George Floyd's lawyer on Floyd's second post-mortem and Donald Trump
George Floyd’s family’s lawyer, Lee Merritt, appeared on Good Morning Britain and spoke about the second post-mortem he called for on behalf of George’s family, where medical examiners found George died due to compression on his neck and back by Minneapolis police officers.
Speaking live from Minneapolis, Mr Merritt said: “The second autopsy confirmed that the cause of death was asphyxiant from a restriction in the air flow, in blood flow to the brain which resulted in Mr Floyd’s death. That asphyxiant was obviously caused by the knee being compressed against his neck as well as the other officers pressing down upon his lungs for over eight minutes until he expired.”
When Piers Morgan asked Mr Merritt what his view is of the looting happening in the US at the moment, Mr Merritt - who appeared alongside Wanda Cooper-Jones whose son, Ahmaud Arbery, was shot dead while jogging in February - said: “I think it is natural to react with aggression to repeated acts of violence and brutality in a culture that marching peacefully, voting, petitioning has seen not to change the culture at all. More importantly, I made it a point to join the protesters, to be out on the streets. I’m in Minnesota now, where Mr Floyd was killed… Protesters are being agitated, they’re being poked, prodded by the law enforcement community. They seem proud of their reputation and proud of their behaviour for brutality. And so, it is natural for people to respond.”
On his reaction to the President’s response, which have included tweets interpreted as threatening protesters and claims the demonstrations have been taken over by political agitators, Mr Merritt said: “Mr Trump’s response has been absolutely repulsive. What he said was when the looting starts, the shooting will start. In America, police kill by gun about 1100 a year on average. The shooting started a long time ago. There’s no nation in the modern world that kills and incarcerates as many citizens as America, mostly black and brown and so, there’s a long history of shooting by police officers, directed at citizens, particularly citizens of colour that the president seems to be either ignorant of or has very little regard for.”
On how to stop the violence happening, Mr Merritt said: “One of the answers is international condemnation. America should be shamed for its actions. America’s failed to reconcile itself and so we’re looking for the international community to unilaterally condemn America’s actions. But the other thing is America is supposed to be a nation of laws. There needs to be new laws on the books that regulate police officers, both their behaviour and accountability. We’re hoping there’ll be a congressional package that will address this American crisis.”
Susanna Reid then asked how it feels to hear President Trump say they must put people in jail for 10 years for the protests, Mr Merritt said: “It heightens anxiety, it heightens fear and it heightens the idea that we are out of options. When you’re backed into a corner, when anyone’s backed into a corner, and in that corner you can die, people will come out fighting and I think he has thrown fuel on the fire, that these protests will be extended because of his actions.”
He added: “I think that the people standing up in the street will have a lasting impact on the outcome of both of these cases. I believe that we will see justice in these cases, and hopefully, in obtaining justice for these families we can ensure other families don’t have to endure these kind of tragedies again.”