Chauvin charged in killing of George Floyd

The former police officer was arrested and charged several days after a viral video showed him kneeling on Floyd’s neck.

A demonstrator holds up a rose at the protest at Government Plaza in Minneapolis on Thursday, May 28.

Andy Kosier

A demonstrator holds up a rose at the protest at Government Plaza in Minneapolis on Thursday, May 28.

by Natalie Rademacher and Dylan Miettinen

One of the officers fired earlier this week in the killing of George Floyd was taken into custody Friday afternoon and charged by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, according to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. 

Former officer Derek Chauvin was charged with third degree murder and manslaughter, following days of protests and rioting across the Twin Cities. 

The investigation is still ongoing for the three other former Minneapolis police officers who were also fired in connection with the killing of Floyd. Freeman stated that it was more appropriate to focus on the “most dangerous” perpetrator. 

While leaders across the state have been criticized for how long it took to press charges against Chauvin, Freeman said the response time has been extraordinary – the swiftest he has seen against any Minnesotan police officer during this time as county attorney. 

“We have never charged a case in that kind of time frame, and we only charge a case when we have sufficient, admissible evidence beyond a reasonable doubt,” Freeman said.

Chauvin faces up to 35 years in prison if found guilty, according to the criminal complaint.

The evidence used to charge Chauvin included police body camera footage, the video filmed by a bystander, statements from some witnesses and a preliminary report from the medical examiner, he said.

According to the criminal complaint, officers attempted to arrest Floyd for passing counterfeit currency. Floyd would not voluntarily get into the squad car, saying he was claustrophobic and officers struggled to get him into the vehicle, the complaint read.  

The complaint goes on to say Chauvin pulled Floyd, and he fell to the ground still handcuffed. Chauvin then put his knee on Floyd’s head and neck as MPD officers Thomas Lane and J.A. Kueng helped hold Floyd down. 

As he was being held down, Floyd said “I can’t breathe” multiple times. After being held down for about 6 minutes, the complaint read that Floyd ceased to breathe and speak, according to the compliant and police body camera footage. Kueng checked Floyd’s wrist for a pulse and said, “I couldn’t find one.” 

Two minutes later, Chauvin removed his knee after having it on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Floyd was then taken away in an ambulance and pronounced dead at the Hennepin County Medical Center, the complaint read. 

The complaint included preliminary findings from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner that said no physical findings support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation. 

Additional findings in the report found the combined effects of Floyd being restrained, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death. 

Floyd had underlying health conditions, the complaint said, including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease. 

In response to the graphic video of Floyd’s killing, thousands have protested, demanding charges against the officers involved in Floyd’s death. 

Local businesses across the Twin Cities have been looted and some burned as rioting took place throughout the week. Thursday evening the Minneapolis Police Department 3rd Precinct headquarters was taken and burned by rioters. 

“I am not insensitive to what’s happened in the streets. My own home has been picketed regularly,” Freeman said. “My job is to [charge] only when we have sufficient evidence. We have it today.”

The charges come two days after Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called on Freeman to charge the officers involved. 

Chauvin now faces the same charges that former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor faced following the killing of Justine Damond in 2017. 

Freeman said they are in the process of continuing to review the evidence against Chauvin and subsequent charges may follow. 

While the other officers have yet to be charged, Freeman said he anticipates there may be charges later. 

This is a breaking news report. More information will be added as it becomes available.