Mississippi Mayor defends officers responsible for Floyd’s death: ‘If you say you can’t breathe, you’re breathing’

A Mississippi mayor is defending the policemen involved in the arrest of George Floyd, who recently lost his life while being pushed down by an officer in Minneapolis.

Petal, Mississippi mayor Hal Marx made a tweet saying that Floyd was not suffocating when officer Derek Chauvin held a knee on his neck for about eight minutes.

“If you can say you can’t breathe, you’re breathing,” he posted before deactivating his Twitter account.

He added that he did not see anything “unreasonable” in the way the officer handled the situation.

“Most likely that man died of overdose or heart attack,” he wrote. “Video doesn’t show his resistance that got him in that position. Police being crucified.”

Marx told the Hattiesburg American that his statements had been misinterpreted. 

“I can’t say whether a crime was committed or whether they did anything right or wrong, all I’m saying is don’t rush to judgment based on what you see in that video,” he told the publication.

“I’ve seen too many cases before where the police were judged to be guilty in the public’s eye but later were found to be not guilty under the law,” he added, but did not provide specific examples.

Last week, the Petal Board of Aldermen unanimously voted in a special session to demand Marx’s resignation, according to Mississippi Clarion-Ledger. 

But he refused, saying:

“I will never surrender to the mob mentality.”

As per the state’s law, an elected mayor can only be forcibly removed from his position if convicted of a crime.

“The city of Petal and the cities surrounding have grown to be a place where individuals of all walks, backgrounds, and beliefs are valued, supported and celebrated,” Alderman Clint Moore said in a statement, as per the Hattiesburg American.

Moore said Marx’s comments,

“have isolated, enraged, and belittled individuals in a way that is unbecoming to our city.”

The mayor told the board he and his loved ones have received death threats following his social media post.

He has since deleted his Twitter page and made his Facebook page private. 

Seth Stoughton, a law professor at the University of South Carolina, said the position Floyd was placed in by the officer could have easily led to his death.

In positional or compression asphyxia, Stoughton said, a person is able to breathe enough to talk but

“they’re not able to draw enough oxygen over an extended period of time to maintain basic life functions.”

“Officers need to understand that there’s ventilation, and there’s respiration,” he told Insider. “You and I can hold our breath and still talk. We don’t need to breathe to talk. So that myth has to be dispelled.”

Demonstrators have come together outside Petal City Hall for three days in protest of the mayor’s comments and are calling on him to leave his post, as per the Clarion-Ledger.

See 16 WAPT News’ report on the story in the video below.

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