ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT; UPDATES HEADLINE
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The former police officer who knelt on the neck of George Floyd for at least eight minutes during a fatal arrest was arrested and charged with murder on Friday, four days after the death of the handcuffed unarmed black man.
Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, according to Hennepin County Prosecutor Michael Freeman. Additional charges could be forthcoming as the investigation is ongoing, and Freeman said the other three officers involved could also face charges.
"We felt it appropriate to focus on the most dangerous perpetrator," Freeman told reporters during a brief news conference. "We have never charged a case in that kind of timeframe, and we can only charge a case when we have sufficient admissible evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. As of right now we have that."
Asked why Chauvin was not arrested and held ahead of charges, Freeman said his officer "charged this case as quickly" as possible.
Third-degree murder carries a sentence of up to 25 years upon conviction, while manslaughter carries a sentence of up to 15 years.
Chauvin is one of four officers who were fired after Floyd, 46, died in custody. The FBI is currently leading the investigation into the man's death alongside state authorities.
Floyd's family has said they want all of the officers involved to be charged with murder.
Following news of Chauvin's arrest, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People civil rights group vowed on Twitter it "will not rest until all of the officers have been charged in this murder. #WeAreDoneDying."
Video of Floyd's fatal arrest captured by a bystander and posted on Facebook appeared to show the victim pinned to the ground, repeatedly pleading "I can't breathe" for nearly four minutes as an officer holds his neck to the ground with his knee.
Floyd, 46, appeared to lose consciousness as the officer maintained his position on the victim.
His pulse was checked about three minutes after he stopped gasping for air, but it is unclear from the video what the assessment was at that point. He was then loaded on to a stretcher and moved into an ambulance.
Floyd's death has strong parallels to that of Eric Garner, who died during a fatal 2014 arrest in New York, repeatedly pleading with officers, "I can't breathe."
The phrase became a rallying point for protesters demonstrating against the killings of unarmed black men and women by police. It has continued to resonate nearly six years later.