A suspected looter was reportedly gunned down by a pawn shop owner amid riots over a white police officer killing unarmed and handcuffed black man George Floyd.
Riots broke out in Minneapolis, Minnesota yesterday after horrifying footage emerged of an officer kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for several minutes during a brutal arrest. Many filled the streets to take part in a peaceful rally, but the gathering descended into chaos as riot police fired tear gas and non-lethal bean-bag rounds as people started fires and raided stores.
The city’s Police Chief John Elder confirmed in a midnight press conference that a person was shot dead outside the Cadillac Pawn shop and that a suspect is being held in custody. He said officers were called to reports of a tabbing at around 9.25pm.
But medics later confirmed the man had been shot as he was found laying on the sidewalk by police, who performed CPR. Elder ‘everything was done that we could do to try to preserve this man’s life’, but he died in hospital.
The police chief said there was ‘one theory’ that the owner opened fire because the man was looting his story. He added that there are ‘a couple of different scenarios that might have happened’.
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He said there had been no other reports of injuries among police or protesters. Slamming the actions or rioters, Elder added: ‘If people are there to truly honour the man and his family this isn’t how you do it and it’s so disrespectful and it’s heartbreaking. People are utilising this as a purpose just to make bad decisions.’
Four police officers were sacked following the death of Mr Floyd, 46. They were responding to report of a forgery in progress and found a man fitting the suspect’s description. The man was reportedly suspected of trying to pass counterfeit bills at a corner eatery.
Police acknowledged Mr Floyd ‘appeared to be in medical distress’ as he was dragged from his car and handcuffed.
Footage of the incident shows a white officer kneeling on his neck as he cries out in pain. He says: ‘I can’t breathe. Please, I need my neck, I can’t breathe, sh*t.’
The video, shot by Darnella Frazier, then shows one of the officers saying: ‘Get up and get in the car.’
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Mr Floyd says: ‘I can’t…my neck, I’m through. My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts.’
Witnesses told police to let him get up and an officer can be heard saying ‘this is why you don’t do drugs, kids’.
After four minutes, Mr Floyd goes limp with the officer’s knee still on his neck. An ambulance took the suspect to the hospital, where he died a short time later, police said.
The city identified the four officers as Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng.
Chauvin, 44, has been idenfied as the man in the video who knelt on Mr Floyd’s neck. Protesters gathered outside the officer’s home and scrawled ‘murderer’ on his driveway, while a sign was erected, reading ‘People don’t kill people, cops do’.
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The local police union said the officers were cooperating with investigators and cautioned against a ‘rush to judgement’. In a statement, it said: ‘We must review all video. We must wait for the medical examiner’s report.’
The county attorney’s office said it would decide how to proceed once investigators had concluded their inquiries.
The second day of demonstrations began hours after Mayor Jacob Frey urged prosecutors to file criminal charges against the white policeman shown pinning Mr Floyd to the street.
Hundreds of protesters, many with faces covered, thronged streets around the Third Precinct police station late last night , about half a mile from where Mr Floyd had been arrested, chanting, ‘No justice, no peace’ and ‘I can’t breathe’.
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The crowd grew to thousands as night fell and the protest turned into a standoff outside the station, where police in riot gear formed barricade lines while protesters taunted them from behind makeshift barricades of their own.
Police, some taking positions on rooftops, used tear gas, plastic bullets and concussion grenades to keep the crowds at bay. Protesters pelted officers with rocks and other projectiles. Some threw tear gas canisters back at the officers.
TV footage taken from a helicopter showed dozens of people looting a Target store, running out with clothing and shopping carts full of merchandise. Fires erupted after dark at several businesses, including an auto parts store.
Outrage at Mr Floyd’s death also triggered a rally in his name against police brutality by hundreds of people in downtown Los Angeles yesterday afternoon.
That demonstration turned violent after a crowd marched onto a nearby freeway and blocked traffic, attacking two California Highway Patrol cruisers and smashing their windows.
One protester who clung to the hood of a patrol car fell to the pavement as it sped away, and was treated at the scene by paramedics.