Fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Friday afternoon. Agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension arrested Chauvin, authorities said.
Chauvin is the former police officer who was captured on video pressing his knee into George Floyd’s neck on Monday as Floyd repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.” Floyd later died.
“That’s less than four days,” Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said. “That’s extraordinary. We have never charged a case in that time frame.”
The investigation into the other three officers who were fired – Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng – is ongoing, Freeman said. He said his office focused on “the most dangerous perpetrator,” so it prioritized Chauvin, but he added that he anticipates charges against the other officers.
“We are in the process of continuing to review the evidence,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. “There may be subsequent charges later.”
Agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension arrested Chauvin at 11:44 a.m. in Minneapolis, officials announced. Freeman said a criminal complaint would be available later in the day and that his office did not have enough evidence to charge Chauvin until Friday.
He added that the four days that have passed since Floyd died is “by far the fastest we have ever charged a police officer.” Charges normally take nine months to a year because prosecutors have a high burden of proof in criminal cases against police officers, Freeman said.
“We can only charge a case when we have sufficient admissible evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said. “As of right now, we have that.”
Earlier on Friday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, D, said in an emotional news conference that the unrest that has destabilized Minneapolis and St. Paul this week is the result of ‘generations of pain, of anguish’ over racism in policing.
“Their voices went unheard, and now generations of pain is manifesting itself in front of the world,” Walz said. “And the world is watching.”
The governor vowed “swift” justice for the officers involved in Floyd’s killing. He also pleaded for an end to the violence and noted the difficulty in requiring the same institution that sparked the unrest to restore order. But he said the underlying issues involved in George Floyd’s death could not be addressed until the literal fires are extinguished.
In other significant developments:
— A CNN crew was arrested early Friday while reporting on the protests in Minnesota. CNN said in a statement that the three journalists were arrested “for doing their jobs, despite identifying themselves.” Correspondent Omar Jimenez was released from custody and back on the air a short time later.
— Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins said Floyd and Chauvin knew each other for many years because they worked security at the same night club. Both men worked at El Nuevo Rodeo on Lake Street before their fatal encounter.
— Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, D, condemned President Donald Trump for tweets that he said have contributed to the “angry cycle” of violence in Minneapolis. “Calling people thugs and calling on people to get shot stems from the same sort of attitude that resulted in the death of George Floyd,” Ellison said on “CBS This Morning.”
— Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, D, said he ordered police to vacate the Third Precinct before it was overrun by protesters. “The symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life, of our officers or to the public,” Frey said early Friday, noting that he made the call after learning there “were imminent threats.”
— The unrest spread from Phoenix to Columbus, as people converged in city centers and descended on state capitol buildings. Gunfire broke out in multiple cities, including Louisville, where authorities say seven people were injured during a protest of the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor. Shots were also fired at the Colorado statehouse.
— The House Judiciary Committee called on the Justice Department to investigate whether the death of Floyd was part of a “pattern or practice of unconstitutional conduct” by the Minneapolis Police Department.
The growing intensity of the protests in Minneapolis after a third straight night of tumult is evidence that the city’s strategy to calm residents through police force is not working, City Councilman Jeremiah Ellison said Friday.
Speaking on NBC’s “Today” show, Ellison said the pain, anger and destruction that have gripped the city were preventable and that the city wasted a “great opportunity” on Tuesday evening, the first night of demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, to respond more effectively.
“Unfortunately, conventional wisdom of force won out,” Ellison said.
Minneapolis police were widely criticized for their aggressive response to the mostly peaceful protests on Tuesday. By the next night, the tensions, violence and damage had escalated.
“That’s the strategy we pursued, and that strategy has prove to be an unmitigated failure,” Ellison said.
“What people are responding to is not just the death of Mr. Floyd,” he added, listing other black people who have been killed by police in the Minneapolis metro area, such as Jamar Clark and Philando Castile.
Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins told CNN that the situation has spiraled out of control.
“It is very much complete chaos, or it was,” she said, noting that flare-ups around the city have stretched response resources thin. “It’s very much a spiraling situation.”
Jenkins said city and state officials are ultimately responsible for maintaining order.
“We cannot continue to allow this destruction to continue,” she said. “It’s disrupting innocent people’s lives. It’s putting innocent people in harm’s way.”