Star Tribune via Getty Images/Star Tribune/Getty Images

The police officer who killed George Floyd has been charged with murder

Four days after he was filmed kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, an unarmed, handcuffed Black man who spent minutes unsuccessfully pleading for his life, former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was arrested and taken into custody by Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on Friday. Chauvin was filmed Monday evening kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes until Floyd appeared to lose consciousness; the whole time, Floyd said repeatedly, "I cannot breathe," yet Chauvin did not move even after Floyd stopped moving.

Speaking at a hastily called press conference Friday afternoon, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Chauvin was currently in custody and had been charged with third-degree murder, as well as manslaughter. Asked why Chauvin had been detained while the three other former officers who appear in the bystander footage of Floyd's death were still free, Freeman described Chauvin as the "most dangerous perpetrator." He also stressed the speed with which he claimed Chauvin had been charged, calling it "by far the fastest we've ever charged a police officer."

News of Chauvin's arrest broke shortly before Freeman's briefing, when State Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington announced that Chauvin had been taken into custody earlier that day.

Freeman's press conference came less than 24 hours after he'd downplayed expectations that Chauvin would be charged quickly.

"There is other evidence that does not support a criminal charge," Freeman said Thursday. "We need to weigh through all of that evidence to come through with a meaningful determination, and we are doing the best of our ability."

By Friday, that determination had apparently arrived. Stressing that the rapidly escalating protests which have engulfed Minneapolis and St. Paul over the past week did not play a direct role in his decision to charge, Freeman nevertheless acknowledged the reality of what was happening in his community.

"I am not insensitive to what's happened in the streets," he explained, adding that his home had been picketed during the protests. "My job is to [file charges] only when we have sufficient evidence," Freeman continued. "We have it today."

Chauvin, as well as the three other officers who were filmed detaining Floyd for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill, was fired from the Minneapolis Police Department on Tuesday. Asked whether further legal action will be brought against the other officers involved in Floyd's death, Freeman said simply: "I anticipate charges."