The former police officer charged with killing George Floyd along with three other officers who had a hand in the man’s murder, were to appear in court on Monday Jun 29th over a case that has sparked a global reaction over racism.
The 44-year-old white officer, Derek Chauvin, who was caught on film pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck, was scheduled first to appear at 1715 GMT by videolink from the high security prison where he is being held. With bail set at one million dollars, Chauvin is charged with second degree murder for the death of the unarmed and handcuffed Floyd, by kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes which led to Floyd’s death.
For aiding and abetting second-degree murder, the three other officers, Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao will be charged and they will appear in court. Kueng and Lane were not detained as they managed to raise a bail amount of US$750,000. Facing up to 40 years behind bars, the four former police officers will have the chance to plead either guilty or not guilty at the hearing.
Whether they will stand trial separately or together will also be determined by the court. On May 25th in Minneapolis, the four former officers detained Floyd on suspicion of trying to use a fake $20 bill in a store. Floyd pleaded on several occasions “I can’t breathe” before he died.
As one of the bystanders filmed the incident on a cell phone, the others who begged Chauvin to remove his knee were ignored. The footage triggered the largest wave of protests demanding racial equality, as the footage went viral on social media. In the streets of major cities across the United States, anger was rapidly ignited as the justice system was slow to do anything for the murder at hand.
Even though the police department sacked the four officers, the Minneapolis attorney general’s office took four days before officially charging Chauvin with manslaughter, and the remaining three officers were not initially charged.
The case was then reassigned to the Minnesota state attorney general’s office. Floyd died from suffocation due to the police officer’s pressure on his neck with “homicide” cited as the cause of death, as revealed by an independent autopsy.
This led to the increased charges to second-degree homicide against Chauvin, with the other three officers facing charges of “aiding and abetting” the murder. Although Floyd’s family welcomed the new charges, people took to the streets with protests and clashes with the police across the country.
From mere justice for Floyd to calls for a complete reform of law enforcement, the demands of the protesters continually called for an end to racism, and for the history of black slavery and racial injustice to be recognized and accepted in the US.
Some police departments immediately banned “choke hold” restraints during arrests, showing that the demands did indeed bear fruit. Other police departments pledged to review records of previous complaints against officers’ brutality to come to light.
The Minneapolis city council took action by totally disbanding its troubled police force and completely rebuilt it. However, reform progress at federal level is not making much headway.
President Donald Trump decided to focus on the violent nature of the protests and on damage caused by demonstrators who went so far as to tear down statues of Confederate generals who fought for the slave-holding South in America’s Civil War, in his campaign for re-election, and frequently made calls for “law and order” on social media.
30th June 18:50
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