Facing pressure from officials and protesters, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced charges on Friday of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
George Floyd was pronounced dead Monday after Chauvin was filmed kneeling on his neck for an extended period of time until Floyd became unresponsive.
Chauvin was taken into custody by officers with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Freeman made the announcement just one day after he told reporters that “justice cannot be rushed,” pointing to the 2015 case of 25-year-old Freddie Grey from Baltimore, who died a week after he was critically injured while in police custody. None of the six police officers charged in that case were convicted.
Chauvin was fired Tuesday along with three other officers involved in the arrest. The next day, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called for Chauvin to be criminally charged. Democratic state Attorney General Keith Ellison told reporters earlier Friday that a message was sent to the county attorney. “The wheels of justice must turn swiftly,” he said.
Chauvin had been with the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) for 19 years. According to online records, 17 complaints were made against Chauvin in his time with the Minneapolis police. All were closed with no discipline except for two, which led to letters of reprimand.
Also, both Floyd and Chauvin worked in security at the El Nuevo Rodeo club in Minnesota’s capital, former owner Maya Santamaria said.
She owned the club for nearly 20 years before selling it a few months ago.
“Chauvin was our off-duty police for almost the entirety of the 17 years that we were open,” Santamaria told KTSP. “They were working together at the same time, it’s just that Chauvin worked outside and the security guards were inside.”
It cannot be said for sure that the men knew each other, Santamaria added.
“If they would have crossed paths, it probably would not have been something they remembered,” she told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Protests erupted Tuesday, a day after Floyd’s death in a confrontation with police.
Protesters torched a Minneapolis police station Thursday that the department was forced to abandon as three days of violent protests spread to nearby St. Paul and angry demonstrations flared across the United States.
A police spokesman confirmed late Thursday that staff had evacuated the 3rd Precinct station, the focus of many of the protests.
Livestream video showed the protesters entering the building, where fire alarms blared and sprinklers ran as blazes were set. The 3rd Precinct covers the portion of south Minneapolis where Floyd died while in police custody.
Despite violent protests and looting in parts of Minneapolis, elsewhere in the city, thousands of peaceful demonstrators marched through the streets calling for justice.
Floyd’s death came after police responded to a 911 call by a store clerk alleging Floyd had used a counterfeit bill and that he was behaving erratically.
In the ensuing confrontation, Chauvin used his knee on Floyd’s neck to pin him—unarmed and handcuffed—to the ground.
Zachary Stieber and The Associated Press contributed to this report.