WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Friday that he spoke with members of George Floyd's family, calling them "terrific people," and adding that the protests in Minneapolis were "bad for the memory" of Floyd, who died at the hands of police earlier this week.
“I spoke to members of the family, terrific people, and we'll be reporting as time goes by," Trump said during an event at the White House Friday evening.
“I just expressed my sorrow. That was a horrible thing to witness," Trump continued, adding that it "looked like there was no excuse for it.”
Trump said that he could tell the family was "grieving very much" and that he could see that "they loved their brother.”
Floyd, a black man, died Monday when a white Minneapolis police officer used his knee to pin Floyd down on the ground for almost nine minutes after taking him into custody. The incident was caught on multiple cameras and Floyd can be heard pleading with the officer, saying, “I can’t breathe.”
The White House said earlier this week that Trump had seen the video of Floyd's death.
“He was in tremendous pain, obviously, and he couldn’t breathe," Trump said of the video Friday, "it was very obvious to anybody that watched it.”
Trump said that he has asked the Department of Justice to expedite the federal investigation into Floyd's death, adding that "hopefully everything can fairly be taken care of."
Derek Chauvin, the officer who had his knee on Floyd, was taken into custody Friday afternoon and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Chauvin, along with three other officers involved Floyd's death, was fired from the Minneapolis Police Department on Tuesday.
Protesters flooded the streets in Minneapolis throughout the week demanding justice for Floyd and calling for Chauvin's arrest. One person was killed in the protests on Wednesday evening and the precinct station where the four officers involved with Floyd's death worked was set on fire Thursday night.
"We can't allow a situation that happened like in Minneapolis to descend further into lawless anarchy and chaos," Trump said Friday.
"Its very important, I believe, to the family, to everybody, that the memory for George Floyd be a perfect memory," Trump continued. "The looters should not be allowed to drown out the voices of so many peaceful protesters."
Earlier Friday, Twitter put a tweet from Trump, which he sent as the police building was burning, behind a warning label, stating that the president had violated its rules against glorifying violence because of the historical context of his last line: "When the looting starts, the shooting starts."
“I’ve heard that phrase for a long time," Trump said, adding that he did not know "where it originated" and denying that he had any knowledge of the phrase's racist roots.
“Frankly, it means when there’s looting people get shot and they die," Trump told reporters, defending his use of the phrase.
The official White House Twitter account later sent the same message, prompting Twitter to hide the tweet behind the same warning label.