George Floyd said he couldn’t breathe more than 20 times, called out for his children and late mother and said officers would “kill” him before he died in Minneapolis police custody, new evidence showed.
Floyd, a black man, died on May 25 when a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His death has unleashed a massive wave of protests against systemic racism and police brutality in the United States and inspired demos across the world.
Video of his death went viral and showed Floyd shouting “I can’t breathe” and calling for his mother as he suffocated.
But transcripts of the police officers’ body camera footage, filed Tuesday in Minnesota state court by Thomas Lane, one of the officers involved in Floyd’s death, has revealed new details about his final moments.
When the officers first arrested him, Floyd begged them not to put him in the police car, telling them he was claustrophobic and in physical distress.
As they tried to force him into the car, Floyd cried out that he couldn’t breathe and was “going to die in here.”
Later, according to the transcript, he said, “Momma, I love you. Tell my kids I love them. I’m dead.” He called for his mother and children several more times.
Throughout his arrest, Floyd said “I can’t breathe” more than 20 times. The officers can be heard telling him to “relax,” and that he was doing “fine” and “talking fine.”
At one point, as Floyd insisted they were going to kill him, officer Derek Chauvin shouted, “Then stop talking, stop yelling, it takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk.”
– ‘I can’t breathe’ – According to the transcript, Floyd’s last words were, “They’re going to kill me. They’re going to kill me. I can’t breathe.”
The transcript was submitted Tuesday by Lane to have the charges that he aided and abetted in Floyd’s murder thrown out by a judge.
He and the other three officers involved — Chauvin, Tou Thao and Alexander Kueng — were all fired from the Minneapolis police force one day after Floyd’s death and charged in his murder. They each face up to 40 years behind bars.
Chauvin, who knelt on the handcuffed 46-year-old’s neck, faces second and third-degree murder charges.
Thao and Kueng, like Lane, have been charged with aiding and abetting a murder.
The bystander video of Floyd’s death stunned and horrified Americans, igniting protests and riots in cities across the country and sparking a national debate on racism and police violence.
Floyd was detained for the minor charge of attempting to use a counterfeit $20 bill, and while in handcuffs, two of the officers held him down on the street while Chauvin pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck and the fourth officer stood watch.
New York City announced Sunday it would remove a statue of former US President Theodore Roosevelt long criticized as a racist and colonialist symbol, but the move drew criticism from Donald Trump.
The decision comes with the United States gripped by widespread protests against racial inequality — sparked by the killing in police custody of George Floyd, an unarmed black man — with demonstrators toppling a number of statues of figures with racist legacies.
The bronze sculpture of Roosevelt, which has been at the entrance of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) for 80 years, depicts the former leader on horseback towering over a black man and a Native American man — who are both on foot.
Citing the ongoing movement for racial justice, the museum said: “We also have watched as the attention of the world and the country has increasingly turned to statues and monuments as powerful and hurtful symbols of systemic racism.”
The Roosevelt statue, it added, “has long been controversial because of the hierarchical composition that places one figure on horseback and the others walking alongside, and many of us find its depictions of the Native American and African figures and their placement in the monument racist.”
New York City authorities agreed to the museum’s request to remove the statue,
“It explicitly depicts Black and Indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.
“The City supports the Museum’s request. It is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue.”
Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th US president at the beginning of the 20th century, and while he was celebrated as a conservationist and progressive at the time, he also held racist views towards black and Native American people, according to the AMNH website.
A Roosevelt family member released a statement approving the removal.
“The world does not need statues, relics of another age, that reflect neither the values of the person they intend to honor nor the values of equality and justice,” said Theodore Roosevelt IV, aged 77, a great-grandson.
“The composition of the Equestrian Statue does not reflect Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy. It is time to move the statue and move forward.”
But President Donald Trump criticized the decision to remove the statue, tweeting: “Ridiculous, don’t do it!”
Trump had called on police to arrest demonstrators who took down a statue of Confederate general Albert Pike in Washington DC on Friday.
The protests against racial inequality and police brutality have seen the toppling or removal of statues depicting Confederate generals, colonial figures and slave traders in the United States, Britain and New Zealand.
The figures targeted by protesters have included Christopher Columbus and British colonialist Cecil Rhodes.
Donald Trump said Wednesday that US police have “not been treated fairly” and appeared to defend a white officer charged with the murder of a black man.
Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe was charged with murder Wednesday for shooting African American Rayshard Brooks in the back, and aggravated the case by kicking the 27-year-old as he lay on the ground bleeding.
The death of Brooks came less than three weeks after George Floyd died while being pinned down by Minneapolis police officers, fuelling a national uproar and anti-police brutality protests across the country.
“I thought it was a terrible situation, but you can’t resist a police officer,” Trump said of Brooks’ death in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity.
“I hope he gets a fair shake because police have not been treated fairly in our country.
“But, again, you can’t resist a police officer like that. And they ended up in a very terrible disagreement and look at the way it ended. Very bad. Very bad.”
Trump also mentioned Floyd, saying he had been unable to watch the nearly nine-minute clip of Floyd’s death.
“Who could watch that?” he said.
On Tuesday Trump issued an order to improve policing — calling for a ban on dangerous chokeholds — but he has stopped well short of demands made at nationwide protests against racism and police brutality.
Critics, including the Democrat speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, have derided his efforts.
“The president’s weak executive order falls sadly and seriously short of what is required to combat the epidemic of racial injustice and police brutality,” she said in a statement this week.
Trump derided the Democrats during the Fox News interview, claiming: “They do nothing and they want to defund and they want to abolish, they want to abolish police departments.”
The Premier League resumed on Wednesday after a three-month hiatus, with players taking the knee at the start of a goalless draw between Aston Villa and Sheffield United overshadowed by a goalline controversy.
Coronavirus restrictions mean the 92 games remaining after the 100-day shutdown are being crammed into less than six weeks.
Defeat for Manchester City, who kicked off against Arsenal later on Wednesday, would leave Liverpool on the brink of their first English top-flight title for 30 years.
But Villa and Sheffield took centre stage to relaunch the English top-flight.
In front of a huge global audience, players and staff protested racial injustice for about 10 seconds in solidarity with worldwide protests following the death of American George Floyd while in police custody.
“In the first Premier League fixture of Project Restart both clubs hope that the act of ‘taking a knee’ will send a strong message of unity and amplify the many messages of support from Premier League players and the wider football family,” the clubs said in a statement.
Manchester City and Arsenal players also took a knee before kick-off at the Etihad.
All players will wear Black Lives Matter (BLM) on the back of their shirts where names are normally printed for the first 12 matches of the restart.
A BLM logo will feature on shirts for the remainder of the season along with a badge thanking Britain’s health workers for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 0-0 draw at Villa Park did not suit either side.
Aston Villa were seeking a precious win to lift them out of the relegation zone while Sheffield United are chasing a European spot next season.
The big talking point came late in the first half when a free-kick from United’s Oliver Norwood was caught by Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland, but he stumbled backwards and looked to have carried the ball over his own goalline.
United players appealed for the goal, but the technology that alerts the referee when the ball has gone over the line did not award it and VAR did not intervene.
Despite replays showing the ball had clearly crossed the line before Nyland regained his footing, referee Michael Oliver had no choice but to let play continue.
Should Manchester City lose to Arsenal, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, who hold a 25-point lead at the top of the table, could be crowned champions as early as Sunday when they face local rivals Everton.
Despite concerns over fans congregating around stadiums, clubs won the battle to host matches in their home grounds.
Liverpool can win a long-awaited title in their own city, either at Goodison, or when the Reds host Crystal Palace at Anfield on Wednesday.
But Klopp stressed the need for supporters to stay at home.
“Stay safe, support us from home. We are still with you and you’ll never walk alone,” he said.
The battle for Champions League places next season and to avoid the drop are far more closely contested.
Matches will be preceded by a minute’s silence in memory of those who have died from coronavirus. Britain is the worst-hit country in Europe with more than 42,000 deaths.
Three of the four managers to lead their sides on Wednesday have been touched by the virus.
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith’s father died, while City manager Pep Guardiola lost his mother.
Guardiola’s former assistant Mikel Arteta returns to the Etihad for the first time as Arsenal manager three months after his positive test for coronavirus hastened the season shutdown.
With all games being played behind closed doors, players will have to get used to the eerie silence in the usually raucous stands.
Piping crowd chants into stadiums, cardboard cut-outs of supporters and live video fan walls will add colour but the Premier League’s chief executive Richard Masters admitted there would be something missing without crowds.
“It is going to be an odd experience without fans at the stadia,” he said. “The Premier League won’t be back with a capital ‘B’ until fans are back.”
Just 300 people will be allowed in stadiums for each match, with strict health protocols in place.
Players have been told to maintain social-distancing during goal celebrations and are banned from spitting.
England forward Raheem Sterling said on Tuesday that “now is the time to act” against racism.
Sterling has been speaking out amid the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests that followed the death of George Floyd while in police custody in the United States.
The BLM protests have also led to renewed debate about the lack of black coaches and administrators within British sport.
Sterling said that black people are “tired” and want to see meaningful action.
“I feel like I speak for most black people, everyone is tired. With the protesting that is going on you see what is happening in America transferring to the UK,” Manchester City star Sterling told Sky Sports.
“A lot of people have been in silence and is using this opportunity as a moment to be one and try to get not just answers but changes to society.
“It is something that is coming up a lot more which is a good thing. I truly do believe that now is the time that we have to act. I am doing my bit behind the scenes.”
Sterling’s latest comments came a day after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a government review into “all aspects of inequality” following a wave of anti-racism protests in Britain.
But David Lammy, justice spokesman for the main opposition Labour party said the review, one of several in recent years, was simply a device to delay meaningful action and appeared to have been “written on the back of a fag (cigarette) packet yesterday to assuage the Black Lives Matter protest”.
African countries are pushing for the UN’s top rights body to launch a high-level investigation into “systemic racism” and police violence in the United States and beyond, according to a draft resolution seen Tuesday by AFP.
The text was being circulated to diplomats for consultations ahead of a so-called urgent debate on the topic at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council on Wednesday.
The debate was called for following unrest in the United States and elsewhere over George Floyd’s death in police custody.
In the draft resolution, the African group strongly condemns “continuing racial discriminatory and violent practices perpetrated by law enforcement agencies against Africans and people of African descent and structural racism endemic to the criminal justice system, in the United States of America and other parts of the world recently affected.”
The draft resolution, which could still be revised before it is tabled later Tuesday, calls for the establishment of an independent international commission of inquiry (COI) — one of the UN’s highest-level probes, generally reserved for major crises like the Syrian conflict.
The commission, the text said, should “establish facts and circumstances related to the systemic racism, alleged violations of international human rights law and abuses against Africans and of people of African descent in the United States” and elsewhere by law enforcement agencies, especially those incidents that resulted in the deaths.
The aim, it said, should be “bringing perpetrators to justice.”
– ‘Excessive force’ –
The investigators should also probe “the federal, state and local government responses to peaceful protests, including the alleged use of excessive force against protesters, bystanders and journalists,” it said.
It urges the US government, as well as governments in other relevant countries, to “cooperate fully” with the COI, which it said should present its findings to the rights council in a year’s time.
The text also calls on UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet to include updates on police brutality against people of African descent in the United States and elsewhere at each future council session.
The final text must be tabled at least 24 hours before a vote by the rights council’s 47 members on the resolution, which is due to happen following the urgent debate scheduled to begin at 3:00 pm (1300 GMT) Wednesday.
The urgent debate was requested in a letter last week from Burkina Faso’s ambassador to the UN on behalf of Africa’s 54 countries, and was accepted Monday when the council resumed its 43rd session, which had been interrupted in March due to the coronavirus crisis.
Both the letter and the draft resolution make reference to the killing of Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died in Minneapolis on May 25 after a white police officer, who has since been charged with murder, pressed his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
His death, which was caught on video and has sparked massive protests across the United States and around the world, “is unfortunately not an isolated incident.”
“Many other cases of persons of African descent (have) faced the same fate because of their origin and police violence,” Burkina Faso Ambassador Dieudonne Desire Sougouri told the council Monday.
The police chief in the US city of Atlanta resigned after an officer fatally shot a black man during an arrest, the mayor said Saturday, with the new killing injecting fresh anger into protests against racism and police brutality.
Images on local media showed hundreds of protesters in the streets on Saturday and flames engulfing the Wendy’s restaurant where 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was killed.
The officer who shot Brooks was dismissed Saturday and identified by Atlanta police as Garrett Rolfe. The second officer was placed on administrative duty, according to ABC News.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms — who has been touted as a potential running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden — earlier announced the resignation of Chief Erika Shields.
Wendy’s employees called police on Friday night to complain that Brooks was asleep in his car and blocking other customers on the premises, an official report said.
He failed a sobriety test and resisted when police tried to arrest him, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said.
Surveillance video showed “that during a physical struggle with officers, Brooks obtained one of the officer’s Tasers and began to flee from the scene,” the report continued.
“Officers pursued Brooks on foot and during the chase, Brooks turned and pointed the Taser at the officer. The officer fired his weapon, striking Brooks,” it said.
Brooks was taken to hospital but died after surgery, it said, adding that one officer was injured.
An attorney acting for the dead man’s family said disproportionate force was used in the confrontation.
“In Georgia, a Taser is not a deadly weapon — that’s the law,” L. Chris Stewart told reporters.
“Support came, in I think 2 minutes. He would have been boxed in and trapped. Why did you have to kill him?”
“(The officer) had other options than shooting a man in the back.”
Brooks has four children, Stewart added, and had celebrated the birthday of his eight-year-old girl earlier on Friday.
His death is the 48th shooting involving an officer the GBI has been asked to investigate this year, according to local newspaper the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Fifteen of those incidents were fatal.
The unrest comes as the US faces a historic reckoning on systemic racism, with mass civil unrest ignited by the May 25 killing of another African-American man, George Floyd, while in police custody.
Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Protests which spread first around the country then the globe, have forced a conversation on the legacies of slavery, colonialism and white violence against people of color, as well as the militarization of police in America.
Police chief Shields had worked for Atlanta’s police department for more than two decades.
“Because of her desire that Atlanta be a model of what meaningful reform should look like across this country, Chief Shields has offered to immediately step aside as police chief,” the mayor said in televised comments.
Thousands marched in cities around the world for a second week of rallies Saturday to support the US Black Lives Matter movement, but also to highlight racism and police brutality in their own countries.
There were rallies in cities across Europe, with thousands demonstrating in several French cities, and clashes breaking out in Paris and Lyon.
Police arrested several far-right demonstrators in London after violence when they challenged people supporting racial quality there, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson denouncing their “racist thuggery”.
The weeks of historic demonstrations have been ignited by the May 25 killing of African American George Floyd by a police officer — the latest in a long line of unarmed black men being killed by white law enforcement in the US.
His agonising death as the officer knelt on his neck was filmed by bystanders and swiftly went viral, triggering fury first in the US and then around the world.
The mass unrest has forced an unprecedented global conversation on the legacy of slavery, European colonialism and white violence against people of colour, as well as the militarisation of police in America.
Police stopped protesters in Paris Saturday from marching through the capital, firing tear gas after some demonstrators pelted them with projectiles.
In the southeast city of Lyon, police used water cannons and tear gas at the end of a demonstration attended by about 2,000 people.
The Paris demonstration was called by a pressure group campaigning for justice for Adama Traore, a young black man who died in police custody in 2016.
Traore’s sister Assa Traore called on those attending the rally to “denounce the denial of justice, denounce social, racial, police violence”.
She drew a direct parallel between Floyd’s death in the US city of Minneapolis and that of her brother, and renewed her call for a full investigation into his killing.
Amnesty International called in a statement for “a systemic reform of police practices” in France.
The rallies came at the end of a week when France’s police watchdog revealed it had received almost 1,500 complaints against officers last year — half of them for alleged violence.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner on Tuesday promised “zero tolerance” of racism in law enforcement, saying it is clear some officers “have failed in their Republican duty”.
Castaner’s comments prompted several dozen policemen to gather with their patrol cars at Paris’s Arc de Triomphe on Saturday night, throwing down their handcuffs in protest.
Brut Yoann Maras, a representative from police union Alliance, told AFP: “My colleagues felt let down, abandoned by their supervising minister.”
– ‘Racist thuggery’ –
In London, far-right protesters clashed with police in the city centre after gathering to challenge people demonstrating against racism.
Thousands of people defied coronavirus restrictions to assemble in and around Parliament Square, requiring a “major” policing operation, said the Metropolitan Police Service.
Television footage showed some agitators throwing punches, bottles and smoke bombs at officers as well as fighting with rival protesters.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the violence, saying “racist thuggery has no place on our streets”.
Police said they arrested more than 100 people in the capital, and six officers suffered minor injuries.
Anti-racism protests went ahead in other British cities, including Brighton in the south and Liverpool in the north.
Thousands marched in several cities across Switzerland, with the largest in Zurich, where 10,000 people turned out. Police said one officer was hurt after a few hundred hard-left activists there began throwing projectiles. They made several arrests.
Earlier in the week, around 10,000 marched against racism in Geneva.
In Germany, around 2,000 rallied in the southern city of Stuttgart, the DPA news agency reported. In the north, another 500 turned out in Lubeck and 250 in Hamburg. There were no reports of any trouble.
– Rallies in Australia –
In Australia, thousands turned out in several cities for the second weekend running, despite coronavirus restrictions. The biggest was in the Western Australian capital Perth.
Many demonstrators carried signs such as “Stop deaths in custody” and “White Australia stop lying to yourselves”, highlighting the deaths of more than 400 indigenous people in custody over the last three decades.
Smaller protests for Aboriginal rights were held in Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory, and towns in neighbouring Queensland — both regions with numerous indigenous communities.
In Asia, hundreds gathered in a Taipei park with some holding signs with slogans such as “This is a movement, not a moment”. They held eight minutes of silence to remember Floyd, who was pinned to the ground by the white officer’s knee on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
Dozens also marched through the rain in Tokyo.
In Canada, officials in the eastern province of New Brunswick announced Saturday that they had opened an investigation into the fatal police shooting of a 48-year-old indigenous man, the second such incident this month.
And in the US the anger was refreshed after yet another black man was shot dead by police, this time in the city of Atlanta on Friday evening.
On June 15, 1920, three African-Americans were lynched in Duluth, Minnesota, accused without proof of raping a white woman.
One hundred years later, the northern US state on Friday pardoned another black man convicted of the crime, which he repeatedly denied committing.
Max Mason, who died in 1942, has become the first person to benefit from a posthumous pardon in Minnesota, a potent symbolic action at a time when Americans are confronting the roots of a racism that still taints substantial portions of society.
The pardon request was filed well before the May 25 death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died when a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
The killing, caught on video, triggered coast-to-coast protests, making the Mason pardon timely.
“100 years late, overdue justice has been done,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said on Twitter.
“The last weeks in MN have shown us we have a need for a better quality of justice. A pardon for Max Mason is another long-delayed step toward it.”
On June 14 of 1920, young white woman Irene Tusken and a male friend attended the circus in Duluth. The next day, the man told his father they had been attacked by black circus troupe members and that Tusken was raped.
Police rounded up and interrogated several black men including Mason, but the couple was unable to identify anyone as one of the attackers.
According to court documents, a doctor examined the woman but could find no evidence of assault.
Mason was released, and he rejoined the traveling circus as it departed Duluth. But police re-arrested him along with several other men.
Later that night, an angry mob broke into the police station and grabbed three men, dragging them through the streets before hanging them in front of thousands of people.
Duluth is the home town of famed folk singer Bob Dylan, whose 1965 song “Desolation Row” was written in part about the crime.
The city has apologized for the lynching and in 2003 erected a memorial to the three victims.
Mason escaped the fate of those three men. But he was sentenced to 30 years in prison, in part because it was learned that he and Tusken were both infected with gonorrhea, a common venereal disease.
“If he had been a white man, I am rather doubtful if he would have been convicted,” county attorney Mason Forbes said in 1923 pardon request.
The National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) in collaboration with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission on Wednesday held a Memorial service in honour of George Floyd who was killed recently by an American Police in the United States.
Addressing the media in Abuja, NACA Director-General, Segun Runsewe said: “As Africans, our culture has great respect for the sanity of the human life.”
Runsewe who condemned Floyd’s death said “Nigeria believes in the American vision that all men are created equal and are endowed by God with certain inalienable rights among which are right to life hence the need for justice for late George Floyd.”
While joining other Nigerians to ask for justice for the late African-American, the NCAC boss called for the spirit of love among countries of the world to further strengthen global peace and development.
He also commiserated with George’s family and Nigeria over the ugly incident, extending his condolences to Nigerians killed by Boko Haram, kidnappers, rapists and other violent crimes in the country.
In attendance was also the Chairman of NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa who advised Africans to develop a keen interest in developing their continent instead of running abroad.