‘They killed him’: Sister of Minneapolis black man who died after arrest calls for justice

(Reuters) – The sister of an African-American man who died shortly after a white Minneapolis police officer pinned him down with a knee to the neck called for justice on Wednesday, saying the firing of four policemen over the deadly incident was not enough.

The four officers were dismissed from the force on Tuesday, a day after the death of George Floyd, 46, who lived in suburban St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Video taken by a bystander showed Floyd lying face down in the street, gasping for air and groaning, “I can’t breathe” on Monday evening.

“They murdered my brother. They killed him. They need to apply more pressure on these guys. Firing them is not enough,” Bridgett Floyd told ABC’s Good Morning America.

A Minnesota Department of Public Safety spokeswoman said authorities will release the names of the officers after initial interviews with witnesses and those involved in the incident. She did not have a specific time frame for the release.

The case is reminiscent of the 2014 killing of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man in New York City, who died after being put in a police chokehold and telling the officers, “I can’t breathe.” The officer who placed Garner in a fatal chokehold was fired but escaped criminal prosecution.

The Garner case was one of a series of killings of black men by U.S. police officers that gave fuel to the “Black Lives Matter” movement, which campaigns against violence toward black people and systemic racism.

Thousands of protesters filled the streets around the scene of the deadly incident in a boisterous rally on Tuesday, with many wearing facial coverings to protect against spread of the novel coronavirus.

The gathering took an unruly turn around dusk as police in riot gear fired tear gas and non-lethal bean-bag rounds into the crowds, while protesters hurled water bottles and other projectiles, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

A protest was planned for Wednesday in front of the home of a police officer that organizers say was involved in the incident, according to a posting on Facebook. The organizer said a peaceful protest was planned, but the officer will “feel our pain and what it’s like to be afraid for his life.”

Attorney Benjamin Crump, retained by Floyd’s family, called for peaceful protests and social distancing during rallies and demonstrations.

“We cannot sink to the level of our oppressors, and we must not endanger others during this pandemic. We will demand and ultimately force lasting change by shining a light on treatment that is horrific and unacceptable and by winning justice,” he said in a statement.

The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, the union that represents the city’s police force, said in a statement to local media the officers were cooperating with the investigation and it was “not time to rush to judgment.”

FILE PHOTO: Protesters gather at the scene where George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was pinned down by a police officer kneeling on his neck before later dying in hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Miller/File Photo

“We must review all video. We must wait for the medical examiner’s report. Officers’ actions and training protocol will be carefully examined after the officers have provided their statements,” the union said as it asked for the community to remain calm.

A second video, from a nearby restaurant’s security camera, emerged on Wednesday. The footage, obtained by the Washington Post, captured the moments before the incident, showing two policemen approaching a vehicle and apprehending a man who was in the driver’s seat.

The six-minute video showed the officers leading the handcuffed man to a wall along the sidewalk and sitting him down as another officer pulled up in a police vehicle. One of the officers then helped the grimacing man to his feet and, along with another officer, walked him to a police vehicle, where he fell to the ground, the footage showed.

Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Bernadette Baum and David Gregorio