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U.S. Cop Who Knelt on Man's Neck Nabbed, Charged with Murder

Violent protests against George Floyd's death spread across the United States.
by The Associated Press
May 30, 2020
A protester sprays graffiti on a wall near the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody on May 25, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night.

The white cop who knelt on the black man’s neck is now facing murder and manslaughter charges.

Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 44, who pinned down George Floyd by kneeling on his neck, was arrested and charged with murder Friday, May 29, as authorities imposed an overnight curfew to try to stem three nights of often-violent protests that left dozens of stores burned and looted.

Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the case. He was also accused of ignoring another officer at the scene who expressed concerns about the black man as he lay handcuffed on the ground, pleading that he could not breathe.

Forty-six-year-old Floyd had been arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a small grocery store on Monday, May 25.

An attorney for Floyd’s family welcomed the arrest, but said he expected a more serious murder charge and wants all four officers involved to be arrested.

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Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said more charges were possible. He said the investigation into the other three officers continues, but authorities “felt it appropriate to focus on the most dangerous perpetrator.”

State and federal authorities are also investigating Floyd’s death.

Autopsy result out

According to the criminal complaint, Chauvin allegedly disregarded the concerns of another officer, who wanted to roll Floyd onto his side as he was being held down.

The papers also said that an autopsy revealed nothing to support strangulation as the cause of death. The exam concluded that the combined effects of being restrained, potential intoxicants in Floyd’s system and his underlying health issues, including heart disease, likely contributed to his death.

Floyd’s family was seeking an independent autopsy.

Police were trying to put Floyd in a squad car when he stiffened up and fell to the ground, saying he was claustrophobic, the complaint said. Chauvin and officer Tou Thoa arrived to help and tried several times to get the struggling Floyd into the car, it said.

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At one point, Chauvin pulled Floyd out of the car’s passenger side, and Floyd, who was handcuffed, went to the ground face down. Officer J.K. Kueng held Floyd’s back, and officer Thomas Lane held his legs, while Chauvin put his knee on Floyd’s head and neck area, the complaint said.

When Lane asked if Floyd should be rolled onto his side Chauvin said, “No, staying put is where we got him.”

Lane said he was “worried about excited delirium or whatever,” and Chauvin replied, “That’s why we have him on his stomach,” according to the complaint.

After Floyd apparently stopped breathing, Lane again said he wanted to roll Chauvin onto his side. Kueng checked for a pulse and said he could not find one, the complaint said.

In all, Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, including nearly three minutes after Floyd stopped moving and talking, according to the complaint.

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Chauvin’s attorney had no comment when reached by The Associated Press.

Protests spread across the nation

Meanwhile, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey declared a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

It was not immediately clear whether Chauvin’s arrest would quiet the unrest, which escalated again Thursday night as demonstrators burned a Minneapolis police station soon after officers abandoned it.

Protests also spread across the U.S., fueled by outrage over 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.

On Friday morning, nearly every building in a shopping district a couple of blocks from the abandoned police station had been vandalized, burned or looted. National Guard members carrying assault rifles were lined up at some intersections, keeping people away from the police station. Dozens of volunteers swept up broken glass from the street.

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

—AMY FORLITI and TIM SULLIVAN with Steve Karnowski, Jeff Baenen, Doug Glass, Gretchen Ehlke, Aaron Morrison, and Bernard Condon