People gather at a police precinct during a protest for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP) Minneapolis protest
People gather at a police precinct during a protest for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP)

“That’s less than four days,” Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said, referring to the time between the killing and Chauvin’s arrest.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter today, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced.

Chauvin’s killing of George Floyd, in which he kneeled on Floyd’s neck until he lost consciousness and later died, has incited days of national protests. He and three other officers involved were fired, and Chauvin was taken into custody by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Friday.

“That’s less than four days,” Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said, referring to the time between the killing and Chauvin’s arrest. “That’s extraordinary. We have never charged a case in that time frame.”

Minnesota defines third-degree murder as, “without intent to effect the death of any person,” causing the death of another person “by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life.” The charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years.

Former officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao are the subjects of ongoing investigations but remain free.

At a news conference Friday morning, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said the days of rioting that followed Floyd’s death are the result of racism and over-policing Black communities. Chauvin himself had 18 previous complaints and had received two disciplinary reprimands, and the city’s police department has a long history of anti-black violence. African-Americans make up about 20% of the city’s population, but they are more likely to be pulled over, arrested, and have force used against them than white residents, Police Department data shows. More than 60% of the victims in Minneapolis police shootings from late 2009 through May 2019 were Black. Since 2012, only 1% of complaints against police officers in the city have resulted in disciplinary action.

“Their voices went unheard, and now generations of pain is manifesting itself in front of the world,” Walz said. “And the world is watching.”

Walz enacted the National Guard Thursday night, which Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison counseled citizens to see as a calming, not an occupying, force. He also called the riots a distraction from the push for systematic change. 

“When George Floyd was tragically killed, National conversation focused on justice for him, systematic change,” Ellison tweeted: “Focus must return to where it belongs; distracting conduct must cease; Police must restrain their response. Protesters need to center #JusticeForFloyd.”

Ellison also suggested that a rioter recorded breaking windows at a Minnesota AutoZone store Thursday night was, in fact, a police operative. The man, in all black, wearing a gas mask and carrying a black umbrella, can be seen methodically busting windows. When confronted by a protester who asks if he is police, the man turns aggressive, then flees. 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated.