scene and shown in the video was identified on social media as Tou Thao. It was unclear who the other two officers are.
After it was announced the officers were fired, Benjamin Crump, the attorney representing George Floyd’s family, renewed his calls for each of them to be arrested and charged with murder.
The name of the police officer in Minneapolis who was seen on a viral video apparently kneeling on a Black man’s neck until he died has been identified. A report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune revealed that the officer’s name is Derek Chauvin, according to “two sources familiar with the investigation.”
The Star Tribune found that “records and news accounts show that Chauvin has been involved in at least three police-involved shootings over his career with the MPD: Wayne Reyes in 2006, and Leroy Martinez and Ira Latrell Toles, both in 2011.”
Police spokesman John Elder told the Star Tribune that the restraint technique using Chauvin’s knee was not part of the department’s training.
“In my years as an officer, that would not be what I would ever consider a chokehold,” Elder said.
The other officer on the scene had not been officially identified as of late Tuesday morning. But social media reports said his name is Tou Thao.
After handcuffing Floyd for purportedly committing forgery, Chauvin was showing on video applying pressure to the Floyd’s neck while cavalierly putting his hands in his own pockets. He was aware of the growing crowd and all of the witnesses with their cellphones out filming the episode and still didn’t feel the need to stop what users on social media described as a murder.
Police said Floyd died at the hospital following what they characterized in a press release as “a medical incident” without expounding on that explanation. However, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced during a press conference Tuesday morning that both of the officers involved in Floyd’s death were on “relieved of duty status,” which reportedly differs from the standard protocol of placing cops on administrative leave following the death of a suspect. Arradondo did not identify Chauvin by name.
A public information officer for the Minneapolis Police Department had previously said that Floyd “appeared to be under the influence.” When reporters asked whether that was a reference to drugs or alcohol or something else, Arradondo said the matter was under investigation. The case was swiftly referred to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension before it was announced Tuesday morning that the FBI would also be joining the investigation.
During the same press conference, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey spoke in no uncertain terms about how unacceptable Floyd’s death is and called it “wrong on every level.” He said Floyd’s life “mattered.”
A protest has been planned for Tuesday afternoon to be held at the same intersection Minneapolis location where police accosted Floyd.
“We are gathering at the site of the victim’s death, at the intersection of 38th and Chicago Ave in Minneapolis, to demand justice for the victim and his family,” a Facebook post from protest organizers said in part. “We demand for the names of the officers in question to be released; and for those officers to be fired swiftly and criminally charged for their murderous conduct.” Find more details on the protest by clicking here.
Mayor Frey asked people planning to attend the protest to wear masks to safeguard against the spread of the coronavirus. The two officers involved in the incident that led to Floyd’s death were notably not wearing masks or gloves at the time of the botched arrest.
This is a developing story that will be updated as additional information becomes available.