Four Minneapolis police officers fired following death of George Floyd

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MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA- The city wasted no time in firing four Minneapolis police officers on Tuesday.  This, following an incident that is believed to have led to the death of George Floyd.

The announcement was made by Chief Medaria Arradondo and Mayor Jacob Frey at a Tuesday afternoon press conference.

“This is the right call,” Frey said.

The department hasn’t even publicly released the names of the officers yet. 

They were apparently responding to an alleged forgery at a business in south Minneapolis before the detainment of Floyd.

At the beginning of 10-minute video clip that a bystander posted to Facebook Monday evening, Floyd was in handcuffs and repeatedly begged the officer to “please” release the pressure on his back and neck.

He kept saying “I can’t breathe,” and “they’re gonna kill me.”

Medical experts have argued in other cases that if you can speak, you can breathe.

While bystanders protested in the video, he continued to keep his knees on top of Floyd for several minutes after he stopped moving.  During that time, a second officer told witnesses to stand back.

The Minneapolis Police Department initially put out a release stating Floyd had experienced a “medical incident” while in police custody.

But in the outrage after, they asked the FBI and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to investigate Floyd’s death. 

Monday morning, Frey read a statement that said the officer had “failed in the most basic, human sense,” and called Floyd’s death “wrong on every level.” 

The other two officers fired were said to be those who responded to the scene a short time later.

The media has not yet showed the altercation officers got into with Floyd after asking him to come down from a vehicle he was sitting on.

This, after they were called to Chicago and 38th on the report of counterfeit money being used.

The story brings to light a movement out of California to tie the hands of law enforcement in regards to the use of “chokeholds.”

As we reported this past fall, a group of activists in San Diego are pushing for new restrictions over police officers using chokehold restraints when they’re dealing with dangerous suspects, and, depending on the outcome, it could put the lives of officers at risk.

A large group of activists, community members, professors and others gathered at San Diego State University’s Black Resource Center on Monday to call for the ban of police chokeholds, calling the act inhumane and saying that it could lead to death or other lifelong effects. 

They called the town hall meeting the “I Can’t Breathe Campaign” in light of Eric Garner’s statements while being restrained by a member of the NYPD years ago before he died in police custody.

 

Currently, police in San Diego are not authorized to use chokeholds unless their lives are in danger. They are, however, able to use something referred to as the “carotid restraint”, in which a strategic hold on the carotid artery causes the suspect to pass out. 

As any officer will tell you, the hold could very well mean the difference between life and death, both for the officer and/or the suspect.

But no matter the situation, the Racial Justice Coalition says that chokeholds are never warranted. 

Darwin Fishman, a lecturer at San Diego State University, said that the restraints were too often used against minorities.

“We waited until Eric Garner was killed before we started talking about chokeholds,” Fishman said. “It doesn’t have to be the case that we just respond to crisis.”

eric_garner_chokehold_pantaleo
Officer Pantaleo attempts to take Eric Garner to the ground. (Screenshot – YouTube)

 

A mother from the community raised her concerns over police use of force.

“That’s every mother’s nightmare, to be called that your son was locked up, or worse, that your son is in the hospital and is brain dead because these are all the things the chokehold can do,” Buki Domingos said at the gathering. 

Domingos said that the carotid restraint should be banned as well, calling it just as dangerous as the chokehold. 

“One is not very far from the other and the human neck is not that big,” she said.

NBC San Diego reported that the SDPD used carotid restraints over 570 times between 2013 and 2018, according to data gathered in a public records request. The past two years of data shows less than a quarter of all those restrained were black.

 

The San Diego department advised that they had recently changed the protocol over neck restraints during the summer. They said that now anyone who had been put in the carotid restraint would be required to be brought to the hospital following the encounter. 

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Four Minneapolis police officers fired following death of George Floyd

 

California just recently signed Assembly Bill 392 into effect, which changes the criteria in which an officer is authorized to issued deadly force. It has been called the strongest piece of legislation ever concerning police use of force. Though it does not concern neck restraints, the activist group is pushing to add the hold to the list of “lethal force” measures. 

 

Critics say that the new law surrounding deadly force puts police officers at a greater risk of injury or death. It is way too easy for a grand jury, a judge or a trial jury to Monday morning quarterback the situation from the safety of the courtroom. It is easy to look at the totality of circumstances after the fact. Officers have to make a split-second decision. They do not always have access to the totality.

This legislation uses vague terminology to the detriment of our police officers, their safety and their decision-making process.

They said the laws could make officers hesitate for a fatal second if they have to consider alternatives to lethal force. That’s what Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff Julie Robertson faced. She testified how her partner, Mark Stasyuk, died last fall during a gunfight and she hesitated as the suspect shot at her with only his back exposed.

Mark Stasyuk
(Graphics courtesy Rose Borisow GrafX)

 

“I recall in that moment thinking that if I were to shoot him in the back, I would be the next officer in the news being scrutinized for my actions,” Robertson said. “The thought of having to second-guess my actions in that moment is frightening. This bill makes me wonder if sacrificing everything is worth it.”

Why are legislators okay with putting our officers into such a precarious situation? Why would we put these men and women in a situation that forces them to hesitate and second-guess themselves in split-second, life or death scenarios?

These are questions that continue to be asked. 

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