MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey is calling on Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to file criminal charges against the arresting officer in the death of George Floyd.
“I’ve wrestled, more than anything else over the last 36 hours, with one fundamental question: Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?" Frey said in his opening statement. "If you had done it or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now. I cannot come up with a good answer to that question.”
Floyd died at the hospital after he was detained by Minneapolis police officers near the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue South Monday night. A video taken by a bystander showed one of the officers, now identified as Derek Chauvin, pinning Floyd to the ground and pressing his knee into his neck as Floyd repeatedly says, “I can’t breathe.”
“We cannot turn a blind eye," Frey said. "It is on us as leaders to see this for what it is and call it what it is. George Floyd deserves justice.”
After Floyd loses consciousness, Chauvin continues to press on his neck. None of the other officers on the scene attempted to check Floyd’s pulse until the ambulance arrived, despite bystanders’ pleas. Floyd later died at Hennepin County Medical Center.
“We watched for five whole excruciating minutes as a white officer firmly pressed his knee into the neck of an unarmed, handcuffed black man," Frey said Wednesday. "I saw no threat. I saw nothing that would signal that this kind of force was necessary. By the way, that particular technique that was used is not authorize by the MPD, it is not something that officers are trained in on and should not be used period.”
The Hennepin County Attorney's Office responded to Mayor Frey's demand for crimianl charges Wednesday afternoon.
"This office is aware of Mayor Frey’s comments. We are working with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Hennepin County Medical Examiner to expeditiously gather and review all of the evidence in the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd," the statement said. "The videotaped death of Mr. Floyd, which has outraged us and people across the country, deserves the best we can give and that is what this office will do."
The FBI and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are investigating Floyd's death.
The four responding officers, including Chauvin, were fired Tuesday after the video of the incident surfaced.
“Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” he said.
The mayor appeared visibly upset at a press conference Tuesday morning after having viewed the bystander video of the incident.
“For the better part of the night, I’ve been trying to find the words to describe what happened and all I keep coming back to is that he should not have died,” the mayor said.
He apologized to the black community for what happened.
“It was traumatic and it serves as a clear reminder of just how far we have to go,” Frey said.
The officers were wearing body worn cameras, which were activated during the incident.