The nation’s largest police union condemned officers’ actions in detaining George Floyd, the Black Minneapolis man who repeatedly begged for air as a white cop fatally pressed down on his neck.
“I do not believe this incident should be allowed to define our profession or the Minneapolis Police Department, but there is no doubt that this incident has diminished the trust and respect our communities have for the men and women of law enforcement,” Fraternal Order of Police President Patrick Yoes said in a statement Thursday.
Floyd, 46, was unarmed when officer Derek Chauvin put him in handcuffs and face-down on the ground during an arrest for alleged fraud on Monday. Video taken by a bystander shows Floyd repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe” as Chauvin is seen pushing down on the man’s neck with his knee. Bystanders can be heard begging Chauvin to stop.
“Bro, he’s not fucking moving!” an onlooker shouts in the video. “Get off of his neck!”
Floyd closes his eyes and stops moving in the video. He was later pronounced dead.
“Based on the by-stander’s video from this incident, we witnessed a man in distress pleading for help,” Yoes said in the statement. “The fact that he was a suspect in custody is immaterial—police officers should at all times render aid to those who need it. Police officers need to treat all of our citizens with respect and understanding and should be held to the very highest standards for their conduct.”
Chauvin, along with three other officers involved in the incident, was fired. But protestors and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey are demanding Chauvin be charged and placed in custody.
“If you had done it, or I had, you’d be behind bars right now,” Frey said at a press conference on Wednesday. “I’m calling on the Hennepin County attorney to charge the arresting officer in this case.”