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

(AP) — The white Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s
neck was arrested on murder charges Friday and accused in court papers
of ignoring another officer’s concerns about the handcuffed black man
who died after pleading that he could not breathe.

Derek Chauvin,
44, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter
in the case, which sparked protests across the United States and fires
and looting in Minneapolis. An attorney for Floyd’s family welcomed the
arrest, but said he expected a more serious murder charge and wanted all
the officers arrested.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said
more charges were possible. He said the investigation into three other
officers who were at the scene continues, but authorities “felt it
appropriate to focus on the most dangerous perpetrator.”

allegedly disregarded the worries of the other officer, who wanted to
roll Floyd onto his side, according to the criminal complaint.

papers also said that an autopsy revealed nothing to support
strangulation as the cause of death. The exam concluded that the
combined effects of being restrained, potential intoxicants in Floyd’s
system and his underlying health issues, including heart disease, likely
contributed to his death, according to the complaint. Floyd’s family
was seeking an independent autopsy.

Police were trying to put
Floyd in a squad car on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill when
he stiffened up and fell to the ground, saying he was claustrophobic.
Chauvin and officer Tou Thoa arrived to help and tried several times to
get Floyd into the car, but he struggled, the complaint said.

one point, Chauvin pulled Floyd out of the passenger side of the car,
and Floyd, who was handcuffed, went to the ground face down. Officer
J.K. Kueng held Floyd’s back and officer Thomas Lane held his legs,
while Chauvin put his knee on Floyd’s head and neck area, the complaint

Lane asked, “Should we roll him on his side?” Chauvin said,
“No, staying put is where we got him.” Lane said he was “worried about
excited delirium or whatever,” and Chauvin said, “That’s why we have him
on his stomach,” according to the complaint.

After Floyd
apparently stopped breathing, Lane again said that he wanted to roll
Chauvin onto his side. Kueng checked for a wrist pulse and said he could
not find one, the complaint said.

In all, Chauvin had his knee on
Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, including nearly three minutes
after Floyd stopped moving and talking, according to the complaint.

Chauvin’s attorney had no comment when reached by The Associated Press.

whose home was also picketed by protesters, highlighted the
“extraordinary speed” in charging the case just four days after Floyd’s
death, but also defended himself against questions about why it did not
happen sooner. He said his office needed time to put together evidence,
including what he called the “horrible” video recorded by a bystander.

four officers who were at the scene of Floyd’s death on Monday were
fired the next day. After the charges were announced, protesters outside
the government center chanted, “All four got to go.”

It was not
immediately clear whether Chauvin’s arrest would quiet the unrest, which
escalated Thursday as demonstrators torched a Minneapolis police
station that officers had abandoned.

News of the arrest came
moments after Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz acknowledged the “abject failure”
of the response to the protests and called for swift justice for
officers involved. Walz said the state has taken over the response to
the violence 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.”

President Donald Trump threatened action,
tweeting “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” which prompted a
warning from Twitter for “glorifying violence.” Trump later clarified
that he was referring to shooting that had happened during the protests.

governor faced tough questions after National Guard leader Maj. Gen.
Jon Jensen blamed a lack of clarity about the Guard’s mission for a slow
response. Walz said the state was in a supporting role and that it was
up to city leaders to run the situation. Walz said it became apparent as
the 3rd Precinct was lost that the state had to step in, which happened
at 12:05 a.m. Requests from the cities for resources “never came,” he

“You will not see that tonight, there will be no lack of leadership,” Walz said.

Friday morning, nearly every building in the shopping district around
the abandoned police station had been vandalized, burned or looted.
National Guard members were in the area, with several of them lined up,
keeping people away from the police station. Dozens of volunteers swept
up broken glass in the street.

Dean Hanson, 64, lives in a
subsidized housing unit nearby, which is home to many older residents.
He said his building lost electricity overnight, and residents were
terrified as they watched mobs of people run around their neighborhood,
with no apparent intervention.

“I can’t believe this is happening here,” he said.

of fires were also set in nearby St. Paul, where nearly 200 businesses
were damaged or looted. Protests spread across the U.S., fueled by
outrage over Floyd’s death, and years of violence against African
Americans at the hands of police. Demonstrators clashed with officers in
New York and blocked traffic in Columbus, Ohio, and Denver.

visibly tired and frustrated Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey took
responsibility for evacuating the police precinct, saying it had become
too dangerous for officers.

Attorney Benjamin Crump, who is
representing Floyd’s family, said Chauvin’s arrest was “a welcome but
overdue step on the road to justice.”

Crump had earlier called
for an independent investigation, and said he asked to take custody of
Floyd’s body to have an independent autopsy performed. Crump said that
talk of a heart condition or asthma is irrelevant because Floyd was
walking and breathing before his contact with police.

The doctor
who will do the autopsy is Michael Baden, former chief medical examiner
of New York City, who was hired to do an autopsy for Eric Garner as

State and federal authorities are also investigating Floyd’s death.

owner of a popular Latin nightclub said that Floyd and Chauvin both
worked as security guards at the club as recently as the end of last
year, but it’s not clear whether they worked together. Chauvin worked at
the El Nuevo Rodeo club as an off-duty security guard for nearly two
decades, but Floyd had only worked there more recently for about a dozen
events that featured African American music, Maya Santamaria told The
Associated Press.

Santamaria said if Chauvin had recognized Floyd, “he might have given him a little more mercy.”

Santamaria, who sold the venue within the past two months, said Chauvin got along well with the regular Latino customers, but did not like to work the African American nights. When he did, and there was a fight, he would spray people with mace and call for police backup and half-dozen squad cars would soon show up, something she felt was unjustified “overkill.”

Associated Press writers Steve Karnowski, Jeff Baenen and Doug Glass in Minneapolis, Gretchen Ehlke in Milwaukee, and Aaron Morrison and Bernard Condon in New York contributed to this report.