The brother of George Floyd spoke to the Minneapolis Police Department chief for the first time on Sunday and broke down in tears as he questioned whether the former police officers involved in his brother’s death would be arrested.
The death of Floyd, whose neck was pinned to the ground by former officer Derek Chauvin last Monday, sparked protests across the nation. Chauvin and the three other former officers involved in the incident were swiftly fired, just a day after the death. However, only Chauvin was arrested on a charge of second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder on Friday, while the other three former officers remain uncharged.
Dressed in a T-shirt that read “I can’t breathe” — the dying words of his brother — Philonise Floyd demanded their arrest during an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon.
“They’re at home right now sleeping in their bed, relaxing,” he said. “[Chauvin’s] in jail, he’s only one. The other three need to be in there. My brother — he’s in the morgue. That’s not right. I want justice now. He deserves that.”
Then, as Philonise watched, CNN broadcasted a live interview with Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, who was present at a protest near the intersection where George Floyd died. On behalf of Philonise, CNN’s Sara Sidner’s asked Arradondo whether the other three former officers would be arrested for George Floyd’s death. Arradondo removed his hat as he addressed the family:
“Being silent or not intervening — to me, you’re complicit. So I don’t see a level of distinction any different,” Arradondo said. “So obviously the charging and those decisions will have to come through our county attorney’s office. Certainly, the FBI is investigating that. But to the Floyd family, I want you to know that my decision to fire all four officers was not based on some sort of hierarchy. Mr. Floyd died in our hands.”
Arradondo added, “Silence and inaction, you’re complicit. You’re complicit. If there were one solitary voice, it would have intervened and acted — that’s what I would have hoped. Unfortunately, that did not occur.”
He, however, failed to deliver a straightforward answer on whether or not the other three former officers would be arrested. Following his answer, Philonise challenged Arradondo on the inaction, his voice strained with frustration.
“They had enough evidence to fire them, so they have enough evidence to arrest them,” he said. “I don’t know who he’s talking to, but I need him to do it because we all are listening. Black lives matter.”
And although Philonise managed to keep a stone face throughout the interview, he eventually broke down into tears and buried his face into his hand as Sidner also grew emotional when she learned that this was Philonise’s first interaction with the police chief.
Even though she went on to command Arradondo’s response, she also acknowledged, “I know it doesn’t cure the ills that the Floyd family is dealing with and that all the people in this neighborhood are dealing with right now.”