America is once again mourning the death of a black man at the hands of the police force.
After a Minneapolis officer was filmed kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, the United States is grappling with the treatment of black men in police custody. In the video the man on the ground is heard saying I can’t breathe as a police officer continued to apply unnecessary force to his neck. The heartbreaking incident has kicked off an FBI investigation and protests in Minnesota and across America.
The police officer in question was Officer Derek Chauvin. Another officer standing by and keeping an eye on the crowd of people videoing the incident is Officer Tou Thao.
Both Chauvin and Thao have been involved in multiple use-of-force incident in the past with Chauvin being placed on leave in 2011 after the shooting of a man.
Chavin was taken into custody and charged with murder and manslaughter on Friday.
Chauvin, 44, is a 19-year department veteran according to the Star Tribune and has been involved in a number of shootings during his career. In 2006, Wayne Reyes was shot and killed by police officers after they showed up at the scene of a stabbing and Chauvin was investigated for this.
The same man was placed on leave after shooting an indigenous man in 2011 according to the Daily Beast. Chauvin is being represented by attorney Tom Kelly say the Daily Beast in the same report. Kelly is the lawyer for St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez during the trial for the shooting death of Philando Castile in nearby St. Paul in 2017.
During a 2016 traffic stop, Castile was shot and killed by Yanez, who was tried and acquitted of manslaughter.
Thao was sued in 2017 by Lamar Ferguson after Thao and his partner stopped Ferguson and his pregnant partner. The victim was handcuffed and beaten and then taken to hospital by the officers. He was then brought to jail in just a torn t-shirt and his underwear despite pleas by the hospital staff to let the man at least get dressed.
FBI launch investigation into George Floyd’s death
The FBI and state authorities in Minnesota have launched investigations with Chauvin, the man who killed Floyd being one of five officers fired after the incident.
A number of Minneapolis residents showed up to protest the killing on Tuesday just hours after the video was published online and started to spread. The people chanted ‘I can’t breathe’ as some projectiles were tossed in the direction of police officers.
This looks to be another case in an increasing list of black men losing their lives over trivial matters. It began in 2012 with the acquittal of neighbourhood watchman George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American Trayvon Martin in February 2012.
Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black teenager, was shot by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer in 2014. “Hands up, don’t shoot” became the rally cry for that shooting.
Eric Garner was killed in 2014 also, which sparked further waves of protest against the treatment of black men at the hands of police.