Former Minneapolis cop charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in death of George Floyd

Derek Chauvin was charged Friday in the death of Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody

Published May 29, 2020 2:58PM (EDT)

Mural of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis (Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Mural of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis (Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter for killing George Floyd, an unarmed black man in police custody, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Friday.

Chauvin was fired this week after being captured on video kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes. A handcuffed Floyd repeatedly said, "I can't breathe." He later died.

There has been no update on three other officers who surrounded Floyd, who were also fired.

Floyd and Chauvin had known each other for years, because they worked overlapping guard shifts at the same night club, Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins said Thursday. 

Chauvin has retained attorney Tom Kelly, who represented Jeronimo Yanez, the police officer acquitted by a jury in 2017 for the shooting death of Philando Castile in nearby St. Paul. In response to Yanez' acquittal, nearly 2,000 protesters blocked Interstate 94 through the Twin Cities. Police arrested 18.

Floyd's death ignited several days of demonstrations, which erupted into civil unrest Thursday evening after Minneapolis police met earlier peaceful protests with tear gas.

Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, activated the National Guard and declared a state of emergency after protesters torched the Minneapolis' 3rd Precinct, where the former officers had worked.

Protesters clashed with officers deploying tear gas and chemical irritants. Police at one point took a CNN crew into custody. Shots were reportedly fired, though that picture is less clear.

The police response has drawn widespread criticism after officers were seen doing nothing as armed protesters stormed state capitols to protest shutdown restrictions designed to control the coronavirus pandemic.

"These are very good people, but they are angry," President Donald Trump tweeted about protesters in Michigan. "They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal."

Protesters expressing solidarity against police brutality across the country faced violence from coast to coast. At least seven people were shot in Louisville during a protest over the death of Breonna Taylor, according to the Louisville Courier Journal. Two of the victims were taken into surgery.

Walz addressed the social tumult, the latest incident of an unarmed black American dying in police custody, in a Friday press conference.

"Their voices went unheard, and now generations of pain is manifesting itself in front of the world," Walz said. "And the world is watching."

President Trump attacked the protesters, calling them "THUGS" in a pair of midnight tweets. The president suggested that demonstrators may be shot. 

"When the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!" the president said in one tweet, later masked by Twitter for "glorifying violence."

Former president Barack Obama on Friday called on the country to come together and forge a "new normal," saying that racial disparities have become "maddeningly" normal.

"We have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly 'normal' — whether it's while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street or just watching birds in a park," he added.

Joe Biden, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and Obama's former vice president, tweeted one word: "Enough."

You can read Obama's full statement on the death of Floyd below:


By Roger Sollenberger

Roger Sollenberger was a staff writer at Salon (2020-21). Follow him on Twitter @SollenbergerRC.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Brief Derek Chauvin George Floyd Minnesota Police Brutality Racism