President Donald Trump on Wednesday called the death of George Floyd "very sad and tragic" and said "justice will be served" in the Minnesota man's case.
Floyd, 46, died Monday night after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him by the neck with his knee for more than eight minutes. Video of the incident shows Floyd pleading "Please, please, please, I can't breathe," before he died.
While in Florida for the aborted launch of a SpaceX flight to the International Space Station, Trump was asked by NBC News' Kelly O'Donnell about Floyd's case and said: "I'm very sad about that. Very, very sad event."
Asked whether he thought the police officers involved, who have been fired, should be prosecuted, he said: "We're going to look at it, and we're going to get a report tomorrow when we get back, and we're going to get a very full report. But a very sad day."
In a pair of evening tweets, Trump seemed to try to take credit for the FBI's involvement in the case and said he has asked for its work to be expedited.
At my request, the FBI and the Department of Justice are already well into an investigation as to the very sad and tragic death in Minnesota of George Floyd....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2020
"At my request, the FBI and the Department of Justice are already well into an investigation as to the very sad and tragic death in Minnesota of George Floyd," he wrote. "I have asked for this investigation to be expedited and greatly appreciate all of the work done by local law enforcement. My heart goes out to George's family and friends. Justice will be served!"
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Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo told reporters Tuesday morning that he had asked the FBI to get involved in the case "knowing that there could be a question of civil rights."
The officer who was kneeling on Floyd's neck is white, and Floyd was black.
Trump's Democratic presidential rival, Joe Biden, tweeted Tuesday that Floyd "deserved better" and explicitly took aim at the officers involved in his death.
"I'm grateful for the swift action in Minneapolis to fire the officers involved — they must be held responsible for their egregious actions," Biden said.
The former vice president also spoke about Floyd's "horrific killing" Wednesday, calling it a "tragic reminder that this was not an isolated incident but a part of an ingrained systemic cycle of injustice that still exists in this country."
"George Floyd's life matters. It mattered as much as mine. It matters as much as anyone's in this country. At least it should have," Biden said.