George Floyd was arrested for paying store with fake $20 bill, mayor says 'he'd still be alive if he were white'
George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck and restricted his breathing, was arrested and pinned to the ground for allegedly trying to pay at a local deli with a counterfeit $20 bill. The revelation comes shortly before the Justice Department, on Thursday, May 28, announced that it has made an investigation into Floyd's death a "top priority" following violent protests in Minneapolis.
At least four Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd's brutal death were fired on May 26 after a video of the incident went viral on social media. The footage showed Floyd pleading with the officers as one of them, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck, telling them that he could not breathe.
Emerging reports state that Floyd, a 46-year-old father of two, had paid a local store with a $20 bill, when an employee established that it was a counterfeit note and called the police. The co-owner of Cup Foods deli, Mahmoud Abumayyaleh, broke his silence on Thursday and revealed that it was one of his employees who reported Loyd to police. The grocery store has been in the news in the background of widespread protests over Floyd's killing and has also faced backlash from many community members.
Abumayyaleh said that Floyd had already exited the store when one his workers noticed that the $20 bill was a fake. "My staff called the police, practicing protocol, and when the police arrived Floyd was still outside and that's when they approached him," Abumayyaleh said. He added that one of his family members saw the moment a police officer held Floyd to the ground and intervened "asking him to take his knee off his neck because he could not breathe."
The store owner also revealed that he has been asked by investigators to not release the grocery store's surveillance footage of the incident publicly. The FBI is currently probing Floyd's arrest and his death, which has resulted in thousands of protesters to take to the streets demanding justice for the late 46-year-old.
The Justice Department, while making the case a "top priority," reportedly also assigned experienced prosecutors to investigate his killing by officer Derek Chauvin. The department promised a "robust" probe by the FBI, as Minneapolis witnessed another night of protests and rioting.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, on Thursday morning, also called for the officer's arrest, stating that he considers Floyd's death a murder. "I'm not a prosecutor, but let me be clear. The arresting officer killed someone," he told CBS. "He'd be alive today if he were white. The facts that I've seen, which are minimal, certainly lead me down the path that race was involved."
Police had reportedly characterized Floyd's death as the result of a "medical incident" before the video of the incident was shared on social media, showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck. Floyd, in the clip, can be seen lying on his stomach with his hands cuffed behind his back as the officer kneels on his neck. Floyd can be struggling as he tells the officers: "Please, please, please, I can't breathe. My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Please, please, I can't breathe." The video shows bystanders pleading with the officer to stand up, however, a second officer deflects the comments, and appears to mock Floyd by saying: "This is why you don't do drugs, kids."