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Minneapolis officer who knelt on man’s neck charged with murder

Law enforcement officers amassed along Lake Street near Hiawatha Ave. as fires burned after a night of unrest and protests in the death of George Floyd early Friday, May 29, 2020 in Minneapolis. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day. (David Joles/Star Tribune via AP)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minneapolis police officer who was seen on video kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died in custody after pleading that he could not breathe, was arrested Friday and charged with murder.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, after the office gathered enough evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Freeman did not have immediate details, but said a criminal complaint would be made available later. The charges come after three days of protests, which had been escalating in violence.

The officer’s arrest came after three days of often-violent protests that resulted in looting across parts of Minneapolis.

Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said state investigators arrested Derek Chauvin, who was one of four officers fired this week, but he did not provide details. The state attorney who would oversee any prosecution on state charges, whose home was also the site of protests, was scheduled to provide an update later Friday.

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. Walz said the state would take over the response to the protests 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.”

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