“Please, I can’t breathe,” are some of the last words George Floyd spoke as he laid face down and handcuffed on the ground with a white police officer’s knee sitting on his neck for several minutes.
The moment, which was filmed by a bystander, came after Minneapolis police responded to a call about an alleged forgery on Monday and found Floyd, 46, sitting in his car. Police claim Floyd “physically resisted” when they tried to arrest him.
In the video, which has since gone viral and sparked outrage and protests across the country, Floyd can be heard pleading for help and air.
“My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts. ... (I need) water or something. Please. Please. I can't breathe, officer. I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe,” Floyd said during the video.
A witness can be heard saying, “You got ‘em down, let him at least breathe, man.” Another person shouts, “He is human!”
Additional video footage released by a nearby restaurant doesn't appear to show Floyd resisting arrest.
Eventually, Floyd became unresponsive. He was transported to the hospital where he died hours later. His family, utterly devastated and enraged at what happened, has called for justice.
On Tuesday, the four officers who were on the scene were fired from the department following the public’s cry. They haven’t been identified yet. Federal and state investigators are now involved in the case and Floyd’s family wants to see charges for the officers involved.
“They were supposed to be there to serve and to protect and I didn't see a single one of them lift a finger to do anything to help while he was begging for his life. Not one of them tried to do anything to help him," Tera Brown, Floyd's cousin, told CNN.
"They need to be charged with murder because what they did was murder," Brown added. "And almost the whole world has witnessed that because somebody was gracious enough to record it… They need to pay for what they did.”
Hundreds of protesters gathered Tuesday at the intersection on Chicago Avenue, where Floyd was killed. From there, they marched together to the Minneapolis police department's 3rd precinct. The events are being called “I can’t breathe” protests.
Videos on Twitter show some peaceful protesters, but also some throwing objects at police cars. Many people were protesting outside the police station as officers could be seen throwing smoke bombs to disperse crowds.
Floyd’s death, for many, is reminiscent of the 2014 death of Eric Garner, who died after an NYPD officer put him in a chokehold during an arrest. Garner repeatedly told police, in a moment captured on video, that he couldn’t breathe. No officers were charged in the case, but Garner’s death sparked national protests and his family settled a wrongful death suit with the city.
Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, told NBC News that seeing what happened to Floyd was like a “recurring nightmare.”
“It was déjà vu all over again,” Carr said.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the two separate, high-profile cases of Ahmaud Arbery, 25, who was killed by two white men while out jogging in Georgia, and Breonna Taylor, 26, who was shot eight times by police inside her Kentucky home, has announced he will represent Floyd’s family.
Minneapolis Mayor Jason Frey said “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. Five minutes. When you hear someone calling for help, you’re supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic, human sense,” Frey wrote on Facebook.