Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has called on prosecutors to arrest and charge the white police officer who was filmed kneeling on the neck of black man George Floyd moments before he died in custody.
City officials on Wednesday formally identified the four fired police officers involved in Monday’s incident as Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J Alexander Kueng.
The cops, who were initially placed on paid administrative leave, were terminated from the Minneapolis Police Department on Tuesday after footage of Floyd’s arrest and subsequent death was widely shared on social media.
Mayor Frey, who said firing the cops was the ‘right call’, did not identify the cop by name but called for the ‘arresting officer’ to be charged over his role in the incident that has sparked national calls for justice.
‘If most people, particularly people of color, had done what a police officer did late Monday, they’d already be behind bars,’ Frey said in a tweet on Wednesday.
‘That’s why today I’m calling on Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to charge the arresting officer in this case.’
Chauvin had been earlier identified by Floyd family attorney Ben Crump as the officer who pinned Floyd to the ground in a video of his arrest. Footage showed him digging his knee into Floyd’s neck as he repeatedly pleaded that he could not breathe.
Speaking at a press conference in Minneapolis, Mayor Frey said he had spent the last 36 hours wrestling with one ‘fundamental’ question asking: ‘Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?’
‘If you had done it or I had done it we would be behind bars right now and I cannot come up with an answer to that question,’ he added.
In media briefing with state authorities on Wednesday, officials refused to confirm if Chauvin was the officer seen kneeling on Floyd due to the ongoing investigation, but reassured the public that they are acting swiftly in the matter.
‘I can promise you unlike [Eric] Garner, you will not have to wait. There will not be a lag in time by the BCA [Bureau of Criminal Apprehension],’ Minnesota director of public safety John Harrington said.
Authorities also revealed an autopsy is yet to be performed on Floyd as of Wednesday and they did not confirm whether police bodycam footage will be made public.
Floyd, 46, died in hospital shortly after his confrontation with police, which is now under investigation by the FBI and has prompted thousands of protesters to take to the streets to demand justice.
New video sent to us shows the moment George Floyd was removed from his vehicle and handcuffed on 38th and Chicago.
Video courtesy of Christopher Belfrey pic.twitter.com/MiIIula4sA
— Alex Lehnert (@AlexLehnertFox9) May 26, 2020