ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Wednesday he stands with those who are outraged about the death of George Floyd, who died this week after being in Minneapolis police custody.
“To all of those in pain, to those who are angry, to those who are afraid, I not only see you, I hear you. I stand with you,” Walz said.
Four officers were dismissed soon after a bystander’s video taken outside a south Minneapolis grocery store Monday night showed an officer kneeling on the handcuffed man’s neck, even after he pleaded that he could not breathe and stopped moving.
The officers involved in the incident have been identified as: Officer Derek Chauvin; Officer Thomas Lane; Officer Tou Thao; Officer J Alexander Kueng.
Floyd’s death prompted protests Tuesday, with thousands taking to the streets at the intersection where he died.
“I strongly support the right of those to peacefully protest,” Walz said. “George Floyd did not deserve to die. George Floyd does deserve justice.”
Walz said the community has a right to expect an independent and thorough investigation.
“George Floyd should be alive today,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said. “The grief in this moment is unbearable.
“The complete lack of humanity in the video is horrifying.”
An investigation on the state and federal level is underway, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said.
“This tragic event that took the life of George Floyd is a point in time and an incident involving a person,” Ellison said. “The reason there is so much outrage is that this is a part of a larger pattern.”
In Minneapolis, kneeling on a suspect’s neck is allowed under the department’s use-of-force policy for officers who have received training in how to compress a neck without applying direct pressure to the airway. It is considered a “non-deadly force option,” according to the department’s policy handbook.
A chokehold is considered a deadly force option and involves someone obstructing the airway. According to the department’s use-of-force policy, officers are to use only an amount of force necessary that would be objectively reasonable.
"I too share that primal scream of when you watch humanity get erased in front of you," Walz said. "It is almost inexplicable how you respond."
- The Associated Press contributed to this story