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Former FBI Official On George Floyd's Death: 'What I Saw Was Homicide'

Frank Figliuzzi and Rev. Al Sharpton joined Nicolle Wallace to pore over the wrenching issues surrounding the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis.

Such different outcomes in cities 1200 miles apart. Five people were fired today. Four in Minneapolis, MN, and one in New York City. In Minneapolis, though, George Floyd is dead. He was a Black man, presumed innocent, pursued by police for forgery. Four cops killed him with their knee on his neck, their indifference, or both. For alleged forgery. The ghost of Eric Garner must be weeping.

The four Minneapolis police officers were fired. Not put on leave, not put on leave with pay, but fired. Period. The state of Minnesota is investigating whether or not to bring criminal charges against those cops. They should. Their actions were homicidal. Even Frank Figliuzzi, former Assistant Director of the FBI said so.

Nicolle Wallace spoke to Figliuzzi and Rev. Al Sharpton about George Floyd, and asked, if the police were this "brazen, the brutality in the light of day with a crowd around them," how must they behave when the cameras are off and no one is watching?

REV. SHARPTON: That's absolutely correct, Nicolle and our officers around our country, National Action Network, we get reports every day, multiple reports, many that don't have a camera, but when I look at this case today, and I've been talking with Attorney Ben Crump, who's going to be part of the representations of the victim's family, it reminds me of the Eric Garner case, which I'd been very much involved. They had a tape, and the officer STILL was not prosecuted, because you must have prosecutors that are going after enforcing the law, even if it is policemen.

I think it is good that we see in Minneapolis, they fired these policemen, but you can't have an equation when you lose your life and they just lose their job. They must pay, in my judgment, with a real criminal investigation, and from what we see, I don't see how you defend holding your knee on someone's neck seven minutes and the other officers standing around not stopping you from doing it. It's the pedestrians, it's those around saying, "Stop." Not the officers. What kind of people would stand there, hearing other people pleading for a man's life. Hearing a man plead for his life, and you still do it, and you've been given a gun and a badge by the state to PROTECT people. I don't see how you defend that. I don't see how you justify that.

Wallace turned to Figliuzzi, as the law enforcement expert, to ask how could what should have been an interaction for a non-violent offense, like forgery, end in murder? She extended the Eric Garner connection, whose only offense was selling loose cigarettes on the street. Figliuzzi was unequivocal.

FIGLIUZZI: Well, you're right, the Minneapolis police officers responding here seemed to have turned a call for forgery in progress into a murder in progress. I watched in its entirety the publicly posted video. Nicolle, what I saw was homicide taking place. There's very little doubt that that officer will be charged at some point with either homicide or manslaughter.

Look, any police officer knows that force is supposed to be commensurate to the threat presented. It's an escalating system. Let's assume here, Nicolle, I want to point this out -- you're talking to somebody who spent 25 years in law enforcement. I tend to side with an officer on the street who might be fighting for his or her life, but in this particular case, I'm having a hard time envisioning what it would be we're not seeing on the video — even if it were violent — that would have led and justified this excessive use of force. By that I mean, let's assume the part of the video we can't see on the public side, involves a knock-down drag-out fight, just assume for the sake of discussion that the officers felt in danger of their lives, at the point that that subject is subdued and on the video he's proned out and subdued, likely handcuffed. At that point, you stop your use of force and you now transport that person or arrest him in your custody. So even if the usual scenario is a severe resistance at the point where they've got him in custody this now becomes an assault and eventually a homicide.

There is NO DOUBT in Figliuzzi's mind that what he witnessed was a homicide on that video. Four cops killed one Black man in front of a crowd of pedestrians knowing they were being filmed. He went on to say he was glad all four were fired, because in order to even begin to change the culture, police officers must learn that there are consequences - serious consequences to their criminal behavior. But as Rev. Sharpton said, firing is not enough. They need to be charged with a crime, and dare I even utter it? CON-F*CKING-VICTED.

How does this relate to the fifth person who got fired today? That person is Amy Cooper, the white woman who threatened the life of Christian Cooper (not related) for having politely asked her to put her dog on a leash in an area of Central Park where the law requires it. How did she threaten his life? By calling the cops on him. Mr. Cooper is a Black man. Whether he carries the weight of that skin-risk in Central Park or Minneapolis, the level of threat to him is the same. Interactions with the police might end his life. Thankfully, in this scenario, he walked away unharmed physically.

Twitter, particularly Black Twitter came down HARD on this, and the result is that whereas yesterday Amy Cooper was a VP at Franklin Templeton, today she is unemployed. Some white people are "concerned" this is too harsh, as she has "apologized" and is crying that her life is ruined. Joan Walsh wrote in The Nation, not of her concern, necessarily — she firmly outlined all the awful things that Amy Cooper did — but she wasn't sure firing her was right, maybe?

I don’t know if that was the right outcome; I do know Amy Cooper should be charged with making a false police report. What will it take before white people realize that the callous use of police to arbitrate their notion of fairness in the world (always about fairness to themselves) is a dangerous act of privilege that can put a black person’s life at risk?

Let me see if I can help. Her being fired WAS the right outcome, or at least the beginning of it.

As for what it will take for us white people to realize that we should use the police as our personal goon squad is for us to not only be charged with false police reports, but hefty fines, community service and/or jail time as a consequence. Because what Amy Cooper tried to do to Christian Cooper for asking her to leash her dog was to get him killed. That is NOT a stretch, and she knew it.

Does anyone believe if George Floyd was white he would have ended up with a cop's knee on his neck for seven minutes with the life being squeezed out of him in front of a crowd pleading for his life? Does anyone believe Amy Cooper would have called the cops on Christian Cooper if he was white? Given how she spit and elongated the words "African-American man" at him while she spoke to 911?

For all the white people who complain about the Black Lives Matter movement, the phrase, the hashtag, our actions do everything they can to prove that in reality, Black lives really don't matter, do they?

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