Derek Chauvin, police officer accused in George Floyd's death, charged with 3rd-degree murder
The police officer who was seen on video kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died in custody after pleading that he could not breathe, was arrested Friday and charged with murder in a case that sparked protests across the United States and violence in Minneapolis.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Freeman did not provide immediate details, but said a criminal complaint would be made available later Friday and that more charges were possible.
In the video, Chauvin is seen kneeling on Floyd's neck as Floyd is on the ground. He gradually becomes motionless as Chauvin and three other officers ignore bystanders' shouts to get off him. Freeman said the investigation continues into the other three officers, but that authorities "felt it appropriate to focus on the most dangerous perpetrator."
Freeman highlighted the "extraordinary speed" in charging the case just four days after Floyd's death, but also defended himself against questions about why it did not happen sooner. He said his office needed time to put together evidence, including what he called the "horrible" video by a bystander. He said he would not bring a case unless he had enough evidence to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
Protests in Minneapolis escalated in violence on Thursday, when demonstrators torched a police station that officers had abandoned.
"I'm not insensitive to what happened in the streets," Freeman said. "My own home has been picketed regularly."
All four officers who were at the scene of Floyd's death were fired the next day. After the charges were announced, protesters outside the government center chanted, "All four got to go."
News of the arrest came moments after Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz acknowledged the "abject failure" of the response to the protests and called for swift justice for officers involved. Walz said the state would take over the response to the violence and that it's time to show respect and dignity to those who are suffering.
"Minneapolis and St. Paul are on fire. The fire is still smoldering in our streets. The ashes are symbolic of decades and generations of pain, of anguish unheard," Walz said, adding. "Now generations of pain is manifesting itself in front of the world - and the world is watching."
The governor cited a call he received from a state senator who described her district "on fire, no police, no firefighters, no social control, constituents locked in houses wondering what they were going to do. That is an abject failure that cannot happen."
His comments came the morning after protesters torched a police station that officers abandoned during a third night of violence. Livestream video showed protesters entering the building, where intentionally set fires activated smoke alarms and sprinklers. President Donald Trump threatened action, tweeting "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," which prompted a warning from Twitter for "glorifying violence."
VIDEO: 'Firing them is not enough," George Floyd's sister
Other noteworthy stories related to George Floyd's death and its aftermath:
- CNN reporter arrested on live TV during George Floyd protests in Minneapolis: Police in Minneapolis arrested a CNN television crew while live on air Friday as they reported on the unrest over the death of George Floyd. The cable news network said Omar Jimenez, a black reporter, was arrested while a white reporter on the ground was not. The crew has since been released.
- Minneapolis police station torched amid protest: Protesters angered by the death of George Floyd have torched a Minneapolis police station that the department abandoned. Thursday marked a third night of violent protests following Floyd's death.
- Trump calls George Floyd death 'shocking,' calls protesters 'thugs': President Donald Trump is threatening to take action to bring the city of Minneapolis under control, calling violent protesters "thugs." He tweeted Friday that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts."
- Derek Chauvin, officer accused in George Floyd's death, opened fire on 2 people, had 17 complaints: The white Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd's neck while he was handcuffed opened fire on two people during his career and had nearly 20 complaints and two letters of reprimand filed against him.
- Experts, police weigh in on Officer Derek Chauvin's neck restraint: Police around the nation and law enforcement experts broadly condemned the way George Floyd was restrained by an officer who dug his knee into the man's neck, saying no circumstances warrant such a dangerous technique.
VIDEO: CNN reporter arrested on live TV covering George Floyd protests
The Associated Press contributed to this report.