A white Minneapolis former police officer on Friday was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter for the death of an unarmed black man in custody, The Guardian reported.
George Floyd died after Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck as he lay on the ground during an arrest on May 25. Several videos from the scene showed Floyd shouting “I cannot breathe” and “don’t kill me”. Floyd, a 46-year-old restaurant worker, was detained for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill in a purchase. Four city police officers involved in the incident, including Chauvin, were fired from their jobs on May 26.
“We are in the process of continuing to review the evidence,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. “There may be additional charges later.”
As part of the Minnesota law, third-degree murder is defined as causing death of a person “by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind,” without regard for life and without intent to kill, CNN reported. The accused can be sentenced to no more than 25 years or a fine of no more than $40,000, or both.
State charging documents said that Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for a total of almost nine minutes. This also included the two minutes and 43 seconds after Floyd became non-responsive. This was based on the law enforcement review of body-cam video.
Floyd’s family called the arrest a “welcome but overdue step on the road to justice”, and said that they expected a first-degree murder charge, which they are still demanding. “The pain that the black community feels over this murder and what it reflects about the treatment of black people in America is raw and spilling out on to streets across [the country],” the statement read.
Under the Minnesota law, a first-degree murder charge requires prosecutors to prove Chauvin’s actions were wilful and premeditated. Freeman said that the authorities are still investigating.
Minneapolis City Council Vice-President Andrea Jenkins said that Floyd and Chauvin knew each other as “co-workers for a very long time”. The two had worked together for more than 17 years as bouncers at a local club – El Nuevo Rodeo. In Washington, the US Attorney General William Barr said that confirmed a separate US justice department investigation “to determine whether any federal civil rights laws were violated”.
Protests outside the White House
Hundreds of people on Friday rallied outside the White House, which was briefly put under lockdown with entry and exits being shut, BBC reported. Crowds gathered near the White House and chanted “I can’t breathe”, demanding justice for Floyd and Eric Garner, who died in New York in 2014, after he was held in police chokehold.
Several protests also took place in Minnesota, New York and California on Friday. Violent clashes were reported in cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Houston among others.
Buildings were vandalised in Atlanta and a police vehicle was set on fire after protestors gathered near the offices of news broadcaster CNN. In Dallas, officers launched tear gas canisters after there were incidents of stone-pelting.
There was smoke all over the Longfellow neighbourhood of Minneapolis on Friday, after demonstrators burned down the city’s third police precinct, which is the headquarters of the police officers involved in Floyd’s death. On Thursday, a police station was set ablaze, and a number of buildings were burned, looted and vandalized following which the state’s National Guard troops were called in.
Seven people were shot and injured in protests in Louisville, Kentucky, and 40 were arrested in New York. In Louisville, protesters also demanded justice for Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was shot by the police in her home in March.
Earlier on Thursday, United States President Donald Trump called those involved in the protests against Floyd’s death “thugs”.
Here are some visuals from the protests in the US: