More than four months after he was taken into custody for the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was released from a Twin Cities area correctional facility on Wednesday.
Chauvin is the last of the four former officers charged in Floyd's death to be allowed to leave custody, after posting a $1 million conditional bail, local CBS affiliate WCCO reported. He, along with former officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao, is set to stand trial for Floyd's death this coming March. He stands charged with both second- and third-degree murder as well as manslaughter for his role in Floyd's death. He last appeared in public with his fellow defendants for a contentious court hearing in early September.
Chauvin, who at the time was the senior officer on the scene, was filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes outside a Minneapolis grocery store this past May.
Floyd's death launched a wave of social justice protests across Minneapolis and St. Paul — and eventually around the country — and has served as one of the major civil rights moments of the past year. His killing galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement created in the wake of the Trayvon Martin's death and prompted calls for the defunding or dismantling of existing policing institutions.
Despite having been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department just days after footage of Floyd's death became public, Chauvin still stands eligible to potentially receive a million-dollar pension, even if he is ultimately convicted in Floyd's murder.
Earlier this summer, former officer Kueng, already released on bail, was filmed shopping at a Twin Cities area Cub Foods grocery store, explaining that he could "understand" why people would be angry to see him in public.
"I’m sorry you feel that way," Kueng added at one point in the footage.
Earlier Wednesday, Minneapolis police were reportedly warned to be prepared for an unspecified wave of civic unrest, presumably ahead of Chauvin's release. In addition to the murder charges for Floyd's death, Chauvin also stands accused of multiple, unrelated tax-related felonies.