Washington, May 30 (IANS) A former Minneapolis police officer has been arrested and charged with murder and manslaughter following the death of an unarmed black man in custody.
Derek Chauvin was shown in footage kneeling on George Floyd’s neck. He and three other officers were sacked over the fatality on Monday, the BBC reported.
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.
Hennepin County Prosecutor Mike Freeman said Chauvin was charged with third degree murder and noted that the investigation of the other officers is ongoing.
He said he “anticipates charges” for the three other officers but would not offer more details.
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.
Floyd’s family and their lawyer, Benjamin Crump, said in a statement to NBC News that the arrest was “welcome but overdue”.
The family said they wanted a more serious, first-degree murder charge as well as the arrest of the other officers involved.
“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 called for the city to change its policing, saying: “Today, George Floyd’s family is having to explain to his children why their father was executed by police on video.”
Shortly after the charges were announced, US Attorney General William Barr said that the justice department and FBI are conducting “an independent investigation to determine whether any federal civil rights laws were violated”.
Barr called the video of Floyd’s arrest “harrowing to watch and deeply disturbing”.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said the arrest was “a good first step toward justice”.
“But it doesn’t change the systemic problems and persistent inequities that led to his death or the pain our communities live with every day. We’re committed to change.”
On Thursday, during the third night of protests over 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.
There have also been demonstrations in other US cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Phoenix and Memphis.
Earlier on Friday, Walz said he expected “swift and fair” justice for Mr Floyd’s death.
Former President Barack Obama also weighed in, saying: “This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America.”
“It can’t be ‘normal’,” added his statement. “If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.”
President Donald Trump said “thugs” were dishonouring Mr Floyd’s memory and called on the National Guard to restore order.
Social media network Twitter accused Trump of glorifying violence in a post that said: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”