Fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has officially been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter for his involvement in the killing of George Floyd. The charge was announced Friday afternoon by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman just after news broke that Chauvin had been arrested. The three other officers involved in the May 25 killing have not been arrested or charged.
BREAKING: Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin charged with third degree murder and manslaughter, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announces. https://t.co/AFBCvlJpzj pic.twitter.com/nABUqyIM1l— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 29, 2020
In Minnesota, murder in the third degree is defined as involving the killing of a person without premeditation and intent through an "eminently dangerous" act "without regard for human life," according to attorney Aaron Hall's website. A person found guilty of third-degree murder in the state can face up to 25 years in prison. Manslaughter, meanwhile, is an unlawful killing that does not involve malice aforethought. In Minnesota, according to JS Defense, there are two classifications of manslaughter. First-degree manslaughter carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison, while second-degree manslaughter carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
The charges against Chauvin stem from the May 25 incident that was captured on video and sparked international outrage. In the clip, Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis police, could be seen kneeling on Floyd's neck for approximately eight minutes. Floyd, who was unarmed and handcuffed, could be heard telling the four responding officers, "I can't breathe" and begging for help. Floyd, 46, fell unconscious and was pronounced dead at a hospital while still in police custody.
Although Chauvin and the three other officers involved in the incident had their positions with the Minneapolis Police Department terminated, Floyd's death, marking just the latest example of police brutality, sparked global outrage. The city of Minneapolis has seen three days of protests, at times turning violent, with similar protests occurring in Denver; Los Angeles; Columbus, Ohio; and St. Louis, Missouri.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the FBI are both investigating Floyd’s death. Earlier this week, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called for charges to be filed "swiftly" against Chauvin. Prior to his arrest, Chauvin had been the subject of more than a dozen police conduct complaints, none of which resulted in disciplinary action and only one of which led to a "letter of reprimand" during his career.