“Please, please, please, I can’t breathe. Please, man.”

These were the final words of George Floyd. The following heart wrenching video shows bystanders watching helplessly as Mr. Floyd’s life drained from him.

Horrifically, his calls for help were ignored by four Minneapolis police officers whose jobs are to respond to such help. This led to an angry bystander who vented their frustration by yelling at the police saying: “who do we call the police on?!”

The bystanders are shown to even become agitated as the man begged for his life after one officer was recorded kneeling on the neck of an unarmed black man who has now died during the course of the arrest.

Tensions rose as bystanders who were yelling at the police officers to allow the suspect to breathe and another indicating to the officer to check his pulse. These emotional cries were met with hostility from the police who were bound to protect them.

This incident is now under investigation by the FBI and state law enforcement agencies. Mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, stated that the decision to sack all of the officers involved in the matter was “the right call” and had apologised to the black community. Mr. Frey explicitly stated:

“For five minutes, we watched a white officer press his knee into a black man’s neck. Five minutes. When you hear someone calling for help, you’re supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic, human sense”

In another heartbreaking incident Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who was placed in a choke  by police, who eventually died brought about a wave of protests.

Another mother is left with the excruciating pain of burying her son.

At the end of this, two black men have lost their lives at the hand of police officers who are supposed to protect and serve the public. One questions remains unanswered. Is any of this legal?


The technique that was conducted by police, was again similar to the case of Eric, which is referred to as “the seatbelt”.

In the case of Eric, the medical examiner had stated in his report that it was a choke-hold and is currently banned under New York police policy.

In Minneapolis, kneeling on a suspect is technically allowed under the department’s use-of-force policy. But in this case the amount of force used had a fatal outcome. This method is considered “non-deadly force option” where as a choke-hold is considered a deadly force option as it obstructs a persons airway. Australia has a stricter protocol with regarding these incidents.


Australian police officers have very strict guidelines to follow when conducting arrest.

In New South Wales, the power of police to arrest a person without a warrant is outlined under section 99 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW), (‘The Act’ hereafter), which states that an officer may, without a warrant, arrest a person if:

  • they suspect on reasonable grounds that the person is committing or has committed an offence, and
  • they are satisfied that the arrest is reasonably necessary for any one or more of the following reasons:

(i) to stop the person committing or repeating the offence or committing another offence,

(ii) to stop the person fleeing from a police officer or from the location of the offence,

(iii) to enable inquiries to be made to establish the person’s identity if it cannot be readily established or if the police officer suspects on reasonable grounds that identity information provided is false,

(iv) to ensure that the person appears before a court in relation to the offence,

(v) to obtain property in the possession of the person that is connected with the offence,

(vi) to preserve evidence of the offence or prevent the fabrication of evidence,

(vii) to prevent the harassment of, or interference with, any person who may give evidence in relation to the offence,

(viii) to protect the safety or welfare of any person (including the person arrested), or

(ix) because of the nature and seriousness of the offence.


This part of The Act has been under scrutiny in the past few years. One example was last year, when police officers arrived at a noise complaint where only a few minutes later, the 47-year-old was a quadriplegic, paralysed from the neck down. Sadly in this case, the victim was wrapped into a headlock, while handcuffed and was dragged down onto his lawn.

Further to Section 231 of The Act, a person including the police may use ‘such force as is reasonably necessary to make the arrest or to prevent the escape of the person after arrest’.

The force that is considered reasonable depends on a number of circumstances which includes but is not limited to the following:

  • The very nature and seriousness of an alleged offence;
  • If he or she is armed with a weapon and the type of weapon; and
  • The actions conducted by the suspect prior to and during the arrest by the officer.

Any force beyond what is considered reasonably necessary could be considered an assault.

As lawyers and as people we are absolutely appalled by the fatal conduct of the police.


It is apparent that police on this occasion may have abused their powers leading to a tragedy death. A death that can only be described as horrific, wherein for at least 8 minutes, had their life choked out of them.


thoughts and prayers
The public vow to remember this tragic incident. 

President Donald Trump on Wednesday called the death of George Floyd “very sad and tragic,” and said that “justice will be served” in the Minnesota man’s case. When asked what the next steps are he told reporters:

“We’re gonna look at it and we’re going to get a report tomorrow when we get back and we’re gonna get a very full report. But a very sad day.”


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