Derek Chauvin, who was fired on Tuesday along with three other officers involved in the detainment of Floyd, was taken into custody Friday and faces charges of 3rd-degree murder and manslaughter, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced.
Floyd pleaded “I can’t breathe,” as Chauvin, who is white, kneeled on Floyd’s neck for around eight minutes on Monday night, in an arrest that was videotaped by bystanders. The police department initially said Floyd, who was black, “physically resisted” the officers and that he died after “suffering medical distress.”
Freeman said he anticipated more charges to come, possibly against some of the other three officers.
“The investigation is ongoing,” Freeman said, “We felt it was appropriate to focus on the most dangerous perpetrator. This case has moved with extraordinary speed.”
Just 24 hours earlier, Freeman had said the case still needed more investigation.
But by Friday, Freeman said enough evidence had been gathered.
“All of that has come together and we felt, in our professional judgement, it was time to charge,” Freeman told reporters.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and the FBI are both investigating Floyd’s death. The BCA arrested Chauvin at 11:44 a.m. in Minneapolis, the state agency said.
A conviction for third-degree murder could land an offender in prison for up to 25 years.
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Third-degree murder means an offender did not intend to kill, but that someone died “by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life.”
Freeman noted that these charges mirrored the same criminal complaint filed against former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, in another high-profile local case involving excessive force.
Noor was convicted of third-degree murder for the July 15, 2017, slaying of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a dual citizen of the United States and Australia.
Freeman said the prosecution of police officers, who act while on duty, are particularly difficult cases.
“This is by far the fastest we’ve ever charged a police officer,” Freeman said. “Normally these cases can take nine months to a year.”
Protests rock the Twin Cities amid calls for Chauvin to be charged
Chauvin’s arrest comes after three days of protests in the Twin Cities, with the unrest in some areas erupting into violence.
MInneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey had called this week for charges to be filed swiftly against the officer who pinned Floyd under his knee. “Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?” Frey asked. “If you had done it or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now.”
In the video, Floyd can be heard saying while he is pinned down, “Please, please, please, I can’t breathe.”
Onlookers urged the officer to get off him.
“You’re stopping his breathing right now, you think that’s cool?” a man says. “His nose is bleeding. Look at his nose!” says a woman.
After several minutes, Floyd went silent.
More people began to intervene and called one of the officers at the scene to check for a pulse. Chauvin remained on Floyd’s neck, even as he was apparently unresponsive, before paramedics arrived and Floyd is placed on a stretcher.
Medics worked on an unresponsive Floyd in an ambulance, but could not find a pulse after several checks and administering at least one shock to him, according to a report from the Minneapolis Fire Department.
Security footage obtained by NBC from a nearby restaurant showed some of the events leading up to Floyd’s arrest. The video captures two officers arriving at the scene around 8 p.m., removing Floyd from a car parked on the street, handcuffing and questioning him before eventually walking him across the street as another police car arrives.
Chauvin had been the subject of prior complaints
Chauvin, a 19-year department veteran, was the subject of over a dozen prior police conduct complaints unrelated to Floyd that resulted in no disciplinary action and one that led to a “letter of reprimand” during his career. A longtime police training expert for the state of Minnesota told NBC News that a dozen complaints over a two-decade career would appear “a little bit higher than normal.”
The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis said in a statement the day of the officers’ termination that it was not the time to rush to judgment and that the officers were fully cooperating with the investigation.
“We must review all video. We must wait for the medical examiner’s report,” the statement said. “Officers’ actions and training protocol will be carefully examined after the officers have provided their statements.”
Attempts to reach the officers and their attorneys have been unsuccessful.