CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez, his producer, Bill Kirkos and photojournalist Leonel Mendez have been released from police custody after being arrested during a live broadcast as they documented the ongoing protests in Minneapolis over the death of 46-year-old George Floyd. Floyd's death in police custody has sparked anger nationwide when his arrest Monday for allegedly using a counterfeit bill turned violent, with fired police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck for several minutes in a video taken by onlookers.
As Jimenez and his team reported on the ongoing protests Friday morning, they were approached by Minnesota State Police officers, who took them away in handcuffs despite their self-identification as members of the press and vocal desire to comply with police orders. Police did not offer a reason for their arrest during the broadcast.
"We can move back to where you'd like. We can move back to where you'd like here. We are live on the air at the moment," Jimenez told the officers during the broadcast ahead of his arrest. "We're getting out of your way. So, just let us know. Wherever you'd want us, we will go. We were just getting out of your way when you were advancing through the intersection. Let us know and we've got you."
CNN immediately called for the release of their reporters, calling the arrests a "clear violation of their First Amendment rights." Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz called for their release not long after, saying during a Friday news conference, "I take full responsibility. There is absolutely no reason something like this should happen. Calls were made immediately. This is a very public apology to that team: It should not happen. ...We have to got to ensure that there is a safe spot for journalism to tell the story."
Jimenez was back on the job just hours after his arrest, explaining during a broadcast that after the on-camera encounter with police, the officers were "cordial" to him. When he asked about guidelines the police would want him to follow in the following days of reporting, however, he said the officer told him, "Look, I don't know man, I'm just following orders." Jimenez said of his experience with the 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."
Also Friday, Chauvin was arrested charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Floyd's family said in a statement after the announcement of charges, "[The arrest of] Derek Chauvin for the brutal killing of George Floyd is a welcome but overdue step on the road to justice. We expected a first-degree murder charge. We want a first-degree murder charge. And we want to see the other officers arrested."