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George Floyd Live Updates: Officer Derek Chauvin Charged With Murder

2020-05-29 18:32:40
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The officer who pinned George Floyd is charged with murder.

The former police officer who was seen on video using his knee to pin down George Floyd, a black man who later died, has been arrested and charged with murder, the authorities announced on Friday, after days of escalating protests and growing unrest.

The officer, Derek Chauvin, who is white, was arrested by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on Friday, the authorities said. He was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County attorney, announced on Friday afternoon.

An investigation into the other three officers who were present at the scene on Monday was ongoing.

News of Mr. Chauvin’s arrest came shortly after Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota called for order in the streets of Minneapolis following a night of chaos in which protesters set fire to a police station, the National Guard was deployed and President Trump threatened violence against protesters.

Mr. Walz, a Democrat, expressed solidarity with the protesters, but said he wanted to lift up the voices of “those who are expressing rage and anger and those who are demanding justice” and “not those who throw firebombs.”

“I refuse to have it take away the attention from the stain that we need to be working on,” he said. “These are things that have been brewing in this country for 400 years.”

Mr. Floyd, 46, died on Monday after pleading “I can’t breathe” while a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck, in an encounter that was captured on video. His death set off days of protests and scattered looting in Minneapolis, as well as a string of protests across the country as demonstrators also spoke out against other recent killings of black men and women.

Adding fuel to the tensions, President Trump, who previously called the video of Mr. Floyd’s death “shocking,” weighed in with a tweet early Friday calling the protesters “thugs” and said that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” The comments prompted Twitter to attach a warning to the tweet, saying that it violated the company’s rules about “glorifying violence.”

The spectacle of a police station in flames and a president appearing to threaten violence against those protesting the death of a black man in police custody, set against the backdrop of a coronavirus pandemic that has kept many residents from engaging with one another directly for months, added to the anxiety of a nation already plagued by crises.

The protests — some peaceful, some marked by violence — have spread across the country, from Denver and Phoenix to Columbus, Ohio, where crowds surged the steps of the State Capitol on Thursday and broke windows. In Minneapolis, smoke smoldered over the city’s horizon on Friday morning, and residents were out sweeping and cleaning the streets.

“The ashes are symbolic of decades and generations of pain, of anguish, unheard,” Mr. Walz said. But, he added, “We have to restore order.”

Mr. Walz, who activated the National Guard on Thursday as local police appeared to lose control over angry demonstrators, said a curfew will be imposed in Minneapolis on Friday night, and guardsmen will return to the streets in anticipation of more protests. He said the time of the curfew would be specified later.

The anger in Minneapolis built for days after the release on Tuesday of a video showing Mr. Floyd pleading with Mr. Chauvin, the white police officer pinning him down. After prosecutors announced on Thursday that they had not yet decided whether to charge Mr. Chauvin, that rage turned to chaos.

During a 90-minute news conference on Thursday, Mr. Walz acknowledged that officials should have anticipated that the protests could become violent, but he said it was unrealistic to expect law enforcement to stop people from coming out to demonstrate, even amid the social-distancing orders that have been imposed during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Watching what happened to George Floyd had people say, ‘To hell with staying home,’” the governor said. “The idea that we would go in and break up those expressions of grief and rage was ridiculous.”

Mr. Walz said that the Minneapolis police have lost the trust of city residents. He implored residents to see the National Guard as a peacekeeping force meant to keep “anarchists” from taking over and destroying more of the city.

“I need to ask Minnesotans, those in pain and those who feel like justice has not been served yet, you need to help us create the space so that justice will be served,” the governor said. “It is my expectation that it will be swift.”

“We’re starting fires in here, so be careful,” one man could be heard shouting as sprinklers doused protesters who had burst inside. Flames rose from the front of the building as hundreds of protesters looked on, and soon smoke was billowing from the roof.

Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis said at a news conference Friday morning that he had made the call for officers to flee the Third Precinct, saying, “The symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life.”

Mr. Frey, a Democrat, said he understood the anger of the city’s residents but pleaded with people to stop destroying property and looting stores. “It’s not just enough to do the right thing yourself,” he said. “We need to be making sure that all of us are held accountable.”

John Harrington, the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, said that arrests had been made related to looting on Thursday night, but that he did not know how many. People had been arrested, he said, for breaking into the grocery stores, Targets and pharmacies.

Twitter also flagged a tweet posted by the official White House Twitter account on Friday morning, which had copied the words from Mr. Trump’s earlier post.

Mr. Trump began tweeting about the unrest in Minneapolis around 1 a.m., as cable news showed a Minneapolis police station engulfed in a fire set by protesters. He called the protesters “thugs,” threatened to send the National Guard, though the governor had already done so, and used language that echoed a controversial comment by a former Miami police chief in the late 1960s.

The Miami chief, Walter E. Headley, attracted national attention for using shotguns, dogs and other heavy-handed policies to fight crime in the city’s black neighborhoods. “We haven’t had any serious problems with civil uprising and looting, because I’ve let the word filter down that when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he said in 1967, adding, “we don’t mind being accused of police brutality.”

Later on Friday morning, Mr. Trump tweeted about the National Guard’s presence in Minneapolis, saying “George Floyd will not have died in vain. Respect his memory!!!”

Governor Walz, when asked about Mr. Trump’s tweet, said, “It’s just not helpful.”

“Anything we do to add fuel to that fire is really, really challenging,” he added.

“I will not give him that amplification,” he said. “But he is calling for violence against American citizens during a moment of pain for so many. I’m furious, and you should be too.”

Peaceful protests against the death of Mr. Floyd turned chaotic in several cities on Thursday night into Friday morning, with the Denver State Capitol put on lockdown after someone fired a gun near a demonstration, and crowds in Columbus, Ohio, surging up the steps of the State Capitol and breaking windows.

In New York City, protesters gathered at Union Square Thursday afternoon to join a nationwide chorus against police brutality. But by the time the crowds dissipated several hours later into the dark streets, the police said they had arrested 72 people, five of them on charges they had assaulted police officers with street debris in what Chief Terence A. Monahan, the highest ranking uniformed officer, qualified as one of the most unruly and angry demonstrations in his many years in law enforcement.

“We didn’t expect this,” Chief Monahan said in a morning interview with the 1010 WINS radio station. “We didn’t expect them to be so confrontational and right off the bat charging police officers and pushing police officers.”

Images on social media showed at times chaotic scenes as the mostly young protesters, many of them wearing face coverings, clashed with uniformed officers. Some carried signs that read “No Justice, No Peace” and chanted “I can’t breathe.”

Leslie Herod, a state representative in Colorado, said she had heard several shots near the Denver Statehouse. The Police Department said no injuries were immediately reported.

In Ohio, the police could be seen rushing to the Capitol and ordering protesters to disperse, while downtown, officers used pepper spray on large crowds.

Similar episodes occurred in Phoenix, where hundreds of protesters marched toward the State Capitol relatively calmly before gatherings grew more tense through the night, as some protesters threw stones at the city’s Police Department.

A video taken at the Denver protest appeared to show the driver of a black S.U.V. plowing through a crowd of protesters who had blocked traffic near the Statehouse. As a protester jumped off the car, the driver sped up and knocked into him. It was unclear whether the protester had been wounded.

“I share the immense anguish we all feel about the unjust murder of George Floyd,” Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado said in a statement. “But let me be clear, senseless violence will never be healed by more violence.”

The CNN crew, led by the correspondent Omar Jimenez, was released by the police after spending about an hour in custody. In the moments before the 5 a.m. arrest, Mr. Jimenez could be heard identifying himself as a reporter and offering to move to wherever he and his team were directed.

“Put us back where you want us, we are getting out of your way, just let us know,” Mr. Jimenez told the police officers, who were outfitted in riot gear, as the network broadcast the exchange live.

Instead, he and his team — Bill Kirkos, a producer, and Leonel Mendez, a camera operator — had their hands bound behind their backs. Their camera was placed on the ground, still rolling; CNN anchors watching from New York sounded stunned as they reported on their colleagues’ arrests.

Lawyers at CNN reached out to the Minnesota authorities, and the network’s president, Jeffrey A. Zucker, spoke briefly on Friday morning with the state’s governor, Tim Walz.

Mr. Walz told Mr. Zucker that the arrest was “inadvertent” and “unacceptable,” according to CNN’s account of the call. By about 6:30 a.m. local time, the crew had been released and was back on television.

“Everyone, to their credit, was pretty cordial,” Mr. Jimenez said of his interaction with the police officers after his arrest. “As far as the people that were leading me away, there was no animosity there. They weren’t violent with me. We were having a conversation about just how crazy this week has been for every single part of the city.”

The network had noted in a post on Twitter: “A black reporter from CNN was arrested while legally covering the protests in Minneapolis. A white reporter also on the ground was not.”

Josh Campbell, a CNN correspondent who was also reporting from Minneapolis, said, “There’s a level of heavy-handedness that we’re not used to.”

Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky said Friday morning that the protests over the fatal shooting by the police of a black woman reflected a city still affected by the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

He also said that the protesters’ anger underscored distress over the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately affected black people.

Seven people were shot during demonstrations in Louisville on Thursday night as they protested the killing of the woman, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician. She was shot in her home in March during a narcotics investigation. The F.B.I. has said it is investigating the shooting.

“What we have seen is a response to a very concerning shooting of an E.M.T., a young woman who worked to save the lives of others here in Kentucky,” Mr. Beshear said on CNN.

Hundreds of demonstrators made their way through the city throughout Thursday evening. Jessie Halladay, a spokeswoman for the Louisville Metro Police Department, said the gathering began peacefully but escalated to involve assaults on officers and property damage.

Videos posted on social media appeared to show shots being fired while demonstrators surrounded a police vehicle. It was too early to determine who was responsible, the Louisville Metro Police Department said. Mr. Beshear said the protests began as a demonstration to honor Ms. Taylor and demand justice for her.

“Some other folks, very late, more than three hours in, came in and ultimately instigated and caused some actions and turned it into something that it should not have been,” he told CNN.

Mr. Beshear read a statement from Ms. Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, that called on protesters to keep demanding justice but to do it peacefully.

“‘Breonna devoted her own life to saving other lives, to helping others, to making people smile and to bringing people together,’” he read. “‘The last thing she’d want right now is any more violence.’”

Hours before the protests started in Louisville, Mr. Beshear said the fatal shooting of Ms. Taylor pointed to flaws in the “no-knock warrant” system that the police used to enter her home.

Authorities had initially charged Kenneth Walker, Mr. Taylor’s boyfriend, with attempted murder for shooting a police officer in the leg during the intrusion.

Mr. Walker told investigators that he did not hear police announce themselves and was terrified when the door was knocked down.

On Friday, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said that the police officers involved in George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis “look pretty darn guilty,” calling the incident “a hideous crime.”

But Mr. McConnell, a Louisville resident, condemned protests in his hometown and across the country, telling reporters that violence was “not helpful.”

“I think what’s happening in Louisville and in Minneapolis really needs to stop,” Mr. McConnell said.

“This senseless violence and reaction to this is not helpful. But you can certainly understand the outrage.”

“It is a technique that we don’t use as much anymore because of the vulnerability,” said Mylan Masson, a former police officer who ran a training program for the Minneapolis police for 15 years until 2016. “We try to stay away from the neck as much as possible.”

Department records indicate, however, that the Minneapolis police have not entirely abandoned the use of neck restraints, even if the method used by Officer Chauvin is no longer part of police training.

The Minneapolis Police Department’s manual states that neck restraints and chokeholds are basically reserved only for when an officer is caught in a life-or-death situation. There was no such apparent threat during Mr. Floyd’s detention.

Criminologists viewing the tape said that the knee restraint not only put dangerous pressure on the back of the neck, but that Mr. Floyd was also kept lying on his stomach for too long. Both positions — the knee on the neck and lying face down — run the risk of cutting off the oxygen supply.

The investigation will be led by the U.S. attorney in Minnesota, Erica MacDonald, and by F.B.I. agents in Minneapolis. Attorney General William P. Barr and the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, Eric Dreiband, are closely monitoring their inquiry, a Justice Department spokeswoman said.

The department noted that is a violation of federal law for an officer acting in an official capacity to deprive another person of his or her constitutional rights, including the right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment.

Mr. Chauvin and three other officers at the scene, who did nothing to stop Mr. Chauvin, were fired on Tuesday, and Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis has called for Mr. Chauvin to be arrested and charged. The Minneapolis Police Department has identified the other officers as Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng.

The Minnesota attorney general, Keith Ellison, said on Friday that he expected charges to be filed against the officers. “I have every expectation that they will be,” he said on CNN. But he added the county attorney’s office had primary jurisdiction.

“I hope they are soon,” he added.

Mr. Floyd’s sister, Bridgett Floyd, called for justice on NBC’s “Today” show.

“I would like for those officers to be charged with murder because that’s exactly what they did,” Ms. Floyd said.

“I don’t want the protests to be for just show,” said Tera Brown, Mr. Floyd’s cousin, who appeared with two of Mr. Floyd’s brothers. “I want to see action.”

“This was clearly murder,” she added. “We want to see them arrested; we want to see them charged; we want to see them convicted for what they did.”

Stephen Jackson, the former N.B.A. player and now podcast host, told “The Today Show” on Thursday that the death of Mr. Floyd, a longtime friend, “destroyed” him.

“I jumped up, screamed, scared my daughter and almost broke my hand punching stuff because I was so mad,” Mr. Jackson said, describing his reaction when he learned the news.

Mr. Jackson told “The Breakfast Club” podcast that he grew up with Mr. Floyd in the Houston area. He joked that they looked so much alike that they could have the same father, so would refer to each other as “Twin.”

“Neighborhoods, they all get beefing,” Mr. Jackson said. “But you always have one guy that can go to all the neighborhoods and everybody will rock with him. Floyd was that guy.”

Trump Administration speaks with multiple voices on protests.

President Trump’s aggressive tweets about riots in Minneapolis on Friday led Twitter to determine he had violated the platform’s rules against glorifying violence. Messages from others in his administration were starkly different.

“Our country allows for peaceful protests, but there is no reason for violence,” Melania Trump, the first lady, wrote on Twitter. “I’ve seen our citizens unify & take care of one another through COVID19 & we can’t stop now. My deepest condolences to the family of George Floyd. As a nation, let’s focus on peace, prayers & healing.”

Officials in the Trump administration often take a freelance approach to issuing their own statements, and with Mrs. Trump, it has been a point of pride that her messages can show a starkly different tone from her husband’s. But in the midst of a deadly pandemic and riots around the country, the result on Friday was a lack of a unified message.

While Mr. Trump disparaged protesters in Minnesota as “thugs,” Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser, said in a tweet that she understood why people in Minneapolis were in pain and why they were calling for the arrest of the police officer who had placed his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck.

“People in Minneapolis are hurting for a reason,” Ms. Trump wrote. “Justice is how we heal. My heart goes out to George Floyd’s family and all Americans who are hurting.”

On Friday, the Trump campaign and Mr. Trump’s social media adviser, Dan Scavino, stayed focused on what they said were issues of censorship against conservatives on social media. Mr. Scavino, the White House deputy director of communications, used his official account to lob an expletive at the company.

Reporting was contributed by Victoria Bekiempis, Katie Benner, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Audra D.S. Burch, Maria Cramer, Julie Davis, Sopan Deb, Katie Glueck, Russell Goldman, John Eligon, Matt Furber, Maggie Haberman, Christine Hauser, Jack Healy, Dan Levin, Neil MacFarquhar, Sarah Mervosh, Elian Peltier, Katie Rogers, Edgar Sandoval, Marc Santora Neil Vigdor, Mike Wolgelenter and Raymond Zhong.


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