The Cop Who Kneeled on George Floyd's Neck Was Just Arrested and Charged With Murder

Derek Chauvin was taken into custody Friday afternoon after violent protests rocked cities around the country.
May 29, 2020, 5:30pm
Protestors demonstrate on University Avenue while holding a "WE CAN'T BREATHE" sign and wearing protective masks, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn.

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Updated May 29, 3:35 p.m. The lawyer for George Floyd's family posted a statement of the family's reaction to Chauvin's arrest. They want him to be charged with first-degree murder.

Original story: The Minneapolis police officer involved in the death of George Floyd has been arrested and charged with murder and manslaughter.

Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd's neck for about eight minutes shortly before he died Monday night, was taken into custody Friday after nearly four days of protests culminating in the burning of a Minneapolis police station Thursday night.

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Chauvin was one of four cops fired over Floyd’s death Tuesday, which was captured in a viral bystander video that roiled the nation. In several videos of the encounter, Chauvin is shown holding Floyd to the ground while he pleaded, “I can’t breathe, man. Please. Please let me stand.”

Hennepin County District Attorney Mike Freeman announced that Chauvin’s been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. The related criminal complaint will be made public later, and Freeman said “there may be subsequent charges later” as they review further evidence. Minnesota and federal authorities are investigating the incident.

Chauvin’s attorney, Tom Kelly, did not immediately return a VICE News request for comment.

READ: The lawyers for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor want the UN to look into their cases

U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr said in a statement Friday that all related agencies are working closely together, and that the video of Floyd’s arrest was “harrowing to watch and deeply disturbing.”

“The Department of Justice, including the FBI, are conducting an independent investigation to determine whether any federal civil rights laws were violated,” Barr said.

The other three officers present for Floyd’s arrest have not been charged or arrested. Two appeared to have helped hold Floyd down with his hands cuffed behind his back. The other officer stood by as bystanders pleaded with them to let Floyd breathe.

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“We felt it appropriate to focus on the most dangerous perpetrator; I must say that this case has moved with extraordinary speed,” Freeman said Friday.

READ: [Police chiefs around the country are lifting their blue wall of silence for George Floyd ](https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/935yvp/police-chiefs-around-the-country-are-breaking-the-blue-wall-of-silence-for-george-floyd)The three other officers involved in the arrest have been identified as Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng. Freeman said that while he anticipates charges, those officers are still under investigation.

According to the initial Minneapolis Police Department statement about Floyd’s death, they were responding to an alleged “forgery in progress” near a local grocery store Monday when they encountered Floyd, who they claimed resisted arrest. Multiple bystander videos and surveillance footage do not appear to show that any struggle took place.

READ: New video of George Floyd’s deadly arrest show 3 officers holding him down

The owner of the store had called the police because they believed Floyd had used a counterfeit $20 bill to make a purchase.

Chauvin was seen on a nine-minute video pinning Floyd’s neck to the ground as the 46-year-old cried out that he couldn’t breathe, pleading for his mother and water. Later in the video, Floyd grew quiet, and then unresponsive.

First responders have since said that he didn’t have a pulse by the time they arrived. The video ends with them dragging Floyd’s limp body onto a stretcher. That video, taken by a young woman, stoked nationwide protests, as legislators, activists, and even the mayor of Minneapolis begged for arrests to be made. “I’ve wrestled with, more than anything else over the last 36 hours, one fundamental question: Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said earlier this week. “If you had done it, or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now. And I cannot come up with a good answer to that.”

Cover: Protestors demonstrate on University Avenue while holding a "WE CAN'T BREATHE" sign and wearing protective masks, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)