“Leave me, I can’t breathe”: these are the last dramatic words of an African American killed by a police officer who suffocated the man by blocking him on the ground and pressing his neck with one knee. An episode reminiscent of another similar and sadly known case: that of New Yorker Eric Garner in 2014. This time the scene of the tragedy is Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the whole sequence was filmed by a passerby in a video shock that now shakes the United States.
According to the first reconstructions, a patrol of agents had been alerted to the presence of a man in a car that appeared to be under the influence of drugs. Once on the spot, the policemen ordered the man to get out of the car, but this began to offer resistance. The agents thus blocked him on the ground and, while trying to handcuff him, one of them held his neck down with one knee. “Please I can’t breathe,” he hears in the video. The man implores the agents several times but in vain, even if visibly suffering. When the ambulance arrives, it is too late: it will die shortly after. The victim was identified as George Floyd, in his forties; it seems that, just before, he had tried to use a fake document in a mini-market.
The officers, who wore body-cams, were suspended and the police started an investigation, but at the moment he defined the case as a “medical accident”. The video, however, shows that the agent kept his knee pressed on the man’s neck on the ground for at least seven minutes. He did not release his grip even when Floyd seemed to have passed out and despite other passersby asking him to check his heart rate. Meanwhile, the intervention of the FBI has also been requested.
“What I saw is terrible. That man shouldn’t have died. Being a black man in America shouldn’t be a death sentence,” was the anger of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.