The cousins of an African-American Minnesota man who died while in police custody, during which a white police officer pressed his knee against his neck as he struggled to breathe, are calling for action after viewing the video of the altercation.
In a video interview with TMX.news, Shareeduh Tate and Tera Brown said the firing of four Minneapolis police officers involved in the incident with George Floyd is not enough.
"My initial response is, I mean, that's a start. It's definitely not enough," Tate said. "I'm glad it didn't take forever to see what everybody else can clearly see what took place, and that's that they murdered our cousin."
The four officers were terminated Tuesday following an uproar over Floyd's death. A video captured by a bystander and later shared on social media appears to show one of the officers pinning Floyd onto the ground with his knee on top of his neck before Floyd losses consciousness.
Floyd repeatedly stated, "I cannot breathe! I cannot breathe!" as onlookers gathered. The Minneapolis Police Department announced a short time later that he died of a "medical incident."
"It is unbelievable, unbelievable to see someone suffer in the way that he did and to have so many people around asking for them to basically allow him to live," Brown said.
Tate said she saw the video before she was made aware it was Floyd in it.
"I just remember thinking how devastating this would be for the family who had lost a family member like this, and that everybody could clearly see it, and then maybe five minutes after that I got the phone call letting me know that it was actually my cousin," she said.
Both women described Floyd as "the cousin whom everybody loved." Tate also expressed gratitude to the bystanders who asked the officer to remove his knee from Floyd's neck.
"I can’t thank them enough," she said. "We always see these kinds of things that take place and we wonder what would we do if we were placed in that position, and I can only be grateful that there were people there who were advocating for him, even more so grateful for the person who was there with the camera to capture it."
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced Tuesday that the officers involved had been fired after they were initially placed on paid leave. The FBI and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) are investigating Floyd's death.
Ben Crump, an attorney for the Floyd family, told TMX.news the officer shown in the video with his knee on Floyd's neck should be charged with murder and that the other officers should be charged as accomplices.
"They were supposed to protect and serve citizens like George," Crump said. "We in black America, we are done dying at the hands of the people who are supposed to protect and serve us."
Floyd's death has prompted comparisons to that of Eric Garner, an African-American man whose death was brought on by an illegal chokehold during a 2014 interaction with New York City police. A video showed Garner repeatedly stating "I can't breathe" while being choked on the ground.
The phrase later became a rallying cry for police-accountability advocates and civil rights groups.
"In many ways it is worse than Eric Garner because they got their knee on his neck and he is begging, pleading, not one minute... but eight minutes begging them to let him breathe," Crump said. "We can't breathe again in 2020."