The officer who pinned George Floyd has been charged with third-degree 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 growing unrest in Minneapolis escalated with the burning of a police station and protests that drew attention from the White House.
The former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, who is white, was arrested by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on Friday, the authorities said. Mr. Chauvin, 44, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County attorney, announced on Friday afternoon.
Mr. Floyd’s relatives said in a statement that they were disappointed by the decision not to seek first-degree murder charges.
Third-degree murder does not require an intent to kill, according to the Minnesota statute, only that the perpetrator caused someone’s death in a dangerous act “without regard for human life.” Charges of first- and second-degree murder require prosecutors to prove, in almost all cases, that the perpetrator made a decision to kill the victim.
Mr. Chauvin was also charged with second-degree manslaughter, a charge that requires prosecutors to prove he was so negligent as to create an “unreasonable risk,” and consciously took the chance that his actions would cause Mr. Floyd to be severely harmed or die.
An investigation into the other three officers who were present at the scene on Monday was ongoing, Mr. Freeman said.
The developments came after a night of chaos in which protesters set fire to a police station in Minneapolis, the National Guard was deployed to help restore order, and President Trump injected himself into the mix with tweets that appeared to threaten violence against protesters.
The tensions in Minneapolis reflected a growing frustration around the country, as demonstrators took to the streets to protest the death of Mr. Floyd and other recent killings of black men and women.
Mr. Floyd, 46, died on Monday after pleading “I can’t breathe” while Mr. Chauvin pressed his knee into Mr. Floyd’s neck, in an encounter that was captured on video.
Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota, a Democrat, expressed solidarity with the protesters during a news conference on Friday, but said that a return to order was needed 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.”
President Trump, who previously called the video of Mr. Floyd’s death “shocking,” drew criticism for a tweet early Friday that called 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 president gave his first extensive remarks on the protests later on Friday at the White House, declaring that “we can’t allow a situation like happened in Minneapolis to descend further into lawless anarchy and chaos. It’s very important, I believe, to the family, to everybody, that the memory of George Floyd be a perfect memory.”
Addressing his earlier Twitter comments, Mr. Trump said, “The looters should not be allowed to drown out the voices of so many peaceful protesters. They hurt so badly what is happening.”
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 people 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 Louisville, Ky., and Columbus, Ohio, with more expected on Friday night.
Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis imposed an 8 p.m. curfew to try to stem the escalating violence that has engulfed the city for the last three nights.
Governor Walz, who activated the National Guard on Thursday as local police appeared to lose control over angry demonstrators, also extended the curfew to St. Paul and said guardsmen would return to the streets in anticipation of more protests.
During a 90-minute news conference on Friday, the governor said 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,’” he said. “The idea that we would go in and break up those expressions of grief and rage was ridiculous.”
While acknowledging that the Minneapolis police have lost the trust of city residents, Mr. Waltz 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.”
Days of protests had intensified on Thursday night when the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct station house was overrun by a crowd of protesters, with some people tossing fireworks and other items at officers, while the police fired projectiles back.
Officers retreated in vehicles just after 10 p.m. Thursday local time as protesters stormed the building — smashing equipment, lighting fires and setting off fireworks, according to videos posted from the scene.
Mr. Frey 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. The arrests included people breaking into the grocery stores, Targets and pharmacies, he said.
Mr. Floyd was pinned down for nearly three minutes after he became unresponsive, prosecutors said.
In a probable cause affidavit released on Friday after the charges against Mr. Chauvin were filed, prosecutors said that the former officer held his knee to Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. “Two minutes and 53 seconds of this was after Mr. Floyd was non-responsive,” the affidavit said.
But preliminary results from an autopsy indicated that Mr. Floyd did not die from suffocation or strangulation, prosecutors wrote, and that “the combined effects” of an underlying heart condition, any potential intoxicants and the police restraint likely contributed to his death. He also began complaining that he could not breathe before he was pinned down, the affidavit said.
The officers’ body cameras were running throughout the encounter, prosecutors said.
Four officers responded to a report at about 8 p.m. on Monday about a man suspected of making a purchase from a store with a fake $20 bill, prosecutors said. After learning that the man was parked near the store, the first two responding officers, who did not include Mr. Chauvin, approached Mr. Floyd, a former high school sports star who worked as a bouncer at a restaurant in Minneapolis.
Mr. Floyd, who was in a car with two other people, was ordered out and arrested. But when the officers began to move him toward a squad car, he stiffened and resisted, according to the affidavit. While still standing, Mr. Floyd began to say he could not breathe, the affidavit said.
That was when Mr. Chauvin, who was among two other officers who arrived at the scene, got involved, prosecutors said. Around 8:19 p.m., Mr. Chauvin pulled Mr. Floyd out of the squad car and placed his knee onto Mr. Floyd’s neck area, holding him down on the ground while another officer held his legs. At times, Mr. Floyd pleaded, the affidavit said, saying, “I can’t breathe,” “please” and “mama.”
“You are talking fine,” the officers said, according to the affidavit, as Mr. Floyd wrestled on the ground.
At 8:24 p.m., Mr. Floyd went still, prosecutors said. A minute later, one of the other officers checked his wrist for a pulse but could not find one. Mr. Chauvin continued to hold his knee down on Mr. Floyd’s neck until 8:27, according to the affidavit.
The other officers, who have been identified as Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, are under investigation. Mr. Freeman, the county attorney, said he expected to bring more charges in the case but offered no further details.
The tweet from President Trump suggesting that protesters in Minneapolis could be shot violated Twitter’s rules against “glorifying violence,” the company said on Friday, escalating tensions between the president and his favorite social media megaphone and injecting Mr. Trump into a growing crisis over police abuse and race that will be another test of his ability to lead an anxious nation.
The company prevented users from viewing Mr. Trump’s message without first reading a brief notice describing the rule violation and also blocked users from liking or replying to Mr. Trump’s post. But the site did not take the message down, saying it was in the public interest for the president’s words to remain accessible.
Mr. Trump attempted to explain his earlier tweets in new postings on Friday afternoon. “Looting leads to shooting,” he said, pointing to incidents in Minneapolis and Louisville, Ky., during protests in both places this week. “I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means.”
At the White House later on Friday, Mr. Trump also said that he had spoken to members of Mr. Floyd’s family, calling them “terrific people.”
Mr. Trump had begun 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” 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.”
When asked about Mr. Trump’s tweet on Friday, Governor Walz said, “It’s just not helpful.” “Anything we do to add fuel to that fire is really, really challenging,” he added.
Former President Barack Obama on Friday called on the nation to work together to create a “new normal” in which bigotry no longer infects institutions, while former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. used a short speech to call for “justice for George Floyd.”
In a statement posted to Twitter, Mr. Obama said, “It’s natural to wish for life ‘to just get back to normal’ as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us.” But for millions of Americans, being treated differently because of race is “normal,” Mr. Obama said, referencing two other recent cases: Ahmaud Arbery, who was killed after two men confronted him while he was running in South Georgia, and Christian Cooper, who was bird watching in Central Park when a woman called police to say she was being threatened.
“This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America,” Mr. Obama said, adding,
“It falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station, to work together to create a ‘new normal’ in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts.”
Mr. Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, rebuked President Trump for his response to the protests in Minneapolis.
“This is no time for incendiary tweets,” Mr. Biden said in a brief speech delivered via livestream. “It’s no time to encourage violence. This is a national crisis, and we need real leadership right now. Leadership that will bring everyone to the table so we can take measures to root out systemic racism.” He did not mention Mr. Trump by name.
Describing the United States as “a country with an open wound,” Mr. Biden called for “real police reform” so that “bad cops” are held accountable.
Mr. Biden said he had just spoken with members of Mr. Floyd’s family, and he addressed them as he concluded his speech. “I promise you, I promise you, we’ll do everything in our power to see to it that justice is had in your brother, your cousin’s case,” he said.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, who has risen on the national political stage for his coronavirus response, spoke up in defense of the protesters in Minnesota.
“I stand figuratively with the protesters,” he said on Friday. “I stand against the arson and the burglary and the criminality and I think all well-meaning Americans stand with the protesters. Enough is enough.”
Ben Crump, a civil rights lawyer representing Mr. Floyd’s family, released a statement on Friday calling the arrest of Mr. Chauvin “a welcome but overdue step on the road to justice.” But he said the charges did not go far enough.
“We expected a first-degree murder charge. We want a first-degree murder charge. And we want to see the other officers arrested,” said the statement, which was attributed to Mr. Floyd’s family and to Mr. Crump.
“The pain that the black community feels over this murder and what it reflects about the treatment of black people in America is raw and is spilling out onto streets across America,” the statement said.
Mr. Crump and the family said they want Minneapolis — and other cities across the country — to fix deficiencies in policies and training that they said permitted Mr. Floyd’s death and others like it.
Among the areas they said they want addressed are the use of appropriate, nonlethal restraint techniques, the ability to recognize the medical signs associated with the restriction of airflow, and the legal duty to seek emergency medical care and stop a civil rights violation.
“For four officers to inflict this kind of unnecessary, lethal force — or watch it happen — despite outcry from witnesses who were recording the violence — demonstrates a breakdown in training and policy by the city,” the statement said. “We fully expect to see the other officers who did nothing to protect the life of George Floyd to be arrested and charged soon.”
Mr. Floyd’s family is being forced “to explain to his children why their father was executed by police on video,” they said.
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.”
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.”
After gunfire broke out at a protest in Louisville, Ky. amid escalating tensions over the fatal shooting of a black woman by three white police officers several weeks ago, Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky said on Friday that the protests 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, Ms. 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.”
For police trainers and criminologists, the episode appears to be a textbook case of why many police departments across the country have sought to outright ban or limit the use of chokeholds or other neck restraints in recent years: The practices have too often turned fatal.
“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.
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, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Thomas Kaplan and Raymond Zhong.