A police officer filmed kneeling on an unarmed black man’s neck for eight minutes shortly before his death has been charged with his murder.
Former Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin was arrested Friday on suspicion of the third-degree murder of George Floyd. That charge means that Chauvin has been accused of killing Floyd without prior intent, but with disregard for his alleged victim’s life.
Charging documents say that an autopsy performed on Floyd did not ‘support a diagnosis of traumatic strangulation or asphyxiation.’ But they said factors including Chauvin’s restraint ‘likely contributed to his death.’
Those court papers also revealed that Chauvin had his neck on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes 46 seconds – with the restraint continuing for two minutes and 53 seconds after Floyd passed out.
Chauvin was nabbed by Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension three days after he and three of his colleagues were fired from Minneapolis PD. Chauvin also faces a manslaughter charge.
Confirming the news on Twitter, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar wrote: ‘Police officer Derek Chauvin has been arrested and is in custody for the murder of George Floyd. The first step towards justice.’
Announcing the development, Hennepin County District Attorney Michael Freeman – who will prosecute the case against Chauvin – said further charges could follow as his team continues to review evidence.
Freeman said his team would prosecute the case ‘very carefully’ and added that despite video showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, they still faced ‘a difficult burden of proof.’
Freeman added: ‘Even as late as yesterday afternoon, we didn’t have all that we needed. But as of now, we have it.’
Chauvin was filmed kneeling on 46 year-old Floyd’s neck outside a grocery store on Monday after Floyd allegedly tried to pay for food with a counterfeit $20 bill. Cameraphone footage showed the stricken security guard crying ‘I can’t breathe’ as Chauvin knelt on his neck.
The disturbing phrase has since become the rallying cry of Black Lives Matter protests held across the United States in the wake of Floyd’s death.
Floyd, who worked as a security guard, died shortly after the distressing video was shot. His death has sparked three days of rioting across Minneapolis, with hundreds of businesses looted, and scores of buildings burned-out.
President Trump called for an urgent investigation into Floyd’s death, and subsequently sparked fury after tweeting Friday morning that ‘looting means shooting.’
On Thursday, Hennepin County District Attorney Michael Freeman warned unspecified evidence held by his investigators could have made it harder to bring charges against Chauvin.
Another video of the officers kneeling on Floyd’s neck shot from a different angle has since emerged, although it still is unclear whether this triggered Friday’s arrest.
The other three officers involved have been named as Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng. No further updates on possible criminal charges against them have been shared.
District Attorney Freeman he and other law enforcement agencies were working hard to establish the facts of the case, then added: ‘But there is other evidence that does not support a criminal charge.’
He refused to disclose further information when asked by reporters. Freeman said the video of Floyd’s final moments while a police officer was knelt on his neck was ‘graphic, horrible and terrible’ and added that his job is to ‘prove a violation of criminal statute.
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