A video showing a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of a handcuffed man repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe,” and who appears to lose consciousness or die while being pinned down, is “gut wrenching and deeply disturbing,” Archbishop Bernard Hebda of St Paul and Minneapolis said in a statement.
“The sadness and pain are intense,” Archbishop Hebda said of the circumstances surrounding the death of George Floyd on Monday.
“Let us pray for comfort for his grieving family and friends, peace for a hurting community and prudence while the process moves forward. We need a full investigation that results in rightful accountability and veritable justice.”
A bystander filmed part of police’s confrontation with the 46-year-old Floyd, an African American restaurant worker from St Louis Park, Minnesota, who was reportedly arrested on suspicion of forgery.
Floyd was pronounced dead at Hennepin County Medical Centre. The four officers involved Floyd’s arrest have been fired, and the FBI is conducting a federal civil rights investigation. The officer who pinned Floyd is white.
The death inspired hundreds of people to protest on Tuesday at the intersection where police officers subdued Floyd. Some protesters vandalised police vehicles and the building for the Minneapolis Police Third Precinct building, where it is believed the officers involved worked. Police employed tear gas and flash grenades to disperse the crowd, and some protesters hurled rocks and water bottles at police.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called for charges to be brought against the officer who pinned Floyd with his knee. Violent protests and looting continued through the night and led to the shooting death of a man. Frey called for calm, saying, “We cannot let tragedy beget more tragedy.” He has asked the National Guard to come in to help keep the peace.
Photo: Protesters in Minneapolis 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. (CNS photo/Eric Miller, Reuters)