United Kingdom

Derek Chauvin taken into custody after George Floyd death

Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been taken into custody over the death of black man George Floyd, four days after he was seen kneeling on his neck in a video of his arrest that has sparked violent protests across the country.  

The 44-year-old white cop was arrested by state investigators on Friday afternoon, Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington announced.      

Chauvin was one of four officers fired over Floyd's death earlier this week however, Harrington did not provide details on the other three cops.   

The state attorney who would oversee any prosecution on state charges, whose home was also the site of protests, is scheduled to provide an update later Friday. 

The arrest comes after days of riots and unrest across Minneapolis - and several states - demanding justice for 46-year-old Floyd.  

George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died on Memorial Day as he was arrested by four police officers over allegedly trying to buy cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. He was seen in a video pleading that he couldn't breathe as white officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against his neck

Chauvin, J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao were all fired after video of the arrest emerged. Pictured: Floyd before his death

Law enforcement officers amassed along Lake Street near Hiawatha Ave. as fires burned after a night of unrest and protests

Protesters gathered in front of the Third Police Precinct which had to be evacuated by police after it was torched 

 In widely circulated footage, Floyd was seen on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back Chauvin pinned him to the pavement until he lost consciousness and later died.      

Earlier today Keith Ellison, the Attorney General, told CNN that officials were ensuring they have 'a very strong case' before they could announce charges. 

'Everybody believes that this is a violation of Mr Floyd,' Ellison said. 'And I believe that everybody wants to see these charges filed as soon as they can be. But again, I do want to say we have seen cases that seem so clear go south.'

Chauvin and the other three officers in Floyd's arrest - J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao - were fired but say they don't plan to cooperate. 

Prosecutors on Thursday had warned there was 'evidence that does not support criminal charges' in the case of four cops accused of killing George Floyd, as they say police can use a 'certain amount of force - but not excessive'.

At a press conference Mike Freeman, county attorney for Hennepin County, condemned the actions of white cop Derek Chauvin as 'horrific and terrible', but said prosecutors needed to determine if he used 'excessive' force when he knelt on the black man's neck for eight minutes until he passed out and later died. 

'That video is graphic and horrific and terrible and no person should do that,' he said.  

'But my job in the end is to prove he violated a criminal statute - but there is other evidence that does not support a criminal charge.' 

The lack of murder charges have sparked protests, looting and riots in Minneapolis across the country. Pictured: Protesters burn the Minneapolis Police Department 3rd Precinct during protests over Floyd's death, May 28 

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freema says the officers don't plan to cooperate with the investigation and have pleaded the fifth amendment

Freeman pleaded for patience from the Minneapolis community ravaged by Floyd's death as he warned that the investigation 'can't be rushed' for fear of a repeat of the Freddie Gray case in 2015 where all charges were dropped against cops involved in the black man's death. 

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Friday acknowledged the 'abject failure' of the response to this week's violent protests and called for swift justice for police involved in the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white officer knelt on his neck.

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

'Minneapolis and St. Paul are on fire. The fire is still smoldering in our streets. The ashes are symbolic of decades and generations of pain, of anguish unheard,' 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.'

His comments came the morning after protesters torched a police station that officers abandoned during a third night of violence. Livestream video showed protesters entering the building, where intentionally set fires activated smoke alarms and sprinklers. President Donald Trump threatened action, tweeting 'when the looting starts, the shooting starts,' which prompted a warning from Twitter for 'glorifying violence.'

The governor faced tough questions after National Guard leader Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen blamed a lack of clarity about the Guard´s mission for a slow response. Walz said the state was in a supporting role and that it was up to city leaders to run the situation. Walz said it became apparent as the 3rd Precinct was lost that the state had to step in, which happened at 12:05 a.m. Requests from the cities for resources 'never came,' he said.

'You will not see that tonight, there will be no lack of leadership,' Walz said.

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