Ex-officer charged with murder of unarmed black man in Minneapolis

A former Minneapolis police officer captured on video kneeling on the neck of 46-year-old George Floyd as he begged for his life, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

The white cop, was shown in footage suffocating 46-year-old George Floyd's on Monday. He and three other officers have been fired.

Days of looting and arson in the Minnesota city have boiled over into nationwide protests.

The case has reignited US anger over police killings of black Americans.

The state’s bureau of criminal apprehension took Chauvin, a 19-year veteran, into custody.

“We are in the process of continuing to review the evidence. There may be additional charges later,” the Hennepin county attorney, Mike Freeman, said.

Based on law enforcement review of body-cam video, state charging documents allege that the now former Minneapolis police officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for a total of nearly nine minutes, including two minutes and 43 seconds after Floyd became non-responsive.

Mr Freeman said his office "charged this case as quickly as evidence has been presented to us".

"This is by far the fastest that we've ever charged a police officer," he noted.

According to the criminal complaint, Mr Chauvin acted with "a depraved mind, without regard for human life".

Meanwhile, curfews have been ordered for the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, from 20:00 to 06:00 on both Friday and Saturday night.

Mobile phone video footage of Floyd suffocating under the officer’s knee went viral, prompting three nights of protests in Minneapolis and reigniting longstanding anger over systemic racism in America, especially in the criminal justice system.

There have also been demonstrations elsewhere, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Louisville, Phoenix, Columbus and Memphis.

On Thursday, during the third night of protests over Mr Floyd's death, a police station was set alight. A number of buildings have been burned, looted and vandalised in recent days, prompting the activation of the state's National Guard troops.

Floyd’s family released a statement calling the arrest a “welcome but overdue step on the road to justice” and added that members “expected a first-degree murder charge”, which they still demand.

“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 spilling out on to streets across [the country],” the statement read.

Under Minnesota law, a first-degree murder charge would require prosecutors prove Chauvin’s actions were willful and premeditated. Freeman confirmed authorities are still investigating.

How George Floyd died

The full report by the county medical examiner has not been released, but the complaint states that the post-mortem examination did not find evidence of "traumatic asphyxia or strangulation".

The medical examiner noted Mr Floyd had underlying heart conditions and the combination of these, "potential intoxicants in his system" and being restrained by the officers "likely contributed to his death".

The report says Mr Chauvin had his knee on Mr Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds - almost three minutes of which was after Mr Floyd became non-responsive.

Nearly two minutes before he removed his knee the other officers checked Mr Floyd's right wrist for a pulse and were unable to find one. He was taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center in an ambulance and pronounced dead around an hour later.

In Louisville, protesters demanded justice for Breonna Taylor, a black woman fatally shot by police in her home in March.

The families of Taylor, Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, a black jogger who was recently killed by two white male vigilantes – including a retired police officer – in Georgia, released a statement late on Thursday calling their killings part of “a national crisis”.

“Our government needs to take immediate and widespread action to protect our black and brown communities,” the statement read.

The families appeared in a joint press conference on Friday to call for more police accountability and an intervention by Congress and the United Nations.

Trump denounced protesters as “thugs” on Thursday night and appeared to threaten lethal force, tweeting that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. However backtracked on Friday

calling the incident "a terrible, terrible thing" and said he had spoken with Mr Floyd's family, whom he described as "terrific people".

He said he had asked the justice department to expedite an investigation it announced on Friday into whether any civil rights laws were violated in Mr Floyd's death.

Twitter hid Trump’s post, saying it violated their policies “regarding the glorification of violence”.

Former US President Barack Obama has weighed in on the incident, saying: "This shouldn't be 'normal' in 2020 America."

His statement added: "If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better."

Obama also called for Americans to come together to heal the country’s “legacy of bigotry”.

Officers suspected Mr Floyd had used a counterfeit $20 (£16) note and were attempting to put him in a police vehicle when he dropped to the ground, telling them he was claustrophobic.

According to police, he physically resisted officers and was handcuffed.

Video of the incident does not show how the confrontation started, but a white officer can be seen with his knee on Mr Floyd's neck, pinning him down.

Mr Floyd can be heard saying "please, I can't breathe" and "don't kill me".

The presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Joe Biden said that the original sin of America still stains the nation today and has often been overlooked. Adding that in weeks like this, we see it plainly that we are a country with an open wound.