The fired Minneapolis police officer who was seen pressing his knee on George Floyd’s neck on video has been arrested and charged with murder, officials said Friday. Derek Chauvin, who was a 19-year veteran with the city’s police department, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension took Chauvin into custody at 11:44 a.m. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said the investigation is ongoing into the other three officers involved, all of whom have been fired.
Freeman said his office wanted to focus on the “most dangerous perpetrator,” and that “this is by far the fastest we have ever charged a police officer.”
In a criminal complaint filed Friday afternoon, prosecutors wrote that Chauvin “had his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Two minutes and 53 seconds of this was after Mr. Floyd was “non-responsive.”
“Police are trained that this type of restraint with a subject in a prone position is inherently dangerous,” prosecutors wrote in the complaint, which says police encountered Floyd while investigating the possible use of a counterfeit $20 bill.
Prosecutors wrote that Floyd complied with orders from police officers to leave his vehicle, but did not “voluntarily” get in their squad car. “While standing outside the car, Mr. Floyd began saying and repeating that he could not breathe,” they wrote.
Floyd was soon brought to the ground. One officer held Floyd’s back, another his legs, as Chauvin placed his left on Floyd’s neck. Floyd repeated, “I can’t breathe,” “Mama,” and “please,” as the minutes went by.
Eventually, one officer asked, “should we roll him on his side?” Prosecutors said Chauvin replied, “No, staying put where we got him.”
The officer, Thomas Lane, said, “I am worried about excited delirium or whatever,” a condition associated with officer-involved deaths.
“None of the three officers moved from their positions,” prosecutors wrote.
Prosecutors wrote that an “autopsy revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.” They said Floyd had “underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease” that combined with the officers’ restraint “likely contributed to his death.”
Hennepin County Attorney Freeman on Friday said he developed the appropriate evidence to file the charge in the hours since yesterday afternoon but did not specify what the new evidence is. Overnight, violence flared in the Twin Cities, with protesters torching the police station where the four officers worked.
The FBI is also investigating whether civil rights charges are appropriate. In a statement, U.S. Attorney General William Barr said the parallel federal investigation is “proceeding quickly” towards a charging decision.
If convicted of the state charges, Chauvin could face up to 25 years in prison on the third-degree murder charge and up to 10 years in prison on the second-degree manslaughter charge.
In Minnesota, third-degree murder is when someone kills another person, “without intent to effect the death… by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life.” Second-degree manslaughter is when a victim is killed because of “a person’s culpable negligence whereby the person creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another.”
Benjamin Crump, an attorney who is representing Floyd’s family, called the arrest “a step on the road to justice.”
“Now the officers who stood by and did NOTHING to save George need to be arrested and charged as well,” Crump wrote.
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