Thu, 01 Oct 2020

4 Minnesota Police Officers Fired After Death of Black Man

Voice of America
27 May 2020, 07:35 GMT+10

Four Minneapolis officers were fired Tuesday amid outrage over the case of an African American man who died after he was pinned to the ground while handcuffed and a white police officer knelt on his neck as the victim pleaded he could not breathe.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey reacted to the firings on Twitter, saying "This is the right call."

The FBI and other law enforcement authorities are investigating the case.

The death, which occurred in the Midwestern city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is the latest of numerous instances of black men in America dying during or after encounters with white police.

A bystander shared the video of the incident online.

Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder said officers were called to investigate a report of a forgery at a business on Monday evening. Elder said the man "physically resisted" arrest and died at a local hospital.

A police department statement said the officers called for an ambulance after the victim "appeared to be suffering medical distress."

The video shows that after several minutes of the victim pleading that he could not breathe, one of the officers is heard telling the man to "relax." After several more minutes, the man becomes motionless while still under the officer's restraint.

Frey took to Facebook to apologize to the black community, declaring that "Being Black in America should not be a death sentence."

"For five minutes, we watched a white officer press his knee into a Black man's neck," added Frey. "Five minutes. When you hear someone calling for help, you're supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic, human sense."

Monday's death drew comparisons to Eric Garner, an unarmed black man in New York who died in 2014 after a white officer placed him in a chokehold while he begged for his life and said numerous times he could not breathe.

The Minneapolis man's death also follows that of Ahmaud Arbery, who was fatally shot in the southeastern state of Georgia February 23 by Gregory McMichael, a white former Glynn County police officer, who later was an investigator with the local district attorney's office, and his son.

They were charged two months after Arbery's murder, only after a video of it became public.

Police in Minneapolis have come under scrutiny in recent years for fatal encounters with citizens. A white police officer killed a 24-year-old black man with a gunshot to the head in 2015 after a confrontation with two officers who responded to a reported assault.

A county prosecutor did not prosecute the officers, maintaining the victim, Jamar Clark, was trying to get one of the officer's gun when he was killed.

In what became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement, a white police officer shot an unarmed black man in the back as he was running away on foot after a traffic stop in 2015.

As officer Michael Slager appeared in a South Carolina court before receiving a 20-year sentence for killing Walter Scott, Scott's mother turned to Slager and told him "I forgive you." Slager responded to Scott's mother, Judy, by mouthing the words "I'm sorry" as she sat nearby.

The U.S. has a long history of deadly violence by police against blacks and other minorities.

"About 1 in every 1,000 black men can expect to be killed by police," according to a study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

The study found that "Black women and men and American Indian and Alaska Native women and men are significantly more likely than white women and men to be killed by police. Latino men also are more likely to be killed by police than are white men."

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