Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer who was recorded kneeling into the neck of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who died in police custody on Monday, has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Friday.
Three other officers who were involved in the incident, which has sparked protests and riots nationwide, have not yet been charged. Freeman said at a news conference that his team thought it was appropriate to build a case against “the most dangerous perpetrator” first, as the investigation continues, and he believes there's enough evidence to prove the charges “beyond a reasonable doubt” against Chauvin.
“The investigation is ongoing; we felt it appropriate to focus on the most dangerous perpetrator. I must say that this case has moved with extraordinary speed. This conduct is criminal action, took place on Monday evening May 25th, Memorial Day. I’m speaking to you at 1 o’clock on Friday, May 29th. That’s less than four days. That’s extraordinary,” Freeman told reporters.
“We have never charged a case in that kind of time frame. And we can only charge a case when we have sufficient admissible evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. As of right now, we have that,” he said.
Freeman further noted that there could be subsequent charges later.
Chauvin, who was taken into custody by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on Friday, was caught on video along with three other officers arresting Floyd.
In the approximately 10-minute video, a handcuffed Floyd is shown lying face down begging for his life and crying for his mother while Chauvin kneels into his neck. Chauvin kneels into Floyd’s neck until he begins to bleed from his nose and becomes unresponsive. Even after Floyd becomes motionless on the ground, Chauvin is shown pressing his knee into his neck for several more minutes as bystanders begged him to have mercy.
The announcement of Chauvin’s arrest was made shortly after Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota called for order in the streets of Minneapolis after an explosive night of protests in the streets of Minneapolis which saw the torching of a police station.
Walz said he supported protesters who wanted to lift up the voices of “those who are expressing rage and anger and those who are demanding justice,” but “not those who throw firebombs.”
“I refuse to have it take away the attention from the stain that we need to be working on,” he said. “These are things that have been brewing in this country for 400 years.”
Chauvin had 18 previous complaints filed against him with the Minneapolis Police Department's Internal Affairs, according to NBC News affiliate WXII. Only two were "closed with discipline," the department said.