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Fired Minneapolis officer charged with murder in George Floyd’s death

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The former Minneapolis police officer shown in bystander video kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who subsequently died, has been charged with murder, officials in Minnesota said on Friday.

Arrest comes after 3rd night of protests, including precinct attack and reporter's on-air arrest

The city endured a third night of protests and violence after George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died in police custody.0:49

The former Minneapolis police officer shown in bystander video kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who subsequently died, has been charged with murder, officials in Minnesota said on Friday.

Mike Freeman of the Hennepin County Attorney's Office announced the third-degree murder and manslaughter charges after Derek Chauvin's arrest was initially announced by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

"We have now been able to put together the evidence that we need," said Freeman.

Police body camera footage, witness statements and a preliminary medical examination of Floyd were among the evidence prosecutors have gathered, he said.

Third-degree murder carries a sentence of up to 25 years in prison. It is defined in the state's criminal statute as applicable to "whoever, without intent to effect the death of any person, causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life."

WATCH | Prosecutor defends his actions in George Floyd's death investigation:

Responding to a reporter's question on Friday about why the officers were not arrested sooner, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman stressed that charges in similar cases would typically take nine months to a year.0:40

Chauvin's arrest came after a third night of arson, looting and vandalism gripped the city as protesters vented rage over Floyd's death.

Freeman said his office had moved with a speed that was not typical for most cases involving police officers, citing the case of Mohamed Noor, who was charged months after the shooting death of an unarmed woman.

"I'm not insensitive to what's happened in the streets," said Freeman.

Three other responding officers were fired by the Minneapolis Police Department along with Chauvin the day after the death of Floyd on May 26. They are not currently in custody.

This February 2019 photo provided by Henry Giron shows George Floyd at Conga Latin Bistro in Minneapolis, where he worked in security.(HenrySocialPhotos via AP)

Floyd's family released a statement concerning Chauvin's arrest through their attorney, Benjamin Crump.

While the statement indicated that the family had hoped for a first-degree murder charge and that the other officers would also be arrested, it characterized the charges as "a welcome but overdue step on the road to justice."

The statement also called for significant police reform across the country.

A protester yells at a member of the Minnesota National Guard on Friday in Minneapolis.(John Minchillo/The Associated Press)

"While this is a right and necessary step, we need the City of Minneapolis — and cities across the country — to fix the policies and training deficiencies that permitted this unlawful killing — and so many others — to occur," the family said.

The U.S. Justice Department has also launched an investigation into Floyd's death. Attorney General William Barr said in a statement on Friday that the Justice Department will "separately decide whether any federal civil rights laws were violated."

Governor appeals for calm

The arrest of Floyd, 46, was captured by an onlooker's cellphone video that went viral and showed a police officer pressing his knee into Floyd's neck as he moaned: "Please, I can't breathe."

Floyd was accused of trying to pass counterfeit money at a corner store. He was a Houston native who had worked as a nightclub security guard.

WATCH l Governor says he understands community frustrations:

While acknowledging a lack of trust in the police, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz asked for people to help restore order in the streets.2:52

Thursday night's disturbances in Minneapolis also spread into the adjacent city of St. Paul, the state capital, with fires and vandalism breaking out there.

Gov. Tim Walz on Friday made an appeal for calm and outlined how a significant presence of state National Guard troops and state police would prevent a repeat occurrence in the coming nights of "the looting and the recklessness that went on."

The Democratic governor said he understood "there is no trust" in many communities in the wake of Floyd's death, but called upon protesters not to express their frustrations in a way that punished owners and employees of businesses that have been damaged, particularly on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

PHOTOS | Protests over George Floyd's death spread across U.S.:

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      "I will not patronize you as a white man without living those experiences of how very difficult that is," said Walz. "But I'm asking you to help us use a humane way to get the streets to a place where we can restore the justice so those who are expressing rage and anger and demanding justice are heard."

      Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey declared a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. local time on Friday and Saturday. The order says no one can be out in public except emergency responders and people seeking medical care, fleeing danger or those who are homeless.

      "I know that whatever hope you feel today is tempered with skepticism and a righteous outrage," Frey said in a statement. "Today's decision from the county attorney is an essential first step on a longer road toward justice and healing our city."

      Time to deal with 'open wound': Biden

      Joe Biden, the former vice-president poised to take on Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 presidential election, gave a brief address from his Delaware home on Friday. He characterized this as a moment of reckoning for the U.S. after the recent, widely publicized deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, which have led to anti-racism protests.

      "It is time for us to take a hard look at the uncomfortable truths. It's time for us to face that deep open wound we have in this nation," said Biden.

      Biden said it was a time to have a conversation about police reform to "hold cops to a higher standard" and "hold bad cops" accountable.

      Trump held a news conference Friday to announce a series of measures directed at China, but did not address the situation in Minneapolis, including his controversial tweet about the protests, and took no questions from reporters.

      'Clear violation' of 1st Amendment: CNN

      During the protests, the Minnesota State Patrol arrested a CNN journalist reporting live on television early Friday morning without giving any reason, leading him and others from his crew away in handcuffs.

      Omar Jimenez had just shown a protester being arrested when about half a dozen police officers surrounded him.

      "We can move back to where you like," he told the officers wearing gas masks and face shields, before explaining that he and his crew were members of the press. "We're getting out of your way."

      WATCH l Omar Jimenez arrested while doing live hit:

      Omar Jimenez was handcuffed live, on air, as his crew tried to get closer to a police cordon. They were all later released.1:46

      CNN called it a clear violation of their First Amendment rights and called for the release of its three employees, which eventually occurred.

      "What gave me one bit of comfort was that it happened on live TV," Jimenez told viewers after he was released. "You don't have to doubt my story. It's not filtered in any way. You saw it with your own eyes."

      In the course of clearing the streets and restoring order at Lake Street and Snelling Avenue, four people were arrested by State Patrol troopers, including three members of a CNN crew. The three were released once they were confirmed to be members of the media.

      —@MnDPS_MSP

      Walz offered a public apology to CNN for the actions of the state police, which issued a tweet about the Jimenez arrest that angered many on Twitter with its conflicting description of what happened.

      "I take full responsibility," Walz said. "There is absolutely no reason something like this should happen."

      Law enforcement in Minneapolis kept mostly out of sight around the epicentre of Thursday's disturbances, the 3rd Precinct police station. Protesters massing outside the building briefly retreated under volleys of police tear gas and rubber bullets fired at them from the roof, only to regroup and eventually attack the building, setting fire to the structure as police withdrew.

      Law enforcement officers amass as fires burned early Friday in Minneapolis.(David Joles/Star Tribune via AP)

      National Guard troops were absent, as were members of the fire department. Protesters were later observed on the roof, and a crowd of hundreds lingered around the building for hours, feeding flames with hunks of plywood and other debris.

      Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey defended his decision on Friday to evacuate the police station due to "imminent threats to both officers and the public."

      With files from Reuters and The Associated Press

      Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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