Derek Chauvin charged with third-degree murder over George Floyd death

29 May 2020, 18:35

George Floyd died in Minneapolis on Monday
George Floyd died in Minneapolis on Monday. Picture: Social media

By Megan White

Former police officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder over the death of George Floyd.

Mr Floyd died after being filmed pleading with police to stop kneeling on him before losing consciousness during an arrest for allegedly trying to use forged documents at a local deli.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar said earlier Mr Chauvin's arrest was the "first step towards justice."

Read more: Barack Obama responds to George Floyd death saying 'it should not happen in 2020'

Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington also confirmed Mr Chauvin's arrest on Friday.

Read more: US police arrest CNN reporter and crew live on air in Minneapolis

The other three officers involved in the incident on Monday have also been fired but have not been arrested.

News of the arrest came moments after Minnesota Gov Tim Walz acknowledged the "abject failure" of the response to this week's protests and called for swift justice for officers involved.

Mr Walz said the state would take over the response to the protests and that it is time to show respect and dignity to those who are suffering.

"Minneapolis and St. Paul are on fire. The fire is still smouldering in our streets. The ashes are symbolic of decades and generations of pain, of anguish unheard," Mr Walz said, adding. "Now generations of pain is manifesting itself in front of the world - and the world is watching."

The governor cited a call he received from a state senator who described her district "on fire, no police, no firefighters, no social control, constituents locked in houses wondering what they were going to do. That is an abject failure that cannot happen".

On Friday morning, nearly every building in the shopping district around the abandoned police station had been vandalised, burned or looted.

National Guard members were in the area, with several of them lined up, keeping people away from the police station.

Dozens of fires were also set in nearby St Paul, where nearly 200 businesses were damaged or looted.

Joe Biden says that the "open wound" of systemic racism was behind Mr Floyd's killing.

He also accused President Donald Trump, without mentioning him by name, of inciting violence with a tweet that warned that protesters could be shot.

"We are a country with an open wound. None of us can turn away," Mr Biden said in a brief address.

The Democratic presidential hopeful has built his campaign around a promise to heal "the soul of the nation" and is suddenly getting his chance to try in real time.

Mr Biden said he spoke to the family of Mr Floyd, adding that now was "no time for incendiary tweets. No time to incite violence".

"This is time for real leadership," he said.

Protests spread across the US, fuelled by outrage over Mr Floyd's death, and years of violence against African Americans at the hands of police.

Demonstrators clashed with officers in New York and blocked traffic in Columbus, Ohio, and Denver.

President Trump threatened to bring Minneapolis "under control," calling the protesters "thugs" and tweeting that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts".

The tweet drew another warning from Twitter, which said the comment violated the platform's rules, but the company did not remove it.

President Trump also blasted the "total lack of leadership" in Minneapolis.

Protests first erupted on Tuesday, a day after Mr Floyd's death in a confrontation with police captured on widely seen citizen video.

Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing members of Mr Floyd's family, has called for an independent investigation, and said he asked to take custody of Mr Floyd's body to have an independent autopsy performed.

Mr Crump said that talk of a heart condition or asthma are irrelevant because Mr Floyd was walking and breathing before his contact with police.