“The investigation is ongoing,” the county prosecutor said, “We felt it was appropriate to focus on the most dangerous perpetrator,” he added, referring to former officer Derek Chauvin.
The former Minneapolis police officer shown on video putting his knee on the neck of George Floyd was arrested on Friday, authorities said.
Derek Chauvin, who was fired on Tuesday along with three other officers involved in the detainment of Floyd, was taken into custody Friday and faces charges of 3rd-degree murder and manslaughter, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced.
Floyd pleaded “I can’t breathe,” as Chauvin, who is white, kneeled on Floyd’s neck for around eight minutes on Monday night, in an arrest that was videotaped by bystanders. The police department initially said Floyd, who was black, “physically resisted” the officers and that he died after “suffering medical distress.”
Freeman said he anticipated more charges to come, possibly against some of the other three officers.
“The investigation is ongoing,” Freeman said, “We felt it was appropriate to focus on the most dangerous perpetrator. This case has moved with extraordinary speed.”
Just 24 hours earlier, Freeman had said the case still needed more investigation.
But by Friday, Freeman said enough evidence had been gathered.
“All of that has come together and we felt, in our professional judgement, it was time to charge,” Freeman told reporters.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and the FBI are both investigating Floyd’s death. The BCA arrested Chauvin at 11:44 a.m. in Minneapolis, the state agency said.
A conviction for third-degree murder could land an offender in prison for up to 25 years.
Third-degree murder means an offender did not intend to kill, but that someone died “by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life.”
Freeman noted that these charges mirrored the same criminal complaint filed against former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, in another high-profile local case involving excessive force.
Noor was convicted of third-degree murder for the July 15, 2017, slaying of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a dual citizen of the United States and Australia.
Freeman said the prosecution of police officers, who act while on duty, are particularly difficult cases.
“This is by far the fastest we’ve ever charged a police officer,” Freeman said. “Normally these cases can take nine months to a year.”